Reading time: 15 minutes
30th June to 8th July 2023
Granton to Eyemouth 44 nm
30th June 2023
Granton Harbour is rather shallow, so it is wise to wait for a couple of hours of flood tide before heading off. Conveniently that meant a civilized departure at 09:00 GMT. The mixture of moderate to very light winds meant we were needing to use the engine to make good the course.
Eventually we rounded St Abbs Head in light drizzle and motored into Eyemouth at 19:10. We moored along a pontoon in 2.5 m.
Average speed over ground 4.327 kn (44 nm) Average speed through water 4.268 kn (43.4 logged)
30th June until 3rd July
Eyemouth Harbour staff were very welcoming. They even sent us an arrival pack with the various codes via What’s App whilst we were still underway. The town has a holiday feel with a lovely beach, cliff walks, and an abundance of places to eat and drink. On our first night we ended up in The Fleet, a bar of character! There was a highly recommended bistro called Oblo but, ignoring local advice, we ate in The Ship and had an excellent fish pie with fresh healthy vegetables. The little fishing harbour has a resident seal which is fed by the fishing boats. There is also a little stall where you can buy fish to feed the fat gluten.
The mooring cost £82.50 for three nights (£27.50 per night) which is reasonable. Sadly, the showers were pretty squalid. I decided against venturing into the men’s shower which was a wise move because apparently it only had cold water. The showers were not included in the mooring fee so you would need two 50p pieces if you dare partake. I went for a swim instead. Despite the facilities, it is a great place to spend a few days and I’d definitely return if I was heading up that way.
Eyemouth to Whitby 100 nm
3rd – 4th July 2023
The original plan was to stop at Blyth, but we needed to stay in Eyemouth for an extra day because it was blowing old boots. To be fair it was blowing old boots when we set off too, but the direction was good, so we decided to leg it to Whitby. It would be the longest journey that Tilman the dog has made, and it was liable to be bumpy.
We left Eyemouth at 12:00 GMT with just a reefed Yankee and were making between 4.8 and 6.8 kn which we felt was very respectable. By 15:50 we had cleared the Farne Islands. We took the outside route again against local advice. With a forecast of force 7, I wasn’t too keen to take the inshore route which would have necessitated hand steering.
By 18:10 we had the main up with three reefs and were still making 5.9 kn.
The Tall Ships race was heading for Hartlepool, but the strong westerly winds that we were enjoying was proving a nuisance to the fleet and we passed the port before the fleet arrived.
We eventually shook out one reef and arrived at Whitby about two hours before low water – a very hairy time to arrive! The harbour master asked us to call when we were just off the entrance to check on the depth. We were worried he would say “No, go away!” and we would need to head back out to sea having already been awake most of the night. Luckily, he said that if we hurry there will be 2.5 m if we stick completely to the channel. We made it into the harbour and moored to a very small pontoon on the starboard side just under the bandstand and not on the long pontoon on the port side which is currently owned by Whitby Yacht Club (and looked rather shallow). This is contrary to the instructions in the 2023 Almanacs. We needed to wait for the bridge to open two hours before HW.
4th and 5th July
We would have liked to stay here longer but the weather forecast looked like we may be able to ride a westerly as far as Norfolk. We would have left in the morning, but the tides weren’t playing fair, resulting in the first bridge swing not being until 15:30 GMT.
It meant Grit didn’t get the pleasure of seeing the really excellent museum. We did venture up there, but dogs were not even allowed into the surrounding park, so we gave it a miss. I have been before, but it was a shame that Grit missed it. As the waiting pontoon has a very slippery long ladder for access, we decided to ask one of the yellow boat tour launches if they could drop us off. Climbing ladders with a dog ticks lots of dangers on my risk assessment. We enjoyed the harbour tour and were dropped at the boat ready to move her into the marina. In the evening we climbed the 199 steps to the Whitby Brewery where we enjoyed a pint to be followed by another at the Board Inn where we could watch the gig racing through the immensely ugly UPC window.
We met up again with Tainui, a Sadler, heading for Lowestoft but at a much more leisurely pace than us. They were aiming for Scarborough as their next port of call.
We were hoping to rendezvous with Philip and Sarah on Corinna, another Vertue, but they didn’t want to get stranded too far North from their homeport as the forecast was for southerlies to set in.
Actually, the forecast was for strong westerlies but backing southerly later. As it was spring tides, I had the conundrum of deciding whether we would make it into Lowestoft with a potentially strong wind over a strong spring tide.
Whitby to Lowestoft 150 nm
5th to 6th July 2023
We decided to go for it. Ideally, we would have set off in the morning to try to avoid the southerly wind but I needed to get some sleep, so we took the 15:30 bridge swing. With two reefs and a reefed Yankee we shot along at 7.2 kn. We were already approaching Flamborough Head by 20:00 but then the tide turned and our speed over ground slowed. In the morning the wind was lighter, and we were sailing into an awkward slop at under 4 kn. All the time the final approach to Lowestoft was nagging me. We had been told of very bad sea states during spring tides. The wind had turned southerly by mid-afternoon, but we were still sailing towards the east, having put a lot of west in the bank. Corinna had made the journey earlier, so I phoned them to ask about the conditions. They described motoring heavily making only 1-2 kn and mentioned a rough sea state off the harbour entrance. We started the engine, lowered the sails and headed in towards the coast. A RNLI rib came to see what was going on but disappeared after we gave them a cheery wave.
It began to get quite rough with waves crashing over the decks. I was grateful for the new 16 hp Beta engine which was working hard. The tide eventually swept us to the harbour entrance where, bizarrely, it was relatively calm. We entered the RNSYC marina at 23:30 GMT to be greeted by Philip and Sarah who had kindly stayed up to accept our lines.
6th to 8th July
In the morning, we had a warm welcome by the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club. I think we paid a reasonable £25.00 per night. They had very clean washrooms and an excellent club bar and restaurant. The Gents Urinals are legendry.
Sadly, dogs were not allowed in to the clubhouse, so we ventured into the bustling town to find the Flint House Restaurant. This was a first-class Portuguese restaurant where we overindulged in shared platters followed by salt cod. They had an outdoor wood fired pizza oven so I would imagine the evenings are buzzing. In the sun, Lowestoft was looking its best.
The top of the high street has loads of interesting shops and some fine old buildings.
We visited the Maritime Museum set in a small park. It proved to be one of the best museums of the trip.
The stroll back took us past the Grit Arts Centre so we dived in to enjoy a craft beer. The evening scene along the high street was rather sad compared to our lunchtime experience. Maybe one or two police officers from the gigantic police station could dare to venture out and add a sense of security to the main street which had the air of a slightly dodgy place! Not sure what the Dutch visitors must think if they stroll into town for an evening drink.
Lowestoft to Walton on the Naze 40 nm
8th July 2023
It was good to see that the tide begins to run south at about 09:30 GMT, yet another very civilized time to set off. We left in company with Corinna. I was hoping they might get a nice picture of Sumara under sail, but the wind was too light to do the Good Ship justice. In order to get to Walton near to high water we basically motor sailed most of the way eventually mooring at Titchmarsh at 16:10 GMT just after high water.
Average speed over ground 5 kn (40 nm) Average speed through water 5.21 kn (41.7 nm logged)
Walton on the Naze (Titchmarsh)
8th July 2023 to spring 2024
I suppose I shouldn’t be saying this, but Titchmarsh is actually the cheapest harbour we have visited this year at a very reasonable £20.00 per night as a visitor. What is more, unlike many marinas, they offered to put me on a pro-rata basis for the remaining part of the year as I am going to over winter in their spacious yard. The marina is surrounded by acres of cut lawns and waterside walks perfect for some gentle running. There is a large BBQ area and even a helicopter landing space. To add to the joy, despite Southern England having a reputation for not being as friendly as Northern England, while four of us bedraggled sailors and a dog were walking in the rain to the town centre, a car pulled over to offer us a lift!
We all went to Walton and Frinton Yacht Club to visit some friends and enjoyed lunch on the club terrace. OK it was raining but once again Tilman the dog prevented our entry. However, the Commodore (well he looked like a Commodore) made us extremely welcome and apologized for the dog rule!
So Sumara will rest at Titchmarsh for the winter. Soon I will fly out to Canada to join Will Stirling to sail through the North West Passage. On return, assuming there is a return, Sumara will attend the Dangerous Waves Club End of Season Meet at Brightlingsea or maybe Pin Mill, hopefully with a few other yachts.