Posted by: Ray | June 20, 2009

Largs (Firth of Clyde, SW Scotland) to Howth, Dublin

Passage: 402M, 12 new harbours visited, Max wind F6, gusting 7

Henry arrives Sunday 21 June and we set sail on a 2-week passage to Dublin. We plan to spend a few days cruising Firth of Clyde, before visiting Sanda Island on passage to Rathlin Island (N Ireland). Our passage then takes us down the E coast of Island, visiting Irish harbours and loughs, plus Peel on the Isle of Man, before arriving at Dublin. I will update progress briefly whilst sailing, adding more detail and photos when time permits.

Lunch at Millport, Great Cumbrae

Lunch at Millport, Great Cumbrae

 

Henry and I left Largs on Monday 22 June and spent a few days cruising the Firth of Clyde and surrounding areas. We visited Millport (Great Cumbrae) and had some great sailing up the E Kyle of Bute to anchor at Caladh Harbour for the night.

 

Morning at anchor Calahd Harbour

Morning at anchor Caladh Harbour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At anchor Torrisdale Bay

 

We then visited Tarbert Tuesday evening, continuing passage to Loch Ranza (Arran) for lunch on Wednesday, anchoring overnight in Torrisdale Bay 5M north of Campbeltown.

 

 

 

Firth of Clyde

Firth of Clyde

 

Weather has been great and some good sailing on most days. I had cruised this area on my passage down from Oban, but I was happy to visit again and to enjoy the sailing

On mooring off Sanda Island, Mull of Kintyre

Low tide on mooring off Sanda Island, Mull of Kintyre

 

25 June. We had a good sail from Torrisdale Bay to Sanda Island, south of Mull of Kintyre. We timed our passage carefully to arrive just before the tide turned west to minimize any turbulent seas. It was a very interesting and enjoyable visit. At the island’s pub we were made welcome by Dick (the owner of the Island), Ellie his daughter and Pete who runs the ferry to and from the island.

Ray with the crew on board 'Morning Star'

Ray with the crew on board 'Jura Star'

 

We met the crew of ‘Jura Star’, also visiting Sanda and were invited aboard their yacht for a night-cap with Ian (skipper), Gilly, Andy and Gavin. A very interesting, friendly and fun group of fellow sailors, we had a good laugh together. 

 

Lighthouse on Sanda Island

Lighthouse on Sanda Island

 

 

Sanda is a pretty island and well worth visiting. Yachts are made welcome. The island might be up for sale if you have a few million to spare! 🙂

 

 

Leaving Scotlaand, Mull of Kintyre.

Leaving Scotland, Mull of Kintyre.

 

26 June: We left Sanda after a brunch at the pub, catching the first of the west going tide in Sanda Sound. Wind was favourable on our stern from the east as we sailed past Mull of Kintyre.

I had been in Scotland for 9 months and found the Scottish people very friendly, generous and helpful. We took down our Scottish flag and said our farewells.

Spring tides of up to 5Kn were expected as we approached the Irish coast, so a course to steer was calculated for the passage towards Fair Head on the Irish coast that avoided the traffic separation scheme in the N Channel. As we approached Fair Head, the tide was pushing Christine Marie along at over 10Kn.

Church Bay, Rathlin Island

Church Bay, Rathlin Island

 

Our entry to Rathlin Sound had been timed carefully (HW Belfast +0330) to avoid the dangerous eddy ‘ slough-na-more ‘ and to avoid the worst of the overfalls. As it was we still met strong counter tide eddies on our approach to Church Bay. We sailed across Rathlin Sound and Church Bay to enter the harbour, arriving at 1830.

 

As we approached the very end of the pontoon, where there was just enough space for us to berth without rafting, I slowed and stopped just 20m off the pontoon whilst Henry and myself readied fenders and lines. Other yachtsmen waited to take our lines. The depth had shoaled along the length of the pontoon, but I had 0.8 m under my keel as we waited off with Christine Marie just drifting very slowly. Suddenly my depth alarm sounded and as I grabbed the tiller we struck hard bottom with a crunch. Slowly astern we came off and the depth increased again to 0.8m under (2.4m of water) as we came alongside. The charts and pilot book both show the W side of the pontoons to have minimum depth of 1.8m, but I guess there is a nasty little boulder towards the far end waiting to surprise visiting yachtsmen! 🙂   Still, no serious damage was done.

My thanks to the other yachtsmen and islanders who were very helpful and friendly. Unknown to me at the time, they collected for my charities at Mccuaigs Bar, the local pub, during the evening. Thank you.

In the evening I operated on 80m, working 10 stations before I had to close the station at midnight as my operating was disturbing Henry (my crew) who had retired for the night 2 hours earlier. There were a lot of stations calling me, my apologies for not being able to continue.

RSPB bird santuary at Rathlin Island

RSPB bird santuary at Rathlin Island

 

27 June: In the morning we took the Puffin Bus to the RSPB bird sanctuary at the north of the island. The cliffs and rocks close to the light house were full of sea birds nesting or feeding their chicks.

 

 

Puffins and other sea birds on the cliffs, Rathlin Island

Puffins and other sea birds on the cliffs, Rathlin Island

 

Telescopes were set up to view close in on nesting birds and their young chicks and on a group of puffins on the cliffs below. The RSPB members explained what we were seeing and it was very interesting.

 

 

Rathlin Harbour from the hills

Rathlin Harbour from the hills

 

 

Definitely worth the visit. Henry and I walked the 4M back down to the harbour through the Rathlin countryside, enjoying lunch and a drink in the sun at the Manor House before we returned to the yacht and made ready for sea. 

 

 

We left Rathlin harbour at HW Belfast at the start of the W going tide. We sailed across Rathlin Sound heading towards Ballycastle, with the increasing tide pushing us west along the scenic coast towards our destination at Portrush.

Rope Bridge at

Rope Bridge at Carrickarede

It was a fine sunny afternoon and we decided to anchor off Carrickarede, famous for its rope bridge crossing between two high cliffs. We anchored in 7m in full view of the bridge where long queues of people were waiting to walk across. It was a postcard setting and we were watched at anchor by those waiting to cross the bridge, including Rhiannon & Richard, a friendly couple we had met at lunch at Rathlin who called down to us from the bridge.

Passing the Skerries, N Ireland on passage to Portrush

Passing the Skerries, N Ireland on passage to Portrush

 

We continued our sail along the coast enjoying the sailing and the scenery. Passing to seaward of Sheep Island and then the Skerries, a line of large rocks stretching over 1M long, before changing course to enter Portrush for the night.

  

 

Approaching Portrush Harbour, N Ireland

Approaching Portrush Harbour, N Ireland

 

A local fisherman gave us six mackerel that I gutted, cleaned and put in my freezer for a later meal. I was told that the fish had only just started to arrive, so I might have a chance of catching some myself later! 🙂

Henry on top of the world, Giant's Causeway.

Henry on top of the world, Giant's Causeway.

 

28 June: Henry and I wanted to visit the Giant’s Causeway, a half hour bus journey from Portrush. Unfortunately the buses only ran every 2 hours and the earliest bus back for us was at 1400 … cutting it fine for the last of the fair tide to our planned destination at Ballycastle. But the visit to this world heritage site was worth it, narrow pillars of natural basalt rock surround the bay. We climbed over the rocks and took our photographs along with other tourists. 🙂

Entrance to Ballycastle Harbour

Entrance to Ballycastle Harbour

 

It was not a good sail to Ballycastle later in the day. The wind was heading us and tacking out past the Skerries it was obvious, with our late start, that we would not make Rathlin sound with a fair tide. We headed into wind and made passage under power, with foul tide for the last hour before entering Ballycastle harbour early evening.

Northern Island coastline.

Northern Ireland coastline.

 Tomorrow we commence our passage south down the east coast to Glenarm. With Henry sailing with me for two weeks I am pleased we were able to spend time diverting to cruise along the N coast of Ireland and to visit Rathlin.

It’s a beautiful coastline and the weather has been glorious, with some great sailing. We have had a very friendly and warm welcome by the local people and visiting sailors during this passage.

Mon 29 June: We left Ballycastle late morning to catch the start of the fair tide south off Fair Head. We had a good wind and Christine Marie was making 6Kn in the Lee of Fair Head. We ‘hove to’ to put another reef in before rounding the head and meeting the full force of the wind. As we rounded Fair Head the wind increased to F6 and we met some choppy seas, we recorded speed over the ground of 10Kn as the tide pushed us along …. but occasionally we would slow rapidly as we met a counter eddy.

Catch of the day!  :-)

Catch of the day! 🙂

 

 The wind was favourable and with the exception of having to tack to avoid entering the TSS (shipping channel) in the N Channel we made good progress towards our destination in the strong wind. By mid-afternoon the wind eased and we shook out all reefs to continue sailing. We were barely making 2Kn, time for me to try my hand at fishing again!

I set out a long trawl to the stern of the yacht and waited …. and waited! 🙂    Then my rod bent tight …. I had the big one and my rod bent and tugged as I reeled in the line.  But it was not to be!!  🙂 

Glenarm Harbour

Glenarm Harbour

 

We were not in a hurry and enjoyed the leisurely sail to Glenarm, arriving 1700. We had a warm welcome from Billy the harbour master who was waiting to greet us on the pontoon and brief us about the harbour facilities and town. Glenarm is a nice marina and a convenient stop on passage down to Bangor.

Dinner is served, Glenarm

Dinner is served, Glenarm

 

In the evening we grilled and eat two of the mackerel we had been given by the fisherman at Portrush, I filleted the four remaining cooked ones to make pate later.

Tues 30 June: We left Glenarm at 1100 for the 25M passage to Bangor. Winds were light F2/3 from the SE, but we made steady progress towards our destination. We passed Larne with it’s tall chimneys a clear landmark, tacking to clear The Maidens and Hunter Rock. Occasionally the wind died and we were becalmed, but it soon returned and we were able to sail most of the passage.

 

Trawling in the Irish sea.

Trawling in the Irish sea.

 

We started to see many ferries and ships on passage through the Irish Sea, or making for Larne and Belfast. We needed to keep a watchful eye on several during the passage, taking action a couple of times to keep out of their way.  Including this one that we tacked away to avoid its nets!  🙂 

 

Ship carrying it's cargo of wind turbines, Belfast Lough

Ship carrying it's cargo of wind turbines, Belfast Lough

 

 

As we crossed Belfast Lough towards Bangor, the wind increased and we had a lively sail, passing ahead of a large ship moving slowly with its cargo of wind turbines.  We arrived at the harbour entrance by 1900, passing the colourful houses and church spire  along the coast on our approach.

Bangor, Belfast Lough

Bangor, Belfast Lough

 

On board during the evening Henry and I set about making our own version of Mackerel Pate with cream cheese and various other herbs, etc on board. We enjoyed both with toast as our starter for our evening meal and froze the rest for later in my portable fridge/freezer. It was seriousely good!  🙂 

During the evening we planned the passage from Bangor to Lough Strangford. The 33M passage clears Copeland and Lighthouse Island to the NE of Orlock Point and has several dangers extending several miles out from shore. Careful timing is needed to enter or leave Strangford Lough where the tide in the narrows is very strong and careful pilotage is required.

Wed 1 July: Our planning paid off and we had a good passage to the entrance of Lough Strangford. We had prepared pilotage plans and WP on the GPS to guide us through the E Channel. As newcomers to the lough, we had difficulty picking out the transits at times, but with the aid of conventional navigation and GPS we had little difficulty navigating through the channel. We surged along pushed by the strong flood tide.

Audley Roads moorings, Lough Strangford

Audley Roads moorings and castle, Lough Strangford

Lough Strangford is a nature reserve, unspoilt, with attractive scenery that reminds me a little of Chichester and areas of Poole Harbour around Brownsea Island ….. but without the crowds in summer! At Glenarm we had met a couple who kept their yacht at Lough Strangeford and we picked up a buoy at Audley Roads, near their berth overlooked by Audley’s Castle. 

Thurs 2 July: We left our mooring at Audley Roads at the start of the ebb tide and navigated through the Strangford narrows with a neap tide of 3Kn already running. Visibility was poor at less than 1/2M as we made our way out to sea and set course for Peel on the Isle of Man. Winds were light, F2 from the SE …. but we had plenty of time as entry to Peel is limited to HW +/- 2 hours, 1830-2230 on the day. Occasionally we could hear the engines of ships and strained to watch for them through the mist on the horizon, but visibility started to clear by mid-morning and later we were enjoying the sail in sunshine.

Approaching Peel Harbour entrance, Isle of Man

Approaching Peel Harbour entrance, Isle of Man

 

We arrived at Peel at 1900 and were held for 15 minutes in the outer harbour with a number of other yachts as others (including viking long boats, participating in a festival over the weekend) were exiting the narrow entrance from the marina/inner harbour, where there is a swing bridge and tidal flap (that keeps the water depth in the harbour).

Peel Harbour and castle.  New marina pontoons to left, quay to right.

Peel Harbour and castle. New marina pontoons to left, quay to right.

 

By 1930 we were moored up alongside the harbour wall, visiting one of the local harbour pubs during the evening.

After our meal, Henry stayed in the pub, whilst I returned to the yacht to operate on amateur radio. Conditions were not good with a lot of noise from harbour lighting and generators making it impossible to hear weaker stations that were calling me. Even very strong signals were hard to copy, but I did manage to successfully make contact with 7 stations before Henry returned to the yacht at midnight.

Cliffs near Peel, Isle of Man

Coastline near Peel, Isle of Man

 

It’s my first visit to the Isle of Man, a hilly, green and attractive Island on our approach …so we have decided to spend Friday here to explore around Peel. We set sail on Saturday for Carlingford Lough to be in Dublin by Sunday.

 

 

Castle at entrance to Peel Harbour

Castle at entrance to Peel Harbour

 

Fri 3 July: We spent the day in sunshine exploring Peel town and the harbour, Henry did some hill walking along the coast whilst I completed getting supplies in from the local supermarket.

Henry and I met later in the afternoon to relax over a drink in the sun at a harbour pub close to our mooring on the quay wall. Our passage to Carlingford Lough the following day was over 60M, a full day’s sailing, and the earliest we could exit the harbour through the bridge was 0800 the following morning. We decided to leave during the evening HW opening and spend the evening on a buoy outside the harbour. This allowed us an early start on our passage to Carlingford.

Sat 4 July: Winds were fresh from the S/SE, but we spent a comfortable night on board and following an early breakfast, set sail at 0700 towards Carlingford. Winds were F3/5 from the SSE and we made good progress towards our destination. Skies were overcast and we experienced a couple of very heavy showers. For some time the Calf of Man was visible to our stern until we lost sight of land. At 1300 the Irish coast became faintly visible on the horizon ahead of us.

 By early evening we were approaching Carlingford Lough. Wind and swell were increasing on our port beam as we set course on the leading line to enter the clearly buoyed channel. The swell was pushing us close to gybing at times, so we dropped the main and continued under headsail on our approach.

Carlingford Lough seen from the marina

Carlingford Lough seen from the marina

 

By 1815 we were moored at Carlingford Marina, having sailed 63M to our first port in Eire.  Surrounded by green hills the marina is in an attractive location, well worth visiting …. although the harbour and marina itself could do with some attention.

 

 

 

Sun 5 July: We left Carlingford at 0945 with a fair but weak tide south. We were headed into a strong F5/6 SSE wind and we made long tacks towards our destination. Seas were moderate to rough and when the winds hit F6 true (F7 apparent recorded) we needed to reef. The 3rd reef was put in and with the headsail furled to the shrouds Christine Marie was sailing well. The rain poured down and along with the spray, as Christine Marie battled the 3m waves, we were truly soaked, but dry inside our wet gear!!  For two weeks we had experienced light winds and sunshine, someone was keeping the best till last!!  🙂

Approaching Rockabill lighthouse.

Approaching Rockabill lighthouse.

 By 1715 we were in sight of Rockabill, a large rock,  passing the Skerries as we set final course for Howth Marina, passing to seaward of Lambay and Ireland’s Eye islands.

It took us 12 hours to make the 63M passage to Howth, arriving on the pontoon by 2130. Wet and cold, a warm evening meal on board made us feel better. It had been a long, tiring day. 

Howth Marina and sailing club.

Howth Marina and sailing club.

 

Henry left the yacht very early on Monday morning to catch his flight back to Aberdeen. My thanks to Henry for his support on this 400M passage homewards.

 

  

 

Sunset Howth, across to Ireland's Eye and Lambart islands.

Sunset Howth, across to Ireland's Eye and Lambart islands.

 

I am now awaiting Ian and Tim to join me on the 1 August to sail to Cork, where Noel and Audrey join Ian and myself on the 14 August for the 140M, 30 hour passage across the Celtic Sea to the Scilly Isles and then, on to Falmouth.

I ‘chilled out’ the first day to recover from the two long and wet passages and am now catching up on email, BLOG writing and organising crew for the next passages. 

 

Today, Wednesday 7 July, I had repairs made to the navigation seat, where the weld holding it sheered during the rough seas met on passage to Howth.  Luckily I felt the weld go whilst sitting on the seat navigating …. and avoided falling backwards across the yacht cabin!  🙂

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