Miles logged: 60
Total miles logged: 1,014
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 33
Days at sea: 21
Early this evening we arrived in Scotland.
Today, in addition to crossing the border, we passed the thousand mile point so must now be roughly half-way around Great Britain. Around a hundred miles will, right at the end of the circumnavigation, be in England as we head for Fleetwood, so most of the remainder of the trip will be sailed in Scottish waters.
We left Royal Quays at 0800 passing through the Tyne breakwaters to sea without seeing another vessel. Turning to port to head north we raised our sails and found that we were making around 6 kts in a decent breeze of about 14 kts. Running before the wind we passed Whitley Bay with its splendid lighthouse – so often photographed in storms – then continued past Blyth and towards Amble. Off Amble stands the small island of Coquet, now designated as a nature reserve. It was literally teeming with sea-birds. We watched puffins flying in every direction, mostly in pairs, with their colourful beaks plain to see. There were elegant, streamlined terns, guillemots and many others. The island itself was covered everywhere with birds. There is a small lighthouse there with a dwelling attached but no other sign of human disturbance. Whoever lives in the house cannot get much peace and quiet.
The wind dropped for a while so we had to motor-sail on towards the Farne Islands but when we then turned further to port to follow the coastline the wind came up and we were able to sail, exhilaratingly in fact, for the rest of the leg.
Approaching the Farne Islands, the imposing remains of Dunstanburgh Castle could be seen, standing conspicuously on a mainland promontory.
We arrived at the Farne Islands – a low-lying archipelago of 15-20 islands (depending on the state of the tide) in greyish, dull weather with the odd shower so were not able to enjoy the scene as we had hoped. There is a route through the sound between the mainland and the islands and it is clearly buoyed; in the settled conditions it was the obvious route to take. We could see the red-and-white-striped Longstone lighthouse, from which Grace Darling saw the shipwreck whose rescue she undertook with her father. Her bravery brought her great fame in Victorian England.
After the Farnes we were able to sail on a fast reach for the rest of the leg, all the way to Eyemouth. We passed Holy Island some way off and then settled into the final 20 miles or so, throughout seeing a great many sea-birds close to and a solitary dolphin. The wind built to over 20 kts and both yachts were sailing at great speed. Whist we were, of course, not racing we were both reluctant to be the first to reef but eventually I had to bring some mainsail in as Bubble was becoming difficult to handle. By then she was thundering along at up to 8 kts over the ground.
Passing Berwick-upon-Tweed, we continued on beside towering cliffs and at some point crossed the border into Scotland. Curiously, the border is not marked on the charts. We had great difficulty finding the entrance to Eyemouth harbour because it faces north-east and nothing at all is visible from the south-west, hidden as it is by cliffs. The entrance is said to be very dangerous, or even impossible to enter in northerly winds so we were grateful that our entry was in more favourable conditions. The entrance itself is a long, very narrow, concrete-lined channel; one can imagine the sea rolling along it in storms. As I entered the channel a family, in wet-suits, was enjoying what seemed to me to be a perilous activity; they were jumping off the concrete breakwater into the sea. It was a very long way down.
Inside we were made welcome by the harbourmaster which was encouraging given that Eyemouth is essentially a fishing port. We had to raft together on the visitors’ pontoon but that is of no issue for us.
The harbourmaster advised us to leave tomorrow because on Tuesday dreaded northerly winds are forecast. Mike and I met up and decided to proceed to Arbroath, from where we will contemplate our passage to the far north of Scotland.
There is some video footage of this leg here.