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9th April 2020

Royal Quays

Boatfolk stories: David and Ann

Boatfolk Hero

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

We live in North Shields, about a 10-minute drive from Royal Quays Marina. We are both retired, my partner Ann was previously a District Nurse, and I was Quality Manager in a local factory manufacturing pressure safety equipment. Being retired, we no longer do paid work, however we are both very involved with the running of a weekly choir for adults with learning difficulties. We are both members of Hebburn Marina Boat Club (I am the club’s treasurer), the place where we moored the first boat we owned. Ann is involved in two ‘Knit and Natter’ groups, and until recently (praise be to anno domini) I was an avid walker of the hills and moors of (mainly) Northumberland and Peak District, at times with others (with friends, or Ann, or our younger son), but mainly alone.

When and why did you choose to berth at our marina?

In 1993 we moored our first boat, a Seamaster 23, on the river at Hebburn for some four years or so, by which time getting our two children from the dinghy to the boat (and back again) was becoming a significant difficulty. We decided to move the boat to St Peter’s Marina, the only marina open on the river at that time and felt the benefits of an alongside step-aboard mooring. Shortly after the move, we changed to a ‘proper’ seagoing boat, and grew from 23 foot to 33 foot. Albert Edward Dock, meanwhile, opened as Royal Quays Marina, closer to the sea, and with good boatyard facilities and security. It was also 24-hour access, rather than tide dependent, a great advantage when working full time. We have never regretted the move, we found a friendly marina with excellent staff, welcoming, conscientious and good at what they do.

Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you?

My main hobby is boating, and all things associated, especially as now I find that I can no longer manage a 12 to 15-mile hill walk quite as readily as I once did, to say the least. I am, and have been for a number of years, one of the churchwardens of a local church, with all that that involves, and which led to what was probably the most significant experience of our lives, when I received (in 2016) Maundy Money from the Queen in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle (along with another 89 men and 90 women, one for each of the Queen’s then 90 years). We attended together for what was an unforgettable Maundy church service, followed by a reception in Windsor Castle. Don’t think we will ever experience anything like that again.

When and how did you get into boating?

Our boating experience was initially gained on hire boats, Norfolk Broads, River Thames, Caledonian Canal and some offshore hires on the west coast of Scotland. We bought our first ‘own boat’, a Seamaster 23, in 1993, mooring it on the Tyne at Hebburn Marina Boat Club, an offshore river mooring which we accessed using an 8-foot dinghy. Not an ideal seagoing boat, but we learnt a lot from her, and going out to sea locally was an adventure, both for us, and for our children, both of whom had learning difficulties. We thoroughly enjoyed the boat itself, and the crossing to it in our small dinghy. Being a member of a boat club was extremely beneficial, and we gained an incredible knowledge, almost without realising, from other members regarding boat handling and maintenance.

Who do you enjoy spending time on the water with and why?

Most of our boating is now spent with just the two of us in our present boat, a Nimbus 280, a comfortable and sea-friendly boat for two people, though we do occasionally sail with one or two friends aboard, and have been known to host birthday parties for a friend’s daughter who has learning difficulties – her first such trip was up the Tyne with our boat duly decked with flags and bunting, and she thoroughly enjoyed herself.

The major reason Ann and I enjoy boating, and just being out at sea, is being independent from others, away from land, and for the sense of some achievement at arriving somewhere as planned having done the necessary navigation, and weathered whatever the sea has thrown at us. We also still experience a great thrill at seeing dolphins racing us, and inquisitive seals popping up to see what’s going on.

What’s been your fondest boating memory?

For about 10 years we had a Sealine 305 moored at Royal Quays, a capable boat and large enough for Ann and I and our two (sailing) children to live comfortably aboard for a reasonable length of time. The boat would cruise happily at 15 to 20 knots, conditions permitting, which opened up our cruising grounds, sailing between the Farnes and the Humber, with calls to Whitby, Hartlepool, Amble, Grimsby, and Hull. We enjoyed being onboard for a couple of weeks, and the children just loved bouncing about on the sea, it always seemed the rougher the better was their preference, if not always totally ours.

Whitby was always a favourite call for us, either with the children, with friends, or just ourselves. A historical and interesting town, peaceful and best enjoyed with a pint of Guinness!

Describe your perfect few days afloat?

Now, being retired, it is sailing at relatively modest speeds along the coast, generally close enough in to see happenings and places ashore, with no constraints of time or any hurry needed.

What is the one thing that makes you feel the most alive?

In boating – on occasion, in open sea, giving a boat its full throttle and trimming it to achieve its highest speed.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Get a semi-displacement boat. Not as fast as planing, but good comfortable boats at sea. Important as you get older.

Would you recommend getting afloat to a friend or family member and why?

Yes, for the independence it gives, and for the sense of achievement it can provide.

Boating can be deemed an expensive hobby/sport, what would your tips be for someone who is looking to get afloat?

Join a local boat club and see what others can achieve through their own efforts with minimal expenditure. An excellent place to learn.

What are your boating plans for the future?

Now more than happy to explore the north east coast on day trips, with the odd one or two overnight stays.

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