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June 27, 2011


Sunderland Marina – Contrasting Sounds

by soundlandscapes

IN THIS, THE LAST of my pieces coming out of my recent short trip to the north east of England, I want to present two sounds – the first I find quite comforting and the second, much less so.

Situated at the mouth of the River Wear, Sunderland’s North Dock, built by Brunel in 1837, has been completely renovated and today is home to Sunderland Marina.  As well as providing berths for leisure craft it’s also home to working fishing boats including the flat-bottomed, high-bowed, coble.

The coble is a traditional fishing boat, native to these parts. It’s designed to cope with the grey, unpredictable and often treacherous waters of this north eastern stretch of North Sea coastline.

A coble safely home:

This particular coble hove into view bringing with it the distinctive chugging of its diesel engine together with the equally distinctive Sunderland accent of its crew. I find something quite comforting about the purr of this diesel engine … and something quite mysterious about the Sunderland accent.

Looking out over the outer part of the marina, little sailing boats bob up and down in the evening sunlight. At first sight, a tranquil scene but the ripples on the water and the sounds tell a different story.

Wind in the masts:

The wind, coming in from right to left, sometimes blowing gently and then, in the blink of an eye, screeching through the masts of the boats gives a completely different atmosphere to the marina and a reminder of how quickly and dramatically conditions can change on this treacherous coastline.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. peter wyeth
    Sep 26 2011

    Hi Des, it’s a wonderful site you’ve got here. Strangely your recording of the wind whipping around the masts of the boats is one of my favourite sounds – I’ve tried in vain to record several times when I’ve been around boats in Norfolk and Whitstable. I probably need a better wind-shield!
    Keep up the good work.

    • Sep 26 2011

      Thanks for your comment Peter. This recording is one of my favourites too. You will be surprised to hear that this was actually recorded using a pair of in-ear binaural mics which are notoriously prone to wind noise. In this case finding exactly the right position to record from was the key. I had several failed attempts but got there in the end!


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