Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I took a short time out on my way home to do a weeks training in Montrose, Scotland. Its been a very interesting few days in spite of the weather being rather chilly. Ah the joys of high winds and freezing rain. The course itself has been very interesting and informative. Its also been a chance to visit some old colleagues who are now instructors at the company training centre and catch up on the juiciest bits of corporate gossip from the north sea world.

I found some time to take some photos along the way. Please enjoy.

Scotland, Or western Alberta?
Starting out from Aberdeen its about an hour to get down to Montrose on the train. Some of the countryside looks surprisingly like Western Canada come harvest time. One thing I like about the UK is that the trains actually work and are a convenience. The 2 hour round trip from Aberdeen costs about 17  pounds. The taxi from the the airport to the train station costs about the same.

High Street,  Montrose Scotland
 First off note the cut-off statue of the bloke on the right of the photo (try to ignore my lack  of photography skills). He is one James Graham, the  sixth Earl and first Marquis of Montose. The man lived a very interesting life and unfortunately experienced a most gruesome end in the time when  Oliver Cromwell was running things round here. Remember "Braveheart" and how they did in Mel Gibson at the end? Same story for this guy. Actually in light of his demise a cut-off photo is somehow fitting .

The church steeple is spectacular - it was built in 1832.

Montrose Public Library
I put this in because I like the building. The library was built in 1908 for "a grand sum of 8000 pounds" according to the local watchman. It just happens to be across the street from a takeaway joint that I frequented during my stay. Not much to do while the pizza is in the oven. The library is nice on the inside as well.

The Dog Park
Found this on the sidewalk. Until today I have never seen an urban parking spot just for dogs. What a great idea. I daresay you would need something a little bit sturdier for anything larger than a Jack Russel.

Medal Course At Dawn
Montrose does have a couple of nice golf courses. Unfortunately I did not find the opportunity to play!. It just wouldn't do to have a post about Scotland that does not have a golf photo in it.

Graduation Picture
I did go to Scotland for reasons other than getting photos for this blog. The course entailed the evaluation of Cased Hole Logs and was attended by a number or folks from various oil and service companies. The instructor (second from right- back row) was quite engaging and I found the lectures to be very specific to what I am doing now. Its a subject that is getting more attention especially since that BP disaster in the Gulf Coast. All in all it was a week well spent. Now its time to get home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Boat

The Old Y in 1967
There are certain sounds that  remind you of just one place. For me its the rattle of shrouds on a boat in the wind. That sound always makes me think of growing up at the lake and old family boat.

Back in the 60's the old man bought a boat for the family. It wasn't a high powered speed boat or anything  flashy like that - it was a variation of an inland lake scow known as a Y-flyer. With its wide beam and flat bottom the "Y" was a great combination of stability and speed, the kind of boat that you could easily take your friends out for that first sailing experience, or race competitively on the weekends. As a family boat it was ideal. You can fit a lot of kids on a Y-flyer and its natural stability made it a forgiving boat to learn on.

Dad wasn't the only one at the lake with a Y. In the 70's they were a popular racing class and come Sunday mornings we could easily see 10-20 Y's jostling for position at the big orange marker in front of our cottage. Sailing races were part of the growing up culture and lake conversations in those days revolved around the fancy new spinnaker that so-and-so just bought and who made the best snacks at the post race coffee parties.As kids we all learned to tack and gybe before we could drive a car and any one of us could differentiate between a bowline and a reef knot.
In the 70's the Y-flyer faced competition from smaller, nimbler, easier-to-rig boats such as the Laser and the windsurfer. Y-flyers tended to  heavy side which made their launching and storage a group activity as well as being awkward to right in the event of a capsize. A blustery day in 1975 nearly wiped out the fleet during an interprovincial regatta. By the eighties the Y-flyer numbers were in serious decline.

Our own Y was sold in the early nineties only for the reason that it was becoming a chore launching it every spring and hauling it up in October.  My brother bought the boat back after a few years - perhaps he missed the rattle of the rigging in the wind - only to find out that to properly refit it the entire deck would have to removed. The project daunted even his considerable talents and so the old Y was donated to the local sailing club. To replace the Y-flyer he found a used Laser-II at a firesale price which is a fine boat in itself but not something that's comfortable to sit in. We kept a lookout for other Y's to buy but the boat had become scarce and nothing was appearing in the local ads that looked interesting.

Fast forward to a year ago. We saw a notice on a community centre that some guy had a Y-flyer for sale, about the same age as our old boat. We gave him a call and  were pleasantly surprised to find a boat in very good condition. The thing had hardly been used and was being stored indoors. My brother was so impressed that he bought it staightaway and sent me some photos showing off his new catch. Apparently she sails as good as she looks. I'm already looking forward to next year, to hear once more the sound of a boat with so many memories attached to it.

The New Y in Action