Alphabet Photography Project England

Alphabet Photography Project | Q is for Quay

Wednesday, January 13, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA

From Oxford Dictionaries:

Quay noun \'kē, 'kā, 'kwā\

A concrete, stone, or metal platform lying alongside or projecting into 
water for loading and unloading ships.

Welcome to another installment of the ‘Alphabet Photography Project’ and the letter Q. This week I chose the word “quay” for a couple of reasons: 1) it’s nautical and 2) there’s a story to be told, though not one that goes with the word itself but, rather, the seaport town it’s located in – Whitby, UK. 

What’s so special about Whitby?

For a start, it’s home to the ruins of the famous abbey where Bram Stoker was inspired to write “Dracula”. It’s also home to the Magpie Café where people line up daily to taste their world-famous fish & chips (they really are some of the best we’ve ever had). But what makes Whitby truly special, to us anyway, is it’s Cambria’s home port.

You may be wondering why we chose to register our boat in the UK and not the US. The answer’s pretty simple: David’s the captain and he’s not a US citizen . . . but we also didn’t want to. Our first choice was actually New Zealand, a place we called home for six years. But in order to register Cambria there, we would’ve had to pay import duty and GST. That left England: Cambria was built there. VAT had been paid. And both of us appreciated the idea of having a little piece of England with us wherever we went.

Neither David nor I are from Whitby, but we didn’t choose it randomly either. Like with most things relating to us, there’s a rhyme or reason behind what we do (though I’m not always sure what that is). David was born in a large industrial town called Middlesbrough in Northern Yorkshire which sits on the bank of the River Tees. The Tees feeds out to the North Sea and is a major port but lacks . . . character. It’s also a bit of a mouthful to say on the radio and not many people, outside of England, are familiar with it.

Enter Whitby.

Whitby is only 22 miles southeast of Middlesbrough, making it the closest recreational seaport in the area. Well, that’s not entirely true. Hartlepool is much closer but there’s this whole long story about a monkey being mistaken for a French sailor that disqualified it from the running (though, in hindsight, maybe we should have gone that route). Whitby, on the other hand, is a quaint seaport village with an interesting history that carries a level of gravitas (it also looks good on the stern of the boat).

There’s another reason we gravitated towards Whitby as our home port. Captain James Cook was born in Marton-in-Cleveland in 1728, which is now a suburb of Middlesbrough. His ancestral home was within miles of David’s and even closer to where he went to grammar school. Much of D’s childhood was spent in Cook’s footsteps: playing in the same fields and climbing the same hills. And it was in Whitby that Cook became an apprentice in the Merchant Marines, starting his career on the sea. He’s a legendary figure in the area and was a childhood hero of David’s; our choice was a bit of a tip of the hat to this great mariner . . . and just one more reason to call Whitby “home”. 

You Might Also Like


  1. I've been there! Lovely place, and I am a big Captain Cook fan too.
    Incidentally, if you can get your hands on a copy of 'Cook' by Rob Mundle - it is the best book about Captain Cook I have ever read. Really interesting.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation . . . I'll definitely look for the book. One of the things we enjoyed most about cruising in New Zealand was the history Cook left behind. We even have a chart of NZ hanging in the salon that was made from an engraving of his first mapping of the country (from the Christchurch library, I think). The man was brilliant!