A FLEET of 13 Dutch yachts descended on Hartlepool Marina on the back of the town’s tall ships reputation.
And the 40-strong crew, who hail from the Netherlands and Belgium, say they are very impressed with the town and have been made to feel very welcome.
The yachts, and one support vessel, arrived at the lock gates at Hartlepool Marina at 6am yesterday as part of an initiative called the Round Britain Adventure Challenge (RBAC).
The boats – which are all sporting a red and white flag with the initials RBAC – set off from Scheveningen, in the Netherlands, two days before their first stop at the town.
And after spending time around the marina and sampling the bars and restaurants, they are due to set off on their travels once more tomorrow, and head north past Amble, in Northumberland, and on towards Scotland to their next stop in Edinburgh.
Paul Matthijssen, 47, a professional sailor who runs the company Ocean People which organised the event, told the Mail: “We organised this course to go around Britain, we needed a good, reputable stop-over from the Netherlands to the northern part of England, and Hartlepool seemed perfect.
“I’ve been to Hartlepool before and I thought it was a very pleasant and convenient harbour.”
The dad-of-two added: “It will be two months before we are back home in the Netherlands so it is lovely to spend time in places like Hartlepool. We feel very welcome.”
Adam Henderson, a director of the marina, was delighted the team had chosen Hartlepool as their stop-off, and believes the town’s hospitable reputation is spreading throughout Europe and further afield.
“They chose Hartlepool to be their first port of call after the North Sea crossing probably because of our success at the Tall Ships Races in 2010,” he said. “The tall ships legacy has almost created a sustained visitor influx in Hartlepool.
“We’ve noticed a significant increase in foreign and overseas visitors from the continent and further afield.
“When people go back to their home ports they are obviously shining Hartlepool in a good light and as a prominent place to visit.”
He added: “When this crew arrived we gave them the typical Hartlepool greeting in giving them assistance.
“We’re delighted to have them stay here. It’s a really good thing for Hartlepool.”