On Thursday 16th. October, 2014 Tom, David and I set out to visit Amble Marina.
The purpose of our trip was to find somewhere suitable to berth Olivebank next season. We are going to do quite a lot of work on her over the winter and it helps to know that once the work has been done there will be a berth awaiting her.
We are also still a bit bruised and battered after our concreting activities and are still awaiting a delivery of wood. In other words, we are in need of a day out!
David drove us south in his Jaguar so we travelled in comfort. Tom had his stopwatch running. We weren’t travelling fast and we weren’t in any hurry, but we did want to know how long it would take so we could consider that when we decided where to berth Olivebank.
In fact it took seventy-nine minutes, door to door. Our first view of the marina was a good one. It was everything a marina needed to be — lots of pontoons, all with security access, each with sufficient room for manoeuvring a yacht, and a clear way out to the sea.
The marina was almost full, even at this time of the year so I wasn’t sure that we would have any chance of getting a berth. We approached the office and were greeted in an extremely friendly manner. We were asked for details of our boat and we chatted about where we had sailed before and our experience of other marinas — limited really to Port Edgar, Inverkip and Rhu (all very different).
As an aside I really enjoyed all three of those marinas. Port Edgar was a former naval base and still had all of the Nissen huts in which I did much of the theory when I started sailing. It was friendliness personified and had a great little café (with glorious fry-ups) and a sophisticated chandlery. It was easy to sail from at any state of the tide and a glorious place to start.
Inverkip was much posher. We were there because Ianthe was bought there and we enjoyed our time. There was a wonderful restaurant ( more than a bit more expensive than at Port Edgar) and another good chandlery. It was fun to belong to Inverkip for a couple of seasons.
Rhu was close to where we lived at Luss, and here we were on a mooring. But again I couldn’t fault the friendliness nor the service we received. It had fewer facilities, a very small chandlery and no place to eat — but as we were close to home, none of that mattered at all.
We were told that there was a pontoon which could be available for us and we went and had a look at it. It looked super and everything looked extremely well organised and cared for.
We visited the toilets and saw the excellent shower facilities. I bought a copy of the local pilot book to study back at home and I cast my eye over the small chandlery facility which is provided at the marina.
There is no restaurant at Amble Marina but the small town is right on the doorstep and it abounds with great facilities. To check them out we wandered into the town and within ten minutes we were seated at a table in the Sea Salt restaurant preparing to get thoroughly tucked-in to an all-day breakfast which was of epic proportions and was served in a frying pan (which ensured that it stayed hot right to the last bite).
Sometimes my colleagues try to disassociate themselves from the breakfasts I enjoy so it is worth pointing out that in the picture in the gallery at the head of this post you will clearly see that there are three identical breakfasts on the table — I did not eat them all myself!
We made our way back to the marina by way of the High Street (there are some good shops including a large ironmongery and several food shops) and at the marina we handed back the pass which they had given to us to explore. (We didn’t actually hand it back as the office was closed, so we put it through the letter-box.)
Then we set off north passing, on the way, Warkworth Castle (which is just crying out to be visited) and crossing a very attractive bridge out of town.
Instead of driving home, we continued north to Eyemouth to see what kind of facilities it could offer us, and how much it would cost. We found our way to the harbour master’s office only to discover that he was on holiday but we were welcomed (and there is no other word for it) by his secretary who assured us that the harbour master would do everything he could to fit us in, should we wish. It would be easier to get a serviced berth (much more expensive and not really suitable for Olivebank which requires no electricity or water) but it was not out of the question to get squeezed into the unserviced berth area.
Eyemouth is a big commercial harbour, geared, naturally, more to fishing boats and commercial activities than little leisure boats but it would be a fun place to be and is much closer to home than driving down to Northumberland.
We had a good look around and I thought that this might be a good base for Ianthe once she is able to return to the water. I am not sure about Olivebank, however. I’m not sure that there really would be a saving of time because we might well have to disentangle her from her spot rafted up with other boats in the harbour each time before we could put to sea.
I must also confess that I quite fancy the luxury of a traditional modern marina with its pontoons and showers and so on. I also took comfort from the fact that at Amble there were so many sailing boats — not just within the marina itself but at the two sailing clubs which moor close by: Coquet Sailing Club and Amble Sailing Club.
Reading through the Pilot there are so many places to visit around Amble and, now that I am retired, it would be easy to spend the night down at the boat before (perhaps) carrying on for a short distance to Chester-le-Street to watch some cricket! Ah, how my life is panning out.
There will have to be some hard thinking over the coming days, but what a good day out we enjoyed and now there is a real incentive to get Olivebank ready to sail as soon as we possibly can. What an adventure!