2220 BST 25th July DIARY
A long day and another hundred miles. We have just arrived in Eyemouth from Peterhead and its eye watering at low water springs here too. It is NOT an all tide access entrance. At chart datum there is not 2 metres in the entrance. I arrived two hours before LW and there was very little under the keel.
I’m rafted to a Victoria 38 ‘Wild Song’ belonging to Paul Heiney who is married to Libby Purves. He does not know we’ve met before. Doc introduced us at Orford. I think Doc was teaching him some Ocean stuff.
‘Are you an Orford boat?’ he asked as I arrived. ‘I’m from Walberswick!’.
The weather was as expected today. The northerlies died quickly and a puff of NW allowed some motor sailing to extract the maximum efficiency and speed. The wind eventually went southerly and slowly increased to a SE 4-5 which on the run in to Eyemouth I was able to use well, motor sailing close hauled with the stay sail and full main. Sailing and beating the last bit today was not going to happen.
The entrance towered above us as we came in to the harbour with just 0.4 under the keel. And then we touched going deeper in to the harbour to the visitors pontoon so came in to the northerly basin that is dredged, allegedly, to two metres.
I’m on my way home but there might be a few days in Eyemouth waiting for the weather to settle down. I need a rest anyway.
2145 BST 29th July DIARY
We spent one more day in Eyemouth with south easterly winds. It’s a very pleasant stop.
The morning after our arrival Paul popped his head out of ‘Wild Song’ and invited me for a drink that evening. Paul had invited a few other boats.
I shopped and stretched my legs and met the very unassuming Harbour Master, a decorated former Coxswain of the Eyemouth Life Boat.
All these men and women are completely self-effacing.
To be born by the sea and then work the sea, in whatever capacity, all ones life, means helping people at sea without question. It’s an unwritten code. A brotherhood. Local master mariners knew their currents and eddies, their coasts, coves, bays, reefs and skerries like the back of their hands. Long before fancy navigation these men knew where they were. They knew what to find everywhere and what the weather and tide state would have created. Without question they risked their lives again and again to save lives at sea and often paid and continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice themselves. More often than not it was fisherman manning the Life Boat.
The artist Alan Parker is crewing for Paul Heiney. I’ve only seen a little of his work but his painting is wonderful. I really enjoyed their company. The evening ended up with many people on Paul’s boat. Dutch and Scots from different boats. There was a lovely Scots couple, new to the sea, on their way back to Edinburgh in their small boat. They were great. It was a fun evening.
Just before leaving for Blyth the following morning Alan and I visited the memorial for the 189 men lost to Eyemouth in October 1881 in a terrible storm. Many drowned in sight of the women and children on the beaches. The memorial has only just been erected. Alan was interested not only in the story but also in the Artist who he thought he knew. Alan ended up not knowing the artist, Jill Watson, who sculpted the bronze figures. It’s rather special.
It’s a small world. Andras Kalman, our family friend and art dealer, had exhibited Alan. Andras did not always succeed when promoting artists he liked. David Peretz is an example. But I am certain Andras’s judgement as to what was special would always have been right even if others did not share his opinion.
We sailed to Blyth in south westerly winds and after just one night sailed yesterday morning in much stronger westerly winds to Scarborough.
Winds were gusting 25 – 30 knots off the land and we hugged the coast close hauled from the Tyne passing close inshore to Sunderland and Hartlepool before baring away out of the bay towards Whitby. ‘Talisker 1’ goes so well with 2 reefs in the main and the stay sail in these conditions. She just goes straight through the short sharp seas her bow brushing aside the weather and seas, her speed rarely dropping below 6.5 through the water and touching 7+ more often than not.
It was a quick passage.
Coming out from Redcar the scenery is stunning passing, amongst many small drying harbours, Runswick Bay, nestling at the foot of the cliffs.
We passed Whitby again and her east cardinal bell dolefully ringing in the swell.
Then Robin Hoods Bay, where for the first time in eighteen years and 30,000 NM of cruising small boats, mostly in coastal waters, we caught a pot round the rudder. By now the wind had backed to the south. This was enough for me to furl the stay sail and motor the last 8 NM to Scarborough.
Yesterday morning I saw Thomas Hill briefly with his Mum and son Toby. They had been for a sail.
I had to see the Cricket ground and to my great joy the first ball was being bowled as I walked in to this famous place. Scarborough CC 1st Xl were playing a Yorkshire Premier League North match against Woodhouse Grange. The league was split in to north and south due to distance. Pity!
The standard is much higher than club Cricket. Most sides will have a professional. It’s competitive. But the times when this league, together with the Birmingham and Lancashire leagues, were of a very high standard is long in the past. Young girls and boys today are on their computers so the times of playing outside, all the time, is finished. There is a much smaller pool of kids playing games today.
But what a great day at this marvelous ground! Its still packed when Yorkshire play here. Today there were about a hundred or so around the ground. The stands empty. I sat in the very beautiful and comfortable pavilion and chatted with some Scarborough members.
I sat next to Richard Oakes who was born in 1932. Richard, a Master Mariner, has been at sea all his life. When he stopped fishing he became the Scarborough Harbour Master. He served on the Life Boat. What Richard and so many like him offered was an intimate knowledge of the sea. A professional seaman manning the harbour is a marvelous thing and fast becoming extinct. Coast Guard Stations were manned by master mariners who were no longer at sea and often they were working in an area they knew intimately. Their local knowledge and complete understanding of any given situation at sea was golden to those actually at sea. The closure of Coast Guard Stations is unforgivable. Centralizing them miles away from the area they serve is also absurd.
So often now harbours and Coast Guard stations are manned by people who were not professional sailors. What more can one say?
After the game, which Scarborough won, Richard walked me back to the harbour via the castle. Richard has an encyclopedic knowledge of Scarborough and the surrounding seas. An absolute gem of a man who sadly lost his wife Lucy a month ago. His son lives in Ireland and his daughter runs a pub in Scarborough. Well over 30 of Richard and Lucy’s family served the RNLI and certainly one, in so doing, drowned!
Richard knows Ian Furman, a Scarborough man, who is RNLI Southwold. I will look him up!
‘Wild Song’ arrived in Scarborough last night. Libby is on board. Alan leaves for home by train at midday.
I’ve invited Paul and Libby for a drink this evening.
Had a great time with Thomas, Kate, Molly and Toby in the sailing club and had lunch with them.
The children needed a nap so I walked to the top and the castle. Commanding views in all directions is an understatement.
I am going to start looking at weather tomorrow. The weather is fine to leave tomorrow…
‘Talisker 1’ Scarborough Harbour. The inner Harbour does not dry!
0750 BST 1st August DIARY
We are in Lowestoft. We arrived about an hour ago.
I’ve met the first off hand unfriendly Dutchman! What a twat.
I made the mistake of coming alongside him. You cant stay there I’m leaving. Well ok for an hour! Can you use some fenders? What the hell are these I said pointing to mine lined up like soldiers. But it was the attitude of the man. A boat without fenders on the outside in a visiting harbour like this is an unfriendly boat. I should have known. It is so rare to experience unfriendliness on a boat.
We had a mixed sail from Scarborough. Plenty of wind from when we left at 0830 until 1515 when I started the engine. There was a brief switch off and then the engine stayed on until 2225 when we sailed again. Later we had to motor sail the last few miles past Great Yarmouth as the wind was just off the nose and we were about to run out of flood.
At last I saw Flamborough Head. Both the previous times the headland has been obscured by poor visibility. It was a lovely morning. Flamborough Head is 17 NM south of Scarborough. It was an exciting sail with a couple of reefs in the main and the stay sail. And avoiding pots! Rounding Flamborough the sea got heavier for a while.
Last night was wonderful. A clear night with plenty of wind. There was little light pollution and it’s a long time since I’ve seen so many stars. And shooting stars. There was phosphorescence in our wake. I probably should have had some business like reefs in the sails overnight but I didn’t. ‘Talisker 1’ was in her element and simply ate the miles. We were on starboard the wind just in front of the beam.
I had 45 minutes sleep in three separate naps perched inside the cockpit. Just that little bit of rest helps a lot.
I did love Scarborough.
1330 BST 2nd August DIARY
With strong southerly winds for a couple more days we are still in Lowestoft. We might get back to Orford on Friday late when the wind should go westerly off the land. Today its forecast to gust over 30 knots.
Henry and Molly came for supper last night in the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club. Ricki, the steward, did a phenomenal job alone. Dinner was fabulous. It was lovely to see my brother and his Mrs! They brought their friends Mick and Christine from Dunwich. Mick recently crossed the North Sea in tricky conditions. Mick has sailed to the Azores and back.
A Bad State of Mind
After a near catastrophe before I left in June (nearly losing my boat) I have been fighting demons of confidence ever since. It steadily grew and reached its peak in Stromness, Fair Isle and Lerwick.
I knew deep down I could do it. But it took some time to become in sync with my boat again. I’ve sailed from Stavanger to Lowestoft since a week last Friday night and I’m in love again. I’m doing my marvellous boat the justice she deserves.
I have not enjoyed my ‘self doubt period’. Anxiety before departure is healthy. Self doubt of the sort I suffered was not nice. NOT nice at all.