Wednesday, 26 June 2013


After a weekend of quite awful weather (rain and wind) which I spent at home with the Owners Agent mainly looking for curtains for the new home ( none seen that matched specification) I returned to Vagabond at Wells-next-the-sea on Monday afternoon.
Vagbond didn’t seem to suffered from the weekend of neglect, so, after dumping my now clean washing, I walked up to beach at the seaward entrance to look at the winding channel we had come through.

The ‘tide was making full’ as they say, rushing up the channel at a good three or four knots.  I looked out to sea and was staggered by the surf across the bar. There was no sign of that from the seaward side when we came in. I was also amazed to see a large windfarm off shore. There had been no sign of that either.   I was glad the fisherman had shown us the way in and realised how poor the visibility had been. 
I spent the evening wondering whether we could make the 50 mile trip to Grimsby in one go or

whether to stop off at the small haven of Saltfleet.  To be honest, all the stuff I had read about the place rather put me off – the general recommendation was don’t go there unless you had local knowledge and certainly not at spring tides (which were on Tuesday).

In the end, I compromised. I put the entrance to Salfleet into the GPS as a way point (just in case) and put together a passage plan for Grimsby.  The course was approximately NNW. The latter was slightly complicated by the situation at Grimsby: the very high spring tide meant that the lock gates into the old fish dock would only be open for an hour at a time – ending one hour before high water and starting one hour after high water.  So we needed somewhere to park (anchor) if we arrived in the middle of the window.
Tuesday was bright and sunny, with what wind there was coming from the north –almost bang on the nose again. Freddie was going to be busy......
We pushed off at 07:15, with the tide still making at bit, so we pushed against the incoming stream out to the bar and then through the waves making the surf. I clipped in. It was uncomfortable and the tide was pushing us hard to the east – the wrong way. Nonetheless, up went the sails and we set off – at three and a half knots to the north east, mostly due to the tide, almost at right angles to where we wanted to do. This lasted for about 5 minutes. Down came the jib. On went Freddie and we turned in the direction we want to go in. With Freddie going full chat, we managed to “motor sail” at two and a half knots in the right direction and this went on for the next couple of hours.

A large tug went past in the other direction, towing what looked like a very large fender.
Gradually, the tide eased in our favour and the wind veered a little towards the east of north. Another wind farm came into view as we crossed the expanse of Wash.
Behind it I could see the roller coaster at the holiday camp in Skegness. 

 I refilled the motor fuel tank and started worrying that I would not have enough fuel to make the trip.
Our speed increased and we sped along at a tide and Freddie assisted six knots. The wind freshened a little, so I gave Freddie a rest and we actually sailed for a bit (not in totally the right direction, but near enough). It looked as if we’d get to Grimsby in time to catch the open lock gates. We’d still got another 3 hours of tide in our favour. An aircraft flew past, very low and slowly. It made a return run half an hour or so later.
The wind died.  On came Freddie and we pushed on. We came up to the Wainfleet bombing range and I debated whether to do through it, or divert to miss it. In the end, I did a bit of both, cutting across the NE corner.
We had just cleared it when, with a roar, two pairs of jets sped across the sky......

I had hoped we would get up to the entrance to the Humber before the tide turned against us again. We missed this tide gate by about a mile – that mile took us an hour to get through, as the north sea flooded south to fill the Wash. Eventually, we passed the point where the flow divided and we were now being pushed into the Humber at about 7 knots.
Freddie was throttled back.  The wind had died completely, so the mainsail came down and the tide (and a little Freddie) pushed us up past Spurn head and into the entrance to the Humber. We now had company. Wind Farm support vessels anxious to get the staff home for the evening, local fishing boats anxious to off load their catches and large freighters aiming for the docks up stream.

The wind farm support vessels were very useful to us –  I had to look into the light to seek out the entrance to the Grimsby fish dock.  Although there was a good landmark near the lock, I ws not able to see it until we were less than half a mile from it, the visibility was so poor.
We finally entered the dock at 19:00 and were tied up in the Marina by the time the lock gates shut. 55 miles showed on the trip, in just under eleven hours. If it hadn’t been for Freddie, we’d still be out there....
By the way, the Marina is in the former fishdock in Grimsby. It's surrounded by industrial derilication, particularly the former "largest ice production palnt in the world". This looks as if it was locked up on one Friday and then someone threw away the key. The chutes are still in place, awaiting the next trawler to arrive for it's supply of ice. Through the windows, you can see the machinery is all still in place but the windows are broken and the roof is coming off...
The museum of fishing, three or four blocks away, is worth the visit.

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