Today I crossed the Firth of Forth. Most of the time I could see no more than half a mile in any direction as the mist came down. Locals here call it the ‘har’. I can certainly recommend Eyemouth and fantastic little harbour full of charm. Spent a couple of hours this morning exploring. Settle my overnight bill and set off at around 10:30am in beautiful sunshine. Coming out the harbour it is a little disconcerting that you can see breaking waves, but that is because as soon as you come out of the entrance you need to turn to the right, ( starboard if you are a nautical type ). This opens up the exit channel.
Passing St Abbs head after just an hour there were loads of dive boats. Ahead I could see the mist and within an hour I was in that eyre space where you can just see a small circle of sea. Hearing fog horns it was a relief that they sounded so distant.
The Isle of May, nothing to do with Teresa, has substantial sea cliffs but I couldn’t see it at all until I was within half a mile of it. It is a spectacular place. I anchored for a brew and admired the bird life and then pressed on to Anstruther. I was a little too early for the tide and so tied up off the West Pier for an hour before moving onto the drying pontoons.
Papillon has a lifting keel and draws just less than 2 feet with the keel and rudder lifted. I was helped onto the berth by some helpful folks and they even leant me a fob to access the gates. I steak and ale pie went down a treat at the local bistro the Boathouse and returning the fob I was invited to down a shot and a beer as the friendly folks christened a new boat. We talked about lots of things including the coming general election and it was great to chat after being on my own on the boat for the last few days.
Light winds today but at least what wind there was came from behind and helped push the boat forward a little. But it was mainly the engine that propelled Papillon from Amble to Eyemouth.
So I’ve made it to Scotland. Along the way there was a great deal of wild life, Puffins and Seals entertained me on the 8 hour, 42 mile trip. Passing the Farne Islands, Lindasfarne and Bamborough Castle on the way. Called the harbour master at Eyemouth on the new phone and he chose me a berth alongside a 40 footer who were very helpful while I moored up.
On route I worked out that Arbroath is a no-no for tomorrow as the gate will be shut when I arrive unless I decide to set sail at 2am and that’s not happening! So tomorrow will see me anchoring in the River Tay.
Having suffered irreparable phone loss as a result of a soaking yesterday, today was spent visiting Alnwick to collect a replacement phone curtesy of Argos and a heavty sum of money. It is very annoying to have to give yet more money to the dreadful people at Apple. I hope the EU make them pay their taxes. I’m a die hard remainer currently in Brexit central. Thankfully it appears that we are covered on insurance.
I can heartily recommend a visit to Alnwick to anyone. Given that my other significant retirement project is building a treehouse using trees felled in my own garden I was seriously inspired by the Alnwick Treehouse. The largest treehouse in the world. No video today, but here’s the inspirational treehouse.
Got back to the boat to charge the new phone and put various apps on it, tides, charts, wind, weather, audible. Sailing a small boat around the UK, I’ve decided that a smart phone is an essential piece of safety equipment. I think the engine is number one, then life jackets and vhf but close behind is a smart phone. I use it to get so much information that I didn’t want to move on to the next few days where I am in quite small harbours, without replacing the phone.
Set off from Sunderland to get a favourable tide heading North at around 11am. Weather was perfect and for once it was a real sail, no engine after the first hour.
Arrived at the fabulous location of Coquet Island and started the engine to head into the marina. Timing was perfect with 4 feet of water over the cill. So that is all the positive stuff. Unfortunately I completely messed up getting onto my berth. I’d put fenders and mooring lines on both sides but the wind was not playing and when I jumped onto the finger pontoon, a strong gust ended up pulling me and my new iPhone into the water!!! I told you the luck couldn’t last.
On the plus side my life jacket worked perfectly! And literally moments later there was someone on my boat powering it onto the berth. Three heavy guys lifted me out of the water and thankfully, apart from my phone, no harm was done. I felt like a complete idiot. But there’s nothing new there.
Next problem was letting Pam know I was OK. Finding a public phone is close to impossible these days. I wandered into Amble and the first pub I went into just let me use their own phone. Job done. Unfortunately I rely on the phone for tides, weather, plotter and comms. So I cross my fingers that after a drying out it will work, but I doubt it. So the plan is to head for Edinburgh and visit the Apple shop where no doubt I will have to pay a substantial fee.
Another plus is Amble has a free wifi. So I’ve been able to get weather and tides on my iPad.
Stayed overnight in the splendid Dunsley Hall Country Hotel. A former home of a Whitby shipbuilder, in the days when Britain still built ships and judging by the size of the house there was a great deal of money in it!
Missed their excellent breakfast as I needed to exit Whitby by 9:30am. Whitby has a swing bridge and this opens on request on the hour and half hour, two hours either side of high water. There was a bridge at 9:50am, don’t ask, but I didn’t want to risk the last bridge. In the end I made the 9:00am bridge so at a push I may have been able to enjoy the lovely breakfast, but I would have had one eye on the clock. Time and tide as they say.
The day started with virtually zero wind. But built as forecast to gusts hitting 30kts when the boats motion was taken into account. Boat types call this wind apparent. But I intend to use no boat lingo without explaining it.
Sea was pretty flat all day. But I was nervous about the rising wind, in the end Papillon was absolutely fine, admittedly I reefed down to about the minimum sail, two mainsail reefs and no head sail. Papillon has three sails, one that sticks out towards the back of the boat which we call the mainsail and one at the front which is sometimes called the head sail, jib or Genoa, just to keep those who don’t go down to the sea in boats confused. We also call the kitchen a galley and the toliet a heads. Then we wonder why more people don’t go sailing.
After seven hours pottering along I pulled into the River Wear and was soon on the fuel berth at Sunderland Marina. Ahead of me was a Dutch boat on route to the Shetlands and Orkneys. Scotland is a magnet to sailors from all over Europe. They explained that they had already on a previous trip done the Caledonian Canal and the Western Isles. I topped up my diesel and moved to the berth that was allocated. I made myself what I refer to as Pasta Surprise since it contains whatever I find in the cupboard. Checked the weather forecast for the next couple of days and it looks fine.
The boat went back into the water yesterday. Everything seemed ship-shaped, engine started first time and I motored round to a temporary pontoon berth in Whitby Marina. Unbelievably hot day by Whitby standards. Around 27° C. Filled up the diesel cans, topped up the water, tested the Tiller Pilot, checked the charts. Can’t set off until Tuesday. One or two commitments before I head off for a month.
In just a weeks time I will be setting off around part of the UK in my boat. Currently the boat is out of the water. Over the last month, with my wife Pam’s help, I’ve anti-fouled the hull and the anodes have been replaced. The outboard for the tender has been serviced and everything is ready for the boat to go back in the water on Friday.