It had been a 10 minute walk from his lodgings in South Coates Lane that took Captain Jensen to Hull’s Alexandra Dock. The gale rattled loose window frames of cottages packed tightly in the narrow streets and behind him a roof tile crashed to the ground. He stood on the quayside in the half light that February morning in 1916. All his crew of 10 were on board the 160 foot vessel laden down with 500 tons of coal, her name – Hjordis, the Sword Goddess – dimly visible on her stern.
Hurricane strength winds threw thick snow into drifts as he judged how the small engined steam ship, fully laden, would leave the quayside in the tearing wind. At sea the coast would provide some shelter from the 70 mph gusts and the waves that would be hurled against her low steel hull.
Passed Spurn Point at slack water with a scrap of sail should see him off the North Norfolk Coast that night, no doubt wet and cold but sheltered from the south-westerly until they reached the short passage across the channel to Calais, then home to the Baltic and Anna. Anna who had told him she would not wait forever.
Thor Halmerson, like Jensen a Norwegian, simply had no money and to him the risk of going to sea that day were no greater than the risks of the poor house. Jensen he knew was young and inexperienced and would puppy like do the new owner’s bidding. Johan Troye was the third owner he had known in less than the two years he had been mate on Hjordis. Like Thor he was desperate; his creditors wanted their money.
Ralph Petersen was the only Dane on board, he was Botswain. He swore about Norwegians, about snow and gales and most of all he swore about the hurt he carried day in and day out and cared little for himself.
With wind across the tide between Race Bank and Docking Shoal the sea would be lively but they would be protected by the coast at low water by then. And anyway what did he care?
But by late evening on that day when more than eighty lives were lost Ralph Petersen would know the truth of the dreadful black wild night to come and the chance break in the cloud that threw moonlight on a beach beyond the surf, a chance shaft of light that brought him true providence……
Entirely fictitious of course but based on Sue Gresham’s wonderful, sad and moving account of the history and last passage of Hjordis.
It’s on the website and a ‘must do’ read.
You know we thought we might reach 20 new buoys for the Cley and Blakeney channels that were sponsored (at £225 each!!) by December? Well, try nearly 40! And counting!
For those of you who are completely lost -this is all about new, low maintenance, long lasting ‘proper buoys’ – port and starboard – to mark the channels to Blakeney and Cley. 50 of them at £225 each.
They come with the sponsor’s details indelibly marked on them, so that can be you, your business, a loved one etc. We are nearly three quarters of the way there and it really looks as though we will make it! Thanks to everyone who has been so very generous; it’s why we all do it. The love of the Harbour!
Contact us via the website if you would like to see your name bobbing about on the blue next summer.
Now is the time to think about next year’s subs. And Gift Aid.
If you still have to fill in a Gift Aid form then contact us via the website or direct to Helen Ward at the Boathouse, Morston, NR25 7AA, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07771 597985. And that’s where to send your subs if you don’t pay by standing order, though it does make it easier and cheaper for us if you could. We are guiding people to pay a minimum of £25 although the actual average individual donation is more than £50. Whilst the Harbour has never been better and more safely buoyed, BHA stands for a lot more than that – ten volunteer wardens out on the water; a team disposing of often hazardous wrecks; hot lines for local advice; guided low tide walks; managing security measures and liaising with the police; representing member’s interests; signposting members to local suppliers; maintaining slipways, updating our quayside information boards and online information, and working with partners to secure the future of this very special place.
Thoughts and Suggestions
We really want to hear from all our members with what they think BHA should be doing. The trustees and the various working groups spend ages thinking about this – sometimes we can miss the blindingly obvious! So please, please don’t be reluctant to put forward every and any suggestion that you want. Just email via the website or phone or write in. Contacts at the bottom.
Here are two drone images of the Harbour entrance and Hjordis
The left image was taken in July and the right one just a week or so ago. A significant sandbank has built up to the south-west of the wreck and there is now no channel at all on her western side. BHA will monitor the shifting channel and report to members.
With all the changes to the Harbour this year Will of Flypod has agreed to do a free monthly drone survey. This builds on the brilliant work that Sam Sykes did.
A BHA member noticed a 23’ motor boat drifing through the harbour, having broken its mooring. The vessel was temporarily secured. BHA were able to move the vessel to a secure mooring and alert the owner (who was a member) to tell him.
Other matters that are, or have been, dealt with:
•A semi-wrecked Falmouth Gypsy yacht at Blakeney Quay.
•There is a small, unused yacht SE of the South Sands beacon. We have contacted the owner and he is aware of its poor mooring.
•A commercial fishing net was dumped on the mud close to Blakeney dinghy park and has been removed.
•The old rope barge at the north end of Blakeney Cut is now owned by the National Trust and BHA and the Trust are still scratching heads as to quite what to do with it!
Any environmental matters that are concerning members can be reported to Neil Thompson whose details appear below.
Remembering at Christmas
Many of you will have known Peter Hargreaves who has sadly died, aged 86. BHA was represented at his funeral by the chairman and Charlie and Helen Ward. Peter was treasurer of the then Blakeney Harbour Boatman’s Association for very many years and he delivered boats for Charlie Ward all over Europe where his experience from a lifetime of working in the VAT office in London reduced Customs and Excise complications considerably! Peter joined the VAT office on leaving the Army. He is survived by his wife Margaret and son and daughter.
Some of you may also have known Bill Hather who has died aged 75. He was Rear Commodore of the Skegness Yacht Club and a lifetime member of the Humber Yawl Club. He died suddenly while sailing his catamaran off Skegness at the end of a five-week cruise when he had made another visit to Blakeney. It was how he wanted to go!
We were going to say that the rate of crime this year on the quays and in the Harbour was at an all time low. And then we had a break-in and an engine theft last week! Nevertheless despite this it’s been a good year which is thanks, in no small part, to the vigilance of BHA members who have reported suspicious vehicle numbers and other useful information which has been closely followed up by the police.
Our website page for ‘suspicious behaviour’ really seems to be working. PC Jason Pegden reported to our summer meeting that the police had received hundreds of calls and he particularly thanked BHA members for all their help. When calls are received they are all followed up and checked with the National Database.
We are also very pleased to say that the police have match funded the cost of new security measures for 2017.
So what’s been going on?
Summer BBQ – Diesel one day burgers the next!!
Andy raised £170 for BHA with a wood carving demonstration which was then auctioned. Christine and Martin Law are now the very proud owners of the Owl.
One unhappy note – very sadly there was a nasty diving accident in the Harbour towards the end of the season – with resulting serious spinal damage. We wish all the family well. This serves as a grim reminder of the dangers of the harbour.
Harbour news from our friends at CRAB
Using The Harbour as their training ground and base CRAB went to the Skiffie Worlds in Strangford Lough at the end of July and did OK for their age group – the over 60s men came second in their group in the great river race (23 miles through London) and raised £500 for BREAK whilst doing so, as well as contributing to local events like the new Cley Regatta!
Stiffkey Cockle Club 2016 Results
IN OTHER NEWS
If you haven’t seen the new Harbour Brochure that’s been prepared in liaison with the National Trust then pick one up at Morston or have a look at one online
Morston and Blakeney Regatta results are very usefully on the Blakeney Sailing Club website. Click here to see for yourself!
The 2017 BHA AGM will be held on Friday 28th April at 7pm
Credit: Russell Young ARPS
Sponsors of BHA
Which leaves us with just one final note, and that is
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!
With thanks and best wishes on behalf of all at BHA,
Managing Trustee & Navigation