DAY 31 – Friday 20 May 2022 – Scarborough to Royal Quays Marina (North Shields)

Miles logged: 59
Total miles logged: 954
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 31
Days at sea: 20

There was a moment of panic on slipping my lines at Scarborough. I wrote previously of the limited space on the visitors’ berths there so I was keen to leave the berth and get out into the deep water as expeditiously as possible. Bubble was alongside, with a catamaran ahead and another behind, so Mike helped me to extricate Bubble as it would have been difficult alone. I chose to reverse out because there was no space to turn around had I moved off going forwards. As Bubble drifted away from the pontoon I engaged reverse and applied some revs but nothing happened and I continued to drift. After a few seconds, though it seemed more, it was obvious that my folding propeller had not unfolded. Mike advised me to engage forward gear and then apply a burst of power to open the prop, but not enough to ram the yacht into the large and expensive catamaran ahead. That worked and normal control resumed. I’ve never experienced this before but as least I now know how to deal with it.

Off Scarborough there was no wind and the sea was flat calm. We had our hands full avoiding the mass of lobster pot markers heading north and, as expected, we had a little tide against us still. After a while a breeze came up and we sailed for a while, though slower than the progress we had been making under engine. Not long after Whitby the wind dropped again and we motor-sailed, then motored, in the direction of Newcastle.

Whitby has space for yachts which must stay afloat but no marina; the deeper berths are the wrong side of a lifting road-bridge so berthing there has the tediousness of fitting in with its movements. I have had some frustrating experiences with lifting bridges, many of them in the Isle of Man, when one arrives at the bridge minutes after it has closed. There is then the problem of what to do and where to do it whilst waiting for the next lift.

I was looking forward to seeing the silhouette of Whitby Abbey and it was indeed magnificent, perched atop the cliff to the south of the town, but we were some way off as we passed so it was difficult to obtain a photograph which does justice to its splendour.

Whitby with its ruined Abbey

We had decided to make for Royal Quays Marina at North Shields, lying between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the debouchment of the Tyne into the North Sea though huge breakwaters at Tynemouth. We had first considered Hartlepool but access into the marina there is restricted to a few hours either side of high water, so we would have had to wait quite a time to enter on the evening tide. In any event, we knew that Royal Quays is a first-class marina with, as it claims, the best showers on the north-east coast (they are fabulous). It would also progress us further north. It was an easy decision.

Happily, after an hour of motoring away from Whitby the wind got up and we had a fine, sometimes exhilarating sail towards Newcastle. The wind was variable but generally increasing; we both had to reef and un-reef several times during the crossing and were, once again, pleased to be able to do so easily because of our furling masts. The wind was pushing 24 knots by the time we reached the Tyne and it had begun to rain a little. Fortunately, on calling Tyne VTS, we were granted permission to enter the river immediately and then to make the two-mile passage up to the marina entrance.

Pagets Lady, reefed right down, passes this now-disused lighthouse as we aproach the Tyne. The weather is deterioating by the minute

I was interested to see the Tyne breakwaters from the sea. Having recently experienced the Portland and Dover versions, I did not expect to be easily impressed but the Tyne structures are just as imposing, jutting a considerable distance out into the North Sea. We were relieved to be within but there was no sense of immediate calm because the wind was coming straight at us down the Tyne. I called the marina to obtain permission to enter the entrance lock once we had our bearings and had identified the river channel buoys. The lock operates, for locking-in, every 15 and 45 minutes past the hour so we hurried to make the 1915 entry. The entrance is just west of a deep-water berth in the Tyne and lying there was the vast cruise ship Ariana; she towered over us as we entered the lock channel and she towered too over the marina as the photograph shows.

About to pass into the Tyne, between the two lightouses, one on each breakwater arm

The lock-keeper was extremely helpful when we arrived though we wondered if it might have been better for us to berth then walk over the office rather than to fill in our registration forms on the clipboards he proffered in quite heavy rain. I doubted very much that he would be able to peel my sodden form from the clipboard without it turning to mush.

The channel to the entrance lock opens up to starboard. The cruise ship is the Arcadia

We will be very comfortable at Royal Quays for our rest day (‘rest days’ include far more than mere rest; we spend quite a time planning our next legs, doing washing, buying food, maintaining our yachts and so on). Having recorded 100 running hours since its last oil change I changed the oil and filter on Bubble’s engine this morning in the comfort of the quiet marina and that should, one hopes, see me through to the end of our circumnavigation.

It is now exactly one month since we left Fleetwood.

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