Time to make tracks again leaving Scotland and heading south for the big smoke London! We have 9 days before our visitor (Maree’s Mum) arrives from Australia and we plan on being berthed in the River Themes at least the day before she arrives…hopefully! A real bonus would be to arrive two days before her allowing for us to do some washing, that includes us, the boat, our clothes and the cabin bedding sheets etc – but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Thankfully there isn’t a lot to entice us into stopping on the way down the east coast from Scotland to London (the coast being very exposed and the inshore waters being full of wind generators), and furthermore the North Sea is again throwing up a very shallow uncomfortable chop – delightful not, so we moved pretty quickly.
Blythe . . . We arrived at Blythe and the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club on dark and left at sunrise the next morning. It was halloween weekend and we were invited to join in their celebrations at their clubhouse which was actually an old floating lightship the HY Tyne III, previously Light Vessel No. 50, and is now the oldest floating timber light vessel remaining in Great Britain and only one of three still identifiable as a light vessel. In 1908 there were 54 light vessels on station mainly around the East Coast, the Thames Approaches and along the South coast. These days being used as a club house and bar the only physical identification mark on her is LV 50 engraved into one of the deck beams in what is now the bar area. She is 100 ft (30.48 metres) in length; her beam is 21ft (6.4 metres) with a draft of 9 ft (2.74 metres). She weighs a little over 230 tons deadweight and was never fitted with an engine always being towed to station. Living conditions on lightships were hard, cramped and noisy. ‘Her crew consisted of 11 men, lamplighters, fog signal drivers, able seamen, Master and a Mate; with a compliment of 7 working on the ship at a time. The Master and Mate rotated 4 weeks on board whereas the ratings served 8 weeks afloat then 4 weeks ashore. Totally self-sufficient they had to remain on station in the wildest of weather to ensure the safety of vessels passing by the hazard as she was never fitted with electric light for signalling and after 73 years of hard service, repairs and refits the old lady was finally decommissioned.
Whitby . . . Next stop was Whitby where we actually stayed two nights having a walk around the old abbey during the day as well as topping us with Gas, as our next leg was going to be a day, night, day sail down to Lowestoft a distance of about 150 nautical miles estimated to take about 28 hours. Halloween still in full throws and we were actually egged overnight with some young horns throwing eggs from the shore down onto the pontoons, one landing on the cabin deck – not impressed! The morning we left we had to fight the tide and waves to get out of the river entrance, much nicer once in the open as it was quite a washing machine at the river entrance.
Lowestoft . . . We arrived earlier than expected at Lowestoft and docked at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club (picture us with our noses up the air here). It was the first yacht club that we had visited that had a dress code/standard, lucky for us it didn’t seem to be enforced as nothing was said to us and we were both wearing jeans with holes in the bum and knees. I will share the extract of the arrival brochure with you for your enjoyment:
I just love the example of smart casual, specifying the shoes etc and that it may be word with a jumper in cooler weather – how very gracious of them! It’s fair to say we stayed away from the dining room and bars 🙂 It was actually a good place to stop, easy to get in and out of in the boat being right on the coast and the staff were friendly and helpful (we were the only visiting yacht in the harbour and being mid week less chance of us upsetting the club toffs). Caught up on the nights sleep we missed whilst sailing and also made a start on the washing ready for London. Lowestoft itself is somewhere that you shouldn’t worry if you miss (that old saying if you can’t say anything nice about a place don’t say anything at all springs to mind). As lovely as the yacht club was the town really wasn’t. The high street was at least 50% empty and what was there were mainly cheap shops and charity 2nd hand store and OMG I have never ever seen so many mobility scooters in one town. Every second person was on one and every shop had them parked up outside (as well as more inside frustratingly taking up the isles so you couldn’t move around them), so many in fact that it seemed to be a bit of a competition as to whom could dress theirs up the most or customise it! Did make us wonder what old people did before these scooters became available and common, and the only answer we could come up with was that they were house bound and stayed home – maybe a good thing for places like this.