Daily reports from SPIDER T by Chris Horan:
Saturday July 30 : DAY 01 : Keadby to Grimsby
Sunday July 31 : DAY 02 : Grimsby to Scarborough
Monday August 01 : DAY 03 : Scarborough to Hartlepool
Tuesday August 02 : DAY 04 : Hartlepool
Wednesday August 03 : DAY 05 : Hartlepool to Blyth
Misty start soon replaced by glorious sunshine : no wind and flat calm seas meant the engine was in demand : Passing the River Tyne estuary a school of dolphins kept the crew entertained as they rose out of the water and dived back in : Arrived in Blyth before 1400 hours : Shortly after mooring up we were given an impromptu violin concert by fellow sailor Jeremy Lee of Bagmoor, Leicestershire : Our hosts for the evening were the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club whose clubhouse is on the historic lightship TYNE built in 1879, they gave us a warm welcome and the food was excellent : Rory Mitchell of Braemar, who had sailed on SPIDER T in 2008, joined us later in the evening.
Thursday August 04 : DAY 06 : Blyth to Eyemouth
The long leg from Blyth to Eyemouth began at 0600 hours : Sun shone brilliantly for a couple of hours then turned misty restricting our view of the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne : In the afternoon a swell began to build with squally showers which made SPIDER T pitch and roll, this being especially the case as she put head to wind to lower the sails : The run into Eyemouth requires precision sailing with rocks either side of the channel, so with a strong flood tide and choppy seas it was a difficult entry into the harbour mouth : There was a welcome on the quayside once again and we are now in Scotland!
Friday August 05 : DAY 07 : Eyemouth to Anstruther
A late start as the sails were hoisted for the short leg from Eyemouth to Anstruther : Crossing the Firth of Forth we passed Bass Rock (in the distance) and the Isle of May : Moored up in Anstruther approx. 1800 hours : A familiar SPIDER T crew member, Clarke Ross, joined us.
Saturday August 06 : DAY 08 : Anstruther Muster
Commitments back home meant an early train back south for crew members Bill White and Mick Maith, while the remainder gave SPIDER T a quick spring clean ready for the influx of visitors : Anstruther Muster is a big day in the town's calendar with bands and stalls to attract the visitors : SPIDER T filled the empty berth of herring drifter REAPER, as she was attending another event, then at evening festivities received a trophy for Oldest Vessel : Rory Mitchell and Clarke Ross left due to other commitments but will rejoin the crew later.
Sunday August 07 : DAY 09 : Anstruther
Bad weather with heavy rain, strong winds and rough seas led to the decision to remain at Anstruther for a further couple of days : With sailors and visitors still in town following the Muster it would give them the opportunity to come aboard SPIDER T : With approx. 300 miles under her belt since leaving Keadby, it was time for some maintenance of the ship, plus cleaning and general domestic chores.
Monday August 08 : DAY 10 : Anstruther
DANGER UXB : A Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Team were called to Anstruther harbour to deal with a suspicious device : It had been discovered and marked by empty drums but in the end they could not locate it : The seaward approach to the harbour crosses over an old minefield and apparently one or two devices find their way to the surface each year : The crew of SPIDER T have enjoyed a further day in Anstruther before deciding their next move.
Tuesday August 09 : DAY 11 : Anstruther
Photos are from Monday evening when, after the bomb disposal episode had concluded, crew members Derek and Chris accepted an invitation by members of the St Ayles Rowing Club to join them on a couple of circuits along the coastline : In turn the rowers and friends were invited aboard SPIDER T for a tour and hospitality of the crew : Tuesday morning saw the crew making final preparation for the leg to Montrose however, after assessing the situation, it was decided to stay put as more favourable conditions were forecast for tomorrow.
The decision to remain in Anstruther turned out to be a good move : The time was used to make minor repairs and checks on SPIDER T including the condition of ropes : During these checks the peak halliard (rope which lifts the gaff and mainsail) was discovered to have frayed badly : It was decided to replace the rope after consultation with marine engineer Davy Todd : Splicing work was carried out by former fisherman Coull Deas of Anstruther, now aged 86 and a local living legend, who sailed on SPIDER T on her previous trip to Scotland.
Wednesday August 10 : DAY 12 : Anstruther to Arbroath
Tonight we travel north, planning to join SPIDER T in Arbroath tomorrow : Our reports and photos will continue via wifi during our week in Scotland : Further bad weather forecasts for Thursday and Friday meant that the planned visit to Montrose had to be cancelled, and with reasonable conditions, apart from pooring rain, the decision was taken to make the relatively short trip to Arbroath to be sure SPIDER T was in the harbour in time for the Sea Fest this weekend : Skipper Mal Nicholson with just four crew members (Paul Coultard, John Barwell, Derek Chafer and Chris Horan) pitched through the waves across the Firth of Tay heading towards Bell Rock Lighthouse : Entry to Arbroath was difficult with rocks either side and the ebbing tide rushing out but once moored up in the outer harbour there was a sense of delight and achievement that the crew had successfully brought the 1926 Humber sloop to her destination.
Thursday August 11 : DAY 13 : Arbroath
Mid-morning saw SPIDER T make her way from the outer harbour to the inner harbour, the entrance to which is controlled by a lock gate to keep a minimum of eight feet of water during low tide : We (being your webmaster, his wife and Val Nicholson, the skipper's wife) arrived in the afternoon just as SPIDER T was being moored in her location for the Sea Fest : Now the real skipper had arrived (Val) it was time for a thorough spring clean before the event began : As evening came it was time to call in at the Old Brewhouse Restaurant for some sustinance.
Friday August 12 : DAY 14 : Arbroath
As the Arbroath Sea Fest, the major event in the celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, draws ever closer the barriers protecting the public from the harbour are erected : Press interviews and photocalls are done : A meeting with organisers concluded with a full tour of SPIDER T : Visitors, friends who had travelled from Grimsby area and locals met during the last visit in 2008 came to see us : Final preparation were made for the open days on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday August 13 : DAY 15 : Arbroath SeaFest
Late into Friday evening and early Saturday morning the harbourside was a hive of activity with stall after stall being erected for the big weekend of the year when more than 40,000 people are expected to descend on this tranquil fishing port : After days of dull, wet weather the sun came out for most of the day with the odd threatening cloud which passed without incident : SPIDER T had more visitors than any other open day so far with the crew helping the public on board, skipper Mal Nicholson and wife Val spending the whole day showing them around, answering their questions and acting as ambassadors for the Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society, National Historic Ships and North Lincolnshire : When the TV crew arrived from the Dundee Channel the visitors had to queue on the quayside so that interviews and footage of the interior could be made : Among the visitors was David Taylor, webmaster for the Bell Rock Lighthouse site, many from other EU countries and beyond : For the vast majority of them the wow factor as they step off the spiral staircase and view the Edwardian interior for the first time makes it all worthwhile : Sadly crew member Paul Coultard had to leave us for home birthday celebrations, however, we were joined by another crew member Julian Pinder and Derek Chafer's wife Lisa.
Clarke Ross is presented with Spider T shirt Reaper arrives in Arbroath harbour (D.E.)
Sunday August 14 : DAY 16 : Arbroath SeaFest
Once again the sun shone and the visitors flocked to the harbourside attractions : SPIDER T had been given wide publicity in the media and this transformed into a constant throughflow of visitors, young and old, throughout the afternoon : The 109 year old herring drifter REAPER entered the outer harbour just before midday and moved into position in the inner harbour as soon as the lock gates opened : There were lots of stalls and sideshows for the public to enjoy, the highlight of which were demonstrations by the RNLI, the Xtreme Action Jet Ski Team and, of course, the freshly cooked Arbroath Smokies : After the event had ended the crew of REAPER joined us for cakes, drinks and some 'boaty' conversation : Following an extremely busy weekend for the crew and helpers on board SPIDER T there will be a couple of days to wind down, reflect on the weekend and the voyage to Arbroath, then begin preparations for the long haul home.
Monday August 15 : DAY 17 : Arbroath
With the harbourside returned to normal after an extremely busy weekend for SPIDER T, the crew relaxed with an afternoon car trip further north to Auchmithie, Montrose and Stonehaven : Skipper Mal made preparations including casting his net for additional crew members while Val, his wife, carried out cleaning and washing chores in readiness for the return voyage : Due to other commitments crew member Derek and wife Lisa set off south in the early evening : For the remainder of us another good night was had in the Old Brewhouse Restaurant.
Tuesday August 16 : DAY 18 : Arbroath
Preparations continue for the voyage south : Further discissions and phone calls are made to secure additional crew : A road trip to Dundee was made by skipper Mal and his wife Val with friends they had previously met on a cruise : They visited another vessel of the National Historic Fleet RRS DISCOVERY, the first ship to be constructed specifically for scientific research, built in Dundee in 1901 for the exploits of Scott of the Antarctic.
Wednesday August 17 : DAY 19 : Arbroath
A morning train saw Mal's wife Val set off on the return journey south : Maintenance of SPIDER T continued including engine checks and adjustments : In the afternoon the crew were invited to a barbeque at the home of Clark Ross : Two new crew members have voluteered for the trip to Eyemouth, Hamish Murray of Montrose and Angela Smith of the RNLI at Arbroath : Surprise news of the day is Derek Chafer has decided to take a train north to join the crew tonight ready for tomorrow's first leg south.
Thursday August 18 : DAY 20 : Arbroath to Eyemouth
An early start for the crew of SPIDER T saw them cast off from Arbroath at 0715 hours in drizzling rain and set sail for Eyemouth : The full crew being Mal Nicholson (owner/skipper), John Barwell, Chris Horan (journalist/photographer), Derek Chafer (Amy Howson crew), Julian Pinder, Hamish Murray and Angela Smith : For new crew members Angela (originally from Tiffin, Ohio in the USA) and Hamish (from Montrose) this was a complete departure from their previous sailing experiences : In fact they enjoyed the daytrip so much they have decided to continue for a couple of days longer : Arrival at Eyemouth was 1900 hours.
Friday August 19 : DAY 21 : Eyemouth to Blyth
Due to favourable weather conditions it was decided to press on to Blyth today, with a tinge of sadness that we will leave Scotland and all the friends we have made : Setting off from Eyemouth at 0900 hours the route took SPIDER T past the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands : Lewis 'Stan' Stannard (from Balfron, Stirling) joined the crew at Eyemouth with the intention of completing the voyage back to Keadby : Stan soon earned his keep when he cast his fishing line and reeled in a bucket full of mackerel : We (your webmaster and wife) were on our way back south and made a detour to Bamburgh to catch a glimpse of SPIDER T in full sail in the early afternoon sunshine : Following a beautiful day on flat calm seas the late afternoon brought in clouds, force 5-6 winds and choppy seas, but the Humber Sloop healed over and ploughed on relentlessly : Arrival at Blyth at 2030 hours was greeted with wind turbines against a glorious sunset.
Saturday August 20 : DAY 22 : Blyth RNYC Barbeque
A day in Blyth began with glorious sunshine and some household chores on board SPIDER T : Crew members headed off to discover the delights of the town before returning for a barbeque organised by the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club : At the event crew member Angela Smith played a Scottish tune on the fiddle : There were a number of visitors on board including Commodore of the yacht club Tony Freeth : Crew member Derek Chafer took the train home to North Lincolnshire : Later in the evening an inpromptu jam session took place on SPIDER T with Angela Smith playing the fiddle, Iain Robertson (guitar) and Sue Goncue (fiddle) from Gateshead who are a folk duo called 'Harbour Lights'.
Sunday August 21 : DAY 23 : Blyth to Sunderland
It was a short but pleasurable leg from Blyth to Sunderland : Three local yacht owners joined the crew on board, they were Tony Harrison (who had restored a Morecambe Bay prawner) Iain Robertson and Sue Goncue ('Harbour Lights' folk duo) : On arrival SPIDER T was welcomed by the Tynemouth All-weather Lifeboat THE DUKE OF KENT, which was in Sunderland harbour for an open day : Mal met up with Peter Wynn of Sunderland Maritime Heritage, a group of people who have embarked on the restoration of a 1902 Scottish trawler WILLDORA : The vessel, which was involved in the rescue of soldiers from Dunkirk in WW2, is little more than a shell at present but enthusiasts hope to have the deck beams in place by winter and have her back in the water next year : Sadly it was time for Angela and Hamish to return home to Scotland, they had both enjoyed their time on SPIDER T immensely and wished they could have continued : Chris Horan met up with fellow scribe Russell Ward (ex. Scunthorpe Telegraph news editor and now with Radio Newcastle), who interviewed Mal about SPIDER T and WILLDORA.
Monday August 22 : DAY 24 : Sunderland to Whitby
The morning was calm and sunny so the sails were hoisted while still on the west wall of the harbour to give the locals a spectacle as SPIDER T made her way out to sea and on to Whitby : Tony Harrison, who had joined us at Blyth, was keen to sail another leg : On the early part of the journey we passed gigantic cargo ships at the mouth of the Tees : It was smooth sailing all the way and, after being welcomed by jet skiers and a tourist trip boat, we moored up on the fish quay at Whitby shortly before 2000 hours : Ken Ward-Foxton, who sailed on SPIDER T during the 2008 visit to Arbroath, was there to greet us and guide us to some wholesome sustenance.
Tuesday August 23 : DAY 25 : Whitby
With two-thirds of the return voyage completed in record time Whitby offered a few days rest and recovery before the final legs back to Keadby : Crew member Derek Chafer was unable to complete the return voyage on SPIDER T due to a long-standing commitment to sail from Whitby to Hull on the Jubilee Sailing Trust vessel LORD NELSON : Mal and Lewis met up with Derek, his wife Lisa, Alan Gardiner (Amy Howson skipper) and his partner Kath Jones prior to them boarding : The three-masted training ship was a remarkable sight as she made her way from Endeavour Wharf, through the 100 year old swing bridge, past SPIDER T and out to sea : During the afternoon Mal played host to a photographer and reporter from the Whitby Gazette : Tony Harrison departed for Newcastle after two enjoyable days with the crew and Mal's wife Val arrived to spend a few days on board.
Wednesday August 24 to Friday August 26 : DAYS 26 to 28 : Whitby
A mixture of rest and relaxation, maintenance and adjustments take up our time in Whitby : Folk Week added to the attractions of this very popular North Yorkshire resort with musicians performing throughout the day in various locations : One of those performers, Chris Sherburn, plays the concertina and has also restored the Humber Keel 'Southcliffe' : Mike Russell, Coxswain of the all-weather Whitby Lifeboat GEORGE and MARY WEBB, came alongside to view the delights of SPIDER T's Edwardian interior : Several other visitors managed to make their way along the fish quay to visit the vessel although she was not officially open to the public : Thursday saw SPIDER T relocate to Endeavour Wharf to allow the visiting UK Border Agency Cutter HMC VIGILANT to berth on the fish quay.
Saturday August 27 : DAY 29 : Whitby to Bridlington
The weather was dank and miserable while the crew hoisted the sails as SPIDER T left Whitby : With the return of Paul Coultard and the arrival of Bill Kirk the crew was strengthened in both numbers and experience : Mal's wife Val set off on her journey home by road : Even with 6ft (2m) swells, occasional heavy showers and drizzly mist it was good to be back at sea : Once Flamborough Head was rounded the sea state calmed instantly, the tourist trip vessel YORKSHIRE BELLE came alongside soon after, then it was time to drop the sails and enter Bridlington harbour.
Sunday August 28 : DAY 30 : Bridlington to Grimsby
Dawn was breaking as SPIDER T left Bridlington harbour in an attempt to beat the predicted bad weather : Shortly before lunch, with the sails at full stretch, the decision was taken to drop the fore and jib sails and reef in the mainsail : The forecast was for the weather to deteriorate and indeed the winds whipped up and the seas became rough as we passed Withernsea and Easington : Reaching Spurn Point and The Binks the wind speeds were force 6 to 8 with a 10ft (3m) swell : The spray was flying the full length of the ship as SPIDER T continued to plough through the waves with the only casualty being a glass tumbler which took flight from a shelf and hit the floor : The calm waters of Grimsby harbour were reached at about 1630 hours just before the lock gates were closed for low tide : Once again we were welcomed onto the club moorings of the Humber Cruising Association.
Monday August 29 : DAY 31 : Grimsby to Keadby
Reflecting on the bad weather of the previous day, senior crew member Bill Kirk said it had been the worst conditions he had been out in on SPIDER T : Paul Coultard commented that it was among the worst but not as bad as when they hit a force 9 gale on their return from Rotterdam two years earlier : Bank Holiday Monday began with Bill and Paul re-lashing the mainsail to the mast hoops where they had broken free during the gales : At 1500 hours the tidal gates opened in Grimsby harbour and we could commence the final leg of our journey : The weather forecast was better than the previous day but still blustery with choppy waters : Passing many familiar landmarks on our route up the River Humber and Trent, Keadby lock was reached at 2030 hours, where friends and family formed a welcome party to greet our return : Mooring up at about 2100 hours SPIDER T and her crew had completed the 700 mile voyage and celebrated their success with a few drinks and a plate of homemade stew prepared earlier in the day.
PRESS & TV COVERAGE
10/07/2011 Berwickshire News
12/07/2011 Towpath Talk
27/07/2011 Kirriemuir Herald
28/07/2011 Arbroath Herald
29/07/2011 Grimsby Telegraph
30/07/2011 Scunthorpe Telegraph
31/07/2011 Cleethorpes People
02/08/2011 Grimsby Telegraph
03/08/2011 Harlepool Mail
03/08/2011 Peterlee Mail
09/08/2011 National Historic Ships News
12/08/2011 Towpath Talk
15/08/2011 The Courier
22/08/2011 St Ayles Rowing Club News
27/08/2011 North East Maritime Trust
28/08/2011 Dundee Channel
01/09/2011 Scunthorpe Telegraph
01/09/2011 Yorkshire Post
06/09/2011 South Yorkshire Times
06/09/2011 Goole Courier
08/09/2011 Montrose Review