The Summer holidays started
with our annual pilgrimage to the Isles of Scilly, brilliant
weather, superb food and some serious dinghy sailing lessons for
The 10th August
saw us back in the North, Carolyn had to return to work leaving us
boys a several clear weeks to sail North, heading for the
We left Brough on the
evening tide of the 10th August to slip into
and make a dash for Brid the following day.
The morning brought a cloudy, windy day, with variable force
4/5 forecast, we locked out about 8am and headed down river, under
power, with the tide.
It was grey, choppy and cold.
MUTINEER was ahead of us and Mike was sending us live weather
and sea reports by SMS.
“A bit blowy”, “It’s lumpy but we’re going anyway” came back as we
bounced our way into the wind and sea past Immingham.
We decided to bail out into Grimsby and await better
conditions, arriving at 1110, too late for free-flow but in time for
an expensive lock-in.
The next day saw worse
weather blow in and we spent a less than exciting day in
We met up with VJ’s son and later Bill on HJARGA came in
looking very wet and complaining about the weather and the sea.
The next morning was much
better, sunshine and W4. We left at 0855, slipped passed Spurn,
under power, before 10am, reached SE Chequer at 1030, set sail and
headed North. We
were off. At 1230 we
were elated to pass within a cable of MUTINEER returning to the
Humber from Brid and exchanged greetings by SMS.
A fine sail North along a familiar route led us to anchor
outside Brid at 1800.
When we slipped into the harbour an hour or so later we were
overjoyed to see Steve and Mike in their Seamaster SPRINGTIME
standing by the visitors pontoon waiting to take our lines.
The next day was bright and
windy, SW 4/5 occ 6, then variable/W 3/4 later.
We agreed to meet up with SPRINGTIME in
and left Brid together at 0845.
A sparkling sail North
around Flambrough, saw Scarborough
abeam at 1330 and the “variable/W later” part of the earlier
forecast proved accurate.
We had been chasing SPRINGTIME all day, gaining on them and
then falling back as Steve trimmed his sails.
Jake and I watched and learned and gradually SANUTI’s larger
sail area drew us closer and closer.
Then the wind varied to a Southerly, and both boats began to
run. Our big genoa,
which we had started to trim properly for the first time following
Steve’s example lost its shape as it fell behind the main.
Then we were well and truly stuffed as we saw SPRINGTIME set
a Spinnaker and pull ahead as Scarborough
It was at this point that Jake reminded me that we had another
foresail and that I had been harping on about how we might try out a
trade wind rig.
I wasn’t too keen on this, but with Jake on the wheel I
scrambled forward slipped the luff tape into the second slot in the
foil and hoisted this old foresail using the spinnaker halyard.
I was expecting flapping chaos, however, once the main was
down and the new sail trimmed we were both impressed.
SANUTI felt steady, was
running about 5 knots with a slow yaw from side to side.
Once it became familiar it was comfortable and efficient
without the constant fear of a gybe when goose-winging in a swell.
Springtime pulls ahead!
SPRINGTIME still pulled
ahead and was out of sight by the time we passed the Whitby Rocks
buoy about 5pm.
Trim that sail!
is home from home having been berthed here some years ago.
We took a day off to collect fossils on the South beach at
low tide and to visit Trenchers for some food that didn’t come out a
brought clear skies and a steady SW4/5.
We took the first bridge at 1005 and headed North, with
SPRINGTIME following later, planning on reaching
Hartlepool about 5pm.
Which is exactly what we did, a steady reach in a steady wind
with the autopilot doing the work and Jake on watch most of the
The fleet in
This is the farthest North
that SANUTI had been.
Sunday 18th saw us heading North into new
territory, heading for Sunderland.
A steady westerly pushed us around the Heugh,.
The wind was strong and sea lumpy but a few days at sea had
lifted our confidence in our own abilities and that of the boat.
A smart sail North for four hours with SPRINGTIME abreast
much of the way saw us picking out the lighthouses on the two
massive curved piers.
The red and white Roker lighthouse is on the North pier and
SPRINGTIME led our tiny fleet in.
A French yacht had anchored in the outer harbour well away
from the channel, and we considered following their example, there
is plenty of space.
However we continued up the Wear passing close by a number of
large coasters looking for the marina which we knew was to
starboard. It appears
suddenly behind a small pier and needs care to avoid being swept
past by the tide.
is lovely marina set in a deep ravine sheltered from the weather on
all sides. The
staff were friendly and on duty 24 hours, the facilities excellent
and the town a short walk over a magnificent bridge.
Steve decided he could find a good pub for supper, his
navigation ability on land was not as good as that at sea.
However he found a strange establishment on the front at
Roker, which served excellent bar meals and was clearly going to be
a fine place for music and drinking later in the evening.
Jake and I left them to it after supper and the fact that
they did not appear again until well into the following afternoon
suggested we were right!
The Roker lighthouse
We took a day out to explore Sunderland, it is an interesting town, with fine
architecture and good range of shops.
Jake soon found a branch of Maplin and spent his pocket money
on something called a laser crab…the sort of crab you find in a
disco not in a pot apparently.
High water had now slipped to about 3pm, our next port of call was
to be Blyth and this was only some 14 miles or so North, 4 or 5
hours sailing should get us there well before dark.
We left at 1455 and were soon bowling along in a gusty SW5.
We passed the magnificent Souter light and could see the Tyne ahead
and pick out Blyth
in the distance.
The wind grew stronger and sea heavier. SANUTI was hard pressed and
getting wet. We turned
head to wind to put two reefs in the main and rolled up half the
genoa. When we paid off
into the wind again she much more secure and moved faster through
SPRINGTIME was suffering, we could see Steve was having the spill
wind and could not get his sails trimmed. We saw him up on the
foredeck struggling with something and later found out that he had a
rigging problem preventing him from reefing.
The wind and sea kept on
build and we were pleased to see Blyth’s
long, open arms welcoming us in.
Our feelings were mixed as we had been following a mayday on
VHF concerning a small open boat out in the weather we were about to
escape from. We
all felt it unwise for us to join in the search in view of the
weather and never found out how the story resolved.
is a strange place.
The marina is big and secure.
The port is commercial and interesting, the locals friendly.
The House Yacht is the bee’s knees!
A man could arrive here and stay forever in the clutches of
the RNYC bar, not to mention the bar staff.
The main bar is in the fo’c’sle.
Jake was very impressed, he lives in SANUTI’S fo’c’sle and
this was home from home for him…just with better seating and a
constant supply of coke and crisps…heaven.
I had to decide what to do
next. We would
like to run further North to the Farne but although it was a short
distance and easily done in two days.
At least one day there and two more back makes 5 days and
that would put us under pressure on our return South.
This was to be our Northern limit this year.
Jake and I resolved to visit the ports and harbours we had
passed on the way North, which meant visiting the Tyne, Seaham, Runswick and Scarbrough.
A couple of weeks of fine sailing to go…nothing to be down
hearted about other than leaving our sailing partners as they were
determined to press on North.
We were pleased to receive regular progress reports over the
next few days from the Kettle and Holy Island.
At 1130 on Tuesday 20th
we left Blyth
and started our run South.
We were now departing near low water to use the floods.
We had enjoyed sailing in company and being left to our own
devices again took a little getting used to.
Keeping to our plan of visiting ports we had passed when
coming North our next call was a short hop into the
This was done under power with a light wind on the nose, and we
passed through the pier heads at 1400.
We decided to call into Royal Quays Marina and motored up
river to find the lock.
We found ourselves berthed next to DOUBLE PLUSH, however she
was unmanned awaiting crew to bring her back to Brough.
Royal Quays is a fine marina with excellent facilties and we
took the opportunity to do some much needed laundry.
Later in the afternoon we walked past the site of the famous
Smith’s Dock in North Shields where the corvettes immortalised in
Sea were designed.
The yard is now gone with the dry dock left to become a water
feature in some new office development.
Jake had to finish his
homework work here, there is no escape…find the five numbers between
1 and 100 which have 12 factors…it took a while!
The following day we set
sail at 1045 for Seaham.
A motor sail in a light, variable winds arriving at 1440.
A small but fine marina!
This is a recent development, the lock is automatic and the
facilities excellent, though the town seems to be struggling to find
a reason to still exist with the loss of the local mines.
The steep walls of the marina are cut from the natural cliff
and host a flock of kittiwakes.
This was the first time I had heard their call and understood
the reason for their name!
On Wednesday we awoke to a
fine, flat calm morning.
Not a breath of wind and a glassy sea.
We left towards Whitby at 0645, under
power, with Jake taking the helm on and off all day.
A large school of dolphins passed by in Tees Bay and
by 1330 we had decided to stop off at Runswick Bay
for a run ashore in the dinghy.
More fossils were added to Jake’s collection and on leaving
the beach we spotted a very large Lion’s mane jelly over a foot
across at the head and with tendrils some 3 feet long.
Thoughts of swimming from the stern of SANUTI were quickly
We considered spending the night at anchor but a strong on-shore
wind was developing so we sailed over the Whitby, dodging the WYC
race boats in the bay.
We arrived much too late to
for the last bridge and found the lower harbour packed.
The race boats had filled the WYC pontoon three deep and
Reaper, an old herring smack, was against the wall above the fish
dock. Our old berth near the Brewery Steps was dry, and were shooed
away from the fish dock itself so rafted against SASANQUA, which had
moored to the waiting pontoon.
After much debate about tidal ranges and early departures we
swapped places and settled in for the night.
The following morning
SASANQUA has gone and we took the first bridge into the marina,
found a berth and took a day off.
August dawned grey and still, we planned to head down to
to cheer-on some HYC club boats in the regatta races ad to meet up
with Carolyn. We
slipped into the lower harbour by the last bridge at 0841, tied up
on the waiting pontoon and waited for low water.
The air was thick with mist but we could see the Whitby Rocks
buoy and left for Scarborough
at 1145. As soon as we
turned South the mist thickened, and an hour later we were motoring
in thick fog plotting our position every 15 minutes.
Several fishing boats and two yachts passed by in the gloom
and we were starting to relax when a deep, distant, foghorn was
heard astern. The
deeper the note, the bigger the vessel.
A few minutes later it sounded again, nearer this time, then
again, now clearly astern and between us and the land.
This was a surprise, we were close in and have never come
across a large vessel so near to land around here.
My concern was obvious to Jake who disappeared below, despite
my requests for him to keep look out.
A few minutes later he was in the cockpit, iPad in hand
giving me the name, speed, course and cargo of the vessel in
question. He had
used his iPad’s 3G connection to open a web site showing AIS data in
the North Sea.
The chart showed it moving past to starboard and a few
minutes later it came into view on a parallel course about a cable
away. I think
it’s time I caught up with this technology too!
We continued to navigate by
DR and GPS and soon felt the sea settle as we slipped into
bay still unable to see anything.
I was surprised, but grateful, to hear a “foghorn”, it was
not the regular repeating pattern that you expect of a foghorn but
we followed it, all the same, and soon the light house and club
house resolved out of the fog.
Once settled into a visitor’s berth we determined that the
horn we had heard was, in fact, finishing or abandoning a regatta
Carolyn came to visit us the
next day and we watched our Captain and other club boats make decent
efforts from the best seats in town, in the yacht club bar.
The next few days saw us
making our way via Brid and
back to Brough. No
excitement except for a miserable couple of hours banging our way
from the Spurn light to Spurn Head.
I have never enjoyed this run at low water.
A great Summer at sea, and the Farne are still there!
Simon & Jake Howarth