Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Fleet Bay and the Solway Firth

I will be the first to admit that this year was a very poor year for me and my inflatable boat journeys. After a great start to the season, when I rounded the Ailsa Craig in glorious weather, things rapidly blew into a storm with an illness in the family. Then the winds and rain of summer came, coupled with a return working, and everything seemed to eat into my free time and kept me from seeing the sea.

However, at the end of July, I managed to get a couple of days down at the Solway Firth, staying with my mother at her caravan which overlooks beautiful Fleet Bay.

It was only a flying visit, so I took my smallest inflatable boat and 2HP Yamaha two stroke outboard. They take up little space when packed in the boot of my car and allow easy launching on any beach, assuming the winds are fair. Im glad to say that they were very fair during my short stay. Fleet bay is extremely tidal as can be seen from this photo taken when the tide is out.

However it is a lovely area to explore in a small boat when the tide is in. You just have to remember that the tide will go out again, so unless you want a long portage back to the beach..its best to return a couple of hours after high tide turns. I inflated my boat a couple of hours before high tide and had ample time to explore the area.

Although I had not used the little outboard engine for two years, I had serviced and winterised it myself. A fresh tank of two stroke mix and two pulls at the starter cord had it purring nicely and I was off for another adventure.

The inflatable is a small Avon Redstart and is a very seaworthy boat but it can be a rather wet journey. Its seaworthy in the fact that it cant sink because of the inflated tubes, but the sea has a habit of washing over the low sides, so even in a little chop, I find that I have to bail out water as I go. Soon I was on the other side of Fleet Bay and off the shore of Sand Green caravan park.

I was heading for the Fleet Islands by following the sheltered side of the coast line.

I had planned in going through the narrow channel that separates Ardwell Island ( the biggest of the Fleet Islands) from the mainland, but a steady breeze against the tide made the chop a little choppier so I opted for the dryer option of landing on the island to have lunch. The sun was out and I was thoroughly enjoying my day, which was only my second outing of the year.

I was getting myself ready for a serious mackeral fishing session as it was also my first time fishing this year.

To be continued...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Firth of Forth and the Summer Rain

Passing the entrance of Burntisland Harbour, I gave the fishermen on the pier a wide berth. I have seen them in the past, hurl lumps of lead several hundred yards with their powefull beachcaster rods, in an effort to cast their bait to the fish. I didnt want a sore head from either their flying weights of shouts of anger if I crossed their lines with my propeller.

They did look at me rather enviously as I caught another couple of mackerel just out of their casting range. I headed east and left them in peace. Soon I was rounding the point of Burntisland and saw it had a lovely sandy beach. I also discovered later that it has a public slipway near the swimming pool where I could launch my fibreglass boat. There is a good car park beside it too.

Inchkeith Island was still calling to me from the middle of the Forth, and I do intend visiting it one day but it was not to be on this day.

I went as far east as the caravan site sprawlled on the hillside east of Burntisland
before turning back towards the west and Aberdour Silver Sands bay.

It had been a beautiful morning up until now, with light winds and sunny spells. However as I started running for home, the sea started to go a cold grey colour as the sky darkened.

To the south, above Edinburgh the storm clouds started to gather. I heard the odd rumble of thunder in the distance too.

I knew the rain was only moments away so opened throttle and for Silver Sands Bay

As I approached the bay, I could see it was very busy with people enjoying their day on the beach. I half dreaded having to make several trips across the busy beach unloading my boat, engines and fishing gear to carry them to the carpark, just in case some inquisitive kids decided to play with the boat while I walked back and forward to the car.

I worried needlessly because a hundred yards off shore, a loud crack of thunder cut the air and the rain came down in buckets. It was so heavy, the beach cleared in seconds. I have the place to myself as I packed everything away. I was soaked to the skin but happy with my first day of boating on the Firth of Forth.

Just before I left the beach, the rain stopped and one or two kids appeared again.

Some of you may be wondering what I have been up to lately so I will reveal all.

I have had my three months contract at work extended for another three months. Its called a "rolling contract" and I guess its a sign of the current recession. Companies seem reluctant to give long term contracts at present, but that suits me. Im happy to go with the flow.

I have been extremely busy with work, pooch painting, some boat journeys and hillwalks. Then to top it all, I have also started rehearing in a band situation. I have several years experience of playing keyboards in a local band a while back and I have recently been asked if I wanted to start playing again.

With all my hobbies and interests eating my free time, Im afraid my blog has suffered a bit, but I do intend keeping it going and being more active again.. so stay tuned for some more inflatable boat journeys very soon :-D