Posted by: Ray | August 11, 2008

Royal Quays, River Tyne to Amble

Liz, Chris and Sarah drove to join me at Royal Quays on Saturday early afternoon to sail for a long weekend. The forecast was for  W/SW winds F5-7, sea slight becoming Moderate or Rough, with rain or showers.  During the morning the wind had been gusty, but by the afternoon things were more settled and I contacted Blyth HM to check out the conditions there.  He told me it was a lovely day for sailing and conditions were good there.

Passing Fish Market, Northshields

Passing Fish Market, North Shields

 

 

Chris and Sarah had not sailed with me on Christine Marie, so we completed a short safety brief and details of our passage to Blyth, had lunch and then called the Royal Quays Lock to exit the Marina.

Leaving River Tyne with ferry.

Leaving River Tyne with ferry.

 

The marina exits almost directly into the River Tyne Channel and a large container ship with pilot launch, followed by a large car ferry were approaching.  We kept close to the North bank and outside of the main channel until the ships had passed, once clear of the harbour we set course for Blyth, just 10M up the coast.

Castle rouines at entrance to river Tyne

Castle rouines at entrance to river Tyne

 

There are no dangers on this passage and Chris and Sarah took turns on the helm to get familiar with Christine Marie. Winds were from the SW and very light, but we were able to sail for a while before they died completely and we had to continue the passage on engine.

Wind turbines at Blythe Harbour entrance.

Wind turbines at Blythe Harbour entrance.

 

We soon approached Blyth Harbour with its wind turbines on the N pier clearly visible from some distance. The harbour is safe to enter at all times except in very strong winds from the E or SE and the leading lines to enter are clearly marked by two very large yellow markers.

 

Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, Blythe

Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, Blythe

 

Just over two hours after leaving Royal Quays we  were given permission to enter the harbour by the HM on VHF and were soon safely tied up on the visitors pontoon at the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club (RNYC).

At first sight Blyth does not have much to offer the visiting yachtsman except a safe haven; but it is home to the RNYC who publish the excellent pilot book I have been using on my passage from the Humber and who welcome visitors in their clubhouse on board Yacht ‘Tyne’. We visited the friendly bar in the evening and it has excellent facilities ….. its good to see when people take a pride in their club and facilities as RNYC do.

Beach at Blyth

Beach at Blyth

 

 

Next morning, Liz and I took an early morning walk and discovered the beach; a nice walk along a sandy beach to the town’s seafront, where new  construction to upgrade the facilities and appearance were apparent.

  

 

 

 

Next day the passage on to Amble was a very different story.  The forecast was similar to the previous day and a good sailing breeze from the SW soon had Christine Marie making 7Kn  against a slight foul tide. I had planned this passage in detail as there are several dangers on route and timing was critical. Just N of Blyth are dangerous rocks and two wind turbines that have to be cleared, then on approaching Coquet Island the decision on passage inside the Island or to go around it had to be made. I had planned to go inside the Island passing through the very narrow channel (200m wide) made by Podler Ware Spit with charted depths of just 0.3m on the mainland side and rocks off the Island on the other. It is recommended that this channel is only used HW+/-2 hours and if seas are not too rough. Entry to Amble, a few miles further on was HW +/- 3 hours with my draft.  I had planned an alternative passage around the island if we arrived late or if conditions were not suitable, but even then, the rocks to the N of Coquet Island and the Pan Bush shallows close to the approach to Amble needed to be avoided.

Christine Marie on passage Blythe to Amble

Christine Marie on passage Blythe to Amble

 

 

As it was we were hurtling along having a great sail, passing two other yachts that later joined us in Amble.  Steve and Sally, on their yacht Jorvik, told me they had taken a photo of us as we passed and would email a copy to me. It’s a great photo of Christine Marie on passage during this cruise.

 

 

Passing Coquet Island

Passing Coquet Island

 

We soon approached Coquet Island and timing and conditions looked ok to pass inside the Island.  Liz, Chris, and Sarah had been doing a great job on the helm keeping us on our planned passage ‘rumb line’ in practice for us to pass through the narrow shallow channel inside the island.  As we approached I reduced headsail to reduce speed a little as our course would take us onto the wind, we watched as the depth dropped down to 4m and back up in a vary short space of time as we sailed briskly through the shallows without problem.

Approaching Amble Harbour

Approaching Amble Harbour

 

I called Amble Marina to check on the depth over their bar and it was 8 ft, plenty of clearance for us.  Entry to the harbour was staight forward, keeping to the port side where the water is deepest until the Marina entrance, where a depth gauge shows the water over the bar.

 

Amble seen on approach to harbour.

Amble seen on approach to harbour.

 

Despite the restrictions on access, Amble is a lovely Marina and well worth a visit. Not only does it have Coquet Island just off its entrance, but N up the  coast are the National Trust cruising areas of the Farne and Holy Islands that I am looking forward to visiting on my next passage up the coast to cross into Scotland.   

 

 

Walking towards Warkworth Castle, Amble

Walking towards Warkworth Castle, Amble

 

Having arrived at our destination we had time to relax and enjoy the area, a nicelunch at the nearby Marina Arms was followed by shopping trip to replace ships stores and a later walk up the river, with its variety of wildlife, to Warksworth Castle. 

 

 

During my cruise the Raymarine ST2000 Plus auotohelm I use on Christine Marie  had been very useful at times when sailing shorthanded and has held course well in all wind and sea conditions.  However, during passage to Blyth it failed to hold course in moderate conditions when under sail or engine. On Monday morning I checked and cleaned all connections and we decided to carry out a short sea trial in Alnmouth Bay just N of Amble.   Having reached the bay we set up the autohelm and carried out calibration and sea trials in line with those recommended in the user handbook. The autohelm performed ok under both engine and sail, although there was a large error in the deviation readings shown on the autohelm. Having completed the trial, we decided to have some fun and tacked up and down across the bay in some lively winds … it was real fun and gave the crew some good afternoon exercise on the winches!!  🙂 

Amble Marina

Amble Marina

 

Back in harbour the autohelm was packed up and a speedy trip to the post office caught special delivery to return the unit for service.  As I write this, Raymarine have just telephoned to say there was a fault in the processor and that it has been repaired and will be sent express to me FOC.  A fantastic response that means my departure next week will not be delayed.  

 

 

 

Crew enjoying a drink on board Christine Marie, Amble

Crew enjoying a drink on board Christine Marie, Amble

 

Monday evening we relaxed in the sun on board with a Pimm’s before going out for a meal at the Marina Arms.  When in harbour or at anchor I have often seen crew (especially the Dutch) enjoying their breakfast outside at a cockpit table. Christine Marie has no such luxury and it is a ‘lap job’   Whilst enjoying our drink we started discussing how a table could be mounted on Christine Marie.   

 

-)

Prototype cockpit table being tested with cheese and wine! 🙂

 

This turned into a team brainstorm of ideas and before long we started using available parts of the yacht and rope to see if we could construct a table hanging from the yacht boom.   We had great fun constructing it and then decided to test it by having some pre-dinner wine and cheese!!  It worked a treat and uses an existing couch panel with rope to secure it. The ‘production’ model will be made in spare time whilst waiting for crew.     Just need some summer to enjoy using it!!     🙂

 

                                                    

 

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Miles completed:   619          Total Hours:  145         Engine hours:   43         Avespeed: 4.3Kn          M ax speed: 12.4Kn (helped bytide, wind and waves!!)
Ports visited:    20                     Nights at anchor/mooring bouy 4
               Rethink               Marie Curie                        RNLI

http://www.justgiving.com/roundukcruise-rethink        http://www.justgiving.com/roundukcruisemariecurie         
 
 
Please support me and visit my charity donation sites by clicking on the link of your choice above. If you are unhappy about using your credit card on-line, donations can be made at any Halifax or Bank of Scotland Branch by the usual methods.
Donations made this way will be split equally between the three charities.  Please make cheques or payments to:  
 
R Oliver (Round UK Cruise)      sort code 11-05-47,  A/c No 00725187
 

A link with furtherinformation is on the left of this page.  Thank you  Ray 

 

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