The good, the bad and the ‘buggly’

February 9, 2018

Written By Paul Flint – Jeremy Fisher  

The Isle of Man is an intriguing and sometimes elusive destination. At times, from Whitehaven, it feels within touching distance. At others, it can be hidden in mist at the flick of a finger – that of the Manx sea god Manannan.

Kirkcudbright Bay, followed by Douglas were to be our destinations on a three night ‘expedition’. This term is not an exaggeration. A trip in Jeremy Fisher, a 44 year-old, Fisher 30 motor-sailer can be unpredictable. Perhaps that is the attraction. If getting from A to B was too easy, would the journey be memorable?

My previous trip to Kirkcudbright had been plain sailing, but the boat came with a history. I had bought it in Carrick Fergus, from where a friend and I had made brisk progress to Whitehaven, but one mile short of the breakwaters the wind and the engine had failed and we were towed ignominiously into the marina. I soon found that the fuel tank was riddled with diesel bug. This started a frustrating relationship with black sludge and emulsified fuel. I drained the tank, moved the fuel vent from just above the waterline, added liberal doses of chemicals and now make frequent filter changes. Bug still lingers at the back of my mind and, like my thoughts, it has never entirely gone away.

After scrutinising charts and pilot books we sailed with a good supply of fresh fuel, a box of primary filters and me, discretely, touching wood. Our departure was delayed, however, when we found that although the engine turned beautifully, the boat barely moved. Through the murky water we could see the propeller encrusted with a grey growth. I now carry a hoe, not for a wheelhouse roof garden, but to clear problems.

We sailed, the wind veered to the north, and so we headed, instead, for Douglas to arrive at about midnight. Night sailing is fun and easier than it might look. Blurry daytime headlands, that defy easy fixes, can be seen 20 or 30 miles away as lighthouses betray their position. Ships’ lights indicate relative courses, and useful apps help fill in gaps. 

We arrived in Douglas amidst a sea of lights. I use the word ‘in’ advisedly as I had forgotten to radio the harbour staff of what was, at that time of night, a very sleepy port. I am sure it was only coincidence that, after the need to seek permission before entering was explained, we were told to use the most distant berth from marina facilities. It’s amazing what you can fit into 36 hours, including a trip to Castletown on a steam train, where we uncovered a sailor’s gem, the Nautical Museum. We were too early, however, for the annual tin bath race across the harbour.

Our journey north took us within shouting distance of the Point of Ayre, to anchor in Kirkcudbright Bay in the dark, amidst showers and the eerie flicker of flares on the firing range. A safety boat hogged the only available mooring, but ensured that we did not become a naval target. Little Ross Island was for sale (did the price reflect the fact that a lighthouse keeper was once murdered there?).

When work deadlines are pressing, these need not stand in the way of an enjoyable mini expedition. We had fitted a lot into four days, except seeing a Manx cat!


Preparing to leave Whitehaven


Leaving Whitehaven


En route


Paul and Cecilia - Photo by Richard Flint


Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 1:18 pm

Odyssey to Whitehaven

Written by Simon Harrison – Ulysses II

The decision, finally to buy a yacht, was not so much born of a mid-life crisis (how could it be if I don’t expect to live to be 122?), but rather the realisation that yacht ownership would probably be now or never.  Of course, you should never buy the first boat you see, especially if that boat is in Lymington and you live in Wakefield, but, there again, Ulysses II is a bit of a gem!

Having taken the plunge, and had the boat on-shore for a re-fit over the winter, there was the question of where to keep it?  West Yorkshire isn’t an ideal base for yacht ownership and it boiled down to a choice of the Humber or the North-West Coast.  A long-standing love of the Lake District made it easy to choose Whitehaven as a sailing base.  So far, so good, it was now just a question of getting Ulysses from Southampton to Cumbria – not bad for a first outing!

Departure from the boatyard on the Itchen in early May was, inevitably, an hour later than planned, meaning the fuel pontoon had closed before we arrived.  Another hour disappeared while trying to work out how to get the number one jib to work with the roller reefing system – no luck, so back to the genoa and off towards Southampton Water and the Solent.  Cruise liners and container ships dwarfed the yachts that were out as the tide carried us, in the gathering gloom, to Yarmouth where we moored up in the dark.

The following days saw Ulysses II making good progress down the Channel, with the good fortune of having a spell of easterly winds.  Weymouth, Dartmouth, Falmouth and Newlyn were successive overnight stops as the miles were eaten up, tidal overfalls dodged and landmarks ticked off – the Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, Eddystone rocks, the Lizard.

The final leg of that week was from Newlyn to Milford Haven.  Rounding Land’s End, broad reaching along the inshore channel in a steady force four was a spectacular highlight.  The wind died as night fell, leaving a long, moonlit motor sail across the Celtic Sea and an arrival into Milford just before dawn.

Six weeks later, Ulysses II, with new crewmates, set off from Milford Marina – after another tousle with the roller reefing, involving a trip up the mast for Felix (a German philosopher with no feline characteristics, other than a propensity to sleep for hours on end)!  As we headed North, we had overnight stops at Fishguard, Pwllheli, Holyhead and Douglas and memorable moments that included experiencing swirling, chaotic water in Ramsey Sound – despite timing the passage at slack tide, a horrible swell developing overnight in our Fishguard anchorage, porpoises in Cardigan Bay, entering Pwllheli just in time to catch a late pub dinner, the Holyhead cliff scenery and a brilliant whistle-stop bus tour of the Isle of Man.

This Ulysses’ odyssey concluded with a night crossing from Douglas to journey’s end at Whitehaven.  A wonderful last passage, lit up by neon-brilliant phosphorescence on the bow wave, and finishing with a warm welcome from the sea-lock team.


Ulysses in Weymouth


Fixing a forestay problem in Milford Marina


Westward down the channel


Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 12:31 pm

Marina Supervisor Tony Taylor rescues dog from the harbour

January 8, 2018

Boots, a 15-year-old dog, was rescued from Whitehaven harbour after falling in the choppy waters


The relieved owners of an elderly dog have thanked the courageous man who pulled their terrified pet from the harbour.

Boots, a 15-year-old border collie, was blown into the choppy waters at Whitehaven last night.

His owners, Kirsten Turner and her mum Melissa, frantically searched for Boots, who is losing his eyesight, before spotting him struggling in the waters below.

As they stood shouting and shining torches into the pitch black water, marina supervisor Tony Taylor who was locking up for the night, spotted what was going on and jumped into action.

Tony, who has worked for Whitehaven Marina Ltd for nine years, said: “A lady came running up to me and asked if I could help.

“I rushed off down to the pontoons, it was pitch black so I jumped on one of the boats and just caught sight of the dog.

“It’s really cold in the harbour and my main worry was that once he goes under, he hasn’t got a chance so I was preparing myself to jump in.

“I shouted up to ask his owners his name and called him, and he swam straight to me – he did really well.”

Tony hung from the pontoon and pulled the shattered dog to safety –admitting that he feared the worst.

“He wasn’t in a good way,” he said. “I managed to pull him out of the water and he just collapsed. I gave him a bit of a rub and picked him up and ran up the pontoon and sprinted up the ramp to the toilet block. He was exhausted and freezing cold and quite scared.”

Tony and Boots’ owners put the freezing dog in the shower before taking him to the nearby Preston Street vets.

Tony said it was “pure chance” that he was there as he was just leaving the office and was a little later than usual.

Kirsten and her mum Melissa, who lives at Whitehaven town centre, were out walking around the harbour with Boots and think he was blown into the water by a gust of wind, around 6pm.

After searching for 20 minutes, Kirsten heard a yelp and spotted him in the water.

“I was ready to jump in myself as I wasn’t going to let him go that way,” she said.

Speaking about Tony, 20-year-old Kirsten said: “I’ve never saw anybody run so fast, he was up on all the boats and shouting him over before pulling him out.

“He was amazing, we wouldn’t have got him back if it wasn’t for Tony. We can’t thank him enough and I can’t believe how lucky we were. To find a black dog in black water is a miracle.”

Kirsten has also thanked the vets and nurses at Preston Street vets who opened late to care for Boots.

“He was at the vets for about two hours then we took him home and gave him some warm porridge.

“He’s okay, you wouldn’t know anything had happened to him, he’s an absolute trooper. I know some people will say it’s just a dog, but he’s part of our family.”

Courtesy of CN Media

Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 3:28 pm

Design our 2018 Free Flow Flag

December 14, 2017


We are running an exciting competition again this year for all children aged between 7-11 years old to design a flag for our company.

In partnership with Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners last spring we installed a flagpole located at the sealock gates. Beth Houghton of Jericho Primary School was the lucky winner of our competition during 2016, her fabulous design was made into a flag and is raised everyday by our lockkeeper during freeflow, (when the gates are open.)

We often have visitors/ local residents/ dog walkers etc… who like to walk around the harbour, when they reach the lock and find the gates open they are disappointed there is no access to cross and have to turn around, this way with the new flag it can be identified from all around the harbour.

Free flow is extremely important to the harbour as it allows a period of ingress of salt water which helps marine life and minimises the algae that grows in stagnant fresh water, cleansing the water held inside and making the inner harbour cleaner. In addition it also allows us to control the inner water level and provide a flood defence to the town, we can let water out on a falling tide to lower the inner level from rainfall pouring down the 3 fresh water culverts that run directly into the harbour from in and around Whitehaven.

We are offering children the opportunity to enter this competition and the winner will have their unique design printed by us and used as our free flow flag for the entire 2018 sailing season. We will be inviting the lucky winner down to the harbour to winch up their flag along with the President of the Harbour Commissioners and photographed by the Whitehaven News. We will also be presenting them with a trophy as the 2018 flag design winner.

We would like the entries sent to Whitehaven Marina office before the end of January 2018, the winning design will be chosen, printed and ready to be winched up by 1st April. If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact the Marina office.

Wishing good luck to all the children!


Current free flow flag


Last years lucky winner


Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 1:11 pm

Saltire former RNLI

November 13, 2017

One of the older boats berthed in the marina is back in the water after spending much of the summer in the boatyard. Saltire, the former RNLB City of Edinburgh 802, has now been repainted to acknowledge her lifeboat heritage. She was designed by G.L.Watson & Co and built in 1938 at Alexander Robertson’s on Clydebank at a cost of just under £9000 the equivalent of about £500,000 today.  She went into service at Wick that year with the naming ceremony taking place in August the following year just before the outbreak of World War Two.

In the thirty years she was stationed at Wick she was launched 134 times and saved 204 lives.  Her first call out was early on September 2nd 1939 to go to the aid of the Grimsby trawler Washington which had run aground. Having managed to refloat the vessel and get it back to Wick, City of Edinburgh was then called out again in the evening to the fishing boat Navarre which had run onto rocks and rescued its crew of nine. Her first wartime call out was on October 23rd to look for a missing RAF plane which the crew were unable to trace. The following year, in March 1940, she went to the rescue of survivors from two Danish fishing boats that had been torpedoed. It wasn’t just submarines that posed a risk in the waters off Wick. A newspaper report of the time said the Coxswain, Neil Stewart, would order the engines stopped if he heard a plane overhead as enemy pilots were known to drop bombs on moving ships using the phosphorescence of the wake to locate their target.

City of Edinburgh was one of 28 Watson 46 class lifeboats built and put into service with two further incomplete boats destroyed in an air raid on the Isle of Wight. In 1966 she was re-engined with 65hp Ford Parsons Barracudas and in 1968 assigned to the reserve fleet, a period of service which included a spell at Workington in 1974 when the coxswain, Albert Brown, won the RNLI’s Bronze Medal following the rescue of seven crew from the fishing boat Kia-Ora. She was eventually sold off in 1974 and converted to a cruiser, although many of the original deck fittings remain as do a number of features below decks.

After lying on the Caledonian Canal and then the Crinan Canal for a number of years she was brought down to Whitehaven in 2014. Her current custodian is researching her history in greater detail and plans to produce a modest publication next year.

Written by owner Will Tillotson



Saltire 1965 - photo from RNLI


Saltire berthed at Whitehaven 2014


Saltire after her repaint 2017



Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 4:30 pm

Winter Boatyard Offers

October 17, 2017

Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 10:45 am

James Cook Sails from Whitehaven Summer 2017

October 4, 2017

Ocean Youth Trust North inspires young people to rise above personal or domestic difficulties and make changes to their lives. Engaging them through ‘Adventure under Sail’ we use the sailing experience as a tool for personal and social development. On board our vessels, in addition to formal qualifications, they acquire a sense of purpose and learn a variety of transferable skills while working as a team and taking on ‘The Challenge of the Sea’. The results are profound; living and working together, sometimes under adverse conditions, they are motivated by setting and achieving their own goals while accepting responsibility for all aspects of running an ocean going yacht. Young people thrive in the on-board environment where the familiar routine and close living means they develop trusting relationships with those around them. Every aspect of a voyage promotes personal growth that they can take forward to their futures. The unpredictable nature of life at sea presents real physical, mental and emotional challenges. The result is a noticeable increase in wellbeing.

Below shows question and answers with skipper Andy Reed ….

Q.1 How long have you been the skipper on James Cook?

On a full time basis, only since April although I have had a close involvement with Ocean Youth Trust North and formerly Ocean Youth Club for more than 40 years. I started out as a young crewmember and then became a volunteer and more recently worked for the charity as a relief mate/ skipper.  I also work as an RYA Instructor/ Examiner.

 Q.2 What has been your most memorable moment(s) of this year’s trips?

Seeing the kids’ faces when they see dolphins for the first time in the wild.

Q.3 What do you enjoy the most about James Cook and the Ocean Youth tours?

Watching young people develop personally in the unique and confined environment in which we operate. Our motto is ‘changing lives, inspiring futures’. Sometimes the impact of our work takes years to become apparent, sometimes it is more immediate and that is very rewarding.

Q.4 Have you had any scary experiences on board?

 Only taking a 20m, 55tonne ketch into the sea lock, inbound in a swell!

Q.5 Where has been your favourite destination to sail James Cook?

Personally I have really enjoyed our visits to the Isle of Man. We have also undertaken voyages to Anglesey, Ireland, the West Coast of Scotland as well as trips from coast to coast around the top of Scotland via the Orkney Isles.  It is hard to choose.

Q.6 What do you think the children enjoy most and what is the main thing they gain from the trips?

Our young crews feel secure in having strict boundaries while onboard and the routine of the watch system gives them a sense of order.  They meet different people, make new friends and develop a feeling of family and belonging.  They enter as strangers, leave as friends. They gain a sense of achievement from setting and meeting their own objectives for the voyage.  It is amazing how quickly their confidence develops and you can see them grow in stature during the six days they are aboard.

Q.7 Where is James Cook heading to once she finishes her time sailing from Whitehaven?

James Cook is now safely back in Newcastle where she will be based for the rest of the season until mid-October when she will sail to Ipswich for a major refit.  She is 30 years old this month and during her lifetime has taken over 9000 young people to sea.  (We currently engage with 500 young people each year).  She deserves some t.l.c. and we want to have her shipshape in time for the Tall Ships Races in 2018 when she will sail to Denmark, Norway and Holland.

Q. 8 How many people are on a typical tour? Staff and crew?

Typically, we have a skipper, mate and 2 voluntary watch leaders with up to 12 young people and space for up to 2 group leaders, so 18 persons in all.


Ocean Youth Trust North is grateful to Whitehaven Marina staff, berth-holders and the general public on the Quayside for all their goodwill and support while we have been in port.  We look forward to seeing you all next year.

In the meantime you can read our brochure: watch our video: or follow us on Facebook:

Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 8:37 am

Winterisation Workshop 7th October 2017

September 27, 2017

Filed under: Latest News — Whitehaven Marina @ 1:15 pm

Whitehaven Marina Open Day – 15th and 16th July 2017

June 16, 2017

Make sure you have the weekend of 15th and 16th July 2017 pencilled into your diary as a day to come along to Whitehaven Marina for our Open Days. The events will include a cake and coffee morning; BBQ; sail taster sessions via the WSBA; sealock guided tours; boat jumble and more.

We are repeating our successful events  of last year and combining them into one weekend and you can see photos from 2016 below.

We look forward to an even better event in 2017 and do hope you will support it. More details to follow soon.


Filed under: Latest News — linda @ 10:43 am

Whitehaven Welcomes Superyachts

May 9, 2017

For those who missed her Lady M stopped off in Whitehaven Marina recently on a tour of the Irish Sea and the Western Isles of Scotland. At 65metres and 9.5 metres wide Lady M  is far too long to fit through the sealock under normal conditions so the marina staff lowered the sea level in the marina to allow both sets of gates to be opened and let the vessel through on free flow. The sealock is 30 metres long and 13 metres wide; with only a couple of metres leeway the captain expertly manoeuvred through the lock before swinging round to the berth on Sugar Tongue.

Lady M’s owner and his family enjoyed a fantastic day out exploring the Lake District. The crew were really impressed with the marina and all of them said that they wished they had planned to stay a few more days. She certainly attracted a few onlookers locally. Tony Taylor, Marina Supervisor estimated that around 2500 people came to the marina to see her. He said “Lots of people were surprised to see such a large vessel on the Sugar Tongue when they woke up this morning and couldn’t work out how we got it in”

A Whitehaven berth holder also commented “it’s easy to forget how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world and in a town with such a lovely setting and history. Why wouldn’t people want to visit?”

Marina Manager Simone Morgan added “We are fully equipped to deal with vessels like Lady M at Whitehaven Marina and we look forward to welcoming more.

Next stop for the Lady M is the Isle of Man. Lady M is a PJ 210, flagship in Palmer Johnson’s Sport Yacht series, built in the US. This 720-gross ton yacht is capable of going from zero to 28-plus knots in one minute, 28 seconds.

Filed under: Latest News — linda @ 4:03 pm
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