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Only hours to go: Crazysails crew are homeward bound

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Hello Crazysails friends.                                                                                                                    By the time you read this post we will have arrived in (and maybe even moved on from) Brighton, East Sussex.                                                                                                               Brighton is the last port we visit before the final day of our Round Britain sailing challenge. All being well and, so long as the forecast does what it says it is going to do, we should leave Brighton at 6am and arrive at Chichester Harbour and be tied up back where we started, on the pontoon at Mengeham Rythe Sailing Club, in time for lunchtime drinks TOMORROW/TODAY – SUNDAY 17 SEPTEMBER!

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It seems amazing that it was only yesterday that we said farewell to Ramsgate after a two week staycation. This was not exactly what we had planned but you don’t argue with the wind when it’s strong and in the wrong direction – nor the skipper, who has many more years’ experience that you (and a bigger beard, which makes him more of a seadog). So we stayed a little longer to enjoy the company of friends, old and new, and try out some of the new cafes and bars around the harbour and revisit old favourite restaurants such as Magnolia, Timmy Thai’s and Bonne Appetit. I had to do a quick scoot in a hire car back to Chichester to do some work on Tuesday and this gave Simon the opportunity to have a haircut (severe) and an eyebrow trim (not requested, also severe). He also had a chance to return to his past racing days when he went out with Mike and Jo Brand on their new boat ‘Foxy’. A very breezy but sunny day’s racing was unfortunately cut short due to a member of crew (not Simon) becoming ill – fortunately, she is okay.

Ramsgate to Dover                                                                                                                             Friday 15 September
We finally left Ramsgate harbour at 11.00am in soft sunshine and a light westerly wind and popped up the genoa, which filled beautifully and carried us (with some help from the motor) across Pegwell Bay past Sandwich and Deal Pier before we headed on past South Foreland and those famous white cliffs of Dover. We made excellent time and arrived in Dover just in time to ‘play’ with the ferries at the eastern entrance – 3 out, 3 in, 2 out…. we just managed to pop in before the next batch of ins and outs forced us to continue bobbing about the eastern entrance and were very happy when Dover Port Control said ‘go for it’ in their Port Control language.

Dover is not somewhere we particularly wanted to stay but an overnight there set us up well to hit the tides and get us down to Brighton. We had heard about some major work going on around the marina area and sure enough the place was like a building site – mainly because it is a building site at present, with the creation of a new marina in the bay opposite the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club and a lot of redesign of the current marina areas to accommodate the increasing cargo that needs to use the port. The plans look impressive and in a couple of years there should be a lovely marina there, however there is currently a dispute involving ‘residents’ of Deal (many apparently with overseas addresses) who are objecting to the removal of sand from the Goodwin Sands to use in the building work – watch this space!
After a relaxing afternoon and a pleasant evening in the Royal Cinque Ports YC followed by dinner and jazz at Cullen’s Yard we retired for an earlyish night, as we needed to leave at 6am the following morning.

Dover to Brighton                                                                                                                         Saturday 16 September
The sound of the alarm going off at 05.30 was not a welcome sound but we jumped up and got ready quickly in order to catch the tide at the right point. Simon had done his calculations which showed if we left at 6am we would have a small amount of tide against us for the first couple of hours but this would be lessened by keeping into the shore. We would then pick up the turning tide and it would be with us most of the way to Brighton. This plan worked beautifully and we sped past hotels and apartment blocks lining the hillsides of Folkestone, the bleakness of the nuclear power plant against the, gaunt stretch of beach that is Dungeness, then on past Hythe, Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne, the majestic, stunning white cliffs of Beachy Head, then on past Newhaven, Peacehaven and Rottingdean before finally beginning to close on Brighton about 8 hours after leaving Dover.

This was about two hours quicker than we had expected putting us at the bottom of the tide, rather than on a rising tide. We were concerned about entry to Brighton at low water, having heard some horror stories about it not being dredged and therefore access being restricted at lower points of the tide. This news was disappointing as we were now back onto trusty Tom Cunliffe’s pilot books (after using many others around the UK)which clearly said Brighton had 24 hour access. However a call to the marina office put our minds at rest and we actually arrived dead on ten hours after we had left this morning, which was great timing and had no problem getting in.


When we left Dover, the light was just breaking and although there was a chill in the air it was not as cold as we had expected. Nevertheless there was a hazy autumn mist around as the light came up, which brought Keats’s ‘Ode to Autumn’ and the lines of the poem ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friend of the maturing sun’ to mind’ (‘O’ level English197xxx).
We sailed with the mainsail up in light north westerly winds and with the French coast clearly visible on our port side. The sun dipped in and out of the clouds, rain threatened but disappeared again and the breeze was steady. We cooked our last traditional passage lunch of tuna pasta salad and chatted about the best places we had been during our trip. Other than being advised to move slightly further out of the live firing range at Hythe (we only had a ‘toe’ over the line but felt it best to obey the guard boat) and seeing dolphins at Dungeness (not what we expected at all) we had a pretty uneventful trip.
As we approached Newhaven, the raindrops did start and the wet weather gear went on (again) but we are now very used to arriving at various ports in torrential rain, so were resigned to this being the case again – when it stopped – just in time for us to moor up, get sorted out and go for a shower – then it started again, VERY HARD!


Ready for bed now, before another early start, but we have managed to squeeze in a great evening with my fab nephew, Ben and his lovely fiancé, Blaize, who happen to live in Brighton and ventured out into the stormy evening to see us – really good to see you both and thanks for the Island lemon top biscuits, Blaize, my fave’s!

                    Photo shows Ben sharing his Ledaig whisky with an unimpressed Blaize!

So Crazysails friends, tomorrow really is the last leg of our journey, so, for tonight can we say thank you for all your support and for following us through all 45 ports we have visited and for reading our numerous Facebook and blog posts; your friendship, interest, donations, likes and comments have meant such a lot to us and your contributions to our fundraising for the National Autistic Society have ensured we are now 99% of our target, plus tax relief, plus some offline pledges – amazing and thank you so much.

Next time we write a Crazysails blog post we will be land lubbers again (well as much as we can ever be that) so for now, it’s good night, and Kairos out!

More Crazysails milestones -100 sleeps on board, 96% of fundraising target, East Coast done!

Hello Crazysails followers,

Can you believe it? Last night was our 100th night on board since we embarked on our Round Britain sailing challenge for the National Autistic Society! It’s been and continues to be a fantastic experience and we’re still making progress, still flying the flag to raise awareness of autism and still blogging.

Today’s blog is about the ‘good the bad and the ugly’! The ‘good’ is actually the excellent news that we are now over 96% towards achieving our fundraising target for The National Autistic Society. The ‘bad’ is that here we are, still sitting in the pouring rain in Ramsgate, Kent. We arrived last Thursday and knew, that due to various arrangements and catch ups we had organised, we would be here until Monday but today is Friday and, unfortunately, we are still here in berth C34 in the inner harbour.
I say ‘unfortunately’ because it appears we missed a possible weather window in the couple of days after arriving and the ‘ugly’ is that the winds now look strong and westerly, which is the very worst direction for our travels, for the next week. As we were hoping to be back on Sunday 10th and me at work on Tuesday, this is not the best situation to be in however it’s much better to be stuck here, where we have a good berth, friends in the area, local shops and restaurants, a good yacht club, the internet (crucial to me) and (crucial to Simon) emergency dental treatment (oh dear) rather than, for example, at Dover.


For non-sailing friends, the reason we need to have a change in weather direction and strength is due to the fact we need to head west and go around several headlands Dungeness, Beachy Head and through the Looe Channel and tackling these in strong westerly winds makes for a very difficult and rough crossing. Leaving when the forecast is as it currently is, means setting out into hours of weather similar to that which we experienced off the Mull of Kintyre, Stonehaven and Whitby (previous blogs), where unpredicted winds blew up and brought with them strong wind against tide battles.


Having some time here is a good opportunity to bring our blog up to date, reflect on our travels and catch up with some work – as back to real life is coming ever closer!
So, let’s return to our journey from Wells in Norfolk to the SE tip of England and share with you some of the high and low lights of our last week of sailing.

Wells-Next-to-Sea to Lowestoft                                                                                                        Monday 28 to Tuesday 29 August                                                                                                                
We left Wells as soon as we could get down the creek on the morning tide. We could have anchored off the previous evening and leapt on the start of the tide to really get the most of it as it flowed southbound but we wanted an enjoyable last night in Wells and felt we could get enough of the tide to get us most of the way to Lowestoft if we left as soon as we could get out of the creek and so it was that we made our way from Wells in the morning sunshine. It has to be said it was a lot easier coming out than it had been getting in in the dark a couple of nights earlier. It was another lovely day and a busy stream of people carrying buckets and spades, lilos, towels and picnics, were already moving purposefully, like an army of ants, down the coastal path to the beach. Others had already taken up residence outside the brightly coloured beach huts or were actively creating construction sites in the wide expanse of beautiful light golden sand. Backed by trees, the beach and bay at Wells, was truly a picture postcard sight as we passed by and back out into the Wash.


With light winds blowing north easterly, we popped up the mainsail and set off for a 57 mile trip around the hump of East Anglia, past Great Yarmouth (which didn’t look very ‘great’) and into Lowestoft. Other than a couple of lifeboat ‘maydays’ to search for a diver missing off the coast of Great Yarmouth and someone else near Lowestoft who was stuck in the mud, the journey was uneventful. Sadly, it appears the diver has not been found, despite three lifeboats and a coastguard helicopter searching for two days. It does, however, once again, make us value the time and efforts made by volunteer lifeboat crew. Across the country, wherever we have been, we have seen investment in lifeboats and at times we have also seen lifeboats both out on practice and real life emergencies and it really made us appreciate what a vital service this totally voluntary organisation and the people who volunteer within it, provide around the shores of this country – thank you to all of them.


As we arrived at Lowestoft, we saw someone signalling madly from the pontoon in the yacht club marina. He was indicating a berth on an inner pontoon behind a boat called Mistral. At first, we thought he worked for the Marina but when he indicated to berth behind Mistral, we realised he must be Robbie, Rear Commodore Sail at Conyer Cruising Club and friend of our friends, Nigel and Gill and Carole and Chris, who are also members there, indeed Nigel is the Commodore at Conyer. Gill had told us to look out for Robbie and his wife Nicki and Tallulah, the dog, so it was a great co-incidence to find a berth right behind them. We had a lovely evening chatting over dinner with them in the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, which was a very nice club with an original and very unusual male toilet – see photo, not taken by me, I hasten to add! Apparently this toilet is a bit of a visitor attraction and even ladies request entry to have a look – needless to say, I resisted this but am happy to share the photo to show it off. The following morning we said farewell to Robbie and Nicki we headed in different directions.

Lowestoft to Levington, Harwich                                                                                               Tuesday 29 to Thursday 31 August
The sail southwards to Harwich took us a further 45 miles down the North Sea coast. The forecast had suggested it should be sunny with NW winds but as we approached Harwich the clouds gathered, the sky became black and torrential rain came down – aagh, hoped we had said goodbye to rain.

The coastline itself was low lying and not terribly interesting however we did pass the Sizewell Nuclear plant with its large dome standing out against the cloudy sky. We also passed the pretty town of Aldeburgh situated on the River Alde and at the end of a long shingle spit  which extended down to Orford Ness. Orford Ness itself is now a nature reserve managed by the National Trust but it was an eerie place to pass, with what looked like a mix of bunkers and Japanese buildings on the shore. These buildings are registered under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act (1979) as buildings of national importance. Why? Because this was the site of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment Test Buildings and Associated Structures and was particularly important during the time of the cold war in the 1950s and early 60s.


We made our way through the main Harwich harbour area at the mouth of the River Orwell past huge cranes and large ships unloading and loading cargo in colourful crates. The rain was still coming down so we were glad there were no announcements on the radio which would slow down our progress to the Royal Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington, which is a short way down river on the north (Felixstowe) side. We have stayed here before and knew that the lightship in the marina was also a bar/restaurant, so we moored up and then made our way there for an early evening drink. The following day was spent doing general bits around the boat, enjoying rather swish showers in the very nice new shower block and a mooch around the sale rail in the local chandlers, followed by a rather long hike to The Ship, a gastropub in Levington village – not sure how far it actually was but estimates vary between ¾ mile (Mike Brand) and 3 miles (Jo Brand) – lovely meal but think Jo was closer about distance!

Harwich to Ramsgate                                                                                                                  Thursday 31 August to?
This passage marked another key landmark as it was the last large stretch of water we had to cross before being back on the south coast and close to completing our circumnavigation.


When we left Harwich the sun was shining brightly and though it was tight to the wind we put up the mainsail and managed to motorsail, making the most of the light south easterly breeze. A couple of hours into the 46 mile crossing I looked at the sea and thought ‘not sure I like those sparkly bits before my eyes’ and with reason, yes this was the start of a migraine. A short rest with eyes closed and lots of migraine tablets and I felt a bit better but was very conscious of a nagging headache behind my eyes, which persisted for the next couple of days – boohoo!

We passed a couple of windfarms including the huge Thames Array and a  few ships heading towards Harwich but a couple of miles off the land ahead which marked the most SE tip of England, we saw black skies ahead and realised, there was no way we were going to avoid the torrential downpour on the horizon. So, yet again, it was on with the waterproofs and into the black!

As we passed the tip of North Foreland we saw flashing headlights and received a message from our friend, Jo Brand, who was ‘flashing’ us through the rain from the cliff edge; she and Mike live almost on the tip and while Jo was communicating with her headlights we were messaging Mike, snug at home, wishing him a very happy birthday – Simon took to the whisky – just a wee dram, to celebrate Mike’s birthday from our rain sodden cockpit. We also gave a wave to his childhood home as we passed by Broadstairs and could just make out the house he grew up in up the cliff through the rain and cloud.

Half an hour later(ish) we arrived in Ramsgate and were greeted with a clearer sky and calls of  ‘Kairos, Kairos’ from the shore and there were other friends, Chris and Carole, who had come to welcome us in. They came through the lock with us into the inner harbour – so not they can say they have done a little bit of our trip with us. We also saw Chris Higgs, a fellow liveryman from the Joiners and Ceilers. He pulled onto the pontoon behind us for an overnight stay.

Since our arrival, we have been lucky enough to catch up with lots of friends and it’s been lovely to see you all (Carole and Chris, Doug and Chris, Nigel and Gill, Past Master James de Sausmarez from the Joiners & Ceilers Livery Company (himself a former Broadstairs boy too), Bob and Bibi and other friends at the Royal Temple and of course Mike and Jo (special thanks to Jo, who also did a mercy mission to take Simon for emergency dental treatment). Simon even got a chance to have a go on some other racy boats when he brought Mike and Jo’s new boat Foxy’ into the inner harbour (with Jo) and helped Andy (Royal Temple Commodore) bring in his rather large boat ‘Principessa’ in too – I was shore based to take their lines. Tomorrow, we look forward to seeing Mike and Elaine and that should complete our Kent reunion activities. Early next week, I have to jump in a hire car and return, briefly, to Chichester to do some work at college and then, everything crossed, we will be on our way homeward from next Thursday.

We can’t believe we have just celebrated  our 100 days on board birthday. Kairos has been brilliant, performed well and been a cosy home for us BUT we must confess we are now looking forward to getting home (which is being well looked after by wonderful neighbours Lesley and Paul & Chris and Alan) and to seeing our precious and much missed family (Mama, Coggers, Davy’s, Marsdens & Andersons), our home based and sailing club friends and our garden again.

Hopefully, our next blog will take you on our homeward journey. Until then, thanks for following and donating. Chat soon Crazysails friends, until then…

Kairos out.

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Hartlepool to Whitby                                                                                                           Monday 21 – Wednesday 23 August

Though we have now arrived in Ramsgate in Kent , so well on the way home, I am still playing catch up with blog updates, so here we go – back to Hartlepool to reflect on our travels down to Wells-Next-to-Sea in Norfolk.

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The passage from Hartlepool to Whitby was one of our shortest – only 25 miles down the coast into Yorkshire but guess what! Yes, the weather forecast turned out to be up the creek again and we left the lock in Hartlepool to be whooshed out into another wind against tide battle. Instead of the gentle 6-8 SE forecast we had a southerly (right on the nose again) 16, gusting up to 22-24 – great!

Coming out of Hartlepool, we passed huge hulks of factories (many derelict) lining the coastline of the Tees estuary. These sad symbols of the former heavy industrial past of the Middlesborough and Redcar area are more than a blot on the landscape and are a sharp contrast to the Cleveland Hills which can be seen in the background and which could have been ‘England’s pleasant land’ until your eyes inevitably fix on the shore.

As we move down the coast, we start to pick up the craggy cliffs of the North Yorkshire coast. Every so often a few plumes of smoke show there is still work going on in some of the buildings atop the cliffs but mainly it is steep unforgiving rock faces falling sheer into the sea. A few miles down the coast there is a break in the cliffs and a waterfall of white and old stone cottages and houses can be seen surrounding a small bay. This is Staithes, a pretty, traditional fishing village, largely unchanged over the years. I remember a lovely old black and white photo of me as a baby with my Mum sitting on the beach at Staithes – I haven’t been back there since and certainly don’t remember the actual place but I loved that photo and maybe one day I will return for real but, for now, we will just pass by and continue our journey to Whitby.

Our first sightings of Whitby were mixed. Another childhood destination that I haven’t been back to for many years, I had romantic memories of the ruins of the abbey atop the cliffs overlooking the small fishing town with the sound of gulls and traditional old buildings surrounding the harbour. Our actual arrival was with a whoosh through a slightly tricky entrance where you had to keep to starboard to avoid rocks on the port side of the entrance; we also had to watch out for the regatta rowers who were also due to come through the entrance at the same time! The view of the abbey, dating from the year and 657 which inspired Bram Stoker to write ‘Dracula’, was the same but the pier on the right was filled with a fairground and extremely loud fairground noise and the seawall was awash with a mass of people. Oh dear, maybe not the most peaceful place to lay our hats but once the swing bridge was opened and we made our way up the River Esk to the visitors pontoon, the fairground sound died away and the water became still and peaceful. We arrived at the pontoon to be met by the Harbour Master who told us all about the Whitby Folk Festival which was going on all over the town during the week. Memories of the folk weekend we had fallen upon in Weymouth way back at the start of our travels were stirred and we were looking forward to getting out and about to hear some good music. We weren’t disappointed and made the Middle Earth pub our base while in Whitby as there was a constant stream of excellent music going on in all areas of the pub at any particular time.

Tuesday was a particularly good day as we enjoyed another family visit when my Auntie Linda and Uncle Derek arrived and, as well as bringing us a delicious homemade cheesecake, they took us for a lovely, relaxed seafood lunch at the lovely Marine Restaurant –many thanks to them. We had a lovely time and it was great to see some family members for the second week in a row. The evening brought another chance to hear some good music, before getting ready for our departure the following day.

We very much enjoyed our visit to Whitby and it turned out to be every bit the traditional seaside town that I remembered. We’d also like to thank the harbour staff and Scarborough City Council for supporting our Round Britain Sailing Challenge for the National Autistic Society.

Whitby to Scarborough                                                                                                                 Wednesday 23 – Friday 25 August

Just 19 miles down the coast from Whitby is the seaside town of Scarborough, our next destination. We left Whitby with a speedy exit out of the lively harbour entrance on the afternoon tide. As this was going to be a short journey and we had to time our departure with the opening of the swing bridge in Whitby, we decided an afternoon departure was more favourable than a very early morning get up.

The speed at which we rushed out of the harbour continued as we jumped on the tide and we were doing 8.8/8.9 knots over the ground for most of the passage to Scarborough.

Earlier that day there had been a tremendous storm over East Yorkshire. It had come in over the sea from the East and brought with it thunder, lightning and flash floods. Though it had passed over by the time we left, it had left huge rolling seas and these, combined with the wind direction and fierce tide made for a speedy though lumpy bumpy passage down the coast. At home in Northumberland there is a road (the A68) which goes north of Corbridge up over the Scottish border to Jedburgh. This road is like a roller coaster going up and down over the crest of hills then dropping the other side. Some people don’t like this road because it makes them a bit queasy and our family name for this road is the humpy bumpy road – this passage to Scarborough was the North Sea equivalent of the humpy bumpy road and we got some interesting footage of a yacht which was following us as it crashing and disappeared behind the waves before reappearing only to repeat the process minutes later. Reminiscent of the passage into Stonehaven where we were photographed, we knew any observer would be seeing Kairos take the same nose dives into the waves – not a sail for those with weak stomachs!

We made speedy progress and arrived in Scarborough at 18.30 – so, having left at 4.15, this had been a lively but very quick 19 mile trip. Scarborough is positioned around a couple of sheltered sandy bays and has developed in the shadow of a steep headland on which was built the 12th century Scarborough Castle The harbour has a lot of fishing going on in and around it and the seafront is busy and active. There is evidence of a popular and affluent past as a Victorian seaside town but unfortunately a lot of the character has disappeared in a world of plastic buckets, packets of chips and amusement arcades. None of these are really what we look for in a sailing destination so we were glad to have a break there but equally glad we would only be there a couple of nights.

On Wednesday we were delighted to welcome Tony and Jen Reynard on board. Simon had actually recruited Tony when he came to work at Chichester College many years ago. A couple of moves and quite a few years later Tony and Jen have moved back to their native Yorkshire and it was really fantastic that they made the trip across to Scarborough to see us and treat us to Whitby fish and chips (scampi , in my case). It was great to catch up with what has gone on in recent years and to show them around Kairos over a gin and tonic and to enjoy a post lunch walk around Scarborough in the sunshine, before saying goodbye.

Scarborough to Spurn Head, Humber Estuary                                                               Friday 25 – Saturday 26 August

We left Scarborough as soon as dawn broke (around 05.45) and came out of the harbour mouth, turning southbound as soon as we reached the Clearwater mark. Our next destination, which was just off the Spurn Head Lifeboat in the Humber Estuary, 56 miles down the coast. We were prepared for the day’s sailing to be long and the latter part to be not terribly interesting as the coastline and scenery become less dramatic. The first part of the passage took us past endless craggy cliffs which continued down the coast line until reaching the chalky peninsula of Flamborough Head, which seemed to go on for ever – in fact the these cliffs go on for around 10 miles and towering over the sea at 40 feet these are the highest cliffs in Britain. We were a little too far out to see what is described as a paradise for twitchers with puffins, guillemots, gannets and rasorbills all nesting there, but we could see caves, sea stacks and the two lighthouses along the coastline.

We were able to put up the mainsail and benefitted from a good tide for the first couple of hours. After clearing Flamborough Head, the tide went slacker and then started to work against us but picked up again, so it was running in our favour as we entered the Humber Estuary. After Flamborough Head the cliffs turned to smaller hills, the scenery lost its ability to inspire and coastline features gradually petered out until reaching Spurn Head, which by then was little more than a thin line of land jutting out into the sea. The most exciting thing about this journey, other than the tasty bacon sandwiches cooked on the way, was passing two wind farms; these were symbols to Simon that we were really heading south and were the first of many we will be passing from now on.

Mindful the wind was going to be easterly (actually became a brisk south easterly) we put ourselves in the lea of the shore, dropping anchor into the seabed which was actually a thick black clay/mud – delightful to clean off the next morning but which held fast and gave a super secure anchorage for the night only 100 metres behind the only professionally manned lifeboat in the UK. Excellent news if we had gone adrift as help was very close at hand; fortunately we didn’t need this and our only challenge was running out of ice for the gin and tonic! Every so often a seal popped up to say hello and went back down as soon as I reached for my camera but apart from quite a fierce wash when ships went by at high water, we spent a very secure and peaceful night at anchor.

Spurn Head to Wells-next-to-Sea                                                                                    Saturday 26 – Monday 28 August

Another early morning and another morning with some (weak) sunshine trying to break through the clouds. After raising (and cleaning) the anchor, we sought permission to cross the estuary from VTS Humber and having checked we were safe to pass through the firing range, we set off a couple of hours before high water, to avoid playing with the big boys who were lining up to enter the Humber en-route to such exotic destinations as Grimsby, Immingham and my former university city of Hull.

As with the previous day we were able to sail with the mainsail up. The forecast, as ever, was inaccurate as to wind direction. We had been predicted a light south westerly /westerly wind, it actually came up north westerly and quite quickly moved round to north easterly and then to south easterly but remained very light, the whole journey.

The journey across the Humber was uneventful and, other than a couple of wind farms and one or two fishing boats in the distance, we saw very little traffic once we had left the main channel. We did however see plenty of seals – lots of individual seals just popping their heads up before diving back below, then a few groups of seals gathered around a shallower patch of water, who looked as if they were treading water in an aquarobic class. We made good progress on the tide, actually faster than we had expected, but we were anticipating a slow down once we hit the Wash. The slowdown was marginal and we continued counting down the miles to Wells.

As we passed the distant coastline of Lincolnshire we spied the distinctive tent like structure of Butlin’s shining white and bright on the shore and knew we were passing Skegness. Round the never ending wind farm we went then headed on a straight course hoping we might squeak into Wells before the creek dried. We had read several pilot books on entry into Wells and the information about entry to the visitors’ pontoons, the extent of dredging of the channel seemed to vary so we were optimistic but not confident we might get in on the last of the water. In fact, if anything the pilot books were themselves optimistic as the creek we had to enter virtually dried out, meaning no entry was possible to any part of it until shortly before high water. This was not a problem as the sun came out fully from behind the clouds and there was a lovely bay to anchor in while we waited for the tide.

We enjoyed one of the few meals in the cockpit we have managed to have during our trip and just relaxed reflecting on the trip as a whole, whether we should have gone anticlockwise rather than clockwise (we agreed we have chosen the right way for us) and what, if anything we would have changed – other than the weather, which we have no control over, both of us agreed there was little we would have done differently.

As the sun went down over the horizon we finally got the okay from the Harbour Master to begin our entry up the creek. We took up our anchor and began making for the entrance channel. We were followed by another yacht and a motor boat and we began to gingerly make our way up the meandering creek following the red and green buoys, some of which were more clearly marked than others. The light was fading fast and it was tricky to work out which way the creek went next, especially as the tide was coming in fast in a swirling movement which tried to wash us to the left, towards the still dry bank. Because of the light (or lack of it) and unfamiliarity with the creek, it took us about half an hour to get up into the small town of Wells and identify the boat we had to moor up against on the visitors pontoons – a fellow Moody owner with Maline, a very nice Moody 38, who also kindly gave us a contribution for our fundraising -many thanks.  We were met with a very jolly welcome from harbour staff who helped us with our lines and told us where the facilities were. We went to check in at the harbour office and explained about our trip for the National Autistic Society and gave the harbour master a copy of our leaflet – we have distributed so many, we need to print some more, He was very interested in our trip and we’d like to thank him and the Wells harbour staff for supporting our sailing challenge,

After a wander up the main street and a nightcap in The Fleece in we returned to the boat and sat enjoying the views and the music coming gently from the large Dutch barge restaurant/bar moored opposite. We remained in Wells for the next couple of nights and had a very relaxing stay in that very pretty little harbour and having arrived in East Anglia we have really begun to feel we are now really at the start of the homeward leg of our trip.

Well, another week has passed on our Round Britain challenge and its been a varied and very positive week, both in terms of fundraising and distance.  We are hoping if the weather stays in our favour we will be home at our sailing club and on our mooring by 10 September – but that all depends on that old friend and foe….. the weather! Our next blog post will be coming soon, as I am really trying to catch up and will cover our journey southbound to Lowestoft and a move from Norfolk into Suffolk then on into Kent; until then friends, thanks for your support and …. keep following.                      Kairos out.

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Crazysails fundraising total goes up as the Kairos crew head south!

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Another day and another country done on our round Britain sailing challenge for the National Autistic Society! Having had the best of the scenery, the worst of the weather, not to mention some of the best and the worst moments of our trip so far, it was with a bit of sadness but also just a little excitement that we bade farewell to bonny Scotland and headed over the border into my home county of Northumberland.

Frewell Scotland helllo England

Arbroath (56.55 91 degrees N 2.5915 degrees W) to Berwick-upon-Tweed (55.77 02 degrees N 2.00 54 degrees W)  Sunday 12 – Tuesday 15 August

We left Arbroath as the sun (yes, the sun) rose and we headed back out into the North Sea and negotiated our way, once again, through lobster pot city. The wind was blowing south westerly 16-18 as we headed across the Firth of Forth, passing Dundee and the route up to Edinburgh. We had a reef in the mainsail and picked up the tide so continued across the estuary, making good progress. I was just a little excited as we were heading for the border county of Northumberland, which is my home county.

We had originally planned to head for Eyemouth but having coped well with the longer distances and being keen to try and make it to England that day, we had explored the pilot books to identify a suitable harbour or marina to go into that was over the border. The challenge with many east coast harbours is that they are drying, so we had to plan our passages to get the best of the tide as we were heading to our destinations but also try to coincide our arrival with there being enough water for us to get into the relevant port. Although not having a marina, Berwick-upon-Tweed, the very first harbour on the English border, did appear (from the almanac) to have an all-weather access harbour which could offer visiting yachts a secure berth, together with amenities such as showers and shops close by. And so it was, that after a 54 mile trip, we waved the NAS flag as we crossed over into Northumberland and arrived in the Tweed Dock in Berwick. At this point I will say we had no other option (due to tides and tiredness) but it was with sinking hearts we realised that the picture in the almanac with a horizontal line with an image of a boat against it actually meant harbour wall, rather than pontoon. Not only that but being a commercial dock (or it had been in days gone by) this dock had huge sheer walls with only four or five ladders all round it where you could get out and these were already occupied by two rusting fishing boats, an equally rusting pilot boat and a tripper boat. As we were looking for somewhere to tie up another fishing boat came in and grabbed the only possible place we could see. The fisherman on board were friendly, however, and told us to moor us against the tripper boat but not the fishing boats as they would be leaving again early in the morning. We had just decided this was our only option when the tripper boat captain actually arrived. He couldn’t have been more helpful giving us the okay to moor against the pilot boat, which he also operated and he and his mate would move the tripper boat to the other side of the dock. He also told us where the showers were and where there was a good local pub and café.

Relieved but hungry we tied up then made the trek up the harbour wall ladder (me terrified, just like Stonehaven all over again, Simon pretending not to be) and then walked across the bridge into Berwick itself. There are three bridges across the Tweed, which is a relatively wide river. The farthest bridge set on huge columns provides a viaduct for trains’ en-route between Newcastle and Edinburgh. At night, the columns are lit in different and changing colours which is very pretty. The second bridge is a newer traffic bridge to carry traffic through and out of the town and the third and most ancient bridge is a beautiful old arched bridge which takes local traffic and pedestrian traffic across the river. Berwick has some beautiful old buildings built in the solid Victorian style and stone common in many borders towns. Equally, there are also some buildings, particularly around the docks area, which have definitely seen better days and, as with parts of Peterhead, there were signs that the traditional industries which had fed the traffic going through the docks had all but dried up, leaving the quayside to be an overgrown, cracked and crumbling area used for parking large lorries overnight and a few old fishing vessels (and a lot of swans in the evening) rather than dealing with much commercial shipping.

Berwick upon Tweed is the most northerly town in England and has, over the centuries, been both Scottish and English. Today (and for several hundred years) it is located in England, just over two miles from the Scottish border at the mouth of the Tweed. Locals here may live in England and work in Scotland or vice versa – had the Scottish vote for independence been a ‘yes’, it would have been interesting to see the effect on a true border town like Berwick, where both Scots and English influences are clear.

As well as the architecture in the town itself, the high spots of our stay in Berwick were watching the local traditional salmon netting in the river, enjoying some delicious meals and the generosity of the local landlady of the Harrow Inn, who kindly donated £20.00 to our NAS fundraising. This amazing lady had (with some others) raised £550,000 to support local people needing transport and support to get to Newcastle or Edinburgh hospitals for cancer care, so she clearly had her own charity she supported, but was still kind enough to contribute to our fundraising efforts. Her pub was the local hostelry recommended by the harbour staff and she had only taken it over three weeks ago, redecorated and relaunched it. Her hard work should pay off as her food and hospitality were excellent so, if by chance you are ever in the Tweed Dock area of Berwick, do pay a visit to Margaret at The Harrow Inn and you won’t be disappointed.

The low spots of our stay were most definitely the harbour wall, the dock environment generally and the cleanliness (or lack of it) in the showers, which were also used by the overnighting truckers. But as a secure berth offering good shelter from some unfriendly North Sea weather and for friendliness, a warm welcome and for supporting our Round Britain tip for the NAS, Berwick and the Tweed Dock deserve credit and our visit certainly served its purpose.

Berwick-upon-Tweed to Amble (55. 33 15 degrees N 1.58 53 degrees W)                     Tuesday 15- Sunday 20 August                                                                                                     You may be wondering why we stayed two nights in the Costa del Tweed Dock in Berwick, rather than pressing on to Amble earlier. The answer was simple – the weather got us again. Having generally enjoyed better weather and less rain and lighter winds (even though usually from the wrong direction) since leaving Inverness, the forecast for the Northumberland coast area on Monday was not good and we had been anticipating this for some days. This time the forecast was right and with strong winds from the south and a lot of rain and stormy skies, the sensible thing was to sit it out in Berwick for an extra day. Now, I am sailing with the most sensible sailor there is (those of you who know Simon will know never a truer word was said) so sit it out and wait for better weather, we did. And thus it was that on Tuesday the wind had dropped and gone round and we left Berwick to in a beautiful sunrise for a chilly but bright sail down the coast to Amble.

As this is my home county, I know how lovely the Northumbrian coastline is with its beaches and castles, islands and wildlife but… I’ve never seen it from the sea, so I was really looking forward to the passage to Amble. In recent years Amble has developed from a typical northern mining and fishing village in the shadow of pretty nearby Warkworth, to being a busting little place with a good facilities such as a welcoming, well equipped family run marina and a very friendly yacht club,. There is a recently redeveloped marina village with good restaurants, craft shops and a Sunday market as well as a traditional shopping street with lots of smaller local suppliers and a couple of supermarkets. There are excellent sandy beaches and the area around the port and Coquet Island, at the mouth of the River Coquet, are truly beautiful and looking west up the river you see the picturesque ruins of Warkworth Castle.

One of the main reasons I was looking forward to coming to Amble was that I was going to see my Mum and other family members, who were coming to visit us. My Mum isn’t a sailor (though she has given it a try once or twice) and she has watched ‘Trawlermen’ so put the two together and you have total irrational fear of daughter in dire peril on the North Sea being battered by storms and the boat going down. She has tried to remain calm but every so often she lets out a comment such as ‘ I wish you were home’, ‘how much longer’ and ‘are you SURE you are enjoying it?. I know being able to see us and chat about where we’ve been and see we’re okay will help allay her fears, especially as we are now southbound. I was looking forward to seeing other family members too but especially giving my Mum a hug. I can write about this in total confidence knowing that being a technophobe, she will never read what I have written but I’m sure even if she did she would agree with every word”.

Anyway, I digress, so back to the journey to Amble. We had a good brisk sail down to Holy Island (Lindisfarne), home of St Wilfred, who also had a connection with Chichester Cathedral. I always think it is amazing that, just like me but with several more transport challenges, someone who lived so long ago on an island in Northumberland managed to find his way to Sussex, specifically Chichester. I was looking forward to seeing the priory on Lindisfarne from the sea but unfortunately it was totally scaffolded out as it is being reinforced and strengthened to ensure its conservation for centuries to come.

From Holy Island we continued past the Farne Islands and enjoyed seeing the occasional seal pop up to say hello. The Farne Islands are covered with seals and puffins but keen to hit the tide to get into the marina we couldn’t linger so I could improve my wildlife photography skills as we had to press on.

We passed Bamburgh Castle and I remembered the last time we walked on the beach there it was a chilly autumn day with my Mum and Dad a few years ago before he became terminally ill; I like to think he was watching us sailing by. The castle itself is still inhabited and is a dramatic and iconic image of the Northumbrian coastline. Dunstanburgh Castle, which we also passed, is equally iconic but is truly an eerie ruin with the remains of its stone walls looking out to sea suffering gradual erosion from the North Sea winds over the centuries.

Soon we could see Coquet Island which sits just off the harbour entrance into Amble and we arrived on a rising tide, making an easy entry and being met by the laid back harbour master who helped us with fuel and then showed us to our berth. We were on E10 and, shortly after arriving, were greeted by Peter Coulthard, the owner of January First, two boats down the pontoon and his children Sam and Jamie. They had seen our banners promoting our Round Britain Sailing Challenge and our National Autistic Society Flag. Sam is autistic and having an educational statement receives in-class support at her school. They had wanted to come and say hello and show support for the challenge having used the services of the NAS in the past. Sam and Jamie posed with the NAS flag on their boat and on Kairos and they were a delight to meet and have on board.

Robert also told us about the local yacht club, where he was a member and we visited a couple of times during our stay and really felt so welcomed in it didn’t feel as if we were visitors at all, especially when a lady called Maria Crookes, who is the National Autistic Society’s northern branch manager came over to chat to us about our trip and took our details to follow us. We are members of Mengeham Rythe Sailing Club and Bognor Regis Yacht Club and both are very welcoming but we have been to many in our travels which have been more reserved, quieter and less welcoming but Coquet Yacht Club was up there with our own clubs and with the Royal St George’s at Dun Loaghaire, as being among the best we have visited.

My family came to visit on Wednesday and we enjoyed lunch on board, a trip into Warkworth to the pub, lots of catching up and photos, showing off the boat to my uncle and cousin and her husband, who are a lot more enthusiastic about sailing than my Mum. We then went for a great dinner, which didn’t quite happen in the place we thought we had booked, due to a telephone booking confusion, but ended up with us having local seafood in an upturned boat at The Fish Shack. It was a great visit, I had my hug with my Mum and we all laughed so much, especially when the boat we were having dinner in (not ours, thankfully) started leaking in the rain, later in the evening. For my cousin’s benefit – we went back to the restaurant (The Old Boathouse) we should have been in the next evening and I can confirm it is very, very good.

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Our final day in Amble dawned cloudy and breezy but fairly warm and we started with a photo shoot with four great guys who are training to row the Atlantic for spinal and mental health charities – The Four Oarsmen – and we ended up walking down the river into Warkworth where we visited a small classic car rally and a local show in the castle grounds. We managed to see some enormous leeks and cabbages, local spinning, basket making and other crafts before heading to the pub. We then had a brisk walk back to the boat to beat the rain. It was a lovely relaxing land based day before we put our sea legs back on again tomorrow.

All in all, we had a brilliant stay at Amble (like a mini holiday) and couldn’t recommend it more – definitely up in our top of the places we’ve been to list.

Amble to Hartlepool (54. 69 17 degrees N, 1.2129 degrees W)                                            Sunday 20 –Monday 21 August

We departed Amble around 11am, as soon as there was enough water over the harbour cill. The wind was forecast to be westerly and around 10 knots dropping to 5-6 later. It was actually south westerly and gusting to about 15 knots, certainly nothing like as strong as we have had but providing yet another wind against tide battle. The wind was certainly doing odd things – ‘confused’ would be a good way to describe it as not 400 metres away a yacht going in the same direction, also sailing their main sail, was sailing with a an SE wind.

We started off with some sunshine but it soon said farewell, having teased us with its morning rays and it was back to full sailing gear, hats and boots by the time we reached Hartlepool, a North Sea port, which had its heyday back in Napoleonic times. It has to be said that Hartlepool was not one of our destinations of choice, especially after people had told us about it being run down and lacking atmosphere (the place, rather than the marina). It was more a quick overnight port of convenience for us being between Amble and Whitby, which was our next destination of choice.

The benefit of Hartlepool is that there is a lock so you can get in when entry would not be possible at other ports. The lock is a good size lock with a floating pontoon, so access is quite easy however it is not a 24 hour marina and access is only possible at high water +/- 4 hours.

The marina itself is immense and split into several different sections but it is not fully occupied and there are huge differences between what are clearly working commercial boats, rusting boats which have seen much better days, pretty traditional older boats and very big flash motor boats, such as the one moored opposite us with the classy name ‘The Business’ which made me think its owner could be someone like Del Boy after he became ‘a millionaire’!! The monkey photo below shows the monkey that was hanged as being a traitor after it came off a French ship in Napoleonic times and the people of Hartlepool didn’t know what it was.

The visitors’ pontoon is close to the showers and other facilities and there are a number of restaurants and bars nearby – but no shop, so we had a hike around the other side of the marina to Asda to buy some milk. The walk took us around the old dock part of the marina as well as past the newer apartments, this gave us the opportunity to see the Museum of Hartlepool which is situated in a reconstruction of the type of old buildings which would have surrounded the quay in its heyday, complete with an old square rigger (HMS Trimcomalee from 1817) and PPS Wingfield, an old paddle steamer. This area was part of an investment to reconstruct what the area would have looked like in its heyday – needless to say very different to what you see today.

As we walked back over uneven gravelled areas with weeds growing through and saw how poorly used the old dock area is, we reflected that, rather like some of the other areas we have visited, this town and even this marina area, which has clearly had more recent investment, was showing signs of being tired and needing an injection of capital, pride and hope.

Next stop for Kairos and the Crazysails crew, Whitby, so join us then. In the meantime, Crazysails out!

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Thanks to all who have supported us and if you are saving your pennies and would like to donate please visit our JustGiving page – just put Kairos Round Britain or our names into the search bar and our page comes up – very many thanks.

Farewell bonnie Scotland, wet, wild and wonderful

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Going Round the Bend!

Inverness (57.47 78 degrees N, 4.22 47 degrees W) to Arbroath (56, 55 91 degrees N, 2.59 15 degrees W)

07-13 August

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Welcome back Crazysails readers

In this blog post we reflect on the last few places we visited in the Scottish part of our Round Britain odyssey. Each place had its own individual character and as we moved across the length of the Moray Firth and finally turned south, heading for the English border, we really felt we’d hit a great milestone on our journey. Sadly, the beautiful scenery of the Argyll Highlands and Islands had now disappeared  but, on the plus side, there was a definite improvement in the weather on the eastern side of the country with slightly less wind, rain and better visibility – oh well you can’t have everything. We also received some photos of our Scottish competition winners proudly modelling their Scottish themed prizes – thanks for the pics, Sue and Ray.

Another thing we had to be happy about is that our fundraising total for the National Autistic Society is slowly increasing towards our goal of £2017 and with a number of offline donations we are actually now over 80% of our target – just got to work out how to record the offline donations so this shows in the figure raised on JustGiving! Very many thanks to all of you who are helping us to support the National Autistic Society, who are doing such good work to help raise awareness of the challenges of autism and to help those diagnosed as being autistic and their families.

Before we go on to talk about our recent travels, we’d just like to share with you one parent’s experience and how the NAS service have helped her family. Imagine hearing that a child at school has been paid extra pocket money NOT to play with your son! How heart breaking would this be and yet this really was the case. Mrs W has agreed that we can share this with you, for which we are very grateful. She says that its moments like this when you need some advice as to how best handle both the situation at the school as well comfort a confused, anxious little boy that the NAS Helpline is really important. She and her husband have also used the National Autistic Society’s Earlybird programme, the Education Rights Helpline and other support services to help with a range of issues from support with an Education Authority Tribunal to her son’s crippling anxiety, toileting, eating, sleeping and behavioural problems.

She is one of thousands of people who access the services in the UK each year. To give you an idea how your donation can help:

£50 means ten people can access the Autism Helpline, £500 can buy gardening equipment to help up to 50 adults at one of the NAS adult centres, £100 gives specialist play equipment to help over 50 children in one of the NAS supported schools and £2500 gives a person with Aspergers syndrome the opportunity for full-time supported employment with companies such as Boots, HSBC, M&S and BT.

So, thank you again to all who have supported and encouraged us on our challenge, most recently to Scottish Canals and those who supported us in Scottish Harbours plus those important on and offline contributions…..and do keep saving your pennies; every penny helps towards our target.

But now…our journey continues!

Inverness to Lossiemouth (57. 7216 degrees N 3.28 03 degrees W)

Tuesday 07 August

Having waved Sophie and Neil off on the next part of their Scottish adventure we had a speedy okay from the Sea Loch at Clachnaharry to enter the lock and pass through the swing bridge. We were just in time as the next bridge opening wasn’t for a couple of hours and we really needed to be on our way. Thanking the loch keeper who also told us about a pod of whales seen in the bay, we headed out into the Moray Firth. The scenery had evened out to gentler hills and a flatter coastline, the visibility was good and the wind a very light breeze from the south west which allowed us to sail the mainsail, as we made our way eastbound.

Pretty soon, we noticed a couple of dolphin watching tripper boats circling around and as we passed the lighthouse on the far side of the bay we noticed a long line of people looking out towards us. We were fairly sure it wasn’t us they’d come to see (nice though it would have been) so we scanned around to see if we could spot anything and sure enough, off our starboard bow, about 300 metres off, we soon picked up a whole group of pilot whales swimming along. These whales were blacker in colour, with snubber noses that the Minkes we had seen in the Irish Sea. Later a couple of paler whales came swimming towards and then disappeared under the bow of the boat. It was a great sight but quite hard to photograph so the tips of the fins in my photographs don’t really do the experience justice. We also saw dolphins and seals during this passage but, to my frustration, all of them proved more than a little camera shy successfully avoiding my lens, leaving me with a lot of pictures of empty sea, which would not be interesting to the reader so had to be deleted.

Other than seeing what looked like an oil rig, the 41 mile voyage to Lossiemouth was otherwise uneventful and we arrived at the harbour mouth on the rising tide. Mr ‘Local Knowledge’ (who seemed anxious to befriend us after Simon had helped his wife when she twisted her knee, after falling on the pontoon at Fort Augustus) pre-warned us (via the ship’s radio) about the hidden harbour entrance, followed by a sharp turn to port to get onto the visitors pontoon. Our entry was therefore tight but straightforward, whereas Mr ‘Local Knowledge’, who followed us in, ran aground and had to wait for the tide before he could make the pontoon – maybe we shouldn’t have trusted so much in his tips, though they did come good for us. He also informed us about the local pub – The Steamboat, where you signed in for the marina, picked up the shower codes etc. Robin King at Oban had also suggested we have a drink for him and Sam at the pub, so we headed up there. Unfortunately, there was a power cut so it was very quiet in there and didn’t look its best but the barmaid was helpful and the map tables were interesting.

 

Around the harbour there has clearly been some work done to renovate the buildings and turn them into apartments and after wandering along the sea wall we discovered a couple of nice restaurants overlooking a beautiful sandy bay and we enjoyed a lovely meal at the 1629 Restaurant, which was very atmospheric, with excellent home cooked food and great customer service. We didn’t linger too long after dinner and hurried back to the boat as we had a long trip to Peterhead planned for the next day.

 

 

Lossiemouth (57.72 16 degrees N 3.28 03 degrees W) to Peterhead (57. 5081 degrees N 1.78 41 degrees W)

Tuesday 08 – Wednesday 09 August

We set off on the 59 mile sail to Peterhead on the morning tide, leaving the harbour as soon as we could, to maximise the time available. We had considered stopping at Banff but had then heard we couldn’t because the harbour wall had fallen down and, spurred on by a desire to round the headland and begin to head south, we decided to just go for it and aim for Peterhead that day.

We had a usual wind on the nose situation as we continued eastbound but hit an exciting milestone when we checked the mileage just at the exact point we did 1000 miles! As we rounded the bend past Fraserbrough the wind picked up as did the sea swell but we still managed our photo with the NAS flag to mark the farthest NE point of our sailing challenge and just round the tip we celebrated the fact that we were now heading SOUTH (pictures showing 180 degrees on the compass). The tide remained with us, though the wind went round southerly, so we had a wind against tide situation (something that has become all too common coming down the east coast) but we progressed doing an average 6.7 knots, as we neared Peterhead.

Well, what can I say about Peterhead? It is clearly a commercial port with large trawlers and boats servicing the oil industry. Much of the (very large) harbour area is surrounded by silos, warehouses, cranes, huge ships in various states of repair and disrepair and smaller tired looking fishing boats. There is nothing pretty or atmospheric about Peterhead.  Life there looks tough and the buildings in and around the town reflected the harshness of life there, being sombre and grey with many shops having closed down. There were signs of a resurgence in the fishing trade however, with some large new trawlers and a new fish market being constructed.

Having searched for a nice café for brunch we had the choice of Wetherspoons in the centre of town, the Dolphin Café which did fish and chips opposite the fish market and the Seaman’s Mission. It may (or may not) surprise you to find out that we chose the Seaman’s Mission. Situated near the commercial harbour in an old building that had clearly seen some renovation, the Mission had a jolly café area, which clearly doubled up as a church at times. The tables were decked with checked (plastic) tablecloths with small vases of flowers, there was a good menu of home cooked food and good prices and the staff were friendly and helpful. The toilets even had flowers and hand cream! So, in the unlikely event that you are ever looking for a tasty, reasonably priced lunch in Peterhead, do try the Seaman’s Mission – which is also a good organisation to support.

The visitors’ pontoons in the marina area are across the other side of the harbour and are a good walk or taxi ride from the main town and the nearest shop for milk etc. is the local garage. There is a fuel jetty which we made the acquaintance of but it was easily the most challenging fuel jetty we have had to use. Situated between two very large vessels on the high jetty, with nothing to tie onto in the swell of the tide it was not the most welcoming place we’ve been. Fortunately, Simon had the foresight to pay in advance or I could still be waiting for him making his way back from paying at the very distant harbour office!

The grey houses you can see in the photo were like many we saw throughout Scotland from Oban and Fort William to Ardrishaig and here in Peterhead. At times the Scottish architecture is powerful and impressive or cosy and cottagy, as are the crofters houses, but when you see hillsides covered in a multitude of gloomy grey boxes you wonder if Scotland is the land that the architects forgot!

The weather brightened up but got ever more blustery while were in Peterhead and it was here we decided to change how we described the wind and from now on it was not to be blowing a 4 or a 6 or even 16 or 24, it was to be a two peg, four peg or even up to 8 peg day which identified how many pegs we needed to put onto our towels when we put them out to dry, obviously  the more pegs the windier it was  and in Peterhead we maxed out with a full eight pegger. Clearly it was a day to stay put, rather than venture out into the North Sea.

It was not with any regrets that we said goodbye to Peterhead but certainly with a lot of respect for the touch seamen who make their living there. And so on we continued our journey southbound to Stonehaven.

 

Peterhead to Stonehaven (56.96 37 degrees N  2.20 93 degrees W)

 Wednesday 09 -Saturday 12 August

Stonehaven lies around midway between Peterhead and Arbroath. We had considered doing a very long run down to Arbroath but having read up about the tides, access through the lock gate into Arbroath Harbour and knowing how inaccurate the weather forecast has been, particularly in the afternoon, we decided to do the shorter run to Stonehaven. This was a lucky decision as just past Aberdeen, the wind (yet again) exceeded the forecast and instead of a gentle westerly 8-10 knots went SE and went up to around 28 knots (another 8 pegger). This was a classic wind against tide battle with Kairos crashing down into the waves; we really felt we’d met the North Sea proper today. An amateur photographer, Robert Lenfern, happened to be taking photographs as we came into to Stonehaven and he managed to capture some of Kairos in action, which he kindly sent to us – many thanks.

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It was therefore, not without some feeling of relief that we entered the sanctuary of Stonehaven Harbour. Stonehaven is a lovely traditional fishing harbour with the typical hidden entrance behind high harbour wall, clearly designed in years gone by to offer protection from the fierce North Sea. It didn’t read particularly well in the pilot books because what is on offer is a berth against the harbour wall and there are no facilities such as electric, water, Wi-Fi (in short supply in most places) or fuel. But what it did offer is a very warm welcome and a helping hand to get moored up against the high harbour wall, beautiful views, a comfortable, safe berth with clean showers (and hot water) and toilets and some lovely restaurants and bars around the harbour. It is an active picture postcard harbour with small fishing boats, sailing boats and a very busy lifeboat going in and out. The harbour master, Jim Brown, keeps his own beautifully refurnished old fishing boat in the harbour and he proudly showed us around, at the end of his shift – something man of wood, Simon, really appreciated. He was also very interested in and supportive of our sailing challenge and support for the National Autistic Society – so many thanks to Jim for a wonderful welcome.

The main town of Stonehaven was a short walk down the coastal path or through the streets at the back of the old village area. Not quite so pretty but well stocked with all the usual shops, it enabled us to get stocked up. The worst thing about the mooring was when the tide went down, the boat dropped around 3 metres which meant a long way up and down the harbour wall ladder which, being rather afraid of heights, was not something I relished. Needless to say, during our two nights against the harbour wall, I tried to time my trips ashore with times of high water!

 

We only had one neighbouring yacht in Stonehaven, which was a Dutch boat we had also seen at Tobermory and Seaport Marina at Inverness. A chat with the skipper revealed they were also planning to leave on the following morning tide but they hoped to reach cross the Firth of Forth any reach Eyemouth in the one sail as they were on a deadline to get back to Holland the following week. Also on a deadline but not quite so tight, we decided to stop at Arbroath on our way down the coast and then the following day continue to Eyemouth or Berwick on Tweed.

 

Stonehaven to Arbroath (56. 55 91 degrees N 2.59 15 degrees W)

Saturday 12- Sunday13 August

A beautiful sunrise accompanied us out of Stonehaven Harbour. This little port had been a delightful surprise offering us a pretty, sheltered and safe haven tucked snuggly behind the harbour wall but now it was out into the North Sea again and a relatively short 30 mile trip down the coast to Arbroath, home of the ‘Arbroath Smokie’ and our last stop in Scotland.

Unlike our trip to Stonehaven, the 35 mile sail south to Arbroath was calm, the wind was a light E/SE and we sailed with the mainsail up the whole way. The biggest challenge was arriving in Arbroath and looking for a suitable place to turn into the wind to drop the sail – there were lobster pots EVERYWHERE! We had been warned to be careful of the approach into Arbroath due to excessive pot laying but this was really something else! Where-ever you looked little flags waved and small buoys bobbed precociously daring us to get our prop anywhere near them. We finally chose a spot, did a speedy sail drop then negotiated our way cautiously through the maze of pots to the harbour entrance. We arrived just as the lock gate was opening for the afternoon tide and we slipped in to be greeted by the friendly harbour master, who welcomed us taking our lines. We did mention to him about the quantity of pots and he said it was pretty uncontrolled at the moment and was ‘like the Klondike for lobsters’ in the bay. He invited us to complain as not only is it challenging for those coming into the harbour but the sustainability of future stocks was also in danger from overfishing in the area.

Arbroath itself was another small, pretty fishing harbour. Known for Arbroath smokies which are smoked haddock, the town had several smokers which were open, even on a Sunday afternoon. There was also signs of recent investment on one side of the harbour, with new cafés and restaurants overlooking the seafront but as with many seaside towns, especially on the east coast, once you got behind the seafront there were also some tired, closed up buildings, indicating an eradication of the local economy – perhaps it is no wonder then, that the locals have resorted to mass lobster catching. No harbour wall for us in this port though, in Arbroath we had a pontoon berth with electric and water but sadly, still no wi-fi. Soon after we came in the weather changed so we put up our cockpit enclosure, ensuring a dry, cosy night for our last evening in Scotland. We had decided that tomorrow we would head for Berwick-on-Tweed which marks the border with England. Although it didn’t read as well as Eyemouth, there was entry at all states of the tide and psychologically we felt we needed to get back into England to feel we were making continuous progress. Mmmm……. perhaps we should have read the entry in the almanac more closely – but that’s another story!

For now Crazysails readers, it’s waterproofs on and off on the next part of our journey. Thank you for your feedback and support.

With best wishes and happy sailing from

The Kairos Crew

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