Spider T sails from the Humber to Arbroath: days ten, eleven and twelve, Anstruther to Arbroath

The frayed halliard on Spider T Derek Chafer and Paul Coultard watch Coull  Deas at work replacing a halliard

Coull Deas splicing in an eye on the new rope

Photos by Chris Horan. Click on the images for a much larger photo

Crewmember Chris Horan describes days eight and nine of Spider T’s voyage from the Humber to Arbroath:

Day 10

It seemed as if someone somewhere was looking after the crew of Spider T when they opted to stay in harbour at Anstruther for further day in hopes that the weather would improve before continuing to Montrose and then the Arbroath.

Skipper Mal Nicholson, spent the day working on minor repairs and checking on various matters relating to sailing, including the condition of ropes.

It was fortunate he did so, for it turned out that one of the mainsail halliards had been nipped badly and several strands had frayed – see the photo above – which would likely have led to the heavy gaff and sail crashing to the deck and potentially injuring one of the crew or even damaging the ship.

The crew conferred with local experts including marine engineer Davy Todd and 86-year old former fisherman Coull Deas, who had sailed on the Spider T on an earlier voyage.

Splicing the line was considered, but finally it was decided to replace it and the work was carried out by Coull.

Throughout the day there was a constant stream of visitors to the vessel.

The inner harbour at Arbroath photographed from the Spider T Entering the inner harbour at Arbroath with th Signal Towar Museum in the distance and thelifeboat house on the right

The Spider T enters Arbroath inner harbour

Day 11

Tying up in the outer harbour of Arbroath gave the Spider T’s crew a tremendous sense of pleasure and achievement, and relief. It was good to have arrived on schedule for the Arbroath Seafest, but skipper Mal was relieved that the difficult last leg was over.

The new peak halliard turned out to be too long, which meant that it could not be hoisted high enough to use the main sail effectively. The problem had not been discovered in harbour because there had been too much wind to raise the sails, and the Spider T was heeling more than should have been necessary.

The problem will be sorted out relatively easily during the vessel’s stay in Arbroath, but it did mean the Spider T sailed straight for its final destination rather than calling in at Montrose. ‘We needed the shortest possible route with the rig in that condition,’ said Mal.

The entry to Arbroath was tricky at low tide, and the Humber sloop grounded slightly on the mud at the entrance – if she had been 10 minutes later she could not have got in. Nevertheless, she tied up in the outer harbour and the crew were just in time to catch a meal of hearty steak pies and clooty dumpling and custard at a nearby pub.

Lynn Cameron festival secretary and treasurer, Alistair Martin chairman of  Seafest, Mal Nicholson, owner and skipper of the Spider T and Eleanor Whitby of Red Pepper Events which organises health and safety and other aspects of the event One of the many outlets selling Arbroath Smokies

Day 12

On Thursday morning the vessel, Spider T was moved into the inner harbour, where she was once again cleaned in readiness for hundreds of visitors to come aboard during the Arbroath Sea Fest weekend and celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the building of the nearby Bell Rock Lighthouse.

The cleaning operation wasn’t helped when a drainage worker disposed of some
material into the corner of the harbour, splattering mess over ropes and part of the decks of the Spider T, creating work and a potential health risk for members of the crew.

Needless to say, skipper Mal had a few things to say before widely going below to cool off. ‘It did not make for a good welcome,’ he said. Later, however, spirits improved with the arrival of Mal’s wife Val and a number of friends.

Mal once again thanked fuel sponsors CFS and DHL (UK), which provided
some food for the voyage.

As the Arbroath Seafest drew closer barriers went up along the harbourside ready to provide a degree of protection for the 40,000 or so expected visitors.

The Spider T was joined in harbour by the famous lug-rigged fifie Reaper fishing boat, and two restored fishing boats from the 1940s, the Favourite and Rachel Douglas.

Another exhibit is a replica of the sling cart used to carry building stones for the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Seafest chairman Alastair Martin welcomed the Spider T and said that the organiers very much appreciated the crew had made.

Skipper Mal said it was great to receive such a warm welcome from those organising the Seafest and from people in the town.

Established in 1178 by King William the Lion, Arbroath is famous for smoked haddock, known as Arbroath smokies, and the smokers give the harbour quarter a pervasive smell that tugs on the tastebuds.


Humber sloop Spider T to sail to Arbroath

Humber sloop Spider T 2011

Humber sloop Spider T is off on an amazing two week trip to Arbroath this summer to appear in the Seafest 2011, which takes place on the weekend of 13th and 14th August.

On the way the plan is to call at Montrose and several other ports en route as she heads along the coasts of North Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland.

In her current restored condition, Spider T has previously travelled to Rotterdam and to Scarborough.

She was built at New Holland on the River Humber in 1926, and originally carried bricks and other cargoes up and down the coast and along the inland river and canal networks, and was saved from the scrapyard in the 1990s by motor engineer and car restorer Mal Nicholson of Burringham, near Scunthorpe.

She has been gradually restored to her former glory, including a sailing rig, and is now part of the National Historic Fleet, an honour that recognises Spider T’s historic importance alongside the Mary Rose and the Balmoral. She was also runner-up in the National Historic Ships organisation’s Fly the Flag competition this year.

Owner Mal is currently seeking ports and tourist centres interested in hosting the vessel for a night on the journey – the unusual sight of a historic Humber sloop will provide an interesting spectacle for visitors and enthusiasts, and is also hoping to attract contributions to the fuel costs of the journey, though much of the voyage will be undertaken under sail.

The Spider T will also feature at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society being staged at South Ferriby on the weekend of Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24, with five historic craft available for viewing from 10am to 5pm and some sailings for members with displays of paintings, photos, videos and live presentations.

Further details on the vessel are available on the Spider T website and contact re the voyage can be made through Mal Nicholson on 07739863604 m.nicholson4@sky.com.

PS – The northward journey could of course be affected by the weather, but at present the aim is to stop at the following ports on the way up to Arbroath:

Saturday, 30th July: Keadby to Grimsby (arrive GY around 6pm)
Sunday, 31st July: Grimsby to Scarborough (arrive Scarborough 7pm to 8pm)
Monday, 1st August: Scarborough to Hartlepool (arrive
Tuesday, 2nd August: Stay in Hartlepool, available for viewing (to be arranged)
Wednesday, 3nd August: Hartlepool to Blyth
Thursday, 4th August: Blyth to Eyemouth
Friday, 5th August: Eyemouth to Anstruther
Saturday, 6th August: Stay in Anstruther
Sunday, 7th August: Anstruther to Montrose.
Monday, 8th August; Stay in Montrose.
Tuesday, 9th August: Montrose to Stonehaven? Depends on swell
Wednesday, 10th August: Stonehaven? To Arbroath
Thursday, 11-14th August: Arbroath
Monday, 15th August: Arbroath (or possibly North Berwick)

PPS – Seafest this year will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse. Built by Robert Stevenson, it is the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse. The engraving below appears in a biography written by Stevenson’s son, and is from a drawing by a Miss Stevenson – which I guess might have been Stevenson’s daughter or granddaughter.

Illustration by Miss Stevenson from the book Biographical Sketch of the Late Robert Stevenson: Civil Engineer, by Alan Stevenson (son of Robert)