We were not really prepared for the enormous contrast between the west and east coasts. We had come from a place with an abundance of harbours, deep water and steep-sided lochs to one where there were few natural harbours and shallow seas well offshore. There are not many good natural harbours on the East coast, and the stone harbours are all pretty small and often silted up.
We passed some beautiful sandy beaches on the north coast, especially around Findhorn. First stop out of Inverness was Lossiemouth, also possessor of a great beach. The harbour looks to be quite a good size, but in reality we had to tuck into a corner, almost obstructing the entrance to the east dock. Fortunately the monohull ahead of us offered to move to another berth so we could get a little further in, out of the way of the fast fishing boats (they take no prisoners!).
If we thought Lossiemouth was tight, it was positively spacious compared to our next harbour. Banff has a large outer harbour that is almost completely silted up with sand – what a pity as it would otherwise be very useful. Boats have to do a sharp left turn to get into the inner dock, through an opening that looked barely wider than Nellinui herself. Luckily there was a bit of available pontoon right across from the entrance, and I made a beeline for it. The wind was blowing us off, so it was difficult to get close enough at low speed. Eventually I bumped the bow – first scratch all trip, but only paint! We were in!
The cost of the overnight was 20 pounds, reasonable enough, until we discovered that the toilet and shower facility was all locked up. So, not a good impression of Banff. The next morning we warped the boat round into a position to get neatly out through those scary stone walls and considered we had been lucky not to have come to grief in there.
On our way round the coast we came past a huge gannet colony, roosting on the steep cliffs. There were other species there too – fulmars and puffins and several others. Thousands upon thousands of birds made the cliifs look like they had a dusting of snow.
So our next port of call needed to be a bit more spacious. Peterhead has a huge dock for rig support vessels and fishing boats, but the southern corner of the harbour has a reasonably sheltered marina, opened by Princess Anne a dozen years ago. It was a good place to stop and refuel, and also for Alison to depart on the coach to Aberdeen and by train down to Edinburgh. But it is not lovely, so we haven’t got any pictures….
Not wishing to get stuck in alarmingly small harbours and keen to get on our way south, we opted to go either to Eyemouth or, if possible, to anchor off Holy Island (Lindisfarne). As we were motoring due to lack of wind, it looked very much like we would have to put in to Eyemouth to refuel yet again. But luck had it that the wind came up just enough to enable us to sail at about 3 knots right through the night. Course was altered towards Lindisfarne, and we dropped anchor there at about 1130. A few hours later TS Royalist, whom we last saw at Inverness, arrived as well.
This is probably the most spectacular anchorage on the whole of the east coast, with the castle (which seems to have all the scaffolding in Northumbria round it just now!) and priory and Bamburgh Castle away to the south. A very special place, and a welcome rest.
. This was built in 1879 with 8” square oak frames spaced 4” apart and sheathed with 3” teak planking inside and out! The bar saw all the visiting yotties congregating there, some even watching the England/Croatia match. RNYC have also written a book of Sailing Directions for this part of the coast. Unfortunately it seems that it isn’t widely available, and so we had a gap with just the almanac to help us select where to go.
From Blyth we motored down to Hartlepool – still no wind! One of the house batteries was not holding its charge, so I ordered a new one online to be delivered to Whitby, where we hoped to arrive at the end of the week. The marina at Hartlepool is large and you have to lock in.
There are a lot of restaurants around the edge and it all seems to be part of a real effort to revive the port as a leisure facility. The HMS Trincomalee occupies the historic dock in the corner, and is great to visit.
At last towards Whitby, where we were due to meet my daughter Helen and have a visit from Simeon and Euan. But still virtually no sailing! Inevitably the winds get up most in the afternoon, so departing early was almost a guarantee of motoring. But alas the tides dictate, as it is pointless bashing into a strong tide and just using up fossil fuels.
Whitby was a lot of fun.
A very popular seaside town, it was heaving with visitors. It also seems to have at least a dozen fish and chip shops. Best of all, the supermarket is right next to the marina! We had met up with Ian on his Strider catamaran, having seen him at Lindisfarne and then Blyth and Hartlepool, and agreed to cruise together for a while, especially as this coast is so challenging.
We had an excellent meal in the Marine restaurant, where there was a really talented piano player doing blues and jazz. After a stroll along the sea wall we repaired to the Yacht Club for some drinks, and they were delighted to receive a Starcross Yacht Club burgee to display on their wall. It is just above the Royal Yacht Squadron burgee, so pride of place! I now have a Whitby one to take back home.
Bought some Whitby kippers from a little smokehouse near the Abbey. Definitely some of the best kippers I have ever tasted, a real treat.