Ey up lad, giz a brew

Sarah and I enjoyed Newcastle for a couple of days and then we made a plan to move on. Because the marina where Fiesta was moored is only accessible 3 hours either side of high water we decided to head out and hop down river to Royal Quays Marina which is almost in North Shields and therefore right at the entrance of the River Tyne which would allow a timely exit to take the tide down the coast to the next stop, Whitby. However, the escape had to be timed well so as not to fight the strong tide of the Tyne but we were also under a bit of pressure because a severe gale 9 was on the way.

As has happened quite a lot recently, the preparations to get Fiesta ready to leave were met by a few people saying ‘You have seen the forecast haven’t you? We might only have been going down river but with a lock and a marina to enter a severe gale 9 would still make this difficult and unnecessarily risky but it looked like we could sneak into Royal Quays in time. We cruised out in a pretty strong breeze and got into Royal Quays Marina an hour and a half later just as the wind was starting to pick up. I doubled all the lines and put every fender that I own out on the side of the boat and also ensured that we moored alongside a pontoon that the wind would blow us away from rather than on to.

We had dinner in the lovely restaurant on site and by the time we walked out the gale was in full effect with chairs from the patio being blown around and the blustery wind making everything rattle. Sarah and I played a game that I both enjoy and also hope that others would play in the same situation. It’s called ‘Fender Angel’ whereby any boats that are getting a pounding against a pontoon get some additional fenders placed in strategic places or additional lines to prevent any damage being caused. There were a few to attend to and I felt good about doing my bit in the name of good karma. Our night on Fiesta was safe and secure but very noisy as the wind howled and the rigging on all the boats around clanged and rattled on masts. The wind finally died down the next day and we made the decision to leave at 5.30 the following morning. The marina staff were excellent and happily assisted us by opening the lock gates at the crack of a sparrows fart and also allowed us to stop outside on their fuel berth for a diesel top up. This was needed because the wind was forecast to be in the usual wrong direction from about lunchtime onwards so we would need plenty of diesel to get us down to Whitby in a wind against situation. In keeping with the very old and tired joke, we sailed out in a nice little breeze but as the sun came up the sails started flapping and the wind changed early to a headwind and the motor was then on and stayed on all the way to Whitby.

A few years ago I had some trouble with a very awkward Yorkshireman who totally screwed me over on a replacement engine that he had promised to provide. He did provide it but thereafter a battle commenced because it was the wrong one and it turned into a serious battle of wills to get the situation under control and it didn’t really end well for either of us. Anyway, during this fight someone told me ‘Yeah, you can always tell a Yorkshireman but you can’t tell him much’!
For the individual in question that proved to be 100 percent accurate and whilst my optimism gene tells me that this cannot be true in the general sense I did observe when talking to the harbour master at Whitby and indeed where I am now in Bridlington that it proves wise to play a game of questions and suggestions rather than offering direct ideas regarding where I’d like to moor and how I intend to do it. By playing the ignorant fool (a very easy and slightly too convincing part for me to play) the Yorkshireman is in his element and becomes your most helpful partner and ally as opposed to a tough and obstinate adversary! I don’t know, maybe I’m way off here and maybe it’s complete coincidence but by being useless and in need of help I have indeed been helped marvellously and actually ended up getting what I wanted as opposed to the resistance I met at first blush when being polite albeit more direct about what I wanted! In the interest of diplomacy and in order to appease any irate Yorkshiremen who might possibly stumble across this blog I will add that in my experience an alarming amount of yacht owners are arrogant tossers who like to bark their instructions and demands rather than ask politely and whilst I am not a Yorkshireman, if I were a harbourmaster I don’t think this approach would encourage me to help in any way either. A great example of this which doesn’t actually involve anyone from Yorkshire but is valid to my observation about arrogant boat owning tossers is what happened to me when I went into a fairly busy harbour in Scotland.
A guy in a powerboat went passed me far too close for my liking as I was approaching the harbour entrance. When you get to a certain navigation mark near the entrance you need to call Harbour Control on the radio and ask for permission to enter. I heard his conversation over the radio and it went like this:
‘Harbour Control, this is motor vessel Bellend (the name has been changed to protect the tosser) and I am entering the harbour and will proceed to the marina’.
‘Motor vessel Bellend, this is Harbour Control, you are not clear to proceed and you are instructed to hold your position outside the harbour and standby for further instructions’.
Bellend didn’t answer.
The next radio transmission was mine and went like this:
‘Harbour Control, this is yacht Fiesta, Fiesta, over’.
‘Good afternoon Fiesta, this is Harbour Control, over’
‘Yes, good afternoon Sir, I am approaching the entrance and request permission to enter bound for the marina although I note your holding instructions to motor vessel Bellend so I will maintain my position clear of the channel and await your instructions to proceed, over’.
‘Thank you Fiesta, you are clear to enter as soon as the passenger ferry is clear, over’.
‘Harbour Control, this is Fiesta. Understood, I will proceed once the ferry has cleared the harbour. Thank you, Fiesta out’.
The next transmission was:
‘Motor vessel Bellend, this is Harbour Control, over’
‘Harbour Control, this is motor vessel Bellend’
‘Yes Bellend, you may proceed after the ferry is clear but you are requested to follow yacht Fiesta and the berthing master at the marina will assist you after Fiesta has been berthed, Harbour Control out’….
I felt very smug and this is a great example of the fact that many people think that in order to get what you want in life you need to be a pushy prick and although many boat owners feel like they have a god given right to be like this, it won’t work with everyone.
Now, returning to the original thrust of my observation, throwing yourself at their mercy and expertise and requesting assistance or permission rather than demanding it makes for a much more congenial encounter and as far as I am concerned this is never more true than when dealing with a harbourmaster who also happens to be a Yorkshireman!
Whitby is cracking. I always try to see the positive in any place or any situation but at this point I have to admit that although a great experience for me in general terms, many of the harbours coming down the East Coast haven’t been nearly as picturesque or enjoyable as those that I experienced on any of the previous parts of this journey and arriving at Whitby made me realise this. I should point out that this isn’t meant to sound like a complaint, more an observation that many of the harbours on this coast are more focussed on commercial fishing rather than beautiful destinations for us ‘wind assisted f*cking idiots’ and whilst they serve as excellent stop off’s they are not the places of dream sailing destinations.
You enter Whitby between really imposing concrete piers and get swept through with the tide and the swell running into the harbour. It’s quite a tense few minutes but we were immediately rewarded as the harsh walls gave way to a lovely lively harbour with bars, restaurants and a hive of activity along each side with fantastic views of Whitby Abbey up on the cliff. You then arrive at the swing bridge waiting pontoon, call the bridge and ask (very politely) for permission to come through on the next bridge opening. Once through the lovely old victorian swing bridge there is a cracking little marina with perfect shelter and a lovely cosy feel. Yep, this is really lovely I thought and Sarah felt the same. After another boring motoring session the lively town was very welcome. What was immediately clear is that you are not allowed to live in Whitby or visit unless you have, or at the very least, love dogs! Sarah was obviously in her favourite environment with this situation and loved the fact that there is hardly anywhere that doesn’t welcome dogs so Max got to sample many cafe’s and pubs and I’m fairly convinced that he thought he’d departed this world and floated off to dog heaven with the utterly unlimited supply of dog arses to sniff and noses to sniff his. What with the innumerable doggie tea towel holders to jam his nose in and Sarah to provide constant love, fuss and worship I can say with complete confidence that Whitby would feature as top of the pops in ‘Max’s guide to the best UK coastal destinations for dogs’ if ever he was to stay awake for long enough to write such a guide.
After two nights we left Whitby on Friday in time for the first bridge opening at 6.30 am and got on with the 36 mile trip to Bridlington. It was uneventful other than the truly awful overfalls around Flamborough Head that left us both feeling queasy and the fact that we had to anchor outside Bridlington Harbour to wait for the tide to rise enough for us to get in between the walls. This was slightly tense as storm Brian was breathing down our necks and the gale warning was given earlier in the day as being imminent. Imminent means within six hours and that time was now up and because of the formation of some very ominous looking clouds and a stiffening wind I risked the wrath of a Yorkshireman by poking Fiesta’s noses through the gap slightly earlier than the harbourmaster had suggested. The pilot books warn that entry to Bridlington is dangerous in strong onshore winds and the gale that was part of storm Brian would indeed make it an absolute maelstrom as we were to witness although thankfully only once safely tied up inside. By way of an apology for our forced and early entry I dropped to my knees in front of the harbourmaster (no no, not for that) and explained that fear of impending doom brought on by Brian had made me do it. This fear, panic and helplessness was accepted and we were warmly welcomed into Bridlington. Phew!
Bridlington has a charm all of it’s own. Not the same charm as Whitby though. No, this is the charm that comes through amusement arcades, a slightly run down town centre and pubs that you wouldn’t dream of going in! Despite what I have just said, the place has a good feel and there are a couple of cracking pubs and restaurants and the harbour provided a safe haven from what turned into a brutal lashing by Brian.
When the wind blows into the entrance a sea surge comes through and runs to the end of the harbour where it bounces off and comes back through the moorings again. The harbour dries out completely and at half tide or lower Fiesta is sitting on soft mud which is great. However, when Brian was raging and during the 3 hours either side of high tide when the harbour is full of water the movement of the boats is fractious to say the least. Care needs to be taken walking along the pontoons and all the boats thrash around on their lines and Fiesta was no exception. It was practically impossible to sleep and on the first night here I was up, dressed and outside four times adjusting lines and ensuring that we were’t being banged up against anything. The harbour master was on duty to keep an eye on any boats breaking free from their moorings and it was surreal to witness the spray coming over the wall and covering all the boats as the wild and frightening sea pounded the wall with deep loud thuds only 60 feet away.  It was difficult to sleep knowing that if that wall gave way, everything in the harbour would be destroyed in seconds. I know that once again I sound a bit extreme here and I also know that the wall has been standing for many years but to be onboard Fiesta listening to the storm raging outside and being under that wall was quite perturbing.  A few blogs ago I commented that the word ‘amazing’ is a word that I think is used too much and another word that falls into the same category for me is ‘awesome’. However, on this occasion the word to describe the situation and the power of that storm is indeed ‘awesome’!
It was a great relief when the tide subsided, took the waves with it and Fiesta settled onto the mud and everything calmed down. Sleep quickly followed!
I find it quite unbelievable how many gales I have had to endure and dance around and I thank Neptune that on each occasion Fiesta has been spared the full force but this side of the country has certainly felt like one long samba with satan.
Sarah left me yesterday. No, not in that sense. Well I don’t think so although come to think of it, she didn’t actually say goodbye. I just woke up and she was gone. I’m sure it’s all fine and that my two months of solitary haven’t made me unbearable…..
I’m only joking. As usual I walked Sarah to the staton to make absolutely damn sure that she left and now after a flurry of visitors it’s just Max and me again.  Now the weather watch is back on as I look for an opportunity to continue south to the River Humber and Grimsby in particular.
The previous sentence was meant to be the last sentence of this blog entry but I have just had a conversation with my Mum and I’ve learnt something very disturbing. I mentioned to mum that part of this blog would deal with my observations about the Yorkshireman. After I explained what I meant mum said ‘You do know that your great grandad was a Yorkshireman don’t you?
Wwwwwhat????? Eeh by gum! Did I ‘eckers like! You are not right and I will not accept that. I’m right and you are wrong!
Oh no. That’s a threp in’t steans that is!
Just after leaving the Tyne and just before the wind swung on the nose. Oh, I love a headwindP1060526Approaching Whitby and going in through the harbour walls P1060555P1060570P1060571Lovely Whitby Harbour and it’s swing bridgeP1060577Whitby AbbeyP1060646P1060631Beautiful morning and the calm before the stormP1060659fullsizeoutput_2feP1060672IMG_5751That B*stard Brianfullsizeoutput_2ffP1060673P1060685P1060687P1060694P1060728P1060737And just in case you have forgotten what match point at air hockey looked like Sarah, here it is again!IMG_5761Finally, there is a very short video of Brian under ‘Other bits’
Fiesta out

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