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Granton 1st September

Yacht Quintet
Royal Forth Yacht Club Pontoon
Granton Harbour

1st September, 2005

<-Grangemouth 26th August Eyemouth 2nd September->

Click for a larger imageWe've been here nearly a week. We were going to leave and start the journey south today, but the forecast wasn't the best so we've stayed another day. We leaving tomorrow definitely.

Click for a larger imageLast Saturday, 27th August, we left the Forth and Clyde Canal at 8.00o'clock in the morning and made our way down the Carron River towards the Firth of Forth. We had watched the lock keeper, Duncan, play with his control panel and lock us out to the muddy waters of the Carron. Timing had to be just right as we had to have enough water to float but not so much that we couldn't get under the bridges. Not much room to manoeuvre either. When there's 4.5 metres headroom under the bridges, the riverbed is dry!

Click for a larger imageDuncan sent us off with one of those ' I think my calculations are right. You should be ok if you don't dawdle.' comments. Filled us with confidence. So there was a bit of trepidation as we approached the Kerse Road Bridge. It looked pretty close to me.

Click for a larger imageI am of the opinion that it was actually named by somebody for whom Duncan hadn't got the calculations right. It was originally called '.. that's a .. low bridge' but they couldn't afford a sign that long. And the signwriter couldn't spell.

Some time later we spotted the 'mast' pontoon of F. C. S. Scotland and we pulled alongside to wait the 'man who does'. We got on with preparing everything that we had intended to do the previous afternoon but the rain had prevented us and when the man arrived we were ready.

He was very good. He provided a sling and guided us to position it at the balance point, and after a trial lift and a bit of adjustment we started the lift.

We didn't go quite as well as when we first lifted it at Fosdyke all those months ago. We had a couple of halyards the wrong side of spreaders, but a quick hook with the boat hook sorted those out. The main problem was that it is a manual crane and Quintet has a very heavy mast. The poor guy, and his mate who arrived shortly after, were sweating on a normal, small boat winch to lift our 500 lbs of mast. They did look hot.

Click for a larger imageWe did discover why these cranes have no power. Apparently a powered crane needs a safety certificate annually and an operator with paper qualifications. Unless the rules change this will be a manual operation for ever.

Click for a larger imageOnce the mast was up and folding money had changed hands, we set off. The mast man, a bit like Duncan at the lock, said we shouldn't hang around but we should be ok if we were out of the river in an hour. What's with all this 'should'? Have they all had previous jobs as IT contractors?

We didn't hang around. Once the shrouds were tight enough so that the mast didn't slap around too much, we threw off the lines and hare tailed it out of there. Neither of us wanted to spend the tween tide on the mud. It was still only 10.20. Soon the Forth bridges, road and rail, were in sight and beckoning us towards the sea.

We had planned to anchor, once out of the river, and tension the rig and refit the boom and rehank sails, but it was such a dismal day, we decided to carry on motoring. I did spend the time going round the rig and trying to get the mast in column with equal shroud tensions all round but we left it at that. We just wanted to get in before the rain set in.

We had actually been trying to find a berth in Burnt Island on the north shore of the Firth of Forth. I have friends, Harry and Sheila, who live there. We were hoping to visit them and use their laundry facilities, and, of course, to entertain them with stories of our adventures and take them out to dinner. Of course!

Harry had contacted Burnt Island Sailing Club to try to reserve a berth but they have limited moorings and for limited time, so they recommended talking to the Dock Master at Burnt Island commercial docks. He said that as they were 'commercial docks' we would have to do an induction course and health and safety things and probably wear steel-capped boots and a hard hat to use it. Anyway he couldn't give permission and I would have to talk to the harbour master.

The harbour master, based at Leith, was most personable and pleasant but regretted that Burnt Island would not be available to us. When I asked of the possibility of berthing at Leith, he laughed. He said the lock at Leith was designed for big ships and needed 600,000 tonnes of water for a locking. We probably couldn't afford it.

So we rang the Royal Firth Yacht Club at Granton and they were most welcoming. 'Just come in and tie up at the pontoon.' said the nice lady on the phone. Thank you Royal Firth. But also, thank you to all you others who tried and couldn't help. We appreciate what you tried to do and we do understand how regulations tie you all up in knots.

Click for a larger imageBy noon we were approaching the Forth bridges and by 1.00o'clock we had sighted the gasholder and the sparkling new office block, home to ScotiaGas at Granton, (did you know all GSA members navigate by gasholders?), and were turning Cow and Calf Rocks and heading for Granton Harbour and the Royal Forth Yacht Club Pontoon. We tied up alongside a little after 1.30 pm and opened the beer.

The forecast for the next few days didn't look to our advantage so we had negotiated with Harry and Sheila to meet them in town for dinner and then go over to Burnt Island with mounds of dirty laundry and spend the next two days catching up on the washing.

We met them in town that evening at the Café Royale where I had a pint of the most exquisite Deuchars IPA that I have ever tasted. Then we went of to an excellent Chinese restaurant whose name escapes us. Thank you both for dinner.

The following day Harry drove over and picked us and our dirty linen up and took us home to Burnt Island. Washing was started, baths were taken and then we headed for their local where I watched the nail-biting, buttock-clenching finale to the test match at Trent Bridge. (to all our Australian readers 'Beat ya!) (Isn't Warnie becoming a pain in the arse? He should shut his gob and stick to playing cricket.)

We stayed two nights with Harry and Sheila and then they took us back to the boat where we have been watching the weather, waiting for our moment to go south. But forecasts have not been good. It looked like another two days before the winds would ease and move from the south. So we tidied the boat, refitted boom and mainsail, rehanked headsails and watched the forecasts.

I did catch up with another friend of mine from Edinburgh, young Jon whom I had met in Solihull last year. Jon took us out for the evening, firstly to the Deacon Brodie pub, named after a man who was a well-respected elder of the town in daylight but who ran a nice little house-breaking operation at night to finance his carousing and gambling. I think that I have found a new hero! Then we went on to an Italian restaurant in the Grass Market and very nice it was too. Thank you for dinner Jon.

(Please note that we are available for dinner at all ports on the east coast of England over the next ten days if anybody wishes to spend an evening listening to our sailors' yarns. Please book ahead as it would be a shame if anybody were to miss out as a result of double booking.)

It has been an interesting time in Edinburgh. We've been to some good restaurants and bars. I've been to the art gallery and I've roamed the streets and shops around the Royal Mile.

We have seen lots of posters and websites explaining the Edinburgh Waterfront regeneration, with 'Dubai' like developments on reclaimed islands and 650 berth marinas. But speak to the locals and they say that the developers, Forth Ports, are completely uninterested in developing the facilities for boating. There are lots of plans but no action. They are building pokey modern tenements rather than the sort of accommodation which might attract the monied and the monied will want their marinas and they are not being provided. So nobody is buying .It looks as though the Edinburgh Waterfront, rather than being the style showcase that was promised, may turn out to be a building site for many years to come and then turn into a modern slum! Edinburgh developers, wake up to yourselves!

We had planned to leave today but they have been forecasting force 6 winds and we don't do strong winds and rough seas. Tomorrow the weather looks right. We are going south for the first time since the start of July.

Les Sutcliffe

<-Grangemouth 26th August Eyemouth 2nd September->