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You are here: Skip Navigation LinksHome > Articles > From the magazines > 2003 > Cruise on the North East Coast

Cruise on the North East Coast

By Mike Findeisen, SuperSeal 26 'Limmershin'

Limmershin
Limmershin

On the afternoon of Saturday, 13 July, my wife Jane, son Nick (aged 40) and myself arrived on board our Super Seal 26, Limmershin, at her pontoon berth at Blyth, Northumberland. We had not intended to start until the following day, but as we were earlier than planned we decided to make a start that afternoon and head for Amble, some 14 miles north.

We slipped our berth at 1430 and headed out of Blyth harbour. It was a pleasant sunny day, with a light south easterly force 3, enabling us to make around 4.5 knots under full sail, but without spinnaker. However after two hours the sea breeze dropped and we were obliged to resort to motor sailing; arriving off Coquet Island at 1700. It was now about 1 1/2 hours before high water, so there was plenty of depth to enter through the channel between Coquet Island and the mainland and over the bar into Amble harbour, arriving at the Marina at 1730. Although not manned at this time the Marina has a good system of placing berthing information in a box on the fuelling jetty, so we were easily able to locate a vacant berth and secure for the night. Amble is noted for its fresh fish so we repaired to the town and obtained some very generous portions of fish and chips for supper on board.

Amble Harbour
Amble Harbour

Sunday dawned fine and sunny, but with almost no wind, so having left Amble at 1000 we had to resort to motoring once again for the 14 mile passage to our next port, Seahouses. We headed north past the pretty little port of Alnmouth, then past Boulmer, keeping well clear of its offshore rocks, and rounded Castle Point, dominated by the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. From here we could lay a course for the inner channel between the Fame Islands and the mainland, passing the pleasant anchorages of Low Newton and Beadnell arriving in the inner channel at 1400. It was half an hour after low tide so with keel raised we were able to enter Seahouses harbour and secure to the outer harbour wall in a depth of less than 1 metre! Seahouses is a delightful little place, the old harbour being reminiscent of a West Country fishing village though the newer upper part is somewhat spoilt by numerous amusement arcades, fast food shops and all the trappings of tourism. That evening we enjoyed a bar meal in the picturesque Ship Inn, decorated with numerous items of nautical memorabilia.

Eyemouth entrance
Eyemouth entrance

Winds on Monday 15 July were again light so our passage from Seahouses to Eyemouth was a mixture of sailing and motoring. We passed the Island of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island and the port of Berwick before entering Scottish waters on the approach to Eyemouth. This busy fishing port is approached by a well marked channel, then through a very narrow channel into the harbour, normally lined with fishing boats. A small area on the left is kept for visiting yachts and we were able to berth alongside the wall. The port has recently benefited from a new fish market with modern ice making facility and excellent showers and toilets. The following morning we were able to stock up with fresh provisions, including some lovely local fish.

Limmershin in Eyemouth
Limmershin in Eyemouth

On Tuesday morning the wind had freshened and was blowing a good Force 4 from North West, and after leaving Eyemouth at 1030 we were able to sail close hauled until we rounded St Abb’s Head and entered the Firth of Forth. From here the wind was on the nose with an uncomfortable lumpy sea. Not wishing to tack all the way to Dunbar, our next port, some 15 miles distant, we lowered sails and started the motor. It was heavy going, with wind freshening to a good Force 5, and were glad to reach the approach to Dunbar at 1500. The RNYC Sailing Directions gave a detailed approach to the harbour, though we were somewhat unnerved to be approaching a row of rocks with what appeared to be a wall of cliff on our port side. However at the last minute the narrow entrance cut through the cliff appeared and we turned to port As it was close to low water, we were prepared for possible grounding with the keel partly raised. In the event we did just touch bottom, but with keel fully up we were able to pass into the harbour and anchor in the middle, awaiting return of the tide. We finally were able to secure to a boat alongside the harbour wall, which we were assured was unlikely to move. Dunbar is another attractive little port, though with less active fishing than Eyemouth. The harbour is guarded by the ruins of a castle. The town is also noted fit the quality of its public loos!

Dunbar was the limit of our exploration north, and on Wednesday, 17 July we left the port in a blustery North West Force 4-5. With a reef in the main we made rapid progress back down the Forth, making good over 6 knots with favourable tide. We had considered aiming for Holy Island as our next port of call, but the tide would have been ebbing when we arrived making entry against the 6 knot current not a good idea! So we opted for a return to Eyemouth and secured to our previous berth in time for a late lunch.

Inner Farne Island
Inner Farne Island

The next day the wind had dropped again and we sailed and motored the 2 miles to the Farne lslands where we stopped for lunch in the anchorage known as The Kettle. This almost landlocked natural harbour lies just inside the Island of Inner Fame, once the home of Saint Cuthbert who brought Christianity to this part of Britain in the 7’s’ Century. It is a paradise for nature lovers, with numerous sea birds and basking seals for company. During the afternoon we continued our return voyage, heading for the little natural harbour of Boulmer (pronounced Boomer). The entrance is marked by two leading line beacons and the sailing directions warn not to deviate from this line. When making the approach near low tide one sees why as there are rocks uncomfortably close on either side! Once in the harbour there is room to anchor though the keel needs to be raised as low water depth is only a foot or so. We went ashore in the inflatable for a pleasant pint in the Fishing Boat Inn, a genuine fisherman’s pub untouched by the hand of tourism.

Finally on Friday 19 July we completed the final leg of our cruise back to home port Blyth in time for a drink in the bar aboard the RNYC Clubship Tyne, once the Lightship at Calshot Spit. So ended a very pleasant weeks cruising in the uncongested waters of the North East Coast where lobster pot markers are a greater hazard than the ferries and container ships more often encountered by our southern brethren!