05 November 2018

David Corstorphine, RNLI Community Safety Officer, was guest speaker at our 5th November club meeting. 

David started his interesting illustrated talk with some statistics. These included 190 deaths a year in UK and Irish waters and 8436 lifeboats called out last year - 24 a day. Many of these ‘shouts’ are preventable and David, who is a retired teacher and a sailor,  sees his role as one of education and communication - publicising the dangers that exist and providing advice on how to safely enjoy the sea and the coast. We heard too of the importance of properly maintaining safety equipment like lifejackets  

Key messages are to ‘be safe, have fun’ and ‘respect the water’ David spoke in some detail of the danger of cold water shock and of current advice about ‘floating to live’

Anstruther Rotary is a supporter of our local lifeboat station, which has two boats and it was revealing to be told of the number of call outs they receive as a result of the particular danger posed by ‘the Chain Walk’, which is located on the coastal path route. The chain walk is an energetic and adventurous scramble along a cliff face - but one that needs to be treated with respect and only attempted with proper clothing and footwear.

David concluded his talk by describing the difficulty that emergency services often have in accurately locating an injured person in the event of accident. This is difficult when many miles of coastline are involved and where access roads are limited and often narrow and challenging. He described a local plan that is being developed to install permanent marker or location posts. The plan envisages 30 posts being needed to cover the coastline from Shell Bay to Fife Ness - at a cost of around £100 per post.

This was an interesting talk and one that is very relevant for our coastal communities. Following considerable debate and questions a vote of thanks was proposed by Ian Kennedy.

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Elie and Earlsferry History Society...
22 October 2018

22nd October and we were pleased to welcome past club member Graham Meacher, who spoke about the Elie and Earlsferry History Society.

The focus of Graham’s illustrated talk was the work needed to produce a new ‘Heritage mobile phone app’ in partnership with St Andrews University and made possible with financial support from Lottery funding. It was interesting to hear of the many steps needed to produce this digital electronic guide, which will be of great interest for both residents and visitors.

The App enables users to see the history of Elie and Earlsferry through the ages, from the 13th century to the present time. Mobile phone technology is used to harness ‘satnav’ positioning in presenting high quality images, audio, text and digital reconstructions.

What we saw were maps of key historical points, video from drone flyovers of the beautiful sweeping bays of Elie and Earlsferry - and a walk into a virtual reconstruction of the 13th century chapel there. This presented the story of how it might have appeared when in use. We heard too an audio recording of the Weavers Song, in a reference to the old weaving industry.

The App also covers the history of the ‘Mars Boys’ who each year travelled, sometimes by foot, to Eilie where they holidayed for six weeks and using the granary as their base. 

Graham spoke also of the area’s important part in the history of early pilgrims journeying to St Andrews. He touched too on transport and communication through the ages, starting with the introduction of turnpikes and toll roads - and of the industrial heritage of weaving, mining and fishing.

This was a fascinating story of one way in which our modern communications technology has been harnessed Into an easy-to-use guide, making our history and heritage accessible. Following questions a vote of thanks was proposed by Ian Brunton.   


08 October 2018

We welcomed Eric Moran to our 8th October meeting and learned of his enthusiasm for and interest in drones - or  more correctly ‘unmanned air vehicles’.

Eric had with him an example of a small vehicle intended for recreational use. And he said easy to build. Although of deceptively simple physical design with a frame, electric motors, propellers and battery, the hidden microelectronics were clearly complex. With wireless transmitters and receivers, sensors, stability controls, computer and satellite communication, the vehicle was of very advanced design. Yet amazingly inexpensive to buy.

Eric demonstrated his small unit within the meeting room and flight stability and control precision were impressive. Powered by ‘lipo’ batteries, flight duration could be 10 to 30 minutes, depending on battery and vehicle size, with a range of 2.5 to 3 miles. Even small vehicles are able to carry payload such as a small camera and are sufficiently rugged to withstand 20mph winds. Wireless operating range is around 5 miles.

We saw several high quality videos taken over familiar local landmarks, coastline and harbours and heard of the excitement of using on-board video cameras and special goggles to ‘pilot’ the vehicle.

Clearly there are questions of safety and privacy involved and Eric spent some time speaking about operating regulations and of the importance of training. He also described the sophistication now available, where reference to ‘satnav’ information enables vehicles to automatically avoid flight in prohibited areas - airports and similar. The same systems enable a vehicle to automatically return to home if, for example, battery reserves become low.  

Altogether an intriguing talk and, following questions, a vote of thanks was proposed by club member George Hunter.  


01 October 2018

Sailing in the Forth was the topic for a photo tour of destinations visited in Leisure 23 SL yacht ‘Sundance’.

Club member Steve Blaney is an enthusiastic leisure sailor and this was immediately evident as he started his illustrated talk at the 1st October club meeting.

A photo exploration of Steve’s yacht showed everything spic and span from in-mast reefing to Volvo Penta 10 HP motor, to berths, galley, heads, electronic navigation and hand-carved tiller.

Our journey continued at sea past the Isle of May, Bass Rock (with its wind vortices), Aberdour, Inchcombe, Cramond, North Berwick, and back via Crail and Anstruther - with its Sea Queen festival - then on to home berth in Elie.

Along the way we passed the Forth bridges and saw pods of dolphins. Remarkably the entire journey was conducted with the bluest of skies and the most fabulous of scenery! The camera never lies.

More seriously, we also learned something of the knowledge and skill needed to safely navigate in and out of harbours along the Forth coast - many of which have difficult access with low water, rocks and sand bars.

Altogether a fine adventure - and, for most of us, thankfully conducted in armchair comfort! Steve’s enthusiasm was infectious and, following questions, an envious vote of thanks was proposed by Bill Henderson.


10 September 2018

Speaker at our meeting of 14th September was Prof Eric Priest FRSE, FRS: mathematician and Emeritus Professor at St Andrews University. He took as his topic ‘The Sun’.

Professor Priest is a recognised authority in solar magnetohydrodynamics - the study of the interaction between the Sun's magnetic field and its plasma interior. Admittedly not a subject that is much discussed in Rotary circles - but we were treated to the most fascinating, entertaining, wonderfully enthusiastic and humorous - illustrated tour de force about this centre to our part of the universe.

Profound concepts were effortlessly explained, as we learned about our ionosphere, about plasma, sunspots, granulated and tubular magnetic fields, several million degree temperatures in the Sun’s corona and supersonic solar winds.

Photographs by spacecraft of the Sun’s surface and photosphere were stunning, where movement and flares could clearly be seen to be shaped by the Sun’s magnetic field. Terrestrial pictures taken during a full eclipse were also impressive with flares visible at the Sun’s surface. Prof Priest spoke of his expedition to Egypt (complete with a most impressive photograph of he and his wife riding a camel and with pyramids in the background!) to see a total solar eclipse. He described the increasing darkness, cold, sharpening shadows and then, in the last ten minutes, a view of all the planets in a line.  

We heard that solar flares take one or two days to reach Earth whilst ‘fast’ particles cover the 93 million miles in an hour. This gives us the majestic ‘Northern Lights’ spectacle - but can also disrupt spacecraft, satellites and electronic equipment on Earth.

We learned too something of Prof, Priest’s current work interest in magnetic instabilities, magnetic waves and the conversion of magnetic energy to heat.

Altogether we were privileged to enjoy a stimulating and exciting talk, where ‘profound’ feels like an understatement. Following many questions, an appreciative vote of thanks was proposed by club member Ian Kennedy.   


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