Friday, 11 January 2019

Sandy Island, Medical Emergency

So I have been here a few weeks now and we have got lots of jobs done. One of the biggest reasons for so many jobs is that Kim and Simon on Britican have decided to invite people onboard so they need the boat to be coded by the RYA to take 12 paying passengers onboard. They will only take 8 people as the boat, even though she a big boat at 56ft it does not have the space for so many people at once, so 8 is more than enough.
I was only here one day when the man came to inspect the boat and since I have had my boats coded like this at home, it was really straight forward. After about 4 hours inspecting the boat he was very happy and only had a few things he wanted us to do which was done straight away, photographed and sent over to him. Simon was also waiting a few other things to arrive and when they did we would be ready to go.

After everything was sorted Kim and Simon wanted to get me sailing but the first sail was just a few hours away which was fine by me as we needed to sign out of the country, get some groceries, and we also gabbed some fuel too.

SANDY ISLAND


KIM JUST ABOUT TO GET THE ANCHOR BALL


ALL ANCHORED 

After all those jobs were done we were off again and this time it was to a place called Sandy Island which was about 5 hours further north. It was a lovely sail and we arrived at a beautiful destination, grabbed a mooring ball (fixed anchor) and relaxed. Well we did not relax for long as I went into my bedroom and it was very smelly and we found water on the shelf. I proceeded to take the wall down, which is just velcro, and we found the problem straight away. One of the bolts were leaking and as we hit thee waves it was coming in. It was nothing to worry about but it still needed to be fixed.

While Simon and myself fixed the water leak, Kim was sewing a cover for the main sail. She shouted me to see if I had finished as she would love it if I could do a little bit of filming for her blog. I picked up the camera and started o film when she said, I feel a bit funny. Don't feel funny now I'm trying to film you. She giggled, sat back and said my heart is racing. I mean really racing. The look on her face said a thousand things, but within a minute or so she said she felt ok now. "I laughed and said typical women, now lets get on with this filming"

Simon came in to help and while I was filming the expressions on his face were so funny I started to film him instead. The second I started to take the micky out of Simon, Kim took a turn for the worst. Her heart was going even faster then before and started to lose the feeling in her arms and legs.
All of a sudden it had gone a bit Pete Tong so Simon called for a ambulance to come, but the  only problem with that was that we were on the boat.

Simon shouted to me to start the dingy and he managed to get Kim into the dingy were we sped off to the closet beach where the ambulance would pick them her up. When we arrived to the beach we got Kim out of the dingy and onto a bench while we waited. It was at that moment that I knew, it was very serious as she started to say that she loved me.... You love me? Don't be silly women, I said, you don't love me its Simon you love. No its you I love....and Sienna of course...

The ambulance arrived and off she went to the hospital... There was not a lot I could do now so, myself and Sienna went back to the boat where we waited for a call from Simon to let us know what's happening.

Within half an hour we got a call saying that they were going to fly to Grenada as this hospital does not have the means to look after her, so could I bring some clothes, mobiles, chargers and anything else we could think off and meet us at the airport.

Myself and Sienna gathered everything together, jumped back into the dingy and sped off to the beach. When we arrived Simon called again to say that he was waiting for confirmation of the flight down the Grenada so could we wait at the beach until everything was good to go. After a little wait we got the go ahead to be a the airport which was only minutes away. Once we started to walk to the airport we were given the wrong directions and told to go the other way. We quickly turned and went the right way, when we heard to siren from the ambulance, so we started to run. When we got closer the gate was open and we just entered but it was not until we saw the runway that we realised it was the wrong way. Stuff it said to Sienna, we are here now, but then all of a sudden the plane landed, so we ran across the runway to where Kim and Simon we waiting.

Yes, I know what you are thinking, but I was thinking about Kim, as I could not let her go without a change of knickers. Ha Ha. After that, I got a real dressing down by some lady but it was done now and there was nothingshe could do about it. Well there was, but in this situation I think she just let me off with a dirty look. As I turned around I saw Kim lying in the ambulance looking at me spaced out so I gave her a kiss on the forehead and Simon a cuddle and I just blurted out that I would see them in Grenada.

What was I thinking, I have never sailed on my own before and with a little girl too. Surely it must be me that needed to go to hospital for saying such a stupid thing, but to my amazement Simon said that would be great thank you.
To be honest I don't think anyone was thinking, but we just got on with it.

Once we arrived back at the boat, I sat Sienna down to explain what we were going to do tomorrow and that was sail on our own back to Grenada. I also told a little white lie and said that her Mam was going to be ok, but deep down I knew it was not good. She was amazing really and I said we can do it and I will see your mammy tomorrow. She smiled and gave me a high five.

The next day we left about 9am and sailed all the way down to Grenada. We tried with the main sail but it got jammed so we gave up and I just put the head sail up and off we went. It was amazing really and we both really enjoyed the sail down.
After about 2 hours of sailing we got a call from Simon saying that Kim was going to be okay but she had to go back to the UK for more tests to find out what happened. What a relief and the look on Sienna's face said it all.
When we  eventually arrived at St George's and anchored perfectly for the first time, we both jumped into the dingy and went to see Simon.


SAILING DOWN TO GRENADA



ST GEORGE'S HOSPITAL OVER LOOKING BAY WHERE THE BOAT WAS ANCHORED


KIM IN HER HOSPITAL BED

Seeing Simon again was just lovely and he embarrassed me like I was his best friend. You could see he wanted to talk but he looked shattered and was desperate for a shower, so he jumped into the dingy and went to the boat. While Simon was away myself and Sienna, stayed in the restaurant, and treated ourselves to a well deserved brownie and ice cream which was just perfect. Once Simon returned he explained that her heart was doing 233 beats a minute and did this for 2 hours, no wonder she was frightened and when I read her blog later I did not realise how bad it was. Yes I had a feeling it was bad but I tried to blank it out and stay calm for Sienna's sake and it worked to. She is only  8 and the last thing I wanted to do was to put the fear of death into to her. Pardon the pun, but she was with me now and that was scary enough.

Anyway, Kim was in good hands in the hospital and we could see her soon, so all I wanted now was for her to fly back home, get sorted and come back as my family were joining for Christmas and we were all excited to meet each other.

Once Kim was discharged from hospital she came back onto the boat where she could get a good nights sleep and relax. The next day Simon said that they had to fly home on the 14th Dec to see the doctors but they weren't sure when they could come back until they find out more information. I was so disappointed as I desperately wanted them to meet my family but her health was more important than seeing them.

As we were having dinner later that evening, Kim and Simon started to chat about what was going to happen when they were away, and I was expecting them to say that they had booked the boat into the marina and it would stay there until we get back, but to my surprise they told me to take my family and the boat and go sailing. Holy Sh** I was not expecting them to say that. This is their home, their pride and joy and they were going to give it to some northern bloke who has never sailed before, they must be crackers. It has be those pills Kim is on, she can't be saying the that surely, but she was and they both meant it too. It was at that time when my arse started to twitch and I got a cold sweat. I think I need to and have a lay down and compose myself. I looked at both of them and said, "Are you sure". If we did not trust you then we would have it booked into a marina by now, so take your family and enjoy the trip....


If you want to read about the episode try Kim's Blog   and she will give you her side of the story. Until the next blog, thank you for reading and I do hope you are enjoying it.


OVER AND OUT


















Thursday, 3 January 2019

Adventure Begins Again.

If you can remember in an old blog post, I was lucky enough to be invited onto a yacht called Britican, to sail from Charleston to the Bahamas about this time last year. Well the same family has invited me back onboard their 56ft Oyster mono hull. Yes I know I'm used to catamarans but this is an opportunity not to be missed, so I grabbed it with both hands and said Yes.

So here I am, back onboard and it is like I have never been away, but this time instead of the cold weather on my previous sail, I'm in the beautiful sunshine of Grenada in the Caribbean in a little place called Whisper Cove.
What a lovely name and there is loads of yachts around too, as they are all running (sailing) scared of the hurricanes from last year and Grenada is out of the hurricane zone. When you here the stories and the damage they did it sends shivers down your spine and some islands are know where being fixed either. Never mind that's another story for another time

So as I write this article I'm sitting near the stern of the boat watching the sun go down and its about half an hour until sunset and its 25 degrees. Sorry if you fell like I should not mention the weather since its so rubbish back home, but what the hell I've worked hard for it. Anyway, this time I'm here to learn a bit more and get some jobs done before we start sailing again and as I watch the sun go down I wonder if its going to be as good as it was last year.





Deep down I know it will be, but sometimes I question myself if you have done the right thing as you may know yourself when you go on holiday its amazing, but when you go back its never as good as the first time. I should not question myself really as I'm on the same boat with a lovely family, and I'm in a different place and hopefully we will get sailing soon which itself will be amazing and hopefully this time I will get to do some sailing myself.

Anyway at the moment I'm based in a little place in the south end of Grenada called Clarkes Court Bay and we are anchored near Whisper Cove. Its actually a large sheltered bay offering lots of anchoring in different spots with some being more sheltered than other spots. Our spot is a little bit windy but I prefer that as its keeps the mosquitos away and it provides a lovely breeze through the boat.
In the old days, big sailing ships would anchor here to take on rum that was brought down the river to the head of the bay by a small boat. It is also known for its drink too as there is an old brewery here, which has been running for over 200 years. I will go and have a look soon but sadly I don't drink so I will not be sampling the menu and its probably a good thing as I don't think I would be able to get back to the boat.

There is lots little places to eat and drink and there is a really big boatyard to have a wander around. Some of the yachts are out of this world but they are owned by money men or women and I can only dream of winning the lottery to get anything close to what they have. I don't think I would really like it to be honest. Some of the smaller yachts are very appealing but for the moment its nice to look.

What I have noticed that the yachting community is very close and they will do anything to help each other out. Every morning at 7.30am there is a person on the radio telling everyone about the weather, whats on, shopping trips, nights out etc and its amazing to see how many join them too. There is also a small group of kids who do home schooling in the morning and then they jump into the dinghy's and go to play on the beaches or go exploring. They learn so much more than some kids do and they are so polite too. I suppose that's the yachting community for you and its refreshing to see young children respecting there elders.

So over the next few weeks I will be bringing you some stories about my adventure so please join me and I hope you enjoy what you read and if there is anything you would like to know please just ask.







Saturday, 29 December 2018

Fansastic Season 2018

All I can say is Wow, what a season. The sea gods have been really kind to us this year and this season blew everyone away with calm seas, very clear waters and lovely weather. Yes we did not have the heat that everyone else had but I'm not complaining one bit as it was a total pleasure being on the water and I even jumped into the water for a quick splash... Now that's saying something... Yes it was bloody freezing but I did it..

The beginning of the season was not the best with bad weather and rough seas but after that it just got better and better right until about the 12th December when it changed. Other than that it was just amazing and over the festive period its been like summer on some days. In fact over the festive period they lads saw 25 Bottlenose Dolphins heading north and a very late Minkie Whale north past Staple Island, which is the latest whale to be recorded. Great spot by Jimmy and Chris and its another first for Chris which has been a great season for him too.

Also this year we saw some new members of staff join the team and I have to admit they have blown me away with their attitude and enthusiasm and its great to see. Sometimes its not easy joining a team that has been going for a while but I'm so pleased they slotted in so well. Fingers crossed they are with us again next year and we do it all over again.

We also purchased a new boat which arrived at the end of the 2018 season but will be running in 2019 which will be great as both Tony and Jimmy past their boatman's licences near the end of the season so next year we will have all 3 boats running which is exciting news.

Bird wise looked like it was going to be a total failure especially with the Shags as it looked like more than half had been killed from the Best from the East but somehow they managed to bounce back and by the end of the season loads were around the islands. Amazing really and it just goes to show you how wildlife can just ruffle its feathers and get on with it. I say this year after year and I will probably keep on saying it but the Farnes just keeps on blowing me away and year on year I see something that I thought I would never see.

The final bird count has yet to be confirmed but I will let you know when I find out.


For me there was a couple of things that stole the show this year and once again it was the Bottlenose Dolphins as they always impress me and our guests just love them too and the other was a first for me and that was another kind of dolphin, the Risso Dolphin. At first I was not sure what it was but when it surfaced a second time I just knew it was a Risso and boy what a creature it was too.






The seal pup season was really good too and again the weather was kind to them. Yes we did have a good few die early on in the season and they were probably premature, not strong enough or washed away by the seas. I know its awful to hear but that's nature. So the final figure for the seal pups were


Near the end of the season we also saw some lovely birds and some firsts for most of my crew which again is really good for them as it keeps them interested and it also gives them something else to talk about to our guests.




It has also been a great year for the Sunset Cruises, so much so we have added a few more days to our schedule.


So over all it has been a great season but most of this all down to our staff who have been fantastic and worked so hard to so on behalf of Toby and myself I have to say,  "thank you" for everything.

OVER AND OUT

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Monday, 17 December 2018

Christmas Sailings

Just to let you all know that we are still going to be sailing right until the New Year so if you are in the area and would like a trip to the Farne Islands and see all the cute seal pups then we will be sailing everyday from 11am, 12,30pm and maybe a 2pm. This is all weather permitting, so if you need to get out of the house over the Christmas period and give us a call on 01665 721667 or pop down the harbour and you will see our white booking office and the girls will let you know everything.

If you are reading this and you know anyone visiting the area then please let them know, thank you.




Sunday, 9 December 2018

North East Gold Award Winners

Myself and my brother are so proud of all of our staff and everything we have achieved together over the last few years and the other week we were awarded for all our hard work with Gold award at a prestigious event in the Civic Centre in Newcastle.

This glittering evening is built entirely around celebrating the success of the finalists, who represent the best of the North East's tourism businesses and it also gives you a chance to finally meet the  people who call to book trips for their guests and I have to say there are some lovely people out there doing amazing things to raise the profile of the North East. Not that it needs promoting, as we know its a great place to live and work.

So with my tuxedo on and my partner in crime (Jimmy) along my side we took our seats not far from the main stage where our guest presenter was Alfie Joey from Newcastle Radio. Just before the awards were presented we had a 3 course meal and I have to say it was just delightful.

After everyone had finished their meal it was on with the award ceremony and it was great to see so many people attending this event with over 400 people and so many awards to go through they asked us just to collect the awards and no speech's.

As the awards were being handed out it got to our category and we had some stiff competition from the likes of Chillingham White Cattle, Behind the Books and Lundgren Tours Ltd. They went in reverse order and when they read out Serenity as the winner both myself and Jimmy were totally god smacked. We never in a million years thought we would get picked never mind win it.
I was shaking like a leaf but very proud to walk up on the stage to collect the gold award.

The more I think about the evening the more I realise how lucky we are to live in this beautiful part of the world and also lucky we are be working in it too. The look on Jimmy's face said it all really and if you don't know Jimmy he is an Ozzy who got on the wrong boat and by gum is so pleased he did too.

We are all pleased to have won such an amazing award but if it was not for everyone around us we would have never have won, so thank you to all the staff for all your hard work as this award is yours too.






Yes we can scrub up if we want too.

As I write this blog I would also like to say well-done to a few friends who also won awards to their hard work over the last few years and its not very often that you get two gold winner in one little village like Seahouses and we did with my good friends from St Cuthberts House who won Gold for best Bed and Breakfast.


Also to my other friends at Laverock Law Cottages and Shepherds Hut who won Gold for Sustainable Tourism Award.





It was nice to get the whole of us together and it was just a wonderful evening too.

Now I do have to say that even though we won gold, I have to say that the biggest winner was Northumberland as there was 15 categories and Northumberland won 9 of those, which is an absolute amazing achievement by all, so well done.

A week later after the awards I found out that Northumberland won the Best UK Holiday Destination. I think that about sums it up really....

Once again thank you to all our staff as if it was not for you we would not have won this, so a massive THANK YOU.










Thursday, 6 December 2018

Red-Necked Grebe

A few weeks ago we spotted a Red-Necked Grebe on the water in between Brownsman and Gun Rock.
Its neck was not red like it is during the breeding season but at this time of the year its more grey and the head is not as black. Despite the lack of summer plumage its still a lovely bird and not very often spotted around the islands. We might see one a year and then go a few years without seeing any.
I do know that they are spotted a bit more near Stag Rock in Bamburgh during the winter so you would think you would see them more often near the Farnes but this is not the case.

All the same its just really nice seeing this lovely bird and its also nice to show our guests too.



Sorry its a small post but I promise a better one soon.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Bloody Ballons

We have tuned into a throw away generation, and its drives me insane. I remember we used to take out TV's back to the shop to get fixed or even a kettle and we would never think "Ah just throw it away and get a new one", but that's how it has gone today. I remember an old bloke from the village called "Tommy Walton" god rest his soul. We used to take our broken bikes to his house to get fixed and a day later you would get it back and it felt like you were getting a new bike. Yes it was not a designer bike but it did the job and that's all that matters. My boat is the same. I wanted a new toilet but it was cheaper to get the whole toilet with the hand pump then just to get the hand pump, so now I'm stuck with a toilet basin and seat. I does not make sense at all. 

I think the point I'm making is that everything gets thrown away now and this has a knock on affect as we end up with waste, plastic and lots more everywhere. 

One late evening I had my boat on the beach at the harbour as I had rope and lots of fishing twine around my prop, which needed to be taken off. As I was cutting it away all the rope something in the corner of my eye went past me, and it was a lantern all light up like the Christmas lights. I could not believe what I had seen and wondered were it had come from. At first I just ignored it but then all of a sudden another one went past me but this time it got caught in some lobster pots and it started to melt the twine. I quickly grabbed it and put it out. All I could think off, was if that landed on someone's boat then it could have caused so much damage and what for. There is no need and where do people think the are going to land. Its the same as balloon realises. I just don't understand them and why would you. 

Back to the throw away generation. Why do we do these things and instead of throwing things away why not try and fix them and there will be less waste in this world and less things killing our wildlife. We maintain our cars so they last longer and we look after them but when it comes to rubbish people don't think it kills our wildlife as it does not affect them. Come on.... 

We are lucky around this area for rubbish but this year we have seen an alarming rise in balloons and rubbish at sea and it does get upsetting especially when all the seabirds are around. 

Okay, rant over but please have a little think about our actions that can affect the wildlife which is not their fault of course.  






Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Little Auk

We had a few bits of wind over the last few weeks and when loads of the birders were doing sea watches along the coast a good few reports were coming in about Little Auks. I just love these tiny little seabirds and I was praying we would see some when we eventually got back out on the water.

A few days had past and no luck even though we were seeing other seabirds around I was still hoping to see this lovely auk.

The Little Auk is part of the auk family and breeds on islands in the high arctic in places like Little Diomede Island in the Bering Strait but only in small numbers. It also breeds on small islands in the Bering Sea.
This is the only Atlantic auk of its size and its about half the size of the Puffin at 19-21cm in length, with a 34-38cm wingspan. Its not until you see them close up then you realise how small they are. I do love these auks with their very stubby bill and little white mark beside their eyes. When they fly past the boat they go like a bullet. Not that I have seen a bullet in real life before but that's what it feels like to me.

Like the Puffin they lay only one egg and instead of a burrow its on a cliff edge but with an overhang so they get a little bit of shelter. They move south in the winter and this is when they tend to come to our area and forgive me if I'm wrong but I think the Farnes has the British record of passage in one day of 25,000. Now that would have been a wonderful site to see, as I'm happy with one but could you imagine that many. Amazing really.






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OVER AND OUT



Thursday, 15 November 2018

HMS Ascot

On remembrance day I was asked by a friend if I could take a few family members out to the shipwreck HMS Ascot so they could pay their respects.

It was a really easy answer and it was the least I could do for all those who fought in the war and what a better way to remember all the people who died in the war to look after our country.

HMS Ascot was the last boat to be sunk during WW1 and it was the day before the Armistice was signed. She was torpedoed by a German submarine, UB-67 off the coast of Seahouses about 6 miles away.
Fifty Three servicemen tragically lost their lives in the sinking of the minesweeper vessel. Despite the best efforts of the Seahouses and Holy Island Lifeboats, no survivors were found.  

One crew member John Matthew Postlethwaite of Liverpool (below) was one of those to lose their lives. The able seaman's descendants returned to Seahouses to mark the centenary of the sinking on Saturday afternoon but before we went out to the ships last resting place, the Seahouses Lifeboat and all her crew had a small remembrance service outside the lifeboat station conducted by Rev Carol Fields.










It was a lovely service and Paul King, whose late wife was the granddaughter of seaman Postlethwaite read out all the names of the HMS Ascot who died on their way home. After the service was over the Seahouses Lifeboat was launched and myself, Ian Clayton, who is a spokesman for the RNLI and the family steamed out to the site where HMS Ascot was last laid to rest. Great granddaughter Wendy Thompson then left flowers above the wreck site, while Rev Carol Fields gave a heart warming pray to those who perished serving our country. 




I think as you get older you realise how brave all the men and boys were and then you think how lucky we are today and this is one of the main reason's I tell my kids to respect their elders as if it was not for them we might not have been here today. I also would like to thank those who worked hard back at home, which was mainly the women as they did a great job and sometimes they tend to be forgotten during this dreadful time.

When I got home that night I put on a film that might have been a bit to much for my 6 and 12 year old but I thought they needed to see how bad it was and how lucky they are today. Yes, they know about it and they went to the service to learn a bit more but sometimes a film with the hard truth works a little bit better and when you have to keep on pausing the film because they are asking questions then I think it might have worked.


HMS ASCOT 


Saturday, 10 November 2018

Black Guillemot and friends

Myself and Chris spotted our first Black Guillemot of the season a few weeks ago, which was really nice for me but Chris was well chuffed as it was the first one for him ever. Chris joined us this year for the first time and even though he knows about boats he was never into his birds as much as we were, so everything he see's is his first time. Yes he's seen a good few birds before but everything is new to him and he's really enjoying it.

Andy and myself have seen a good few Black Guillemots before but on this occasion it was our first. Yes we saw two together and for the Farnes its quite unusual to get two as we tend only to get one lingering during the winter but to have two together was a special moment for us.






We also came across a small feeding frenzy so we decided to stop the boat and have a look. Well I did and you could tell by Andy's face he was thinking "what the hell has he spotted now", but he was really pleased I did as we had two Manx Shearwaters in the middle of the frenzy and they must have really full bellies as they did not budge at all so Andy got a few nice pictures. You see it was worth stopping.....





We were really enjoying the day and with some lovely guests on board it made it all the better. When we past the Inner Farne on the way home we also spotted a lovely female Peregrine falcon sitting on a kittiwakes nest enjoying the sunshine whist keeping a close eye on us and a close eye on her lunch which was not far away. Yes she is just one of the birds of prey that keep our pigeon population under control.

So over all a really good day a the office and fingers crossed many more to come.


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OVER AND OUT

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Hello World

During our trips on Monday there were a noticeable increase in new born seals on Brownsman, Wames and Staple Island compared to the last few days. We did not get out on Tuesday due to the weather but when we returned on Wednesday we were gob smacked as there was an explosion of pups everywhere. Guessing a few hundred were born in one day and when the National Rangers eventually got out to do their seal counts on Thursday the result was very evident, with 504 seal pups in total. What a great start to the season for the pups and long may it last.

We have also witnessed a new born which was incredible and then seen the awful side of nature with 2 gulls eating a still born. I know its nature and its not nice to see, but I suppose one hand feeds the other. The blood on their bills is something out of a horror film but again we might not like it but its how other they survive. I was talking to a diver a few weeks ago and he said that he saw a still born on the seabed during one of his dives but it did not phase him at all, as he watched a sea urchin, and starfish eating the decomposing body so it was helping them to survive as well.



At first we thought she had miscarried due to the amount of blood, but as we passed again on a later trip we saw the pup and it was covers in blood too.


We also watched a mother feed two seal pups. Our first thought was that the born mother must be dead, but as we watched it longer and longer we realised that this was not the case. The mother was feeding her own child but was then hitting the other pup to tell it to go away. She then turned over in such a manner that her own pup got some milk but the other pup got none. Again cruel but the pups mother would not be to far away.





We have also seen the very cute side too with some pups enjoying a little sleep in the sunshine. I swear the last seal pup picture was dreaming about something nice as it cuddles into the stone by the little grin on its face.




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OVER AND OUT