Thank you!

Spring13 020 (4)This is probably our last post on this blog and is a simple, big thank you to everyone who has contributed to our charity. We have now raised over £5000 towards SUDEP Action, which is a fantastic figure to have reached and far exceeds our wildest hopes.

This has allowed us to sponsor the Epilepsy Deaths Register that SUDEP Action has set up at the behest of the government and researchers to provide a national database to record all the circumstances and details surrounding each epilepsy related death. As I mentioned at the start of the fund raising last year, SUDEP (Sudden and Unexpected Death from EPilepsy) is a significant killer, accounting for about 3 deaths per day in the UK (i.e. over 1000 per year), mainly amongst young people in their late teens to early 30’s age range. (This makes it one of the top ten causes of death amongst young people). The aim of the Register is to provide one comprehensive data base which researchers in the UK and overseas can tap into to try to determine what factors might make sufferers more susceptible to SUDEP (such as life style, medication change, diet, activity, etc). Most epilepsy suffers set out to lead a normal life but epilepsy often enforces restrictions on them so the aim of the Register is to provide education and guidance to sufferers and clinicians and hopefully to ultimately identify the means by which SUDEP can be avoided. More information is available at Sudep Register

We finally set the spinnaker!

Our thanks also once again to all those who transported us up and down the country and who took the time to meet up with us, sail with us and e mail us, all of which we greatly appreciated.

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John

 

 

Homecoming

Saturday 14th September – Weymouth to Dartmouth

We need to go round Portland Bill to reach Dartmouth. This is the last significant headland for us to round and has one of the roughest patches of water in the country in the form of the Portland Race running past it. We have concluded from Yvonne’s investigations and calculation yesterday that we can go round Portland Bill any time that the tide is flowing west. We plan to round it at 0700 once there is enough light to see the lobster pots off the headland so set the alarm for 0530. It rains again over night and the morning dawns grey and overcast.

Yesterday a couple of boats arrived late in the evening (in the pouring rain) and sought to raft up outside of us but we managed to persuade them both to go elsewhere due to our early start. (Rafting up is necessary when the space is too small to accommodate all boats against the quay or pontoon. It requires an element of tolerance by all concerned as the outside boats crew have to walk over the foredeck of the inside boat to access land so minimising such trips and the inevitable noise is needed. It is normal to help incoming boats to moor up against one’s boat. Sooner or later boaters have to expect to be the inside or outside boat so courtesy and help is the order of the day).

Sunrise over the Dorset coast en route to Portland Bill

Sunrise over the Dorset coast en route to Portland Bill

We are not the only boats on the move. The weather forecast shows that there is a window of opportunity to move today before several days of strong winds and bad weather. This has scuppered our plans for a leisurely few days travelling along this coast but we don’t have the flexibility now to arrive at Dartmouth later than Tuesday.

Part of the huge breakwater that forms Portland Harbour. The harbour is still used by the Navy (witness the Royal Fleet Auxilliary in harbour) as well as commercial shipping, the UK Sailing Academy (constructed for the 2012 Olympics) and as a leisure boating marina. Commenced in 1848, it took convicts 23 years to construct using Portland stone hewn from the Tout Quarry. This quarry is now closed but has been taken over by artists who have created sculptures and carvings in the rock face.

Part of the huge breakwater that forms Portland Harbour. The harbour is still used by the Navy (witness the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in harbour) as well as commercial shipping, the UK Sailing Academy (constructed for the 2012 Olympics) and as a leisure boating marina. Commenced in 1848, it took convicts 23 years to construct using Portland stone hewn from the Tout Quarry. This quarry is now closed but has been taken over by artists who have created sculptures and carvings in the rock faces.

We motor out as the sun rises and set the main sail in the almost windless morning. The clouds gradually clear as we motor up the east of Portland Harbour with its massive breakwater and then on past the headland where we can see the quarries used to provide the stone for the Harbour. We can see a few old wooden gantries that must have been used to load the stone onto barges when the harbour was built by convicts. It must have been hard work!

The advice from Reed’s Almanac and the Coast watch people is to keep within 1 cable of the shore to avoid the Portland Race where there is a strong tidal rip and overfalls. (A cable is 1/10th of a sea mile – about 200 yards).

The lighthouse at the southern end of Portland is the true Portland Bill - not the headland!

The lighthouse at the southern end of Portland is the true Portland Bill – not the headland!

As the headland approaches we can see the breaking waves of the Race off shore but we keep almost within touching distance of the shore and travel through relatively smooth water. We round the headland, passing Portland Bill. There are a total of three light houses – the working one with its red and white striped tower and two old disused ones known as the High and Low Lighthouses. To our surprise there is a crowd of photographers at the headland. The sky has cleared and there is a lovely light for photography – or perhaps they were waiting to photograph any boat that misjudged the right track and went through the race. In any event, we come through this notorious stretch of water without difficulty.

We had a fine final sail form Weymouth to Dartmouth, reaching across Lyme Bay in a north westerly wind achieving over 8 knots over the ground for long periods of time.

We had a fine final sail from Weymouth to Dartmouth, reaching across Lyme Bay in a north westerly wind and achieving over 8 knots over the ground for long periods of time.

As we round the head we catch the north-westerly wind so set ¾ of the genoa and full mainsail, switch off the engine and sail away. It turns into a lovely, if lively, sail across Lyme Bay. In the distance we can see the Jurassic Coast with its various cliffs.

We sail on as Portland gradually disappears over the horizon behind us. We see other boats as we cross Lyme Bay. After a couple of hours we see land ahead. Lyme Bay curves in such a way that the orientation of the land is not quite as one would expect. In the distance we can see Torbay, Paignton and Torquay. A large container ship which appears to have been anchored in Torbay comes towards us so we alter course slightly to keep our distance. (Torbay is east facing and has been a favourite anchorage for centuries for ships as they are sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds). Berry Head just south of Brixham becomes clear. We try calling Nigel Thorpe to confirm we will arrive at Dartmouth today but without success.

Th Dartmouth Daymark has been a welcome sight to sailors since the 1860's. This and other daymarks were set up as navigational aids in the days when coastal navigation consisted of a compass, telescope, basic chart and mark 1 eyeball. Much of the coastline looks the same from the sea with inlets to safe havens such as the River Dart merging into the grey rocks of the coast. each day mark is unique - the Dartmouth one is like a stone quadrapod. Dart Harbour Commissioners continue to maintain this structure, even though  modern navigation makes it obsolete for many (but not all ) boats.

The Dartmouth Day Mark has been a welcome sight to sailors since the 1860′s. This and other day marks were set up as navigational aids in the days when coastal navigation consisted of a compass, telescope, lead line, chart and Mk 1 eyeball. Much of the coastline looks the same from the sea with inlets to safe havens such as the River Dart merging into the grey rocks of the coast. Each day mark is unique – the Dartmouth one is like a stone quadruped. Dart Harbour Commissioners continue to maintain this structure, even though modern navigation makes it obsolete for many (but not all ) boats.

The entrance to the River Dart. The Tudor castles on each side once had a chain which could be drawn across the entrance to guard this fine port.

The entrance to the River Dart. The Tudor castles on each side once had a chain which could be drawn across the entrance to guard this fine port.

The Dartmouth Day Mark becomes clear and gives us a definite point to aim for in the otherwise grey cliffs along this stretch of coast. By 1400 we are off the entrance to the River Dart.

A naval frigate departs and the Torbay lifeboat speeds past on a “shout” as we take our sails in for the last time and motor into the river.

The Torbay lifeboat on a "shout" to tow a motor cruiser with failed engines and electrics off Slapton Sands and into Dartmouth. This is a Severn Class lifeboat, the same type as we "drove" in the simulator at the RNLI College in Poole.

The Torbay lifeboat on a “shout” to tow a motor cruiser with failed engines and electrics off Slapton Sands and into Dartmouth. This is a Severn Class lifeboat, the same type as we “drove” in the simulator at the RNLI College in Poole.

Dartmouth is a wonderful home port: it can be entered at any time and state of weather or tide. Once inside, the river provides excellent protection from the weather. The river itself is of outstanding natural beauty and boasts over 1000 years of maritime heritage. Dartmouth on the west side is a lovely and lively old town whilst Kingswear on the east is a proudly independent large village. It is possible to navigate at the appropriate state of tide all the way up to Totnes, about fourteen miles from Dartmouth.

Dartmouth is one of the best natural harbours in the country with a fine town and a beautiful river behind the entrance.

Dartmouth is one of the best natural harbours in the country with a fine town and a beautiful river behind the entrance.

Nigel’s new motor launch, Freia, is on the mooring usually used by Sundart (although it is actually Nigel’s mooring) so we decide to go up river to Dittisham for a quiet cuppa and to wind down from the end of our trip. The river is as lovely as ever in the afternoon sun with boats of all sorts coming and going.

Nigel T greeting us on our safe arrival back at our home port with a bottle of bubbly

Nigel Thorpe greeting us on our safe arrival back at our home port with a bottle of bubbly

As we moor up Nigel calls us over the VHF and we arrange to meet at Dittisham. Nigel has had a busy day already, ferrying his cousin’s daughter and her friends for a morning out to Salcombe. He brings a bottle of champagne to celebrate our return and we sit drinking it in the sun, catching up on the latest news. It is lovely to be welcomed back to our home port. He kindly invites us to supper with some old family friends.

The South Devon Steam Railway Company was founded to prreserve the railway between Piagnton and Kingswear (opposite Dartmouth). It runs a regular steam hauled service during the tourist season and has expanded its services to include the river ferries and tourist boats. The Kingswear Castle, a steam powered ferry,  is the latest addition to their fleet

The South Devon Steam Railway Company was founded to preserve the railway between Paignton and Kingswear (opposite Dartmouth). It runs a regular steam hauled service during the tourist season and has expanded its services to include the river ferries and tourist boats. The Kingswear Castle, a steam-powered ferry, is the latest addition to their fleet

We motor back down the Dart and moor at one of the Dart Harbour Authority deep water pontoons. Nigel brings his tender Arwen over for us to use to get to shore and after John has run him back to shore we pack the boat up for the last time and complete and sign off the log that we have been keeping for the last 121 days. We have covered around 2600 nautical miles (equivalent to about 3000 land or statute miles), stopped at 88 ports, harbours, marinas and anchorages and achieved our aim of visiting all 4 countries of the United Kingdom. Surprisingly, we have ended up back at Dartmouth on the exact day that we scheduled when we were planning the trip all those months ago.

For full details of our trip click here: Sundart round UK trip 2013 – The final tally

The boat tidied up, we set off around 1800 for Nigel’s and walk up Clarence Hill to his lovely house and an interesting evening learning about wine from Nigel’s family friends Peter and Pippa, who are both Masters of Wine and who select wines for Asda.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                                        48.4 nm

Total miles for the trip:                     2598.6 nm

Engine hours:                                 2.5 hours

Total engine hours for the trip:         314.0 hours

Hours sailed:                                   7.0 Hours

Total hours sailed for the trip           573.6 hours

Sunday 15th September – A wet day in Dartmouth

True to forecast, the weather is wet and windy for most of the day. John makes a quick trip to shore in Arwen for the Sunday paper and milk. We are rather tired so we enjoy the paper in the morning before setting to to pack our bags. We need to clear space so we can also strip the boat of the loose items that will not be sold with it.

Monday 16th September – Packing up and a brief trip up river.

Our personal stuff packed, we take Sundart up river to the Noss Marina where we have arranged to meet co-owners Phil and Nigel to visit a prospective broker to sell the boat. As part of the deal Sundart will be lifted out at Noss later this week to be polished up and antifouled and a few tidying up jobs done pending storage on the hard whilst she is sold. This will avoid paying for extra moorings.

We off-load our bags into Nigel’s car and return to the deep water pontoon opposite Dartmouth to start clearing out all the lockers of 29 years of accumulated “stuff”. It is just like moving house but in a smaller space!

We receive a message from our friends Errol and Joy DeBono to say that they and another couple Len and Eileen Darling will come to Dartmouth tomorrow to welcome us home. They are part of a wider group of John’s ex-university friends (who we have been going on an annual holiday with for the past 34 years!). They had been expecting us on Tuesday due to our last blog so it will be a delayed welcome.

Tuesday 16th September – Clearing Sundart and a delayed welcome home.

Tea at the Sloping Deck Restaurant in Dartmouth with the "welcome home" party: Joy, Len, JR, Nigel, Di, YV, Eileen and Errol. The Sloping Deck is a fine old institution at Dartmouth. Situated in the Butterwalk - a restored timbered Jacobean row of shops - it provides a wonderful array of bread, pasties and patisserie onthe ground floor and lunches and teas on the first floor with a true "sloping deck" of a floor without a single level area on it!

Tea at the Sloping Deck Restaurant in Dartmouth with the “welcome home” party: Joy, Len, JR, Nigel, Di, YV, Eileen and Errol. The Sloping Deck is a fine old institution at Dartmouth. Situated in the Butterwalk – a restored timbered Jacobean row of shops – it provides a wonderful array of bread, pasties and  patisserie on the ground floor and lunches and teas on the first floor with a true “sloping deck” of a floor without a single level area on it!

With Sundart cleared up, we meet co-owners Nigel and Phil at the quayside to off-load all the removable items, the sails and life raft before returning to the deep water pontoon.

Joy and Errol, Eileen and Len and also Nigel and Di Pepperdine (who are kindly ferrying us home) all arrive mid-afternoon so we go to a favourite old haunt at the Sloping deck to enjoy tea and their excellent cakes to catch up. Errol presents us with a bottle of bubbly and a welcome home card from the whole gang. It is a lovely gesture.

The welcome party moved on to the Windjammer in Dartmouth where we enjoyed a good meal.

The welcome party moved on to the Windjammer in Dartmouth where we enjoyed a good meal.

After loading Nigel’s car with about half our clobber (there not being room for it all!) we rejoin the others and enjoy a good meal and plenty of chat at the Windjammer – a traditional pub in Dartmouth that serves decent beer and food.

Nigel and Di return with us to Sundart for a final night on the boat before she is taken up to Noss tomorrow for lift out. The boat looks rather bare now that everything has been packed up and taken off.

Wednesday 17th September – Home

Farewell to Sundart on Wednesday 15th September. Later that day she was taken to Noss Marina and lifted out in readiness for sale. Our friends Di and Nigel Pepperdine kindly transported us and much of our clobber back to Melbourne.

Farewell to Sundart on Wednesday 15th September. Later that day she was taken to Noss Marina and lifted out in readiness for sale. Our friends Di and Nigel Pepperdine kindly transported us and much of our clobber back to Melbourne.

We leave the boat by mid-morning as Nigel T and Phil will take her up to Noss at midday. We make a final effort to maximise what we can fit in the car then set off. We are very grateful to Nigel and Di Pepperdine for coming to fetch us as we avoid having to leave most of our stuff in Dartmouth and travelling home by train.

After an uneventful journey we arrive home by mid-afternoon. The adventure is over and it is time to tackle a mountain of post and adjust to “normal” life – whatever that is!

We have had a wonderful trip with 4 months of adventure and interest and the odd scary bit! We have been touched by the support we have received, the family, friends and people we have met round our coasts, those who have sailed with us and the messages of support and interest we have received. (Messages have come from as far afield as Australia!). The support and interest has been wonderful.

Above all, we have been hugely grateful to all those who have supported our charity. We have so far raised over £3000 for SUDEP Action which has surpassed our wildest expectations and allowed us to sponsor their Epilepsy Deaths Register, which we will write about further in our final blog once the money is all gathered in. In the meantime, if you want to learn about this then click here: Epilepsy Register. If you want to contribute to our charity then click here: The Crusoes Virgin Money Giving Page.

Finally, if anyone is dreaming of an adventure such as this then our advice is: JUST DO IT!

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John

The Solent, Poole and Weymouth

Monday 9th September – Thorney Island to the Folly Inn via Portsmouth

It rains again over night and the morning dawns grey and overcast. After breakfast we talk to Nigel Thorpe, one of the co-owners. Nigel is arranging to get Sundart lifted out as soon as we return to Dartmouth and on the market as soon as possible so we discus the details of removing our kit and the various loose items off the boat.

Horse Sand Fort. One of a string of forts across the entrance to the Solent near Portsmouth. This is one of the larger Royal Commission Forts built between 1865 & 1880. In WW2 concrete blocks were sunk between here and the shore which remain in place with only two narrow passages through to block U boat entry to Portsmouth

Horse Sand Fort. One of a string of forts across the entrance to the Solent near Portsmouth. This is one of the larger Royal Commission Forts built between 1865 & 1880. In WW2 concrete blocks were sunk between here and the shore which remain in place with only two narrow passages through to block U boat entry to Portsmouth

We need to go to Portsmouth to collect Charles and Judith after lunch, as they have volunteered for another stint with us. The weather forecast is for force 4 to 5 winds although the reality is a light force 1; we set 2 reefs in case it is stronger outside the harbour and motor out. In reality, once we get out the winds remain light so we shake out the reefs and set full sail. We don’t need to be at Portsmouth until 1400 so we sail slowly towards Horse Sand Fort where we turn alongside the shipping channel into harbour. Small ships have to follow their dedicated channel out of the main ship channel and keep watch on the Port Control Channel 11 but today it is calm and relatively quiet with just a few Isle of Wight ferries coming and going.

The hovercraft ferry to Ryde. The hovercraft was invented by Sir Christopher Cockerell and was first built in the UK. Griffiths Aviation now build them

The hovercraft ferry to Ryde. The hovercraft was invented by Sir Christopher Cockerell and was first built in the UK. Griffiths Aviation now build them

The hovercraft to Ryde blasts by as we enter port.

The entrance to Portsmouth with the Spinnaker Tower visible. The photo is taken from the small boat channel to one side of the main ship channel.

The entrance to Portsmouth with the Spinnaker Tower visible. The photo is taken from the small boat channel to one side of the main ship channel.

We have radioed to Gunwharf Quay, which is right next to Portsmouth Harbour station so we can collect Charles and Judith there although there is a fee of £5 for 10 minutes pick up – nice business if you can get it!

The Royal naval dockyard at Portsmouth with an interesting array of modern warships.

The Royal naval dockyard at Portsmouth with an interesting array of modern warships.

HMS Warrior - the latest thing in 1860. This ship was restored at Hartlepool by the same team who restored HMS Trimcomalee

HMS Warrior – the latest thing in warship design in 1860. This ship was restored at Hartlepool by the same team who restored HMS Trimcomalee

We motor past the Royal Naval yards, which we thought were being run down but in fact have quite a few modern war ships in, including one of the latest Type 45 stealth destroyers with the unusual angular hull and superstructure and a huge radar tower and command centre.

Nelson's flagship Victory is currently under wraps being rennovated. The Mary Rose (Henry VIII's flagship) is in the covered museum next door, as is HMS Warrior

Nelson’s flagship Victory is currently under wraps being rennovated. The Mary Rose (Henry VIII’s flagship) is in the covered museum next door, as is HMS Warrior

It makes a stark contrast to Nelson’s flagship Victory (currently undergoing restoration) and Warrior nearby. We pass a police patrol launch idly patrolling outside the dockyard – it must be a mind numbingly boring job for 99% of the time. We find a vacant mooring buoy and tie up to have lunch in the afternoon sunshine.

The 115 m high Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth, right next to Gunwharf Quay. Built as part of the Rennaisance of Portsmouth project and finally completed in 2005, it has been a great success.

The 115 m high Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth, right next to Gunwharf Quay. Built as part of the Rennaisance of Portsmouth project and finally completed in 2005, it has been a great success.

Charles and Judith are on time so we collect them from Gunwharf Quay (under the shadow of the Spinnaker Tower) and set off into the Solent for Cowes. The wind has freshened and we have a pleasant sail along the Solent, albeit against the tide.

Once we reach Cowes we decide to go down the River Medina to moor at the Folly Inn a mile or two south of Cowes. Cowes is, as ever, busy with Red Funnel Ferries, the Fast-Cat ferry and the chain ferry all busy, plus an oil coaster coming out of the river, presumably having re-fuelled the local power station. The Folly Inn is an institution in this area, with the word INN painted large on its roof. It is apparently very busy in the season but quiet today and we have no problem mooring up. We decline the offer of the ferry to the Inn at £2.50 per person and spend the night on board.

Charles and John roll up their sleeves to sort out the failed anchor winch. Charles brings to bear a working life of railway engineering, persuading electrical items to keep working underneath wet and windy railway trains. The motor is initially reluctant to come out but some careful unpicking of sub-standard nylon washers frees it. We strip the motor down and find the inside rather rusty with seized brushes. Charles diagnoses a design fault based on his experience that no matter how hard you try it is impossible to completely keep water out of electrical things under wet trains or in damp anchor lockers so better give the water somewhere to run out so the electrics dry out and keep running. We reassemble the motor with modifications to the brush cover and presto: it works first time, spinning ever faster as the muck comes off the rotor. The anchor winch is re-assembled with its motor and the winch re-sealed into the anchor winch well and it still works. Tomorrow we will try it for real.

John cooks up a curry for supper.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       20.1 nm

Total miles to date:          2467.1 nm

Engine hours:                  2.4 hours

Total engine hours:          302.1 hours

Hours sailed:                   6.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           545.1 hours

Tuesday 10th September – Folly Inn to Beaulieu River

Sundart on the Town Quay at Cowes

Sundart on the Town Quay at Cowes

The day dawns sunny with a fair breeze. Today we will explore the Solent. Breakfast over, we motor out of the river and moor up at the Town Quay at West Cowes for a quick spot of shopping. Cowes is a pleasant old town with an old fashioned High Street but we don’t tarry long as we need to clear the quay. Back on board the assistant harbour master pays us a visit to inform us that the boat is too big to stay here. We have a pleasant chat as he is a yacht owner; he lets us off the mooring fee and we depart.

Cowes attracts all sizes, types and ages of sailing ships

Cowes attracts all sizes, types and ages of sailing ships. This is the Earl of Pembroke from Bristol.

Cowes is a delightful old town with a proper high street as well as being a yachtie mecca

Cowes is a delightful old town with a proper high street as well as being a yachtie mecca

A gaff rigger sailing by Cowes in the sunshine

A gaff rigger sailing by Cowes in the sunshine

The Red Funnel line has been a feature of Cowes for many years. The captains need a considerable level of skill to negotiate the narrow channel and miss all the small boats that are often milling around

The Red Funnel line has been a feature of Cowes for many years. The captains need a considerable level of skill to negotiate the narrow channel and miss all the small boats that are often milling around

It is a lovely sailing day as we set sail westwards towards Newtown Creek. The tide is against us but it is sunny and we have a good wind to reach down the Solent, passing the sailing clubs at the entrance to the medina at Cowes, avoiding the ferries and making our way west.

The "gunsight" leading marks at the entry to the Newtown River

The “gunsight” leading marks at the entry to the Newtown River

The anchorge in Newtown River. This was once used by the Romans as their principle harbour but has long been a quiet spot. A century ago there were salt pans and a meadow behind the ruined wall on the left.

The anchorage in Newtown River. This was once used by the Romans as their principle harbour but has long been a quiet spot. A century ago there were salt pans and a meadow behind the ruined wall on the left.

We enter Newtown Creek using the unique “gun sight” leading marks and anchor up. The harbour master pays us a visit but as this is National Trust Property and we are all members we are exempt from payment. We chat to him for a while and obtain a leaflet describing this interesting area.

Lunch taken, we try the anchor winch and happily it works; we set sail eastwards. By this time the tide has turned against us but once again there is enough wind to sail over it and we can enjoy the views of both sides of the Solent in the sun as we make our way to the Beaulieu River.

The UK has a programme to train young sailors in ocean racing. Here two 40 ft yachts practice, reaching down the Solent

The UK has a programme to train young sailors in ocean racing. Here two Open 40 type yachts practice, reaching down the Solent

A couple of open 40 racing yachts pass by.

The entrance to the Beaulieu River requires careful navigation due to the sand banks. The entrance safely negotiated, we anchor inside Gull Island by “port hand mark No. 22” in a lovely tranquil spot.

Anchored off Gull Island in the Beaulieu River

Anchored off Gull Island in the Beaulieu River

The Beaulieu River is part of the Lord Montague of Beaulieu’s estate whilst Gull Island is a wild life sanctuary. Godwits, oyster catchers, black headed gulls and curlews stalk the mud flats for food as the tide drops. Charles and Judith make spaghetti bolognaise for supper and we settle down to a cosy evening with the sound of the evening chorus from the various birds as the sun sets. Charles and Judith cook up spaghetti bolognaise washed down with a glass of Italian red.

Tomorrow we will leave the Solent and head for Poole as we start making tracks further west.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       20.1 nm

Total miles to date:          2487.2 nm

Engine hours:                  2.0 hours

Total engine hours:          304.1 hours

Hours sailed:                   6.8 Hours

Total hours sailed;           551.9 hours

Wednesday 11th September – Beaulieu River to Poole

Bucklers Hard with the old slipways in the foreground

Bucklers Hard with the old slipways in the foreground

The morning is a hazy day with hints of sun. After breakfast we decide to motor up river to have a look at Buckler’s Hard as  the tide will not turn the right way for us to get out of the Solent past Hurst Castle until mid-afternoon. We up anchor using the newly repaired winch and discover that we have just touched the mud on the river side but no problem. We motor up against the stream and have a good look at the village and surroundings but don’t stop as we need to sail along the Solent and in any case there is a landing charge!

The Waverley: the last steam powered paddle steamer built in the UK and now a pleasure steamer

The Waverley: the last steam powered paddle steamer built in the UK and now a pleasure steamer

A yacht from the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust takes young people aged between 8-24 sailing to help them regain their confidence, on their way to recovery from cancer, leukaemia and other serious illness.

A yacht from the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust takes young people aged between 8-24 sailing to help them regain their confidence, on their way to recovery from cancer, leukaemia and other serious illness.

We manage to sail down the river and out into the Solent, taking care to avoid the sand banks at the entrance as the tide is still low. We have a good sail west along the Solent, albeit rather slowly as we are against the tide. We notice several boats much closer to the shore in shallower water going our way that seem to make better progress – we make a mental note for future reference to use the shallow water at the edge when going against the stream.

As we sail along various interesting boats pass by including a yacht from the Ellen MacArthur Trust and the SS Waverley.

The Needles off the western end of the Isle of Wight - a famous landmark for generations of seafarers

The Needles off the western end of the Isle of Wight – a famous landmark for generations of seafarers

The western exit from the Solent. Hurst Castlre to the right, the Needles to the left.

The western exit from the Solent. Hurst Castle to the right, the Needles to the left.

Hurst Castle  is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, built at the end of a long shingle spit at the west end of the Solent to guard the approaches to Southampton. Hurst Castle was sited at the narrow entrance to the Solent where the ebb and flow of the tides creates strong currents, putting would-be invaders at its mercy. Also known as a Henrician Castle, Hurst was built as part of Henry's chain of coastal defences to protect England during the turbulent times of his reign. Charles I was imprisoned here in 1648 before being taken to London to his trial and execution. The fort was modified throughout the 19th century, and two large wing batteries were built to house heavy guns. It was fortified again in World War II and then decommissioned. It is now owned by English Heritage

Hurst Castle is one of Henry VIII’s Device Forts, built at the end of a long shingle spit at the west end of the Solent to guard the approaches to Southampton. Hurst Castle was sited at the narrow entrance to the Solent where the ebb and flow of the tides creates strong currents, putting would-be invaders at its mercy. Also known as a Henrician Castle, Hurst was built as part of Henry’s chain of coastal defences to protect England during the turbulent times of his reign.
Charles I was imprisoned here in 1648 before being taken to London to his trial and execution. The fort was modified throughout the 19th century, and two large wing batteries were built to house heavy guns. It was fortified again in World War II and then decommissioned. It is now owned by English Heritage

We reach Hurst Castle just before the tide turns at 1500 and pass slowly through. The famous Needles are clearly visible. However, the wind dies so we end up motor sailing. We have several boats for company including a small, 30 ft yacht that motors ahead of us.  There is enough tide to go over the shallows on the direct route to Poole. In due course the wind starts to set in as the sky gets grayer. We resume sailing close hauled, keeping pace with the little boat ahead that seems to sail well on the wind. The wind continues to build and gets gusty and it starts to rain – farewell to our fine weather in the Solent! We take in two reefs but as time is pressing to catch the tide into Poole Harbour past Sandbanks and the wind is dead ahead we end up motoring into the wind. The little yacht goes in via the shallow channel from the north, we go in via the main channel but the little yacht just beats us.

Sandbanks at the entrance was once said to be the most expensive place to live in the UK. One suspects that it has been surpassed by London but it remains exclusive and pricey

Sandbanks at the entrance was once said to be the most expensive place to live in the UK. One suspects that it has been surpassed by London but it remains exclusive and pricey

It is now deluging with rain so we motor along the north side of Brownsea Island and pick up one of the many vacant mooring buoys instead of anchoring.

It is Judith’s birthday so John attempts to cook goulash as a birthday meal but it ends up a bit spicy – no matter there is none left! Yvonne’s pears with melted chocolate are more successful.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       33.5 nm

Total miles to date:          2520.7 nm

Engine hours:                  2.4 hours

Total engine hours:          306.5 hours

Hours sailed:                   8.5 Hours

Total hours sailed;           560.4 hours

Thursday 12th September – Poole

The castle on Brownsea island. The island is now owned by the National Trust; half of it is a wildlife sanctuary

The castle on Brownsea island. The island is now owned by the National Trust; half of it is a wildlife sanctuary

We are going to spend today in Poole. We have already phoned several of the marinas in Poole: all of them are remarkably expensive. (In fact Poole is the most expensive area we have visited, even London). We have settled for Poole Quay Boat Haven as this is right in the middle of Poole and the most convenient for shopping and meeting friends.

Statue of Lord Robert Baden-Powell at Poole. BP held his first scout camp on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour

Statue of Lord Robert Baden-Powell at Poole. BP held his first scout camp on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour

The morning is misty but the rain has cleared through. We motor as far as we can round Brownsea Island to see the views, then back-track and reach the marina. It is not very busy – hardly any surprise given the cost (£42.50 including harbour dues, electricity and one night stay). However, it is right outside a Tesco and the showers are good. We duly shower then Yvonne, Charles and Judith visit Tesco whilst John does the blog.

Alex Anderson and Bob and Julie Shute all arrive at midday. The sun has broken through so all is set fair for a good day with friends.

Poole has an attractive old town by the harbour

Poole has an attractive old town by the harbour

Part of the Sunseeker establishment manufacturing upmarket motor yachts. It is one of the UK's manufacturing success stories:one hopes the new Chinese owners keep it that way.

Part of the Sunseeker establishment manufacturing upmarket motor yachts. It is one of the UK’s manufacturing success stories:one hopes the new Chinese owners keep it that way.

Bob has the idea of having lunch at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Training College about a mile away. Four of us are members and Bob has eaten there before and recommends it. We walk round, passing the old town. Although the marina charges are too high, there is much of interest in Poole. The old town is attractive with narrow streets and old buildings along the harbour front and back in the town. We walk past the numerous factories units and other buildings making Sunseeker Motor yachts. Some of these are fabulous craft for millionaires. The firm is a real success story with a very large export business. Sadly, it has just been sold to a Chinese company but we learn that the Chinese have given assurances about keeping the jobs in the UK.

The RNLI Training College. One of several modern RNLI buildings grouped together. A new manufacturing facility is under construction next to this site for construction of off-shore lifeboats

The RNLI Training College. One of several modern RNLI buildings grouped together. A new manufacturing facility is under construction next to this site for construction of off-shore lifeboats

The sculpture by Sam Holland outside the RNLI College symbolising the history and purpose of the RNLI

The sculpture by Sam Holland outside the RNLI College symbolising the history and purpose of the RNLI

We reach the RNLI buildings. Most of these are modern and very impressive. The Training College is about 5 or 6 years old with a fine view over the harbour and the new Twin Leaf Bridge.

Lunch at the RNLI College. From L to R: Charles & Judith Saunders, Yvonne, Alex Anderson, John, Bob and Julie Shute.

Lunch at the RNLI College. From L to R: Charles & Judith Saunders, Yvonne, Alex Anderson, John, Bob and Julie Shute.

We find that we can have a drink in the bar on the first floor with a fine view and eat food there from the restaurant below. The food is excellent and the staff extremely helpful and pleasant. The Training Centre is primarily for training crews and volunteers but is also used for hospitality and even weddings.

After lunch Bob and John go to reception to see if it is possible to visit the huge survival tank that is used for training in the water. By luck a tour is about to start of the building but they don’t have enough space for us all. However, they find another tour guide who will take us round. We are in luck! The others are quickly rounded up and we are introduced to our young guide, Max, who enthusiastically explains the function of the building and what we will be seeing.

In the lifeboat simulator at the RNLI during a "Force 6 to 7".

In the lifeboat simulator at the RNLI during a “Force 6 to 7″.

John playing at helmsman at 25 knots.

John playing at helmsman at 25 knots.

The RNLI was set up nearly 190 years ago by Sir William Hillary in 1824. (His watch words “With courage nothing is impossible” are on a large sign at the entrance to the College).  It has always been based on volunteers and today over 95% of the people who work for the RNLI are volunteers. Our guide Max is one such volunteer, having been involved since his teens. Bob and Julie regularly collect for the RNLI.

Max takes us first to the simulator. This is a full size mock up of the bridge largest lifeboat, the Severn Class of-shore life boat. Although it does not move, there is an extremely realistic simulation of the sea and everything else that might be seen through the windows of a lifeboat on active service. All the controls are replicated plus the navigation and communications instruments. The simulator is used to simulate any condition so that trainee lifeboat crews can realistically undergo different scenarios from calm conditions in bright sunlight to gales on a foggy night. A typical training exercise can take several hours with each crew member playing their part in the navigation and control of the lifeboat and the communications required. The simulator covers the coxswain, helmsman, engineer and navigator roles. Everything is recorded for feedback and instruction later.

We are given the full works up to a force 7. Some of us find the simulation too realistic and retire to the training and control room next door but the rest thoroughly enjoy the experience.

The Survival Training tank with Inshore Life Boat (ILB) righting training going on.

The Survival Training tank with Inshore Life Boat (ILB) righting training going on.

Having been thrilled by the simulator we are then taken by Max to the survival training tank. This is really a huge swimming pool in a large, hangar-like building. There is an exercise going on to work out the best way to right a capsized in-shore life boat (ILB). A lifeboat crew in their full oilskins, life jackets and boots are jumping into the water and the ILB is then flipped over with an overhead crane so that they can learn how to right it. Max explains the technique including how they sort out the engines to get them to re-start. We also have a look at different life rafts and how they can flip over and be righted.

We round off with a short film about the training at the college, the systems behind the simulators and the reality once the training is put into practice. The whole trip is absolutely fascinating and we feel very privileged to have been given the trip.

Outside the building we catch our breath. Over the road the RNLI is constructing a new manufacturing facility to bring construction of the off-shore lifeboats in house. (They already make the ILB’s at Cowes and fit out all their lifeboats).

John has to meet a customer and has arranged to be picked up at the RNLI. The others walk back to Sundart. Bob, Julie and Alex depart their ways. In due course John returns, job dealt with.

A fine meal in La Lupa Restaurant at Poole to celebrate Judith's birthday

A fine meal in La Lupa Restaurant at Poole to celebrate Judith’s birthday

Charles has invited us all to a meal out to celebrate Judith’s birthday. Bob and Julie recommended an Italian Restaurant, La Lupa, on the harbour front. We have checked the place out earlier in the day and decide it looks good and so it proves. We have an excellent meal, thanks to Charles’s generosity and take all evening over it.

Back at the boat we check the weather forecast for the next few days. Charles and Judith are leaving tomorrow and John and Yvonne want to take a few days to get back to Dartmouth, visiting 4 or 5 spots on the way. However, the forecast is showing storms from Sunday into the rest of the week so these plans have to change. We decide to take the early tide directly to Weymouth which means an early start.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       3.7 nm

Engine hours:                  1.2 hours

Hours sailed:                   1.2 Hours

Friday 13th September – Poole to Weymouth

Old Harry (and his wife) by Studland Bay, Dorset

Old Harry (and his wife) by Studland Bay, Dorset

The headlands around the East Dorset coast including Anvil Point and St. Alban's Point all have overfalls (rough water) off them when the tide is running.

The headlands around the East Dorset coast including Anvil Point and St. Alban’s Point all have overfalls (rough water) off them when the tide is running.

We get up at 6 AM and breakfast. Charles and Judith depart for the milk train. John and Yvonne leave the marina at 7, setting the sails but motor sailing out of Poole harbour as there is not much wind. The forecast has predicted increasing winds over the day and rain later.

We continue to motor sail as we want to catch the west going tide round several headlands including Old Harry and culminating in St. Alban’s head before it turns against us. As we follow the coast we gradually turn west, directly into the wind which increases, necessitating reefing down. There are some overfalls (lumpy seas) off some of the headlands but we make good progress with the tide in our favour.

The last of the chalk cliffs we will see on our journey were just to the west of Weymouth. We have been seeing chalk cliffs at intervals since Flamborough Head in Yorkshire.

The last of the chalk cliffs we will see on our journey were just to the west of Weymouth. We have been seeing chalk cliffs at intervals since Flamborough Head in Yorkshire.

Portland looks like a wedge of cheese shaped island from the distance but is joined to the land at Weymouth (to the right of this photo)

Portland looks like a wedge of cheese shaped island from the distance but is joined to the land at Weymouth (to the right of this photo)

We pass Lulworth Cove (where we had hoped to anchor over night and reach Weymouth bay. By now the rain has stopped, the wind has moderated and the sea has calmed down. There is a large fleet of around 70 Dragon keel boats racing in the Bay. We motor past their race area, then sail the rest of the way, beating to Weymouth Harbour entrance. We have some lunch. In the distance we can see Portland Bill and Portland Harbour with its massive breakwater (dating from Napoleonic times) and the new UK Sailing Academy, home to Olympic Sailing last year.

We call up Weymouth Port Control and are allocated a berth and given permission to enter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Pelican of London at Weymouth

The Pelican of London at Weymouth

The Condor Fast Cat ferry to the Channel Isles docks at Weymouth and dwarfs most of the craft around it. They are quick but rather fearsome when viewed from a small craft at sea as they travel at up to 40 knots. They are a far cry from the steam powered steamers that bought passengers and Guernsey tomatoes here 40 years ago.

The Condor Fast Cat ferry to the Channel Isles docks at Weymouth and dwarfs most of the craft around it. They are quick but rather fearsome when viewed from a small craft at sea as they travel at up to 40 knots. They are a far cry from the steam powered steamers that bought passengers and Guernsey tomatoes here 40 years ago.

We moor up with help from the harbour assistant in the sun (which has appeared). We are across the river from the lifeboat – the very same type as we used in the simulator yesterday. We report to the harbour office to pay our dues and get the shower codes and weather update. The forecast is still giving the weather window tomorrow that we want to use to get back to Dartmouth. We glean some tips for getting past the renowned tidal race off Portland Bill

Weymouth is an attractive old own round its old harbour. There is the seaside bit to the east with the sandy beach and donkey rides in the season.

Weymouth is an attractive old own round its old harbour. There is the seaside bit to the east with the sandy beach and donkey rides in the season.

Weymouth looks pretty and attractive in the sun so we take a walk round the harbour before returning to Sundart where Yvonne works out the best way round Portland Bill.

The old Customs house lives on as a public building serving the mariners....

The old Customs house lives on as a public building serving the mariners….

...as can be seen from the polished nameplates on the wall.

…as can be seen from the polished nameplates on the wall.

Passenger and goods trains ran down to the quay at Weymouth along the "Tramway" until the end of steam traction in 1984

Passenger and goods trains ran down to the quay at Weymouth along the “Tramway” until the end of steam traction in 1984

Some signs take a while to remove - this one became obsolete in 1984 when trains ceased to run down on the quay.

Some signs take a while to remove – this one became obsolete in 1984 when trains ceased to run down on the quay.

The

Weymouth has its lifting bridge, in this case to access the inner harbour.

Weymouth has its lifting bridge, in this case to access the inner harbour.

Weymouth Harbour handbook gives the phone number of Coastwatch Portland Bill so once she has done her calculations she contacts them and receives friendly and very helpful advice to confirm her passage plan and give us a bit more information. (Coastwatch is a national voluntary organisation that was set up once the Coastguard Service became a radio and radar based service and no longer actually watched out over strategic areas of the coast. Coastwatch volunteers usually use the old coastguard look outs and often build up a very useful bank of local knowledge. Portland must be one of the best organised of the voluntary groups as we have used them before). We will need to leave at 6 am tomorrow.

The forecast rain begins to set in just as another boat is directed to raft up alongside us. After some debate about our intended departure hour tomorrow there is a general re-organisation of boats and we end up rafted up on the outside of a French boat that has just come up from St. Malo. The joys of limited mooring space!

The Severn Class lifeboat on station at Weymouth - just like the simulator at the RNLI College! This is a busy lifeboat and was called out twice in quick succession during the evening whilst we were moored at Weymouth

The Severn Class lifeboat on station at Weymouth – just like the simulator at the RNLI College! This is a busy lifeboat and was called out twice in quick succession during the evening whilst we were moored at Weymouth

John settles down to update the blog whilst Yvonne tops up the water tanks. After a while we hear a Mayday relay over a loudspeaker relating to a dismasted 22 ft catamaran. No sooner than we hear this than we see the lifeboat crew running to the lifeboat, donning their oilskins as they go. Weymouth is one of the busiest lifeboats. It returns after half an hour but is immediately called out again, this time for a boat that has lost its steering.

Tomorrow we plan to get back to our home port of to Dartmouth before the storms set in. We shall see!

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       26.8 nm

Total miles to date:          2550.2 nm

Engine hours:                  4.0 hours

Total engine hours:          311.7 hours

Hours sailed:                   5.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           566.6 hours

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John

Chichester and the Solent – family and friends

Thursday 5th September – An evening in Itchenor

With David Allison in the Ship Inn at Itchenor - a welcome and totally unexpected reunion.

With David Allison in the Ship Inn at Itchenor – a welcome and totally unexpected reunion.

David Allison meets us at the jetty and we walk up the Ship Inn in Itchenor. We have not seen David or his family for several years but we enjoyed them as neighbours for several years when we all lived at Blanchcroft in Melbourne. David and Lisa came sailing with us on Sundart nine years ago. They moved to Northamptonshire about two years ago.

The High Street at itchenor - traditional brick, flint and thatched houses line the street.

The High Street at itchenor – traditional brick, flint and thatched houses line the street.

The Ship Inn is busy but we find a table and order fish and chips all round. We have much to catch up on. It turns out that the big boat sailing bug bit and they are now on their second boat – a Southerly 110 moored at Chichester Marina. David works for himself as a company doctor and with a number of other enterprises with like minded people. Lisa qualified as a homeopath but also works with David. Their daughter is now nine – Lisa was poorly whilst sailing with us which was thought to be mal de mer but it now transpires was just morning sickness! We are glad it did not put her off sailing.

The Northshore boat yard at Itchenor, best known for their Southerly range of lift-keel yachts but also producers of other makes including Vancouver.

The Northshore boat yard at Itchenor, best known for their Southerly range of lift-keel yachts but also producers of other makes including Vancouver.

Supper over, David offers to show us their boat which to too tempting to refuse so he drives us to the marina. The boat (Spirit of Solent) is splendid – in great condition. They have just spent a six week holiday on her and even spend Christmas on her!

Too soon it is time to return to Sundart as David has to drive back to Northamptonshire.

Friday 6th September – A day around Chichester Harbour

The Hard at Itchenor is at the end of the little High Street and allows launching of boats at all tides. The harbour master's office is in the centre of the picture. This was once a busy commercial port but is now a busy yachting centre.

The Hard at Itchenor is at the end of the little High Street and allows launching of boats at all tides. The harbour master’s office is in the centre of the picture. This was once a busy commercial port but is now a busy yachting centre.

Looking up the river from Itchenor - shore to shore boats. This is multi-millionaires territory if you want a waterside property. We heard of one such property changing hands recently for over £2.4 million, only for the perfectly acceptable house to be demolished and a new, larger one built.

Looking up the river from Itchenor – shore to shore boats. This is multi-millionaires territory if you want a waterside property. We heard of one such property changing hands recently for over £2.4 million, only for the perfectly acceptable house to be demolished and a new, larger one built.

We sleep until after 9 and are awoken by the harbour master’s assistant knocking on the side of the boat for the harbour dues.

Our friends Ros and Terry O’Connor have kindly arranged to visit us today. They duly arrive at Itchenor a bit earlier than we had expected so it is a rush to get ready and off the boat. Ros’s cousin Adrian is the Deputy Harbourmaster at Itchenor so she has already had a chat with him in the harbour office.

Ros and terry O'Connor at the Anchor Bleu pub at Bosham. They kindly visited us and ferried us around the area

Ros and terry O’Connor at the Anchor Bleu pub at Bosham. They kindly visited us and ferried us around the area

The back of the Anchor Bleu at Bosham with Ros and terry and Janet. There is normally a road to the right.

The back of the Anchor Bleu at Bosham with Ros and terry and Janet. There is normally a road to the right.

The weather forecast is for overcast wet weather but this seems to have blown through overnight so Ros and Terry drive us round to Bosham where we have a coffee at the Anchor Inn. It is a spring tide today so we watch the tide cover the road between the village and the harbour.

The flood prevention door on the sea side of the Anchor Bleu pub, Bosham

The flood prevention door on the sea side of the Anchor Bleu pub, Bosham

High spring tide at Bosham - the sign says it all.

High spring tide at Bosham – the sign says it all.

The pub has some strong watertight doors on the river side and most of the houses have permanent barricades across the doors or very short doors with high steps to protect them against high tides. Global warming is a real threat here!

The road flooded at High Tide at Bosham

The road flooded at High Tide at Bosham by the cafe

The front doors at Bosham with their very high stone doorsteps to guard against flooding at high spring tides. The door opening ends up at not much more than four feet high.

The front doors at Bosham with their very high stone doorsteps to guard against flooding at high spring tides. The door opening ends up at not much more than four feet high.

Coffee taken, we walk around the harbour. It is pretty and quaint with traditional flint and brick built buildings and also some weather boarded buildings including the old tide mill which now serves as the yacht club. John fancies taking Sundart up to Bosham to dry out against the piles at the quay and inquires about the costs from the Quay master. These are high, like many things in this part of the world.

Spring high tide at Bosham harbour. The weatherboarded building is the current Bosham yacht Club and was formerly a tide mill. The area is under the administration of the Bosham Hundred and Manor which dates back to at least 1248.

Spring high tide at Bosham harbour. The weatherboarded building is the current Bosham yacht Club and was formerly a tide mill. The area is under the administration of the Bosham Hundred and Manor which dates back to at least 1248.

Bosham church is a classic flint, stone and tile construction of this area

Holy Trinity Church at Bosham is a classic flint, stone and tile construction of this area and dates back to Saxon times.

The quay is owned by the “Hundred and Manor of Bosham” – a kickback to feudal times when the manorial hundred was the standard way the land was divided up.

We decide to lunch at the café on the front and enjoy some excellent sandwiches. Lunch taken, we decide on a walk round East Head at the entrance to Chichester Harbour so we are driven round there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A famous resident of West Wittering

A famous resident of West Wittering

Gerald Marcuse was a local pioneer of radio, being the first to transmit short wave radio programmes to the Commonwealth in 1927 from his station 2NM in Catrham, Surrey. He later made the first radio telegraph contact to California, Brazil and New Zealand

Gerald Marcuse was a local pioneer of radio, being the first to transmit short wave radio programmes to the Commonwealth in 1927 from his station 2NM in Caterham, Surrey. He later made the first radio telegraph contact to California, Brazil and New Zealand

East Head is a popular mooring area at the entrance to Chichester Harbour, although some of the berths dry. The stone in the foreground is some of the recent coastal protection works, although it has apparently been decided that this wil be the last protection work that will be done here and henceforth the coast wil be left to evolve whatever the sea does.

East Head is a popular mooring area at the entrance to Chichester Harbour, although some of the berths dry. The stone in the foreground is some of the recent coastal protection works, although it has apparently been decided that this will be the last protection work that will be done here and henceforth the coast will be left to evolve whatever the sea does.

The Chichester River by East Head. There is a popular anchorage in front of this beach which the yacht is making for.

The Chichester River by East Head. There is a popular anchorage in front of this beach which the yacht is making for.

The entrance to Chichester Harbour from the English Channel. Hayling island is on the opposite shore

The entrance to Chichester Harbour from the English Channel. Hayling island is on the opposite shore

With Ros and terry O'Connor at West Wittering, enjoying the sea view before embarking on the walk round East Head

With Ros and terry O’Connor at West Wittering, enjoying the sea view before embarking on the walk round East Head

The Pirbeck stone used for the new coastal defences had some enormous fossils embedded in them including this ammonite about one foot (300 mm) across

The Pirbeck stone used for the new coastal defences had some enormous fossils embedded in them including this ammonite about one foot (300 mm) across

A murmuration of starlings taking flight from the rich harvest of blackberries by the salt marshes on East Head

A murmuration of starlings taking flight from the rich harvest of blackberries by the salt marshes on East Head

Dingy racing is a very popular sport across the whole of the Solent and Chichester harbour areas with a number of classes sailed that have been developed of many years that are unique to the area. These boats that are about to start a race are X Class keel boats that are sailed in Chichester Harbour: this class is over 100 years old but has been carefully developed over recent years to permit the use of modern materials. Solent Sunbeams and Swallows are tow other long established classes that are unique to this area and which boast impressive fleet numbers.

Dingy racing is a very popular sport across the whole of the Solent and Chichester harbour areas with a number of classes sailed that have been developed of many years that are unique to the area. These boats that are about to start a race are X Class keel boats that are sailed in Chichester Harbour: this class is over 100 years old but has been carefully developed over recent years to permit the use of modern materials. Solent Sunbeams and Swallows arewo other long established classes that are unique to this area and which boast impressive fleet numbers.

Chichester Harbour is a large area of rivers, salt marshes and saltings and is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. East Head, which is owned by the National Trust, is sand spit at the entrance to Chichester Harbour at West Wittering. It is managed by the NT to allow access for walking but also to provide protected habitats for the many varieties of bird that nest here such as the ringed plover. The spit, being in effect a huge sand dune system, is constantly moving and has rotated by about 90 degrees around its southern end over the last 200 years or so.

We enjoy a good walk, with Ros and Terry being knowledgeable bird identifiers. With their help we spot lapwings, starlings, curlews, red and green shanks, godwits and sandling (although these latter could have been grey plover). We are keeping a record of the different species we have seen and this increases our tally to over 60 different birds on our trip.

Tired by the walk, we all return to Itchenor and after a stroll along the shore we retire to the Ship Inn – again – for another good supper.

Ros and Terry depart around 8 pm and we motor back to Sundart in the dinghy. It has been a good day and even the weather behaved itself.

Saturday 7th September – Itchenor to Birdham Pool

The pool above Birdham Pool marina which was originally constructed to help supply the mill at Birdham

The pool above Birdham Pool marina which was originally constructed to help supply the mill at Birdham

Birdham Pool Marina. Formed in the former head pool for the mill. It was made into a marina in 1936 and claims to be the oldest marina in the UK. Box berths and wooden stages are used instead of the floating finger pontoons used in modern marinas.

Birdham Pool Marina. Formed in the former head pool for the mill., it was made into a marina in 1936 and claims to be the oldest marina in the UK. Box berths and wooden stages are used instead of the floating finger pontoons used in modern marinas.

The "home" counties of Kent, Surrey, Essex and Sussex were once heavily wooded and have an on-going tradition of half-timbered and weather-boarded buildings such as the former tide mill on the left of the lock at Birdham Pool. The lock is the original, although now automated, and only takes one boat at a time. Beyond is the tidal river that dries to mud at low tide.

The “home” counties of Kent, Surrey, Essex and Sussex were once heavily wooded and have an ongoing tradition of half-timbered and weather-boarded buildings such as the former tide mill on the left of the lock at Birdham Pool. The lock is the original, although now automated, and only takes one boat at a time. Beyond is the tidal river that dries to mud at low tide.

With Sue Allen, one of the trustees of our charity SUDEP. Yvonne sports the SUDEP tee shirt

With Sue Allen, one of the trustees of our charity SUDEP. Yvonne sports the SUDEP tee-shirt

The night was wet and squally – thank heavens it held off yesterday! We plan to go to Birdham Pool as Janet will be leaving us today and we need a convenient place to meet up with various other people. However, it has a tidal entry via a lock so we will need to wait until midday. We do various jobs about the boat and in due course leave the mooring and sail up the river with just the genoa. It is not far to the end of the navigable river, which is where both Birdham Pool Marina and the much larger Chichester Marina are located. We radio in to arrange the lock, which turns out to be just big enough to fir Sundart in, and are soon in the pool, moored up against one of their wooden staithes.

Birdham Pool is the oldest marina in the country, dating back to 1936. It is located in a former tide mill head pool and is a picture postcard rustic. The lock is a traditional type, albeit now automated, and the “pontoons” are in fact fixed wooden staithes rather than the floating finger pontoons that most modern marinas use. We later learn that the planning authorities oppose any development here that affects the old world aura of the Pool. Certainly it is relaxing and charming and a nice change from the big modern marinas.

Janet leaves us after lunch by taxi to Chichester station to return home. We have enjoyed her company.

Our first visitor this afternoon is Sue Allen, who is a trustee of SUDEP, our charity. Sue lives a mile or so away and contacted us via the SUDEP office. She arrives by bike and we enjoy an hour or so with her, learning more about the charity, how it was founded and has since developed. We discuss where the funds  and express our wish that they either be used for research or to support the Register that SUDEP has recently set up to record the facts and circumstances surrounding each death from SUDEP to provide a statistical basis for research into how the risk of death from SUDEP can be minimised.

Sue departs. John’s sister Ruth and husband Jono are visiting this evening so John cooks up a pork casserole, whilst Yvonne uses the marina laundry. Later we relax and read.

With John's sister Ruth and husband Jono.

With John’s sister Ruth and husband Jono.

Ruth and Jono arrive in the evening and we enjoy a good evening with them, catching up on news.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       0.5 nm

Total miles to date:          2442.9 nm

Engine hours:                  0.4 hours

Total engine hours:          298.4 hours

Hours sailed:                   0.5 Hours

Total hours sailed;           536.6 hours

Sunday 8th September – Birdham Pool to Thorney Island

The Chichester Canal has some interesting craft moored on it including this former admiral's steam pinnace "Fusil" dating from the Victorian era. Other boats here include "Wild Chorus" which went to the Dunkirk evacuation and a converted life boat from Cromer, Norfolk

The Chichester Canal has some interesting craft moored on it including this former admiral’s steam pinnace “Fusil” dating from the Victorian era. Other boats here include “Wild Chorus” which went to the Dunkirk evacuation and a converted life boat from Cromer, Norfolk

The sea lock at the end of the Chichester Canal. . The information board claimed it was still working but the picture tells a different story. The canal was constructed to help link Chichester to Portsmouth but never made any money.

The sea lock at the end of the Chichester Canal. . The information board claimed it was still working but the picture tells a different story. The canal was constructed to help link Chichester to Portsmouth but never made any money.

The Chichester Canal, little used apart from the line of house boats

The Chichester Canal, little used apart from the line of house boats

Memorial plaque to the great dinghy designer Jack Holt OBE at the Chichester Yacht Club. Jack Holt design many popular dinghies including the GP14, Solo, Enterprise, Cadet, National 12 and 14, Merlin Rocket, Streaker and Mirror to name only a few of his prolific designs. he lived at Putney but was associated with many sailing clubs including Chichestr, where he often sailed his Solo. His pioneering designs of dinghies using plywood did much to popularise the sport of sailing in the period immediately following World War II. Yvonne and I both learnt to sail in Jack Holt designed dinghies and still sail in them today. Many of his designs have had new life breathed into them by the use of modern materials and construction techniques.

Memorial plaque to the great dinghy designer Jack Holt OBE at the Chichester Yacht Club. Jack Holt design many popular dinghies including the GP14, Solo, Enterprise, Cadet, National 12 and 14, Merlin Rocket, Streaker and Mirror to name only a few of his prolific designs. he lived at Putney but was associated with many sailing clubs including Chichester, where he often sailed his Solo. His pioneering designs of dinghies using plywood did much to popularise the sport of sailing in the period immediately following World War II. Yvonne and I both learnt to sail in Jack Holt designed dinghies and still sail in them today. Many of his designs have had new life breathed into them by the use of modern materials and construction techniques.

It is a bright and breezy morning. We plan to leave Birdham today to anchor near the entrance to Chichester Harbour but need to wait for the tide after lunch to be able to get out of the lock and over the mud flats in the river. We breakfast then use the marina showers. These turn out to have under floor heating, which is a great novelty.

We walk to nearby Chichester Marina via the Chichester Canal to the little convenience store for the Sunday papers and milk. We pass Chichester Yacht Club and see a sign celebrating Jack Holt, who was a member here and sailed his Solo dinghy. Jack was one of the great dinghy designers who designed many of the most popular dinghies and bought sailing to the masses.

A few jobs done, we relax with the papers before having lunch. After lunch we wait for a shower to pass, then fuel up at the pump in the lock and leave. We motor against the wind past Itchenor. Just past Itchenor, the wind picks up, peaking at 27 knots on our wind instrument and the heavens open. The squall wreaks havoc on the dinghy sailors out in the river, with at least one dinghy capsizing and requiring the harbour launch to assist in its recovery. Other dinghies take shelter in bays off the river until the squall passes. The rain stings our faces but after turning away from the worst of the squall, we resume our course, turning off the main river to one of the permitted anchorages behind Thorney Island.

The anchorage at Thorney island with the sun setting in the west

The anchorage at Thorney island with the sun setting in the west

It is a lovely spot which we have to ourselves and once the rain has passed the wind drops and it is very peaceful. As the tide drops we sink below the level of the surrounding land and have a lovely sunset to round of the day.

In the evening we talk to Nigel and Di Pepperdine, who kindly offer to collect us and our stuff from Dartmouth when we complete the trip.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       4.1 nm

Total miles to date:          2447.0 nm

Engine hours:                  1.3 hours

Total engine hours:          299.7 hours

Hours sailed:                   2.5 Hours

Total hours sailed;           539.1 hours

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John

 

The Deep South

Tuesday 3rd September – Dover to Newhaven

View leaving Dover. The castle and the famous white cliffs are on the right. There are a myriad of tunnels from a former WW2 command centre in the hill. A modern control centre on top of the hill controls the busy shipping channels in the Dover Strait

View leaving Dover. The castle and the famous white cliffs are on the right. There are a myriad of tunnels from a former WW2 command centre in the hill. A modern control centre on top of the hill controls the busy shipping channels in the Dover Strait

The day dawns bright and sunny. We are up and off by 0830, obtaining Port Control’s permission to leave as we depart from Granville Dock. Two more cruise ships have appeared overnight and are moored up at the Western Docks. Dover must get a large share of the cruise ship business, presumably as an embarkation port for their customers.

Shakespear cliif to the west of Dover. This massive cliff, which rises to 91 m (300 ft) gets its name from a scene in Shakespear's King Lear in which Edgar describes the cliff to his blind father Gloucester. In front of the cliff chalk spoil from the Channel Tunnel workings have been used to create a huge skirt called Samphire Ho, its name taken from the same speech in King Lear in which Edgar describes the 'dreadful trade' of gathering the fleshy leaved samphire plant from the cliffs.

Shakespear cliif to the west of Dover. This massive cliff, which rises to 91 m (300 ft) gets its name from a scene in Shakespear’s King Lear in which Edgar describes the cliff to his blind father Gloucester. In front of the cliff chalk spoil from the Channel Tunnel workings have been used to create a huge skirt called Samphire Ho, its name taken from the same speech in King Lear in which Edgar describes the ‘dreadful trade’ of gathering the fleshy leaved samphire plant from the cliffs.

Folkestone. The port was once home to the train ferries including the Golden Arrow but that has now all gone, leaving a quiet harbour that partially dries.

Folkestone. The port was once home to the train ferries including the Golden Arrow but that has now all gone, leaving a quiet harbour that partially dries.

There is very little wind so we turn west and motor sail along the coast, passing the white Shakespeare Cliffs and then Folkestone. There is a large area of grassed over spoil in front of Shakespeare Cliff, which we think is from when the channel tunnel was dug. We can’t see the Chunnel from the sea as it comes out of the ground inland at Cheriton behind the chalk cliffs.

Folkestone passes by. Once this was a ferry port, being the port used for trains such as the Golden Arrow. Now it is no longer used, its harbour being a drying one, it holds little interest for passing yachtsmen.

We pass on along the coast past Hythe and Camber Sands. Janet and John both remember coming to Camber Sands as children as it is one of the few good sandy beaches along this stretch of coast –we think that the next stretch of decent sand is at Chichester and that all the other beaches are largely shingle and pebbles with the odd patch of sand at low tide. We both remember the excruciating pain on young feet of walking over pebbly beaches to swim!

Dungeness looms in the distance with its lighthouse and nuclear power stations. However, before we get there the sea mist rolls in so we pass this headland shrouded in a white cocoon, using our electronic navigation aids. Later, the mist clears a bit so we can see Hastings, St. Leonards–on-Sea and Bexhill.

Hastings is one of the original Cinque Ports. It still has a small fleet of fishing boats that are launched and recovered over the shingle beach. The old town is at the east end where there are huts selling cockles and whelks. Bexhill is probably best known for the De la Warr Pavilion which is held as one of the finest modernist buildings around. Constructed in 1935, it was restored in 2005 and is now a leading contemporary arts centre.

We decide to push on to Newhaven as the marina at Eastbourne holds no great attraction.

As we near Beachy Head the sea mist rolls in again, depriving us of a view of the magnificent cliffs of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters. We pass them by and find our way into the entrance of Newhaven harbour, which looms out of the mist after what seems to be a very long time. We radio to permission to enter harbour (there is a big ferry that operates out of this little river) and chug into harbour.

Loading the scrap metal heap at Newhaven - not a peaceful night and not a port that we would recomend

Loading the scrap metal heap at Newhaven – not a peaceful night and not a port that we would recomend

The marina is opposite the ferry terminal and also a coaster loading up with scrap metal – not the best of sights! The marina manager helpfully comes to take our lines.

Within ten minutes the fog clears so we can see Newhaven. It has been a rather long and frustrating day. We relax with a good supper of bean chilli and a glass of red wine.

Later in the evening the French ferry comes in. it only just seems to fit up the River Ouse and dwarfs us and the rest of the boats. It stays two hours, and then backs out to sea, making quite a noise. Relative peace and quiet descends, although the scrap metal ship continues to load. We won’t be staying long at Newhaven!

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       56.2 nm

Total miles to date:          2394.5 nm

Engine hours:                  10.4 hours

Total engine hours:          294.2 hours

Hours sailed:                   10.4 Hours

Total hours sailed;           524.6 hours

Wednesday 4th September – Newhaven to Brighton

The entry to the River Ouse and port at Newhaven in broad daylight. We crept up here in the mist in the previous afternoon. On the left is the Port Control and on the cliff above the old fort and coastguard look-out

The entry to the River Ouse and port at Newhaven in broad daylight. We crept up here in the mist in the previous afternoon. On the left is the Port Control and on the cliff above the old fort and coastguard look-out

Morning outside Newhaven.This was the nearest we got to seeing the magnificent Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters

Morning outside Newhaven.This was the nearest we got to seeing the magnificent Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters

We awake after a rather noisy night as the scrap metal was loaded all night! The Dieppe ferry comes in again whilst we have breakfast. After breakfast, Janet decides to explore the headland above us and discovers an old fort and look out station. John does the routine engine checks and Yvonne sorts out the boat.

We leave at 1030 on the west going tide. It is a lovely morning, albeit a little misty. In the distance we can see Beachy Head and take a distant photo of what we missed yesterday.

There is a little wind so we hoist the spinnaker and make our way slowly to Brighton Marina. It is only 6 miles away so we arrive mid-morning. We have noticed a small tear in the spinnaker at a former patch so we discover the local sail maker who collects the sail from us and promises to have it done by morning. Formalities done, we decide to go into Brighton after lunch.

Brighton Marina was started from open foreshore in the 1970's and has grown to become the largest marina in Europe with space for over 1200 boats including an inner locking in area used by workboats and local fishermen. it has subsequently grown over tow more phases of development to include a shopping village, leisure centre and appartments to become a thriving centre at the east end of Brighton. Brighton is one of the few new harbours to be built over the last century and fulfills a need along this part of the South Coast for a proper, all tide harbour for smaller craft and leisure boats.

Brighton Marina was started from open foreshore in the 1970′s and has grown to become the largest marina in Europe with space for over 1200 boats including an inner locking in area used by work boats and local fishermen. it has subsequently grown over tow more phases of development to include a shopping village, leisure centre and apartments to become a thriving centre at the east end of Brighton. Brighton is one of the few new harbours to be built over the last century and fulfills a need along this part of the South Coast for a proper, all tide harbour for smaller craft and leisure boats.

Brighton Marina is the largest marina in Europe and has been created from scratch since the 1970’s. It fulfils a significant need for an all weather harbour along this stretch of coast and has been developed into a major centre to the east of Brighton. It is well served by the corporation buses and we soon reach the centre of Brighton.

Yvonne and our friend Janet Wragg, who accompanied us on the trip along the South Coast, walking along the boardwalk at the shopping village at Brighton Marina. The shopping village was part of the additions made in the 1980's by the entrepreneur and flamboyant ex-boxer George Walker to help fund the development of the marina and its hinterland

Yvonne and our friend Janet Wragg, who accompanied us on the trip along the South Coast, walking along the boardwalk at the shopping village at Brighton Marina. The shopping village was part of the additions made in the 1980′s by the entrepreneur and flamboyant ex-boxer George Walker to help fund the development of the marina and its hinterland

The Lanes in Brighton are the oldest area. Formerly the location of art and craft shops, it has been largely taken over by the cafe society, the arts and craft shops having moved further up town.

The Lanes in Brighton are the oldest area. Formerly the location of art and craft shops, it has been largely taken over by the cafe society, the arts and craft shops having moved further up town.

The Victorian fountain in the old Stein Gardens, Brighton. This lovely fountain, constructed in 1846 was restored in 1995 and unveiled by the President of the Fountain Society, HRH the Prince of Wales. Th eold Stein was originally where the local Brightelmstone fishermen stored their boats and nets before Brighton became fashionable and was re-named.

The Victorian fountain in the old Stein Gardens, Brighton. This lovely fountain, constructed in 1846 was restored in 1995 and unveiled by the President of the Fountain Society, HRH the Prince of Wales. The old Stein was originally where the local Brightelmstone fishermen stored their boats and nets before Brighton became fashionable and was re-named.

We are spoilt for choice so we wander past the Royal Pavilion and into the Lanes. These are busy as the sun is shining brightly and the café society is in full swing. After browsing a couple of shops, we decide an ice cream is called for and find some splendid locally made ones which we eat on the beach. Things never really change – there are all sorts of people sitting on the pebbly beach enjoying the summer weather, some are swimming but most just sunbathe.

Brighton beach in the sun looking towards the West Pier that was closed in 1975 and has been wrecked by two fires and sundry storms since. Various plans to restore it have come to naught so far.

Brighton beach in the sun looking towards the West Pier that was closed in 1975 and has been wrecked by two fires and sundry storms since. Various plans to restore it have come to naught so far.

The old and the new - East Pier and the oldest pier at Brighton.

The old and the new – East Pier and the oldest pier at Brighton.

Only in Brighton! A taxi clad in fake tiger skin gets a brush up.

Only in Brighton! A taxi clad in fake tiger skin gets a brush up.

Brighton has a fine Victorian Town Hall that is located right in the heart of the town and is often overlooked in favour of the other tourist attractions

Brighton has a fine Victorian Town Hall that is located right in the heart of the town and is often overlooked in favour of the other tourist attractions

Ice creams enjoyed we wander back into town. Brighton seems to have a “buzz” like London. We decide to visit the Royal Pavilion. At £8.50 a go (with concession) we wonder if it will be worthwhile but in the event it definitely proves to be so. The Pavilion was the fantasy building of the Prince Regent and has been wonderfully restored to most of its former glory by the Brighton Corporation and the Trust who run it. It really should be a “must” for any visitor to Brighton.

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton. George IV bought he site with a simple farmhouse on it but by 1823 and after two makeovers, the last by the architect John Nash, it had become the elaborate, fantasy building we know today. It was, however, essentially a fancy bachelor pad and Queen Victoria found it unsuitable and not sufficiently private for her growing family so it was out up for sale minus its furnishings and fittings. Brighton Corporation purchased it after a campaign and referendum amongst the town people (which was carried by only 37 votes) .It is the only royal palace not owned by the crown and has been used for many purposes. Today it is in the hands of a Trust who have masterminded its loving restoration and maintenance. Many of the original pieces of furniture have been returned, starting with gifts by Queen Victoria (who didn't actually dislike the place). Today it is visited by over 400,000 people each year. The interior is magnificent but photography is not allowed by the public.

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton. George IV bought he site with a simple farmhouse on it but by 1823 and after two makeovers, the last by the architect John Nash, it had become the elaborate, fantasy building we know today. It was, however, essentially a fancy bachelor pad and Queen Victoria found it unsuitable and not sufficiently private for her growing family so it was out up for sale minus its furnishings and fittings. Brighton Corporation purchased it after a campaign and referendum amongst the town people (which was carried by only 37 votes) .It is the only royal palace not owned by the crown and has been used for many purposes. Today it is in the hands of a Trust who have masterminded its loving restoration and maintenance. Many of the original pieces of furniture have been returned, starting with gifts by Queen Victoria (who didn’t actually dislike the place). Today it is visited by over 400,000 people each year. The interior is magnificent but photography is not allowed by the public.

George IV. He was made Prince Regent to undertake his father's (George III) duties whilst the latter was incapacitated during his "madness". However, George senior had a very long life. George junior loved the arts and entertaining and settled on Brighton to live for much of his enforced idleness, making the town fashionable. He never got on with his father as they had very different temperaments - Brighton was far enough away from London for George IV to be able to enjoy himself. In later years his life style caught up with him and he became very obese and could only move with great difficulty.  Th ebuilding behind the statue is now Brighton Museum and library but was formerly the stable block for the Royal Pavillion

George IV. He was made Prince Regent to undertake his father’s (George III) duties whilst the latter was incapacitated during his “madness”. However, George senior had a very long life. George junior loved the arts and entertaining and settled on Brighton to live for much of his enforced idleness, making the town fashionable. He never got on with his father as they had very different temperaments – Brighton was far enough away from London for George IV to be able to enjoy himself. In later years his life style caught up with him and he became very obese and could only move with great difficulty.
The building behind the statue is now Brighton Museum and library but was formerly the stable block for the Royal Pavillion

Photos are not allowed in the Pavilion but you can see some of the official images at this link: Brighton Royal Pavilion Pictures

The entrance to the Royal Pavilion - calm and restrained with just a hint of the bright exhuberance of the rooms within the Palace.

The entrance to the Royal Pavilion – calm and restrained with just a hint of the bright exuberance of the rooms within the Palace.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the uses for the Royal Pavilion has been as a hospital for Indian troops in WW1. This gateway was given in 1921 by India in remerance of the Indian losses in that war.

One of the uses for the Royal Pavilion has been as a hospital for Indian troops in WW1. This gateway was given in 1921 by India in remembrance of the Indian losses in that war.

We return to Sundart rather weary. The Belgian dive boat next to us blots out the evening sun so we enjoy veggie lasagna and a glass of wine down below.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       6.3 nm

Total miles to date:          2400.8 nm

Engine hours:                  0.7 hours

Total engine:                   294.9 hours

Hours sailed:                   2.5 Hours

Total hours sailed:           527.1 hours

Thursday 5th September – Brighton to Chichester Harbour

We awake to a sunny but windless morning. Breakfast done and the spinnaker recovered (the charge seemed very reasonable by Nicky’s Sail makers), we set off for Chichester Harbour. We motor out and set the main sail and “George” as we chug westwards along the coast. Worthing, Shoreham and Littlehampton pass by. John checks his phone and to his surprise gets a message from David Allison, our former neighbour at Blanchcroft in Melbourne. David and his family moved away to a village in Northamptonshire some years ago but always hankered after living near to Chichester Harbour. David and Lisa now own a boat at Chichester. David invites us a supper at the Ship Inn at Itchenor which we happily accept. It will be good to see him and catch up with the Allison family.

Bognor Regis -- we kept our distance due to the reef lying off-shore

Bognor Regis — we kept our distance due to the reef lying off-shore

A distant view of Selsey Bill - a significant headland that is well known to mariners but in reality a low lying shingle headland east of Chichester Harbour

A distant view of Selsey Bill – a significant headland that is well known to mariners but in reality a low lying shingle headland east of Chichester Harbour

Once past Littlehampton, the wind starts to set in from south-west so we can sail – peace at last! We venture near Bognor Regis to take a photo to send to our friends Maggie and Phil Dobby (Maggie’s mother lives nearby and they have a flat there). We then beat out to get past Selsey Bill.

The wind continues to build and we set the first reef – how the weather can change in a short time in our maritime environment! There is an inshore passage past Selsey Bill which is helpfully marked by two buoys through the Owers which we take. Soon we are fetching down the coast past East Wittering to the entrance to Chichester harbour.

ChichesterHarbour is a huge area of salt marshes and rivers and is an Area of Natural Beauty. The entry is via a long channel through the sand banks that are constantly shifting. We have checked our tidal heights and confirmed that we can get in at low tide but even so there is very little water under the keel as we cross the Chichester Bar.

Once in we turn east and sail up the Chichester River through a fleet of Sunbeam racing boats. Sails dropped, we find a mooring immediately opposite the village of Itchenor and spy David waving to us from the quay. We need no second bidding: the dinghy is soon inflated and sails stowed and we row ashore for what promises to be a pleasant evening in good company.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       41.6 nm

Total miles to date:          2442.4 nm

Engine hours:                  3.1 hours

Total engine hours:          298.0 hours

Hours sailed:                   9.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           536.1 hours

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John

 

London calling

Wednesday 28th August – River Roach to Queenborough

The day starts with a hazy sun and light wind as we leave the Roach and Crouch. Today we will navigate our way south across the Thames Estuary to Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent to meet our friend Janet Wragg who has volunteered for a second stint with us – she must be mad! The Thames Estuary is scattered with sand banks and shipping lanes so careful navigation is needed. Unusually (for us) we have set up a route on the GPS so that we can follow the buoys across the estuary like following a daisy chain.

The wreck of the Richard Montgomerie - a WW2 Liberty ship that sunk in the mouth of the River Medway next to the shipping lane full of explosives. It remains fully loaded with enough explosive power to demolish Queenborough, Sheerness and miles around. Bomb disposal experts fear to touch it in case it sets off an explosion so it is buoyed off and regularly inspected. Southend on Sea is on the opposite shore in this photo.

The wreck of the Richard Montgomerie – a WW2 Liberty ship that sunk in the mouth of the River Medway next to the shipping lane. The ship sank full of explosives. It remains fully loaded with enough explosive power to demolish Queenborough, Sheerness and miles around. Bomb disposal experts fear to touch it in case it sets off an explosion so it is buoyed off and regularly inspected. Southend on Sea is on the opposite shore in this photo.

We have to sail about 10 miles out of the Crouch to get round the huge Maplin Sands off Shoeburyness to the Whittaker Channel before turning south. In the event, we are able to sail to the Whittaker but then the wind falls away and the day becomes sunny, cloudless and windless so we motor most of the rest of the way in company with quite a few other boats. No doubt the Thames estuary can be a challenge but not today. We put “George” (the autohelm) to work and set to cleaning the boat.

Ray and Eileen, old boating friends of Janet, kindly bought her to meet us

Ray and Eileen, old boating friends of Janet, who kindly bought her to meet us

Queenborough is surrounded by industrial works but in fact it has a long history and association with marine matters. Francis Drake was apprenticed to a boat near here and later made the manning arrangements more economical whilst Lord Nelson took over his first commission here. There are several older historical buildings including the old town council house that are quite attractive.

Queenborough is surrounded by industrial works but in fact it has a long history and association with marine matters. Francis Drake was apprenticed to a boat near here and later made the manning arrangements more economical whilst Lord Nelson took over his first commission here. There are several older historical buildings including the old town council house that are quite attractive.

As we turn south we are surprised to hear an explosion and notice that the military range at Foulness has started live firing near where we anchored last night. Every so often there is a “crump” and a spectacular pillar of fire and smoke by the Maplin Sands at intervals during the day. It makes for a diversion.

As we near the Isle of Sheppey the wind sets in a little so we slowly sail into Queenborough where we moor up to the 24 hour pontoon just as Janet arrives – perfect timing! We enjoy a cup of tea with Janet and her friends Ray and Eileen as well as chatting to the local youths who are diving off the pontoon as youths will.

Janet was shown how to circumvent the turnstile leading onto the pontoon: the youths then went for a swim - youths will be youths! They showed an interest in Sundart so we gave them a glimpse of the boat. Despite Queenborough having moorings for many yachts, it was so far from their own experience and surprised them how boats such as Sundart are fitted out to be lived in - maybe it will light a glimmer of interest.

Janet was shown how to circumvent the turnstile leading onto the pontoon: the youths then went for a swim – youths will be youths! They showed an interest in Sundart so we gave them a glimpse of the boat. Despite Queenborough having moorings for many yachts, it was so far from their own experience and surprised them how boats such as Sundart are fitted out to be lived in – maybe it will light a glimmer of interest.

At anchor in Stangate Creek just off the Medway - peace within a couple of miles from the industrial centre of Sheerness. The distant hills are the North Downs

At anchor in Stangate Creek just off the Medway – peace within a couple of miles from the industrial centre of Sheerness. The distant hills are the North Downs

Tea done and Janet settled in, we sail off up the Medway to Stangate Creek to anchor in peace and quiet (and at no charge) for the night.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       28.2 nm

Total miles to date:          2217.0 nm

Engine hours:                  5.0 hours

Total engine hours:          270.4 hours

Hours sailed:                   10.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           486.2 hours

Sheerness - an industrial complex at the mouth of the Medway. The port control is built on top of the old fort in the middle of this photo

Sheerness – an industrial complex at the mouth of the Medway. The port control is built on top of the old fort in the middle of this photo

London is staging a Festival of tall ships in the first week of September (after the departure of teh Clipper Race). Here one such ship is progressing along the Thames Estuary.

London is staging a Festival of tall ships in the first week of September (after the departure of the Clipper Race). Here one such ship is progressing along the Thames Estuary.

Thursday 29th  August – Stangate Creek to Limehouse Marina

The Thames is apparently full of sea life. We saw seals basking on the sands along the estuary. here two fishing boats are engaged in "pair trawling"

The Thames is apparently full of sea life. We saw seals basking on the sands along the Estuary. Here two fishing boats are engaged in “pair trawling”

The Thames remains a busy seaway but the commercial docks have long moved downstream from London to places such as Tilbury where the large modern ships can be handled. This is a ro-ro fery owned by the Belgium company Kobelfret [assing the oil installatins at Canvey island. We saw no significant British flagged merchant ships on our travels.

The Thames remains a busy seaway but the commercial docks have long moved downstream from London to places such as Tilbury where the large modern ships can be handled. This is a ro-ro ferry owned by the Belgium company Kobelfret passing the oil installations at Canvey island. We saw no significant British flagged merchant ships on our travels.

We up-anchor at 0900 and sail out into the Thames estuary. However, the wind is from the west so for most of the rest of the day we have to motor into the wind. It is a lovely day and although Janet and Yvonne have made this trip in the past it is a complete novelty for John. Initially the estuary is several miles wide and we can see Southend-on-Sea in the distance to the north with its long pier out into the estuary (claimed to be the longest in the country). As we motor along we see seals basking on the sands and two trawlers pair trawling – there is life in the Thames. We keep just out of the main channel as there are frequent shipping movements in and out of London.

There are some long established factories along the Thames, including the Tate and Lyle factory for processing cane sugar.

There are some long established factories along the Thames, including the Tate and Lyle factory for processing cane sugar.

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge carrying the M25 across the Thames at Dartford - nose to tail traffic. The bridge carries southbound traffic, northbound going through two tunnels. The bridge was financed through a PFI - who remembers the undertaking that the tolls would be abolished once the Dartford crossing was paid for?

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge carrying the M25 across the Thames at Dartford – nose to tail traffic. The bridge carries southbound traffic, northbound going through two tunnels. The bridge was financed through a PFI – who remembers the undertaking that the tolls would be abolished once the Dartford crossing was paid for?

The QE II bridge is a cabled stayed bridge - the suspension rods and slender white towers have a certain beauty and are reminiscent of a Barbara Hepworth sculpture on a huge scale. The bridge was the longest cabled stayed bridge in Europe when it was built in 1991

The QE II bridge is a cabled stayed bridge – the suspension rods and slender white towers have a certain beauty and are reminiscent of a Barbara Hepworth sculpture on a huge scale. The bridge was the longest cabled stayed bridge in Europe when it was built in 1991

We pass Canvey island (with its old oil terminals, some now defunct) then get a little sail down to Tilbury, where there are large active docks. We are asked by Thames Port Control to move over to let a ro-ro ferry manoeuver – everyone is very polite as is normal in maritime radio conversations. We had been keeping to the rules so all is well.

The Woolwich Free Ferry has a long history as a ferry service has operated here since the 14th Century. The modern version links the North and South Circular Roads.

The Woolwich Free Ferry has a long history as a ferry service has operated here since the 14th Century. The modern version links the North and South Circular Roads.

We chug on, passing Woolwich with its old Arsenal and free ferry. There are a number of Dutch square-riggers and tall ships moored here, presumably waiting to go up to London for the Festival of classic ships once the Clipper Race boats have departed next Sunday.

One of the Thames Barrier spans closed. The Barrier is the world's second largest moveable flood barrier (the largest is in Holland). It is located at New Charlton, where the chalk layer under the Thames is strong enough to support the structure. The concept of the rotating gates was devised by (Reginald) Charles Draper. In the 1950s, from his parents' house in Pellatt Grove, Wood Green, London, he constructed a working model. The Barrier only really became possible once all major shipping moved eastwards so that large ships no longer had to travel intothe Port of London to be discharged and loaded

One of the Thames Barrier spans closed. The Barrier is the world’s second largest moveable flood barrier (the largest is in Holland). It is located at New Charlton, where the chalk layer under the Thames is strong enough to support the structure. The concept of the rotating gates was devised by (Reginald) Charles Draper. In the 1950s, from his parents’ house in Pellatt Grove, Wood Green, London, he constructed a working model. The Barrier only really became possible once all major shipping moved eastwards so that large ships no longer had to travel into the Port of London to be discharged and loaded. The Canary Wharf  skyline looms beyond the barrier.

The Thames Barrier works by pivoting huge gates that normally rest on the river bed. This photo shows the end of once of these gates and the mechanism for moving it. The barrier is tested once a month during low tide and had been used to prevent real possibilities of flooding 119 times by 2010. It was also used to ensure there was plenty of water in the Thames with little flow for the Water Pagent to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last year and to assist in the rescue after the Marchioness disaster.

The Thames Barrier works by pivoting huge gates that normally rest on the river bed. This photo shows the end of once of these gates and the mechanism for moving it. The barrier is tested once a month during low tide and had been used to prevent real possibilities of flooding 119 times by 2010. It was also used to ensure there was plenty of water in the Thames with little flow for the Water Pagent to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year and to assist in the rescue after the Marchioness disaster.

A little further west and we reach the Thames Barrier. All ships have to get permission to transit the barrier, which we duly do by contacting the London Port Control. It is all official but in a relaxed and well controlled way. The barrier is a tremendous piece of engineering and has proved its worth over the years.

A plane coming into land at City Airport. The planes came in very low over us - we had not realised how busy this airport in the middle of docklands is.

A plane coming into land at City Airport. The planes came in very low over us – we had not realised how busy this airport in the middle of docklands is.

A tall ship sails eastwards through the barrier as we motor in the opposite direction. A plane comes in low over us to land at City Airport. We are surprised how busy this airport is, given the flow of planes above us.

The London skyline opens up as we transit the Barrier and we are soon passing the O2 dome with its new cable car running high above the river between the north and south banks.

The O2 - formerly the Millenium Dome. Once regarded as a white elephant it is now a successful concert and event venue and was used for the Olympic Games. It is possible to walk over the top on the special walkway whilst a new cable car connects it to the north bank near Canary Wharf.

The O2 – formerly the Millenium Dome. Once regarded as a white elephant it is now a successful concert and event venue and was used for the Olympic Games. It is possible to walk over the top on the special walkway whilst a new cable car connects it to the north bank near Canary Wharf.

There is a walkway over the dome with plenty of customers making the climb in the bright sunshine. Here the river bends sharply south round the Isle of Dogs, best known now for the Canary Wharf development but with a great deal of other development using the old West India Docks as a central feature.

We are beginning to see the high speed catamaran ferries and other trip boats, many of which seem to move at great speed and send up a huge wakes that rocks us around.

The magnificent buildings at Greenwich with the observatory on the hill behind. This is the position of the meridian dividing east and west and the reference line for all terrestial navigation. There is an excellent museum in the observatory tracing the development of navigation and the chronometers by John Harrison that finally resolved the difficulties of navigating anywhere in the world.

The magnificent buildings at Greenwich with the observatory on the hill behind. This is the position of the meridian dividing east and west and the reference line for all terrestial navigation. There is an excellent museum in the observatory tracing the development of navigation and the chronometers by John Harrison that finally resolved the difficulties of navigating anywhere in the world.

The worst are the big RIBS that give tourists excitement as they speed along the river, weaving between craft and over their wakes. They all carry flashing yellow lights but they move so fast that we have to rely on them missing us, not the other way round. However, it is sunny and it is exciting coming into London this way for the first time.

The Cutty sark, now happily restored to her former glory after the disastrous fire. We saw where she was built earlier this trip at Dumbarton, now we have seen the end of the story.

The Cutty sark, now happily restored to her former glory after the disastrous fire. We saw where she was built earlier this trip at Dumbarton, now we have seen the end of the story.

We pass Greenwich with its wonderful buildings and the Cutty Sark. Soon we are round the other side of the Isle of Dogs and on the final straight. We are in good time so we carry on up to Tower Bridge and the iconic London skyline that is continuing to evolve. On cue, the Bridge opens to let a Thames barge through – just the job.

We call up Limehouse marina to book the lock into the basin. This also involves opening a swing bridge so there is plenty of interest.

The evolving skyline of London: on the left of Tower Bridge is the the newly completed "Shard", on the right the "Gerkin" with the "Cheesegrater" and "Walkie Talkie" under construction. After the recession London is bouncing back.

The evolving skyline of London: on the left of Tower Bridge is the newly completed “Shard”, on the right the “Gerkin” with the “Cheesegrater” and “Walkie Talkie” under construction. After the recession London is bouncing back.

We made it to London!

We made it to London!

London icons: Tower Bridge opening for a Thames barge

London icons: Tower Bridge opening for a Thames barge

There is an active Police presence on the Thames as it is the major artery through  the most sensitive parts of London. We were scrutinised during our trip along the Thames.

There is an active Police presence on the Thames as it is the major artery through the most sensitive parts of London. We were scrutinised during our trip along the Thames.

Thames barges and other lassic boats -- presumably getting ready for the Festival of Classic Sail due to be held here in early September

Thames barges and other classic boats — presumably getting ready for the Festival of Classic Sail due to be held here in early September

Many people live on houseboats on the Thames and adjacent docks including these ones just east of Tower Bridge. One wonders how comfortable they are in the day given the big wash from many of the trip boats and extreme RIB's giving tourists rides on this stretch of the river. We found it rougher here than out at sea!

Many people live on houseboats on the Thames and adjacent docks including these ones just east of Tower Bridge. One wonders how comfortable they are in the day given the big wash from many of the trip boats and extreme RIB’s giving tourists rides on this stretch of the river. We found it rougher here than out at sea!

In the Marina all is peaceful, with a mix of canal and sea going boats as this is the point where the Grand Union canal joins the Thames. It is a historic place that has been rejunevated by the investment that has been going on since the 1980’s and a good base for us over the next couple of days.

We make phone calls to friends we are going to meet tomorrow then cook supper on board. It’s been a long but good day.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       41.3 nm

Total miles to date:          2259.3 nm

Engine hours:                  9.4 hours (includes some motoring yesterday)

Total engine:                   279.8 hours

Hours sailed:                   8.5 Hours

Total hours sailed:           494.7 hours

Limehouse Marina was created out of the old Limehouse Basin in the 1980's after its closure in 1969 to commercial traffic after a century of use. It is now an area of tranquility and a great asset. In general, the regeneration of both sides of the River Thames iis remarkable and a tribute to the planners, businessmen and politicians who had the vision and drive to rescue a huge run down, deprived area of London. it is the best example of regeneration we have seen on our travels

Limehouse Marina was created out of the old Limehouse Basin in the 1980′s after its closure in 1969 to commercial traffic after a century of use. It is now an area of tranquility and a great asset. In general, the regeneration of both sides of the River Thames iis remarkable and a tribute to the planners, businessmen and politicians who had the vision and drive to rescue a huge run down, deprived area of London. it is the best example of regeneration we have seen on our travels

Friday 30th August – A day in London

We awake to a sunny morning with some coots swimming around us and a heron standing on the adjacent pontoon. We have arranged to meet friends at lunchtime and in the evening so it will be a sociable day. We breakfast and shower. John does some work whilst Janet and Yvonne do the laundry and catch up on the cleaning.

There was also an abundance of coots at Limehouse basin with their funny gutteral sqwawk

There was an abundance of coots at Limehouse basin with their funny gutteral sqwawk

There is plenty of wildlife around Limehouse Basin such as this heron

There must be fish in the Limehouse Basin and the canal as there were a number of larger marine birds including cormorants and this heron in residence.

Limehouse is an interesting and long settled area. It was settled as one of the few healthy areas alongside the river marshes. By Queen Elizabeth first’s time it was the centre of world trade and her explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert lived here. From directly below the Grapes Inn Sir Walter Raleigh set sail on his third voyage to the New World. In later times Captain James Cook lived here whilst resident in London.

Vivienne and Mary Lavis visited us at Limehouse - and were delighted to find a boat named after them jointly!

Vivienne and Mary Lavis visited us at Limehouse – and were delighted to find a boat named after them jointly!

Limehouse Basin became the terminus of the Grand Union Canal, linking the Thames to the Midlands and the North. It is still possible to travel by canal boat from here via the Regent’s Canal to many parts of England. A hundred years ago it was a busy, thriving dock where it was almost possible to walk across the harbour by stepping from one boat to another. However, gradual decline set in, firstly from competition from the railways and then by the shift in shipping down the Thames as vessels became larger. It was closed in 1969 for shipping but was rejuvenated in the 1980’s as part of the docklands scheme.

The Grapes pub in Narrow Street. This has to be one of the narrowest pubs in the country as well as one of the oldest.

The Grapes pub in Narrow Street. This has to be one of the narrowest pubs in the country as well as one of the oldest.

Our friend Viv Lavis and her daughter Mary arrived at Limehouse DLR station at midday and after the usual confusion about which entrance to meet at are escorted by John to the boat. John and Viv have known each other since their teenage years in Sevenoaks. En route we find a boat named Vivienne Mary so the photois taken. We enjoy coffee on board and show our visitors round the boat before we set off for the Grapes Inn.

The back of the Grapes Inn (it is the narrowest building with the balconies)

The back of the Grapes Inn (it is the narrowest building with the balconies)

The Grapes is one of the traditional London waterside pubs that dates back about 500 years. It is located not far in Narrow Lane and, appropriately, is really narrow, being squeezed in between its neighbours with a veranda overlooking the Thames. It makes the most of being a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens with a picture and a collection of his works but it is a genuine, proper pub with good beer, good food and a nice ambience. We pass a pleasant long lunch catching up on news and watching the passing boats on the Thames.

In the Grapes pub, Narrow Lane looked over by Charles Dickens portrait. This was one of Dickens favourite haunts - he used it thinly disguised form in 'Our Mutual Friend'. There is a set of his works kept at the pub. This was our favourite of the pubs we visited in London - cosy, welcoming and a proper pub with good beer and food.

Canary Wharf in the sunshine

Canary Wharf in the afternoon sunshine as viewed from the Thames Path

Anthony Gormley figures get everywhere. This one is outside The Grapes Inn.

Anthony Gormley figures get everywhere. This one is outside The Grapes Inn.

Viv and Mary leave after three. We shop at the local Tesco Metro, then have a cup of tea and read in the afternoon sun.

Our friends Dick and Gill Shute arrive at 6. We have known them since John and Dick’s college days at Loughborough. They have come up from Burford to meet up with us.

Dick and Gil Shute visited us at Limehouse - Gil never normally sets foot in sailing boats so we were honoured!

Dick and Gil Shute visited us at Limehouse – Gil never normally sets foot in sailing boats so we were honoured!

The Prospect of Whitby - one of the oldest pubs in London and going from strength to strength now that the area has been rejuvenated

The Prospect of Whitby – one of the oldest pubs in London and going from strength to strength now that the area has been rejuvenated

We enjoy drinks on board before setting out to walk along the Thames Path along towards Tower Bridge. The walk is mainly along the Embankment. John can remember both this and the other side of the River as derelict, depressed areas. Now they have been regenerated and are thriving areas.

We walk to the Prospect of Whitby, which claims to be the oldest waterside pub in London. It is a much larger establishment than the Grapes and is more of a gastro pub with several rooms to eat in plus a big outside area. We enjoy a leisurely meal and catch up on news. Our children are all now past college years so there is much to catch up on.

The Prospect of Whitby's claim to fame

The Prospect of Whitby’s claim to fame

A good night at the Prospect of Whitby with Dick and Gil Shute

A good night at the Prospect of Whitby with Dick and Gil Shute

The evening draws on and too soon it is time to depart our separate ways. We have to walk back an inland route as the Thames Path is shut at dusk. We walk past the Limehouse road tunnel which we realise must pass under the Limehouse Basin – it’s a busy area.

Saturday 31stAugust – Limehouse to Queenborough.

Boats come in all shapes and sizes on the Thames - including these Sunday morning scullers. They must be brave (or foolhardy) given the size of the wake of some trip boats. The slipway thr9ough the rtiver embankment behind the scullers is for emergency beaching of boats. There are a succession of them along each side of the river. Further up an enterprising company uses one to launch its amphibious vehicle as part of its tour on land and river.

Boats come in all shapes and sizes on the Thames – including these Sunday morning scullers. They must be brave (or foolhardy) given the size of the wake of some trip boats. The slipway thr9ough the rtiver embankment behind the scullers is for emergency beaching of boats. There are a succession of them along each side of the river. Further up an enterprising company uses one to launch its amphibious vehicle as part of its tour on land and river.

We lock out of Limehouse at 0930 to take the tide back down the River. There is a gentle north westerly wind so once we are past the Thames Barrier we can set the sails and manage to sail for the rest of the day.

A typical lighter for gravel used on the Thames

A typical lighter for gravel used on the Thames

There are a surprising number of sand and gravel pits along the Thames, with much of the output being transported by boat into the heart of London

There are a surprising number of sand and gravel pits along the Thames, with much of the output being transported by boat into the heart of London

Somehow the sights pass quicker in this direction although in reality we take just as long to reach Queenborough as we did to do the journey in the opposite direction two days ago. The trip is uneventful, although the wind freshens at times to make for fast sailing. Later it drops so the spinnaker comes out as we sail out into the Estuary.

We have arranged to meet John’s brother Dick and partner Carole at Queenborough. The 24 hour access jetty there is full of motor boats and small yachts but we persuade the harbour master to allow us to tie up for a “couple of hours” to meet up with Dick.

John's brother Dick and partner Carol visited us at Queenborough....

John’s brother Dick and partner Carol visited us at Queenborough….

Dick and Carole’s hobby is their horses so they arrive at 6 after they have fed and watered the various steeds. Another good evening ensues, with drinks on board and then a meal at Queenborough Yacht Club. The chef there is working single handed so the meal extends in time but there is plenty to chat about.

....and a good evening was had at Queenborough Yacht Club

….and a good evening was had at Queenborough Yacht Club

Back at the jetty we part company and return to Sundart where an irate harbour master shoos us off to raft up on a visitors buoy where we pass an uneventful night.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       32.3 nm

Total miles to date:          2291.6 nm

Engine hours:                  2.0 hours

Total engine hours:          281.8 hours

Hours sailed:                   8.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           502.7 hours

Sunday 1st September – Queenborough to Ramsgate.

Unravelling the twisted spinnaker - acres of sail in the confined space below

Unravelling the twisted spinnaker – acres of sail in the confined space below

We are up and off by 0900. There is a nice breeze from the west so once we are clear of Sheerness we can goose wing out of the Thames estuary. The main hazard en route is the Margate sand Bank off that town. There is an inshore route (known as the Overland Route) or an offshore route which is deeper. We calculate the tidal heights and times and conclude that we can take the shorter, Overland Route. This we duly do, passing the Isle of Sheppey, Whitstable and Margate en route.

North Foreland with the lighthouse towards the left of the headland. North Foreland has had some form of lighthouse since 1499; the current lighthouse dates from 1691 and was the last lighthouse to be automated (in 1998). North Foreland is the end of the chalk Downs which stretch from here across the north and west of Kent before curving southwards through Sussex and emerging at Eastbourne at the dramatic cliffs of Beachy Head. The  Downs cradle the Weald valley and the two provide some of the loveliest scenery in England.

North Foreland with the lighthouse towards the left of the headland. North Foreland has had some form of lighthouse since 1499; the current lighthouse dates from 1691 and was the last lighthouse to be automated (in 1998). North Foreland is the end of the chalk Downs which stretch from here across the north and west of Kent before curving southwards through Sussex and emerging at Eastbourne at the dramatic cliffs of Beachy Head. The Downs cradle the Weald valley and the two provide some of the loveliest scenery in England.

Eventually we reach North Foreland, a well known landmark for seafarers with it long established lighthouse (one of the oldest in the UK) and its chalk cliffs. We turn south and after a few miles we reach Ramsgate. We obtain permission to enter the port form Port Control (although there is no longer any ferry traffic here) and reach Ramsgate Martina. There are plenty of spaces here as the holiday season is about over.

Margate. The blue box-like building is the new Turner Contemporary Gallery which is the centre of the culture led regeneration of a badly faded seaside town. The gallery is named after the artist JMW Turner who stayed at Margate to paint, inspired by the effects of the local Thanet light. Turner Contemporary’s purpose is "to stretch the boundaries of current visual arts practice, to make the exhibitions sufficiently varied and to bridge the gap between the historical and contemporary."

Margate. The blue box-like building is the new Turner Contemporary Gallery which is the centre of the culture led regeneration of a badly faded seaside town. The gallery is named after the artist JMW Turner who stayed at Margate to paint, inspired by the effects of the local Thanet light. Turner Contemporary’s purpose is “to stretch the boundaries of current visual arts practice, to make the exhibitions sufficiently varied and to bridge the gap between the historical and contemporary.”

Broadstairs - a favourite of Charles Dickens who visited it regularly between 1837 to 1659 and immortalised it as "Our English watering place". He wrote David Copperfiled there and included it in parts of that book. The town celebrates the Dickens connection with its annual Dickens Festival in June of each year.

Broadstairs – a favourite of Charles Dickens who visited it regularly between 1837 to 1659 and immortalised it as “Our English watering place”. He wrote David Copperfield there and included it in parts of that book. The town celebrates the Dickens connection with its annual Dickens Festival in June of each year when townsfolk dress in Victorian costume and various Dickens related events are put on.

Harbour formalities done, we walk into town.

The Royal Temple Yacht Club. The roads and houses are terraced into the chalk cliffs that rise up to the south end of the town.

The Royal Temple Yacht Club. The roads and houses are terraced into the chalk cliffs that rise up to the south end of the town.

A well earned pint at the RTYC, sitting on the terrace overlooking the harbour

A well earned pint at the RTYC, sitting on the terrace overlooking the harbour

The view over the inner harbour from the RTYC

The view over the inner harbour from the RTYC

Ramsgate is an attractive port to visit as there are plenty of pubs, restaurants and shops by the water front. The town is partly built up the chalk cliffs with terraced streets and houses to the south.

An evening view across the inner harbour towards the south end of Ramsgate. The chalk cliffs can be seen tot he left and the stairs up them which lead to Waitrose's

An evening view across the inner harbour towards the south end of Ramsgate. The chalk cliffs can be seen tot he left and the stairs up them which lead to Waitrose’s

We wander through the town then return to the water front for a drink at the Royal Temple Yacht Club (RTYC), a long established, traditional yachting establishment that has magnificent views over the harbour.

Back onboard we enjoy a vegetable curry before turning in.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       29.1 nm

Total miles to date:          2320.7 nm

Engine hours:                  0.6 hours

Total engine hours:          282.4 hours

Hours sailed:                   7.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           509.7 hours

Monday 2nd September – Ramsgate to Dover 

Ramsgate is very much in the front line of border control with a patrol boat stationed there.

Ramsgate is very much in the front line of border control with a patrol boat stationed there.

There is an array of shops, pubs and restaurants in Ramsgate, many in attractive older buildings.

There is an array of shops, pubs and restaurants in Ramsgate, many in attractive older buildings.

The tide will run south in the afternoon so we have the morning in port. John decides he needs to work to complete an assignment for a customer. Janet and Yvonne walk into town up some steep steps up the cliffs to stock up at the local Waitrose.

Ramsgate once had a thriving fishing industry - now hardly existent. This weas a welfare centre for the youths who worked on the boats. The modern fishermen were paid compensation for loss of their fishing grounds by the wind farms and invested the money into fueling and berthing facilities to service the wind farm vessels, thereby making a good living apparently with much less hazardous work.

Ramsgate once had a thriving fishing industry – now hardly existent. This weas a welfare centre for the youths who worked on the boats. The modern fishermen were paid compensation for loss of their fishing grounds by the wind farms and invested the money into fueling and berthing facilities to service the wind farm vessels, thereby making a good living apparently with much less hazardous work.

Invicta - the white horse that is the emblem of Kent

Invicta – the white horse that is the emblem of Kent

The three lions - emblem of the confederation of Cinque Ports (Norman for "five ports"). Originally the confederation was for trade and military purposes (although now it is entirely ceremonial). The five ports were Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover & sandwich. Two antients and seven limbs were admitted into the confederation, including Ramsgate which was regarded as a limb of Sandwich. Churchill was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports at one time.

The three lions – emblem of the confederation of Cinque Ports (Norman for “five ports”). Originally the confederation was for trade and military purposes (although now it is entirely ceremonial). The five ports were Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover & sandwich. Two antients and seven limbs were admitted into the confederation, including Ramsgate which was regarded as a limb of Sandwich. Churchill was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports at one time.

We lunch, then fill the diesel tank and set off. The forecast is for light winds and so it is as we get permission and leave harbour.

We came out of Ramsgate to find one of the Round The World Clipper Race Boats becalmed. We headed off further off shore to find the wind and surprisingly overtook them.....

We came out of Ramsgate to find one of the Round The World Clipper Race Boats becalmed. We headed off further off shore to find the wind and surprisingly overtook them…..

...but once the wind filled in the racing yacht inevitably overtook us and sailed away around the world

…but once the wind filled in the racing yacht inevitably overtook us and sailed away around the world

Outside we see some of the Clipper Round the World race boats. The back marker, sponsored by Chinese Company, is becalmed near the harbour entrance so we motor sail over to take photos and exchange waves. Further out we can see other Clipper yachts sailing so we motor on a bit further to catch the breeze.

This is an interesting area to sail, there being the Goodwin Sands off shore. This was for long a “ship trap” with many boats caught out by the tides and shifting sands as they tried to pass through the stretch of water known as the Downs. As a youth bought up in Kent, John has memories of tales being told of cricket matches being played on the Goodwins at spring low tides and of naval actions in these waters.

Beating through the  swell in the Downs towards South Foreland

Beating through the swell in the Downs  and past the Goodwin sands towards South Foreland

The imposing chalk cliffs at South Foreland and its lighthouse. We had a fine sail past here but needed to sail close to the cliffs to shelter whilst we put in two reefs as the wind strengthened.

The imposing chalk cliffs at South Foreland and its lighthouse. We had a fine sail past here but needed to sail close to the cliffs to shelter whilst we put in two reefs as the wind strengthened.

To our surprise the wind continues to increase, blowing from the south west. We beat down the channel inshore of the Goodwins. To our surprise we match the tail end Clipper boat to the end of the Goodwins (as we had found more wind) but once we meet it we are “toast” as that racing machine gets into its stride and sails south and away from us. It has been a fun encounter.

The wind continues to increase as does the swell. We take in two reefs off Deal and continue south past the majestic cliffs at South Foreland and its conspicuous lighthouse. It is a good if rather bouncy sail and a satisfying way to traverse these renowned waters.

We round South Foreland and see an almost constant stream of ferries entering and leaving Dover. It is the busiest port we have come across in our travels so far. We have to call up Dover Port Control when we are within two miles of the harbour entrance and are instructed to stow our sails and motor in as there is a lull in ferry activity.

For many Dover is defined by its busy ferry port, seen on the right in this photo taken from within the huge harbour breakwater. However, there are many other aspects such as the imposing castle on the hill (seen centre left) and the maze of tunnels in the cliffs and command posts from WW2. it is nowadays the nerve centre for controlling the huge numebr of ships that pass through the Straits of Dover, one of the busiest and densest shipping routes int the world. They must have good radar as they  had spotted our little boat before made the mandatory radio contact before we got close to the harbour.

For many Dover is defined by its busy ferry port, seen on the right in this photo taken from within the huge harbour breakwater. However, there are many other aspects such as the imposing castle on the hill (seen centre left) and the maze of tunnels in the cliffs and command posts from WW2. it is nowadays the nerve centre for controlling the huge numebr of ships that pass through the Straits of Dover, one of the busiest and densest shipping routes int the world. They must have good radar as they had spotted our little boat before made the mandatory radio contact before we got close to the harbour.

The ferries use the Eastern Docks; cruise ships seem to have taken over the Western Docks, once used by the boat trains. We had to wait for the Crystal Symphony to clear harbour before we could get into Granville Dock to the right of this picture.

The ferries use the Eastern Docks; cruise ships seem to have taken over the Western Docks, once used by the boat trains. We had to wait for the cruise ship Crystal Symphony to clear harbour before we could get into Granville Dock (to the right of this picture).

We arrange to berth at the Granville Dock on the west side so once inside the enormous harbour we track past the huge ferry port on the eastern side. However, there is a cruise ship just about to leave the western port so we have to hang about for twenty minutes whilst it edges its way out of harbour. It gives us time to take in the view including the very imposing castle high up the hill.

Cruise ship gone we are soon moored up below the famous white cliffs of Dover. There is a constant sound of traffic in the distance – this port does not seem to sleep!

Moored in Granville Dock under the famous white cliffs of Dover

Moored in Granville Dock under the famous white cliffs of Dover

We enjoy a good supper of sea bass, sealed in foil courtesy of the trip to Waitrose, before turning in. Tomorrow we will head off west.

Ship’s log 

Day’s run:                       17.6 nm

Total miles to date:          2338.3 nm

Engine hours:                  1.4 hours

Total engine hours:          283.8 hours

Hours sailed:                   4.5 Hours

Total hours sailed;           514.2 hours.

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John

 

Rivers of Delight

Wednesday 21st August – Lowestoft to Southwold

Up the pole again...This time it was John's turn to go up the mast at Lowestoft to fix the top of the roller reefing on the foresail.

Up the pole again…This time it was John’s turn to go up the mast at Lowestoft to fix the top of the roller reefing on the foresail.

We are in Hamilton Dock at Lowestoft where the marina that has been formed in part of the old fish dock is an unmanned off-shoot of the main establishment up river towards Oulton Broad. Everything is done remotely including collecting the dues. (Lowestoft is one of two places where the Norfolk Broads system joins the sea via Oulton Broad, Great Yarmouth being the other). Before leaving we need to fix the top of the furling gear. Geoff from the boat next to us kindly offers to winch John up and the job is duly done. Happily the other half of the offending collar is still up there so it appears that all is well.

We set off around 1130 for Southwold which is around 15 miles south and which once again has a tidal window to enter the harbour on the River Blythe. We have checked the time we can get in with the harbour master there as we find that it pays to use local knowledge rather than rely on the almanac. Once again the wind is on the nose so after trying to beat down the coast we end up motor sailing in order not to be late. However, it is sunny and we have a nice view of the Southwold waterfront as we pass by.

The River Blythe at Southwold. Strong tidal flows due to the tides filling and emptyhing the inland lakes and salt marshes make boat handling tricky.

The River Blythe at Southwold. Strong tidal flows due to the tides filling and emptying the inland lakes and salt marshes make boat handling tricky. The river originally reached the sea further south but a great storm in medieval times changed its course so it now reaches the coast between Waberswick and Southwold.

There is a big swell running into the harbour entrance, which is narrow and between two lines of wooden piles. An Environmental Survey boat races in ahead of us, which is useful as we can see how it is tossed about at the entrance and which route to take. There is a big tidal flow coming out of the River Blythe so we have to motor hard to get in but in due course we reach the moorings along the river and are instructed to raft up against a bigger boat by the harbour master. There is such a strong tidal flow that it takes quite an effort with help from the harbour master to tie up but all is done.

The low lying land around the river Blythe at Southwold is prone to flooding so flood defences are a real need. This wall is a recent addition round the back of the houses and the Harbour Pub that front onto the river - presumably the buildings might get flooded but not the low lying land behind them?

The low lying land around the River Blythe at Southwold is prone to flooding so flood defences are a real need. This wall is a recent addition round the back of the houses and the Harbour Pub that front onto the river – presumably the buildings might get flooded but not the low lying land behind them?

We moor outside the Harbour Pub so we award ourselves a late pub lunch, sitting outside in the warm sun. At last, the summer we have been missing! The smoked fish and beer is excellent, both products of Southwold.

Lunch having been taken, we set off across the field and marshes to shop at Southwold which is about a mile away from its river. It is almost biblical, walking across the mown fields and crossing the little streams lined with bull rushes. The view has probably not changed for a century or two.

Southwold has not changed much over the past century or more. This is the Swan Hotel which overlooks the centre of the town. There have apparently been butchers in the row of shops for more than a century.

Southwold has not changed much over the past century or more. This is the Swan Hotel which overlooks the centre of the town. There have apparently been butchers in the row of shops  opposite for more than a century.

The path through the meadows towards Southwold from its harbour - probably unchanged for centuries.

The path through the meadows towards Southwold from its harbour – probably unchanged for centuries.

Southwold is a Suffolk gem. It probably has not changed much since Victorian times. It is well known for its colourful beach huts and idiosyncratic pier. However, we stop at the town centre to stock up on food and to have a little look round the picturesque town centre. Southwold is also known as the home of Adnams beer. Shopping done, John takes a quick detour to photograph the lighthouse (which is in the middle of town), the brewery and some of the houses before rejoining Yvonne for an excellent locally made ice cream.

The Green at Southwold although looking rather brown after a long hot summer).

The Green at Southwold (although looking rather brown after a long hot summer).

We sit on the green eating the ice cream and watching the holiday makers and families. The grass of the green is rather brown so they cannot have had much rain here.

Back at the boat, the tide has gone out and we are just touching the bottom. The pub is still busy and along the quayside the various fishmongers are doing a good trade out of their wooden shops. We suspect Southwold is having a good season.

Part of the Adnams brewery at Southwold. Some of the brewery manufacturing space is located in former houses with the facade being kept to preserve the street character. Adnams do not miss a trick with their location in a tourist centre, offering brewery tours and even having their own gin distiilery.

Part of the Adnams brewery at Southwold. Some of the brewery manufacturing space is located in former houses with the facade being kept to preserve the street character. Adnams do not miss a trick with their location in a tourist centre, offering brewery tours and even having their own gin distillery.

One oddity of Southwold is the light house located in the town centre rather than the sea front. However, we can testify that is is clearly visible from the sea! The Sole Bay Inn is the Adnams pub that backs onto their brewery

One oddity of Southwold is the light house located in the town centre rather than the sea front. However, we can testify that is is clearly visible from the sea! The Sole Bay Inn is the Adnams pub that backs onto their brewery

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       17.3 nm

Total miles to date:          2083.3 nm

Engine hours:                  2.5 hours

Total engine hours:          254.0 hours

Hours sailed:                   3.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           454.0 hours

Thursday 22nd August – Southwold to the River Deben

Swallows at Southwold - our guard rails and rigging were full of twittering birds when we awoke.

Swallows at Southwold – our guard rails and rigging were full of twittering birds when we awoke.

The harbour master confirms that there will be sufficient depth to leave over the sand bar at the harbour entrance by 0900 so we water up and get ready to depart. The current in the river is already flooding in very fast so we enlist the help of our neighbours on the adjacent boat to help us off. Sundart swings round with the stream to face out of the harbour as the warps are released but all is well and we depart without further ado. Our friends Julie and Paul Ashley have kindly offered the free use of their mooring in the River Deben so we plan to stop there for a couple of days to meet up with family and friends and relax as we sailed quite a few miles since our last stop at. Grimsby.

Even the lifeboat house at Southwold is a creosoted wooden shed!

Even the lifeboat house at Southwold is a creosoted wooden shed!

Southwold has a long tradition of catching and selling its own fish from its harbour. The buildings are all traditional creosoted wooden sheds, which are generally well maintained and which fit in well with the surroundings.

Southwold has a long tradition of catching and selling its own fish from its harbour. The buildings are all traditional creosoted wooden sheds, which are generally well maintained and which fit in well with the surroundings.

The exit from the harbour is much less exciting than our entry and we are soon pointing south. We try to sail down the misty coast but the wind is very light and from the south so once again we end up motor sailing.

Sizewell nuclear power stations - quietly getting on with the job of generating electricity day in and day out whilst the politicians and civil servants fumble around with our energy policy. The dismantling of our ability to engineer our own nuclear power stations is one of the great political strategic failures of the last decades.

Sizewell nuclear power stations – quietly getting on with the job of generating electricity day in and day out whilst the politicians and civil servants fumble around with our energy policy. The dismantling of our ability to engineer our own nuclear power stations is one of the great political strategic failures of the last decades.

We pass the nuclear power stations at Sizewell as they quietly get on with providing electricity.

The radio masts in the mists on Orford Ness that transmit the BBC World Service - a wonderful institution that anyone who has lived abroad learns to appreciate for its unbiased and accurate news

The radio masts in the mists on Orford Ness that transmit the BBC World Service – a wonderful institution that anyone who has lived abroad learns to appreciate for its unbiased and accurate news

Further south we pass the Georgian town of Aldeburgh and then Orford Ness with its red and white light house (now sadly decommissioned). We see the array of aerials from which the BBC World Service is transmitted which stand in a large circle on the Ness. Orford Ness is a very long spit of shingle and sand that has built up over the centuries, diverting the River Ore so that is now runs about 10 miles south, just yards from the sea in places and depriving the old town of Orford of its seashore in the process.

The "Pagodas" on Orford Ness - once used for testing of munitions. The buildings were designed to ansorn the blasts and collapse in a controlled fashion if the experiments went wrong.

The “Pagodas” on Orford Ness – once used for testing of munitions. The buildings were designed to absorb the blasts and collapse in a controlled fashion if the experiments went wrong.

South of the lighthouse we pass the strange buildings known as pagodas that were part of the installations used to test munitions over a long period including the detonators for atomic bombs. There is no longer any military activity here and the public are allowed on to Orford Ness with limited access as there is still some unexploded ordnance around.

Just south of Orford is the island of Havengate, one of the first Nature Reserves for Birds to be set up and where the first colony of avocets in the UK established itself. (The avocet with its long upward curved beak is the emblem of the RSPB).

The entrance to the Deben is guarded by a Martello Tower, one of many from here southwards which were built in the Naploeonic Wars

The entrance to the Deben is guarded by a Martello Tower, one of many from here southwards which were built in the Napoleonic Wars

The entrance to the River Deben has a reputation for being rather awkward as the sand and shingle banks at the entrance move around (so the buoyage has to be altered regularly) and there is a strong tidal flow in or out of the river. We phone George Collins, the venerable and ever helpful voluntary harbour master at Ramsholt where the mooring is on the Deben. George confirms the current buoyage and also that he has reserved a mooring right opposite the pub and jetty as requested by Paul Ashley – fantastic!

Sundart moored on the River Deben at Ramsholt amidst the Suffolk meadows

Sundart moored on the River Deben at Ramsholt amidst the Suffolk meadows

We find the fairway buoy without difficulty outside the Deben entrance and follow the buoyage into the river without problem and have caught the tides right so there is still a little bit of flood into the river. George has been as good as his word and we are soon moored up in a really lovely location – classic Suffolk river just as Constable would have painted it.

George Collins. For over 50 years he and his father have been the harbour masters at Ramsholt. The old red boat that serves as his office still floats on a spring tide.

George Collins. For over 50 years he and his father have been the harbour masters at Ramsholt. The old red boat that serves as his office still floats on a spring tide.

Julie and Paul Ashley who kindly sorted out a mooring for us on the Deben and took us out for a meal.

Julie and Paul Ashley who kindly sorted out a mooring for us on the Deben and took us out for a meal.

We go ashore in the rubber dinghy to meet up with Julie and Paul who arrive at 5 pm to take us out to supper. We are introduced to George, who is well into his eighties. George lends us his trolley for our dinghy. George and his father before him have been harbour masters here for over fifty years, which must be a record. George does it voluntarily and very kindly donates the tip Paul would have given him for his services to our charity.

The Ramsholt Inn is closed tonight as they are hosting as charity do so we head off towards Woodbridge for a very pleasant meal and catch up with Paul and Julie as we haven’t seen them for quite a few years. They kindly treat us to supper. Paul now works at the huge container port at Felixstowe and has to be up early the following morning so we are delivered back to Ramsholt by 10. There is a moon over the meadows, rounding off an excellent evening.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       22.9 nm

Total miles to date:          2106.2 nm

Engine hours:                  4.0 hours

Total engine:                   256.0 hours

Hours sailed:                   5.0 Hours

Total hours sailed:           459.0 hours

Friday 23rd August – A day at Ramsholt by the River Deben

What a beautiful day and place with lots of bird song from the banks and river! We have arranged to meet our friends Linda and Mike for lunch at the pub and later will re-visit that establishment with John’s youngest sister Jo and her family and the Hen. The pub is duly booked, and then John catches up with some work whilst Yvonne sorts out the boat.

Samphire - common along the shores of rivers but not many people know how good it is to eat.

Samphire – common along the shores of  salt marshes and tidal rivers but not many people know how good it is to eat.

The lovely old church of All Saints at Ramsholt. A classic Suffolk church built of flint and stone with a round tower that probably dates from Norman times. The churchyard has mown pathways but is otherwise kept as a nature reserve.

The lovely old church of All Saints at Ramsholt. A classic Suffolk church built of flint and stone with a round tower that probably dates from Norman times. The churchyard has mown pathways but is otherwise kept as a nature reserve.

We decide to go ashore early for a walk up to the little church on the hill with its old round flint tower. The walk is along the river bank then up through some meadows It proves to be a fine old church that is clearly still very much in use and cared for. We buy a local history of the area.

Yhe interior of All Saints Church, Ramsholt, with box pews and a brick floor.

The interior of All Saints Church, Ramsholt, with box pews and a brick floor.

All Saints Church is clearly much loved with fresh flowers and a new seat outside to admire the view.

All Saints Church is clearly much loved with fresh flowers and a new seat outside to admire the view.

With our friends Mike and Linda plus dogs at the Ramsholt Arms. Good company, good food.

With our friends Mike and Linda plus dogs at the Ramsholt Arms. Good company, good food.

We pass a pleasant couple of hours with Linda and Mike, enjoying a beer and sandwich outside in the sun with their dogs.

Back on the boat John tries to remove the anchor winch motor, which has seized up, but without success – he sprays it with WD 40 and will have to return to battle with it another day.

Our trip round the UK has given us the opportunity to catch up with family and friends round the country.We enjoyed a family meal at the Ramsholt Arms with the Legoods and "the Hen"

Our trip round the UK has given us the opportunity to catch up with family and friends round the country.We enjoyed a family meal at the Ramsholt Arms with the Legoods and “the Hen”

John's youngest sister Jo and her family (Bob, Hannah and Emily) braved the rubber dinghy to visit Sundart at the moorings on the Deben.

John’s youngest sister Jo and her family (Bob, Hannah and Emily) braved the rubber dinghy to visit Sundart at the moorings on the Deben.

We meet up with John’s family – sister Jo and husband Bob plus daughters Hannah and Emily and the Hen. Jo has driven them all down here after a long day at her job at the N & N Hospital at Norwich. The Legoods trust themselves to being ferried across the river and back on the “rubber flubber” to visit Sundart before retiring to the Ramsholt Arms for an excellent meal. Hannah has passed her teaching degree with flying colours and has her first teaching job and Emily has good GCSE results so it is celebration time.

By 10 pm we are saying our goodbyes as they have an hour and a half drive to get back home.

It has been a good day in a lovely spot at the River Deben

Saturday 24th August – River Deben to the Walton Backwaters.

The River Deben on a misty morning - reminiscent of an old painting except for the modern boats

The River Deben on a misty morning – reminiscent of an old painting except for the modern boats

The forecast was for a murky, rainy day so we are not surprised to wake to a very misty morning with low clouds. However, it makes for an atmospheric picture of the river.

Paul Ashley has recommended the Walton Backwaters to us which is where we are bound today but as we need to wait for the tides Yvonne cooks up a bean chilli for super whilst John seeks and finds the little leak in the rubber dinghy that we suspected last night, bit it is too wet to fix it today.

At 11 am we thank George again for his help and donation and set off down the river, sailing against the tide. At the entrance we boost the power with the engine to get over the flood coming in and reach the sea. The wind has helpfully gone round to the north so at last the wind and tide are all pointing in the right direction. We set the spinnaker and broad reach down the coast. We need to cross the busy shipping lane into Felixstowe container port but there is a succession of very large ships passing in and out with their attendant pilot boats and tugs so we drop the spinnaker by the shipping lane to wait for a gap then quickly motor across. The Port of Harwich issue a useful booklet which details the recommended crossing points along with lots of other useful information.

The shipping lane past we set the full sails and continue down with a light wind to find the fairway buoy that marks the entrance to the long way in over the shallows into the Backwaters. We are getting used to having very little water under the keel for many East Coast Rivers and passages which is commonplace for east coast sailors but a novelty for us coming from the south west cruising grounds.The Walton Backwaters are a large area of meandering waterways, salt marshes and low lying islands behind Walton-on-the-Naze. It was immortalised as the Secret Water in the book of that name by Arthur Ransom in his Swallows ands Amazon series of books. However, today the skies are threatening, the views are very misty and the forecast is for a lot of rain (it is Bank Holiday Saturday after all). As we enter the narrow Walton Channel there is a jumble of boats anchored and moored so we abandon our plans to anchor and decide to do a marina night to shower, fill up with stores, water, gas and diesel and go for anchorages in the better weather later this week. Titchmarsh Marina finds us a slot and we moor up as the heavens open. However, the Marina provides a friendly welcome, sorts out our gas shortage and we are soon settled in there.

Sundart has been co-owned by the same syndicate for 29 years – which must be a record. However, three of the five shareholders have decided to hang up their sailing boots. We have had a debate with the remaining co-owners about keeping Sundart but they have concluded that the boat does not really suit their future needs. We have also decided that much as we like Sundart it is really a bit too big for us to keep on our own so reluctantly the boat will have to be sold. It is a very sad decision as we have had a wonderful twelve years with the boat and syndicate, not least this summer Round UK trip. We visit the local broker at Titchmarsh to get some basic information on the process if the boat is sold through that route.

We retire back to the boat for the evening as the rain cascades down outside: not the best of days.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       12.5 nm

Total miles to date:          2118.7 nm

Engine hours:                  1.3 hours

Total engine hours:          257.3 hours

Hours sailed:                   4.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           461.0 hours

Sunday 25th August – Walton Backwaters to the River Orwell.

Felixstowe - one of the busiest ports in the country, operating on a 24/7/364 basis. Much comes in, some goes out.

Felixstowe – one of the busiest ports in the country, operating on a 24/7/364 basis. Much comes in, some goes out.

A distant view of Harwich from across the River Orwell at Felixstowe. Harwich's long maritime history dates from around 1340 when Edward III's fleet assembled there before sailing to defeat the French at the battle of Sluys.  Harwich remains an important port, being the departure point for ferries to Scandinavia. Lightships used to be serviced here too and several are still moored in the Rivers Orwell and Stour, both of which enter the North Sea here.

A distant view of Harwich from across the River Orwell at Felixstowe. Harwich’s long maritime history dates from around 1340 when Edward III’s fleet assembled there before sailing to defeat the French at the battle of Sluys. Harwich remains an important port, being the departure point for ferries to Scandinavia. Lightships used to be serviced here too and several are still moored in the Rivers Orwell and Stour, both of which enter the North Sea here.

We awake to a sunny morning with a light breeze. We have been recommended to visit the River Orwell by the marina manager so we decide to go there today, even though it is back north. We need to stock up on vittles so set out to walk to the shops. The Marina assures us it is “only half an hour’s walk” (we have heard that before). It soon becomes clear that it is a lot further than that. Yvonne has a sore knee so decides to turn back. By good chance a couple driving by us in the lane stop to offer John a lift to the shops: they are boat owners on their way to stock up who have had the experience of walking this route in the past. They are a godsend, ferrying John back to the boat laden with shopping. Our faith in Essex people is restored!

Stores stowed, water and diesel filled up we set off back out of the Backwaters. This is clearly a popular spot: the sunshine has bought out even more boats which are flooding into the area. Perhaps we will get the opportunity to explore this area at a quieter time in the future. We motor against the wind for a few miles before we can set the genoa and sail for the Orwell in the stiff northerly breeze. It is a lovely day for a sail. We pass the massive Felixstowe container terminal, with several ships being loaded and discharged. On the opposite shore is Harwich, older and with its own port (originally called Parkestone Quay after the Director of the Great Eastern Railway who built the modern port and rail link) which caters for ferries across the North Sea. It is a busy corner as the River Stour also runs into the sea at the same point.

The Orwell is home to many craft including Thames barges. It runs through woods, fields and marshes and has long been a beauty spot. Despite the volume of leisure and some commercial traffic it retains its calm and attraction.

The Orwell is home to many craft including Thames barges. It runs through woods, fields and marshes and has long been a beauty spot. Despite the volume of leisure and some commercial traffic it retains its calm and attraction.

Once past Felixstowe the River Orwell turns out to be delightful with tree lined banks interspersed with fields reaching down to the river. The river banks are flanked by rushes and mud flats. This is a popular boating river as well as carrying commercial traffic up to Ipswich about 12 miles upstream. There are several marinas and many moorings along some stretches but the river is big enough for there to be a general feeling of tranquility

A hazy sunset over the River Orwell

A hazy sunset over the River Orwell

We sail on for about five miles to just below Pin Mill (made famous by various artists and a renown boating centre) where we anchor. It is a peaceful spot with curlews, cormorants and oyster catchers.  There are lots of boats sailing up and down the river including the occasional Thames Barge but the river is wide enough for everyone.

Anchored up, we read the Sunday paper, watching the world go by. Later, after supper, flocks of curlews fly over with their long, curved beaks making a distinctive sight. There is a glorious sunset. This is truly a delightful river.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       9.8 nm

Total miles to date:          2128.5 nm

Engine hours:                  1.5 hours

Total engine hours:          258.8 hours

Hours sailed:                   2.2 Hours

Total hours sailed;           463.2 hours

Monday 26th August – River Orwell to River Blackwater 

Pin Mill - made famous in by John Constable and a favourite sailors' haunt. There are numerous house boats, Thames barges and many old boats in various states of decay along the shore.

Pin Mill – made famous in by various artists and a favourite sailors’ haunt. There are numerous house boats, Thames barges and many old boats in various states of decay along the shore.

It is another lovely summer morning with lots of bird song. We up anchor, set the sails and sail a mile up river to have a look at Pin Mill. There are lots of boat houses and several Thames Barges. Sights seen, we turn round and head back to the sea.

Our next port of call will be the River Blackwater, the next estuary south. It is Bank Holiday and we cannot recall seeing so many boats out – we have become used to being the only boat around on much of our travels. However, there is room for all and it is a splendid sailing day.

We caught up with the barge Cambria as it slowly sailed along the River Blackwater off Mersea Island

We caught up with the barge Cambria as it slowly sailed along the River Blackwater off Mersea Island

The wind is northerly force 4 to 5 and the tide is running south so they are all going in our direction and we have one of the best sails of this trip, out of the Orwell and south past Walton-on-the-Naze and Clacton-on-Sea. These are classic seaside resorts with fun fairs, promenades and miles of beaches. We can see the crowds on the beaches.

At anchor off Osea Island in the upper reaches of the River Blackwater. The Edwardian manor was built by a brewer as a retreat for recovered alcoholics!

At anchor off Osea Island in the upper reaches of the River Blackwater. The Edwardian manor was built by a brewer as a retreat for recovered alcoholics!

The navigation is interesting as there are various sand banks which have to be avoided. As we near the Blackwater the wind drops so we set the spinnaker and have a fine sail up the estuary. To the north we can see Mersea Island with the River Colne that leads up to Colchester. West Mersea is busy and we can hear loud music from there. To the south we see Bradwell with its power station and marina. We have not seen many motor boats out on our travels but Essex Man does not disappoint! There are water scooters and power boats of all sizes, all seeming to be run at maximum speed in all different directions.

The spinnaker decides to jam when we try to take it down but Yvonne is able to motor the boat round in big circles whilst John untwists the spinnaker from the forestay and calm returns. We no doubt provided a bit of entertainment for the locals! We anchor off Osea Island and do the British thing of taking tea and cake – crisis? What crisis?!

As the evening draws on the boats all go home and peace descends. It is another lovely spot.

Ship’s log 

Day’s run:                       28.9 nm

Total miles to date:          2157.4 nm

Engine hours:                  0.8 hours

Total engine hours:          259.6 hours

Hours sailed:                   7.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           470.2 hours

Tuesday 27th August – River Blackwater to River Roach

Looking out to sea from Osea island. The traditional boat that has been dried out on the shore as the tide receded was being scrubbed in the traditional way. Although the island is private the shore between high and low tide is crown property and can be accessed by the public.

Looking out to sea from Osea island. The traditional boat that has been dried out on the shore as the tide receded was being scrubbed in the traditional way. Although the island is private the shore between high and low tide is crown property and can be accessed by the public.

We awake to bright blue skies and warm sunshine. We breakfast on deck and watch a classic bilge keeled boat being beached and dried out as the tide drops, presumably for scrubbing and anti-fouling.

We set off sailing but the wind is light and gradually falls away so we end up motoring slowly out of the estuary. We are going south again, to the southernmost rivers in Essex – the Crouch and its tributary the Roach. The direct distance is not far but we have to track round the big sandbanks off this coast, which doubles the distance. It is a tedious process with little or no wind. Even the off-shore wind farm turbines are static. However, the sun is warm and we eventually get to the River Crouch. We decide to cut our losses and seek out the anchorage shown on the chart in the River Roach, which feeds into the Crouch near the sea. The anchorage is behind the Island of Foulness, which is where a military firing range is located, firing over the Maplin Sands out at Sea. As we motor in we see a red flag being lowered but think no more of it.

One man and his boat - homeward bound as the evening sun sets over the River Roach which runs through the Essex marshlands - a timeless nothingness but attractive in its own way.

One man and his boat – homeward bound as the evening sun sets over the River Roach which runs through the Essex marshlands – a watery expanse of apparent nothingness but attractive in its own way.

The Roach is part of the maze of islands, marshes and watercourses that exist in these coastal parts of Essex and is surprisingly remote and desolate. It has a certain timeless beauty – it probably hasn’t changed round here for centuries. We have the river to ourselves.

We have supper on deck as the sun drops below the horizon. A lone yacht sails slowly by and a half moon rises over the marshes. In the distance we can hear oyster catchers calling.

Tomorrow we will cross the Thames Estuary to Queenborough to pick up our friend Janet Wragg before sailing up the Thames to London, the last and greatest of the cities we will visit on this trip.

Ship’s log 

Day’s run:                       31.4 nm

Total miles to date:          2188.8 nm

Engine hours:                  5.8 hours

Total engine hours:          265.4 hours

Hours sailed:                   6.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           476.2 hours

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John

Goodbye Scotland, hello England

Wednesday 7th August – Dunbar to Eyemouth

Our noisy neighbours - kittiwakes with their young nesting in the old caslte wall above Sundart

Our noisy neighbours – kittiwakes with their young nesting in the old castle wall above Sundart

Dunbar harbour at low tide. The locals seem to be happy letting their boats lean over the re-float as the tide rises. Sundart is standing on her keel, secured to the wall at the far end. We slept well during the night low tide!

Dunbar harbour at low tide. The locals seem to be happy letting their boats lean over and re-float as the tide rises.

Sundart secured against the wall at low tide at Dunbar. The harbour entrance is to the right - blasted a hundred years ago through the rock and old castle walls. The kittiwakes were nesting in the castle wall above Sundart.

Sundart secured against the wall at low tide at Dunbar. The harbour entrance is to the right – blasted a hundred years ago through the rock and old castle walls. The kittiwakes were nesting in the castle wall above Sundart.

Pam Deacon will join us early this afternoon, which works out well with the tides for going south. The tide is out so Sundart is standing on her keel on the sand in the bottom of the harbour, propped up against the wall with a rope round the mast to stop the boat falling over. Other boats have gone over on their sides.

Against the wall at Dunbar. Access is via the vertical ladder up the harbour wall - not so great if you get caught out at night!

Against the wall at Dunbar. Access is via the vertical ladder up the harbour wall – not so great if you get caught out at night!

There are some interesting buildings in Dunbar - this is the old Town House.

There are some interesting buildings in Dunbar – this is the old Town House.

The birth place of John Muir and now a museum dedicated to him. Muir is best known for setting up the National Parks in the USA. He was a great lover of the natural world. Muir Woods in California, just north of San Francisco, is a magnificent forest of giant redwoods named in his honour.

The birth place of John Muir and now a museum dedicated to him. Muir is best known for setting up the National Parks in the USA. He was a great lover of the natural world. Muir Woods in California, just north of San Francisco, is a magnificent forest of giant redwoods named in his honour.

Statue in tribute to John Muir by Valent Zenoba in Dunbar High Street

Statue in tribute to John Muir by Valent Zenoba in Dunbar High Street

We do chores in the morning and catch up on the blog and diary. The kittiwakes are very busy this morning, coming and going and causing much interest. The tide gradually comes into the harbour, lifting the boats up from their sides. A large seal comes swimming into the harbour.

Around midday we walk up into Dunbar for a few bits of shopping. Dunbar seems a nice little town with a proper High Street, mainly comprising of Georgian and Victorian houses set back from the road.

We walk past John Muir’s birthplace, which is now a museum in his honour. John Muir was a keen naturalist who emigrated to the USA from Dunbar and founded the National Parks there. He is commemorated in the USA by the Muir Woods just north of San Francisco – a forest of magnificent redwood trees, some of the tallest trees in the world. We have visited these woods and have now seen the start of that story. John walks up to the station to meet Pam whilst Yvonne (who has a painful knee) walks back to the boat. John passes the Town House, another museum on the High Street that is about old Dunbar but it is shut.

Dunbar High Street - a proper high street with attractive buildings.

Dunbar High Street – a proper high street with attractive buildings.

Pam arrives and we walk back to the boat, passing the fine, new swimming baths and sports complex that overlook the harbour.

After lunch we leave via the amazing harbour entrance and set sail down the coast towards Eyemouth, our last stop in Scotland. It is a fine day with a breeze from the south so we beat down the last of the Firth of Forth and round St. Abb’s Head, with its cliffs and rock stacks. The wind falls so whilst John cooks vegetarian curry for supper, Pam and Yvonne take the boat down to Eyemouth. The entrance is fairly easy to find and negotiate and we call up the harbour master to get our berth allocation. As we pass through the high walled passageway into the harbour (known locally as the “canyon”) we pass several seals flopped out on the rocks, idly watching the passing boats. We moor up alongside a Dutch couple in their boat “Rascal”, who have also been sailing round the UK, albeit via the Caledonian Canal. Supper is ready once we have moored up at around 8 pm.

A good day and a pleasant sail.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       25.6 nm

Total miles to date:          1737.9 nm

Engine hours:                  1.7 hours

Total engine hours:          207.1 hours

Hours sailed:                   5.3 Hours

Total hours sailed;           381.7 hours

Thursday 8th August – Eyemouth to the Farne Islands

The harbour at Eyemouth. Still an active fishing port where leisure and working boats mix amicably. The local harbour master and his staff are extremely helpful, providing us with photo-copies of the navigation details to visit the Farne Islands,

The harbour at Eyemouth. Still an active fishing port where leisure and working boats mix amicably. The local harbour master and his staff are extremely helpful.

Eyemouth High Street - a pleasant little town.

Eyemouth High Street – a pleasant little town.

Another fine sunny day. As the south going tide does not start until the afternoon we have the morning in port. This still means some chores so Yvonne & Pam sort out the laundry at the excellent port facilities whilst John pays the harbour dues and gets chatting to the harbour master. He is extremely helpful and provides a copy of the sailing directions for the Farne Islands by the Northumberland Cruising Club. (We found that the Clyde Cruising Club directions for the Orkneys and the North of Scotland have been the best sailing directions we have used and the Northumbrian version is to the same high standard). The people at the Port of Eyemouth run a busy fishing port as well as providing an excellent welcome and facilities for leisure sailors – it’s a smart move that wins on all fronts.

"Bertha" - the oldest steam driven boat in Britain. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1844 and used for over 120 years, it was the Bridgewater harbour "scraper" - used to scrape mud from the harbour floor and deposit in the River Parret to be washed out to sea. The boat operated by a system of chains, not propellor or paddle wheel. It is now owned by the Eyemouth International Sailing Craft Association and is part of the national Historic Boats Register.

“Bertha” – the oldest steam driven boat in Britain. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1844 and used for over 120 years, it was the Bridgewater harbour “scraper” – used to scrape mud from the harbour floor and deposit in the River Parret to be washed out to sea. The boat operated by a system of chains, not propeller or paddle wheel. It is now owned by the Eyemouth International Sailing Craft Association and is part of the National Historic Boats Register.

It is possible to eat very well in the UK without having to go "foreign" - this is Lough's Home  Bakery in Eyemouth where they bake all their own product. We had possibly the best ever almond tart we have ever tasted from here

It is possible to eat very well in the UK without having to go “foreign” – this is Lough’s Home Bakery in Eyemouth where they bake all their own product.

Jobs done we wander into Eyemouth. This is quite an attractive fishing post with a busy fish industry on the quays and a decent village behind. We find an excellent bakery and buy what is possibly the best almond cake/tart that we have ever tasted. Sadly, we have already stocked up on bread so have no room for the home baked variety here. We also find a proper little fish shop and buy a mixture of fish for a fish pie (Yvonne’s speciality). They are selling samphire – a delicacy that grows on salt marshes; it is bright green like tiny soft asparagus tips and is very tasty and nutritious. (This bunch came from Norfolk).

At two o’clock the tides are right and we leave Eyemouth, bound for the Farne Islands. Once again, we have the wind against us so we beat down the coast. The wind comes and goes, necessitating the use of the “iron sail” from time to time. It is an attractive coast with high cliffs and hills behind them. The East Coast mainline and the A1 road run along the top of the cliffs for much of the way down to Berwick on Tweed. We decide that a conspicuous hedge down some fields marks the division between Scotland and England so we ceremoniously lower the Scottish saltire pennant that has been fluttering from our flag halyard all these weeks.

The distant Northumbrian coast as seen from the Farne Islands. Bamburgh Castle is on the skyline, overlooking the shore whilst the Cheviot Hills are in the far distance. This is some of the best coastline in the UK with long sandy beaches and little habitation.

The distant Northumbrian coast as seen from the Farne Islands. Bamburgh Castle is on the skyline, overlooking the shore whilst the Cheviot Hills are in the far distance. This is some of the best coastline in the UK with long sandy beaches and little habitation.

We sail on, passing the mouth of the River Tweed and Berwick and also passing from sea area Forth into sea area Tyne. We carry on down the coast, the wind increasing a bit as we pass by Holy Island and the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory and the castle. Lindisfarne Priory was founded in AD 634 and was subsequently sacked by the Danes in the 9th Century but the magnificent Lindisfarne Gospels survived and are now preserved in the British Museum. Although we could anchor at Holy Island, we have decided to sail five miles further south to the Farne Islands to enjoy the wild life there.

Approaching the Farne Islands. Inner Farne is nearest, with its Pele Tower and lighthouse clearly visible.

Approaching the Farne Islands. Inner Farne is nearest, with its Pele Tower and lighthouse clearly visible.

We press on and by 8 pm we are anchored in a natural lagoon known as “The Kettle” at the island of Inner Farne. This lagoon is sheltered on three sides by islands linked by rocky reefs. We dine on the excellent fish pie with crushed new potatoes and the samphire. It is a tasty meal, although the samphire is quite salty. All around us the area is busy with wildfowl, mainly terns and shags busy fishing, presumably to feed their young. We will explore the islands tomorrow.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       26.8 nm

Total miles to date:          1764.7 nm

Engine hours:                  2.5 hours

Total engine hours:          209.6 hours

Hours sailed:                   6.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           387.6 hours

Friday 9th August – Farne Islands to Amble

On Inner Farne Island with Pam Deacon. Sundart is anchored in the "Kettle" - a sheltered pool - in the background. We had peace and quiet in the evening with just thousands of birds around.

On Inner Farne Island with Pam Deacon. Sundart is anchored in the “Kettle” – a sheltered pool – in the background. We had peace and quiet in the evening with just thousands of birds around.

We sleep well and awake to the superb setting and wonderful views we have in this anchorage. After breakfast we decide to go ashore before the trip boats arrive so we inflate the rubber dinghy and paddle to the old quay. The islands are a Nature Reserve and are administered by the National Trust. Landing is only permitted on Inner Farne, Staple and Longhope Islands out of the fourteen or so islands.  Being NT members means no landing fees for us.

Sandwich terns in courtship ritual. These birds pair for severa; seasons

Sandwich terns in courtship ritual. These birds pair for several seasons

The rangers are all young and very friendly and helpful. They help us identify the birds and explain where the nests are. There are all four types of terns found in the UK here – common, arctic, sandwich and roseate. Sandwich terns are parading on the beach – it appears that they may have a second brood this year as it has been a good year with plentiful supplies of their staple diet of sand eels and kindly weather. Sandwich terns apparently pair up for several years.

St. Cuthbert's Chapel on Inner Farne. St. Cuthbert lived a hermit's life here around 676 to 685 until called to be the prior at nearby Lindisfarne Priory. he returned later and died on the island. This chapel was built in the 14th century and was restored in the 1840's.

St. Cuthbert’s Chapel on Inner Farne. St. Cuthbert lived a hermit’s life here around 676 to 685 until called to be the prior at nearby Lindisfarne Priory. He returned later and died on the island. This chapel was built in the 14th century and was restored in the 1840′s.

Pele Tower on Inner Farne. These towers are a feature of the north of England and  most are a relic from the days when there was open warfare between Scotland and the English under Edward I. The towers were built by the locals to withstand short term siege and were self-contained with battlements on top to rain down arrows and missiles on unwanted visitors. This tower was built in 1500 and whilst being used as a fort was home to the grandly titled "Captain of Holy and Farne Islands". It fell out of use in the late 1600's and is now home for the National Trust wardens on the Farne Islands.

Pele Tower on Inner Farne. These towers are a feature of the north of England and most are a relic from the days when there was open warfare between Scotland and the English under Edward I. The towers were built by the locals to withstand short term siege and were self-contained with battlements on top to rain down arrows and missiles on unwanted visitors. This tower was built in 1500 and whilst being used as a fort was home to the grandly titled “Captain of Holy and Farne Islands”. It fell out of use in the late 1600′s and is now home for the National Trust wardens on the Farne Islands.

We walk up to the chapel of St. Cuthbert, the hermit monk who lived here for eight years around AD 676 in a stone and turf cell. He stayed there until summoned to be the Prior of Lindisfarne, which he reluctantly did, returning to Inner Farne later in life where he apparently died. Next to the Chapel is the Pele Tower known as Prior Castell’s Tower, typical of the northern borders of England with Scotland, where such sturdy stone towers were used for defence against maraudering Scottish reivers around the 15th and 16th centuries.

Juvenile Arctic tern awaiting feeding by its parents.

Juvenile Arctic tern awaiting feeding by its parents.

There are young terns everywhere that seem to have no fear of humans, being totally focused on getting the next meal from their hard pressed parents. It can’t be long before the parents leave them to fend for themselves. We walk on up to the Lighthouse at the western tip. We can see the Northumberland coast line with the majestic Bamburgh Castle nearly five miles away across the water. There are cliffs at this end of the island with shags, kittiwakes and fulmars nesting. The offspring are nearly full grown with appetites to match.

Kittiwakes and their nest tucked into a niche in a sea cliff

Kittiwakes and their nest tucked into a niche in a sea cliff

Arctic Tern at Inner Farne lighthouse.

Arctic Tern at Inner Farne lighthouse.

....whilst the fledgling decides Pam's shoes are just the job for a morning snack.

….whilst the fledgling decides Pam’s shoes are just the job for a morning snack.

Pam gets a close up of a shag fledgling.....

Pam gets a close up of a shag fledgling…..

Shag and offspring

Shag and offspring

Juvenile shag awaiting feeding.

Juvenile shag awaiting feeding.

Juvenile shag. Most of the young birds we saw in August were getting near the time for them to leave the nest. At this stage the parents have a hard time keeping up with their off-springs' appetite.

Juvenile shag. Most of the young birds we saw in August were getting near the time for them to leave the nest. At this stage the parents have a hard time keeping up with their off-springs’ appetite.

A young shag decides that Pam’s red shoes look like a tasty meal and follows her around, pecking the shoes – Pam is absorbed with getting close up photos before she realises the shag’s intentions! There are a few puffins left with their young, although the main cohort has left by now for the open sea where they live for ten months out of twelve. Sea birds are remarkably tough when one considers where they live for most of their lives. The trip boats start to arrive so we decide to return to Sundart.

Seals basking on a rock in the Farnes. They will start to pup in about a month or so time so they build up their food reserves in their bodies at this time of year... and rest up..

Seals basking on a rock in the Farnes. They will start to pup in about a month or so time so they build up their food reserves in their bodies at this time of year… and rest up..

Longhope lighthouse, Farne Islands - home of Grace Darling and her father, the lighthouse keeper, when they performed their heroic rescue of the crew of the SS Forfarshire in 1838.

Longhope lighthouse, Farne Islands – home of Grace Darling and her father, the lighthouse keeper, when they performed their heroic rescue of the crew of the SS Forfarshire in 1838.

Before setting off for our next port at Amble, we motor round the islands as the sea is calm,, seeing many seals on the rocks. The seals will give birth to their pubs in a month or so time so they are building up their strength, ready for parenthood.

The easternmost island is Longhope where Grace Darling lived with her father, the lighthouse keeper. Grace and her father became overnight heroes to the Victorians after the courageously rescued some of the shipwrecked passengers of the SS Forfarshire in 1838. Sadly, Grave died aged 26 of TB. She was always embarrassed at the attention she received.

We set off south to Amble, the wind sets in and we have a lively sail down the magnificent Northumberland coast, passing the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle looking imposing on its headland and arriving at Amble at around half past four.

The memorial stone to Grace Darling in St. Cuthbert's Chapel, Inner Farne. She died of TB about two years after her heroic life-saving deeds. She was embarrassed by the attention she got from the Victorian media and public.

The memorial stone to Grace Darling in St. Cuthbert’s Chapel, Inner Farne. She died of TB about two years after her heroic life-saving deeds. She was embarrassed by the attention she got from the Victorian media and public.

Pam Deacon and grand-daughters, Katie and Gracie.

Pam Deacon and grand-daughters, Katie and Gracie.

Pam is leaving us here as her son Jono and daughter-in-law Megan live nearby with their two young daughters. Megan and girls duly arrive and after coming on board depart with Pam. A little while later Pam phones us with and invitation to share a take-away curry at Megan and Jono’s home. Jono is on night duty at his veterinary practice so we sadly won’t meet him but we accept the invitation with pleasure.

Megan Deacon exercising the dogs in the river at her and Johnno Deacon's home at Warkworth, Northumberland. The river is semi-tidal, hence the sandy beach.

Megan Deacon exercising the dogs in the river at her and Jono home at Warkworth, Northumberland. The river is semi-tidal, hence the sandy beach.

Jono was a very active member of the Staunton Harold Sailing Club in his youth when the Deacon’s lived in the East Midlands so we know him well. He has established his own, very successful practice outside North Shields and lives with his family at Warkworth, by the River Coquet just inland from Amble in a delightful spot with fields for Megan’s horses and a section of the river bank.

Despite Jono’s absence we have a very pleasant evening before being returned to Sundart. Another good day.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       19.6 nm

Total miles to date:          1791.3 nm

Hours sailed:                   4.1 Hours

Total hours sailed;           391.7 hours

Warkworth Castle - used for the recent film "Robin Hood" starring Kevin Costner

Warkworth Castle – used for the recent film “Robin Hood” starring Kevin Costner

Saturday 10th August – Amble to Tynemouth

The centre of Amble. Once a port devoted to exporting coal, it has had to re-invent itself since the decline of the coal trade.

The centre of Amble. Once a port devoted to exporting coal, it has had to re-invent itself since the decline of the coal trade.

We can’t depart from Amble until 3.30 pm as there is a cill at the marina entrance (to maintain the marina water level at low tide) and we need the south going tide. Yvonne does another laundry run whilst John attacks the blog. We then walk into Amble to do a bit of shopping and see what Amble is about.

The harbour (originally known as Warkworth Harbour) was originally set up on the estuary of the River Coquet to export coal. The demise of that industry in the 1960’s meant that Amble has had to find other occupations whilst the harbour has become the marina with some quay sides along the river for fishing boats.

Once we are able to leave Amble Marina, we have an excellent sail down the coast. The wind is in the west and a good strength so we initially set a couple of reefs and reach down the coast. We are going so well that we decide to by-pass our original stopping point at Blythe and carry on to the River Tyne. As time goes by the wind reduces a bit and we shake out the reefs and happily sail on.

The entrance to the River Tyne by the fish dock. The two large white towers are the leading marks to enter the river - the biggest such marks we have seen so far. (When ships are on the right course to enter from the sea the two towers are lined up).

The entrance to the River Tyne by the fish dock. The two large white towers are the leading marks to enter the river – the biggest such marks we have seen so far. (When ships are on the right course to enter from the sea the two towers are lined up).

The entrance to the Tyne at Tynemouth has some fine landmarks, including the ruins of Tynemouth Monastery and the statue of Admiral Collingwood, Nelson's second in command at Trafalgar and Tyneside's most famous son of the sea.

The entrance to the Tyne at Tynemouth has some fine landmarks, including the ruins of Tynemouth Monastery and the statue of Admiral Collingwood, Nelson’s second in command at Trafalgar and Tyneside’s most famous son of the sea.

We reach the entrance to the Tyne at around half past seven. The Tyne is, of course, a major river but we are surprised at the size of the entrance with some very substantial breakwaters on each side and the biggest leading marks we have seen. On the north shore (the North Shields and Whitley Bay side) we can see the imposing ruins of Tyneside Abbey on the headland and the statue of Admiral Collingwood.

The Tyne is still a busy river with commercial traffic. We met this huge Ro-Ro ferry complete with tugs and pilot boat as we went up the river by North Shields. We like to think it was full of cars for export from the Nissan plant at nearby Sunderland.

The Tyne is still a busy river with commercial traffic. We met this huge Ro-Ro ferry complete with tugs and pilot boat as we went up the river by North Shields. We like to think it was full of cars for export from the Nissan plant at nearby Sunderland.

We are initially surprised at how quiet the river is but as we round a bend we are confronted by a huge Ro-Ro ship being tugged down the middle of the river – we hug the right bank as it slowly passes by.

We soon reach the Royal Quays Marina at North Shields and lock in. The marina attendant takes our lines for us, then works the lock and then runs round to take our mooring lines at the pontoon – very impressive service! This marina is in a huge old stone built harbour basin and is run by the same people who run Neyland Marina at Milford Haven so we are not surprised by the level of service.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       21.4 nm

Total miles to date:          1812.7 nm

Engine hours:                  1.2 hours

Total engine hours:          213.7 hours

Hours sailed:                   5.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           396.7 hours

Sunday 11th August – North Shields to Hartlepool.

We plan to leave at lunchtime to take the tide down the coast to Hartlepool so we have the morning free. John does the routine engine checks then we walk up the hill to the nearby village shop for a Sunday paper.

Royal Quays, North Shields was formerly known as Tyne Commission Quay (the name still lingers on as the car park name). John remembers catching the ferry to Norway from here over 25 years ago when the train delivered passengers direct to the ship side. Ferries still ply to Scandanavia from here, such as the DFDS ferry to Denmark moored on the left. The Royal Navy corvette HMS Severn is also moored there: this vessel and her sister ship are employed on coastal patrols and fishery protection work.

Royal Quays, North Shields was formerly known as Tyne Commission Quay (the name still lingers on as the car park name). John remembers catching the ferry to Norway from here over 25 years ago when the train delivered passengers direct to the ship side. Ferries still ply to Scandanavia from here, such as the DFDS ferry to Denmark moored on the left. The Royal Navy corvette HMS Severn is also moored there: this vessel and her sister ship are employed on coastal patrols and fishery protection work.

John thinks that this area was once known as the Tyne Commission Quay, from where he sailed to Norway on several occasions in his teens, arriving at the dockside by train direct from Kings Cross, London. We check with the Marina Manager who confirms this, showing us old photos of the Quay. The marina is built in the old docks once used for coal export. There has been considerable rebuilding and renovation all around the area with many new houses. Across the river at South Shields we can see new offices, an Asda and more houses. Clearly there has been a huge effort to regenerate this area and it appears to have paid off. We wander over to the riverside where we can see that a Royal Navy corvette has just moored up. This is HMS Severn, which is engaged with her sister ship on coast patrol, fishery protection, surveillance and general coastal security. Just up stream is a huge DFDS ferry, so ferries still ply from here to Scandinavia. The quays are now known as the Royal Quays. Only the car park retains the old name of Tyne Commission Quay. It starts to rain so we run back to Sundart, and read the Sunday papers until lunch.

We book our exit time from the lock and leave at half past two. It is much windier today than yesterday so after taking a photo from the river of the old TCQ we set part of the genoa, run out of the river and set course to reach down the coast. It is a fast and exhilarating sail, travelling at up to 7.5 knots, using just part of the foresail for motive power. The sea is relatively flat so we make excellent progress, passing Sunderland (where we can see the Stadium of Light) and Seaham. (In recent times Sunderland has been known for ship building, football and most recently Nissan cars but it was also where the monk, the Venerable Bede lived in the 7th century).

 Hartlepool formerly had a huge expanse of dockyard. This is the old dock, with the marina at one end and the Maritime Heritage museum at the other and a large expanse of water little used in between. There remains a commercial port but in a different area and wiht its own entrance from the sea adjacent to this. The task of rejuvenating this area has been immense and although it is now tidy and has had much investment there remain plenty of empty spaces.


Hartlepool formerly had a huge expanse of dockyard. This is the old dock, with the marina at one end and the Maritime Heritage museum at the other and a large expanse of water little used in between. There remains a commercial port but in a different area and with its own entrance from the sea adjacent to this. The task of rejuvenating this area has been immense and although it is now tidy and has had much investment there remain plenty of empty spaces.

As we get near Hartlepool we see the old town with attractive painted cottages along the sea front. There is a “tidal gate” at Hartlepool as the entrance to the harbour and marina dries out but we arrive in good time, locking into the marina by 7pm. The harbour basins are huge, with a separate basin with its own approaches for the remaining commercial traffic and the basin we are in. We later find out that this was a big boat building area. The marina occupies part of the basin and in the distance the Marine Heritage Centre occupies another part but there is a lot of empty space – there must have been a lot going on here in past times.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       21.5 nm

Total miles to date:          1834.2 nm

Engine hours:                  1.2 hours

Total engine hours:          214.9 hours

Hours sailed:                   4.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           400.7 hours

Monday 12th August – Hartlepool to Runswick Bay

It’s afternoon tides again so we decide to explore the immediate vicinity.

Residents of Hartlepool are known as "Monkey Hangers". The story is that in the Napoleonic Wars a Portugese ship called in and being a foreign ship was detained by the locals who believed that all foreigners were enemies. Portugal was Britains only ally then but despite th emayor's intervention the townspeople insisted on hanging a member of the crew so the Portugese offered the ships monkey who was duly hanged with ceremony and honour was apparently satisfied all round.

Residents of Hartlepool are known as “Monkey Hangers”. The story is that in the Napoleonic Wars a Portuguese ship called in and being a foreign ship was detained by the locals who believed that all foreigners were enemies. Portugal was Britain’s only ally then but despite the mayor’s intervention the townspeople insisted on hanging a member of the crew so the Portuguese offered the ships monkey who was duly hanged with ceremony and honour was apparently satisfied all round.

As with so many ports, Hartlepool is much smaller than formerly. This the fine old Harbour Office, now converted to flats.

As with so many ports, Hartlepool is much smaller than formerly. This the fine old Harbour Office, now converted to flats.

The old town is about 3 miles away so we opt to walk round the harbour to the Maritime Heritage Centre. As with so many of these old harbour basins there has been a lot of redevelopment around it, using the waterside to its best advantage. Much has been done here (although there remain quite a lot of open areas just grassed over or in use as car parks). The redevelopment has been well done, with some of the old buildings rejuvenated and turned into flats or offices.

The restored HMS Trincomalee is the centrepiece of the Maritime Heritage Centre at Hartlepool and forms part of the rejuvenation of this old port area.

The restored HMS Trincomalee is the centrepiece of the Maritime Heritage Centre at Hartlepool and forms part of the rejuvenation of this old port area.

The Maritime Heritage Centre is focused around HMS Trincomalee, a 3 masted frigate dating from 1817. For the second time this trip we are presented with a ship that claims to be the oldest British warship afloat. (Only the USS Constitution is older in the world).

HMS Trimcomalee - fully restored by 2005 and now claimed as the oldest warship afloat in the world - a claim disputed by HMS Unicorn (Dundee) and USS Constitution (USA). Either way, it is a beautifully restored ship and well worth the visit.

HMS Trimcomalee – fully restored by 2005 and now claimed as the oldest warship afloat in the world – a claim disputed by HMS Unicorn (Dundee) and USS Constitution (USA). Either way, it is a beautifully restored ship and well worth the visit.

Remarkably, this ship is the same class (the Leda class) as the Unicorn at Dundee but was built in Bombay at the Wadia shipyards from teak as oak was becoming in short supply in England following the Napoleonic Wars. (The Unicorn was built in 1824 from oak in the naval dockyards in Chatham). Like Unicorn, this ship was put into the reserve but unlike the Unicorn, Trincomalee was later put into active service, being fully fitted out and serving two commissions, keeping the “Pax Britannica” in Canada,  the Caribbean and the Pacific before being retired in 1857. From then until 1897 the ship was used for training in various locations before being sold for scrap. By chance, the privately owned TS Foudroyant had just sunk so its owner, Wheatley Cobb, snapped up Trincomalee as a replacement. She was used for training until 1986, when demand for naval type training dwindled. It was decided to restore the ship, a Trust was formed and funds gradually raised. The ship was taken to Hartlepool on a floating dock and floated into the old graving dock that is now the centre of the museum. All the restoration was done there using local skilled labour, being finally completed in 2005 at a cost of £10.2 million.

The figure head and cats head - ornately carved as was the style of the day. The figurehead is said to be modeled on the head of the Wadia family, shipwrights of Bombay who built this ship to the Admiralty Leda class frigate design.

The figure-head and cats head – ornately carved as was the style of the day. The figurehead is said to be modeled on the head of the Wadia family, shipwrights of Bombay who built this ship to the Admiralty Leda class frigate design.

The origine of the term "copper bottomed investment": copper plates were fixed to many wooden ships to deter marine growth and help preserve the timbers as copper has bactericidal properties. Trincomalee was re-tarred and copper plated as part of the restoration.

The origin of the term “copper bottomed investment”: copper plates were fixed to many wooden ships to deter marine growth and help preserve the timbers as copper has bactericidal properties. Trincomalee was re-tarred and copper plated as part of the restoration.

The ornate stern and captain's jolly boat.

The ornate stern and captain’s jolly-boat.

All the masts and rigging were replaced during the restoration, although the masts are actually galvanised steel, not timber. The signal flags read "Welcome to Trincomalee".

All the masts and rigging were replaced during the restoration, although the masts are actually galvanised steel, not timber. The signal flags read “Welcome to Trincomalee”.

View from the crows nest.

View from the crows nest.

The captain's quarters. In the Navy, the Captain traditionally did not mix with the officers to any great degree whilst the actual sailing of the vessel was organised by the ship's master.

The captain’s quarters. In the Navy, the Captain traditionally did not mix with the officers to any great degree whilst the actual sailing of the vessel was organised by the ship’s master.

The Lower Deckk where the crew lived in cramped conditions. Part of the Navy discipline included daily cleaning of the ship, a factor that helped enable the British to keep their ships at sea over long periods, even though the quality of the food left much to be desired due to the limited means of preservation then available.

The Lower Deck where the crew lived in cramped conditions. Part of the Navy discipline included daily cleaning of the ship, a factor that helped enable the British to keep their ships at sea over long periods, even though the quality of the food left much to be desired due to the limited means of preservation then available.

The Wardroom, where the officers lived. The officers' cabins open up off this room - a system still in practice a hundred years later on the RRS Discovery which we saw in Dundee.

The Wardroom, where the officers lived. The officers’ cabins open up off this room – a system still in practice a hundred years later on the RRS Discovery which we saw in Dundee.

The ship has been magnificently restored, complete with new rigging (albeit with steel replica masts that look like the originals) and period artefacts. The photos show some of the results.

We wander round the period style buildings around the dock with their heritage displays and video presentations before exploring the ship then returning to Sundart for a late lunch.

A lot of the canon are fibre-glass replicas but Yvonne sought out one of the few real cast iron canon on board with the monogram of King George cast in the barrel.

A lot of the cannon are fibre-glass replicas but Yvonne sought out one of the few real cast iron canon on board with the monogram of King George cast in the barrel.

More information can be found at More about Trincomalee.

The Wingfield Castle - a product of the ship builders who were formerly at the graving dock that HMS Trincomalee now occupies. Its sister ship, the Tasttershall Castle, is on the Thames being used as a restaurant.

The Wingfield Castle – a product of the ship builders who were formerly at the graving dock that HMS Trincomalee now occupies. Its sister ship, the Tasttershall Castle, is on the Thames being used as a restaurant.

John has found that it is cheaper to buy diesel here in cans rather than direct from the marina pump (some tax arrangement that we don’t fully understand) so manages to acquire a redundant diesel can and tops up the fuel.

The Corus steelworks at Redcar - one of the few remaining steel production sites in Britain. Rain clouds approaching!

The former Corus steelworks at Redcar – one of the few remaining steel production sites in Britain. The blast furnace was mothballed two years ago by its then owners, Tata, before its sale to a Thai company who re-commissioned it at great expense in April. The plant is losing money due to poor worldwide demand for steel and ruthless Chinese competition.Rain clouds approaching!

The little village of Staithes with its tiny harbour in front. This was Captain Cook's birthplace. The houses and narrow streets cling to the steep hillsides. Cars have to stay parked on the top. The North Yorkshire Moors stretch out behind.

The little village of Staithes with its tiny harbour in front. This was Captain Cook’s birthplace. The houses and narrow streets cling to the steep hillsides. Cars have to stay parked on the top. The North Yorkshire Moors stretch out behind.

The marina manager at North Shields recommended an anchorage at Runswick Bay, east of here just before Whitby so we decide to take the first lock out of Hartlepool on the afternoon high tide at 4 pm and sail down the coast. In the distance we can see the Corus steelworks at Redcar, one of the few remaining steel making operations in the UK. Merchant ships which are anchored up off the coast to the east of Hartlepool start to get called into the port of Middlesbrough up the River Tees as the tide rises and the port authority calls them in so we have to avoid them as they need to follow the shipping lanes. We have to skirt round a new wind farm off Teesside that is so new it is just being commissioned and did not feature in the chart corrections we did over the winter.

The wind is fickle so we sail and motor intermittently, passing Maersk-by-the-Sea, Saltburn-by-the Sea and Staithes (the birthplace of Captain Cook and now a pretty little fishing village with a tiny harbour and houses perched up the steep hillside). We also pass Boulby, site of a potash mine that is the one of the deepest in Europe at over 1 km below ground and 2 miles under the sea. (It was recently used to hunt for the mysterious quark by astro-physicists as most particles from outer space do not penetrate that deep into the earth). There are some strange cloud formations and spats of rain but these blow by out to sea.

We reach Runswick Bay and anchor by a couple of other boats opposite the village. (During the 1680’s the original village slipped into the sea: the modern village consists of houses wedged into the unstable hillside). Although there is now little wind and calm is forecast, there is a swell coming into the bay. We hope it will die down overnight.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       16.0 nm

Total miles to date:          1850.0 nm

Engine hours:                  3.4 hours

Total engine hours:          218.3 hours

Hours sailed:                   4.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           404.7

Tuesday 13th August – To Whitby

The entrance to Whitby harbour. This is the only natural harbour on this stretch of coastline. Whitby Abbey ruins are a distinctive landmark on the south headland. The swell made the entry exciting!

The entrance to Whitby harbour. This is the only natural harbour on this stretch of coastline. Whitby Abbey ruins are a distinctive landmark on the south headland. The swell made the entry exciting!

The boat rocked all night in the swell so we are up at 0600 and decide to decamp to Whitby, five miles down the coast. Whitby marina is in the inner harbour which has to be entered past a swing bridge within two hours of either side of high tide. Happily, we can get in from 0800 so we set off. It is a beautiful morning as we skirt the coast, past Sandsend (where the mineral jet can be found which is worked into jewellery) to the harbour entrance. There is still some swell running and the entrance is a bit rolly-poly – we simply rev up the engine and pass in without difficulty into the calm within the outer harbour.

The fine Edwardian iron swing bridge at Whitby. Opening every half hour near high tide preceded by a clanging of a hand bell. Recently restored to its former glory.

The fine Edwardian iron swing bridge at Whitby. Opening every half hour near high tide preceded by a clanging of a hand bell. Recently restored to its former glory.

The view of the town from the marina. Whitby seems to have been able to blend old and new houses together in a attractive way, keeping to traditional materials in the main.

The view of the town from the marina. Whitby seems to have been able to blend old and new houses together in an attractive way, keeping to traditional materials in the main.

Whitby is the only natural harbour down this length of coast and has had an established harbour for hundreds of years. It is a pretty town, with many 18th century red brick and tiled houses up the steep sides and the very imposing ruins of the abbey on the south headland. Newer houses seem to have been designed to fit in with this style and colour of building whilst the old shop fronts have been retained. A call to the marina reveals that it is full so we have to tie up just below the swing bridge to await some boats coming out. It was their regatta night last night with fireworks on the front so the town is in clean up mode. Eventually, we are allowed in at 0900 and after radioing the bridge keeper to open the bridge we pass through the lovely Edwardian iron swing bridge and moor at the marina.

Like many smaller ports, Whitby has kept some local ship repairing and building. This fishing boat is lodged in a floating dock undergoing renovation. The notice on the shrouding in the background proclaims that they are keeping their tradition alive, building a new boat under the scaffolding and sheeting.

Like many smaller ports, Whitby has kept some local ship repairing and building. This fishing boat is lodged in a floating dock undergoing renovation. The notice on the shrouding in the background proclaims that they are keeping their tradition alive, building a new boat under the scaffolding and sheeting.

After showering at the new and very smart facilities we walk over to the big Co-op superstore opposite to stock up. Whitby is in full holiday mode – crowds of people milling about in the warm sunshine, coaches depositing their tour passengers all down the street, a steam train from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway puffs into the station and quantities of fish and chips and ice cream being consumed. It’s a proper English holiday place in full swing. Yorkshire accents surround us – we are in proper Ecky Thump Country! (Accents have probably changed more as we travel down the north-east coast from Scotland than perhaps anywhere else).

Church Street in old Whitby - largely traffic free and thronged with people and shops.

Church Street in old Whitby – largely traffic free and thronged with people and shops.

Shopping done and lunch eaten, we set of to explore Whitby. Progress is slow due to the crowds but there is plenty to look at as we wander along.

There are delightful alleyways off the main streets in old Whitby with the old cobbles and converted stabling.

There are delightful alleyways off the main streets in old Whitby with the old cobbles and converted stabling.

We cross the river Esk via the swing bridge to the oldest part of town on the south side and come across the Captain Cook Memorial Museum by the river.

The Captain Cook Museum is located int he house where he was apprenticed to John Walker to learn his craft. The apprentices were housed in the attic. The Walkers were Quakers and had a reputation as firm and fair with high standards but they were not interested in the fancier side of life. Cook learnt much here and remained friends with his former employer throughout his life.

The Captain Cook Museum is located int he house where he was apprenticed to John Walker to learn his craft. The apprentices were housed in the attic. The Walkers were Quakers and had a reputation as firm and fair with high standards but they were not interested in the fancier side of life. Cook learnt much here and remained friends with his former employer throughout his life.

As is well known, Cook was one of the greatest explorers and cartographers to have come from Britain, having been responsible to charting as diverse a span of territory from the St. Lawrence River in Canada (where he enabled General Wolfe to capture Quebec and thus make Canada British) to the north-west passage, Australia, New Zealand, many of the Pacific Islands and even bits of Antarctica. He learnt his sea-faring trade on colliers operating out of Whitby as an apprentice to Captain John Walker, lodging in Walker’s house with the other apprentices in the attic of the house that is now the Cook Museum.

The view over the River Esk from the Captain Cook Museum. This is the outlook that Cook would have had when an apprentice living in this house, learning his seamanship. His master's ships would have been drawn up on the hard below the house.

The view over the River Esk from the Captain Cook Museum. This is the outlook that Cook would have had when an apprentice living in this house, learning his seamanship. His master’s ships would have been drawn up on the hard below the house.

The house is a fascinating collection of letters, maps, artefacts collected from Cook’s travels and information on Cook’s life and times. Cook remained friends with John Walker even after he went on to great things and there are many samples of their letters. (Cook is just one of very many people who have made significant contributions to the welfare and prosperity of Britain who was not honoured by any form of official recognition such as a knighthood. One could add many others to that list – other explorers such as Livingstone, Scott, Shackleton, engineers such as the Stephensons (of both railway and lighthouse fame), Brunel, and so on. Yet to this day anonymous politicians and civil servants get the bulk of honours).

The climb to the Abbey is up 199 steep steps out of the old town. The road to the left was presumably for pack horses, not carts!

The climb to the Abbey is up 199 steep steps out of the old town. The road to the left was presumably for pack horses, not carts!

The view out to sea at Whitby. Not much will have changed since James Cook's day - perhaps a couple of new houses and additional lights at the harbour entrance.

The view out to sea at Whitby. Not much will have changed since James Cook’s day – perhaps a couple of new houses and additional lights at the harbour entrance.

We finish the Cook Museum and as we are now rather “nautical museumed-out” we buy ice creams and walk up the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey.

The Abbey buildings date from the 13th century and are said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. This is the second place down this coast that we have come across this claim – perhaps the tourist industry assume tourists don’t travel as far as us! The Abbey was dedicated to St. Hilda and housed both nuns and monks and produced nine saints, five local bishops and the Saxon poet Caedmon. St. Hilda was one of the greatest Christian leaders of her time, her successes include persuading the church to adopt a unified way of calculating when Easter should be and for bringing together the Celtic and Roman branches of the Church. The view from the hill by the Abbey is superb but we decide we have done enough visiting today and do not go into the abbey remains or museum.

The ruins 13th century Abbey dedicated to St. Hilda are said to have been the inspiration for "Dracula".

The ruins 13th century Abbey dedicated to St. Hilda are said to have been the inspiration for “Dracula”.

The inner harbour and marina as seen from the Abbey Hill. The town was by-passed in the 1980's by the high bridge in the background.

The inner harbour and marina as seen from the Abbey Hill. The town was by-passed in the 1980′s by the high bridge in the background.

Philip and Lorna laughton met up with us at Whitby.

Philip and Lorna Laughton met up with us at Whitby.

We finish our ice creams and return to the boat. We have been in contact with Philip and Lorna Laughton, John’s brother and sister-in-law from his first marriage to Ann, who live at Saltburn to arrange to meet up with them this evening. They arrive around seven so we have drinks on board before repairing for fish and chips at the Shambles, an eatery housed in the former Burberry factory by the waterside in the old part of town. It has been quite a few years since we last got together so there is much to catch up on. Their eldest daughter, Sarah, will get married to Ian next June so they are getting into wedding mode. We round off the evening with coffee back on board. After Philip and Lorna leave we soon crash out for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we plan to continue down the coast to either Scarborough or Bridlington.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       5.1 nm

Total miles to date:          1855.3nm

Engine hours:                  1.3 hours

Total engine hours:          219.3 hours

Hours sailed:                   2.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           406.7 hours

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John