We'd spent 2 days at Royal Quays marina in North Shields. Of the 3 marinas on the Tyne this is the closest to the mouth of the river and the only with 24 hour access. We also found it had plenty of space and very friendly staff. However it is rather in the middle of nowhere without pubs, restaurants or a supermarket nearby.
On Saturday we took the metro from North Shields into Newcastle. Despite the almost persistent rain the Georgian architecture of the centre was a surprise. I've been to Newcastle station for work visits several times, but had never seen this part of the city. After several weeks of dark grey, uninspiring Scottish architecture* it was a positive joy to behold - as indeed had been the style and variety of Berwick and Amble.
On Sunday - in much better weather - we took our bikes in the opposite direction to Tynemouth and Cullercoats. Tynemouth was a delightful high street of varied and independent stores, bars and coffee shops. We had a coffee in the sun, before riding on up past the impressive beaches of Cullercoats and Whitely Bay. I'd finally installed our NAVTEX receiver (a radio based source of weather and navigation information) on Friday evening and was delighted with the quality of the reception even with the aerial inside the boat. I now realised that one of the 3 national transmitters was less than 10 miles away at Cullercoats so will have to reserve judgement until we get further away.
So all in all a surprising big thumbs up to Tynemouth. 'Surprising' reflecting my expectations and prejudices.
Today we had an early start at 7am to move on to Whitby. It took about an hour to leave the lock of the marina and re-fuel. We had no wind so motored for the first hour or so. As the wind then gradually increased we turned off the motor, and turned off the direct route as true to form the wind was coming from more or less the direction in which we were headed. We weren't in a particular hurry so took the wide tack under sail - and against the tide. By early afternoon when the tide changed to be with us, the wind had strengthened against us and we reefed the main sail. Whilst we had left plenty of time so as not to be in a hurry we did have a time to keep to. Whitby harbour marina is upstream of the swing bridge which is only opened 2 hours either side of high tide - which was about 5pm today. So we wanted to arrive by about 6pm. Faced with an increasingly rough sea (caused by wind from the open sea pushing waves against the tide) we decided to motor the last 2 hours direct to Whitby. Even with the motor we were at times almost stationary in the water as the boat pitched into the waves and against the headwind of 20 knots - at one stage I remember thinking that we shouldn't be looking upwards at the bow. On top of that, we had the ever ongoing challenge of spotting and avoiding lobster pot markers anywhere within 5 miles of the shore.
The bad weather had meant that no-one had left Whitby today. I often think that trying to get a marina berth is like a game of musical chairs - so with no-one having left it wasn't surprising that it was fairly full. However with just a little bit of notice as we called ahead the marina manager managed to fit us in, and was very welcoming.
- If this is a contentious statement, please look back at where we've been.