|20/05/2009||Filled under England east coast|
‘Good sailing’ is a term that has a number of interpretations. The wind has to be right, in terms of direction, strength and temperature. The sea state has to be suitable, not too rough, and perhaps strangely, the sky has to be right too. A dull, overcast day will never quite make it in the enjoyment stakes alongside a bright sunny one.
We have now emerged from the Humber Estuary into the cool clear waters off the Yorkshire coast, a sea full of gannets and guillemots sharing the waters with grey seals. Stopping overnight in Grimsby where the members of the Humber Cruising Association gave us a warm welcome into their little community by a night of entertainment in the club bar, we then sailed out past a wartime defensive fort and made another left turn around the spit of shingle they call Spurn Head. Once past this the swell begins to lengthen.
The day started with fresh southerly winds, nothing stronger than force 5 was promised, so as soon as we could we dug out our brightly coloured spinnaker and hoisted it up the mast. This is the sail that makes Cirrus Cat really go and soon our log was reading first 9 then over 10 knots as we surfed down the waves, the white foam creaming out from behind us.
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For us the sailing gets good when our wide white wake starts to roar out behind us, the stern waves from both hulls colliding in a ‘rooster-tail’ of foam. We began to count down the hours to our destination, imagining an early arrival, in daylight, at Scarborough, some 50 miles to the north. Such thoughts are presumptuous when sailing at sea. Within an hour or so angry black clouds with streaks of rain falling beneath them were rising over the land and moving across our path. Bright sunshine became mixed with deep gloom as the shadows darkened the sea around us and slowly our steady wind started to change direction and ease off.
We have on board a limited wardrobe of sails which can be flown to suit most wind conditions. However I would not normally expect to have to change through all of them in the course of one day. At least this is keeping me fit, I reasoned, as I pulled down another sail as the wind rose around me again, the sky almost purple just ahead with a really evil look to it.
Then within the space of half an hour we had no wind and torrential rain followed by an incredible double rainbow with both ends dipping into the sea behind us.
Which brings me to another requirement of ‘good sailing’. A steady wind, something our present weather pattern seems bent on depriving us of.
By Flamborough Head the last of the spectacular daylight cloud-shows was fading into darkness and Scarborough was still some miles off. Darkness had fallen by the time we crept into this small harbour and the castle ruins high above were just silhouettes.
Deep water beneath the steep cliffs guarding this coast enables us to creep in close and view Britain from an angle few will see. Avid readers of this blog will recall how in February this year we visited the Boggle Hole youth hostel in Robin Hoods Bay. To sail past this and view it from just offshore is what really makes coasting Yorkshire waters a delight for us. So this is the real essence of good sailing – the whole experience in all its colours.