foy boat

a foy boat i had never heard that name before until i got one. It is sculled from the rear with one oar and is used to carry the loop of a securing rope from the ship to the jetty. I had 3 children aged 7,9, and 11. A friend of mine said this boat was for sale. It’s owner wanted cash to spend on his 26 ft lifeboat. it came complete with an outboard motor. So i got the cash £26 and arranged to do the deed. I told my children we are going to a smugglers cabin. It was a winters night and total darkness till we came to the hut by the waterside. there was a chink of light showing. I tapped on the door and it opened, thee was an oil lamp and the place was full of tobacco smoke. I had seen the boat it was registered with local harbour commission and proudly displayed it’s no: BH80. I said i was satisfied and arranged a time to pick up the engine. Blake the owner wrote out a receipt we shook hands then hurried home to tell mother we were proud owners of BH80.
The river Blyth is tidal the salt water came right up to the old iron works. The foy boat being much lighter and less draught than the lifeboats could sail up under the hairpin bridge. my children enjoyed that and waving to people in the blyth and morpeth buses. I used an old push chair to wheel the ouboard from home to the river bank. In the summer several of the lifeboats were moored at cambois so avoiding waiting for the tide. However they returned in the winter. In the meawhile we could use their berths. I only have one daughter she was very proud when I painted Elaine on the bow.
A trip to the old iron works and back to the mooring could be done in an hour. WE did a few such trips getting to use the engine and the oars. Of courde the men who used the summer moorings at cambois let us know we would have to vacate their moorings come winter. I purchased a tide table. Ideally it was to catch high tide at 10amand go down to cambois on theout tide and return about 4pmwith the incoming tide. Of course weather permitting. Eventually the tide and weather was passed as suitable for the big trip. there was a yard deep cupboard in the bow, Elaine was in charge of the catering. WE manouvered with the oars into the channel. The outboared spluttered into life on the first pull. There were 2 pubs on the north side of the river the ridley and further downstream the 7 stars. We decided we’d head for the 7 starsElaine had a flask of tea and pop with biscuits and sandwiches. At the Bolkos ship breakers yard the river took a 60 degree turn so as we neared this she gave us each a cup of tea or pop and a sandwhich or biscuit. WE had left the fields behind now we had a chain ferry and shipping to avoid we kept on the north side of the river. There was no ship mooring at the seven stars so we tied up
there.we could see the lighthouse and the entrance to the south harbour and a building which was the Harbour Masters. I didn’t know much else as blyth from the river is entirely different from the town view.
after about 1/2 an hour congratulating ourselves on a good trip. Checking our ropes were secure as any passing boat caused u to go up and down with the swell. Elaine secured the cupboard door. We proceeded
to see what amenities the 7 stars offeredit was situated in a terrace of perhaps a dozen houses.
Well my crew deserved a treat. So I gave them the choice of whatever they wanted there was a good selection of sweets and chocolates. There was seats outside as there was a few sailors inside WE went and sat outside the Duncow pub was on the opposite bank I didn’t know one day my brother in law would be the landlord. This was 50 years ago, Blyth was a very busy coal portthe staithes had 2 tracks one on top of the other to load the coals crew are now in their 60′s. WE were content content after a while we went exploring behind the pub we walked perhaps 100yards and climbed the break water to look over the north sea. You could see Newbiggin point. Then we returned to the 7 stars i got another drink and checked the mooring ropes as the tide stared to come in we hadt leave them slack to allow the boat rise with the tide. I checked my pocket to make sure i had the shearing pins as any obstruction on the propellor would shear the pin. Finally we all went to the toilets I had another pint and crisps all around. Then off we went i decided to go to the opposite side of the chain ferry because as the chain took the strain the chain pulled up taut. The ferry carried vehicles too. So you had to make syre the ferry was stationerry before crossing the chain. It was a relief getting round the bend and travelling up past Bates Staithes then the granary point and having fields on both sides.
Once i got to the waterside i’d let the children race home to tell mother that all had gone great I packed the flask etc in the push chair. I had to leave the ropes slack to allow for the tide.
kids would pull the boat ion then jump on the cupboard roof and int the boat so smetime i moored it mid stream. I might call into the Bank Top pub. The housing shortage after WW2 was acute and several young couples had caravans located beside the waterside. And of course there was the smugglers cabin. They had a workshop with a sawbench nearby and would saw up driftwood. The older ones kept their boats at the waterside throughout the year. Everyone worked shifts at the mine. If Iwasnight shift thats a 5pm start. I would come to the waterside with a bottle of guiness and fish and chips and moor the boat midstream and we’d sit there floating in the sunshine sheltered from the wind with our backs to the cupboard door Happy Days. This was my wife and me. Her sister jean had 3 children too the six children could have been like 3 sets of twins. We had several trips together. On one occassion we fancied going to the south harbour. But jeans oldest daughter refused to get into the boat. My oldest son and her son took an oar each and off they went. I took Janet in the van and drove to south harbour. But at the entrance to the south harbour is about 20 yards where the sea from the harbour mouth washes up to the harbour wall.
they should have pointed the bow into the waves but they were getting buffeted towards the wall.
I shouted to no avail then a boat left the harbour masters dock secured a rope to BH80 and toed it back up the river. The man asked “What idiot sent you out in a boat like this?” My wife replied “His father.”
2 men from the pub Golden Fleece started chatting to the 2 mothers but did off when they saw the 6 children. So we tied up the boat and all got in the van with outboard motor and went home. About this time everyone was getting TV’s. I delayed as long as i could thinking watching TV they’d neglect their schoolwork. They used to go to my parents to watch TV. I had a friend a TV engineer. My dad said to the children tell your father to get a TV. I used to give my friend Jimmy coals so he got me a TV. I could see my crew deserting me. Saturday TV or matinee at the local cinema. So to make the boat more interesting I rigged a mast and with a tent for a sail enticed them for a trip. All went well the outgoing tide and wind took us straight to cambois. I dropped the mast but we still went forward in no time at all we were nearly bouncing off the Bolko’s wall. There was destroyers waiting to be broken up. I grabbed a hawser an secured the bow the stern was possible 10ft off the wall the boat was getting thrown about, the outboard started but i couldn’r loosen the knot. So i stopped the motor loosed the knot and tied a slip knot. Then the engine didn’t fire after however after about the 10th pull it started and we motored around to the Ridley jetty. The kids had really got ashock and so had I. As one they declared they didn’t want to get back in the boat. Men seeing our predicament had been running to get petrol to bring their boats to our rescue. However after pop etc: I told them my plan. To go to the opposite staithe which gave shelter and motor across the rough water. MOving forward and drifting sideway at the same time. After a while they agreed to give it a trial. And it went like clockwork restoring their confidence in their old dad.
Opposite the Seven stars on the blyth side there was the Dun Cow it was my twin sisters husbands pub but we weren’t welcomed there. He wanted to keep his 2 daughters away from the river. So we stayed with the seven stars and there was no road traffic and plenty of room to exploreand of course the coak staithes were at this side lots of foriegn ships getting loaded with coal
. Of course if their 3 cousins joined them then it was more fun. So one day in the school holidays I took them all to the waterside and mounted the outboard motor. However Christine had a pain and i couldn’t console her. Only one thing for it the doctors. So I put the outboard in the van and we all visited the doctors I can’t remember the outcome but that was another trip cancelled.
I can rember the last time we were in the boat with Elaine. There was willow trees on the opposite bank we motored under them and rested they wanted to go home to see TV. They shook the branches and filled the boat with leaves. I said ok you can go home and away they ran. I was so annoyed I struck the gunwale with an oar and it broke in 2 where the hole was for placing it on a pin
I recognised that Elaines boating days were over. But ihad seen Newbiggin fishing cobles with a tarpaulin over the bow to make a shelter. So i thought I’ll try that and perhaps go camping with Alan and Kevin.
When I mentioned it to them they were very enthusiastic. I soon rigged withup the tarpaulin and attatched a flap to enclose it. It took a few trips down to the waterside and as i intended leaving the outboard overnight. I coaxed them to take turns to guard the boat.
Unfortunately some petrol got spilt in the boat and as it rained the morning we set off you could stay under the tarpaulin and be dry but suffer petrol fumes or else put your head out and get wet.
We had to wait till 10am for the tide to come up. We were accompanied to the harbour mouth by Adam Turnbull. He had a 26 foot lifeboat, when he turned back we were alone in the north sea. As we had left blyth rked the channelon an outgoing tide we couldn,t enter Seaton Sluice so carried on past Whitley and headed for cullercoats. I didn’t know at the time that 2 waste baskets on top of poles marked the channel entrance.
When we got in aman ran down and wanted to hire our boat. he was a yorkshire man on holiday. I told him we were on a
camping holiday. We soon had tea made and enjoyed our first meal aboard.

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