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.

6th July : Ardglass, Northern Ireland

Had a great sail across the Irish Sea to Ardglass in about 6.5 hours, and secured a berth in Phennick Cove Marina, a small privately owned outfit on one side of the harbour. The approach is a little ‘interesting’ and it is definitely worth a good hard look at the pilot in advance. Once berthed, we were very comfortable, and booked in for two nights to allow some exploration, and laundry ! The following day we did a little shopping to re-stock supplies, had a very pleasant walk across the links golf course, and had a surprisingly good ( and very reasonable ) meal in a Chinese restaurant on the edge of the harbour – If you ever go there, do try the deep fried ice cream desert ! We tried it for a laugh, but it was absolutely delicious, having a crust of coconut batter, and served with a large jug of syrup – naughty but nice !!!

5th July : Derby Haven, Isle of Man

We left Fleetwood on July 3rd and had a long and tiring bash up to Whitehaven. We had two nights in Whitehaven to re-charge our batteries, then set out for the Isle of Man. Previously, we had taken a visitor mooring in Port St. Mary but there is another smaller bay close by called Derby Haven which we had made a mental note of. With the winds as they were Derby Haven was very sheltered, and made for a perfect anchorage for the night. Ronaldsway airport backs onto one side of the bay, and it was quite amusing to see the aircraft coming and going. After a very quiet, and peaceful night, we set off across the western side of the Irish sea towards Ireland, and ‘un-charted’ territory, electing to pass south of ‘Chicken Rock’ rather than through ‘Calf Sound’.

2013 : New Season

Having had such unpleasant weather this spring to get final maintenance done, and two elderly mothers with health problems, we have decided to scale back our ambitions for 2013, and explore the northern half of the Irish sea. ‘Norman James’ was out of the water for most of May to dry out thoroughly and carry out the normal ‘out of water’ jobs. After re-launching on 6th June, we had a quick sail in Morcambe bay over the top of the tide on the 7th  June to check that everything was working, and all the ‘knitting’ was present & correct. 

Having several commitments during the rest of June, we drew up plans to have one or two weeks away at the beginning of July, probably leaving ‘NJ’ in Ireland for a week or so around the middle of the month while we went to our Son’s graduation ceremony.