Wells is lovely – but full of tourists now that it’s school holidays. It is also full of motor boats. There were very few in Scotland, we saw a few in Hartlepool, and since then the numbers have been growing. Now in Wells there are more motor than sailing boats: shows we are getting further south and supposedly calmer waters – but, having said that, gales are forecast for the next few days.
The day started off with beautiful weather. That brought all the tourists out, but around mid-day it clouded over. It suited us perfectly as the beach cleared a bit and we had a lovely walk westwards and back through pine woods in the grounds of an 18th Century mansion, Holkham Hall. The area is described as “where the sky meets the sea”, and the views were certainly magnificent.
The pontoon at low water
The passage plan to Wells is that you have to leave Hull at high water so that you can take the ebb down the Humber, but you have to arrive at Wells just before the next high water in order to get in through its shallow entrance channel. In other words you have to do the 71 miles in around 10-11 hours. If you get it wrong you really need to carry on to Lowestoft – another 50 miles.
It started well as we went down the Humber so fast, but once we had left the mouth of the river, we hit adverse tide for a while, and had to pick our way through a military aircraft target range, wind farms and shallow water. The wind was up and down all the time. At times we had 25 plus knots and 2 reefs, but then it dropped to 8 knots and we were back to full sail.
At one point the boat slowed down to under 3 knots. Jet fighters were also making the most awful noise circling low overhead on their way to the range and it was difficult to concentrate. We were beginning to think that we might not make it to Wells in time – but it was a matter of honour not to put the engine on. Alethea and Tony in Doucement were sailing in convoy with us. Their boat speed is similar to ours – and they didn’t put their engine on! In fact, as soon as the tide changed, everything improved, and we nearly arrived at Wells too early as a very gusty front went through just before we arrived.
The harbour Master was expecting us and gave us advice for the entry and passage up the channel, and then sent the ferry out to meet us to show us where to raft up in this very popular port. We got in around 20:00 UT just as the light was fading.
The weather is still rubbish and we are getting impatient to move on now, but had a nice enough day pottering about. In the evening we went to the cinema to see “Dunkirk” with Alethea and Tony. Tony is an expert on real ale which was a bit of a disaster as he then led Richard astray, and there was a lot of snoring on our boat overnight…
Richard had a lot of work to do so I left him in peace and quiet and spent some time in the Maritime Museum learning about relations between Hull and Iceland during the cod wars; going around the Minster; and visiting the East Riding Museum which has information about Bronze and Iron Age boats used on the Humber. Once again, everywhere you go in Hull there are enthusiastic volunteers keen to show you around which makes it a really enjoyable experience.
We had a fantastic vegetarian meal in the evening. The restaurant had been recommended by the tour guide last Saturday. It has an all-you-can-eat buffet, and the first person to book for an evening gets to choose the theme for the food, i.e. Italian,Chinese, Indian, etc. This evening was Middle Eastern and we really enjoyed it. Alethea and Tony came as well – and I discovered that Alethea works for the Citizens Advice Bureau – so we had even more in common to talk about!