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Cornwall to Scotland days 24 and 25

Day 24 – There are no permanent staff in the Humber Cruising Association clubhouse bar so its opening hours depend on a member being around with time to spare and a key to open up. When it does open, as you would expect, the bar acts like a magnet to sailors whose boats are scattered around the No.2 Fish Dock on the long pontoons which make up the marina complex. These are connected to the shore at only one point, however, making it a long walk if you are berthed farthest away. But there is a collection of bikes on a rack near the shore ramp which can be used by anyone and can save a lot of walking. Some caution is clearly advised after a few drinks at the bar because if one wheel were to swerve off the pontoon edge in the dark then the water would swallow both the rider and the bike and nobody would be any the wiser.

It is here in Grimsby that we bump into two other round Britain sailors. Paul Hardaker started from Liverpool in May and like us is turning left at every corner. He and his pet parrot, ‘Finley’, are on a sponsored sail for Crohn’s and Colitis Charity and have experienced all sorts of adventures on their passage – they are only half way round! A week ago, Finley, who is quite talkative, bluffed his way out of his cage and flew off to explore Grimsby but his navigation (or his loyalty) did not equip him for finding his way home again. Paul is very attached to the bird and eventually had to offer a reward for Finley’s safe return so that they can continue their journey together. Paul keeps his own blog at www.paulhardakersailing.co.uk which has video clips he makes as he sails along.

We also meet Jean-Pierre, once a harbour-master at La Rochelle in France, who has sailed his yacht ‘St Kilda’ an incredible distance this year to Morocco, Madeira, the Azores, Ireland, Scotland, finally touching the East Coast of England. He has different crew join him along the way and is now in Grimsby waiting for parts to repair the gooseneck on his boom (technical language, but English) before sailing off to Ostend and eventually home again. Chatting with Jean-Pierre and the current crew on board, speaking French as best we can over drinks in the club bar, we are treated to the holiday snaps of André, whose family live on the Isle of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, and the feisty politics of Maryse who has a few sailing adventures of her own behind her.

Our own movements are, as ever, controlled by the weather and we spot a window of opportunity appearing tomorrow which should enable us to sail north again to Scarborough.

Day 25 – Bull buoy in the HumberThe River Humber has these cute little yellow ships which are forever chugging along…. but going nowhere. Or so it seems. They are in fact buoys which mark the edges of the shipping lane but when you pass them by it looks just as if they are motoring upstream on their own. In reality we know they are anchored to the bottom of the river and it is the water that passes them by but somehow they have a sad and lonely look about them, forever on a voyage to nowhere.

It is a relief to be out of the river and away from any possibility of meeting a super-tanker or a massive car-carrier coming towards us and we turn north past Spurn Head towards another headland, Flamborough. Today, by contrast to previous days, there is almost no wind at all at six in the morning and the sea is a shining plate of silver jelly that wobbles only to a faint swell. It is hazy, however, and this thickens into a sea level mist which swallows us up and forces us to strain our eyes forward to pick up the randomly scattered floats of lobster pots which lie in our path. The one we miss is the one that will tangle in our propeller so we are constantly vigilant.Approaching Flamborough

By midday the sun has burnt its way through to sea level and we can see Flamborough ahead but our favourable tide has now turned against us, the water now rushing back southwards past us. Progress becomes slow, like swimming through glue, and the hours tick by. We languish around the deck in the sunshine, a light cooling breeze making life pleasant on Cirrus’s foredeck while the cockpit becomes an oven. Gradually the miles pass by as Flamborough’s eroded white cliffs disappear behind us and at last Scarborough emerges from the haze ahead. Paul cuddling FinleyQuite quickly, however, a dark line of cloud rises from the northern horizon and just as we are closing the harbour entrance the wind arrives, as if from nowhere, and we quickly pull on our jackets for protection. We struggle the last few yards into harbour and tie up alongside the visitor pontoon, greatly relieved to be in port and out of the icy blast.

Berthed just ahead of us here is Paul Hardaker’s yacht which left Grimsby the day before us. He spends the evening with us on board bringing Finley with him so we can get to know this lovely bird. FinleyAt first Finley is a little shy but by the end of the night he shows us his best side as he poses for his own photograph.

The northerly wind howls in the rigging all night. This really was a small window which we have grabbed to move ourselves a few miles along our way.

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