Monday, 27 August 2012

Firth of Forth and the Burntisland Mackerel

I slowly made my way east along the coastline past Craigdimas Rocks. There are quite a few rocky outcrops in the Forth which I had to kept a watchful eye open for. A few boats have come to grief in the past because high tide covers and hides them. They are marked with poles but even they look as though they have taken a few blows from passing boats.

The seals congregate around the rocks and at low water make a lot of noise as they haul and bounce themselves onto the rocks to rest, waiting high tide before taking to the sea again.

Aberdour village looks very attractive from the sea and looks like it has a great beach.

It also has a little sheltered harbour for yachts and small boats.

There are the ruins of a larger jetty on the point between Aberdour and Silversands Bay where I had launched the boat from.

I decider to try a spot of trolling for mackerel, despite the words of wisdom from the "local" who I chatted to on the beach before launching. She said it had been a poor year for the mackerel and few had been caught in the area. I headed eastwards past Silversands Bay towards Burntisland.

That is when my fishing rod started to bend in a frantic frenzy. I had hit a shoal of mackerel. Not only that..but they were the biggest mackerel I have caught in many a year. Around twice the size of their smaller west coast cousins. Withing five minutes I had half a dozen in the bucket.

Cheered on by the local contractors working on the wall of Burntisland harbour warehouse. I dont know if I was amusing them or they were amusing me, but they reminded me of the seals that also watched my every move. I thought of throwing them a fish but decided against it.

To be continued...

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Firth of Forth and Braefoot Oil Terminal

I continued to look around Inchcolm Island and came across what looked like a tunnel carved into the rocks near the eastern end of the island.

Curiosity got the better of me so I entered it to see where it went. It went right through the rocks to the ruined World War defences on the east end and I later read that it was built during WW1 as an artillery tunnel. The shells for the big guns were kept in here to protect them from enemy bombers and also allow easy access to transport the heavy shells from the pier to the guns.

It also provided me with shelter from the seagulls trying to protect their young. I didnt see much of the remains of the gun bases and pill boxes because of the Kamakazi birds.

I could feel the wind freshening as the tide started to rise and began to think of crossing to the mainland again, but first, I waited to let an incoming tanker pass

I could also see Inchkeith Island looming out the mist and was sorry my main outboard was out of order or I would have tried visiting it. It turned out the outboards was working ok but the propeller sheer pin had given way and sadly, my spares were back at the house.

This tanker passed to the south of Inchcolm and looked like it was heading for Grangemouth Oil Refinary.

Leaving Inchcolm island, I headed north and back across Mortimer's Deep towards Braefoot Oil Terminal.

I was feeling a bit braver and wanted to see what it would feel like being in the direct path of one of the big oil tankers.

It was a sobering thought seeing the huge hull high above my little inflatable. The truth was, I was only brave because I could clearly see it was tethered to the terminal by at least half a dozen ropes.

To be continued ...

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Firth of Forth and Inchcolm Abbey

I took a look around the Abbey, which dates form the 12 century and is supposed to be the most complete Monastic ruin in Scotland. In the early morning sun, I could understand why the Abbey was built here as a peacefull retreat. Only the noise of singing seals and seagulls broke the silence.

It was hard to believe I was only a stone throw away from the industrial heart of Scotland. I thought of the rush hour traffic queueing to cross the Forth Bridge to get into Edinburgh, yet here I was ... not a car or person in sight.

The Abbey was closed to viewing as the attendants were not around yet, but I didn't mind, it meant my fiver was safe and I still got some lovely photographs.

There were a lot of young seagulls hopping around the ground and I had hoped to see a puffin or two, but they were as scarce as monastery attendants.

I started to explore the pier area while keeping a careful eye on my inflatable. The tide was coming in and I didn't want stranded. I had a feeling it could cost me a lot more than a fiver entrance fee if it did float away on the tide.

I imagined that in a couple of hours time it would be busy and noisy once the tour boats arrived at the pier.

As well as being home to the Abbey, Inchcolm Island has many ruined defence buildings dating from WW2. Most the islands in the Firth of Forth were heavily fortified to protect the ships, bridges and Edinburgh from attack. Some of the islands were even made to look like battlships to fool enemy forces.

I followed the path round the corner from the pier to see some of the old pill boxes and gun turrets. Suddenly I found myself under attack from the air. The seagulls resented my intrusion into their territory and started an air to ground assault. I quickly retreated as their guano bombs splatted all around.

To be continued...

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Firth of Forth and Inchcolm Island

Speeding across as fast as my 2.5hp engine could go, (which is not very fast) I passed through the line of navigation bouys which mark the passage of Mortimer's deep and breathed a sigh of relief that no huge oil tankers ran me down.

I tucked myself behind Meadulse rocks and eased off on the throttle. I was safely across my first major shipping lane without incident.

I was only a stone throw away from my destination, and could clearly see the ancient Monastery on Inchcolm Island. It is known as the "Iona" of the east coast.

Historic Scotland have restored the ruin and look after the island. I had the entrance fee of £5 in my pocket but wondered if I had to pay it as I had crossed to the island under my own steam. I headed for the landing stage and a small strip of sandy beach beside the jetty. The gift shop and admission offices looked shut, it was still only 8.30 am and no tour boats were due to arrive until much later.

The only life that I saw was the seagulls that watched every move that I made. They sat silently on every rock, looking like living gargoyles from some ancient castle.

A couple of Kayaks littered the beach but there was not a sight nor sound of paddlers, Monastery attendants or even mad Monks. I tightened my grip on my five pound note as I parked my inflatable beside the abandoned kayaks. I hoped that I was in luck and had landed on a deserted island.

I walked quietly across the beach towards the Gift shop and breathed a sigh of relief. It was closed, my five pounds could stay in my pocket for another day. I looked down the landing jetty which pointed straight across to Silversands Bay where I had come from and really began to enjoy my first foray on the east coast waters. Even the sun was coming out to make my day.

To be continued ....

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 ...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Loch Goil and the Mackie Bash

Its hard to believe that a month has past since my last post ?
Where has time gone ? Where has summer gone ?

Actually, Im very happy that summer finally seems to have arrived after such a wet and windy June and July. I have had one or two boat adventures lately and will catch up on them after I return from a weeks holiday next week. During this time, I will be living in the wilds and eating only my catch from the sea and the few berries that I find .. if I dont catch fish..I eat the bait .. so watch out for those adventures on my return.

In the meantime what happened to my regular posts ?

On my return to work..yup..and Im still working.. I found it very hard to motivate myself at weekends as my energy seemed drained after my six months in retiral paradise :-D

As well as working full time in my old industry ..I am still pooch painting and walking my own dog.. so I found little time for blogging :(

Today I enjoyed a well earned rest and day out on Loch Goil with a work mate and his son J. While I ghillied, they had a fishing competition and sadly for dad.. young J won.

I think he caught 12 mackerel to dad's 8 ? If Im wrong with the count , Im sure I will be told on return to work

We went down loch Goil in the hard shell boat and landed for a leg stretch where it opens into Loch Long.

Adrian and J look pretty please with each other because they both had six mackerel each at this stage.

J looks on as dad hooks another mackerel..however J's looks of concern soon turned to joy when dad lost this fish. It meant that J was still two fish ahead of his dad.

We stopped for another break and I lit the disposible BBQ. It was the first time J and his dad had tasted fresh fish.

By fresh.. Im mean pulled out the water and put on the BBQ before it has time to stop flapping.

Their verdict of fresh fish..

Wow..delicious..lets get some more for the pot :-D

A gread day out was had by all.

Thanks for your company guys and you are welcome back in the boat anytime :-D
Enjoy the rest of your mackerel.