Alarm at 5 and dressed and under way at the harbour entrance by 5.30 bound for Amble, but with other possibilities along the way should mood or weather dictate otherwise. Some early fishing boats follow us out into the dawn as we say goodbye to Whitby.
Today’s navigation is the simplest so far. Turn left out of Whitby, sail straight for 60 miles with some decent tide under us then turn left. Our actual track turns out to be rather more complicated as yet again the wind refuses to play nicely. The sea turns out to be slightly more lumpy than expected and stugeron becomes the friend of some of the crew. The sail is exhilarating at first (for most) although not completely in the direction we wanted.
As the day wears on the wind eases and becomes ever more fickle, playing with our emotions…suggesting it will blow us easily to Amble then chasing us back to Sunderland. The sea gradually becomes glassy smooth…almost oily in appearance and we thread our way through some coasters anchored off the Tyne.
As we close the coast once more, the mix of light and sea have an almost ethereal feel and Northumbria draws us into an altogether different mood. We see Coquet island from some way off and begin to feel the sense of anticipation at another new landfall. As we round the island some fishing boats leaving the harbour helpfully show us the way in.
We are approaching just before low water and the channel runs close in to the harbour wall…and some fishermen with lines. They don’t take their lines in and we can’t move out …we collect some gear along the way and one of them says “thank you” but it was probably ironic! The sill into the marina shows a depth of 1.4m (just) but we (James) has a go anyway… very slowly. We touch lightly but a burst of engine can’t get us over. Even James admits defeat and we slink away to wait for the tide.
We tie up just outside and dine on poached salmon, stir fry veg and some great garlic potatoes we ‘doggy- bagged ‘from Whitby. A lovely sunset behind Warkworth Castle (plus a dodgy forecast for Monday) enticed us to stay for a day and explore.
Amble is yet another coastal town whose main purpose in life has long gone. Once it was a thriving port transporting coal from the Northumbria coal fields, complete with rail heads shunting yards and busy wharves. Now it is struggling reinvent itself, with some craft huts and what turns out to be a brilliant bar/seafood restaurant called The Old Boatshed. Another reason to stay. Unbelievably they are almost full on Monday night and can only just squeeze us in at 5.30. The manageress has a wonderful accent, which to our ears is Geordie. She says it is definitely Northumbrian and we spend some time wondering how our relatively small island still has so many local accents. Just in our trip we have heard clear distinctions from Essex twang to Suffolk burr, followed by Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Whitby and York (with apologies to the folk from those areas) and now the far North East. Will Eyemouth, just a few miles up the coast, bring our first hearing of Scotland?
On Monday we have an unaccustomed lie-in and potter around doing stuff which boats always seem to need. We decide to tackle a niggling slow puncture in the tender. This turns out to need some two part adhesive which neither we nor the marina have. However they phone around and find some in Morpeth. Not for the first time we are bowled over by northern generosity as they offer to go and pick it up for us. By the time we get back to the boat from our walk around the castle it is waiting for us. This is brilliant service and the marina staff really do go the extra mile to help. The castle, by the way is worth a visit, but even more special is Bertrams café in the village. Our opinion….give the castle a glance from the outside and head for the great cakes.
We decide to be lazy and take the bus back to Amble to set ourselves up for dinner.
Some entertainment is laid on by the RNLI practising rescuing in the river and yet another stunning sunset. We realise that the light and the contrasts up here remind us of those crisp autumn days when the sun is low yet bright in the south…but it’s August!
The Old Boat Shed is understated but don’t be fooled, the fish is stunning. This will be our last meal in England for a while as tomorrow we head for Eyemouth.