It has become a cruel tradition in recent years that the weather down our way waits until the schools go back before it rolls out its most summery offerings. This year seems no exception —but at least it had the grace to schedule it on a Saturday so that youngsters were able to join in.
Yesterday started out with two-edged promise: A dark belt of rain to the South of the Firth of Forth and a wide swathe of sunshine to the North. At first, it wasn’t clear which would prevail over our part of the border between.
But after a nominal drenching, things picked up. Out in a lugger for a short sail to check on Uri Geller’s Lamb, we sneaked up on rafts of guillemots, mostly paired up as parent teaching chick to dive on what must have been a rich shoal of sand eels. There were even some razorbills and less-colourful puffins (now their beaks have lost their display plates).
As we were quietly under slow sail we could get within feet of them. All of these auks have disappeared from their nesting sites, making islands like the Lamb and nearby Craigleith seem bare, so it was good to find so many of them still local because of plentiful food for them. Not long ago we were losing pufflings because all their parents could find were pipefish and the youngsters were choking on their bony bodies.
Back to harbour in time for the Raft Race highlight of the day, the weather had turned from threatening all the way to brilliant. It became the warmest, sunniest afternoon so far, with just enough cloud to make the views interesting. With a grandstand view from the South Pier (which contestants had to touch as the second marker in a three-leg course), I still couldn’t work out which film/TV themes each raft represented.
Though the finishing times varied wildly—some taking three times the winner’s 8 minutes back to the beach—even the stragglers didn’t give up, paddling furiously against a stiff headwind on the final leg back to the beach Elcho Slip start line.
No idea yet how much the event raised for the RNLI and NB’s Music Therapy Project but I hope it was a lot: hundreds went home happy with the sunburn they’ve been hoping to get all summer. Many thanks to Peter Hammond and the RNLI for providing a brilliant focal point for a memorably splendid day.