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The East coast - down the Irish Sea

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Fairwinds Round Ireland - Howth to Kilmore Quay

Sunday 4th July Howth

Sunshine in the morning got the forepeak cushions and bedding dried out and aired found mud on the bottom of the cushions, so it appeared that the anchor locker had not been draining into the bilge by a sensible route.

Went into Dublin on the Dart in the afternoon for coffee and cakes at Bewleys and a couple of glasses of Guiness from the source. Bought an A2 full colour map of Ireland so we could see exactly where we were, then walked through Trinity College an impressive mix of architecture. Wanted to be a student again.

Howth Marina and Ireland's Eye

Bought an Irish O2 SIM card for the mobile E30 with E30 worth of credit. This is a great money saver for accessing the web via the mobile using an Irish ISP I used Elive. Soon became an expert at changing SIM cards, but if doing the same thing again I would invest in a second handset.

Trevor and Caroling came in on Balchis about eight o'clock, shattered after a non-stop passage from Jura had a couple of pints in the yacht club with them. They were planning to rest up for Monday then continue towards the Scillies.

Monday 5th July Howth

Trevor came over in the morning to say that as the forecast was reasonable they were going to press on towards the Scillies. We decided to head for Kilmore Quay today and overnight, but discovered that the genoa was badly torn in at least three places down the leach. Found Phillip Watsonm, the local sailmaker, working on his boat behind the yacht club he promised to have it done by 2 o'clock the next day (Tuesday) so another day in Howth.

Dinghy sailing at Howth

Guiness in the yacht club bar in the evening. John, the steward, told us the entire history of Howth then presented us with a copy of 100 years of sailing in Howth a really nice book plus a gourmet guide to eating in Ireland.

Tuesday 6th July Howth Kilmore Quay   (overnight passage)

Phillip returned our genoa at midday the next day. We had told him that we needed this tatty old sail to get us round Ireland, and in the light of this he had completely recut the leech and fitted a new leech tape, with the result that the sail now sat better than it ever had before. Phillip charged us 70 for the repair, which took all our sterling reserve - but it was well worth it as we had no more trouble with this sail on the rest of our trip.

After looking at the weather prospects for the next 48 hours we decided to do an overnight passage to Kilmore Quay and plug a foul tide during the night. This was Kathy's first night passage, made more interesting by the arrival of a gale warning for later Wednesday one always hopes that in this situation they have the timing right. We turned the boat using warps to make our exit from Bangor easier - the Vega does not go astern predictably, and there were a lot of expensive boats in a tight space. We had a light South Easterly during the afternoon, and alternatively sailed and motor-sailed. The Coastguard meanwhile issued a small craft warning (winds F6 or above) for the East and South coasts in the morning.

Towards evening the wind began to back. As it got dark it was North Easterly almost dead astern, and promised to rise to a 5 6 by morning, so we ran through the night under poled out genoa as being the simplest rig - sail can be reduced without going on the foredeck. Plugging a foul tide from about ten o'clock, it seemed to take forever to run down the inside of the Arlow bank, watching the flashing strobes on the new offshore windmills.

Wednesday 7th July Howth Kilmore Quay

The wind steadily increased and also backed more to the North we had to gybe the genoa just before dawn. The wind increased further and the sea got rougher as we approached the Tuskar, but we had plenty of tide with us and were making up to nine knots over the ground. Off the Tuskar and looking for the South Rock buoy sea conditions were quite unpleasant, but once round the S. Rock we came onto a reach and hurtled across to Carnsore Point at six knots plus. Coming in close under the huge windmills on Carnsore Point we kept well inshore to clear all dangers and sped towards Kilmore Quay and St. Patrick's Bridge. The promised force 6 was now in full swing with gusts to 30 knots, and progress under double reefed main and half the genoa was very brisk.

St. Patrick's Bridge is a buoyed channel with only 2.4m at LAT . . . we now had 30 knots of wind over an ebbing tide, and I was concerned that conditions on the Bridge might be a bit nasty. After repeated calls to Kilmore Quay I eventually got an answer the harbourmaster assured me that it would be 'a little bit choppy' but alright if I kept between the marks. I only found out later that he knows nothing about yachts or even boats, being a Cork County Council civil servant and non-boater.

We couldn't see the buoys, parlty because of the sea conditions and partly because we were too near the entrance to Kilmore Quay. Luckily the crew spotted them half a mile South of our present position. We were only in three metres of comparatively smooth water at the time, and were later told that if we had carried on we would have been fine, it being just after High Water and Springs to boot. However, we bore away and broad reached back towards the Bridge. Going through the buoyed channel conditions were the worst I have ever taken a yacht into very steep three metre waves, close together and breakinbg right along the crest. The echo sounder was showing 1m in the troughs as I wrestled with the tiler. Many modern boats I have sailed would have definitely broached, but we got through after a real white knucle ride for five minutes. We should definitely have gone through Saltee Sound in these conditions.

Arrived exhausted, and were astonished to be directed to reverse into a space between two other Vegas! I went up to the marina office and was charged the outrageous sum for our non-berth of E25. We then went for a wonderful full Irish breakfast at the local community centre and returned to the marina ready to catch up on our sleep, but it was not to be. Instead we were greeted by Jackie Connor and Nigel Good. Jackie owns Wild Thyme, the only Vega I have ever seen with a bowsprit, and told me he was planning an 'all expenses spared' trip to Scotland to the Vega Gathering at the end of August.

Nigel owns Eager V, one of the Vegas we were sandwiched between. We went on board Nigel's boat for a blether, then Jim Hall the third Vega owner in Kilmore Quay invited us on board Samedi. It turned out that this trio of Vega enthusiasts had been waiting for us to turn up they knew about our trip from information I had posted in various places on the web.

Vega sandwich at Kilmore Quay
Kilmore Quay Vega Owners

Finally we had to plead exhaustion, and went for a sleep. When we surfaced again Jackie took me up to his house and let me plug the laptop in, and I was able to check my e-mail and even do a little bit of work for the first time since leaving Bangor. Later that evening we visited a couple of the local pubs with Jackie, Nigel and Jim.

Leaving Scotland Glenarm Bangor Ardglass Howth Kilmore Quay