The Storm Petrel Circumnavigation Leg 3

At the Whitby Yacht Club

Our departure from Grimsby and the River Humber was another with doubt about the weather, this time warm moist air rolling in from the south west which could only mean the threat of fog. The forecast was one of calm winds with the chance of fog patches and a more sinister warning of fog banks. Clearly in addition to the horrors inflicted upon us by our nation’s banks they were now ready to release fog upon us, perhaps with virtual fog bank cash machines lurking out there somewhere. Is your correspondent starting to hallucinate? Yes that was actually a pot buoy over there.

Having checked out of the Humber with seals and seabirds rising out of the mist we rounded Spurn Head and headed north under engine with the tide under us and the prospect of a relaxed day in warm sunshine. Well it was not long before the visibility went down, and down, and down until Malcolm brightly remarked that he could actually see the bow but not much else. Pot markers loomed up out the murk but with our trusty radar and AIS we felt confident of repelling all boarders.

And so it was that we proceeded on our way with nothing much to see until very quickly there came a break in the gloom and a mysterious presence was upon us, some say it is the sun, although it is not often seen in our present world.

By now we had settled in to a routine of the skipper keeping watch and the crew snoring down below and Flamborough Head came and went. It is a formidable place with the suggestion of overfalls even in calm weather so we were pleased to see the lights of Scarborough framing the architectural wonder that is the Grand Hotel. It is a beautiful example of the architecture spawned by the Victorian railway moguls but sadly now rather run down and clearly unable to support the style for which it was intended.

Scarborough is a lovely place, we received a warm welcome from the dock master who was clearly pleased to see one of the first visiting boats of the season. The pilot books seem to discourage visitors, claiming that tides and depths tend to be unsuitable but we have already learned on this adventure not to always trust the written word and to do our own homework and above all spend plenty of time passage planning. A call to our new Commodore to ask what a 'stranded port' is might be handy.

Weather held us up in Scarborough and we had to say a reluctant goodbye one day to Duncan McMillan and on another to Malcolm Malir. We had very much enjoyed their good company and cheer and now we were on our own for a few days.

The time came to leave with a day’s window in the currently very unsettled weather so we decided to go for it early with the assurance of our friendly Harbour Master that there would be enough water to get out of the harbour. Indeed the dredger was already working away in the narrow harbour entrance by the time we were ready to leave.

Yorkshire is a county of steadfast people with an optimistic outlook on life and we were assured that we could easily slip past the dredger who would kindly stop digging up the bottom of the harbour to let us through. That did not worry us, but what did worry us was the zero reading on our sounder before we had even left the pontoon. We unhitched and backed out, turned and headed for the back of the dredger only to come to a grinding halt. It’s called going aground in nautical circles. "Go for it a bit faster", cried the dredger man "and come close by my side where I have just dug a great big hole for you". So throttle open and with local advice we took a run at it. I am sure by now, dear reader, you will have guessed that this exercise would end it tears or the loss of our keel. So we withdrew to the pontoon and sulked for an hour with thoughts of the weather window and tides which were rapidly narrowing.

We eventually got away and off to Whitby in a lumpy head sea and made good passage. From afar the Whitby harbour entrance looks about ten feet wide with disturbed water all around, alarming rocks to port and towering cliffs to one side but we are Little Shippers and in we went in style. The whole town comes to a stop when the swing bridge opens to allow boats to enter the inner harbour and so a lot of people were waiting to watch us pass through the bridge to a comfortable pontoon berth up the river. Our Admiral waved regally, she carries it off so well, she must have royal connections. Whitby is well known as the home part of Captain Cook and is dominated by the Abbey on the cliff. It is also the home of jet, a black precious stone, so we had to have some of that.

The Harbour Master rafted us up to an elderly Westerly and casually asked us if we were thinking of putting lines ashore in this sheltered peaceful spot. Of course we always put lines ashore, but why especially in this sheltered haven? We knew there was more bad weather to come but boy, did it blow. Two nights of Southern Ocean in a sheltered river eventually abated sufficiently for us to creep out of our cabin to greet Geoff Quentin upon his arrival at Whitby Station on the 25th May. We had already ourselves taken a bus ride and trip on the train from Middlesbrough so knew he would be impressed with the scenery on that journey. Beautiful. We enjoyed a relaxed drink in the Whitby Yacht Club who made us very welcome.

Time to move on with the weather, now flat calm and a good forecast especially prepared by Geoff. Very little wind and a 40 mile passage playing with the sails all the time. We were now seeing a few yachts and ships and our entrance to the famous River Tyne was to us a very important landmark in this journey. It is a surprisingly narrow river when compared to its legendary history but ships still come and go and the Royal Quays Marina is a very pleasant place a couple of miles up the river.

The weather has been both kind and unkind to us but we have kept to our schedule with the help of our friends and crew, all of whom are Club members. Storm Petrel is a stout and trusty steed and has not for one moment let us down to date. 550 miles on the log, still going strong and happy!



Tim Bizzey, 02.06.2013 | More from Tim Bizzey’s blog