The Storm Petrel Circumnavigation Leg 4

Approaching Lindisfarne

With Geoff Quentin still on board we had to cover quite a few miles before he would be dropped off to continue his lawn mowing, garden digging and preparations for the Lot Cruise. It was disappointing to be missing a motor up the Tyne to see the city and its famous bridges but good sense dictated that we should turn left out of Royal Quays Marina and make for the river entrance and farewell to the Tyne.

We have so enjoyed the changes in local accents as we have headed north. First the Essex, then the Norfolk and Suffolk, on to Humberside with a hint of Midlands, then Yorkshire, then Geordie and Northumberland. My family have always enjoyed speaking in local tongues (quite badly) and we have had lots of fun confusing ourselves and forgetting where we are. Wait till we get to Scotland!

Our passage on the 27th took us up along a quite deserted coast with little to commend it until in the distance we spied Coquet Island which protects the Amble Harbour entrance. We are now dealing with rock and mud and not just mud so navigation skills need a little fine tuning. Out come those curvy diagram thingies with notches along the bottom and top. Find the tide in the book, 2B pencil, draw a diagonal line then join them all together and we will go aground at three in the morning on the Dogger Bank. That can’t be right, better enquire of the Admiral.

We drifted on a gentle southerly breeze and overcast conditions towards Coquet and decided to do the brave thing and go inside the island through shallower water, by this time having remembered that the diagram we were looking at is called a tidal curve and we now KNOW that we won’t go aground. In the event we had plenty of water and made our way tight along the Amble harbour wall, over the sill and in to the charming family-owned marina. We were made very welcome, added to Tesco’s profits and turned in early after supper in a nice small restaurant. Another slight disappointment not to see more of Amble but time was still pressing.

We now moved on to what will probably prove to be the most memorable day of our trip. The Farne Islands are only a few miles north of Amble and already the bird life was increasing by the minute. Guillemots are probably the most numerous followed by gannets and not to mention puffins and razor bills. Added to all this were seals popping their heads up to see what was going on and the occasional dolphin. One almost becomes blasé about this wonderful wild life but it is a joy and dare one say that all this stuff about all our wildlife disappearing needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. After all, to the media no news is bad news.

Moving on from the Farnes it would have been pointless not to go and have a look at Holy Island which was well in view. On the way it occurred to us that we might have time to anchor behind Lindisfarne so on a falling tide (yes we have done the training) we eased our way along the transit in very shallow water, turned sharply to starboard and proceeded with nervous anticipation to the sheltered anchorage. We made it! Anchor down and lunch in tepidly warm sunshine in quite one of the most atmospheric of anchorages, the birth of British Christianity, or so it is said.

Up anchor after a short kip and lo and behold over the border at Berwick and we are at last in Bonny Scotland. We dock at Eyemouth, our first harbour approach protected by nasty looking rock pinnacles and in through the canyon as it is known locally. We are given a super reception by the Harbour Master and his staff. Advertised as a busy and noisy fishing harbour in the Almanac and pilot books it is quite the opposite. Of a once large fishing fleet there are now only four serious fishing vessels left although there is a busy, but not noisy, fish processing factory on the quayside.

We were feeling pretty tired after three weeks of storm dodging, northerly winds and the cold so we said a sad farewell to Geoff who had to get back to his family duties and resolved to chill out for a few days. Bus rides are great fun when they are free so we enjoyed our bus passes with a couple of visits to Berwick which has an interesting history of its own and some particularly interesting bridges over the Tweed. A trip back and forth across the border a couple of times makes one think about the shadow of the independence vote hanging over us all and what implications it might have for those living here. Not one person to whom we mentioned it thought it would happen. I don’t know what you think but on this yacht we hope they are right.

The rest period begins to turn to restlessness and there may even be signs of that Azores High starting at last to move north. Peace, contentment, good food and rest are the order of the day until Chris Nicholson arrives.

Tim Bizzey, 05.06.2013 | More from Tim Bizzey’s blog