Another day of pondering the forecasts and whether we can make Scarborough reasonably comfortably. In the end we decide that we can make the 60 mile or so overnight passage when the fish dock lock opens at 9pm. The alternator comes back with a clean bill of health but John, who is a local member and semi-retired engineer, ran it in to have it tested for us and then had to be persuaded to accept some reimbursement even for his petrol. Our impression of the Humber Cruising Association, already high, is further enhanced when we ask the yard master for directions to Tesco. ‘Not a problem’ he says, ‘I’ll run you in’. Maybe we will meet this level of friendliness and service elsewhere, but have certainly not encountered it ‘down south’. Grimsby has something of a bad press and several people suggested Wells instead, but for the passing sailor, the HCA is well worth a detour in our opinion.
The lobster and crab shells had been turned into a very rich stock by Yee Tak and this went in to the risotto for our meal before the sail to Scarborough. As the light faded we locked out of the dock and said goodbye to Grimsby and the Humber. The trip down the river to Spurn Head turned out to be more exciting than we had planned, with huge amounts of ship movements up and down the multiple main channels.
We finally scuttled across to the relative safety of Spurn Head as darkness fell and picked our way cautiously around the Binks shoals. The seas started to build but once we were into deeper water the swell became quite long and Heydays settled into a slightly easier motion. Wind farms were our companion for several hours and made steering very straightforward. As the night wore on the wind and seas were on the nose with an uncomfy chop added to the significant swell. Dawn was a mixed blessing. It is always good to see the light appearing in the sky after a night at sea, but it also meant we could see the waves as they approached. Off Flamborough Head we were estimating the height between 3 and 4m but Heydays never once faltered, rising smoothly up and over and only occasionally burying her head briefly on the plunge down the other side.
Spotting pot buoys became almost impossible and even the few fishing boats which were out disappeared into the troughs, re-appearing minutes later with (un-life jacketed) men hauling lines on board.
We could see the waves breaking heavily on the shore and started to think about the entrance to Scarborough. This shoals towards the shore and requires a sharp turn to make the harbour. We did not fancy the prospect of breaking seas close in and started to consider the unappealing prospect of continuing to Hartlepool as the only safe refuge on this stretch of the coast. Perhaps it was tiredness or just the optimism of seeing our landfall, but one more surprise was in store. The town which we had convinced ourselves was Scarborough was in fact Filey…the wrong side of Filey Brigg headland. A course correction and gradually the real Scarborough opened up, glinting deceptively in the morning sun. We radioed the harbour master and received both reassurance and directions for the best approach. He even said that he would meet us on the dock to take lines and be ready with all the usual key fobs and toilet codes. Coming from the sea dressed in all our wet weather gear we were soon very over-dressed compared to the shorts and T-shirted holiday-makers watching us from the sea wall as we made our entrance. True to his word, the harbour master greeted us cheerily on the pontoon and once Heydays was snug we caught up on a night’s sleep pondering the vagaries of forecasts and especially the surprising seas which had made their way to meet us from the earlier gales off Scotland.
Scarborough turns out to be a funny mixture of fishing port (still a few traditional trawlers active), traditional seaside town with endless arcades and fish and chips, candy floss and do-nuts, topped off with some real grandeur in hotels and gardens.
We were in and out of a few bars searching for some decent beer and eventually found it in the delightful Golden Ball, which also turned out to be the closest to Heydays. Dinner on board tonight…smoked mackerel, avocado, tomato and olive oil to start, with the last of the ratatouille and pasta to follow….and an early night. The bedtime coffee tastes strangely of salt…so does the tea…so does the ‘fresh’ water in the newly fitted tanks. We’re too tired to do anything about it tonight but this will have to be sorted in the morning….can’t wait!