Monday 24th August 2020 – Inverness to Grimsby – 369nm 68hrs

The first half until disaster struck

Well this was an eventful little jaunt. As previously mentioned we were waiting in the safe haven of Inverness for a few days for wind and tides to be in our favour for heading south. On Friday afternoon we were well rested, the conditions were as good as they were likely to be for several days and Artie had helped, or hindered, with the engine checks. We had provisions for at least seven days on board, plus the usual tinned and dried emergency stuff, so decided to let slip at 15:30.

Inverness Marina visitor’s berths
Artie helping with engine checks etc etc

What a great start, we had fabulous sailing with comfortable seas and were making great progress. Our usual 3hrs on 3hrs off watch system was working well. We had sailed all the way from Inverness to the Farne Islands when the wind died off. We chose to put the donkey on to help get us through some of the big waves and it also charged up our batteries for the instruments – as we hadn’t seen much sun the solar panels weren’t generating enough during the day to keep the instruments fully charged at night.

Artie giving the orders to the crew

At 22:45 10 miles out to sea from Scarborough we felt a ‘donk’ and immediately lost steering, the wheel completely locked up. It didn’t take a lot of working out to ascertain that we had hit something and weren’t going anywhere. Quick visual checks inside and out of the boat concluded that indeed with had hit something, well two actually, lobster pots tied together with thick nylon lines.

The moments before disaster and after

Our radar showed that an oil tanker and a cargo ship were heading our way, although still far off we thought it a good idea to contact the coast guard and just let him know that we were temporarily stranded pending getting ourselves freed from the lines.

The coastguard immediately got in contact with Scarborough RNLI and a boat was launched and with us within 20 minutes. They asked us to reconfirm our position and we explained that we were effectively moored to the pots and weren’t drifting anywhere.
The Boatswain, Paul, came on board and took control of the situation, we just made him a cuppa then sat back and watched these fantastic guys at work.

We couldn’t have done it without their help

They had powerful search lights and all sorts of equipment that we would never have carried on board, nor likely to. They made several attempts using a grappling hook to pull the lines free from the rudder, but the lines were far too tight. They hadn’t at first wanted to cut the lines as to do so would have left long trailing ends which could have done more damage to us and possibly their boat. After a while they did cut one of the pots free and by doing so revealed the second pot which was under the other side of the boat.

There was a discussion about towing us into Scarborough and the RNLI getting their diving gear on and taking a look in the morning, but our draft was too deep for the marina. So they decided to get a second team on the scene who would be in a rib and therefore closer to the water level and be able to work easier at the point of where the problem actually was.

After the rescue

So we drank tea, ate chocolate and talked about skiing and motorbikes for a while and waited for another 3 men to arrive, now several lifeboat crew had been woken up from their sleep and where on the scene. Luckily for us the crews were sail boat owners themselves and knew exactly what they were doing and very anxious not to do anything that could potentially cause further damage, it became a bit of a challenge and they were happy not to be defeated. 3 hours later with tugging and cutting bits off, the pots were free. Our engine was now working fine and our steering seemed OK but they followed us in towards the harbour to do some basic checks within the calmer water.

Sun rise at sea

Everyone was in agreement that it would be fine to continue on our passage and the larger of the two boats escorted us out to open water and followed us for a couple of miles to make sure all was still well.

What genuinely nice guys, they didn’t want praise or gifts (although of course we did pass whisky over for them to have later). These young men were just totally focussed, enjoying what they were volunteering for and very humble. Cheers guys and gals of the RNLI.

We have had better conditions

We continued on our way and knowing there was a storm heading along this part of the coast over the next couple of days we contacted the Humber Cruising Association who confirmed that we could take refuge on their pontoons at Grimsby. On arrival what a great welcome we got from this friendly club, lovely people, as recommended by Dennis.

One of Tim’s Poacher friends, Frank Rimmer, knew we were in the area and came on board for a cuppa and a chat and has kindly said that he will take us to see the Poacher’s memorial in Cleethorpes and show us some local sites – thanks mate.

Frank, Talavera and a very tired Tim

Lots of excitement for one day, we’re now off for a shower then plan to catch up on sleep.
We are fine, Artie is still chillaxing in his hammock and in a strange way enjoying the experiences.

Early morning sunshine, are we nearly there yet?

Published by Sailing with the Ship’s Cat

Tim & Rowena Heale sail on Talavera a Hallberg Rassy 36 mk2 and this summer 2018 they plan to sail from Gosport to the Baltic, follow their journey as they travel north.

3 thoughts on “Monday 24th August 2020 – Inverness to Grimsby – 369nm 68hrs

  1. I just knew you wouldn’t get all the way round without so drama, thank heavens for the RNLI, what a great service. Do try to stay away from any more trouble, loved the sunrise I would Love to see one even half as good as Ma(a very relieved one) xxx


  2. Wow! sounds like an epic couple of days. Glad you are safe. Hope you managed to get yourselves a lobster or 2 from the pots?? Nice tea if you did.!! Hope you dont have any damage. Keep safe


  3. Been wondering what you’ve been up to…
    Such drama on the open seas!! The wonderful RNLI…a forgotten emergency service to most people, glad they managed to free you and get you on your way again.
    Enough shenanigans…
    Stay safe and have fun xx


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