TIMOTHY SPALL: Somewhere at Sea.
If you missed the recent BBC4 re-run of Timothy and Shane Spall and their Peter Nicholls Seagoing Dutch Barge then you can still get the book through Amazon. DVD box sets are sometimes found on the web.
The second series showed them back on board their beloved barge the Princess Matilda as they concluded their trip around the British coast.
Tim takes on Rattray Head in the face of a huge storm. This is the equivalent of Land’s End for Scotland and the point where they head south for the first time. Their Dutch Barge enabled them to visit wonderful Scottish towns – Peterhead, Eyemouth and Stonehaven – but it’s the town of Banff that resonates most. They fall in love with it and are sad to leave it behind as they pursue their odyssey of circumnavigating Britain. At the end of the episode they eventually reach the English sea border, where they launch a message in a bottle.
The Spalls visited Northumberland, Newcastle and Hartlepool. Starting in Amble and the neighbouring town of Warkworth, Tim and Shane are in awe of this historic part of England as they visit the beautiful Church of St Lawrence and Warkworth Castle.
After Newcastle upon Tryne it’s on to Hartlepool, while they find themselves delayed after dramatically aborting a journey to Whitby whilst at sea. The North Sea once again reminds us that it’s not to be messed with.
Cruising on to Yorkshire they called in to Whitby. Tim is keen to see the town as this is where Bram Stoker based the opening of his novel, Dracula. Armed with his treasured antique walking cane once owned by Stoker, he finds the hotel where Stoker stayed and looks for the part of the coastline featured in the novel.
Scarborough was next to visit, then Spurn Head taking them out of the North to the south of England.
Next is Scarborough where Tim filmed The Damned United. It’s high summer and Britain’s first seaside resort is crammed with holidaymakers. Arriving at Spurn Head they are now completely alone – there’s no harbour or marina here, no town or access to land. They are moored to a single buoy owned by the local lifeboat crew and are waiting patiently for the perfect sea conditions to take them out of the north of England and into the south. It’s a big journey – as well as the North Sea they have to watch out for heavy sea traffic, the turbulence of the Wash and dangerous sandbanks.
In the dark of night arriving at the north Norfolk coast, a pilot boat guides them into the port of Wells-next-the-Sea. They soon discover it’s a trip worth making as they explore this stunning coastline.
Six years ago, Timothy Spall and his wife Shane left London to tour Britain’s coast. The last sees their Dutch Barge arrive in Suffolk where they moor in Shotley marina, the site of the former naval training camp HMS Ganges. From here they venture into the serene Walton backwaters and then out into the North Sea for a trip to Brightlingsea, Essex.
Chatham is the port were the Spalls spent months learning the art of navigation before venturing out into the sea for the first time all those years ago. They safely make it to Chatham, where both Tim and Shane are emotionally drained and relieved. The final journey up the Thames into London is where he eventually realises that in his words “Life is for living”.
Live the life with your own FCN Barge Contact Peter Nicholls now on 01788 891 823
On their voyage around the UK Tim and Shane Spall emailed Peter:
Hi Peter, hope this finds you well. Tim and I are now moored in Dartmouth, Devon waiting for some good weather before we continue our trip around Britain (next port of call Plymouth). We left Weymouth (where we wintered) last Saturday and having come around Portland Bill and navigating Lyme Bay we feel rather triumphal, it all went pretty well. We had to hit the Bill at exactly 4hrs + high tide but it also meant we had to go over the Race on the East side for about 2/3 NMs the Race made the wave height about 2.5 meters luckily we were going over it, and it was going with us. We went around The Bill approx. 200 mtrs off shore and then steered Nth for about 2 NM then went across Lyme Bay, it was a wonderful trip, but at one point we were about 15 miles from land. Just when we’d relaxed and gone over the 3 degrees east line, Tim lost concentration a bit, half an hour later, he checked the chart plotter and discovered we’d actually gone back 3 miles, we must have picked up some bizarre Southerly Spring Tide, Tim had to wrench and hold the wheel, full to starboard for a good 20 minutes to get us back on track. PM does seem to handle the waves very well, particular when going over or being followed by the sea. When it’s on the beam however, it’s a different experience, not that she doesn’t feel that she can’t handle it, she seems to do that fine, but speaking from the experience we had coming around from Brixham to Dartmouth with a S. Easterly it’s certainly given us some food for thought. She does feel very capable of taking most things that come her way, we’re loving it. When Tim last spoke to you Pete, you said you would send information about the stability curve? Is that right, just for the record, and our own personal interest, it would be great if you could send us that.
Best regards Tim & Shane Spall
Stability curve details sent to Tim. Their seagoing Peter Nicholls FCN Dutch barge is classified B category for the RCD, the second highest seagoing classification.
January 2016. Timothy Spall tells us that his Peter Nicholls FCN 54 has cruised the Baltic Sea, calling in at Copenhagen and is now moored in a marina at Malmo, Sweden