Saturday, 13 July 2013

The magnificent coast of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire have been a surprise.  We expected a constant reminder of the region's industrial past and present, and we got that, but what was unexpected was the raw beauty of the coastline and the small harbours.   Add to that the great sense of humour of those that we have met, and the fantastic weather, and there is no doubt that yet again the real value of this trip has been highlighted.

The crew for this part of our adventure have included two Yorkshiremen who have provided an abundance of invaluable local knowledge!  I am sure that without their encouragement and local knowledge we would not have ventured into some of the harbours visited nor would we have enjoyed the rich commentary that has filled the hours between stopovers!

Having left Eyemouth with Charles we headed for the Farne Islands, passing close to Lisdisfarne.  The glorious conditions encouraged us to spend a night at anchor in the 'kettle' at Inner Farne, a small anchorage within a circle of low lying rocks which would have afforded little shelter had the wind been any stronger than forecast.  This tranquil and isolated place was subjected to the constant barrage of noise from the roosting sea birds seen at its best in a glorious sunset.

Another lovely day as we head south to Craster, the small harbour originally built for the shipping of local whinstone and made famous for its Kippers.  The smokehouse is still operating but the herring are now imported from Norway.

The thought of kippers on board caused some concern so we opted for a picnic of kipper pate and locally baked bread - fantastic.  Our destination for the night was Amble, a large but unspoilt harbour with a small, friendly marina. The entrance to the harbour is guarded by Croquet Island. an RSPB seabird sanctuary.  We have been a little disappointed not to have seen more sea mammals but the constant company of Puffins, Guillemots and Gannets has been impressive.   

Next day (Sunday) we head for Newcastle to meet up with the rest of the OGA fleet who have been partying all weekend - hopefully we haven't missed all the fun.  We get there too late to go through the Millennium Bridge so moor up just downstream.  Here we say farewell and thank you to Charles who has left his legacy on board - a new knot called a Yeoline!

Being Sunday the Newcastle nightlife was thankfully fairly subdued but the night lights were something else - providing a perfect backdrop to the Gaffers' party.

As this spectacular bridge opened its jaws for the gaffers the next morning, we were joined by our new crew, Paul who came armed with a delicious casserole and homemade marmalade (future crew please take note!).

The two hour trip down the River Tyne was no less interesting than the previous afternoon with its abundance of wharfs, docks, works and housing, all providing stark evidence of the life blood that has flowed up and down this river for Centuries.   We are off to Seaham, Co Durham, where we find three of the Dutch gaffers in the brand new marina there.

Lord Londonderry built this harbour in 1828 to ship coal from his mines - he was displeased at the dues being charged in the Port of Sunderland so built his own facility! The chutes for loading coal from the rail wagons into the waiting ships are still evident.  This ambitious feat of engineering had no natural inlet or bay to develop but instead took shape with a series of breakwaters and harbours to give protection from the North Sea and provide shelter for the loading of vessels.

The next morning, glorious again, we set off with Raven...

The conditions and speed were ideal for the mackerel lines and keen to try out the new hooks purchased in Eyemouth, we went to work. It wasn't long before we had caught 10 fish with 8 on one line!  Guess what we are having for supper (thank goodness we managed to get some parsley!). 
Our next harbour, Staithes, is a favourite for artists (if not for yachtsmen who can't take the bottom at low tide!) and a walk ashore revealed the true beauty of this Yorkshire harbour with its fishermen's cottages, traditional cobles and Roxby Beck running to the sea.
Up early to get away whilst we are floating!  An unusually dull, cold day as we make our way under power to Whitby - not easy to miss with its narrow but prominent harbour entrance.
 The place where Captain Cook started his life, Goths gather in the ruined Abbey and Fish and Chips are par excellence - Whitby is full of maritime history, buzzing with adventure and intrigue.  We spent a couple of days here (not enough) before heading south again early on Friday morning.
One night at anchor off Filey, tucked in behind the unusual Filey Brigg, a natural breakwater of rock extending eastwards from the resort of Butlins fame!  We left before the sun rose and passed the chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head.
We aimed to get to Grimsby for the next Gaffer gathering this weekend but have got as far as Bridlington where we are dried out against the harbour wall awaiting new crew who arrive tomorrow.  Thank you Paul for sailing with Capraia along your home shore and for such an insight into this part of the Yorkshire Coast.




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