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The East coast - down the Irish Sea

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Fairwinds Round Ireland - Craighouse to Glenarm


Wednesday 30th June Craighouse - Glenarm (N. Ireland)

Up about ten for a look at the weather with a view to either making Gigha and waiting for better weather in the event of strong Southerlies, or heading for Ireland and catching a fair tide down the N. Channel from about four o'clock in the afternoon. The wind appeared to have plenty of West in it, so Ireland was on the cards.

Sailed out the anchor, which came up with a huge ball of kelp on it. Intending to bear away and gybe past the pier end and so to sea, no-one was more surprised than me when the ship refused to go further round than a beam reach and promptly gathered speed in the fresh breeze and headed straight for the pier. It took a second or so to realise that she would not turn further away from the wind no matter what I did with sheets or tiller, and by now a collision seemed inevitable. Yelling to Kathy to fend off, I brought her head up into the wind and miraculously we rounded up smartly alongside the rough timbers of the pier, at a complete stop and without touching the pier just as well as we were unfendered apart form the large roving fender operated by the crew. Much relieved, we started the engine and let her drift back away from the end of the pier then motored gently out while I cleared the kelp, which had obviously been acting as a sea anchor and keeping her bows up into the wind.

Once at sea we enjoyed some vigourous sailing, with reefs in and out all day but steady progress. The tide turned in our favour as we reached the Mull, which we passed about a mile off to clear the tide race. At 19:00 in the middle of the North Chanel the wind fell lighter, but with the help of the Spring tide we were still making 7 knots over the ground. As the tide slowed and the wind died further I held off from the coast to make the final approach cross-tide rather than against it once it turned. By nine o-clock we were motorsailing in calm conditions with about eight miles to go, making slow progress with the aging Volvo's top cruising speed being less than four and a half knots. It was a pleasant evening, however, and the small table was put up in the cockpit for supper while the autohelm steered us. Just as supper was put on the table we sailed under the edge of an innocuous looking cloud and were suddenly hit by torrential rain and 30 knot winds . . . supper was postponed as we stood under the sprayhood and marvelled at the competent way the autohelm handled the boat . . . although we had full main up, this new crew member feathered the boat up into the gusts like a pro, and at no time did she feel overpressed or heel very far.

After half an hour the squall passed and we motored peacefully into Glenarm Bay, glad it was not yet completely dark as we found a largely unlit and extensive fish farm pretty much on the direct approach to the marina. We got in at ten to eleven. A kind soul took our lines and when asked said that the pubs mostly shut around now, so by five to we were rushing off to get a pint of Guinness to celebrate our arrival in Ireland.

Leaving Scotland Glenarm Bangor Ardglass Howth Kilmore Quay