By Nick Taylor.
A good sized fleet of 18 boats set out from Scarborough on Friday 6 July at 7.00pm to start the annual North Sea Race, sponsored by Boyes Stores, to Ijmuiden in Holland at the Western end of the North Sea Canal, some 215 miles away.
The rain managed to stop for a short while to see everyone off on a rather damp evening. Damp was to remain the word of day for a couple of days yet – as were the words fog and windless!
We sat and drifted for almost 24 hours, several boats anchored to prevent the tide simply carrying them north. A log entry from the yacht Chansa, a Hansa 29 read “Saturday - Time - 01.00 Wind NE force 0 to 1 - Scarborough South Bay still 5 miles to starboard” By this time the race had been going for 6 hours!
Many of the boats retired but a good handful of stalwarts persisted and continued to race.
Friday night / Saturday morning, was a mixture of amusement listening to our various fog horns and trying to work out who they were.
By Saturday morning some of us in the race were still close to Flamborough Head, a mere distance of 20 miles – walking would have been quicker – but slightly more difficult.
Saturday proved to be pleasant as the fog had cleared but still progress was pitifully slow. We would normally be approaching the gas fields off the Humber at this time, but it would not be until the morning on Sunday that we might get this ‘milestone’.
Saturday night was again slow with the wind coming round to the North East but never getting above 8 knots of wind, so we were going very slowly. Other aspects came into the crews thoughts – again quoting from Chansa’s log – “Excellent Lasagne and salad” and an hour later “Fog lifted, sunny again, whale watching - saw a Minky Whale” I have to admit this was pretty awesome as it was a huge beast and rarely seen in these waters.
Sunday was a mixture of rain, light airs and wondering what to eat, then at 17.00 the fun started.
The wind moved to the NNW building from a force 3 (9 knots) to a good force 6 (24 knots) and combined with a following sea with some exciting rollers heading in the same direction as we were going, this made for some excitement, especially as some of us had our spinnakers set. Negotiating the busy sea lanes and the host of gas rigs has its challenges.
The yacht ‘No Angel’ from RYYC was going incredibly well, (not quite enough to overtake the one skippered by the writer of course), but they had a massive difficulty with their spinnaker and very bravely were forced to retire. That was such a pity as there were only four of us left in the race at that time.
Sunday morning saw us approaching the Dutch coastline and the well known chimneys of Ijmuiden. Whilst not exactly pretty, extremely welcome.