Row, row, row your boat

Arriving early for work I had a few minutes to go grab a coffee and have a walk along the Promenade at Portobello. Gorgeous autumn morning, cool but beautiful autumnal light on the Firth of Forth, when I spotted the sailing and rowing club folks out in the lovely old skiff Jenny Skylark, having an early morning row, so I snapped off a few shots before I had to head into work:

The Jenny Skylark on a Morning Row 01

The Jenny Skylark on a Morning Row 02

The Jenny Skylark on a Morning Row 03

The Jenny Skylark on a Morning Row 04

A vry different scene to a month or so back when the haar had settled on the Forth – I saw the rowers out in the skiff, but only dimly, moving through the sea mist just off the shore at Porty, and managed to get these pics, very different weather from the other pics!

Rowing in the Haar 02

Rowing in the Haar 01

Time for launch

Down on a pretty overcast, cloudy Portobello this afternoon, and saw the handsome wooden skiff Jenny Skylark being prepped for launch:

Time to Launch 01

Time to Launch 02

And there she goes, slipping into the waters:

Time to Launch 04

Time to Launch 06

Time to Launch 07

And off she goes, rowing out into a pretty misty Firth of Forth (you can just see one of the larger islands vaguely through the haar in the background):

Time to Launch 09

Time to Launch 010

As they rowed further out I took one more shot – the sea and the mist were blending into one another so much that they started to look the same, as if the boat were rowing out into a blank, white dimension…

Time to Launch 011

Meanwhile I found some of their compatriots pulling their skiff along the Promenade on wheels to get it ready for launch (either that or this is some bizarre new boat-car hybrid):

Boat Car

And on a non-related note, I spotted this bizarre sculpture on the beach – quite creepy looking thing, isn’t it? Blair Witch Beach Project, anyone??

Blair Witch Beach

Edinburgh Canal Festival

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 01

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 018

Last weekend was the annual Raft Race and Canal Festival just a few minutes walk from my flat in Edinburgh. I’ve been going since it started just a few years ago on the regenerated Union Canal where it ends around Lochrin Basin in central Edinburgh (although once upon a time I’m told it went a little further than this, crossing the nearby road, around the back of the old Co-Op building (which is why its back wall is curved) and through where the large modern offices of the financial district are to end nearer the West Port (I always assumed West Port meant ‘west gate’, port derived from French for a doorway), but it seems it meant port as in tying up many commercial barges). It started as just the charity raft race a few years back and obviously my camera and I went along to document it, all sorts of wacky boats and rafts taking part in a charity race. It has now grown into the Canal Festival with rides, acts, stalls and of course the raft race. And with the astonishing heat wave of weather it was pretty packed this year – was nice to go along, last year was the only one I have missed, as I was through to help dad every weekend while we waited on his operation, so I couldn’t go. Huge crowds enjoying the music, dancing, races and stalls, some cooling off by dipping their feet in the water while watching the racing.

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 016

Oops – some raft designs didn’t quite cut the mustard and, as they used to say on the Goon Show “”he fallen in da water”. The International Rescue (no, not Thunderbirds, Pete, don’t get all excited, mate) folk were on hand to fish them out with this nifty boat which has a ramp in the bow which hinges down to make it easy to haul people in out of the water:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 023

They also demonstrated how to help someone out who was in difficulty – contrary to the action scenes in movies and TV you are not meant to dive in yourself, you should try using floats or lifebelts on ropes if available to reach them from the banking:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 031

If there is a boat in the water ask them to help guide the person in distress (not that he looks very distressed here!) to the bank as well:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 033

All that kayaking demonstration is thirsty work:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 026

I’ve seen this handsome traditional rowboat with a fabric hull at several canal fests now:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 035

There was music, such as this folk group set up by the old Leamington Lift Bridge:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 03

This band doing some rather good rock and pop covers:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 08

And this French chap doing some cool pop music en Francais:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 039

The model boat club had some nice ships, some on display nearby, some powered and actually racing around in the canal:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 07

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 044

Everyone seemed to be having a good time:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 06

Even thought some found it harder going than they envisaged, they kept going:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 052

And the ladies from the local belly dancing class got big cheers for their gyrations:

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 057

Edinburgh Canal Festival 2013 063

Low tide

Musselburgh harbour at very low tide – looks almost like you could walk out off the beach and right into the harbour mouth – I don’t recommend it, tried that once at low tide, but the sand near the entrance becomes increasingly ‘sinky’ and unwilling to tolerate the weight of any creature heavier than a mudlarking bird

Musselburgh Harbour, low tide 01

I’ve understood how the tides work since I was a boy reading my astronomy books, but even now as an adult I still find it a little bit magical that somewhere like a harbour can become absolutely empty of water, the boats left on the mud, high and dry, tilted over on their keels, awaiting the return of the water to float them again and make them useful.

Musselburgh Harbour, low tide 06

Chap sitting by the sea wall looking out, while the harbour mouth awaits the salty kiss of the returning tide…

Musselburgh Harbour, low tide 07

Meanwhile nature makes good use of the changing conditions tidal spaces bring each day (twice), with birds probing at the wet sand in the harbour floor with their specially adapted long beaks, looking for supper. Odd to see them walking pass the bottom of the hulls of boats knowing that in just a few hours this will all again be submerged, the floor hidden and the boats bobbing up and down on the water. The birds had colouring on their feathers that made them blend in very well with their surroundings, had to wait for them to walk near a small muddy pool to try and get some contrast to make them stand out even this little amount:

Musselburgh Harbour, low tide 09

Setting sun, furling sail…

The sun is declining in the sky, time to ship oars, furl sails for another day, make all ship-shape and Bristol fashion
setting sun, furling the sail
I could be wrong, but I get the impression that the tide may be out at this point… You can actually walk down the steps right into the wee harbour floor at North Berwick during low tide, although I don’t recommend stepping out much further than the base of the stairs as the muddy sand is rather sinky.
North Berwick Harbour 4

Edinburgh raft race

Some video footage from the recent raft race on the Union Canal near me – all the rafts were made from found material (yes, there was someone with a floating bath-tub too at one point!). It’s so cool to see life back here now, it was run down for so long, now the canal is refurbished, back in use with holiday barges and some barges moored around the new quays which folk live on year round, restaurant barges go up and down the way, the old derelict areas and the the former brewery are all being redeveloped with new apartments, cafes and bars, while the towpath has been repaired from the old potholed, overgrown mudbath it used to be to a good path for walking and cycling now. And as you can see here as the competitors for one heat try to get to the start the old Leamington Lift Bridge has also been restored to working order. I knew it had been fixed up but for all the times I’ve passed this spot I’d never actually seen it working until now. I know I’m easily amused but it tickled me to see it working again after all this time.

It isn’t a real raft race until someone ends up in the water.