Sunday, 10 December 2017

Here we go....

The day had finally arrived, and we only had a few jobs to do before we set sail. We topped up the boat with fresh water, did the final checks on the engines etc and paid our dues to the marina. All Kim, Simon and Sienna had to do was to say goodbye to their friends and while they were doing that I went to help another sailor who was solo sailing and needed a little bit of help to get off the dock, so he could get some fuel.

I jumped onboard the boat with him and we headed towards the fuelling dock. After filling up I gave him a push off and off he went. I have to take my hat off to this guy, as he is 70 years of age and still sailing on his own and loving every minute too. Got to love him for that.

After he set off, I ran back to Simon’s boat and jumped onboard. His friends let the ropes go and after a few tears we waved goodbye.

We motored out of the marina, down the Charleston channel and out into the Atlantic where we set our sail for the first time and then Simon turned off the engine. All I can say is that it is a weird feeling knowing that the wind is moving along on total silence. All I could hear was the waves and the wind, but we were motoring at 7 knots and it was free…. Yes free…  No fuel being used just us and the sea ahead with solar panels powering the batteries all we would have to do is sit back and enjoy.

Well if you know the sea at all, then you will know that this is not the case. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped, and the seas turned rough. I had gone from shorts and flip flops to woolly hat, gloves and winter clothes. Oh boy, it was freezing out here. It was like being at home again but this time I was going to sail through the night too. Talk about being thrown into the deep end and it was so cold that Simon decided not to do 3 hours on watch and 3 hours off, but 2 on and 2 off. It made total sense as we were both frozen to the bone during our 2 hours on deck and we were glad to get out of the wind and the cold. What made things worse was the driving rain that decided to join us I the middle of the night. It was bad enough the with the wind and the cold but rain hitting you so hard it hurts is not nice at all. We had winds gusting 30 knots, the seas were about 2 meters and in the dark of the night all you could see was the whites of the waves breaking in the moon light. At times I was glad it was pitch black as I could not see the size of the seas.

After sailing for 23 hours we eventually arrived in Amelia Island. It was a beautiful island, so we decided to get a little bit sleep and then have a look around the island about 3pm. We were at anchor on an anchor ball provided by the marina for 20 dollars a day which was really good value and then we launched our dingy to go and pick up Michael from his boat. Michael was the guy who I helped fill up with fuel and he decided to sail with us down the coast.

After paying the marina for our stay we went to the pub for a stiff one. I have never had a drink for 5 years now, but I pushed the boat out and had a shandy. Yes, I know it’s not really a drink. We had hardly left the pub when Michael got a call from the marina saying his boat had come off the mooring. We rushed back to the dingy, started it up and sped across to his yacht. Lucky for Michael’s sake a couple from another yacht managed to grab a hold of his boat and tie it against theirs without any damage done either boat. The luck of the Irish was on his side this evening. We started his engine and headed back to another mooring buoy where we put two ropes around the mooring buoy just in case one broke and the other was there for back up. After everything was tied up good and tight we made our way back into town for something to eat.

Michael was a little shocked and who can blame him after that. Its his home and when we arrived at the restaurant he entitled to another stiff one. After a lovely meal we arrived back at the yachts for an early night as we were leaving at 6am the next day as we were heading to St Augustine and we wanted to be there for day light as the mooring buoy was in a shallow area and it’s better to do that during the day than night.



Thursday, 7 December 2017

Nearly ready to sail.

We have been working really hard over the last few days getting the boat ready to sail and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
The boat is polished, the hull is cleaned, anchor winch switch is fixed and lots of little jobs being done now before we set sail into the ocean.
Its all hands on deck as the start line gets closer. Sienna has now finished school but she had her 1st day of home schooling on the boat on Monday which I think really well.
Simon and Kim are getting the final things put into place before we leave and hopefully everything goes smoothly while we sail.

Here is a few pictures of the jobs we have been doing and hopefully this will be the last as we enjoy the sailing adventure.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Let the adventure begin

Over the next few weeks I will not be posting about our adventures around the Farnes but I will be posting about my adventures from another boat.
I have been lucky enough to be given the chance by my family to join another family on their yacht sailing from Charleston USA to the Caribbean.
I have been here for two days now and we are getting the boat ready for sailing so its all hands on deck before we set sail, so over the next few weeks my adventure will be a little bit different but still on the water and hopefully still seeing loads of wildlife but fingers crossed its in calm seas with fair winds.
The family have been very kind to me and made me feel at home straight away which makes life a lot easier for and I suppose for them too. It must be weird for them having a stranger come into their home and to make things worse its not like a house where you can escape but its a yacht and we are on top of each other but I have to take my hat off to them as they have feel so welcome its like home from home.
I have my own room in the bow (front) of the boat and I share a small bathroom with their daughter Sienna who is a real chatter box and is 7 years of age.  She loves life on the boat and has just finished school, so her mam Kim, is going to home school her during their adventures. Simon is the captain and he is also an Englishman and Kim is an American so its apt that they called their boat BRITICAN.

Personally I'm really excited to be given this opportunity to do something that I have never done before and if you know me at all, you will know that I don't do land so this might seem like a busman's holiday but for me its home from home but just a little bit different, so bring it on.

I will keep you updated during different stages of the trip but the internet is not the best so sometimes I don't get anything at all so please bare with me and hopefully you will enjoy the ride.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

November Update

So far it has been really good throughout November and we have still been getting out on the water which is really good for the time of the year.
We are still seeing loads too and with the seal pupping season in full swing now its still worth going out.

We have seen a good few things over the last few weeks with a nice woodcock at the Longstone Island and of course we have seen the Black Guillemot a few times.
We have seen a single Bottlenose Dolphin as well and a pod of 30 which is always good. This has to be the best year for the dolphins and we are still seeing them too. I will leave that for another blog post.

We also saw a single puffin just as we approached the islands and we also spotted a single Great Northern Diver on the way out of the harbour. I do love the divers and its not very often we get to see them so close either. We have a good few lingering Guillemots at this time of the year to and we even saw one on the rocks the other day. Its also the time of the year for Little Auks but I have only managed to see a few so far this year.

I have also been taking divers out and they are having some great fun with the seals are they are very playful at this time of the year. What we don't tell the divers is that they are really horny too. Shhh I did not say that...

I suppose at this time of the year its all about the seal pups and the rangers have been out and about doing their seal counts. The last time they were out the numbers were up to 1497 so they are on the way to breaking the record but that will all depend on the weather and the seals themselves. Hopefully it will be a good season even if they don't break the farnes record.

Hopefully I will do a few more blog posts before I tell you all some exciting news. Watch (Read) this space.

Thank you once again for reading this blog and I do hope we are keeping you all up to date with what's happening around the Farnes.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Black Guillemot

What a week we have just had. It all started on the 24th October with a Humpback Whale, then on the 25th a Albino Seal and a Red-Necked Grebe and now a Black Guillemot. I know Northumberland is getting some good birds lately and a Black Guillemot is not at the top of the list but its really nice to see and its the first time Andy has seen one in winter plumage too.

Lets hope our good luck continues and we get a chance to see something mega just like the humpback whale

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Albino Seal

It started 3 years ago when we first saw this rare albino seal and now I'm starting to get really curious.
Where does it come from? Why does it return roughly the same time and the same place for the last 3 years?
I have so many questions that need answered, so I need to start investigating a little bit more into this one and if you are reading this post and know something then please get in touch.

Its funny as I was in the middle of my speech about the seals when I saw this white seal swimming under the surface and my first thoughts were that the visibility was very clear and it must be brilliant for the divers to play with the seals.

I looked across at Andy and he said the same thing. He also asked if I had seen the seal that was very white in colour. I was just about to say yes when it came to the surface.
We both looked at each other said its the albino seal at the same time and then we quickly told our guests about this beautiful mammal.

This was 3 years on the trot and it still amazes me that it has not past away, as I was always under the impression that albino's struggle to survive as they either get bullied or just pushed to one side, but this fella seemed to be very relaxed with all the other seals. In fact it was really relaxed with the boat too and I have to say that this was the first time that it came close to the boat with not a worry at all and gave myself and a few others great opportunities to get some good pictures.

If I don't see it again this year then I pray I will see it again next year and in the meantime I hope to find out as much as I can about the wonderful mammal.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Humpback Whale

On Tuesday 24th October we left the harbour at 10.15am with handful of passengers on board the boat.
Its the start of the seal season and children on board were excited to see the new born pups. Saying that I think some of the adults were just as excited as the kids were.
The weather was ok but you can feel that winter is not far away from us now as the temperature out at sea is starting to drop so the 1.5 hour trip is just enough for the kids before they start getting to cold.

We were on our way to see the seals which were on the north side of Big Harcar not far from the Longstone Lighthouse when all of a sudden Andy my crewman jumped out of his seat screaming a whale has just breached in front of us.
We both ran outside and told our guests that we have just seen a whale breach in front of the boat. I had hardly got the words out of my mouth when it happened again. It happened so quick that we did not even get a chance to get a picture or a video but we both looked at each other and said WOW.
In all my years at the Farnes I have never seen anything like it. To see anything kind of whale is amazing but to see a Humpback Whale breach clean out of the water in front of the boat was.... in fact is..... the best thing I have ever seen.
I was shaking like a leaf and I thought Andy was going to have a heart attack. Not all of our guests seen this wonder but most of them did and they were smiling from ear to ear.

To see such a wonderful creature in our waters around the Farne Islands will be something myself and Andy will never ever forget and when we talked about it today it was all over in about 30 seconds but it was the best 30 seconds ever.

This is not my picture but its just to show you what we saw and what a fantastic record for the Farnes

Monday, 9 October 2017

Pupping season begins

Today we not only saw the 1st seal pup on the rocks but we also spotted a 2nd one.

Finally the seal season is underway and lets hope it's another good one like last year.
A few weeks ago my brother spotted one on the Longstone Island but unfortunately it had pasted away, which was such a crying shame as it looked big too and the weather had not been bad at all but I suppose that's nature for you. 

Anyway the ones we saw today looked in better health and one was even feeding from its mother and the other looked a good bit bigger so it must be a good few days old.

Exciting times are now ahead of us and I love seeing the pups as they are really cute so lets hope they all go up and live long and healthy lives.

It will not be long before they are playing with the divers and showing off to our guests on board Serenity.

We also have been spotting a good few tags this year but once again they are not the best and the numbers rub off which is really annoying. Never mind we still have got a few. Andy my crewman spotted this one today which was a great spot too.

A few of last years pups were enjoying the little bit of sunshine too. These little fella's are about 10/11 months old now and enjoying life to its fullest. 

Once again thank you for reading this blog 


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Little and Large

Over the years I have seen the Great Skua beating up seabirds for their food and I have heard stories about the picking on other seabirds no matter what size, but I have never witnessed it myself until the other day when I spotted a Great Skua on the water then all of a sudden it launched itself into the air and started to attack a Gannet.

The size of a gannet to a skua is a bit like little and large but this great skua was just thinking about its next meal and the size of the gannet never seemed to bother it a all.
I have said in a few posts before how I admire the skuas for their cheek but to take on a gannet I have to take me hat off it this wonderful bird.
It was a bit like watching Frank Bruno and Mike Tyson in the heavy weight title fight and we just knew Tyson would win but this time the tables had turned and the Gannet put up a great fight and deafened his corner. With skill and determination the gannet was not to give up his food for no seabird, no matter how strong they were and this time the gannet won and the skua was shattered and have to give up.

After watching the action for a while we were heading into choppy water, so I turned the boat and steamed back into calm waters and by then the gannet was gone and the skua was just getting its breath back. As we reached calmer waters I had a little smile on my face and could not wait to see the pictures of the fight.

I hope my pictures show you what I mean, so enjoy.

Thank you once again for reading our blog and I do hope you enjoy it...