Report - - Bull Sands Fort, Humber Estuary - May 2019 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Bull Sands Fort, Humber Estuary - May 2019


Official Smartarse
Regular User
It was late on a friday night that 8 intrepid explorers assembled in what turned out to be a dogging car park, to try to get some sleep in between the cars turning up for some action. Not the action we'd had planned though.

3 AM rolled around, and we got up after roughly 2 hours sleep and got ready. Plans changed, then changed again, and again, as to who was first to go, in which boat, with what kit, eventually we came to a consensus and off went Matt & Adam in the smallest boat in the world. They were happy and smiling mainly because, unlike us, they couldn't tell how low in the water they were.

So, after we got my boat in the water, with Andy, Rob & Kev along with some ropey type things and other assorted climbing aids, we made our way out too. It took quite a while to catch the other boat up, and we stuck with them till the fort was a lot closer. Then I popped ahead and disembarked my crew and gear, and after a failed attempt at towing the other boat, their crew also disembarked. I then towed the other boat, along with Kev back to shore. Don't let anyone tell you that a small boat that's being towed can't fly, cos it's a lie. just ask Kev :D

Next along were Mel & Hils in my boat, towing Kev with the rest of the gear. When we got back to the fort, we found it accessible. Very nice.

Everyone disembarked, boats were hauled out of the water, tempers frayed, but it all went mostly to plan.

Fun began. Pirate flags were hoisted, forts were explored, seagulls were displaced, bells were rung, pictures taken and all sorts of shenanigans occurred. I'll leave the others to explain that, as I was mainly drinking, eating and sleeping. Saturday night rolled up, everyone got drunk, stories were shared, jokes told (no horses appeared at the fort), plans were made for the day after and promptly forgotten, everyone had a good time.

Sunday morning, most people had a lie in, I know we did. More exploring happened, more pictures taken, and everyone got a taste of some home made cranberry tea cakes my mum had made. Good times.

High tide was at 19:00pm, we agreed to all be kit packed and ready at 17:00 with a view to getting a boat in the water for 17:30, and heading out an hour before high tide at 18:00. This is where a couple of small issues happened. We all had separate ideas on how to get my boat in the water, but as it's mine I held my ground so in it went nose first, with two ropes on the rear and a couple of people in harnesses on the wrong side of the railings to help it over the rusty edge. It went in surprisingly well, considering we're idiots. First mistake. Kev mentioned that we should turn it round to face the incoming tide, I just wanted to get the motor on and get it away from the fort so I could sort it out in open water. So it got dragged back to the ladder, backwards onto the oncoming tide. It was fine at first, but when I got in, water started to trickle over the back board, so I stayed towards the front of the boat to lift it up slightly. Now in "get it done" mode, I didn't listen to Kev when he said we needed to turn the boat round, "just get me the motor". The motor arrived on a rope, and with a little faff it was passed down to me. It's a johnson 9.9hp ouboard, and weighs a bit. Now with the motor on the back, but not fastened on, and me at the back fastening it on, the sea decided to come have a look inside the boat. It filled, quickly. At one point the motor was totally submerged under water. It's easy now to laugh about it, but I really thought I was going to die. I was fucking terrified, but still in "get it done" mode. I finally got the clamps to clamp down, and released the crab that had been holding it up. The boat was full to the brim with water, and only the fact it inflates meant we still had one to get back in!

I finally listened to Kev, and had them release the rope holding the back of the boat, so I went with the tide, and when the rope holding the front turned me round, I was no longer taking in water. Lots of bailing later and we had a boat we could use.

Getting the other boat in the water was a bit easier. Kev (while clipped in) threw it in and that was that.

There was a light fog, but nothing to worry about, we could still see haille sands, so we could head to that and divert when the coast was clearer

It turned out that the towing back to shore the previous day had broken matt's motor, so it was up to me to tow the smaller boat back. So we loaded up and off we went. As i would be coming back on my own, Andy had given me his GPS and VHF radio, so I was a happy camper once again. I hadn't kept an eye on my petrol level, but as luck would have it we made it back on fumes and good wishes. It took about 50 minutes to reach the beach with loaded boats, and only 12 to get back to the forts. 35kmph may not seem fast in a car, but it's flying in a small boat.

First trip back, I froze and slowed right down at the sight of a man in a wetsuit floating face down in the sea. I made my way over to see what the fuck. It was a dead seal, big fucker too. No phone meant I can't prove it, but it happened.

I got back to the fort, much calmer waters now, easy to get kit and crew aboard, leaving Rob on his own with the last of the kit, we headed back to the beach, dropped off, and once again headed back.

By this time, the fog had really descended, 10 minutes in I couldn't see a damn thing, but as I had the GPS I just followed the line till the fort appeared out of no-where at the last second.

With just rob and the last of the kit aboard, we made a good time back, just following the line on the GPS (we also had a compass and bearings should the GPS fail, but in the end they weren't needed).

I didn't take any pictures worth showing, but I know that the others will add theirs on soon enough.

I wrote this as there was very nearly a fucking disaster, and several other smaller issues that needn't have happened. Issues included my unwillingness to take advice, doing it again, and then doing it again. We should have clearly discussed EXACTLY what was going to happen, and how, and who was going to do what a lot earlier when time wasn't a constraint, and not left it up to luck.

Other things that really could have gone wrong but didn't included the first boat going out overloaded and on their own till we could catch up, and me towing the other boat with people in when I knew that petrol was low. I wasn't going to, but took advice and went with it. The issues here was there was no room for error, and if anything had've happened we'd have been calling the coastguard for help. We were lucky that nothing went wrong with those, just lucky. No other word for it.

If you want to have a go at some of this stuff, make sure you know what you're doing, and then ask people who know if that's the right way. You won't think of everything, and any advice could avert a disaster.

As it happened, we all made it back alive, and in good spirits, having all had a whale (or seal) of a time, but I couldn't sleep last night remembering how it felt in that boat, and I won't be in that position again.

Designate someone in charge, someone to give commands who are not involved in what's going on. Kev could see me from the quay, could see exactly what was going on, telling me what we needed to do, but I wouldn't listen because I was struggling and just needed that one more minute to finish.

One pic, it's not even mine, but someone should be along shortly to add a boat load of quality pics


28DL Regular User
Regular User
I'll put up some photos later but just to add something Jobs has said before when we throw up pictures making it look all fun and games...

What he says is true. "we make this shit look easy" but the point he was making then and again now is that the pics don't tell you how fucking terrifying it can be when things go wrong.

Looking over the edge of the Fort with Jobs struggling in a boat that was rapidly being flooded and seriously looking like it was going under was absolutely horrific. Knowing we couldn't do anything to help because more weight would mean more water getting in and watching helplessly as he struggled and being genuinely petrified I was going to lose him completely tore me apart.

So yes we did have an awesome time and got some great (well the others did) photos but it almost came at a price I'm not willing to pay.

Read it and read it again and if you're going to do stupid stuff make sure you listen to what he's said.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Epic report. Love seaforts. Probably won't get there myself so thank you for the pix.


Super Moderator
Regular User
Looks really quite amazing inside... surely that bell is 100 years older than the fort!

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