With a four day weekend ahead of us we ventured down to Ragdoll on Thursday evening and carried out a few jobs before our July mini cruise. We finished the gas locker and cooker installation. Just as Rosanne was heading to bed, Chris decided it was essential that the anchor had a paint job…crazy boy!
We had a 7 o’clock alarm on Friday ready to catch the tide. Our chums from Indefatigable Banks happened to be arriving just as we were preparing to leave so we had a brief chat as we assisted each other with ropes etc. They had just come from a few days at Dalgety Bay and had been making the most of the weather.
And then we were off… to previously unexplored territory! There wasn’t much wind to begin with so we enjoyed a speedy motor with the tide and had a hearty breakfast of home baked Summer fruit drizzle cake and tea…it was a holiday after all! The plan was to head to Eyemouth using the spring ebb to catapult us out of the Forth, and so it did… we were motor sailing in light winds, doing barely 1400rpm and yet reaching speeds of 8.5kts at times. An hour in and we were past Inchcolm! We then passed to the north of Inchkeith, then to North Berwick, where we passed inside of Craigleith.
Passing the Bass Rock was quite a sight and Rosanne was a little snap happy trying to capture Gannets on film! We were also lucky enough to spot some aerobatic planes in among all the sea birds which added another element of fun to our adventures. We even spotted a few porpoises and a pod of dolphins along the way.
At this point, the cruising chute was getting a bit much in the angle and gustiness, so we dropped it and carried on under white sail. All told, the 50 miles door to door was done in 9 hours and 30 minutes, giving an average speed of nearly 5.3kts! Chris is very pleased with those numbers! Wind speed was between 12kts and max was 22kts in the gusts. We reefed up and down as needed, and aimed to maintain good VMG to destination where we could.
We arrived in Eyemouth around 5.30pm and rafted up next to a local yacht on the pontoon. Eyemouth is a busy harbour with lots of yachts, dive boats and fishing boats, along with a resident grey seal population! We popped by the very friendly harbour masters office to check we were OK in our berth and then returned to Ragdoll for a well earned drink and snack. Chris had his spanner fathomometer out and wasn’t convinced we would have enough water at low tide so we spent a while checking our calculations and measuring depths around the boat. We made sure we had extra weight on our port side and Chris hatched a plan to ensure that if we did lean, we would go the right way. It seems like the depth alongside the pontoons is the 0.9m below CD as stated by the harbour master, but if you raft outboard, there is a bit of a hill taking CD to 0.5m. Fortunately, we were only drying by 100mm to 200mm so Ragdoll just settled into the mud a bit and nothing came of it. Low water was 1.0m for future reference… 1.2m and above would be best for a prolonged stay for us.
After reassuring ourselves that all was well, Rosanne dragged Chris out for a seaside walk. We enjoyed watching the seals in the harbour mouth and found the local ice cream shop! We eventually returned to Ragdoll for drinks in the cockpit, finally enjoying some warm summer weather. Did you know that Eyemouth has a pie eating contest?!
The next morning we figured we would have to move berths due to the very low tide. It was about to hit 0.6m and considering the concerns we had at the previous 1.0m, we decided to play it safe and move on out, heading for either Dunbar or North Berwick.
On the way out, Chris decided that he smelled something in the air, and quickly deployed the fishing rod… lo and behold, 4 shiny fat mackerel came up on the first cast! We also found out just how much of a mess they make on the boat when you try to gut and clean them!
We motored into a flat calm for a few hours until we were abeam of Dunbar. It looked like the tide wouldn’t be in our favour for a visit, so we pressed on to North Berwick. Once again we were greeted by some planes doing aerobatics – part of an air show at East Fortune we later found out!
As we passed Satan Bush, Chris’s nose was twitching again and he decided to deploy the fishing rod again… and again 4 shiny mackerel were landed from the first cast!! This awesome display of fishing prowess was too much for Rosanne, who decided that the sea must be nose to tail with mackerel. She grabbed the rod from Chris and spent the next half hour trying to even the score, which to be fair, she did… but only because she was fishing in the patch of water where Chris smelled the fish! 🙂 (Chris edited that bit!!)
When we got to North Berwick, the RNLI were having a fundraising gala on the beach, so there were many people out enjoying the water. Lots of people were hiring sea kayaks and SUPs, and the RNLI were demonstrating their ILB. We threaded our way through about 30 sailing dinghys of all shapes and sizes, saying hello to a few familiar faces on the way. We picked up a ELYC mooring in 3m and cooked up the mackerel we had caught earlier! A fantastic first meal from our shiny new cooker!
Later, we thought we might ask the harbour master if there was any possibility of staying, and he very obligingly put us on the outer wall to dry. Considering the settled conditions, this was a very nice spot to lie – we could see the whole harbour, town and beach from one vantage point! Chris donned his wet suit again and had another go at cleaning the rudder and underwater areas, somewhat more successfully than last time! Firstly, he could see more than 2 feet in front of his face, and secondly, he didn’t turn into an instant icicle! Rosanne is still waiting for warmer weather!
After successfully landing Ragdoll at 20:00h, we went for a chippy and ice cream… obviously! Later that evening, after finding the right kind of lamp oil for our hurricane lamps in one of those shops that has absolutely everything on the high street, we spent the evening in the cockpit with the lamps on! A few drinks later, Chris decided that a bottom inspection was in order, so donned his boots to stomp around under Ragdoll’s hull… he didn’t find anything he didn’t like… no play in the rudder, no misery from the keel joint, good anode depletion, no play in the cutless bearing, no fouling on the impeller… phew!
Morning dawned, and as we had refloated in the morning, it was time to get off the quay. We left the quay at about 08:00h and decided we would hang around for breakfast, so we took up the big yellow mooring… An hour later, we got a surprise as we were honked by one of the trip boats! It was his mooring and he was coming out of the harbour so he didn’t dry out for the next tide. We quickly gave him his mooring back, and he offered to let us sit along side for a while, so we stayed and chilled out for a while.
We left North Berwick just as a yacht race was getting underway in very light conditions… we took our time slowly picking our way through them so as not to influence the racing order…! We had a few chats along the way, then joined another ketch that was motoring in our general direction, called Blade Fisher. We took a lot of photos of the boat as the conditions were very pretty, and we reckon the owner might be very interested in having a few of them!
So we moseyed back up river, having a quick chat with Kestrel of Forth on the VHF who was starting their long journey round to the west coast. We wished them the best of luck on their first leg – 20 hours to Peterhead! We also noticed the Superyacht Jamaica Bay heading up the Forth to Leith… allegedly with Beyonce and Jay Dizzle on board… is that his name?! Chris isn’t always down with the kids… Otherwise it was an uneventful passage, and we killed the time making pasta (for breakfast!), building pillow forts on the foredeck, and taking pictures of puffins. Rosanne was also excited to spot some more porpoises!
We squeezed into Granton around lunchtime, gave Ragdoll a very well deserved scrub (she was sparkling when we finished!) and headed out to dinner. We tried to track down the earlier spotted Superyacht in Leith…but sadly discovered it is the most difficult harbour to get into!
The next morning, the weather broke, and we had to get home to Port Edgar… We enjoyed a leisurely morning waiting for the tide to rise enough to avoid the troublesome shallow bit at the end of the pontoons, and evenutally escaped out into 36 to 40kts of wind against tide! Fortunately the tide was in our favour, but we took a fair beating trying to make our way back. We got well and truly soaked from every second wave sending gallons of spray over the boat… Rosanne is pretty sure she drank at least a gallon of it! Just as well that we were not making our way back from further afield! We are looking forward to getting our sprayhood soon!!! Once safely back at Port Edgar, we had some dinner and put Ragdoll to bed for another week.
All the way to Eyemouth and we didn’t even die! Hmmm perhaps we should stop using that as our catch phrase!
July Mini Cruise – Done!