Sailing The Tay 1

I love leaving harbour and heading out to visit a place I have never seen from the seaward side before and this was turning out to be a lovely, lovely day.

Dolphin encounters are always enlightening in some way . An interspecies communication of sorts – perhaps an acknowledgement of each other as mutually benign perhaps

As soon as I see them coming I switch off the echosounder – When you have the sonic abilities of a dolphin. Then surely an echo sounder loudly beeping at you like a perpetually reversing bin lorry lorry must be a bit annoying.

If your are so inclined to rewind and re-watch what just happened between us , you will see that they realised there was something out of the ordinary – they made a 200 yard beeline for the boat, They came close and were soon surfacing noisily upwind so that their delectably pungent moisture laden breath, redolent of health and vigour and the full throated smell of the sea , wafted past our noses. The whole pod, young and old, had a good butchers at Katie and Jill and the cameraman from all directions , arsed around for a moment or two, exhaled upwind of us once more and went off across their familiar hunting grounds engaged in their everlasting quest for fish. Possibly heading for the feeding grounds around the Tay bar – just a score or more miles around the corner.

As humans we can only guess at what it would be like to be able to really perceive a world through sound the way dolphins can

Like any carnivores, a pride of lions, a pack of hyena they know their territory and be keen to check out anything new of different that passes through.

they are certainly clever enough to know the regular local boats by their acoustic profiles –

from the the giant booming slab steel walls of the cargo ships, to the the annoying and almost relentless thrum of pleasure ferries and bridge work boats down around the neck of the Forth,

I am sure they would also get to know the local fishermen – and I expect they are well able to perceive and observe the sailing yachts that cluster around anster and port Edgar on sunny days

But they also have good vision so they still like to engage the number one eyeball on anything strange or weird

And Katie , with her three fluke like keels, canoe stern . deep rudder, cloaca like outboard well and tunnel that must bounce sound around most wonderfully seems to intrigue them in some way – katie is a bit of a dolphin magnet.

St Andrews

The pope first shoved his nose into this fine place in 1160 when a cathedral was built to accommodate the healing bones of st andrew – I say bones – The continental catholics – the french, the spaniards and the Italians kept the most glamourous bits of st andrews cadaver to themselves , you know the jaw, scull, thighbone- leaving the religously minded highlanders to make pilgrimages to the eccentrically electic saintly scottish requiry consisting of a hard to identify bit of an arm. A kneecap three fingers and a tooth.

But it was not all about naievely revering bones – The North sea has always been busy with trade – 36 hours in a fastish ship will have you across no trouble – woollen products and grain one way – timber, ceramics, luxuries such as books and pamphlets the other – dangerous ideas from Martin Luther via the printing presses of Holland and Germany came ashore in the hands of sailors and traders all along this coast – religious texts and tracts and even whole bibles in English came in with the ships

literacy was flourishing among the trading classes – many of the the weavers, brewers, millers and masons were numerate and literate so nearly everybody knew some-one in the village who could read the bible and its associated commentaries out loud to friends and neighbours through those long long scottish nights.

In the face of such dangerous developments the local st andrews catholic holy men soon resorted to what they have always done with relish – they started burning people alive – in the insane beleif that you can burn an idea.

Patrick Hamilton burned at the stake for promoting the doctrines of Martin Luther.
George Wishart burned at the stake for defying the Catholic Church

Henry Forest burned alive merely for posessing a copy of the New Testament …. in English.

Once the catholics were sent packing by incombustible protestant ideas the lovely cathedral was demolished by angry literate bible waving scottish lutherans, calvinists etc etc taking revenge for the immolation of their free thinking heroes.

The last time I came past here was in short lived Centaur number 1 – I was having to get a bit of a chat on to get to stonehaven to meet up with the family.

At the time I remember thinking that it was madness to sail past Scotlands longest river– The tay rises in the far west just a spit in land from Oban it is joined by hundreds, probably thousands of streams and gullies draining some of the wettest glens in the wettest parts of our wet country. The Tay is a hard running affair – when a flood of fresh water coming down meets the north sea coming up then it can get really messy over the bar and even under the bridges.

But I like to sail slowly in beautiful places on beautful days so I generally do my best to avoid rough bars in tough weather.

For me, when it comes to geography, it is hard to beat a good east coast sand bar. They fill up your senses – it is not just the visuals, goodness knows they can be spectacular enough, but it is the power of the surging water as it cajoles and caresses and bullies the reluctantly maleable sand into ever evolving visually harmonious patterns and shapes, you can hear it fizzing and hissing from a mile or more away. Close up you can smell the salty dampness in the air created by the agitated, excited waves and the life which thrives on this ever changing chunk of devastatingly beautiful sinuously sculptured natural real estate.

Bars like this one are wonderful hunting grounds for the top predators – given clean open water a mackeral will nonchalantly outswim and outdodge any seal or dolphin ever born.

But here the strong currents change everything

the water depth shuttles sudden deeps to abrupt shallows – these are places where a flick of a powerful fin or a fluke or a tail or a flipper can confuse a fish enough to level the playing field between raw fishy speed and the graceful cunning of dolphins and seals.

Historically the tay has always been debatable land – Hence the hugely impressive Broughty Castle

over the run of 6 centuries it has flipped control back and forth between Highland scots in league with the French and Lowland scots in league with the english .

It saw lots of action during the delightfully monikered yet disgustingly conducted “rough wooing” and was successfully beseiged by the highland scots and catholic french gunners working together against the lowlanders. The French promptly garrisoned the castle with their own men – an entirely selfless occupation aimed at defending Dundee against against the perfidious protestant lowland scots and their bastard double dealing english allies – and allowed them to control and tax the merhantmen coming into dundee to trade.

Sadly for dundee, as often as not , when the castle changed hands the town was put to the torch by the disgruntled former encumbents – as a sort of parting gift to the new tenants

But Dundee always was an industrious place. They are good at rebuilding. The burnings and subsequent frenzy of rebuilding is one reason why the architecture of dundee is a delightful mish mash of stuff from the past 500 years.

It is blessed with a massive easy to enter harbour – shipping is in its blood. One year they built 200 ships – that is a massive industry involving foundries, ropeworks, canvas mills, barrel coopers, victuallers and picklers. These people were really well organised – Dundee was industrialised long before anyone used the word

Dundee, as any learn by wrote o level geography schoolboy from last millenium will tell you, is famous for three things – Jam, Jute and Journalism.

First the Jam –

Dundee, as a town, did ship victualing on a massive scale – preserving meat, fish, dairy products and fruit was a whole industry. Whalers, men o war, merchantmen all needed massive quantities of preserved food. At some point They clocked that by importing a ship load of rock hard all but rejected cooking oranges from spain – and a shipload of cheap carribbean sugar – boiling them up with some nice local water they could make four ship loads of marmalade. Then they started doing the same for Jam – mostly in giant catering cans for ships and armies.

Now for the jute.

Britains burgeoning trading and military empire depended on barrels and sacks. Dundee was already big in the canvas industry – which is fine for clothes and sails but it is expensive, stretchy, fast rotting damp attracting stuff – making it a pretty rubbish cloth for sacks.

Then intrepid dundee traders discovered Jute could be bought as cheap as chips in India – it could be hand woven, and hand platted . The canvas weavers of dundee had one hell of time getting it to behave in a power driven mechanical wool, cotton or canvas mill. It was tough and not very pliable – but in dundee they discovered that a drop or two of whale oil made it more pliable and it would then run through their machines. The resultant burlap, hessian or gunny sacks were incredibly strong, resistant to rot and abrasion. Sacks became lighter, cheaper and stronger – better in every way.

By now the British empire was a world trading mega-power with an endless appetite for good sax – and at the peak of the trade dundee had 100 steam powered jute mills running almost around the clock.

The first world war was very good Dundee – what with the demand for sandbags and ferrying supplies around – the jute was also used in all sorts of manufacturerd products – lino, mattresses, curtains and carpets. It was all going brilliantly until they invented polypropylene – and that was the end of that.

. … And the journalism bit – the Beano was born in Dundee – as were most of the comics and magazines I read as a child and a teenager. Back to the power of the printed word to change society.

–Now the biggest industry in the city is the university – which, however you look at it is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

That night we spent spent on the pontoons at Tayport safely tucked away behind the massive harbour walls.

This is the first of the Tay films – the second one to follow – the timing of that one depends on the weather



you can paypal me any amount here

This is about KTL 11 Sailing the Tay.

19 Responses to “Sailing The Tay 1”

  1. 9 November, 2018 at 7:27 amStephen Mundane says:

    You might want to preface all your Youtube films with this Dylan:

    Might not get any more coins in the Busker’s hat but it would get the message across!

  2. 9 November, 2018 at 9:57 amTed Timberlake says:

    Brill! Worthy of more than a coin or two. Looking forward to part 2.

  3. 10 November, 2018 at 11:14 pmBryan T yacht Difran2 says:

    Hi Dylan
    On my last contribution to your filming you thanked me but asked why I contribute when I can watch Free. Your film and historical comments on the trip up the Tay, are why your dedicated friends/ members /MOB’s are why we follow you on your sailing journey. There are some people who just hit the right button. Many thanks for the tay trip a lovely bit of filming and editorial.
    Regards Bryan T Difran 2

    • 11 November, 2018 at 10:14 amdylan winter says:

      thanks B,

      you are a wonderful man.

      As for the no music trial – it has been kind of fun

      bit like a return to my old radio days


  4. 10 November, 2018 at 11:23 pmEuan Mckenzie says:

    Great film Dylan
    My grandfather was a jute porter for most of his life and worked in that port you sailed past. Keep at it Euan

    • 10 November, 2018 at 11:25 pmEuan Mckenzie says:

      That was after he went to the First World War and survived. They were made of strong stuff in Dundee!

    • 11 November, 2018 at 10:13 amdylan winter says:

      it must have been hard stuff to handle. It is odd how a 100 year long industry can be snuffed out in the twinkling of an eye. I did not understand the importance of Jute until I all but destroyed a bottle of cheap scotch with a Tayport sailor. Fortunately I was only two feet from my bed and he knew what he was in for and had come on a bike.

  5. 11 November, 2018 at 6:20 pmHillary says:

    Another fine film Dylan, I enjoyed the historical stuff. The narration reminded me of some of the early KTL films. Dylan at his best! I thought you might might like to know the progress of the 50th Anniversary of the Westerly Centaur Rally at Bembridge on the 6th and 7th of July 2019. We now have enough Centaurs registered to make it a big Rally. But of course its going to be A REALLY BIG RALLY! The Westerly Owners Association are now supporting it too. But you don’t have to be a WOA member to take part.
    So every time you see a Centaur Dylan give them a shout out and tell them to come to the 50th Anniversary Rally.
    Oh and there is a prize for the Centaur that travels furthest to the Rally. So go and borrow one quick.
    Cheers, H.

  6. 11 November, 2018 at 10:43 pmDave says:

    great stuff as always Dylan. I’m behind on ‘tapping in’ so a donation for the prior series and this one coming.

  7. 15 November, 2018 at 2:51 pmLuke h says:

    Nice video of oop north of yorkshire. Still doing more for uk tourism than a lot of holiday firms combined. I’ve just seen this on ebay, and thought of you . How does sailing in scotland on the smaller boat compare with the centaur? Luke

    • 16 November, 2018 at 8:03 amdylan winter says:

      more to come from the lovely Tay. Thanks for the link to the colvic – bilge keels are good…..however, a canoe stern leaves me very little options for the essential outboard bracket. With an old engine I need the outboard ready to roll – and mounting one and operating it on a round sterned motorsailor is very tough. On the fisher I would have a transom so I can start and control the outboard from the cockpit. I average one prop wrap a year from stray fishing gear and black bin bags so I need a plan B.

      I have bought and prepared two boats for scotland – only to have to sell both in a year… that took a lot of emotional energy. I want the next one to be dead right because running a boat so far from home is £6,000 a year habit.

      as for sailing in scotland centaur v minstrel. The minstrel is a delight to sail – the centaur less so. However, if there is a five in the forecast the minstrel stays on the mooring or the pontoon – a centaur can handle anything the weather cares to dish up.

      Many times in the minstrel I have stayed in harbour while other boats can take a chance on the tougher weather. However, looking at my diary I see that in scotland in the summer I was averaging two days portbound for every three acctively sailing. In the centaur I can stand up – the minstrel is an extremely tough space for an old bloke when the only place I can stand up is under the hatch under an umbrella. I was stuck on the minstrel for three days on a mooring on the forth while the wind howled- sitting down to cook, get dressed, wash etc etc. Moving to a marina would have been nice but I was pinned to the mooring for that time.

      I also found that the absence of heating meant that, even in the summer, me, my gear and the cameras all succumbed to the damp. There was no real way of drying stuff out. You will see in the remaining centaur films which I will be poosting after christmas that the weather is wetter in the west than the east.


      • 25 November, 2018 at 6:14 pmLuke h says:

        That must be very sad to have prepared two boats for scotland and both are gone. Does that mean the little sailor boat in the film has gone too? So sad. Then again i have 3 old motorbikes in the garage and only one of them works at present, one lost keys, other if it had feelings it would be happiest when it catches fire. Its what i’ll be sticking with for now. If you’re ever around tetney in the summer again I’ll be padding up to old louth canal at some point in my kayak. There is a centaur for sale on the usual auction site for 2 n half k, and one or two odd motor sailors.

        • 25 November, 2018 at 6:33 pmdylan winter says:

          Katie is on the mooring on the Deben – 100 yards from the house. She is perfect for here on the shallow east coast and only costs £200 year to keep here.

          – She is less than perfect for scotland.

          it was two centaurs I prepped and then sold…

          One was Harmony, the other was Lily M.

          The story of Lily M is a short one…I will be sharing that with you from January onwards.

  8. 21 November, 2018 at 9:50 amPhilipp says:

    Dylan, I think the Haber 660 has it all. It can even be fitted out with ballast for Cat. B approval.

    • 21 November, 2018 at 10:12 amdylan winter says:

      I agree

      there are not that many around yet –

      with the fishers I would guess that 25 come up for sale each year

      The paypal is slowly building – it is not yet december – this is the big weekend holiday in America and a polar thrust is coming.

      Even as a film editor I have to watch the weather with regard to posting the films


  9. 1 December, 2018 at 12:35 pmRod says:

    ok. i am over here now,,,, was wondering why you sent your good wifey to fishing skool in At Andrews ??

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