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The North

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Fairwinds Round Ireland - The North
Portsalon to Portrush

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Thursday 5th August Portsalon - Portrush

There was no wind when we slipped Portsalon at 6am so we motored out to Dunaff Head, at which point the wind got up quite strongly from ESE, threatening to raise an unpleasant sea in Inishtrahull Sound. The pilot warns that a 'steep and dangerous sea' can be raised here very quickly in a wind over tide situation, which we now had. We decided to go offshore of Torr Rocks and set a course directly for Port Ellen on Islay, having calculated we had just enough favourable tide to take us there with this wind direction.

Once again the wind gods were not on our side, and after an hour of this plan the wind dropped a little and backed more Easterly. It gradually became obvious that if this continued we would lose the tide and be left off the Oa or the Rinns with a five knot tide setting against us . . . so it was back to plan A and we set a course for Portrush again.

After an hour on our new course the the wind came round to the originally forecast South-Easterly, but it was now too late to resume course for Port Ellen. Once again we were beating hard towards our destination. The wind strengthened and we ended up making painfully slow, wet motor-sailing progress into a steep chop for the last couple of hours. As we approached the welcome shelter of Portrush harbour Kathy remembered something that can be vital in these waters and I hastily removed the Irish courtesy flag that had been flying at our starboard crosstrees for the last 850 miles.

When we arrived in Portrush we rafted up alongside Praxis, a Francis 26 from Dublin crewed by Frank and Ann. I noticed they were not flying an ensign - they told us they never fly the Irish ensign in Northern Irish ports, that friends of theirs had had stones thrown at them from the pier at one harbour entrance. We had flown the red duster right round the Republic and never even thought about it. No comment.

Directly ahead of Praxis on the harbour pontoon was Cirrus, a 30ft Malo from Fort William crewed by Andrew and Gerry, former Vega owners. We had originally met them in Lawrence Cove, then met up again in the Aran Islands in Galway Bay. We were invited aboard for drinks, which we accepted - but with the proviso that we would shower first; it had been a week since the previous cleansing on Inishbofin.

Portrush is a busy harbour but has a pontoon alongside the wall in the Summer months, with water and diesel readily available by hose. There are toilets and free showers in the yacht club. It costs nine pounds a night, we think . . . we never actually paid as there was no-one to give the money to. The town looked prosperous, with plenty of things to do for kids, lots of shops and a wide choice of places to eat. It would make part of a pleasant N. Ireland mini-cruise for a week, to Glenarm then Ballycastle, Rathlin, Portrush and back to Scotland.

Portrush Harbour showing the pontton
Andrew and Gerry on Cirrus talking to Frank from Praxis

After a drink on Cirrus with Andrew and Gerry and Ann and Frank from Praxis we went to the Harbour Bistro on Frank's recommendation for a meal. The food was superb, and very reasonably priced a very pleasant memory of our last night in Ireland..

Teelin Aranmore Burtonport Tory Island Portsalon Portrush Home to Scotland