Monday morning came…and with it some 48 hours of strong north westerly winds. A real screamer! Time to depart Scarborough. The only window was exactly High Water at 8.50am… the depths in the inner harbour were unreliable and varied all over the place.
So Poli Poli made her exit at exactly 8.50am and once into the Bay met the toughest conditions so far. The swell coming in, pushed towards the coast by a 48 hour nor westerly made for large waves rolling in from the North Sea.
Where the swell met the shallow waters of the Bay, well the waves increased in height and speed. It was a battle to get out…but even with waves bigger than the boat ….Poli Poli did it.
It was a tough order, but we had to get Poli Poli into deeper water where the swell was less prominent. So a lot of “roli Poli”…surfing over the tops, up one side and down the other into a deep blue trough. Poli Poli was magnificent, answering every call on the helm. So not pleasant for the first hour or so…distinctly roller coaster type ride.
Once five miles or so off the coast, we turned south. The waves were still quite big but the enormous swell had modified. We took a lot of stinging, cold salt spray over the bow… but hey ho we hid beneath the spray hood.
By 11am we had rounded the famous headland at Flamborough..with its two lighthouses. Would have been quite risky had we been closer…but at a distance looked remarkably serene in a watery kind of sunlight. The big white breaking waves along the cliff line was a warning sign… come no closer!
We spied the little port of Bridlington and because the entire two harbours dry out to mud and shingle, we are pleased to have made the decision not to go there.
By 3pm we were approaching our first gigantic wind farm..and even though the wind was blowing 20 knots NW .. only one turbine was turning! Strange.
We had a “tidal gate” to contend with which was simply… we must not arrive in the Humber estuary with its shipping lanes before 5pm. If we did we would be swept out into the North Sea by the fast ebb tide coming down from Grimsby and Hull. Well we didn’t want that as we had had quite enough of the North Sea thank you!
On the map below it shows our planned approach route to the Humber shipping lanes. We changed our minds and did not do the thick north to south yellow track to the Spurn Racon buoy but came in at the top of the map…top right to the Humber Racon Green buoy. This was because we decided to pass the Humber Gateway Wind farm on the east side. As it was low water, passing the wind farm on the west side nearest Spurn Head presented quite a few hazards.
So we deliberately slowed the boat down. On motor, simply reduce speed. The main coastal tide was against us so we negotiated the wind farm at a snail’s pace.
We finally arrived at the very first buoy marking the start of the traffic lanes for the River Humber…the Humber Green Racon …the latter means it sort of is mounted on a little boat and is not only coloured and lit at night, but emits electronic signals.
Make no mistake…the approaches to the River Humber are as complicated and crowded as any I have seen…three major shipping lanes coming together just south east of the Spurn Head lighthouse…so literally nearly a hundred buoys…two old forts in the estuary …all serving major port destinations…Hull, Grimsby, Immingham and the oil installations at places like Killinghome…..as well as Goole further up the Humber.
At 5pm when we had reached the Racon Green..we had worked it out that we were never going to make the Grimsby Fish Docks Lock by 7pm. We had booked this earlier with the Lock Keeper.
It would take at least 3 hours to navigate our way through the maze of marked channels into the south lane and then up to Grimsby. Sunset was about 6.20pm.
So a night entry lay before us. Whilst that introduces a higher level of anxiety into the proceedings …you just remember the golden rules for sailing in the dark….water under the keel, identify each buoy and navigate buoy to buoy …and above all identify by light pattern, both moving and stationary vessels.
Our route into Grimsby would take us past 24 different buoys …all lit with flashing lights …different colours and different sequences would identify what lights they were…eg flashing red a red buoy, green similar ..white flashes more difficult eg a West Cardinal buoy would be 9 quick flashes. Sounds hard…it is!
We navigated down the NE shipping channel …on the right hand side of the inbound type of dual carriage way to a huge triangular area known as The Precautionary Zone where three dual carriage ways meet!!
Keeping on the outside west route, we skirted this …and then checking carefully, and hoping no traffic fore or aft..and none coming from the side…we quickly crossed the inbound dual carriage way to exit the main lanes at the Tetney Mono Buoy. Relief…big sigh…
Then, now very dark, just a matter of following 11 reds up to the lock gates at Grimsby. The eleven include reds not on the main chart…that guide you into the lock. Sounds straight forward… not so as there were big ships at anchor to go round and some obscuring the flashing red lights. But we did it..slowly.
By 8pm we reached the big lock into Grimsby Fish Dock Numbers 1 and 3. The lock keeper, Leah ..a most pleasant and helpful young lady guided us into the dark lock and dropped long fore and aft ropes to us below. The sea gate clanked shut, and Poli Poli ascended until we were at the same level as the dock on the inside. The big gates landside opened…and we chugged into Fish Dock Number One. Nearly pitch black..and as the horrible NW had eased, was able to hold station whilst Mike put out the fenders and lines both sides of the boat.
Mike stood at the pulpit (bow ) wearing a snazzy, powerful head torch which made just enough light for the helmsman ( me ) to see our way into the marina in No 2 Fish Dock. We had to locate berth B9 which had been reserved in the visitors section for us. It was the only spare one they had. At a snails pace, after a bit of tooing and froing we reversed backwards, in the dark, into B9.
To put it bluntly, we were knackered. A kind Club guy called Steve came down just as we tied up and offered to open the bar for us!!! We we too tired even for that…so after a quick hot Cornish pasty and beans we went to bed. No rest for the wicked.. as by about 11pm the horrible north westerly was screaming through the rigging. Welcome to a night of screaming banshees!
Total Mileage for the day: 70.30 n. miles.
Total Mileage from Eastbourne : 2,355.2 n. miles.
Grimsby berth B9 reserved for Poli Poli. Most marinas will not reserve berths for visitors. Usually a first come first served basis. Grimsby kindly did this for us. We found the sign the next morning.