Photos by Spider T crew member Chris Horan
Crewmember Chris Horan describes days six, seven and eight of Spider T’s voyage from the Humber to Arbroath:
Day 6, Blyth to Eyemouth
The crew of the Spider T enjoyed their stay overnight at the Royal
Northumberland Yacht Club at Blyth. The clubhouse is an ex lightship, HMS Tyne, which was built in 1879 and now listed in the Historic Ships Register.
The Tyne has a beautiful interior that shows off the riveting skills of British workmen in the past.
The Spider T crew were given a friendly welcome and excellent with steak and kidney pudding. They were joined late in the evening by an old friend of the Spider T, Rory Mitchell of Braemar, who sailed on the Humber sloop in 2008, and club member Bob Young was helpful in sending out the daily despatch.
Next morning, a mist hung over the harbour as Spider T sailed from the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club on the long leg from Blyth to Eyemouth.
Further north, the forecast was for rain. We set sail at 6am on the 50-mile leg expecting to be at sea for 12 to 16 hours, depending on the weather conditions and the wind.
The potential bad weather ahead seemed rather distant, however, as the sun broke through the mist to provide an impressive sunrise.
For a couple of hours the sun shone brilliantly but then the mists returned and hid the Northumbrian Coast, including the Farne Islands including Lindisfarne, from view. Nonetheless a couple of the crew reported spotting puffins for the first time.
The navigators plotted our route using both GPS and the traditional charts; there are no
big road signs out at sea, and spotting buoys marking the route calls for good eyesight and a good feel for three-dimensions, as one is also thinking about depth, wind and tide, and submerged rocks.
In the afternoon the swell began to build with the Spider T once again being pitched
The run in to Eyemouth required some precision sailing. There are rocks on each side of the channel and a strong flood tide, and choppy seas make for a difficult entry, and the Spider T took a battering on her beam as the mainsail was dropped – skipper Mal Nicholson described it as one of the worst harbour entrances he knew, and recalled coming in once in an easterly storm – a feat that was widely reported by the yachting and shipping magazines and newspapers.
Regular mate of the Humber sloop Amy Howson Derek Chafer was on board for a few days said he was used to the quick response of the Amy’s tiller – ‘With the wheel in the Spider T you have to thing ahead a bit more.’ However, he was impressed by the Spider T’s behaviour in the swell: he had expected the boat to have been bounced about by the swell a lot more than she had been.
There was a welcome on the quayside from locals for the vessel which echoed the
welcome of others en route – everywhere we have been people have been curious, welcoming and pleased to see us.
However, an evening out in the seaside town of Eyemouth proved a bit of an eye-opener for the crew of the Spider T – most of the pubs and eateries closed shortly after 8pm.
However, when skipper Mal and two crewmembers asked where might still be open for food they were delighted to be invited into Lodge No 70, St Ebbe, to join the Masons in a meal. It turned out someone well known had been there before – Rabbie Burns was made a Royal Arch Mason of the lodge on the 19th May 1787.
Day 7, Eyemouth to Anstruther
The sails went up as the Spider T left Eyemouth heading due East and then due North, as we passed Bass Rock to port and then approaching the Isle of May with its cliff-top lighthouse.
Shortly after we started 30-mile leg, we passed rocks in the cliff that resembled a face, and during the day’s voyage crew member Bill White tried his hand at a spot of fishing – but in truth the Spider T was ploughing on too fast to catch anything on a line.
Rory said he had enjoyed sailing on the Spider T again: ‘It was like meeting up with old friends. Some of the crew I had not met before, but even though I had only been on board two nights I felt like I had nae been away.’
Anstruther Muster is a big day in the town’s calendar and events were already under way on the Friday night when Spider T rolled into port.
Crewmembers sampled the local culture by touring the pubs, and then attended a ceilidh next to the lifeboat house, and enjoyed watching both locals and visitors dancing to the Gallivanters Ceilidh Band.
Day 8, Anstruther Muster
Saturday saw the crew up early to prepare the vessel for visitors and to enjoy breakfast at the town’s Royal Hotel. After a few days sailing, it was time to give Spider T a quick spring-clean.
Stalls on the harbour attracted many visitors, and several were also interested in Spider T after seeing her lower her sails the night before, and it turned out that we were berthed in a spot normally occupied by another ship on the Historic Ships Register, the lug-rigged fifie drifter named Reaper.
While in harbour, the Spider T’s crew took the opportunity to act as ambassadors for North Lincolnshire, and distributed and displayed leaflets from the council along with crewman Chris Horan’s nostalgic book Humber Sail and History.
On the northern side of the Firth of Forth, the town is somewhat quaint and worth
a visit – and also boasts a good shower and toilet block for visitors to the harbour.
Sadly, Saturday also saw the departure of two members of crew, Bill White and Mick
Maith, who had commitments back home and set off early to catch the train back south.
Skipper Mal said that the crew had been overwhelmed by the interest shown in the Spider T, and thanked all those who had made the voyage possible, including the fuel company CFS and courier DHL (UK).