Day 56 Saturday, 26th July 2014

Homeward Bound – Blyth to Whitby

Bright sunshine greeted us as we left at 07:30 for the final leg to Whitby. The sea was smooth with no wind, although there were still traces of fog along the coast. Another day of motoring, although the breeze did fill in later, but was, as ever, on the nose !

We were too early to catch any of the Sunderland Air Show, although we heard the noise of the jets later on. Apparently all flights had been cancelled yesterday because of the low cloud. At least Eric got to see the family beach hut south of Newcastle before we left the coast behind, crossing Tees Bay some seven miles out.

The crew look happy now that Whitby is in sight!

The crew look happy now that Whitby is in sight!


We soon spied Whitby High in the far distance and arrived in time for the 5 o’clock bridge. The town was abuzz in bright sunshine with children diving off Tate Pier, the beach full of people enjoying the sunshine and the trip boats racing in and out the harbour!

Ian, the Marina Manager, assured us that Samaki was cooling the white wine and would move out to allow us to park in our usual spot !

So safely back in our home port after covering 982 miles.

A note from the Editor: I managed 594 of these but not the crucial rounding of Cape Wrath and John O’Groats. However, from Malcolm’s blog entries since Kinlochbervie, I reckon that we saw the most beautiful scenery and the most amazing wildlife on the West coast and in the Outer Hebrides. Neither of us has visited the Orkneys so that stays on our bucket list. Watch this space!

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Day 55 Friday, 25th July 2014

Eyemouth to Blyth

All up early, hoping to catch a shower. However, the HM said we would have to leave promptly or else be stuck until after 10:30 am. The fog had lifted somewhat and he said, confidently, that it would clear with the imminent change of tide.

After rounding the Hurkar Rocks, we saw nothing else until Coquet Island, 37 nautical miles away! Except that is the channel buoys next to our waypoints and, several miles north of Holy Island, the murky outline of a sailing vessel, 2 cables to starboard (the full extent of visibility). At first it looked like the Pirates of the Caribbean but the red hull was a giveaway. A quick call on 16/69 proved it was ‘Double D’ with Dave and Mel on their way to Eyemouth. Dave Broughton is WYC Rear Commodore Cruise .

Poor Eric, who had not been further north than Blyth by boat before, was rather put out on missing the beautiful Northumberland coastal castles of Holy Island, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh, as well as missing a day’s opportunity of wildlife spotting. All were shrouded in fog.

Arrive in Blyth at 17:00, having had up to 2.5knt of tide with us through the Farnes, had our showers, ate on board and visited the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club in the old lightship to pay our mooring fees and have a couple of well-earned pints. Our eyes had been on stalks all day!

Day 54 Thursday, 24th July 2014

Arboath to Eyemouth, across the Firth of Forth

Looking back to yesterday evening, Keith was v. impressed by his welcome mat and even more impressed with the Abroath Smokies from Stuarts which were a starter to Keith’s main course of Beef Carbonade he brought all the way from Whitby.

We were unable to leave until the tide gates opened at 09:45 and 5 vessels were revving their engines ready to break loose as a rumour had gone round that there would be insufficient depth to enter Eyemouth at low water,
The day was overcast and windless with a flat sea: the main interest being huge numbers of beautiful gannets flying in large formations over the sea, with many crash diving into small areas of water for their food. I wonder how they actually see their prey ?

It was a good day for whale spotting but none appeared apart from the odd dolphin and seal.

St Abbs Head was shrouded in low cloud hiding the lighthouse and it occurred to me that at this point, Lady Hamilton had actually completed her ROUND TRIP OF SCOTLAND.

We got into Eyemouth with depth to spare but the channel was less than the “maintained 2m”. In fact there were two dredgers parked in the inner harbour, one of which looked as though it had served in WW1.

After dinner on board, we set off to explore the delights of Eyemouth but were soon back on board for a night cap. However, the highlight of the tour was the discovery of BERTHA.

Bertha

Bertha

This is Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s steam-powered iron Drag Boat, presently under restoration at Eyemouth. Designed for clearing mud from Bristol`s Bridgewater Dock the dredger dates from 1844, making it the oldest working steamboat in the world.

The fog rolled in as went to bed and we slept aware of the grinding and squealing of the other old dredger clearing the channel.

Day 53 Wednesday, 23rd July 2014

Arbroath

A welcome lie in, an enjoyable cooked breakfast and we set off to see the Signal Tower Museum on the south side of the harbour.

Signal Tower Museum

Signal Tower Museum

This fine building with the column and black ball on top is all because of the Bell Rock, 11 miles south of Arbroath and a great hazard to shipping. The museum buildings were originally used as the shore station and family accommodation for the Bell Rock Lighthouse. Built in 1813, Signal Tower served the lighthouse until 1955. Both the lighthouse and the Signal Tower were built, for the Northern Lighthouse Board, by Robert Stevenson, founder of the famous Stevenson dynasty of lighthouse builders.

The Bell Rock Lighthouse still stands, 11 miles off-shore from Arbroath, on a dangerous semi-sunken reef. The Bell Rock is Britain’s oldest surviving rock lighthouse. The masonry work on which the lighthouse rests was constructed to such a high standard that it has not been replaced or adapted in 200 years! The challenges faced in the building of the lighthouse have led to it being described as one of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.

Then on to Arbroath Abbey, again a fascinating ruin much more intact than Whitby – so much so that you can go up spiral staircases for the view.

Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey

Arbroath Abbey was founded in 1178 by King William the Lion and dedicated to Thomas Becket. The abbey was established by Tironensian monks from Kelso Abbey who were invited by King William to establish a religious base in Arbroath. The monks remained at the abbey until the Scottish Reformation in 1560. After this time parts of the abbey were dismantled and removed for use in building a new church. The striking red sandstone that was used in building the abbey came from local sources including the cliffs of Arbroath, seen on the journey down the coast.

The Abbey is most famous for the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 in which the independence of Scotland was asserted. The Declaration was a letter to Pope John XXII, marked by the seals of Scottish nobles, appealing against England’s claims on Scotland. Sound familiar? Wonder if they’ve got anything planned for September 2014?

Back to the boat after all this culture, to prepare for Keith’s arrival: a visit to Lidl to stock up for the final leg and a welcome mat for the VC.

Our welcome mat!

Our welcome mat!

Off to Eyemouth tomorrow where we hope to meet up with ‘Double D’ and the Rear Commodore Cruise, Dave Broughton, from WYC.

Day 52 Tuesday, 22nd July 2014

Stonehaven to Arbroath

The Harbour master appeared at 7am to collect his dues – £20 – which was pretty extortionate for lying alongside a harbour wall with no water or electricity!

He reminded us that the tide gates at Arbroath close 3 hours after high water so we left pretty promptly – and turned out of the breakwater into a shining sun and smooth sea.

We motored with the flood tide to arrive promptly at Arbroath at 12:15, shedding our oilies for the first time since the Hebrides.

Spent the afternoon refuelling, watering and washing the boat.

Tomorrow is a “rest day” whilst we await a new crew member, Keith Gowland, Whitby Yacht Club’s Vice Commodore !!

Day 51 Monday, 21st July 2014

Fraserburgh to Stonehaven, round Rattray Head

The Harbour office only opened at 08:30, so it was just before 9am when we could leave for Stonehaven after paying our £10 mooring fee.

The sea had flattened more and there was a good NW wind which helped us round Rattray Head. We were pushing tide so kept the engine going to help us through the growly seas.

Rattray Head is always disappointing as it is so flat and at 2 miles out seems insignificant.

Past Peterhead onwards to Aberdeen, the wind and sea dropping all the time.

Old Slains Castle

Old Slains Castle

Whereas there was little activity off Peterhead, there was a frenzy of shipping and supply vessels in and out of Aberdeen accompanied by the constant buzz of large helicopters to and from the rigs.The AIS proved invaluable plotting our way through the traffic – in fact we managed to maintain our course all the way.

Offshore Supply Vessel

Offshore Supply Vessel

Referring to the Almanac for Stonehaven, I noted that the HM was part time and as it was around 5pm I thought I would give him a ring as he certainly wouldn’t be there when we arrived. He answered immediately and asked if we were the red yacht 2 miles south of Aberdeen. I replied that we were blue rather than red but were certainly 2 miles south of Aberdeen and, as we hadn’t seen any yachts all day, I asked him how did he know our location? To which he responded that he was walking his dog on the cliff above us!

We arrived in the tiny port of Stonehaven at 7pm – the approach is between submerged rocks and the only mooring is on the inside of the concrete breakwater, exact same place as 2010 – see previous blog for picture !

Again we ate on board and took a quick walk round the small harbour town before bed. It felt much different than when we were here in May 2010. It is now high season and there are more small boats and more tourists sitting outside the harbour pub and hotel. Yes, it is sunny – perhaps for the first time up here since I returned to Kinlochbervie.

Day 50 Sunday, 20th July 2014

Wick to Fraserburgh, across the Moray Firth

Woke at 2am to see the WYC pennant cracking away over the hatch above my bunk – the Easterlies have returned.

The boat next to us ( Eline ) who left and came back in in Kinlochbervie crept out at 6am – so we expected an improved forecast at 07:30 which it was, except for fog patches. Sure enough as the wind dropped the fog came in. The fog stayed with us for three hours but there was a complete absence of shipping and we made good progress under engine, getting to Fraserburgh 11 hours later.

Fraserburgh does not like yachts so there were no facilities. We were directed to a concrete pier within the harbour next to the lifeboat. A construction worker enquired whether we were staying the night as he hoped we would not be too disturbed by the underwater concrete breaking activities that would commence shortly.

Spot Lady Hamilton! (In Fraserburgh)

Spot Lady Hamilton! (In Fraserburgh)

A quick meal, in with the ear plugs and heads down.

Highlights of Fraserburgh

Highlights of Fraserburgh