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OGA60 fleet: from the River Tay to Blyth

Our cover photo tonight captures the lovely scene of ‘Bonita’ anchored at Holy Island, photographed by D Beckett. Several members of the OGA60 Round Britain Cruise fleet have enjoyed spending time at Holy Island as they make passage south towards Blyth after the stormy party weekend on the River Tay. There were one or two problems with anchor chains dragging though and ’Susan J’ reported she “. . . is safely anchored at Holy Island now. Berwick inshore lifeboat, managed to free the length of multiple buoy lines from the prop, after cutting us free. No need to return to Scotland! Thanks Roger (‘Indian Runner’), for standing by and Humber Coastguard.” The majority of the fleet has now arrived in Blyth, with a great welcome from the OGA North East members. They have organised the penultimate party weekend with visits, events and meals, from a base at the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, a permanently moored light ship, LV50.

After more than a month in Scotland, ‘Bonita’ is now back in English waters and our Scottish courtesy flag has been folded away till whenever it might be needed again. This morning we turned ‘Bonita’ around in her berth with help from Edgar towing the bow round with his dinghy. We then left Eyemouth shortly after low water. The narrow entrance channel was completely blocked by a dredger at work, but we called him up and he seemed happy enough to stop work to let us pass by. We had hoped to be able to sail but found a light head wind so motored the 20 or so miles to Holy Island (Lindisfarne). Of the Gaffers, ‘Barbarossa’, ‘Onward’, ‘Recipe’ and ‘Hilda’ are here too. You have to anchor inside the island and when we were here 10 years ago we had the greatest difficulty recovering the anchor as it had fouled an old mooring cable. We put a tripping line on the anchor today and hope things will be better when we go tomorrow. D and I rowed ashore to have a look around and see some of the reminders of the earliest days of Christianity in England and stories of the exploits of the early saints. As evening drew in, we lit our riding light. Unlike many modern boats, it is a proper paraffin hurricane lamp that is of unknown age but certainly many decades old. As darkness comes we are surrounded by the sounds of the many seals calling to each other as they go noisily about their business.

Mike Beckett, ‘Bonita’

 After our lovely evening on Holy Island we went to bed fairly early and very happy, anchored in the bay.  At 3.00 am Roger felt a different movement on the boat. He went back down to wake up Alan and by then we really were perilously close to St Cuthbert’s Island. I had slept through all this but was now definitely awake and Roger asked me to come up quickly and stand by the tiller – and so I did, in nothing but my pyjamas, with the wind blowing, channeling my inner Grace Darling. The anchor had dragged. Rather than spend time trying to anchor once more, we stooged around until 4.30 am when it was light enough to leave without running over the lobster pots. Once we got over the shock of the early start, we had a rather lovely journey along the Northumberland coast seeing in the dawn. We arrived at Amble marina at 9.00 am and had a lazy morning. We did have a real stroke of luck at the Amble boatyard (now closed and selling the last few bits they have) and bought some old, but serviceable anchor chain. Alan and Roger have attached it to the anchor and old chain and we are now the proud owners of 33 m of anchor chain! We left Amble this morning and are now at Blyth for our party port gathering. It is really lovely to meet old friends in the North East Gaffers. We are heading off soon to a reception at the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club. 

Chris Hardman, ‘Indian Runner’

Meanwhile, down south, a picture is worth a thousand words! With a lot of help from her friends Mary and ‘Molly Cobbler’ have travelled through Marlow, Staines, Teddington and London. ‘Molly Cobbler’ is now back in salt water, tied up outside South Dock, with a mast lift scheduled for Saturday morning.

‘Molly Cobbler’ on the Thames Photo: Mary Gibbs