There is nobody about among the silent bobbing yachts but on the shore, is a very loudly dressed female, with colourful pig tails and a garland of flowers around her neck. A group of women are standing around her and, every so often, one of them smoothes her hair which is ruffling in the wind. A tall, blonde-haired woman in a wet suit, Andrina Gordon, is smiling fondly down at her. This is Isla Mae, she tells me, and she's so much more than a boat.
Isla Mae is a Chinese dragon boat, a long canoe with seating for 18 paddlers plus drummer and helmsman, and she is the pride and joy of the Port Edgar Dragons, one of Scotland's newest boating clubs. Each week the members take her out in the harbour, as we're doing tonight. It's a laugh and a good form of exercise but there's something else that binds these women together: many have, or have had, breast cancer. The group is inspired by the Paddlers for Life network of dragon boating clubs for women with breast cancer, their friends and family, and is one of only two such clubs in Scotland.
Tonight there are a dozen paddlers, aged 30 to 62, and it's obvious from the wisecracks and laughter that it's the high point of everyone's day. Some people are a couple of years post-treatment, others are still going through it. Andrina, the club chair, is awaiting a treatment progress report, having discovered that her breast cancer, first treated six years ago, has returned.
None of that is in evidence tonight, however. With everyone assembled, the women hoist the canoe off the ground with a few Serena Williams sighs of exertion and carry it to the water, guiding it to the floating quay. Soon we are all in position, paddles poised.
When we set off with a whoosh, I'm surprised to experience something like G-force. We may not be Team GB, but we're cutting through the water like an energetic seal, methodically counting our oarstrokes.
Sitting at the back is Guthrie Stewart, our skipper, directing the boat with the rudder, and also directing us, its human engine, with shouted instructions. Enthusiasm rises off the rowers like steam. At the front, paddling her heart out and cracking jokes, is artist Emma Herman-Smith, 45, club treasurer, who has had primary cancer in both breasts and two mastectomies, sitting next to 30-year-old membership secretary Gena Lau, one of several members who has not had breast cancer; then further back is Anne Wallace, 62, a staff nurse of 35 years from Livingston, diagnosed in 2010, who says she came for a day and loved it so much, "if I'd grinned any wider, my ears would have fallen off"; and Isla McCurrach, 53, an administrator, diagnosed seven years ago, who has an open wound following complications from surgery, not that it holds her back. Then there's Andrina, who describes Isla Mae as "not so much a boat as a rescue ship – we just go along picking people up".
The ethos is non-competitive and being among others with shared experience creates an instant but largely unspoken bond. As Isla says, it's a relief to be somewhere where breast cancer is "not a whispered subject", though at the same time, there is no obligation to talk about it.
And there's another benefit too. Dragon boating, which began in Hong Kong, is beneficial for lymphoedema, swelling in the arms, which can occur after lymph nodes have been removed, disrupting lymphatic drainage. Research from Canada suggests that the paddling action can prevent new cases of lymphoedema and reduce the problem in women with the condition.
After 45 minutes, feeling fully invigorated, we finally surf back to the quay, then haul the boat to the boathouse, before hurrying into the yacht club for warming cups of tea.
There's a cheerful buzz of chatter and a cheeky plate of chips is ordered and demolished. Outgoing, upbeat Andrina, 55, from Bonnyrigg, is clearly the heart of the team, chatting, offering encouraging words and making arrangements for next time. As the light fades outside and everyone begins to disperse, she explains, with her husband Robert by her side, how she set up the club.
Andrina, who has one daughter and three grandchildren, was first diagnosed with cancer in the left breast at the end of 2005. She had just made a career change, giving up her job as an administration manager at Scottish Water, and was eight weeks into studying careers guidance at Napier University. "I took it badly," she says.
She had chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and several lymph nodes removed, then radiotherapy and a year-long course of Herceptin, before taking the hormone treatment Arimidex. She hadn't quite made it to the five-year mark, when a different type of cancer occurred in the same breast. That resulted in a mastectomy.
"I had what they call a dorsi flap reconstruction where they take muscle and tissue from your back, pull it through the front and make a breast for you," she says.
More chemotherapy and hormone therapy followed but then another tumour was found, this time on her breastbone. It was removed using radiotherapy, but a full body scan revealed the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes and liver. It has since spread further.
As she recounts the situation, the strain of it all betrays itself in the tightness around her eyes. "So at the minute," she explains calmly, "I'm having chemotherapy. I'll know soon if it's working or not, touch wood." Then her tone brightens. "Having said that, I really keep well, considering everything that's going on," she says, adding with a burst of laughter, "I do feel disgustingly healthy most of the time."
If it weren't for Andrina, there would be no Paddler for Life groups in Scotland. It all started when she needed exercises to reduce lymphoedema in one arm. The only treatment available was a compression sleeve. "They're ugly, horrible things," she says.
She tried the gym but hated it. That was when her physiotherapist suggested dragon boating.
Andrina liked the idea; the only trouble was, the nearest team was in the Lake District. So in September 2009, she drove to Lake Windermere, to try it.
As it turned out, the boat was out of the water due to another event taking place on the lake, but it didn't matter.
"They have two boats, Diane and Lucy. Megan, daughter of one of the founder members, said 'I'll go and get Diane's dragon head out of the boatshed'," says Andrina, her voice suddenly becoming soft and quiet. "She came out holding this dragon's head with so much tenderness, and they were talking to her like it was a being, that something inside me started to well up and I could feel the tears coming. It was amazing."
It convinced her to start her own group. After advertising for members she got several calls from women in Dumfries and Galloway, who had been coming to Edinburgh for treatment, and by early 2010, was able to form a South West Scotland group.
Yet Andrina had still never put paddle to water. So in February 2010, she drove to Durham for a training camp. She smiles at the memory. "I walked into this room and all these women were sat about getting changed and I didn't know a soul but before I knew it, they were all taking care of me. The moment I got in the boat, I was absolutely hooked."
With Emma's help, she set about organising an Edinburgh group, getting in touch with skipper Guthrie through a contact at Maggie's Centre. Following his intervention, Edinburgh City Council offered to store the boat at Port Edgar for free.
Andrina still looks slightly stunned. "At every turn, something lucky has come along, it's been almost as if it's meant to be."
Isla Mae, who arrived last year, was named not only after the nearby Isle of May, but because Andrina's eldest grandaughter is called Isla and Mae Wests are a name for lifevests inspired by a famously buxom actress.
"I get so much out of dragon boating," she says, with infectious enthusiasm. "There are times when it's very emotional. There is also something very spiritual about the dragon."
As for her lymphoedema? The swelling in her arms has gone, while the paddling action has helped restore movement to her back.
A couple of weeks later and Andrina has learned how her treatment is going. It's good news. The chemotherapy is keeping the cancer under control. It cannot be cured, she says, but it can be treated.
She and the team are now focusing on Leith Dragon Regatta, on June 23, which they're entering to raise money for the club and Maggie's Centre. As ever, the group are keen for anyone who'd like to take part to contact them through the website.
Ultimately, she reflects, dragon boating spirits you away. "The name of this disease can be very frightening, but when you're on the boat, trying to get the stroke right, you can't think about anything else. All those negative thoughts go away."
Supporter Helen Runciman is running the Glasgow Women's 10k for Port Edgar Dragons