Monday, 30 April 2012

Escape to Scarborough

The forecast didn't look bad at all, and it is only about 2.5 hours to Scarborough - we made the decision to go. We cleared the harbour walls at 10-15am and made for Whitby Bell Rock N Cardinal. Once at the rock, we decided to give the shore a bit more offing - especially as we couldn't see the shoreline for sea fret. The passage to Scarborough goes roughly SE for the first 6NM then turns further S to about 160 degrees for another 10NM or so. A pair of porpoises were spotted during the first section - a good omen? We got to within half a mile of Castle Rock before we saw it, but there was blue sky building behind us, A quick call to harbour control on the VHF confirmed that a visitor berth was available, and we were soon tied up securely, and finishing our lunch in glorious sunshine! I had a quick walk over to harbour control to pay our dues, and later we picked up a fish & chip supper to eat on the boat. After covering barely 40NM in a week, we are now looking to more than double that tommorrow with a passage to the anchorage behind Spurn Head ( 51NM ), and if the weather holds, follow this with a passage across the Wash to Wells-Next-The-Sea, or if this looks a bit dicey, carry on along the Norfolk coast to Lowestoft. Of course the weather may not play ball at all, and we might end up with harbour rot in Grimsby instead !!!

Harbour Rot !

So much for our attempts to escape Whitby ! A string of contrary winds, rain, unpleasant seas ( or a combination of all three ) have conspired to keep us in Whitby. In the end, we had a whole week in Whitby, which with the exception of Sunday 29th ( heavy rain all day ) was generally quite a pleasant experience - we even managed to have a meal in the Magpie Cafe. The 27/28/29th was the Whitby Spring Goth Weekend, so this added an extra bit of entertainment. All the Goths seemed to be having a good time, and everything seemed good natured. Some of those involved really had put a lot of effort into their 'costumes', one was a picture perfect copy of the mad hatter off the recent film version of Alice in Wonderland. Come Sunday evening, after a thoroughly miserable day we still weren't sure if we would be OK to move on Monday - but you never know !!!!!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Whitby; April 23rd - 26th

Whitby is about 23 nautical miles from Hartlepool, but we managed another 5 miles of tide, the log showing 28NM when we moored on the new waiting pontoon in Whitby harbour. There had been bright sunshine for about half the passage, but when the sun abandoned us it felt very cold, and we were both very glad to see the entrance piers of Whitby approaching.

We expected to have to tie up to the fish quay to wait for the bridge opening ( HW +- 2 Hrs ), then spotted a chap on a yacht in the Whitby yacht club moorings, and asked to raft up against him, he told us that a new waiting pontoon had been installed by the council, next to the lifeboat station. This proved to be a good move, as the marina supervisor had this pontoon on his rounds, so we were able to discuss timing, and berthing with him before commiting to the bridge opening.

We berthed starboard to, facing up river, this gave us a great view of the swing bridge out of the companionway hatch.

There are two rowing clubs in Whitby, and these seemed to be very active during our stay, with a wide range of ages participating.

On Tuesday we had a good walk around the town, and up to West Cliff where the famous Whale Jawbone memorial is located - this gave us a wonderful view back over the town, with the marina in the background.

In the evening we walked the 199 steps to the ruined abbey on Whitby High, with superb views up the coast and over the harbour entance.

Wednesday was a day of contrasts. There wasn't much sign of the sun all day, but set off to walk to Sandsend at about 10-30 in a cold wind from the SE. After a wonderful lunch in a small but civilised cafe at Sandsend, we started walking back towards Whitby in a rising wind ( there was a F6 in the inshore waters forecast ). Just before reaching Whitby the first drops of rain were felt, and we were lucky to get back to 'NJ' before the heavens opened - It rained hard the rest of the day, and into the night! Writing this on Wednesday evening, the forecast for Thursday isn't very good ( wet with a F7 !!! ), so we will hold tight here, and hopefully set off on Friday with the promise of reasonable winds coming from points around North. If it is very uncomfortable we will go into Scarborough ( 15NM ) or if conditions allow, we might make a run for Grimsby, a passage of around 75NM.

Departure : Farewell to Hartlepool

The weather forecast wasn't the best we could have hoped for; cold with a contrary wind, but we felt it was time to start moving. All along, the intention was to do a few short hops initially, so a passage plan for Whitby was worked through. I settled the final bills at the marina and then called for a 'lock out' just before 9-00 am on Monday 23rd April.

Approaching the inner lock gate.

'NJ' in the lock.

Lock Office from the lock.

Lock gates opening.

Farewell to Hartlepool, and.......................

.................... Hello North Sea.

The blast furnace at Redcar has just been re-started by it's new Thai owners, providing about 800 much needed jobs for Teeside, with the promise of more to come - a bit of good news in this gloomy financial climate.

We are finally underway, and at least the sun is shining - 

Now the adventure begins !

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Lift Out Day

'NJ' was lifted out last Friday ( 13th ! ), the drawings supplied by Northshore for slinging positions were spot on, with the strops well clear of the log paddle wheel, and leaving the keel free to be retracted once the underwater sections had been powerwashed. We did lose one small area of the Copper Coat antifouling off the keel during the wash off, but not enough to get worried about - might touch this up in August if we have her hauled out then. We were very impressed with how little growth there was on the hull; just slime, and a minor beard of sea grass at water level, with a marked difference in growth between the sunny & shadow sides. The main hull anode unbolted with no problems at all, but many thanks to Paul & Ruth off 'Mettlesome' for the loan of a long socket set extension bar to allow the bowthruster anode nut to be removed. I was particularly pleased to find that the bowthruster anode was in reasonable condition, as this was my main worry ( having not had a bowthruster before )for lift out day. On our last trip up to Tynemouth the log was not working, this turned out to be down to one small barnacle jamming the paddle wheel. I spent 10 minutes cleaning the area around the wheel with a stiff wire to 'discourage' squatters! After only about an hour we were ready to go back into the water. All the boat jobs are now complete, so next weekend we will take up residence, and plan the first couple of legs of the 'voyage'
Above : 'NJ' being lifted out, with the keel fully extended ( 2.18m draught ) Right : After powerwashing, and the keel full retracted ( 0.72m draught ) Thanks to Ruth White for the photographs;

Friday, 6 April 2012

D Day approaching

I spent an uncomfortable night on NJ last week - a howling gale on Tuesday night, so didn't get much sleep. I have fitted a second stern navigation light, as the standard one is obscured by the dinghy when it is hanging on the davits. It was very useful to have the wind generator pole as a convenient location, with the cable fed through a glad on the deck adjacent to the power feed through for the turbine. I had the two new service batteries delivered to the marina which worked out well, they are now in place and were charging up nicely when I left the boat. The new Fusion Marine TV works very well, and has a built in DVD player and can also work as a PVR if a USB flash drive is plugged in. The really great news is that there is only one job left on the TO DO list, this is the lift and power wash, and is booked for next Friday ( 13th ). While the boat is out of the water I will change the main hull, and bowthruster anodes, and give the Kiwi feathering propeller a good clean and grease. All the new charts have now arrived, and an assortment of pilots and tidal atlases ordered. We just need to make out an exhaustive list of items we want to take to the boat now - and find somewhere to stash everything! We have provisionally penciled in the 22nd April for departure, but this obviously depends on the weather.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Shakedown cruise to Tynemouth

As the weather was fine towards the end of last week, we decided to grab a few days away. We locked out of Hartlepool on Thursday morning, and sailed East for an hour or so out to sea, then turned north towards Tynemouth. The wind dropped and the engine was started, a few hours later we passed through the impressive entrance of the River Tyne. The South side of the entrance opens into Herd Sands, which provides quite a good anchorage. We dropped the hook in 4.5m at low water, and the new 20Kg Delta did the business first time. After waiting for an hour or so to ensure that we were secure, the dinghy was lowered into the water, the outboard attached, and we motored over to the beach for a walk and general look around. We have anchored of Herd Sands several times in the past but never went ashore, quite interesting to see a different view of the anchorage, and the boat from the shore. Overnight, a bit of a swell started to make it's way into the anchorage, which got a bit 'rock & roll', the wind also got up a bit. By the time we were ready to leave in the mornng, the wind had reduced, but so had the temperature ! We ended up motoring into a light SE wind ( the forecast was for a NW 3/4 ! ) which was perishingly cold. As soon as we entered the lock back at Hartlepool the temperature seemed to go up 10 degrees, which made the berthing process much more pleasant. Back in the berth, we secured 'NJ' and then tucked in to a well deserved cottage pie. No major problems were found over the two days, however the service batteries were found to be a bit weak, so we have decided to change these out.