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Going north

As we leave Whitby and sail out to sea again we both realise how lucky we are with the sunshine in the first half of May. Our destination is Hartlepool only 19 nautical miles to the north. In essence a simple enough route however our exit from Whitby is restricted by the swing bridge which only operates two hours on either side of high water. Hartlepool has similar restrictions giving us a window of three and a half hours to complete the distance… and the tide is against us. Within no time it is evident that the chance of reaching Hartlepool within the tidal window is 0.0%.

We only need a couple of seconds to agree that we should extend our route to the north and stop off in Sunderland for the night - Sunderland can be reached at all tides except one hour either side of low water. The trip to Sunderland in itself is uneventful but the sea is very choppy with wind on the nose - this makes Leontine feel pretty poorly.

On arrival at Sunderland we carefully manoeuvre our way around the dredger in mid channel and turn to starboard into the tiny marina. The marina has very little going for it whilst the Italian restaurant on the third floor of the marina complex is friendly and gives us a welcome rest although Leontine has very little appetite after the rough passage.

The following morning sees us departing at 08:30 for a run up to Blyth the home of the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club. We sail out into a strong breeze with Leontine at the helm - a good remedy against sea-sickness. As the wind increases to 6 Beaufort Roland puts a reef in the main sail to make the ride more comfortable. The pilot guide describes Blyth as the perfect marriage of pleasure boats and commercial shipping.

Our mooring on the visitors pontoon is directly next to a massive oil platform, proving the point! Whilst the town of Blyth itself does not have much going for it - the result of the closure of the mining industry in the north at the end of last century - the club house in the marina is spectacular. The Royal Northumberland Yacht Club prizes itself on always having a ship as a club house, rather than bricks and mortar. At present they are on their fourth ship - an old wooden lightship dating from the late 19th century.

After dinner on our boat we decide we should join the locals in the bar of the splendid light boat. We receive the warmest of welcomes and whilst we sip the local ale the members proudly show us photo’s in their photo albums dating back to the 1950s and earlier.

After a good sleep we slip our lines in the early morning heading north to Amble. Amble, as is the case in so many of the harbours we are visiting, has a tidal window of two hours on either side of high water to make a safe entrance.

We arrive just before high water and squeeze into a tiny berth allocated to us (the result of a miscommunication between Roland and the harbour master) in fact on the other side of the pontoon is a much larger berth, we decide to stay put.

Amble is a lovely seaside market town with a large market on Sunday morning, where we do our provisioning for the next three days. In the afternoon we walk along the banks of the river Coquet to Warkworth Castle which stands on the top of the hill overlooking the estuary.

We go to bed nice and early as the next morning our departure time is 05:30 at the latest, a deadline we meet at the start of our passage to our first anchorage just below Holy Island - Lindisfarne.

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