Log of Bolivar 1979 – Seahouses and Holy Island – Amble and Seahouses

August  23 – 28th


We cleared Blyth at 11.00 with a fair tide and a force 2/3 Westerly, so made brisk progress, passed Coquet Island in 2 hrs. 40 minutes and Boulmer Stile in 3 hrs 45 minutes.  We were bound for Seahouses where we were to spend a couple of days meeting friends who were staying with us at home.  What looked as if it would be a fast passage followed the now well-established pattern for the season and the breeze, once Boulmer was passed, began to fade.  Eventually at 16.30 off Dunstanburgh we started the engine to arrive at Seahouses at 18.00.  We lay in the outer harbour against the North Wall at the same ladders as last time.  Bill and Bev showed up and in the later evening Susan and I took turns alternately babysitting and sitting in the Old Ship.


Surf at last for the canoeists, so after the boat was dried out mid morning we went up the Bamburgh beach where Bill and Bev played for a couple of hours in a big surf, but which they claimed was dumping too much to be good.  Evening at the Ship again!


We cleared Seahouses at 09.00 under sail before we took the bottom, and with a fair tide and a force 2 South Easterly were soon into the Kettle where we anchored for breakfast.  This delightful anchorage never fails to please, despite the increasing number of goggling visitors. At 11.05 we were off again, bound for Holy Island.  The breeze was about the same, but the brightness of the morning had gone; it was now grey and rather cold.  We anchored, just to the West of Gunners Hole and right off the shelf, at 13.00.

Some R.N.Y.C. yachts were on the moorings when we arrived.  Border Collie had come up overnight, Goddess Freya and Quo Vadis from Whitby arrived together after tea, and in near darkness Geebee arrived and attempted to pick up one of Bolivars anchor dans.


A fine Holy Island morning.  We had been turned in by midnight so were happy to be awake by 08.00, in any case the baby made a lie in difficult.  Enjoyable though the eccentric licencing hours at Holy Island are, it always strikes me as silly to go ashore at 10 o’clock and return at 1 or even 2 a.m., when the same hours could be ‘put in’ in the evening. It invariably ensures late rising the following day, or loss of sleep. The only advantage is that the evening is a delightful time to go for long quiet walks around the Island.

We went ashore at lunchtime for a walk around the Ooze to the Castle Point and on our return found the Holy Island Regatta in full swing.  Many of the ‘weekenders’ have Mirror dinghies which they raced and, coupled with a barbecue on the beach below the Heugh, it made an enjoyable afternoon. The breeze was brisk, but there were no casualties.

Jim Clark appeared on the Island having arrived by road to announce the future arrival of Popgun from St. Abbs with John Clark and Stuart McLeod on board.  She threw down her anchor later that afternoon.

After a long stroll ashore that evening I put Susan and Katie on board and repaired back to the Castle Hotel at about 22.30 where a ‘Folk’ sessions was in full swing.  All the Blyth visitors were there and several solos performed; what was lacking in quality was certainly made up in enthusiasm.  Well after 02.00 ‘time was finally called, and I returned on board to enjoy listening to the efforts of the others as they moved to their own boats.  The party continued a while on Border Collie.


Still a large swell from the North, but the wind had largely abated: there had been a strong 4/5 Northerly the night before.  Border Collie left for Blyth, but Geebee had developed engine trouble and was left on a mooring for the rest of the week.

In the evening we entertained Bill and Bev on board to supper and they stayed until after midnight.


The log was not, for some forgotten reason, written up for this day, but we left the moorings mid-morning in company with Goddess Freya. There was a brisk Westerly which freshened.  We reefed before Freya and as we did so, off Newton, she came past us, only in turn for us to pass them as they did the same shortly afterwards.  Being faster she eventually got through us again, off Alnmouth Bay and beat us into Blyth by about 20 minutes.  Bolivar may not be a fast boat, but a difference in time from Holy Island of as little as this can’t be bad.

Friday 28th September

We left Blyth at 17.57 aiming for the last cruise of the season to make Amble, then Seahouses.  The forecast was 3-4 Westerly, going South and the evening was sunny and fine, but with the wind promising to go light.  There was also that autumnal feeling of the threat of ground frost which although attractive ashore, is not so in a boat.

The sun disappeared when we were off the Power Stations, leaving a beautiful evening.  A smoke haze off Newbiggin; no smokeless zone there as the miners burn their concessionary coals and we therefore didn’t see Coquet Light flashing until North of the Point, and the same haze suddenly obscured Blyth, St. Mary’s Light and the Tyne.

We passed both the Bondicar and Hauxley Buoys close, both visible in the dwindling moonlight and off the North East Coquet Buoy the motor was started, and we secured alongside the Radcliffe Quay outside a fishing boat at 23.00.  Chips were brought from the town and we stayed awake for the 00.15 forecast.


Up at 08.00, woken by the baby.  As she was now on a bottle it had been my turn, being a weekend, to feed her in the night, but the sea air must have done her some good as she didn’t stir at all, but slept from shortly after leaving Blyth!

We left, with a fair tide, at 11.00.  It was fine and warm with a gentle Southerly breeze which we carried all the way up.  We sounded through the rocks off Craster and cruised around for a while sounding in Beadnell Bay, coming out close by the Point.  We secured in Seahouses Outer Harbour against the middle pier at 16.00.  It had not been like an autumn day at all until late, but the forecasts began to sound ominous for the next day, threatening South Easterly 5 to 6.


The Assistant Harbour Master seemed pleased to see us go – I think he had visions of us getting stuck and, leaving Bolivar all winter.  All the other pleasure craft were out of the water.  The previous year, on the last weekend of October, despite glorious weather, it had been the same.

Well reefed and with the storm jib we sailed out at 08.30 into a full 5/6 South Easter with big seas.  After 45 minutes out to sea with the last of the flood tide we broke tack and made Embleton Bay.  The wind had eased slightly, just as well as now we had a foul tide, albeit neaps. Susan, feeding the baby below, had been seasick and only the baby’s cot remained dry as we were thrown about.  The next long tack took us into Alnmouth Bay where we picked up flat water and beat through Coquet Roads. I actually put on the genoa for a while, but had to remove it again to change down off the Bondicar.  After about an hour’s blow the wind eased back to a force 4 again and we made Blyth by 19.00 as it got dark.  A slow passage, but despite the weather and foul tide we had done 2.9 knots over the ground.

Very tired, wet, but pleased, we packed up the boat knowing we had done a good season’s cruising.  Of the 750 miles cruised by Bolivar, the baby had done some 550 miles – all before she was five months old.