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The East coast - down the Irish Sea

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Fairwinds Round Ireland - Glenarm - Bangor

Thursday 1st July Glenarm – Bangor (Belfast Lough)

We left Glenarm at the ungodly hour of 04:30 to catch the tide – working the tides is pretty much essential when making one's way down the Irish Sea in a small yacht. Out of the marina, we met a fresh South Westerly wind and I took two reefs in the main while hanging onto the full genoa to point higher as we were – yet again – hard on the wind. The crew had an extra hour or so's sleep and we made excellent progress down as far as Larne, where we had close but unalarming encounters with a couple of large ferries. As we came round into Belfast Lough the wind veered Southerly and we realised we would have to tack to make Bangor. Meanwhile the combination of wind and tide kicked up a short, steep chop while a good lookout was needed as a lot of shipping heads in and out of Belfast. We tied up in Bangor Marina at 09:15 and had a sleep.

Bangor is a superb marina and particularly good value if you have a small boat as, like most marinas, they charge by the metre. We paid £14.70 which includes excellent free showers. The marina office let me plug my laptop in to download my e-mail and make a minor change to a client's website and only charged me the local call cost. The latest weather is always available scrolling across the electronic notice board above the marina office, and the staff are very friendly and helpful – thoroughly recommended, and a feasible passage non-stop from Gigha in favourable conditions.

We had a walk round Bangor – which was looking more prosperous than the last time I was there a few years ago. We had a pint then went back to the boat for supper and an early night, as there was a tide to catch to Ardglass in the morning. Fifes and drums as a big march went through the town – it's the marching season in N. Ireland.

While we were in Bangor Spark came in and tied up just a couple of berths away from us. She is a traditionally built wooden yacht with many unique features including an unstayed carbon fibre mast, innovative Skye Wing™ rig and Sail Electric™ auxiliary drive system. Sadly Spark was lost in a fire at sea just eight days after this photo was taken, but hopefully her successor will be built before long. You can visit the Spark website here.

Fairwinds in Bangor Marina
Another view of Bangor Marina
Spark in Bangor Marina
Leaving Scotland Glenarm Bangor Ardglass Howth Kilmore Quay