Posted by: Ray | September 7, 2008

Amble to Arbroath, crossing the border into Scotland.

I was looking forward to this passage from Amble, visiting the Farne and Holy Islands before crossing over the border into Scotland. My eldest son, Keith, his partner Rachel, along with my two granddaughters Emma and Rosie would join me for a weeks sailing. I always enjoy spending time with them, but they had not sailed before and I was conscious that I would need to take this into account in my planning.

Amble Marina at Sunset
Amble Marina at Sunset

 

Driving from their home in Yorkshire they joined me at Amble Marina around midday on the Tuesday.  I prepared lunch after their drive and we then settled down to a briefing on the yacht and safety on board. 

As well as the usual tour of the yacht facilities, gas, fire, life jackets, etc., I always cover use of the VHF for sending DSC emergency calls and how to start and stop Christine Marie’s engine. Essential in the event of an emergency. As we would need to anchor in the Farne Islands I also spent some time showing Keith how to deploy the anchor.

The family were keen to set sail.  Light winds with slight seas were forecast and we would have enough depth of water to get out over the marina bar by mid-afternoon. Using the marked up charts I outlined our passage plan to our anchorage in the Kettle, Farne Islands and we prepared to make way. A brief practice on knots, fenders and mooring lines and we slipped our mooring and practiced coming alongside the marina fuel pontoon to top up with diesel. 

We left the marina 3 hours before HW at 1530 when we had enough depth to clear the bar at the marina entrance. Once clear of the harbour entrance we set course northwards staying west and clear of the Pan Bush shoal 0.5M off the harbour entrance.  Our passage of 20M to the Farne Islands would take us around 4 hours and I took the opportunity to give Keith, Rachel, Emma and Rosie a turn at the helm whilst we were underway using the engine. The seas were slight and there was little wind, but we raised the main and practiced unfurling/furling the headsail in the light wind.

Passing Dunstanburgh Castle
Passing Dunstanburgh Castle

 

With full sails deployed we were making very little headway.  I wanted to enter the Kettle in daylight, so we furled the headsail and continued under engine power. We enjoyed the passage along the scenic coastline, passing Craster, Dunstanburgh Castle, and the attractive anchorage between Newton Haven and Fills Rocks.

We left Newton Rock, N Sunderland and Shoreston red buoys to port that mark rocks off the coast and by 1900 were entering the Inner Sound in sight of the Inner Farne Island with its lighthouse.

Christine Marie at anchor in the Kettle, Farne Islands
Christine Marie at anchor in the Kettle, Farne Islands

Terns lined the tops of the cliffs as we rounded the south of the Inner Farne, keeping 50m offshore, towards the Kettle entrance to the north of the island.  We entered into the Kettle, sheltered by the Wideopens and surrounding reefs, checked for a sandy patch and dropped anchor.  All around us we could see the partly covered reefs and heard the loud sound of the seas breaking over the submerged parts of Knocks Reef.

The tide was flowing strongly, so Keith and I moved Christine Marie closer towards the reef to our east  out of the main flow, whilst Rachel and the girls prepared our evening meal. We settled down to enjoy the evening and our beautiful location.  

The tide was dropping and by the time we retired for the night the reef all around us was just visible in the moonlight. The continuous noise, like machinery running, continued from the flow of the sea over the outlying reefs. We had taken bearings of our position and I set an  anchor alarm on the GPS.  For me it was an unsettled night, as the crew slept I awoke every couple of hours to check on our position and that the anchor was holding.

With a rising tide Christine Marie had settled back on her anchor as the tide turned. At 5 am as dusk approached I went out on deck and saw the lights of a fishing boat fast approaching the Wideopen Gut at the southern entrance to the Kettle. It turned away heading out to fish around the outer Islands to the east.  An hour later, now dusk, I went out and stood quietly admiring the scenery around us.  Suddenly, close to the yacht a seal raised its head, it rolled over on its side, then lifted its head out of the water looking straight at me. We both stood looking at each other, I just beamed!  🙂

Fishing boat leaving the Kettle via the Wideopen Gut.
Fishing boat leaving the Kettle via the Wideopen Gut.

The seal swam off and a little later the fishing boat returned and this time entered the Kettle near HW.  It was interesting to watch.  The boat picked up a buoy close to the Gut entrance, raising the lobster pot to empty its contents.  It then made a circle across the Gut entrance along the Knocks Reef to the northern entrance … crossing this to pick up the last pot marked by another buoy.  There must have been 50 lobster pots collected from around the Kettle, all attached to one line.  The fishing boat, having emptied and baited the pots, then made the journey back at speed.  The pots flew off the stern as they circled the Kettle, secured a buoy to the end and left.  

Keith and Emma inflating the tender, Farne Islands.
Keith and Emma inflating the tender, Farne Islands.

The family started to appear and after breakfast we decided to visit the Inner Farne Island. Everyone helped to inflate the tender and Keith and I removed the new 4-stroke engine from its pushpit mounting to the inflatable at the stern of the yacht.

I have always rowed the tender in the past and had purchased the engine at the earlier London boat show. The engine started and Keith and I tested it out with a brief visit across to the steps onto the ireland.  I made several crossings, taking two at a time across to the jetty.  The new engine made light work of the trips.  🙂  

Inner Farne Island with Bamburgh Casle in background.
Inner Farne Island with Bamburgh Castle in far background.

 

From the yacht we had looked across to the Inner Farne Island and across to Bamburgh Castle in the distance on the mainland. The tudor tower, chapel and visitor centre could be seen from our anchorage. 

 

View from Inner Farne Island across to Bamburgh Castle

View from Inner Farne Island across to Bamburgh Castle

 

 

We spent a lovely morning on the Island, visiting the National Trust Information Centre, tudor tower,chapel and lighthouse with a walk round the island.

  

 

Inner Farne Island

Inner Farne Island

 

The island is full of bird life.  Wild flowers grow along the rocky shoreline with nice views across to Bamburgh Castle on the mainland and across the Kettle to the east.  From Churn End at the west of the island we could see our short passage to Holy Island, passing the green Swedman buoy that marks the Megstone Rocks.

It was a lovely morning despite the short downpour that had visitors running for cover into the National Trust buildings. 🙂   But the sun was soon shining again and we made our way back to the yacht to make the short 7M passage northwards up the coast to Holy Island.  There was little wind again, although strong northerlies were forecast later …. the kettle was not the place to be in these winds and Holy Island would be a more sheltered anchorage.
 
We made our exit from the Kettle, raised the full main and made course to leave the Swedman buoy to starboard.  I wanted to sail and tried, but before long the wind died completely and we were becalmed in flat seas.  The engine was started at low revs and we set the autohelm to hold us on course whilst we slowly made towards the Ridge End E cardinal buoy near the approach to Holy Island.
We enjoyed seeing a group of dolphins heading South past us and I took the opportunity to reset the autohelm in the calm waters …. this requires making several slow, large circles, whilst the autohelm determines the fluxgate compass deviation. 🙂

We soon had sight of the two large white beacons on Old Law and made our turn to port when the two came in transit. This course let us to pass with the green Triton buoy to our starboard where we made our turn onto the recommended track of 310T.  It was a little difficult to pick out the correct transit markers (Heugh Beacon and Church in line), but our course kept us with little cross-track error on the GPS so we were confident as we approached between rocky shallows that we had the correct markers in line.   

Christine Marie at anchor Holy Island

Christine Marie at anchor Holy Island

 

We anchored with others south of the Heugh, initially using our main anchor from the bow, later setting a second kedge anchor from the stern. The tide was very strong when we deployed the kedge and it just surfed below the water as the line was paid out!!  In future I will wait for slack tide to do this. 🙂  

The wind was now increasing and the sea choppy against the strong tide.   Keith and I made a visit across to the harbour jetty.  A Dutch sailor helped us moor alongside and told us his story.  He had gone aground on the rocks off the approach to the harbour and had called out the lifeboats to assist him.  He had made a navigation error on approach that led him onto the rocks. Later checks at low tide luckily showed no damage to his large sea going yacht. Keith and I walked to the village but the shops had closed, we returned with no supplies.

During the evening the winds increased to a constant F6 from the NW, heavy  rain came down and the seas built. This continued through the night and throughout the following day.  The five of us were confined to the yacht at anchor, so books came out and we relaxed on board until the weather cleared.  The anchors held well.        

 

Rosie, Rachel, Keith and Emma on Holy Island

Rosie, Rachel, Keith and Emma on Holy Island

On the Saturday (23 August) the wind had eased and the sun was shining. The sea was still choppy and I took the tender over to the harbour jetty ferrying one at a time ashore. Water was splashing over the bow and we did get a little wet!

 All ashore, we spent a lovely day in sunshine walking around the island. Lunch was enjoyed in a pub and I sampled ‘Stotty and chips’, a local northern dish.  Apparently this flat bread topped with ham, cheese, etc., served with chips, was a regular main family dish in the past! 🙂 

Holy Island Castle from the gardens.

Holy Island Castle from the gardens.

 

Lindisfarne steeped in history as the homes of Saints Aiden and Cuthbert,  is a great place to visit. Many visitors visit from the mainland at low water when the bridge linking the two may be crossed.  We visited the castle and its lovely gardens and passed the lime kilns near the shore nearby.  

 

Holy Island across countryside to castle.

Holy Island across countryside to castle.

 

 

There are unspoilt views across countryside as we walked the length of the island to Emanual Head Beacon.

 

    

 

Upturned hulls being used as sheds on Lindesfarne

Upturned hulls being used as sheds on Lindesfarne

 

 

An interestinf feature on the island are the upturned ship hulls being used as sheds.

        

   

  

 

 

Bennnnnn Abbey ruines, Lindesfarne

Benedictine Abbey ruines, Lindesfarne

 

Our tender was aground at low water and we had to wait for sufficient tide to float off and rejoin Christine Marie in deeper water.  We visited the ruins of Benedictine Abbey, a place of pilgrimage, then shopped for supplies and had a coffee together before returning to the tender. 

The journey back to the yacht was difficult. It was still very shallow near the harbour jetty and we had to weave between submerged rocks and boats with their sharp fisherman anchors, hidden just below the water line.  It was still choppy against the tide and we were splashed on the return passages bringing us back on board.  Time was running on as we prepared to depart for Eyemouth, 24M further up the coast, a 5 hour passage.

We had difficulty raising the two anchors, especially the kedge at the stern. It took us an hour before they were both stowed on board …. I learnt some good lessons during this exercise!  It was 1745 when we raised the mainsail and left the harbour.

Once past the Ridge End E cardinal we set sail, leaving the Plough Rocks and their W cardinal buoy to starboard. The wind was F3 from the south and we were enjoying our first real opportunity to sail since we left Amble. As the sun started to set, we turned on our tricolour light at the top of the mast and I made note of the navigation lights on our approach to Eyemouth.

After 2 hours of night passage we were approaching the lights of Eyemouth. I had originally planned to cut through the channel between Ness End and the Hurkars rocks, but in darkness thought it wiser to pass these to seaward and round the N cardinal to their north.

We dodged lobster pots with dark flags that loomed out of the dark as we made our way towards the cardinal light. Rounding the cardinal we picked up the leading lights clearing the rocks on approach to the harbour entrance. I called the harbour on VHF, with no reply.  I decided not to enter an unknown harbour in the dark with my crew who were not experienced at mooring. We dropped anchor just off the main channel and prepared for our 4th night in a row on board at anchor.  

Sunrise at anchor off Eyemouth

Sunrise at anchor off Eyemouth

 

It was not a comfortable night as a strong swell on our beam from seaward rocked us throughout the night. At first light I raised the crew and we entered the harbour to moor alongside the quay. Once safely moored we returned to our bunks for some much needed sleep. 🙂  

 

 

Eyemouth Harbour

Eyemouth Harbour

 

Later we moved Christine Marie to the pontoons further down the harbour and all had our first showers since we had left Amble! 🙂 

It was a breezy but sunny day and following a walk round the harbour we had lunch in a restaurant, visiting this again for a very enjoyable meal ashore together in the evening.

I was keen push on and reach Arbroath if possible before Keith and family left in two days time on the 26 August for Emma to return home for a college interview.   The forecast was for strong winds, easing the following day. With little rest the previous night, we  retied to bed early and would check the weather again in the morning.

I awoke early the following morning and completed planning for the 45M passage. The inshore forecast indicated following S winds F5/7, veering SW offshore F4/5 … sea slight or moderate. Leaving the crew to sleep in I checked with the harbour master who confirmed the forecast and that conditions should be suitable for our passage. I planned to leave at 1000 to reach Arbroath by evening high water through the lock.

As a precaution I telephoned the harbour master at Eyemouth who confirmed condition were good there.  A ‘ lovely day for a sail’ … but we would need to arrive by 1945 when the lock access to the marina would close for the night. This left me less time than I had anticipated, but we could still make it.  I called the Aberdeen CG and registered our passage with them on the CG66 scheme.

We stowed the tender engine back on its mounting bracket on the yacht, deciding to tow the inflatable behind us. At 1000 we left the pontoon and in a brisk wind left the harbour. The wind was lively on our stern as we set course towards Arbroath.  With a following wind I decided to sail using a small headsial only and we were soon making 5Kn.

I joked with the others as we settled into a lively sail, our first during the week … this is what they had been asking for!!   A short time later the coastguard warned of an imminant F8 gale in the Firth of Forth!!   We were now approaching St Abbs head and the wind started increasing rapidly. Christine Marie heeled in the gusts and we all clipped on our safety harnesses, I reduced headsail and stood by to control the sail whilst Keith took the helm maintaining our course.

The wind increased rapidly to a steady SW F7, gusting gale F8 and the seas built. The wind indicator was constantly 40-45 Kn and my Granddaughter Emma said she saw it reach 50Kn at one point.  These winds were stronger than I expected from the forecasts and my concern was that the seas might build ahead of us as we crossed the Firth of Forth past May Island.

We were then faced with another problem. The towed tender was now being thrown about by the swell and we saw it tip over a couple of times. I watched as a wave turned it over and the seat came off and dissappeared behind us. We shortened the painter attaching the tender to the yacht and this appeared to help.  It would have been better to move the tender to leeward of the yacht, but I would not risk the others moving around deck in these conditions. I looked aft shortly after and the tender had gone, leaving the broken painter still attached.  The safety of the yacht and her crew were more important, I was not turning back into the wind for it! 

Crew in good spirits despite 40-45 Kn winds, Firth of Forth

Crew in good spirits Firth of Forth, despite earlier 40-45 Kn winds

 

 

Keith did well on the helm and everyone worked well together through this difficult period …. especially in view of their limited sailing experience.

 

  

  

 

Passing Isle of May, Firth of Forth

Passing Isle of May, Firth of Forth

 

Conditions started to ease as we crossed the Firth of Forth passing to the south of May Island.  The wind was still a constant 25 -30Kn and the SW swell built as we passed Fife Ness  N cardinal marker, logged at 1620.

 

  

Lock at Arbroath Harbour, home of 'Smokies'

Lock at Arbroath Harbour, home of 'Smokies'

 

By 1900 we were approaching Arbroath harbour, furled the headsail and made our approach on engine into the harbour.  I called the harbour master on VHF who was waiting for us as we passed through the lock and into the marina. By 1930 we were securely moored on the visitors pontoon.

 

The harbour master told me the storm had hit them shortly after he had spoken to me on the telephone …they had though I was not coming!!  I would not have sailed if I had known the conditions we would meet.  But the crew had pulled together and been great in difficult conditions … we celebrated our safe arrival with local fish and chips on board in the evening. 

Arbroath Harbour, home of 'Smokies'

Arbroath Harbour, home of 'Smokies'

 

We hired a car the following afternoon to travel back to Keith’s car at Amble.  Back at Arbroath I enjoyed my time on the yacht and around town. Arbroath  is home to ‘Smokies’ and the haddock is still smoked close to the harbour.  I relaxed waiting until the weekend when crew would join me for a week’s passage to Inverness. 

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Miles completed:   700      Total Hours:  171       
Engine hours:   59        Avespeed: 4.1Kn      
M ax speed: 12.4Kn (helped by tide, wind and waves!!)
Ports visited:    24                     Nights at anchor/mooring bouy 8
           
      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 further information is on the left of this page.  Thank you  Ray

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