August 2012

Thursday 2nd

Holy Island

Having arrived here on Monday evening we went ashore on Tuesday to explore the island.  The weather was warm and sunny and I actually wore shorts, a rare occurrence this summer.  First stop was Lindisfarne Castle, now in the care of the National Trust.As we are members this represented a free excursion for us.  Following its retirement by the military in 1893 the castle was acquired by Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine.  He used it as a holiday home and commissioned his friend, Edwin Lutyens, to convert the property for family occupation.  In addition to the castle there is a small walled garden designed by  Gertrude Jekyll in 1911.

After the castle we had a walk around the island and after the walk a refreshing pint in one of the tiny islands two pubs.  The afternoon was spent lazing in the summer sun – its tough being retired.

As we only had 20Nm to go to Newcastle we decided to stay here until Friday.  Wednesday was spent on board doing some small maintenance jobs and watching the Olympics on TV.  Thursday we went ashore again and had a look at the ruins of Lindisfarne priory…We left Holy Island first thing on Friday 3rd and hadn’t gone three miles when we ran out of fuel, AGAIN!  How stupid can you be?  Not as stupid as me.  I’d been keeping a close track of engine running hours and thought we had about 30% of fuel left.  I now know that we can’t do 100 hours on full tanks, only about 80, Dohhhh…….

A long story short: we sailed into Amble harbour (Warkworth) and got towed into the marine by a very helpful fisherman.  On Saturday we did laundry and grocery shopping and replaced a gas cylinder. Having put 40 litres of fuel in from borrowed jerry cans I bled the engine, got it started and filled up at the fuelling pontoon.  We can get about 350 litres of diesel into the tanks and that costs around £400, filling a car is much less painful.

On Saturday evening we got a taxi into Warkworth and had some fine local real ales in a couple of pubs there.  You can’t beat sitting in the evening sun with a cool pint in your hand watching the world go by.

Monday 6th


We are currently moored at the Newcastle city marine, right in the centre of the city between the Tyne and Millennium bridges on the north bank.  There is a Greggs bakery just across the road!  Having left Amble marina at 0600 on Sunday we arrived at the Millenium bridge at 1330.  The bridge has to be opened for us to get through as our mast is 23 meters above the water.  As we were waiting for the bridge to open the heavens opened and Newcastle was subject to an amazing thunderstorm. The rain was heavy enough to create flash floods which featured on BBC news last night.  Here is the view from our pontoon about 30 minutes after we tied up…

The waterfalls aren’t normally there!

This is the view upstream taken later the same day…Our friend, John Grainger, who had been with us in the Shetlands drove across from Liverpool to meet up for the afternoon.  Once the rain had cleared we drove out to a country pub for a couple of Sunday afternoon beers, well I had a couple, John was driving so couldn’t.  Our youngest daughter, Heather, arrived by train late afternoon and she will be with us for a week as we progress further down the east coast.

The plan for this week is to get as far south as we reasonably can, perhaps as far as the Thames estuary, we will see!

Here is a shot of the Millenium Bridge open as we left Newcastle at Monday lunchtime…The Newcastle City marina pontoons can just be made out to the right of the picture under the blue banners on the quayside.  Oh, and did I mention that its FREE to stay there!

Thursday 8th August

Off Filey, North Yorkshire

I am writing from our anchorage in a flat calm sea with a clear blue sky.  We spent Tuesday night in Whitby which is of course famous as being the home of one Captain James Cook and the place that Bram Stoker wrote Dracula.Whitby marina is upstream of the swing bridge which only opens at HW±2Hrs and not wishing to be constrained that much we stayed in the lower harbour on the bridge waiting pontoon.  Tuesday evening we ate fish and chips from the Magpie take away and drank beer in the Black Horse, an excellent small local in the old part of the town on the south bank.

Today we will continue south down England’s somewhat featureless east coast. As there is a high pressure ridge over the North Sea at the moment there is virtually no wind so we will be adding to the climate change problem, very annoying when you are in a sail boat!

Sunday 19th August


Unbelievable, 11 days without internet access!  Who can imagine it?  Not only is the east coast of England featureless it doesn’t have WiFi hotspots!!!  As you can see from the headline we are now in Ramsgate and, technically, our circumnavigation of Britain is now complete after 10 months and five days.  Thats because Ramsgate is where we made landfall last October on our return trip with Emma Louise from Sweden. However, I am leaping ahead…..

Since Whitby we anchored off Filey where we managed to buy a Sea Trout from a local fisherman.  We ate it the following night whilst anchored inside Spurn Head at the mouth of the Humber.  This is an excellent anchorage and one of the few good ones on the English east coast.

Having left Spurn Head we continued motoring south in nil wind conditions.  Not only wasn’t there much wind there wasn’t much visibility either.  After a very tedious day we arrived off the north Norfolk coast and anchored in Holkham Bay ready to go into Wells Next the Sea the following day.  The anchorage was somewhat “swelly” (i.e. Sheryl didn’t sleep very well) and we were glad to move into Wells outer harbour in the early afternoon of Saturday 11 August.  This was Heather’s last day at sea and she had done virtually no sailing, hopefully next time.  Wells channel is only navigable to a boat of our draft close to high water and here is why…I took this early on Sunday morning and there is probably less than one metre depth of water between the red and green buoys; we need at least two metres.

Despite my brother’s mutterings of people with six fingers we found Wells to be a charming place.  We tied up in the outer harbour which is about one mile from the town proper.  No matter they have a miniature railway to transport people between the beach and the town…And here are two people waiting to board…In common with a lot of the north Norfolk coast Wells has a long row of beach huts…Well, I liked them and its my blog!

On Sunday Heather had to leave to get back to Southampton and work on Monday.  Sheryl and I tarried for another day and were able to watch the London 2012 closing ceremony on TV that night – how amazing!

We left on the high tide on Monday afternoon (13th August) and sailed east along the coast to Cromer where we planned to anchor for the night.  As we were manoeuvring to anchor the engine throttle cable broke!  The effect of this is that the engine remains running but only at tick-over speed.  This doesn’t provide enough power to do anything useful – try moving your car without touching the accelerator.  Having spent a couple of hours working on it I decided a repair at sea wasn’t feasible and jury rigged a makeshift throttle with a piece of string.

Following a miserable night in another very swelly anchorage we set off early on Tuesday morning for Great Yarmouth and access to spares, if required.  By about 1600 we were tied safely alongside the Lydia Eva on Great Yarmouth’s “Historic South Quay” (thats what the sign said).Lydia Eva is a steam driven drift trawler and is part of Britain’s historic fleet of 60 ships – Lottery funding doesn’t just buy gold medals at Olympic games you know!

Apparently she has a triple expansion steam engine which still runs on coal.  The vessel is open to the public most days and manned by volunteers who were all very friendly and welcoming.

Another long story short – we arrived in Yarmouth on Tuesday afternoon and left on Saturday morning. I had repaired the throttle cable by lunch on Thursday and after that we were waiting for the weather to improve.  The cable had broken inside the steering pedestal and proved to be a big job to change.  The local Volvo dealer, Prior Diesel, ordered a new cable about 3pm on Wednesday and I had it fitted by noon the following day – very impressive delivery service!  I now have a new spare on board.

As for Great Yarmouth in general?  My impression was a down market Weymouth.  On the plus side beer was less that £3 per pint in the pubs we tested.

We finally left on Saturday morning having made the decision to bite the bullet and go straight to Ramsgate. This meant a night at sea and with unfavourable winds and tides it took us 30 hours to do 120 miles (its more like 90 in a straight line but sail boats don’e go in straight lines).

The wind for the next few days is forecast from the west or south west, funny old thing as thats the direction we are heading.  Our intentions are to be in Chichester for next weekend – August bank holiday and then back to Falmouth for no later than Monday 3rd Sep.

Tuesday 21st


We have just arrived in Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour marina – I’m not sure why its called Eastbourne as its about 2.5 miles out of town.  This was a stop on our way back from Sweden last October.  If Disney built marinas this is what they’d be like – its very antiseptic and has little character.  Still, as there aren’t any anchorages on this part of the south coast that provide good shelter from SW winds its something of Hobson’s choice.  The forecast for tomorrow isn’t that good and we are trying to get to Shoreham where we will stop for a few days, thats another 25 Nm on from here and at least 5 hours. Lady Bee marina in Shoreham is inside the canal and has something of a post industrial fading appeal to it.  Its not too far to walk to the railway station at Southwick and that will allow us to visit Chichester easily.

Monday 27th

Shoreham Harbour

Its about 10:30pm towards the end of a great bank holiday weekend.  We have been here since Thursday afternoon and spent a lot of the time since then in Chichester visiting friends.  Before getting here we left Eastbourne on Thursday morning and motored around Beachy Head and along the coast past Brighton and into Shoreham Harbour.  Here is a shot of the most famous suicide spot in England….The Lady Bee marina in Shoreham harbour is only about three minutes walk from Southwick railway station so it was easy for us to catch the train into Chichester.  We met up with our very good friends the Hodges and James Parker and spent Friday evening in the Bull enjoying Keith Dixon’s excellent selection of real ales. Saturday we went to Goodwood for the horse racing and I got three winners out of six races!!!  Sunday we had lunch at what used to be our local pub, the Park Tavern and were joined by both our daughters seen here with the Hodges…We ran into a bunch of other old friends…Rachel came back to the boat with us and spent Sunday night on board and was able to travel to Storrington today to see my Aunt Kathleen.  Also there were my cousin Beth, her husband Michael and their two boys Daniel and Joseph.  It was really nice to see them all especially as I have no idea when the next time will be.

We plan to leave here tomorrow and move into the Solent where we will spend a couple of days before going on to Poole for Friday afternoon.  The plan is to pick up three of our four children (Sam won’t be there) and a friend of theirs and drop them all in Weymouth on Sunday morning.  After that its back to Falmouth as fast as we can go!

Wednesday 29th


Just a quick update – we left Shoreham harbour yesterday morning and had a good sail in about 20-25 Kts of W & SW winds.  Quite a long day and we finished at anchor in Osborne Bay, to the east of Cowes on the north side of the Isle of Wight.  Here is the view we woke up to…Its an excellent place to anchor in a SW wind and there has been a lot of that today!  We moved around to Cowes late morning to do laundry and some grocery shopping.  Its unusually quiet here for late August and I suppose the weather is to blame, its pouring down at the moment and the forecast is for more strong winds over the next day or so.  I’m rather glad we decide to meet our children in Poole on Friday evening otherwise we’d be trying to get down the channel at the moment.

Last Days of August

Thursday 30th we motored across the Solent into the Beaulieu River to shelter from a F6 Northerly (yes, I’m a wimp).  The river winds up into the New Forest and is perfectly sheltered from all wind directions.  We picked a mooring about half a mile down river from Buckler’s Hard and paid £22 for the privilege – ouch!  The sun was shining so we took the dinghy up river towards Beaulieu in the afternoon.  Buckler’s Hard is where some of the ships of Nelson’s navy were built…We were moored next to another Aphrodite…Indaba is an Aphrodite 53 and the only one of its type we have seen.  Indeed, she is the only other Aphrodite we have seen on our travels this summer.

On Friday morning we slipped out of the Beaulieu River to catch the west going tide down the Solent. On the way out you pass this New England like lighthouse at the eastern side of the river entrance…We had a lovely sail down the Solent and across Christchurch Bay.  Bournemouth was having an air day and the Red Arrows were showing off as we sailed west…See, this blog isn’t all boats!

By mid afternoon we were anchored in Studland Bay having a cup of tea whilst we waited for two of our children, Heather and Ben, to arrive in Poole.  We motored into Poole Harbour and picked them up before returning to the anchorage as the light was fading.

Continued in the September page…


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