The Storm Petrel Circumnavigation Leg 2

With Ipswich behind us and another stop overnight at Suffolk Yacht Harbour to pick up Mike’s camera left behind in the Lightship, we headed off down the Orwell clad in our best all weather gear to make passage to Lowestoft.

The weather being churlish as it is, and it being the 11th May, we reached the Stour entrance only to hear a gale warning specially prepared for us by the Coastguard. Oh what a good thing we had the radio on, one was tempted to think.

So in to Shotley for the night by which time Mike has had enough of estuary cruising and leaves by train from Harwich (with his camera) to be home in time for his birthday celebrations on the following day.

With a reduced crew we have more elbow room and only a committee of three to make the strategic decisions, so we set off bright and early for Lowestoft. It is the 12th May and your skipper’s birthday so by now the main cabin is bedecked in cards and presents. Well, present actually. The skipper will not reveal his age which has his wife confused as she believed she had married a much younger man.

The passage to Lowestoft was without incident, mild winds from the south west to see us tied up in the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club basin in time for tea, a shower and dinner in the delightful clubhouse. Sitting in the bar were two other crews heading north so plenty to talk about. We also entertained the skipper’s brother and sister in law for coffee to add to our social pleasures.

We strolled up to the station on Tuesday the 14th to pick up Malcolm Malir who had signed on for a nostalgic view of the Yorkshire coast from the sea and to teach us how to speak the local language. E' by gum, that sort of thing. Although Lowestoft is a sheltered haven to sit out a gale we were buffeted in the Club Haven with doubled lines and enough noise to keep us awake. There we cowered for two days until on the 15th in the late afternoon the howling suddenly disappeared, the weather forecast suggested a window and we set sail at short notice overnight to dock in Grimsby at 15.00 on Thursday the 16th May.

Now Grimsby Fish Dock is a place most people would avoid but don’t! Your locking in to the dock is not, however, for the fainthearted. This is a place for hairy seaman, there is no means of securing the boat so the tactic is to appear to be sufficiently scared for the Dockmaster to take pity on you and throw you a rope. The rope is actually of little use as the lock is so small and deep that you have to take off your ensign in order to fit in and then a game of fender sparring takes place while wild water washes around your topsides.

The lock gates eventually open and before you lies a haven of peace with Ben ready to allocate you a berth in a quiet corner. Beer and diesel are the cheapest on the east coast but even in Grimsby should not be drunk together. The custom of locking in is known locally as ‘penning’, so the next time you are trapped in a lock think of Grimsby, we will.

The Humber Cruising Association are a charming, welcoming and friendly Club with their own clubhouse, facilities and a take away menu on hand. This place is a must. The highlight of our stay in Grimsby was a visit from Hugh and Lyn Williamson who are Club members living in Hull and who we hope to see on the Lot Cruise and in Croatia. Lyn came laden with cakes and goodies and most kindly drove Anne to do the shopping.

The bad weather suggested another lay day so we took a bus ride to Hull by which time the weather improved and we were ready to move on to Leg 3 of our adventure. The Humber Estuary was to us a place of great interest, it is a busy commercial river with endless well buoyed shoals and gravy brown water but it is a vibrant place and interesting and well worth exploring. And it has fog, but that is a story for another day.

Tim Bizzey, 22.05.2013 | More from Tim Bizzey’s blog