Saturday, 17 August 2013


Conway seems to be a pleasant sort of place, the old walled city is very picturesque, and not too busy with tourists. We took the train home for a few days, then returned with the car to allow us to explore the area .

The river speed limit sign high and dry at low water.

We drove over to Llandudno and had a walk along the prommenade, the sea front buildings ( mainly hotels and B&B's ) all looked well maintained, and we came away with quite a good impression of the town.

Great Ormes head from Llandudno prommenade.

The view in the opposite direction towards Little Ormes Head.

This is the view from Deganwy Marina towards Conway and the Castle.

The Marina entrance at Deganwy.

The top of the tidal flap gate at low water, the gate is dropped when there is 4m of tide.

Conway castle at low tide with the marina training wall covered in sea weed.

The view towards Penmaemawr, and the Menai Straight from Deganwy beach.

Great Ormes Head from Deganwy beach

A large yacht in the channel with Conway marina in the background.

The marina dredger 'Little Orme' moored on the pontoon.

On 8th August we decided to have a night at anchor and re-visit the East coast of Angelsey. At 14:50 we anchored in Red Wharfe Bay, just North of Puffin sound. After a fairly rolly night at anchor we had a look at the area of moorings at Red Wharfe village, using the keel as a 'dip stick' at times.

The entrance channel to Red Wharfe Village.

From here we motored over to Moelfre again for lunch, anchoring in the same place as on our trip down to Conway previously.

On the way back to Conway we raised our big G2 Genneker ( you can see the reflection of the sail in my sunglasses ! ) but the wind soon faded out, and we ended up motoring back to the marina.

We have pretty well decided to leave 'NJ' in Deganwy for the winter, as it is not much further than Fleetwood in terms of travel time, and there are quite a few places to visit in the area.

26th July : Holyhead

We had an interesting crossing from Dun Laoghaire, with cross tides of over 3Kts North and Southbound throughout the day. A bit of good old fashioned navigation the night before had concluded that the overall passage was essentially tide neutral, so we set a direct course for Holyhead, and held this ( with a few minor tweaks ) all day. A large vessel in the Traffic Separation Zone near Holyhead meant that we had to turn uptide for a while, but this helped on the final approach. The cliffs of Holyhead are quite imposing, rising to a height of 150m

The outer wall of Holyhead harbour extends 1.1miles out into the bay in a ENE direction, and provides significant shelter from any direction. The small craft channel runs adjacent to the wall, all the way to the marina itself, with the possibility to anchor inside the wall to gain refuge from bad weather.

The visitors pontoon provided a very easy 'alongside' berth, and we were moored securely by 18:20. The following day we had a short walk, and found some high ground with good views of Holy Head, and the harbour.

One of the larger 'inhabitants' of the commercial harbour was the Supercat ferry - quite an impressive sight as it guns all 115,000 horsepower !

Looking from the boat towards the town, we could see what looked like a fair in progress, a little later when we walked out in that direction it became clear that this was a competition for Majorette troups, with many groups of girls either practicing their routines or being judged on them - quite entertaining.

'NJ' on the visitors pontoon, looking towards the ferry terminal.

Our next destination was to be Conwy ( Conway ) via the Northern tip of Angelsey at Llanlleiana head, and Lynas point. This would take us through the tide race between Carmel head, and the islands of The Skerries, and West Mouse. We needed to catch the beginning of the fair tide through this area, so we set out from Holyhead at 08:45, crossing the bay, then keeping close to the shore to avoid the end of the foul tide.

The Skerries lighthouse.

The boat duly accelerated as we approached Carmel head, and soon we were sailing in a gentle breeze at 6.2Kts SOG. The speed increased steadily, and we recorded 8.6Kts over the ground as we passed Ynys Dulas on the East side of Angelsey. After another couple of miles in an increasing wind, we pulled into Moelfre bay, and anchored for lunch next to the all weather lifeboat.

Wylfa Nuclear Power Station.

After lunch we weighed anchor, and set out for Deganwy Marina ( the smaller of two marinas at Conway ), going outside Puffin Island, then directly for the Fairway Buoy. We arrived at the entrance to the marina at high water, and were moored safely 5 minutes later.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

July 14th - 26th : Dun Laoghaire.

We left our berth at Howth at 10:30, and once clear, had a very gentle sail for a while before deciding that there wasn't enough wind. The donk was started, and we motor sailed across Dublin bay to a small anchorage in Dalkey sound for a couple of hours. There had been a major regatta in Dun Laoghaire this weekend, and many yachts and support boats were returning from the racing to the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire for the post regatta party.

After the rush had died down, we weighed anchor, and set off towards Dun Laoghaire. The harbour is absolutely enormous, with a marina to match ( 800 berths ). On the way in to the allocated berth we saw a large facility for the overhaul of buoys of all types and sizes - quite fascinating.

The marina had gone all high tech, and instead of issuing us with an access code, our finger prints were scanned into the system, and a print reader used to gain entry to the gates and facilities. Due to the size of the marina, in addition to the shoreside facilities, a barge was moored at the far end of the marina, complete with loos and showers - the name of the barge was MARIna LOU !

The photo below shows just the Eastern side of the harbour from near the end of the outer sea wall. There is a major ferry terminal in the central part, and the marina on the Western side.

After flying back from Dublin for our son's graduation ceremony, and attending to a few things at home, we returned to get 'NJ' back to the UK side of the Irish sea. At 08:00 on 26th July we set out from Dun Laoghaire bound for Holyhead; 55 miles, and some very significant cross tides.

On leaving the harbour we saw a large cruise ship anchored in the bay, busy disgorging passengers via the ships boats. The liner turned out to be the Oriana.

As we cleared the traffic separation zone we entered a bank of fog which was just clinging to the surface of the sea. The sun was trying to break through, and was creating a 'halo' effect as we looked back towards Dublin. After a pleasant and quite interesting day at sea, we finally moored up on the visitors pontoon at Holyhead marina at 18:20.

We have enjoyed our trip to Ireland and am sure that we will return some time as there is much, much more to do and see.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

12th July : Howth, Definitely in the Republic now !

Rockabill lighthouse was passed at 13:00, and Lambay Island at 14:25. A call to Howth Yacht Club Marina reserved a berth for the night, and we were secured by 15:40. On the way into Howth itself we saw a large fleet of boats approaching from the South, and a committee boat to the North. We worked our way through the fleet, and headed for Irelands Eye ( the island just off Howth, and then into the harbour and our designated berth.

Looks like a bit more to Howth, so booked in for two nights. The Yacht Club is very imposing, and the marina was much bigger than I expected. On the West side of the harbour a significant fleet of fishing vessels were tied up with several fish and seafood dealers and many restaurants specialising in seafood. 


On the first evening we walked up into the village to locate the nearest supermarket ( although 'super' might be stretching it a bit ! ), then out onto the sea wall to take in the views.

The following day we found WiFi outside the clubhouse - luxury, so checked e_mail and weather forecasts etc. A little later we wandered out to find the DART station ( Dublin Area Rapid Transport ) to see if it was easy to get to the airport from Howth, then found a pub and had a pleasant lunch and a pint of Guinness. 

On the 14th, after a fairly casual breakfast, we headed out of the marina bound for Dun Laoghaire ( pronounced Dun Leary ?**?!? ). 

10th July : Carlingford Lough, The border !

We woke a little earlier than expected in the morning, and left the mooring at 06:40. Today was the spring tide, and although we did not experience it’s full spate, we saw a maximum of 12.2Kts over the ground – very exciting, with lots of boiling water, and eddies. We were spat out at the seaward end in less than half an hour, giving us a little more latitude in the timing of our arrival at Carlingford Lough to catch the end of the flood tide through Greenore Point, and on to Carlingford Marina in time for lunch.

After a short rest to make up for the early start, we had a walk into Carlingford to have a look around, and pick up a few provisions. Helped by the sunshine and high temperatures, the town had an almost continental look to it with many bars and restaurants amongst the ancient castle walls. The following day we took advantage of the laundry facilities, then walked into town to pick up some postcards, stamps, and a few items forgotten the previous afternoon. In the evening we walked back into Carlingford for a fishy meal in a restaurant we had spotted. 

A move south to Howth came next on the agenda; this involved leaving by 08:00 to catch the last of the ebb tide out of the Lough, in the event we left at 07:45, and cleared the entry channel at 08:45.

July 8th : Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland

Motored the 5 miles or so up the coast to Strangford Lough, leaving Ardglass at 11-15 to catch the end of the flood tide through the narrows. On spring tides ( we were now two days before spring ) the tide races through the narrows at up to 7.8Kts so there is no option but to take a fair tide. As it was, we had about 2Kts of fair tide but even so, there were some impressive wakes from various marks, and especially the tidal stream generator which is place right in the middle of the channel. There is a lot of water moving through the narrows; the channel is 60m deep in some places ! 

Having past Portaferry on our starboard, and Strangford village to port, we pulled into Audley’s roads and anchored for a very peaceful night. 

Having had a fairly leisurely getting up in the morning, we decided to have a gentle motor up and down the Lough ( there was not a breath of wind ).

We anchored in ‘Bloody Burn’ bay for lunch, and then intended to carefully work our way through the many reefs ( known locally as ‘Pladdys’ ), It was then that we realised that the fluxgate compass on the autopilot system was giving ( very ) anomalous readings, and as most of the closest reefs were now submerged we decided to re-trace our footsteps for a while, then cross the Lough and explore the larger islands on the western side. 

What we found was a whole network of channels, and islands, with lots of boats moored – we could have spent days in the dinghy exploring this area, simply magical !

Returing to Audley’s roads we picked up a mooring in deeper water, and closer to Portaferry, ready for a quick getaway in the morning, catching the ebb tide to escape the narrows, and help us on our way to our next destination, Carlingford Lough, on the border of Northern Ireland, and the Republic.