A Week in Whitby
At 09:30 on Saturday 3rd August 2013, we arrived at Royal Northumberland Yacht Club. ‘Kandula’ was moored in her usual place. I had lifted her out during the week and given her a scrub down and anti foul.
Karen and I loaded up the stores and cruising paraphernalia, immediately doubling the weight of the boat.
On went the food, the beer, wine and spirits. An extra fridge, two large bags of clothes, a dinghy with outboard, my guitar, various laptops and iPads and the other odds and sods that you can’t possibly do without when you are spending a week away from home.
Fully loaded; Kandula weighs about the same as the Queen Mary II.
The wind was from the West and was a little brisk. At 10am we slipped our lines and set sail with two reefs in the main and ¾ of the Genoa set.
Geoff and Suzanne had left earlier in the morning (about 5am, I was to learn later), taking ‘Miss Enigma’ to Whitby also. Our plan was to set off and see how far we got; before making a decision as to whether or not we were going to make Whitby in one go, or whether we would overnight in Hartlepool. In fairness we had left too late for the tides at Whitby. In fairness 5am is too bloody early for anything!
We left the river Blyth and headed south. It had been a good decision to put in the two reefs. ‘Kandula’ was sailing fast; pleased with her clean bottom. A feeling I appreciate myself. The sea, which had looked deceptively flat as we drove along the sea front, was starting to develop little white horses.
Karen’s fortitude lasted until we were just south of St.Mary’s Island. She started to feel a little tired!
A whole hour at sea, well done, Karen. She muttered something about going below, to check that the cabin was secure. (I next saw her at Hartlepool!)
The wind and sea were building. ‘Kandula’ was handling it well. With the two reefs in, we were flying (relatively) along at 7 kts. We were getting water over the decks and there was a lot of spray flying through the air. It was exhilarating, but a little tiring. I put the autohelm on; and the boat was so well balanced that she almost sailed herself. This allowed me time to trim the sails and take stock of the general situation. There was no way we were going to make the tidal gate at Whitby and therefore I decided that Hartlepool was a far better option for us.
We were starting to charge through the waves, rather than over them. The sea was getting up a little more. I took the tiller in hand, removed the autohelm and wedged myself into the corner between the guard rail and the pushpit.
I may not have mentioned the fact that we had set sail in glorious sunshine; it hardly seemed relevant at the time. It was ‘shorts and T Shirt weather’.
It was mildly amusing the first time a wave came over the deck and soaked me to the skin. The water didn’t have far to go really. I was after all in shorts and t-shirt!
I was contemplating going below to get some more appropriate gear on. However, the helm needed constant attention; and when I looked below deck, I was met by a scene from the ‘Exorcist’.
Although asleep (and completely unaware of what was going on)Karen was levitating in mid air; surrounded by various personal belongings, soft furnishings and a slightly bemused RNLI teddy bear. Karen, together with the assorted items were dancing around, slightly out of rhythm to the waves. As Kandula dropped into a trough, Karen hovered around the head lining. As Kandula rose up the next wave, Karen descended to meet the bunk. However, sometimes she wouldn’t meet it, as Kandula ducked down the next wave before Karen had a chance to land! It was like a diabolical scene from Disney’s ‘Fantasia’ with a little bit of William Friedkin thrown in. All that was missing was the revolving head and ‘pea green expulsions!’
We (and by we, I mean me) battled on. I went from being warm, dry and exhilarated to – Cold wet and rather disgruntled. This was a very regular cycle. The waves and spray kept coming, but the sun dried me quickly.
At about 3pm we were off the breakwater at Hartlepool.
The wind was blowing between a force 7 and 8. There was a lot of water in the air and Kandula’s bow was going up and down like a Brides Nightie!
Karen came on deck to help. We headed up into the wind and approached the marina at Hartlepool. Karen took the helm and started the engine. I went to roll away the Genoa. A wave took the bow, which was blown off course; backing the sail and causing it to unfurl fully with a loud bang. The furling gear was jammed solid. We had full sail out in a rising wind; amidst a confused and lumpy sea. Karen was fighting the helm, trying to pull her round back into the wind. The furler had twisted round under the force and was facing the wrong way.
I scrambled along the side deck to see if I could fix it. I couldn’t move the furler!
I could however revolve the forestay foil by hand. It was hard work, but inch by inch, I managed to get the sail rolled away. By the time it was rolled away fully, I couldn’t move my fingers, or lift my arms. Karen bought the boat back under control and we made our way towards the lock gates. Karen sorted out the lines and fenders. I steered with my chin!
It was a massive relief to get into safe water.
We slept extremely well that night. Karen even managed to stay attached to the bunk.
On a bright Sunday morning, we set off towards Whitby. The wind was still in the west. The sea was a little smoother; I had a jacket on.
Karen was wide awake and took the helm. (I tied her to the jack stays, so that she couldn’t get below decks)
It was fantastic sailing weather. We still had two reefs in. ‘Kandula’ was behaving well. We were hitting 7 – 8 kts. It was a fast and exciting sail down to Whitby. We hit our top speed of 9kts, hard pressed and hanging on in the gusts. As we approached Whitby, we were picking up VHF traffic. The RNLI were having a harbour day. There was a lot of activity around the harbour entrance. We decided to stow the sails early.
I turned the engine battery on and twisted the ignition key. NOTHING. Not a click, whir, cough or sigh. I looked at Karen and Karen looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders and said in a calm voice (I don’t know how I sounded calm, as I was a trifle worried at this point) ‘this could be awkward’.
Whitby harbour is not the easiest entrance on the East coast. There was a lot of activity, with boats flitting about to and fro. I really did not want to try sailing into a crowded harbour with a lumpy sea and high winds.
I double checked the battery switches, and tried again.
Benjamin Frankilin once said, “Only a fool tries the same thing over again and expects different results”.
I had three options-
- Sail into the harbour – Madness
- Call up the RNLY – Pride
- Start the engine manually – impossible!
Nevertheless, I grabbed the starting handle, opened the engine compartment and had a go. I couldn’t even turn the engine over.
I flicked over the decompression levers and tried again. I could turn the engine over, slowly.
Karen called down the companion way. The RNLI all weather boat was coming out of the harbour entrance on an exercise. Did I want her to hail the coxswain?
In desperation, I swung the starter handle, flicked over the decompression levers and good old ‘Kandula’ answered. The engine burst into life, and I nearly burst into tears of relief.
We motored into Whitby, straight into the middle of an RNLI showpiece. There were two ‘ribs’ an RNLI jet ski, the AWLB and thousands of spectators. I would have waved, but I couldn’t lift my arms!
We motored straight up to the bridge. Held station in the tidal stream for five minutes and then entered the marina. We tied up next to ‘Miss Enigma’
I had a beer.
I found out later that my charging system had packed up and a cable had come away from the batteries.
The week was relaxing. There was a glorious amount of sunshine. We shopped and drank and ate. We watched the world go by.
Mid week, we decided to take the dinghies up the river Esk. We slowly motored up stream. There were all sorts of flora and fauna. Some magical sheds and hidden slip ways. Dilapidated boats rotting away, holiday homes and all manner of interesting nooks and crannies. We managed to get as far as the weirs at Ruswarp.
We turned the boats around and started to make our way back to the marina. It was at this point that I noticed that the dinghy was not quite as firm as it was when we set off. There was a gentle hissing coming from somewhere, and it certainly wasn’t being made by a swan.
I didn’t mention anything to Karen, as I didn’t want her to panic.
Geoff was not quite as tactful. He motored over to us and shouted, “Looks like you are sinking”. He laughed and shot off at full throttle. I tried to follow, but as I opened up the throttle, the boat just bunched up like a wrinkly doughnut. I decided that we needed to take our time. I put my finger over the little hole. It made a slight ‘farting’ noise as we chugged our way home.
Historic Whitby is well worth a visit.
Whitby is home to a number of things. Other than Dracula and Captain Cook, Whitby is famous for the most extortionately priced coffee in the Northern Hemisphere.
Whitby is also home to a man with the biggest nose I have ever seen.
The council must be wealthy too. I saw 5 workmen at some road works. In true British fashion, of the five of them; two were doing the work, whilst the other three stood watching. Makes you proud!
I decided that it was probably safer to sit in the cockpit of ‘Kandula’ and drink for the rest of the week.
Karen decided to join me. We were on home ground now. Drinking, we can do that!
We were joined at one stage by Dylan Winter of ‘Keep Turning Left’ fame. We sat and chatted about boating, the East coast, harbours and anchorages. It was most convivial.
We were also joined by ‘the gang’ on ‘Bumpi Too’.
They had sailed overnight on Thursday to join us for drinks and food on Friday.
In a moment of clarity, we decided to rename ‘Bumpi Too’ as ‘Bum Pie Too’, which later became ‘Arse Pasty’ at the time it was hilarious. Maybe you just had to be there.
Remarkably Mike Swann was well behaved…mostly.
I needed to do some work on ‘Kandula’, to get her ready for the return trip to Blyth. I needed to get the electrics sorted, change the batteries (expensive) as I had killed the ones on board.
I would like to say massive thanks to Geoff McDonough of ‘Miss Enigma’ for the time and expertise he gave me. Without his help, I don’t think I could have got everything ready for the long motor sail back home.
Although it took us 9 hours from pier to pier, it was thankfully; without incident.
We are thinking of going for Two weeks next year. It was great!
(We may however go to Greece on a charter; so we break someone else’s boat!)
Why not join us on the next exciting cruise? What could possibly go wrong?