A cruise along England's north-east coast - Grimsby to Amble

Recommended places to take your Cape Cutter 19 with details of anchorages, marinas etc

A cruise along England's north-east coast - Grimsby to Amble

Postby Runrig » Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:16 pm

A Cruise Along England’s North-East Coast – Grimsby to Amble

This short cruise was undertaken in July 2020 as the travel restrictions from the first wave of Covid-19 were just beginning to be eased. Due to the restrictions many facilities and attractions along the route were closed or limited in their offer.

The route visits busy commercial docks and crosses shipping lanes. A working VHF is essential.

Grimsby to Bridlington (48nm)
The Humber Cruising Association (HCA) operate a marina in the old fish dock at Grimsby. It has a thriving bar, clean showers and a boat hoist to assist launching. There is no ramp for self-launching.

The dock area is very run down with many derelict buildings but it is only a short walk to the town centre with a range of shops, restaurants and pubs. There is a large Tesco supermarket 10 minutes’ walk from the harbour gates. A Museum of Fishing close to the town centre recalls the heyday of Grimsby as a thriving fishing port.

Two hours either side of HW the lock into the Humber from the fish dock is open for free-flow of traffic. Leaving well after HW is preferable as the current flowing upstream is strong before and just after HW. Call the lock control on Ch.14 (call sign Fish Dock Island) before entering the channel leading to the outer basin. This is to avoid delaying commercial traffic which may be entering or leaving the dock.

Once in the river the HCA advised route to cross the Humber is to initially stay south of the main channel. Pass south of buoys 4B, 4A, 4, 2C and Tetney. When west of buoy 2B call ‘VTS Humber’ (Ch 14) to request permission to cross the shipping lane. Give current position and intended destination on the other side of the shipping lane. With permission obtained cross to west of No.3 buoy ‘Chequer Shoal’. Once clear of the shipping lane a course can be set along the Holderness Coast toward Bridlington 29nm distant.

Approaching Bridlington pass west of the SW Smithic westerly cardinal mark. The harbour is accessible HW +/- 4 hours and longer on neap tides. Avoid ‘The Canch’, a shifting sand bar, close to the east of the harbour entrance. Contact the harbour office on Ch. 12 to receive berthing instructions. Sadly, the pricing structure for berthing means small boats pay the same as larger yachts up to 10m.

If the weather is settled it is possible to break the route to Bridlington by anchoring off the Holderness Coast. Withernsea and Hornsea are the preferred destinations if planning this option.

Bridlington is a busy small seaside town. There is a decent café on the front by the harbour offering breakfast. All the main shops are in the street just behind the harbour front.

The best part of Bridlington is the 4-hour round trip walking out to Flamborough Head with views along the coast.

Bridlington to Scarborough (23nm)
One of the features of cruising along this coast is that the tide turns north long after HW, often 2 hours or more later.

I departed Bridlington 2 hours after HW. Heading south from the harbour entrance, long enough to avoid ‘The Canch’ at the harbour entrance, then turning NE along the coast leading to Flamborough Head. Turning north to pass Flamborough Head 1nm off-shore there was still considerable chop off the headland. The coast is one of the most dramatic on the British coast with a long line of tall cliffs burrowed out by extensive caves at sea level.

Once round Flamborough a north westerly course is set to pass east of Filey Brigg East Cardinal at the north end of Filey Bay. The course continues NW across Scarborough Bay.

To the west of Scarborough harbour entrance lies a submerged rock, Ramsdale Scar. To avoid this the best approach is from the east and then turning into the harbour entrance as it opens up. There are 2 harbours as you enter Scarborough. The moorings for visiting boats are in the Old Harbour, the entrance to port as you approach. A shoal draft boat can enter the Old Harbour at all states of tide. It may not be possible to progress to a berth within the harbour but a temporary mooring can be acquired to await the rising tide in safety.

Strong E winds make the approach difficult and a decision needs to be made in such conditions if it is safe to approach.

Scarborough can lay claim to being the first British seaside holiday destination. Its heyday is marked by the Grand Hotel which still dominates the south end of the front. With its 4 turrets, 12 floors, 52 chimneys and 365 rooms it was the original year-round resort. Now the town is a bit faded but still worth a visit, especially the view over the town from the castle.

There is a train station at the top of the town behind The Grand and a large Tesco next to the station. There is also a range of shops in the streets behind the front including a Tesco Express and M&S Foodhall.

Scarborough to Whitby (18nm)
Leaving Scarborough 2 hours after HW and giving the rocks below the castle a wide berth it is then possible to set a course N of NW along the coast past Robin Hood’s Bay until the abbey above Whitby hoves into view. To approach the harbour stay well off shore to avoid the rocks which lie out to sea below the abbey. Setting a course along the coast to round the Whitby N Cardinal and then turning south to approach the harbour entrance is the preferred approach. Be mindful of a strong flood pushing toward Whitby Rocks especially with a spring tide.

The harbour has a dredged channel as far as the Fish Quay in the town. To stay in the channel identify the leading marks on approach on a bearing of 169. The marks are to the right of the church as you approach. They consist of a yellow triangle on a beacon and a yellow circle split by a vertical line on the side of a house. Once past the breakwaters a pair of similar marks behind you on the east pier act as back marks as far as Fish Quay.

The marina lies on the river above the swing bridge in the town. I was advised by the Marina Office to moor next to a small trawler on Fish Quay until it was time for the bridge to open. This proved difficult so I opted to moor on the pontoon of the Whitby Yacht Club to wait for it to open. This lies to port hand below the swing bridge. This was not popular with a member of WYC on the pontoon, but options are limited when waiting for the bridge.

Once through the swing bridge Whitby Marina is an excellent facility. Modern, clean toilets, helpful staff and good access to the town.

Whitby is a town steeped in history. Famed for its fishing fleet, quaint streets, Jet jewellery, links to Dracula and the collier boats built above the town. These plied a coal trade between Newcastle and London. Most famous among the colliers was one boat, ‘The Earl of Pembroke’ which was re-commissioned by the Royal Navy as ‘Endeavour’. James Cook, who first put to sea as an apprentice aboard a collier from Whitby, found fame sailing the renamed collier boat around the world, discovering Australia in the process.

Whitby is a lovely town to wander through the narrow lanes, discovering history and small inns. A visit is not complete without climbing the 199 steps to the abbey for views over the town and a chance to visit the brewery by the abbey.

For supplies there is a large Co-op supermarket just by the marina. The store opens early and has an excellent selection of fresh pastries from the in-store bakery. The train station is equally close-by. Above the marina is a chandlers at Coates Marine.

Whitby to Staithes (8nm)
The original plan for this leg was Whitby to Hartlepool but experiencing a headwind and wind over tide the plan was revised en-route to visit Staithes.

The swing bridge in Whitby opens on request 2 hours either side of HW (VHF Ch.11). The tide flows north 2 hours after local HW.

Leaving Whitby after HW and tracing the route back to Whitby N Cardinal a course is then set along the coast NW to clear Kettle Ness. The conspicuous chimneys of a potash mine inland of Staithes are the first indication of its location.

According to the pilot the harbour can be accessed HW +/- 3 ½ hrs. for a boat drawing 1.5m. Even with a shoal draft it is wise not to attempt entrance beyond these times. The harbour is also ‘best avoided in any kind of swell working offshore’.

Once the harbour is identified a bearing of 225 will give the best water to the entrance avoiding the rock scars either side of the entrance. On entering the harbour I was directed to moor against the east breakwater by a local fisherman. This suited as it gave access to the town along the breakwater and was clear of the fishing boats busy in the centre of the harbour. The harbour dries completely and by the breakwater provided a berth free from rocks.

The town has 2 good pubs. The George along the High St reputably providing the better food. The butchers along High St sells pies, pasties, fruit, veg, newspapers and meat.

Staithes is a small village and a walk out along Roxby Beck will take you to the cliffs above the town with views along the coast and down to the harbour below. Staithes is where James Cook first saw the sea when he was apprenticed to a haberdasher shop in the town. He later left for Whitby to pursue a career at sea.

Staithes to Hartlepool (17nm)
Leaving Staithes harbour entrance on a bearing of 045 from the harbour entrance clears the rock scars which lie either side of the entrance channel. Departing 2 hours after HW provides the longest run with tide heading north-west along the coast.

Heading along the coast toward Salt Scar N Cardinal Buoy it is necessary to be aware of commercial shipping using the harbours of the east coast and mindful of the speed with which they approach the coast.

Setting a course for Tees South red lateral buoy it is a courtesy to contact Tees Harbour (ch. 14) to advise of your intentions and receive notice of any impending shipping movements before crossing the shipping channel to Tees North green lateral buoy.

Once across the Tees shipping lane a course is set for Longscar East Cardinal close to the entrance to Hartlepool.

There are 2 mooring options at Hartlepool:
The modern, well equipped marina is approached on a bearing of 294 from Longscar East Cardinal. The pilot advises that shoal draft boats can access the marina through the lock at all states of tide but the Lock Control advised the lock was closed 1 hour either side of LW. Also, a queue of boats wanting to exit the marina can develop at busy times. A maritime museum, wide range of shops and many restaurants are all close to hand from the marina.

The other mooring option in Hartlepool is Kafiga Landing by the Fish Quay in the commercial docks at the north end of Hartlepool Bay. The Landing is a rough and ready series of pontoons operated by local boat clubs. Access to the town from the pontoons needs a local being on their boat on the pontoons to open the gates. These are kept locked to keep the area secure when no one is in attendance.
From Longscar Cardinal a bearing of 310 will bring up the lateral buoys marking the channel into Victoria Docks. Fish Quay lies to starboard as you enter Victoria Harbour at the end of the buoyed channel.

I opted to moor at Kafiga Landing for its proximity to the old town of Hartlepool, its open access at all states of tide and as a variation to the usual run of moorings.

There are no facilities available at Kafiga Landing but I was able to agree with a berth holder how long he was on-board for. This gave time to explore the local area, visit the small local shops and make use of the facilities in The Pot House, a pub overlooking the channel into the harbour. Among the limited attractions of old Hartlepool are a monument commemorating Hartlepool as the first place to be shelled on the British mainland in WW1, a statue of cartoon character Andy Capp and an ode to the Beaufort Scale set in stones on Sutton St.

The Spion Kop cemetery is apparently worth a visit with many stories of lives lost at sea depicted on the memorials but time did not allow for this.

Hartlepool to Seaham (12nm)
Along this part of the coast tides are weaker than around many parts of the UK coastline, often peaking at less than 1 knot. This provides greater flexibility with route planning and times of departure.

Leaving Victoria Dock at LW I followed the marked channel until south of No. 3 green lateral buoy then headed east between buoys 3 and 1. Once clear of The Heugh and with views of the old town to port a course can be set north within the 20m depth contour toward Seaham.

Approaching Seaham the entrance is marked by a distinctive black and white lighthouse on the north breakwater. Approach the entrance from the east to clear Liddle Scar, a rocky shelf, south of the entrance. Once in the breakwaters the marina lies on a bearing of 276 from the outer entrance. There is a single automatic lock gate into the marina in the North Dock which is open HW +/- 3 hours. A traffic light system showing 3 green lights for open and 3 red for closed is visible approaching the lock gate. An audible warning sounds when the gate is opening or closing.

Once through into the marina the visitor moorings are the first pontoons to starboard unless directed otherwise by marina staff.

Seaham is an interesting town. Established as a port when a local mine owner refused to pay the shipping charges to move his coal to Sunderland. It was planned to be a model town in an Italianate style. Lack of funds meant that most of the buildings were never built but the town hall at the top of the hill from the harbour and the town historical trail give a taste of what was envisaged.

The marina benefits from a small selection of bars, restaurants and shops at the top of the pontoons. Part of the complex is a modern shower block, for the exclusive use of visiting boats. Above the marina is the town main street with a selection of quality cafes and take-aways. There is an indoor shopping mall with a large ASDA supermarket. The ‘Blue Plaque Trail’ is worth an evening stroll to appreciate the unique history of this town.

Seaham to Amble (34nm)
The plan for this leg was for the distance to be broken into 2 legs: Seaham to Blyth (19nm) and Blyth to Amble (15nm). Blyth is renowned for the hospitality shown to visiting yachts by the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club at their facilities in South Harbour close to the entrance to the Blyth River. Due to Covid-19 restrictions these facilities were not available.

An alternative could have been the Royal Quays Marina on the Tyne or St Peter’s Marina further along the Tyne, closer to Newcastle city centre. My decision was influenced by the need to access a boat lift to free the jammed lifting keel. Amble was the only destination without a waiting list for use of a boat lift.

Against only a weak flood tide, a long leg in prospect and a tide restricted access to Amble I opted to depart as soon as the lock gate opened HW -3.
A course was set to pass close to Souter Point, south of the Tyne and then continuing past the mouth of the Tyne, outside Whitley Bay and Cambois Bay then past Newbiggin Point. At the north end of Cambois Bay, with large factory chimneys from the aluminium smelter abeam to the west, cross-currents pouring out from the bay can create choppy waters until the end of the bay is passed.

Approaching Amble from the south the lighthouse on Coquet Island is the first mark identified.

There is a channel which passes west of Coquet Island. The channel is not buoyed and rocks lie close to the surface on both sides. I opted to continue north outside Coquet Island and then approach the river entrance from the north. There is a rocky shelf, the Pan Bush, off the river entrance. I passed north of this and approached the beacons on the end of the breakwaters from N of NE.

Once inside the breakwaters the best water is to stay close to the fishing boats on the south side of the river and proceed past the town to the marina entrance on the port side just above the town. Access to the river is available HW +/- 4 hrs. A cill at the marina entrance has a depth gauge showing depth available over the cill. A call to the marina on approach to the river will provide useful information on access and restrictions.

Amble Marina staff are very friendly and helpful, happy to provide local knowledge for places both off and on the water. It has a boat lift for launching and recovery and is a secure place to leave a boat or trailer. The pedestrian gate from the marina gives access to the main street and the shops, restaurants and excellent fish and chip shop by the harbour. The main street is well supplied with small supermarkets and a decent Italian restaurant. At the far end of the main street then turning left is a petrol station. Further on, on the outskirts of town is a large Morrison’s supermarket.

The Coquet River is the southern edge of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are many places to explore to appreciate this marvellous area. A 1 mile walk up-river from the marina is the pretty town of Warkworth with a castle, interesting High St and walks further up-river to enjoy. The Mason Arms is a well-run pub serving good food on the main street.

Crossing the ancient bridge in Warkworth and then turning right off the main road is a short route to Warkworth Sands. It is possible to walk north along the beach and, at low water, wade across the Aln estuary to the pretty village of Alnmouth. A bus service runs from Alnmouth to Amble for the journey back.

Alnmouth is served by trains on the east coast mainline and buses from Amble connect to the station.
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Re: A cruise along England's north-east coast - Grimsby to A

Postby chrisr » Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:06 pm

Fantastic work. Thank you for posting.
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Re: A cruise along England's north-east coast - Grimsby to A

Postby erbster » Mon Nov 30, 2020 10:23 pm

Excellent! Thank you for recounting this.

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Re: A cruise along England's north-east coast - Grimsby to A

Postby Malcolm Sadler » Thu Dec 10, 2020 7:26 pm

Thanks to Runrig also from me for the detailed and very helpful log. For those of us who are more timid when facing new waters this sort of account makes us much more likely to venture out.

Here’s to more nautical miles in 2021!

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