Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Scarborough to Grimsby. The trials of Grimsby Lock.
Andrew and I set off yesterday from Scarborough, having suffered the first 'weather break' which caused me to stay one day longer in Scarborough than I had intended. However, as the strong wind died down it left a glorious morning and we slipped from Scarborough at 0800. There was a good, useful wind which allowed us to sail our first few hours towards Grimsby, which is a 65nm, 10 hour passage. The wind died around half way and we needed to motor, which we did on one engine benefitting from the tide. Often, a passage will take on its own emphasis with, say, there being more dolphins, or more seals, or birds. This passage, was marked by the number of wind farms and the associated infrastructure and shipping movements necessary for their construction. There were no animals apart from sea birds, but we were kept busy as small very fast wind cats would buzz around, closer than we have become used to and setting off our AIS proximity alarms. After the last five weeks of relative quiet during which we are very often the only yacht sailing all day or perhaps the second or third if it is busy, the East coast from Whitby and south wards was very full of shipping and we were kept active.
Our motor sailing continued as the wind did not return to any great extent, and especially as there is a lock at Grimsby which we needed to pass through, in order to get to our berth at the very helpful Meridian Quay. An advance call to the lock keeper highlighted the possibility of arranging a non-routine, and therefore more convenient, lock in time so that we would not have to wait around for the scheduled ones, in return for a nominal £10. We were also advised that it can get busy with priority given to local or working boats, so we should get there before 1900.
So, having flogged down the North sea to get there by 1830, we eventually arrived on time and announced ourselves. I was not happy to be told that there would be a queue of at least an hour as working boats had priority. However, the experience was far worse. There is just one lock which takes just one vessel at a time, and every time the queue diminished another vessel would announce itself so that we were bumped yet again to the back of the queue. There was no £10 special lock in, and indeed the delay of an hour and three quarters spent hanging around while the working boats went in and out, meant the whole experience was decidedly unsatisfactory. We were just one yacht, and after, say, an hour of waiting it would have been good to have been let in, or indeed courteous to have been allowed a space in the queue. Even our hour and a three quarters delay was itself at risk of being extended indefinitely. I have no idea how the marina on the other side can possibly function. When we arrived in the lock, ropes were dropped down and eventually we passed through to our very shallow berth in the marina. Grimsby is the only port in the whole of the circumnavigation whose practices have been so obstructive, notwithstanding the considerable and genuine friendliness of the staff.
Andrew and I emerged from the lock, having wasted so much time but having spent it in gentle and pleasant conversation. Good company aids and assuages the trials of sailing and helps you celebrate the successes. There to meet us in the marina, whose staff had gone home, were Woody and William who had been patiently waiting. We were very pleased to see them, and as I had already effectively put the boat to bed while hanging around outside, we stepped from the boat towards a waiting taxi which whisked us off to a very good restaurant which Woody had organised, with the help of the Humber Cruising Association who had befriended him during their enforced delay.
Great meal, and it was very good to spend time with them both as we start our last leg of my circumnavigation and head for home.
Today, we continue our journey south to Wells-next-the-sea, a very pretty little harbour which is quite difficult to enter, especially for our size and I think we might have a town berth arranged by the ever attentive harbourmaster. However, Wells has a very shallow entrance so we must be there by 1530. So, while eating our excellent dinner in the Othello restaurant (who stayed open for us) I spent a while on the 'phone to the lock master negotiating our exit the following morning. We needed to leave at 0630 in order to get to Wells on time, otherwise we would need to abort and run for Wisbech. A special lock out was agreed, for £10, the following morning....at 0430 a.m.! The shock of getting up at 0400 was dulled by the huge fun of asking William what time he wanted to get up. His answer was 1100, and his face was a picture! So, As I sit here blogging, Woody has sensibly gone back to bed and William is helming us across the very complicated Humber Approaches towards the Wash and the delights of Wells and Andrew is his technical advisor.
I am looking forward to my ice cream.