Spider T sails from the Humber to Arbroath: days six, seven and eight, Blyth to Eyemouth and Anstruther

The Spider T sails out of Blyth into the morning sunrise. The Spider T sails out of Blyth in the rising sun

The Tyne, an ex-lightship now the clubhouse of the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club at Blyth built in 1979. It was previously a lightship.

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 TRory 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.

The Spider T sails in for the Anstruther Muster

Anstruther Harbour during Anstruther Muster 2011 with Scottish flags a flying The Spider T in the harbour at Anstruther early Saturday morning. A face in the cliff on leaving Eyemouth for Anstruther

Bill White enjoys a bit of fishing from Spider T

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).

Spider T sails from the Humber to Arbroath: days four and five, Hartlepool to Blyth and Eyemouth

A misty sea as Humber super sloop Spider T leaves Hartlepool on Wed aug 1, 2011 Spider T at Hartlepool, with the Wingfield Castle and HMS Trincomalee. Photo Chris Horan.

The crew of the Spider T raising the sails after coming out of Hartlepool around 6am Aug 3 20 The SpiderT says hello to the Wingfiel Castle which operated on th New Holland to Hull route and was built at Hartlepool. The Spider T was built at warren's of New Holland in 1926 Photo Chris Horan. To the rear is the warship Trincomalee. The entry to Hartlepoolmarina as the Spider T left on her way to Blyth

Dolphins viewed from the decks of the Spider T as she approached Blyth.


Photos by Spider T crew member Chris Horan

Chris Horan describes days four and five of Spider T’s voyage from the Humber to Arbroath:

Day four, Hartlepool

After several long sails, the plan was to spend a day enjoying the delights of Hartlepool, which include a waterfront to die for, a quayside complex steeped in history, an luxurious marina and a general continental air.

The crew of the Spider T were particularly interested in HMS Trincomalee, a British Naval frigate built in 1817 – its masts towered above the quayside – and the paddle steamer Wingfield Castle.

The Wingfield Castle was built in Hartlepool and during its working life worked as a ferry between Hull and New Holland on the southern side of the Humber. New Holland was also where Spider T herself was was built at Warren’s Shipyard in 1926.

Spider T also proved to be an attraction for visitors to the marina, and many stood along the quay to watch the Humber sloop sail past the other historic ships so that press photographers could get shots of all three craft together.

As well as dealing with these publicity issues, skipper Mal Nicholson checked over the vessel and calculated how much diesel was left in the tank ahead of the upcoming sails to Blyth and then Eyemouth.

At the nearby tourist facility, crew member John Barwell explained how to caulk vessels, a skill he learned as a young man.

Day five, Hartlepool to Blyth

It was a 6am start for the sail up to Blyth in initially misty conditions. As we motor-sailed out to sea the mist lifted and was replaced by glorious sunshine, but with very little wind the raised main sail couldn’t add much speed.

Before long, Spider T passed the opening to the port of Sunderland and then came the highlight of this leg of the journey – a school of dolphins off the River Tyne, which provided us with tremendous entertainment as they rose together out of the water before diving back in.

The calm seas gave an opportunity for the more inexperienced members of the crew to try their hand at the wheel and to avoid the crab nets and bags of rubbish floating out to sea.

We put into Blyth shortly before 2pm, as schoolchildren stood and waved along the banks of the river. Soon after we moored visiting by fellow sailor Jeremy Lee of Bagmoor in Leicestershire, dropped by to play his violin.

Skipper Mal dared to say that things were going very well. ‘We are bang on target and Spider T is proving herself very capable once again.’