10-Oct-2006 -- The points off the east coast of England and Scotland have been nagging at me for a while – gradually they are being picked off and another fell yesterday. The forecast was mixed – south-easterly winds increasing “later” – trouble is nobody knows exactly when later is. This is all very important when setting out into the North Sea on an October afternoon in a 16 foot sailing dinghy – albeit a very seaworthy one.
Unfortunately no crew for this trip and the tide would allow launching only from 2pm as the slip ends rather sharpish and drops off. Actually I could probably have got off a bit earlier by going round the side.
The wind was SE 3-4 and gradually increased – maybe 4/5 at times. About the top of comfort range – but with big reef in main and jib we still managed a respectable 5 knots most of the way.
The point is 7 nautical miles (13 km) NE of St Abbs head. The spring tides cause some rough water off the point but nothing too violent. St Abbs was visible most off the way out – but disappeared during showers. The weather closed in before I arrived at the CP and no land was visible. It was not clear enough for a picture all the way back either – although after packing up the boat etc the weather cleared – of course!
I was able to steer direct to the point and hove-to when the arrow changed from 0.01nm ahead to 0.01 nm behind. So the accuracy of the visit was within 10 metres – probably within 5. By the time the photos were taken I had drifted off a little – about 20-25 metres if my maths is right. Then a roller coaster ride back with waves coming from the port quarter. Hooray for GPS – straight through the murk to the harbour entrance.
Arrived back at 5.30 to greeting from local policeman – I had been reported as disappearing into the gloom and not coming back. All well though and they hadn’t launched the lifeboat – yet! Although it is not obligatory I should have told the coastguard so that they knew who was out there. 3 hours 30 minutes for the trip – including 2 stops I guess the average sailing speed was 4.5 to 5 knots – very respectable.
I took photos in all the cardinal directions as usual but only 2 were actually taken – the camera was set for flash and took too long to recover. No time to hang around in a bouncing boat on the high seas to check such details! Would have been annoying if I hadn’t met the minimum requirement though. One photo has a bright white UFO that I didn’t see at the time – a more prosaic explanation might be a raindrop!
I was hoping to do 55N 1W as well this week – but it is twice as far offshore and the weather is not reliable enough at this time of the year. Also long days would be better. I expect somebody else will tidy up this last English point before I get there!