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.


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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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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.


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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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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Friday, 26 October 2018

New Arrivals

Well its that time of the year once again and as we near the end of the season new arrivals are starting to appear. Yes, I'm taking about the new born seal pups.

We had a few early ones this year but unfortunately they did not make it but the ones that are starting to arrive now seen to be okay. I think the ones that were born early were premature or just not strong enough, so lets just hope the weather over the next few days does not reek havoc on the new born's and they find a sheltered spot and muddle through it.

Its lovely seeing the pups and its lovely seeing our guests faces when they see them for the first time. All we here is ahhhh aren't they cute. They might look cute but I would hate to be born on some rocks in the middle of the sea at this time of year. Its bad enough in the summer never mind now but I suppose it nature and that's what they have done for as long as they been here and they will now better than me why they wait until the winter.

It's funny over the last few weeks as I have been taking divers out to play with the seals and they have been having a great time and you get to hear lots of little stories when their dive. They are so playful I have never laughed as much in years. They love yellow fins. These are just some of the comments I've heard lately but little do some of the diver know is that they are as horney as hell, this is why they are so playful. I don't know how many times I've heard them say, they love yellow, black, blue fins (flippers) and they think they are special because they love that colour. I don't have the heart to tell them that it does not matter, just as long as they have fun and enjoy every minute in the water that's all that matters.

Lets hope the weather is kind to the new arrivals this year and I will keep you updated with all the numbers etc.

A new born Atlantic Grey Seal pup enjoying the sunshine.  

A new born drinking its mothers milk on the waters edge.

A new born's mother keeping a close eye on her child as we watch from a distance. 

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Until next time