Log of Bolivar 1979 – Blyth – Craster – Newton – Boulmer – Blyth

The new baby, Katie, had her first sail when she was some four weeks old and through June we had had several races and sails with her on board. She slept her first night on board on the Bass Rock weekend when Bolivar had to man the finishing line in Blyth Bay.  We decided that we should try a weekend away to sort out any wrinkles. Accordingly we sailed from Blyth at 17.15 and headed North.

The weather was not encouraging. The forecast was 5/6 West going North West, and had been a Force 8 earlier.  The wind was true to its forecast although westerly, it was beginning to rain and was cold. Bolivar was very comfortable under small jib and a big reef and we made good progress despite a foul neap tide.  The baby was a little unsettled (not unusual, even ashore) so Susan stayed below until Newbiggin was near.  I then went below for the forecast and cooked tea; soup and garlic sausage butties, the mainstay of any decently victualled yacht!  The forecast was the same and the bitterly cold rain continued halfway up to Coquet which was passed in 2 hours 50 minutes.  The sun came out and it was clear and cold with the shore showing dark as we motored into Craster at 21.45: 4½ hours for some 22 miles – 5 knots and a foul tide! We moored alongside the south pier end which necessitates some neat heaving of warps to by-pass the remains of the old roadstone bunker.

I repaired to the pub to buy cigars and on return sounded for the depth.  I estimated that, as the tide was smallish, we should perhaps not touch the bottom, but I stayed awake until 00.15 to check. Low water was just over an hour after this.  We probably had about a foot under us at bottom of the tide, which is odd as I have seen this area dry completely at big springs.  On the other hand, according to the fishermen the big onshore gales of the previous winter had removed much of the sand from the harbour and there were certainly large areas of shingle and rock showing.  I have known a sand bar form some 10 metres or so outside the piers, shallower than the entrance itself.  In settled weather the local cobles which normally launch down the beach, lie against the South pier wall, although I have lain the night there in Squib. The North pier has rocky ledges and should only be lain alongside after a preview.  There was a slight range working in but not enough to worry even if she had touched.

The morning 06.25 forecast remained the same and I was ashore before 09.00 to buy fresh rolls and the usual forgotten items, now more numerous with a baby – clothes pegs and toilet paper!

We cleared the harbour at 09.45 and motored up inside the Little Carr until clear.  The wind went steadily lighter and off Embleton Bay the engine was started to motor into Newton where we anchored at 11.00. We anchored in the North West part of the anchorage.  The best water and shelter is over towards the Emblestone Rock, but it is also the longest row ashore!

On the beach we tried Katie’s carrying sling for the first time and after the baby had protested for some time I discovered I’d actually put her legs through the armholes.  It was very pleasant having a beer outside the pub in the sheltered square while, eventually, the baby slept.

Back on board and up anchor at 14.45.  On leaving the anchorage we passed six or seven Coquet yachts on the way in on a Rally.

The wind was a light easterly and the sunshine only occasional so after a try at sailing, from Dunstanburgh we started the engine and arrived at Boulmer, anchoring in the usual place, just inside the entrance at 17.15. After listening to the forecast we rowed ashore with the baby.  On landing on the beach we managed to swamp the dinghy.  The baby was strapped to Susan’s front and so only got her feet wet, while we were both wet from the waist down.  We obviously come into the slow learner category – we had the oilskins with us, but in a shopping bag!  Nothing daunted we had a quick visit to the pub – children are usually allowed in the side room – and then returned on board.  The evening had brightened somewhat and was very pleasant.  I cooked a Bolognese and, once the baby was asleep, we had a peaceful couple of hours in the cockpit – noting that at neap tides the reefs barely uncover.

Up late the next morning to clear Boulmer at 13.00 with a very light South Easterly wind.  It was very chilly and grey, and we short and long tacked down the coast, a short out to clear Coquet and then one at Newbiggin.  At the top end of Druridge we passed Len Fazakarley’s Whimbrel running North.  The chimneys at Alcan and Blyth Power Station showed westerly all the time, and morale rose considerably when in Newbiggin Bay at 18.45 the wind came round to that direction force 3-4 and it became warm and sunny.  We romped into Blyth by 19.30.

It is worth noting that in 1972 in Squib I was coming down the coast in very similar conditions and noticed the same phenomenon on the chimneys.  Going in very close right into Newbiggin Bay off the mouth of the Wansbeck, we passed into a westerly wind, the water between the two vigorous winds was foaming and splashing up into small wavelets.  Wecarried the westerly all the way down the beach until we had to head out to avoid the Rockers and the Sow and Pigs and back into the South Easterly. Fifty yards off Blyth piers we were back in the warm westerly!