Wednesday, 31 August 2011


A single Bonxie flew past the bow of the boat this morning as we were going towards Longstone Island to see the seals and all the waders. This is the first time this bird have been close enough for me to get a picture. We have had a good few passing over the last few weeks but it was nice to see one so close.
They are a big bird with what seems to be a large chest with white on its wings. You can see the white on its wings from a distance so they are quite easy to spot. 

We have been noticing a few Blue and Yellow tags on Shags lately so we have been writing the letters down and reporting them. This one is from the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth Scotland.

Little Egret

As I passed Longstone Island on Monday I spotted a Little Egret resting on the grass beside Sunderland Hole, which is where Grace Darling and her Father launched their boat.
As the tides are big at the moment, and it was near high tide I could get a good look at the bird. The only problem I had was trying to keep the boat still as the tide was raging.

Bingo, I got a picture.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Typical Bank Holiday Weather

Well you can tell it was Bank Holiday Weekend as the weather changed and the wind picked up. We never got out on Sunday but made it out today. We only did 2 trips as the tide was getting high and we would have lost our shelter from the Islands. It was like seals city today as all the seals were on the south side of the Islands sheltering from the heavy seas on the north side.

After mooring up about 3pm I walked along the pier to have a look what was going on as it was Lifeboat Fete Day.
After looking around for a bit I heard kids screaming with laughter. As I look across toward the harbour pier I noticed lots of people gathering. Then all of a sudden a wave can crashing over the pier.

I watched for a while and it even got me laughing so I ran back to the boat a grabbed my camera.

It just shows you that we can have all the technology in the world but something as simple as this can make the kids day.

 I Love You Really Son

Oh No

To late it got you

Is that your best shot

No but this one is

I give up.

Dripping Wet

Even the Adults were loving it

Fits of Laughter

Sea water and cars do not go together

Over 100 White Beaked Dolpins

On a trip out a few weeks ago a customer said that he had over 100 Dolphins following him and he had put it on You Tube. When I seen the video I could not believe it so I had to let you all see it to.
He seen them about 5am in the morning as he was sailing back from Germany and he was about 80 miles east of Whitby and was just about to swap shifts with his friend when the Dolphins turned up. I'm so pleased he did not go to bed as this is just amazing.

600+ Golden Plovers on Longstone Island

Just a few pictures of the Golden Plovers that have been on the Longstone Island lately.

I also saw a Mallard with some chicks which seem to be very late.


As a charter skipper I want calm seas, sunny and lots of birds but if I got that all the time I would be god. In the real world I have to put up with the British weather. Now its not very often I say this but we could do with a little South East, East or North East wind to bring some birds to The Farne Islands.
Yes I know, if I get winds from this direction I will not get a chance to get out to sea but I'm not asking for gales just slight winds would be nice.

Well god must of heard as my prayers, for over the last couple of days we have had slight winds from the South East and it has pushed a few birds our way.

The Longstone Island has been full of birds over the last few weeks. It's had Golden Plovers, Grey Plovers, Knots, Turnstones, Purple Sandpipers, Curlews,  Heron's, Swallows, Pied Wagtails, Rock Pipits, Wheater,  Little Egret and not for getting those inquisitive seals.

We were really surprised to see the Little Egret on the Longstone Island and it was resting beside the all of gulls. It was only the 3rd Little Egret to be on the Islands since 2003 but sadly it flew past the Inner Farne about 3pm heading west to mainland. Oh well at least I got to see it and so did some of my customers.

I had my little girl Charlie with me all day today and she wanted to go on the Inner Farne. My crewman took her for a look around and I knew she would not last for long. Sure enough she was only on there for 15mins and wanted to come back. I was not in a hurry to get them as there was a Wryneck on the West Wideopen and the Wardens had gone across to see it. I was stuck between picking up Charlie and missing the bird or leaving her their a little longer and hopefully get to see the bird.
The look on her face made me feel guilty so I had to go and get her. When she got on the boat the first thing she said was "Daddy I need the toilet" Bless her, she did not want to come of the island but she needed the toilet so much she had to.

After toilet duty I steamed around to the other side of the West Wideopen to see the bird as the Wardens said it was showing really well.
Unfortunately I never got to see it but at least I tried.

Sunday, 28 August 2011


My friends engine was making a funny noise the other day, so he decided to come back to the harbour and get the mechanic down to check it over. The news was not good, the engine was going to have to go to the scrapyard. OUCH, that's going to costs him £25,000. To make it worse it's in the middle of the Lobster season. He gave me a shout to give him a tow down to Amble so they could do some work and it would be easier to fit the engine.
We arranged to go at 6am and that would give me time to get him down to Amble and be able to get back for my first sailing.
We could not have picked a better day for it as it was blue skies and calm seas.
We were about 1 mile away when I saw 2 Arctic Skua's flying north and a single Harbour Porpoise going around in circles feeding.
After we arrived at the harbour and his boat was tied up I waved farewell and steamed home.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Queen

We saw a lovely cruise ship pass last week called Hebridean Princess from Glasgow. I heard romours that the Queen was onboard. Saying that I do live in a small village so you know how story's can go around. I don't know if it's true but if it is, you could tell they didn't know the islands as they did not come to close.

Rich man's prices. From £5000 to £11,000 for a 8 day cruise. I did read somewhere that the Royal family hired the boat for £300,000 and the bodyguards bill was a million pounds.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Pelagic Trip

Well we had our first Pelagic Trip today and we could have not asked for a better day.
We headed out at 10.30am with the sun shinning and a little S.W. Wind, we decided to go south along the coast as the wind was a little chilly and I thought if we have an hour of this then we will have it on our backs as we head out.

Just as we got past Craster we came across 2 Harbour Porpoise showing really well. It was about that time we turned and headed out to sea and just as we did Keith spotted a Bonxie. As I grabbed my camera in a hurry I must have knocked my battery clip and out popped the battery, so by the time I got it back in it was to far away.

Along the way out we were really surprised on how many Guilliemot chicks and their fathers, Pufflings and Arctic Terns we saw. It was not far from there that we saw lots of Gannets circling and then other pair of Harbour Porpoise. This time it was an adult and a teenager and again showing well.

As we got out to the Farne Deeps we were greeted with lots of Kittiwakes, Guilliemots, Arctic Terns, Puffins, Gannets and 4 Arctic Skua's, but the best of all was Manx Shearwaters with a group of 12 just sitting on the water.

As we cruised north passing large numbers of feeding birds. slowing everytime hoping to see any Dolphins or Whales but with no joy.

We kept on going until we arrived at the Longstone Island where we were greeted by loads of Seals, Turnstones, Purple Sandpipers and over 300 Golden Plovers.

Overall we had a great day and there is always next time. A big thank you to everyone who joined Serenity today.

We only have a few spaces left for our next trip so don't miss out.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Causeway of consern needs new solution

This is an article from our local paper The Berwick Advetiser.

View from the lifeboat of a helicopter rescue from Holy Island Causeway.

YET another car stuck on Holy Island causeway at the weekend has prompted the county council to call a meeting of those increasingly concerned at the number of rescues having to be carried out.

On Saturday, a Cumbrian couple had to be airlifted to safety by an RAF helicopter after becoming stranded. An RNLI lifeboat was also launched to assist.

It was the tenth time this year that Seahouses lifeboat volunteers were called to launch the lifeboat in aid of stranded motorists on the causeway, and since 2000 the lifeboat crew have rescued more than 170 people from the causeway.

Coastguards based on Holy Island have also had to assist on numerous other occasions this year when drivers ignore the safe crossing times posted at either end of the tidal causeway.

Mike Scott, head of sustainable transport at Northumberland County Council, said: “Invitations are being issued this week to council officers, elected members, the RNLI and other interested parties to meet to consider all possible options for motorists using the causeway, including those that have previously been identified, such as smart signs.

“Funding could be made available for a new sign system, or other option, provided we can demonstrate that the investment will have tangible benefits.”

However, Mr Scott added: “There are already numerous signs warning motorists of dangers on the causeway, which a tiny minority of motorists simply ignore.

“If we are to add further signs, we need to be assured that they will not also be ignored by those people who appear to think that tide tables do not apply to them.”

Ian Clayton, Seahouses RNLI operations manager, told the Advertiser that he shared Mr Scott’s concerns that new signage may still be ignored.

He said: “People drive past the current signage completely oblivious to it and plough into the water thinking it is only a couple of inches deep, but don’t realise the road dips down and that is when they get stuck.”

Although not wanting to prejudge anything to come from the meeting, which could take place towards the end of the month, Mr Clayton said a physical barrier had been ruled out before due to the damage sea water would cause.

“One thing that has been looked at before was a smart sign, and instead of it being linked to the safe crossing times, it could be linked up to the actual water height,” said Mr Clayton.

He added: “It costs the RNLI £1,200 every time the inshore lifeboat is sent out, and while none of the crew complain about having to go up there it starts to get very tedious and it is so predictable and preventable.”

Calls for increased signage, a physical barrier, or legislation which would make it an offence to cross outside the safe crossing times have all been suggested in the past by various groups and the public.

Mr Clayton said that discussions had taken place in recent years with the council over what could be done, but these had been put on the backburner following local government reorganisation and recent budget cuts.

He added that it was ‘encouraging’ that the council had come forward with the proposed meeting following increased publicity after the recent spate of incidents.

“We will look at the options and see what can be done,” said Mr Clayton.

Three years ago 15 year-old Tim Cockayne-Edwards, from Longridge Towers School, was runner-up in the north of England regional final of the 2008 Young Engineers for Britain awards after designing an electronic sign for the causeway.

The design included computer controlled, solar powered signposts which would detect approaching vehicles and warn them when it was unsafe to cross.

I'm sorry but these people should have to pay. We go on about how much things cost now a days but we can't read tide times and sign's. Come on people, help pay for your stupidity as the lifeboat is not government funded and surely this is a worth while charity. 

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Harbour Porpoise

Its been a mixed week with the weather but it's been a great week for Harbour Porpoise. We have seen them everyday this week.

The Harbour Porpoise is one of the smallest of marine mammals and is quite hard to spot with it being so small. The dorsal fin, tail fin and back are dark grey and because they don't breach out of the water very much they are hard to see. If the sea is a bit choppy it becomes really difficult to see but thankfully this week its been calm all week and our sightings have varied from day to day.

Some days we have seen up to 6 on each trip but others we have just seen 1 for the whole day. We have also noticed that they have been in different areas all week to. We tend to see them roughly in the same place every time but a different times of the day. Yes, it all depends on where the feed is, but over the last week they have been at the Farnes, Stag Rock, below Bamburgh Castle and at the Harbour Entrance, hence the name Harbour Porpoise.

I read somewhere, that in Scotland, Bottlenose Dolphins have been attacking and killing Harbour Porpoise without eating them because they have come into their area and due to the decreasing food supply it's the only way Bottlenose Dolphins can survive.

Thank god we have an abundant of sand eels, herring and small fish to feed our birds and certations. They are also very shy so if your very patient you will be able to see them but they will not come very close to the boat.

I have also had some friends up for the week and they have been out nearly everyday and they have missed them everyday, until today. Bless, she was so excited to finally see them, that she was not even bothered about taking a picture.

Monster Tides

Its been a week of big tides and it does not half make life hard. Trying to get into the harbour was bad enough, but when your used to getting close to the rocks to see the birds, and all of a sudden the water has disappeared and you can't get any where near it, then it becomes a real pain.

The North West face on Brownman Island at low water. You can even see the Sea Urchins.

The West face of Brownman Island at high water.

All the rocks had disappeared underwater at the Longstone Island.

When the tide is like this, you fully understand the power of the sea.  At one area of the islands this week I was doing 8 knots in the boat and then all of a sudden the boat came to a stand still. The tide was that strong the engines were working for no reason, so in the end I had to give her more power just to get moving. 
Ahhh never a dull day at the sea. 

We did get to see some nice things though.

Arctic Skua

Summer Arctic Skua

Purple Sandpiper

Knots. Some of them are in summer plumage.