Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Firth of Forth and Silversands Bay

I had intended disappearing into the wilderness for my weeks break but for some reason everything started to break on me ?

The stop cock on the header water tank in the attic suddenly started to flow, which poured out my overflow and down the outside wall. The valve was worn so I had to spend my first day on leave changing it out. Then the mudguard bracket on the boat trailer broke and is waiting to be welded. But the real damper to my spirits was the heavy rain, so I spent a couple of days making boat "stuff".

I was keen to try so day trips in between the heavy showers and gusty squalls so watched the weather forecast with interest. I noticed that the best forecast for today was over the Firth of Forth. Calm winds and just a few localised showers. I have not tried boating on the east coast yet, simply because Im a bit wary of large boats and the wakes they leave behind. I wouldn't be the first small boater to be swamped by the swell off the Grangemouth oil tankers. Still..I was keen to see the sea again.. so set off on another inflatable boat adventure.

The beauty of the inflatable boat is it can fit in the boot of my car and be launched anywhere. I chose the Silversand Bay at Ardlour to launch this morning. One of the boat things I had made was a spray dodger for the Seago 2.7m inflatable. I stitched it up in my mothers old sewing machine

I was ready to go at 7.30 am, hopefully before the tanker drivers were awake. I wondered if they had a rush hour in the morning. The weather was true to the forecast.

There were a few dog walkers around, even at 7.30 am, and one came across for a blether. She asked where I was going and mentioned she had a yacht and inflatable similar to mine. I happily told her I was staying close inshore looking for mackerel and then heading for Inchcolm Island. She wished me good luck and said the mackerel were very poor this year.

I rowed the boat out into deeper water before starting my Mariner 3.3 two stroke. I have not long had it and only used it once before. It started no problem but when I put it into gear..nothing happened. I suspected the shift linkage had loosened or the propeller sheer pin had sheered. There were a few spectators on the shore so rather than head back in, I decided to use my auxiliary engine, which is the Suzuki 2.5 four stroke. It moved the boat no problem. The only problem I had was I only had three litres of petrol without two stroke oil in it. Not a problem to get to Inchcolm Island though. I was soon leaving Silversands Bay behind. I was a bit wary as I now had no reserve engine.

To the south and in the middle of the Forth, were the rocky islands of Car Craig, Oxcars with its lighthouse. Then in the distance Inchmickery with the Cow and Calf rocks.

Inchcolm Island and its ancient monastery were much closer and that was where I was heading.

Although it is only a half mile or so off the mainland, it involves crossing a shipping lane called Mortimers Deep. Large tankers use it to berth at Braefoot oil terminal.

The Iconic Forth Railway bridge glimmered through the early morning mist as I tried to judge the speed and distance of a ship called the Firva, after another local east coast Island.

These ships didn't appear to be a threat to me crossing the channel but I was glad to see the crane tug, the Forth Jouster keep to the far side of the shipping lane. It had a large wake streaming off its stern. Arthur's Seat on the east side of Edinburgh provided a nice backdrop

I waited until its wake had passed me, looked starboard, port then starboard again, before hurrying across Mortimers Deep to the safety of the shallows around Inchcolm Island

To be continued ...


Bursledon Blogger said...

nice to see someone taking an auxiliary engine seriously - great way to get out and explore

Donny Wilcox said...

Hi Bursledon Blogger, good to see you around :-D

Yup..I wouldn't dream of going to sea without an auxiliary engine, even in a small inflatable.

Although I always have oars and sometimes enjoy just rowing it, if an offshore wind gets up..its impossible to row far against the wind or tide.