Sailing down the East Coast with Toby – Inverness to the Crouch

Toby on Idun in Inverness Marina

Sunday 15th – Monday 24th August: Inverness to Burnham-on-Crouch

Our friend Toby joined Dominic in Inverness and they soon set off out into the Moray Firth, tacking out to Fraserburgh, on a 21-hour overnighter to Peterhead.  After getting gas and diesel and a few hours of rest they set off again for another overnighter, though the lack of wind forced them to motor for many hours.  In the morning they anchored just south of Holy Island and rowed ashore to walk on the bleak but beautiful Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve.  And then for a very well-deserved beer and meal at the Ship Inn. Unfortunately the RIB was aground next to the harbour wall and could not be shifted until the tide came back in, so it was only after sunset that they managed to refloat the RIB and row back to the boat – its outboard engine having conked out for good in Loch Ness!

Dominic has been here before, on his Round Britain sail a few years back, and he knew that I would have particularly wanted to visit here, so we had discussed back and forth if I could come along on this part of the sail, or perhaps just visit for a few days, but like the Caledonian Canal, this will have to remain on my tick list. I can always visit virtually: For a bit of history or To visit a dig.

After a proper night’s sleep they were off again; this time just a short 5-hour hop. The journey wasn’t without its challenges though, as it was very foggy. They got out the manual foghorn which was so loud they couldn’t bear using it, which rather defeated its purpose! They moored up at Amble Marina, which apparently is the friendliest marina in England (according to them). The next morning was full of bright sunshine and allowed a proper walk along the river Coquet up to Warkworth with its castle and very pretty village. Dominic didn’t remember it, but he’d been there before as well, when visiting his brother and family who lived in Morpeth many years ago.

But, this was not just a holiday so in the afternoon they set sail south again, for North Shields and the Royal Quays Marina on the river Tyne.  They needed somewhere comfortable to wait out the very strong southerlies that were expected to last for a couple of days. They spent their two days being land-bound walking in and around Tynemouth where they visited the beach, Priory and castle and took the commuter ferry across the Tyne to South Shields where, unfortunately the famous Arbeia Fort was closed due to emergency works after the recent large amounts of rainfall.

Their next sail was a very long one, all the way from North Shields to the River Orwell. Saturday 9:30am – Sunday 5:30pm. 244 miles in 32 hours!!!  The night was, in Dominic’s words ‘pretty brutal actually’ as the wind was much stronger than forecast out at sea. They had originally planned on stopping near Lowestoft, but after having managed a rest each in the morning, they decided they might as well keep going past Harwich and into the Orwell.

They had 30-35 knot winds all night sailing out at sea beyond the wash, dodging numerous tankers and gas installations. At one point it took some time to work out from the lights that they passed a huge tow – one tugboat pulling a massive barge behind it. At night, wind farms look particularly impressive as the red lights on top of every turbine flash in perfect synchronicity giving the impression of a huge net of lights blinking as one.

As they passed Lowestoft, the foresail self-tacking sheet twisted and jammed in a pulley and had to be taken down manually. The rest of the sail was with mainsail only and ended with motoring towards the Orwell against the wind – which had much reduced by that time.

When they arrived at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, Janette was there to pick Toby up. After a drink in the pub they went off home and Dominic went to sleep! The last leg of the journey was in familiar waters, and Dominic arrived at Burnham Yacht Harbour on the river Crouch in the early evening the next day. He was thankful of a powerful motor as he battled against a 3 knot tide and winds against for 10 miles up the Crouch entrance and river. At one point, overtaking another, smaller yacht doing the same thing though she can only have been going at 1 or 2 knots over the ground at best!

What an achievement! Toby and Dominic left Inverness Marina on Saturday, 15th August at 11am and Dominic arrived into Burnham Yacht Harbour just after 7pm on Monday, 24th August.


The Journey as per Marine Traffic

Inverness to Peterhead: First sail of the journey, a 21 hour overnighter from Inverness 11am Saturday 15th to Peterhead 8am Sunday 16th. 6 hours of motoring but mostly sailing in winds against most of the time, hence the large tacks. They each had a few hours’ rest during the night.
Peterhead to Holy Island 18 hrs: 2.50pm Sunday 16th – 9am Monday 17th. Lack of wind forced 10 hours of motoring but when Dominic came up at 12:30am after a rest, they got the sails up and then sailed for the rest of the journey.
Holy Island to Amble Marina: 12 noon to 4.45pm. It was really foggy to start so they got out the manual foghorn, only to find that it was so loud that they couldn’t bear using it.
Amble to North Shields: left Amble Marina 14.22 and into Royal Quays Marina in North Shields at 18:22
North Shields to River Orwell: left Royal Quays Marina Saturday 09:35 (no signal for quite a few hours) and arrived Suffolk Yacht Harbour on Sunday 17:30. 244 NM in 32 hours!!!
River Orwell to Burnham-on-Crouch: Dominic on his own motoring most of the way, left Suffolk Yacht Harbour Monday 24th, 12.29 and got into Burnham Yacht Harbour at 19.12.

One thought on “Sailing down the East Coast with Toby – Inverness to the Crouch

  1. Great journey and wonderful achievement! It must have been quite exhausting, but satisfying at least to have Idun back on home turf. The anchorage next to Holy Island castle looks nice – we did wonder about staying there, but pressed on.


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