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Sunderland 7th September
7th September, 2005
It has been an exciting start to the day.
The weather forecast wasn’t the best, but the sun was shining and the wind we could feel in the marina was ideal, so we got up early, before 8.00o’clock. Well, that’s early for us!
A quick look around and we decided that this was definitely a sailing day rather than a day to stay tied to the dock and listening to weather forecasts. We did also notice how effective those plastic ‘owl’ bird scarers are. This seagull looks positively petrified, I think.
Breakfast was a little less leisurely than usual and we were at the fuel dock not long after 9.00. But we weren’t hurrying. The tide tables indicated that we had two and a half hours before the falling tide would trap us for the day.
As I walked back to the fuel dock after getting rid of the garbage, I was concerned that, with more than two hours to go, the tidal gauge was showing just over one and a half metres. My tide calculations showed that it should be more than three at this time. I voiced concern to Clive that I had made a mistake in my calculations and he confirmed with the fuel attendant that we were ok now but would be trapped in less than half an hour. So, in a bit of a rush, we settled up and ran for the sea. I went below to recheck the calculations.
The first thing that I discovered was that, in this panic to leave, we had failed to return the gate key. Clive suggested that we should return but I said that I would post it from the next port. I then rechecked the tide times which I was using for that day.
The Imray Cruising Almanac was showing:
River Tyne North Shields
07/09 0148 1.6 metres 0742 7.1 metres 1419 1.4 metres 2006 6.8 metres
Adding an hour for summer time gave me high water at 0842 and allowing half tide gave me access and egress until 1142. So why was the water running out as if God had pulled the plug?
On further examination I realised that although for the rest of the year the maximum tidal range on the Tyne was between 0.1 and 5.4 metres, surprisingly the tidal range after 1st September had strangely increased to between 1.2 and 7.1 metres. Also, contrary to trends, the time between high tides had increased from average of 12.5 hours to 14.5 hours, over the night of 31st August. Further investigation revealed that from September the variation between Dover and Tyne tides had altered from an average of 4.5 hours up to 6.4 hours.
Now I know that there are some weird effects from global warming and tectonic plate movement but this seems extreme. So I checked on the internet:
07/09 0503 5.0 metres 1132 0.8 metres 1731 4.8 metres 2333 1.1 metres
Sure enough, the tidal times in the Imray Cruising Almanac tide tables for River Tyne (South Shields) from September 2005 and for the rest of the year are a load of rowlocks. And I was relying on them for my entry into the Amble only yesterday. Would we have been miffed if, having made our tide calculations correctly based on the available data, we had arrived at the tidal gauge to discover we had to wait six hours?
So, a salutary lesson for all you navigators and pretend navigators out there. We have all been taught to check and double-check published waypoints and positions, details of bridge clearances and depths, the presence of pontoons and docks, buoys and other aids to navigation. Well, now you can add your tide times and ranges to the list. I must admit that in thirty years of sailing, this is the first time that I have ever seen tide tables published with wrong data but I shall certainly be wary from now on.
Having escaped from Amble while there was still just enough water to wet the knees of a seagull, we headed eastwards to round Coquet Island on its north side. We felt that even though we no longer had implicit trust in the almanac’s tide tables, we should still take notice of its warning that ‘Passage through the channel inshore of Coquet Island is hazardous without local knowledge except in calmest conditions at high water.’
We reported our destination and predicted arrival time to Humber Coastguard and hoisted sail. There was no wind so we motored across flat, glassy seas towards Sunderland. It wasn’t too fast, with a foul tide, but, but once the tide turned it should compensate for our present slowness and put us into Sunderland for mid afternoon.
Soon after 1.00 pm we had a pleasant lunch of wild boar sausage sandwiches made with the most beautiful bread, called Mediterranean and all bought in Eyemouth two days ago. Then there was a ruffle of breeze and we hoisted sail.
It wasn’t to last though. Before 2.00o’clock we were motoring again, and even though we tried a couple more times to sail, the wind, so fickle, died to nothing and we ended the day motoring past the huge red and white beacon which marks the entrance to Sunderland Harbour and on into the cute little marina on the north bank of the Wear, just inside.
We ate at the very nice Italian restaurant which is part of the marina services block. My sardine starter was very good although the second and third sardines seemed to have barbed wire rather than bones through their middles. Clive’s steak was very good although the sauce had an unusual, but not unpleasant, herbal scent to it which neither of us could identify. My pizza Calzone was a big disappointment though. The crust was crisp but only on the outside. The inside of the crust was doughy and uncooked. The ham in the filling was out of a tin and the cheese, the principal ingredient was chewy and tasteless, almost making me gag.
I complained. Englishmen sometimes do, and the maitre d’ (what is the Italian equivalent to ‘maitre d’?) apologised and offered an alternative. I requested a simple pizza with anchovies and capers.
‘Cheese?’ he asked.
‘No cheese.’ I replied.
It was very good. And he only charged for the food which we ate.
There are some good sailors about. We watched a couple of guys sail a big Lazer thing out of the marina. It was pretty tight and they did a superb job. Then I remembered. We used to sail a J24 in and out of the marina at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. We used to sail it in and out of everywhere, as the outboard rarely worked. Maybe I was a good sailor once? It seems so long ago.