Following the family wedding and a couple of rugby games, it was time to return to Hejira on Bank Holiday Monday. Andrew Gosling very kindly drove all 4 of us to Lowestoft and we are all extremely grateful for his kindness.
Our lunch time arrival enabled a meal in the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club and victualing in the nearby Asda. A 3am departure to facilitate a ‘top of the tide’ entry into Wells next the Sea, 56 miles up the coast required an early night. It would have been better, when I called the Harbour Master, if I had remembered that we were in Lowestoft and not Great Yarmouth but we managed to sort that out between us but with me feeling a bit of an idiot – well it was very early! Dawn saw us romping up the coast with a fresh wind behind the beam and it was to be an enjoyable sail. Although it was ‘tide assisted’, we recorded a satisfying 9.8 knots at one stage! Entry into Wells is somewhat tortuous and with the neap tides, it would not have been possible without the variable draft capability of the Southerly.
The effort was rewarded by a delightful town and very helpful and cheerful harbour staff. I had been into Wells over 20 years previously and had to moor alongside the harbour wall, climbing a rusty ladder, now the facilities for visiting yachts are excellent with a ‘walk ashore’ pontoon with services, dredged to 2m and facilities ashore.
The following day the high tide was at midday and with over 100 miles to Whitby, we would have to sail overnight. With the wind on the beam and gusting to F7 it was a lively but hugely enjoyable sail with 2 reefs in the main.
The proliferation of wind farms all along this coast is remarkable and the AIS is really helpful as we were able to identify the support vessels and call them to establish the extent and regulations regarding the farms under construction, there were little more than stumps sticking out of the sea.
Our impressive speed saw us off Whitby before dawn and a call to the Whitby watch-keeper identified that it was again necessary to lift the keel to clear the shallows at the entrance. Moored off the bridge waiting (picture attached) pontoon, we resisted the appeals to enter the marina upstream of the bridge as we intended to leave before dawn the next day.
Whitby is a delightful town and the church is very unusual in that the pews are all enclosed with high sides so that only the heads of the congregation would be visible. Taking the recommendation of the Harbour Master again, we enjoyed another excellent meal ashore and turned in early.
The crew this week have been blessed with ideal sailing conditions and our 50nm passage up to Newcastle was a close reach in flat water. Entry into the Tyne between North and South Shields was straightforward and we were expecting to see wholesale industrial dereliction so it was surprising to see apparent vibrant commercial activity all along the Tyne. The regeneration of the area around the Millennium Bridge where we moored is impressive in that they have retained many of the old buildings and integrated new buildings to produce an original feel to the ‘Old Town’. Visiting the ‘Crown Posada’ pub was like going back in time with the stained glass windows and even records playing on an old gramophone.
Two of the crew headed south on the train and with trusty Bob remaining on board we have been joined by David who drove up with my new Force 10 cooker which is a bit of an indulgence given that my existing Force 10 is excellent, just a little smaller.