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The East coast - down the Irish Sea

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Fairwinds Round Ireland - Bangor to Ardglass

Friday 2nd July Bangor - Ardglass

We were a bit slow getting out of our beds and missed an hour of tide, a fact we were to regret at the other end of the passage! Slipped at 06:30 and headed for Orlock Point and Donaghadee Sound. We were hard on the wind as we came down the Sound, aiming for the buoys marking Magic Rocks and Deputy Reef. As we approached the narrowest part of the channel the wind began to head us and die away, while a 3 knot tide swept us down towards the starboard hand buoy marking the end of Deputy Reef. After shouting at the wind for being so unreasonable I swiftly started the engine and we weathered the buoy by about ten metres.

Once safely through Donaghadee Sound it was plain sailing albeit with two reefs in the main as far as the Skullmartin safe water buoy. We had a couple of really heavy showers with thunder and lightning during this time - quite scary when the radio crackles incessantly and you know your mast is the only sticky-up thing for miles around. The rain was so heavy it actually flattened the sea.


From Skullmartin to the South Rock Light Float the waves got progressively larger and steeper and progress was slow and uncomfortable. As per the ICC directions we went over a mile outside the light float to avoid the 'steep and damaging seas' that can build up here in a wind over tide situation, but we got hammered anyway next time I would take the inside passage in similar weather.

At 11:15 we tacked and headed inshore, and sea conditions steadily improved. However, we had been making slow progress and the combination of the southerly on the nose coupled with the turn of the tide round about noon made for a slow and frustrating afternoon beating down the coast. We arrived in Ardglass (Phennick Cove Marina) at 17:30 much longer than I had anticipated taking for this passage.

The marina has a thoroughly modern office block with showers etc, but we were freshly showered in Bangor and didn't feel we were dirty enough to warrant using them. Instead we went for a wander round the village followed by sit-down fish and chips (very good) and a couple of pints in a real Irish pub as a restorative. The crew discovered she likes Smithwicks it's an excellent pint, and while it may be the Irish answer to MacEwans Export, it's infinitely more palateable and less chemical.

Leaving Scotland Glenarm Bangor Ardglass Howth Kilmore Quay