Sunday, 3 August 2008

Sallying Forth

As promised, two of the last three weekends have been pleasantly passed on the waters of the Forth. On our first excursion since arriving home we took Martin along with us to Aberdour, on the Fife coast opposite Edinburgh, spending a peaceful night at anchor before cruising out towards the Bass Rock the following morning.

That was when I discovered that the clamp that secures the tiller to the rudderstock was fractured. Fortunately the assembly still held together thanks to the bolt that had formerly clamped it tight. Thinking back, I knew it to have been in one piece when we left the Azores, as I had removed the tiller then, but noticed sometime during the crossing that there was more play than usual on it. At the time, I put this down to wear on the fitting, as it had been difficult to get it tight in the first place (in fact this tightening must have precipitated the breakage). Still, the part was likely original and 40 years of stress and strain will take their toll.

Back in the harbour, I started asking around to find out where we could get a new clamp made - it's not the sort of thing one can find off the shelf. The first person I asked (Robin, a fellow member of the Forth Corinthian Yacht Club) mentioned a foundry in Powderhall (an Edinburgh district) where other club members had work done in the past. He couldn't remember the name of the place but it was easy to find on the net (

I removed the broken clamp the following Friday and we went along to the foundry where the friendly, helpful and informative Andrew Laing agreed to take on the job for the very reasonable sum of £25. First though, he asked me to check with an engineering firm down in Leith (George Brown & Sons) whether they could/would machine out the various holes as it would be cast in solid bronze. George Brown turned out to be very helpful as well (possibly because he's a fellow sailor?) and by the end of the next week (that's last Friday) we had the new part.

We were very pleased to find that these old firms of traditional craftsmen are still going strong and will still take on small one-off jobs without charging the Earth.

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