Day 3 & 4. Lowestoft to Whitby

The crew of Nightsong enjoying great sailing conditions off the east Coast

Wednesday morning saw our mariners waving goodbye to Lowestoft, setting sail for their longest sail so far. Sailing to Whitby non-stop entails an overnight sail, with each team member taking a turn at a night watch – an exciting and very different experience of touring an amazing coast full of character and history.

As first Suffolk and then Norfolk was left in their wake, Cromer was visible, perched on the very edge of the north Norfolk coast. This seaside town is famous for its tasty crabs, long sandy beaches and its fishing heritage. It has a lighthouse and a proud tradition of RNLI service. It has been said that the lifeboat service is the lifeblood of the town and the Henry Blogg Museum offers a great insight into the service’s past history.

North of Norfolk the Wash Estuary provides a feeding ground for hundreds of thousands of waterbirds and is home to more common seals than anywhere else in the UK. Sadly, the month of May is likely to have been too early to see seal pups, as they are born on the sandbanks later in the summer.

As the journey continued, another landmark passed was Skegness, “the Blackpool of the East Coast”.  “Skeggie”, (meaning “bearded one”), has a rich history of Dane settlement, possibly established by a Viking of that name, but is perhaps better known as the home of the first Butlin’s holiday resort. It was also once voted as the best place to retire to in the UK!

Grimsby, home of The Mariners football team, was the next major town up the coast. This major seaport once hosted the largest fishing fleet in the world. The Cod Wars saw this industry decline dramatically, but 70% of the UK’s fish processing industry is now located here. Traditional Grimsby smoked fish has been awarded a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in 2009 by the European Union. The traditional process uses overnight cold smoking using sawdust in tall chimneys.

Spurn Head, a striking feature of the coast, is a long, curving hook of shingle and sand arcing into the mouth of the Humber River, and is an important stopover for thousands of migrating birds. The crews of Kingfisher and Nightsong were delighted to spot puffins, small seabirds which return from the sea to nest in burrows on the cliffs at this time of year. Seals and butterflies are amongst the other species to be spotted on this nature reserve. Spurn Head also has a history as a treacherous place for shipping; the lifeboat station there is the only one in Britain manned by a permanent crew. Thankfully conditions behaved themselves as our yachts sailed on Northwards.

The next most conspicuous headland was that of Flamborough, marked by a stretch of chalk cliffs. Flamborough Head, a Special Area of Conservation is an outdoor lover’s heaven, particularly renowned for bird watching, hiking along windswept, paths and sea canoeing around the bay. The dramatic Yorkshire coast continued on past Scarborough, with its historic harbour and award-winning beaches, nestling amidst the scenic lands of forests, Wolds and moors.

Flamborough Head seen from the deck of Nightsong on their way past

And so, at last, our two teams sailed into Whitby harbour welcomed by the sunshine and blue skies. This town is famous for its connection to Captain Cook and Author Bram Stoker who stayed in Whitby in the late 1800s’. He was so inspired by its ruined abbey and clifftop church he was inspired to create his most famous character Dracula.

Whitby’s rich maritime history may be explored through a trip on a 40% sized replica of Captain Cook’s ship, the Bark Endeavour, built by local craftsmen. If that doesn’t appeal you could join a whale-watching trip – species spotted over the last few years have included minke, fin, sei, northern and humpbacks, as well as seals, dolphins and porpoises. Alternatively, take a trip aboard one of the RNLI’s longest serving boats the venerable former Whitby lifeboat the Mary Ann Hepworth – dating from the ’30s.

As our Sail for Macmillan crews enjoy a well-earned rest and recuperation tonight in Whitby, the end of their first week draws near. Skipper Chris seems to be enjoying himself…

“So, the big one! 24 hours Lowestoft to Whitby; an exciting ride! A bit frisky out of Lowestoft  and a good north easterly took  us at a fair rate the 150 miles overnight. Saw seals, tankers, oil  rigs and a fantastic sunrise before having to slow down because we arrived at Whitby too early. A glorious relaxing day in the town to wind down
Next stop Newcastle!”

If you like the sound of this adventure so far and would like to take part in this once in a lifetime experience then why not call Colin or Jan of Premier Sailing to discuss how you can get involved with Sail for Macmillan. No previous experience required as the yachts are skippered by a fully qualified crew. Go on – give them a call!

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