East coast: Grimsby to Eyemouth
Over the next legs I was absolutely overwhelmed by huge amounts of kindness and generosity from random strangers who went out of their ways to help me on this amazing adventure I had embarked upon. To sail around Britain solo.
Our stay in Grimsby was prolonged for an extra day as we soon had a day of strong 30 knot Southerlies coming up the coast. However, soon we were off again for what was going to be a 16 hour passage to Scarborough. During that passage I experienced my first memorable wildlife encounter of the trip when we rounded Flamborough head, best known for its large population of puffins and other seabirds which nest there. As we came around the headland, I was greeted by an array of birds all around me and all I can say was that it was truly spectacular!
By the time I reached Scarborough I was tired, we had had a long day and all I wanted was to eat some hot food and go to sleep. I was in for exactly that. Well, that’s what I thought! To my surprise, as we motored into Scarborough at around 8:30 that evening, I was met by a whole crowd lining the harbour wall clapping and cheering me in! It turned out to be that the local Yacht Club (Scarborough YC) who happened to be celebrating a member’s birthday at the club that night, had heard about my arrival and decided to cheer me in. The welcome didn’t stop there though… not long after I had arrived, I was sat in the Club with a warm meal which they had so generously provided for me whilst the birthday celebrations carried on around me! I could not thank them enough.
The following morning, we were up early again and were headed for Hartlepool, one of our shortest legs for a while at only 45 nautical miles. Exiting Scarborough there was this beautiful sunrise which was filling the crisp morning sky with warmth and colour. It was going to be a good day. Soon we had the sails up and were gliding along the calm water towards Hartlepool. By breakfast time we were passing the idyllic little seaside town of Whitby (a destination that I really wanted to stop at, but due to the delayed start to my trip I needed to push on up the coast) and by the middle of the afternoon we were coming into the lock of Hartlepool Marina – might I add, by this time the sun had gone and we were in the pouring rain! We were getting used to the rain though and Alchemy and I waited patiently as the lock filled. Then, out the corner of my eye, I saw someone frantically waving at me from the side of the lock! Initially, I had a bit of a panic as I thought that something terrible was happening and I hadn’t noticed. However, soon the lady had caught my attention and explained that she had heard about my arrival from Scarborough YC. She said that she was so in awe of what I was doing and wanted to give me something, then she handed me a carrier bag containing a homemade cake, some snack bars and a card wishing me luck for the rest of my trip! I was completely taken aback, a complete stranger, who I had only frantically met a few minutes before, had gone go the trouble of baking a cake that morning and bringing it to Hartlepool, not even knowing for certain that I would be coming in there! As soon as I moored the boat up, I made sure I went and said a huge thank you for her incredible generosity. These acts of kindness were such an unexpected element of my trip, and certainly something I will never forget.
Our stay in Hartlepool was again brief as we had to keep on pushing on up the coast whilst the weather was good. The next morning I was off to Royal Quays Marina in North Shields. That day felt like a holiday compared to some of the previous legs we had had, calm seas and bright blue skies, it was brilliant!
Our time spent in Royal Quays turned out to be slightly longer than expected, as the weather had turned bad and although I had tried to leave on the second day, it was too rough, so we had to stay patient and wait for a couple more days. During our time there I once again had some very memorable experiences. This started off when I met the legendary sailor David Scott-Cowper who has completed a number of record-breaking voyages as well as 6 circumnavigations of the planet! I had the pleasure of being able to show David around Alchemy during my time there which I was honoured to be able to do. During those couple of days I also met Graeme and his parrot Mango, yes that’s right, a parrot! Yes, It did talk, in a Geordie accent as well which provided a lot of entertainment!
I had had a great time in Royal Quays and to some extent was sad to leave there, but we had to push on, and there was only one more stopover left before Scotland now. As we headed out of North Shields I can recall we had a slightly stressful moment when I found myself sharing the channel with a huge barge carrying parts of an offshore wind-turbine, and was being towed by not one but four tug boats! Wow, did I feel small in my little 28 foot Alchemy! I was happy once we were out into some open water and a bit further away from it – if we were to hit something of that size, Alchemy and I would end up a lot worse off than them, to say the least. We had a fairly quiet passage to Amble, the weather was good and I even managed to let out my mackerel line for one of the first times of the trip which was a real novelty. Although I didn’t catch anything, and spent more time trying to untangle the line than the time that it was actually in the water, but, oh well, it kept me entertained.
The following morning, after a good night’s sleep in Amble, we set off for Eyemouth, our first stop in Scotland! Our journey there proved to be an uneventful motor when the forecasted light breeze didn’t materialise. However, we had a fantastic time looking at the scenery around us as we passed through the Farne Islands. Coming into Eyemouth I was very nervous. I had been dreading the entrance for weeks due to its incredibly narrow channel, that required pinpoint navigation to enter to ensure you don’t hit the boat-breaking rocks that are either side of it. As we approached my heart started pounding. Even though it was relatively calm, I could not afford to get this wrong. Soon though, I was committed to my course and we had to do it whether I liked it or not. Thankfully, we managed to get it right and within a minute we were safely into Eyemouth harbour. Our time spent in Eyemouth was brilliant, there was not a cloud to be seen and we had one of the hottest days on record. Our introduction to Scotland couldn’t have been better!
I was also about to meet a couple who had a story that was going to make me reflect a lot on my next passage. To reflect about the young people who I was raising money for on this trip, which would allow them to unlock the amazing opportunities that life contains. Just as I had done when I began my journey, back in 2018, to get to the start of this adventure of a lifetime that I was now in the midst of.