The Firth of Forth is a fine stretch of water for day sailing and there are good opportunities for cruising longer distances either up river to Bo’ness and Charleston or down river towards the harbours of the East Neuk of Fife on the north side and Dunbar on the south.
The waters off Granton are superb for racing. Local racing takes place between the islands of Cramond, Inchmickery and Inchcolm to the west of Granton, and Inchkeith to the east. Longer distance racing is to harbours such as Anstruther, Dunbar and Eyemouth. East Coast Sailing week takes place here every third year (and on the Tay and off Northumberland in the intervening years). The annual Edinburgh Regatta is based at Granton and there is a full programme of racing on the Forth co-ordinated by the Forth Yacht Clubs Association.
Granton lies on the South Shore and is served by bus from all parts of Edinburgh. The harbour provides safe refuge in all weathers and is easy of access. Yachts normally take the ground which is soft mud, and keel yachts lie safely to a mooring without attention. The layout of the harbour can be seen on the chartlet in the Forth Yacht Clubs Association pilot. Note that vessels approaching the pontoons near low water should keep within two boatlengths of the pontoon and go no further south than the end of the pontoon to avoid shallow water.
All the moorings in the harbour belong to either the Forth Corinthian Yacht Club or the Royal Forth Yacht Club. The Edinburgh Marina Company, which is jointly owned by both clubs, manages pontoon berths on the East side of the Middle Pier. Visiting yachtspeople are welcome. Water is available on the pontoon, fuel is available from the Royal Forth Yacht Club and buses to Leith and the centre of Edinburgh leave frequently from Granton Square. The nearest chandlery is Seaspan (currently operating out of the ‘Go Outdoors’ carpark).
Port Edgar, immediately to the west of the Forth Bridges, includes a marina with full facilities. Further west lies Grangemouth and the entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal. There are deep water harbours elsewhere in the Forth, but these are purely commercial ports and not recommended except in cases of emergency. These harbours are Leith, Burntisland, Kirkcaldy, and Methil.
The strongest winds tend to come from the South West and the North East. When winds are forecast from the South they are usually much lighter than predicted. In sunny anticyclonic conditions the sea breeze starts about 13:00 off Inchkeith and works its way upriver veering and strengthening. Wind over tide can kick up unpleasant short steep seas, particularly over the extensive shallows south of Inchmickery.
The spring tidal range is 6 metres. Tidal rates seldom exceed a strength of one knot except at the entrances to harbours and between the islands when rates in excess of two knots are not uncommon. Tidal predictions for Granton can be obtained here.
There are two excellent pilots:
• Forth Yacht Clubs Association’s Pilot Handbook: East Coast of Scotland, Berwick to Fraserburgh
• Martin Lawrence’s The Yachtsman’s Pilot North and East Scotland, The Farne Islands to Cape Wrath