Port Edgar (South Queensferry) is Edinburgh’s closest viable yacht harbour, unless you have shallow draft and can manage without mains power (the pontoon at Granton has 0m depth at MLWS, we believe). So Port Edgar is where we stopped for the week while Anne travelled South for a couple of days, and I (Jonathan) caught up with work, sleep, photographs, Edinburgh contacts and a few boat jobs.
The marina is set in a spectacular location between three bridges – it is a view I wouldn’t get tired of as the light changes constantly. It is a fairly convenient location too. You can walk up onto the old road bridge for big views (these days it is restricted cyclists, on foot, or public transport). The colourful village of South Queensferry is only a short walk away and offers a wide range of high quality cafés, restaurants and other shops including a Co-op (turn right by the clock tower, a few yards up the hill) and a Tesco superstore (further up the hill). For crew transfers, the airport is not far away (walk straight up from beneath the older road bridge and catch appropriately numbered bus 747 from the main road). Getting into Edinburgh itself takes longer (about an hour) but is easy by local bus (no. 43) or by quicker train from Dalmeny (allow 30 mins walk to the station, or a £6 taxi ride).
Edinburgh itself of course offers its own magic of majestic buildings, entertainment (some of it free on the streets), food (we tried Tani Modi for breakfast – fabulous), museums, art galleries and more. At the National Museum of Scotland we visited the roof terrace (recommended for the view, seen through a well-curated display of Scottish vegetation) and exhibits on contemporary Scottish life. We also called in at the National Gallery (free) and took in a few impressionists. I went for a swim at the Commonwealth Pool (wow – impressive competition divers practising) with artist Simon Rivett, who also showed me his studio. Thanks also to Simon for taking delivery of our second solar panel, preparing for days at anchor in the Scottish sun as we shed ourselves of luxuries and head North.
Back at Port Edgar, for a visiting sailor it is a mixed blessing. Advantages are great yard facilities (sailmaker, engineers, well-stocked chandlery, and riggers – thanks Kevan at C2), restaurants (Scotts is fashionable and busy) and cafés aplenty. It is also fun watching children learning watersports almost every day – those are hardy kids! The marina staff are great too: thanks Alastair and Alan particularly. And there’s good wifi.
However our impression is of a place not designed for visiting sailors. Essential toilet and shower facilities are the small portacabins in the foreground of this photo. They’re basic, and too far from the pontoons to be convenient. Then if the Westerly wind blows in and the tide falls, swell comes into the marina and causes the boats to rock’n’roll alarmingly. On our first night we had to deploy all our elasticated devices to damp the movement and sleep. There’s a floating tyre barrier at the harbour entrance which reduces chop but is evidently inadequate to quell the swell.
There is talk of a new marina at Granton (closer to Edinburgh) and that kind of development is much needed if vibrant East coast Scottish cities like Edinburgh and Dundee – our next port of call – want to attract visiting sailors. In the meantime, take your chances at Port Edgar and you’ll find supplies, repairs and a warm welcome.
Today (Saturday) we’ve had a sociable day with several friends visiting, and friends racing in the Queensferry rowing regatta. Then tomorrow (Sunday) we’ll set sail again #AroundTheseIslands.