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.’

Spider T sails from the Humber to Arbroath: days two and three, Grimsby docks to Hartlepool

The Spider T at Grimsby Docks The Spider T sailing off Flamborough July 31 2011 prior to the Arbroath Seafest. Photo:Chris Horan

Spider T at sea off Grimsby Flamborough lighthouse taken from the Spider T July 31 2011 The Spider T with main sail sailing to Scarborough in July 2011

In Grimsby Docks, off Flamborough, Spider T sailing, Flamborough light, a full mainsail. All photos thanks to Chris Horan

Here’s Chris Horan’s account of the next two days of Spider T’s voyage from the Humber to Arbroath:

Day two

At 5am the Spider T crew were stirred from sleep by a chorus of mobile phone alarms and while still only half-conscious began their routines of dressing and washing.

Skipper Mal Nicholson wanted the ship to be squared up and ready to head out at 7am to catch the tide out of the Humber Estuary, and to ride the ebb north towards Scarborough, which was a 65-mile sail away.

The ship had two additional members of crew joining for the day’s run to Scarborough,
BBC video journalist Crispin Rolfe, and Jane Chadwick partner of Humber Cruising Association berthmaster John Walker.

The sails provided powered and steadied the vessel as she headed out to Spurn Point, and passed to the north of Bull Fort, a defensive structure built on a subterranean sand bank in the river during World War I. To the south ahead of us a tanker was offloading crude oil by means of the monobuoy off Tetney, a little way south of Cleethorpes.

We then passed the full-time lifeboat station at the end of Spurn Point and headed out to sea waving goodbye to the land. Heading north we were soon in an area of rough water known as the Binks – after the calm waters of the estuary we found ourselves being tossed about like clothes in a washing machine. At least one of the crew wished his stomach was somewhat stronger.

Once the Binks were passed, the sail north was a cruise in glorious sunshine with wind turbines on the horizon and buoys marking crab pots below. Those of us not charged with specific tasks like plotting the course, checking the sails and working in Spider T’s galley could relax – and so we did, until BBC man Crispin began his interviews.

Crewmembers Mick Maith and Paul Coultard were in the wheelhouse during this stretch, and despite some problems with the engine overheating, at 2pm, we were 9 miles off land, and 15 miles from Flamborough and 22 miles from Scarborough.

As we approached Scarborough we saw Flamborough Head’s huge bird colonies (they’re a regular haunt for pleasure boats packed with tourists) and were visited by a black-backed sperm whale, which popped up alongside us, blew as if to say hello, and then disappeared down below.

The sea then became choppier, with swells of up to 10ft, that made keeping one’s own feet, more difficult. While most moveable items were tied down in the hold one or two of the smaller items strayed from their stations, and clattered onto the floor.

The worsening weather meant we were a little delayed, but we still arrived at Scarborough Harbour at around 9pm. The entrance runs almost parallel to the beach.

We then spent a relaxing evening including a traditional Scarborough supper of fish and chips before bed.

Day three

We left for Hartlepool at around 8.30am the following morning – but not before Mal found himself doing an early morning interview with a BBC Radio York presenter I met in a quayside car park.

The sea was flat compared with the previous day, and crewmembers Paul and Bill White now tried their hand at mackerel fishing – and hooked enough for the crew’s supper that night.

The day’s run was to be 40 miles, a much shorter haul than the 66 miles from Grimsby to Scarborough the day before, and would follow a picturesque route including various picture-postcard villages including the fishing village of Staithes.

At Whitby a number of pleasure vessels loaded with camera-toting tourists came out to take a look at Spider T. The Whitby lifeboat was also on the water, and seemed
busy with the small boats.

We made progress using the main and foresails, with the engine ticking over in case it was needed as we sailed north – this area is busy with shipping bound for Teeside, and we needed to be alert and keep our eyes peeled. However, as it turned out, most of the larger vessels were at anchor.

Our skipper made contact with the harbourmaster at Hartlepool around midday to check on details for arrival and in which of the two port areas we would tie up – we were bound for the southern dock area close where the Hartlepool-built former Humber paddle steamer Wingfield Castle now lies.