Friday, 30 May 2014

Largs - May 16th

After another leisurely start we left Ardrossan and headed north under sail, passing to the east of Little Cumbrae Island. We had intended to stop in Millport Bay for lunch but with an onshore breeze it did not look very comfortable. Instead we headed off through the sound between Little Cumbrae and Great Cumbrae.

Sailing to the west of Great Cumbrae

Whilst down below preparing some lunch I glanced up to see what looked like an interesting hazard, rocks with waves breaking over them. The rocks appeared to be marked by an odd looking tower. Closer inspection revealed a submarine heading south out of the Firth of Clyde. It was a fine sight with a fast rib leading the way and police escort boat in close attendance.

Submarine in the Firth of Clyde

It was a beautiful day and the water to the west of Great Cumbrae was more sheltered. We spotted Bell Bay and decided to put our hook down for a couple of hours before heading off to Largs for the night.

Relaxing at anchor in Bell Bay


Later, after we had gone to bed, we received the sad news that Rob's mum had passed away. The next day we would be heading home.


Another short hop of only 10nm was planned to take us back to Ardrossan on the mainland. This time we left Lamlash Bay via the southern entrance. The wind was light from the south so we hoisted our G2 genneker. Today we went even slower at a lazy 3 knots. I suspected Rob was a bit unimpressed with our lack of speed as he started to scrub the decks, but happy too.

Leaving Lamlash Bay

Sailing away from Holy Island

Happy sailor in gentle conditions.

The genneker was doused, and the engine started just outside Ardrossan. After a quick call to harbour control for permission to enter, we passed through the outer harbour and into the marina located in the inner harbour. NJ was tied up securely in the berth by 14:35, after a very leisurely and pleasant 4 hours or so.
Ardrossan Marina

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Lamlash Bay and Holy Island - May 14th

We left Troon Marina and had a pleasant sail fairly hard on the wind over to Lamlash Bay. With a distance of only 15nm we were in no hurry so enjoyed a leisurely 4 to 5 knots whilst taking in the views.

Happy sailing

Holy Island with Goat Fell on Arran in the background.

Sailing into Lamlash Bay

We entered Lamlash Bay via the North Channel and decided to anchor for the night just off the Buddhist Retreat on Holy Island. It seemed a good place for a retreat, very cut off from the rest of the world as there were no signals for the radio, television, mobile phone or wi-fi dongle. We were expecting to be a bit out of touch once in Scottish waters so had bought a sat phone. It was reassuring to find no urgent messages on it as Rob's Mum was not well.

The Buddhist Retreat on Holy Island

Saturday, 24 May 2014


We weighed anchor at 9.30 and by 10.50 were leaving Loch Ryan heading north. The visibility was good as we could see Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre. The wind was light from the west so we were motoring with the main up.

Looking south down the coast towards the Mull of Galloway

About midday we had a timing error on our main navigational system of approximately half an hour, initially causing us to have quite a debate as to whether it was time to have lunch and then more seriously doubt the positional accuracy of the chart plotter. A couple of full system resets put the problem right. The only explanation Rob could think of was the possibility of a military jamming exercise interfering with our system.

As we progressed north the scenery was becoming more interesting with Ailsa Craig on the way and other highlands and islands appearing. Just after four we were passing to the east of Lady Isle. Seals on the Half Tide Rock were singing, a slightly eerie sound as if they have belly ache after too much fish to eat. Another seal poked its head up out of the water in the entrance of Troon harbour when we arrived. By 17.20 we were moored in the marina.

Ailsa Craig

Troon Marina

We stayed two nights at Troon so we could provision the boat and catch up with chores. A walk revealed the pavements in the area to be strangely strewn with bark. We soon discovered a constant stream of log wagons to the local sawmill and the heady smell of freshly sawn wood. We were impressed by the extent of the operation.

Loch Ryan - Scotland here we come.

On Sunday 11th May the wind was fair for us to sail across the North Channel to Scotland. The tide would also help push us up to the northern end of the Mull of Galloway. We left at 9.30am and after a little drizzle the visibility cleared ahead for us to see the Scottish Coast. By 14.30 we were rounding Corsewell Point and heading into Loch Ryan. At 16.20 we anchored in The Wig, a sheltered anchorage on the west side of the Loch about 3.5nm north of Stranraer. The waters of the Loch were familiar to us as we had dinghy sailed whilst staying in a holiday cottage overlooking the Loch back in 2007. It was wonderful to fulfil a dream of spending the night at anchor in our own boat in the Loch.

Rounding Corsewell Point

At anchor in The Wig, Loch Ryan

View of our 2007 holiday cottage whilst at anchor.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Carrickfergus - May 9th to 11th

Despite a F6 in the forecast we were happy to make the short hop across Belfast Lough to Carrickfergus.
Motoring into a brisk breeze across Belfast Lough.

Our arrival at Carrickfergus coincided with a ceremony to commemorate the D-Day landings. It was entertaining to hear bagpipes playing and see the return of boats from wreath laying in the Lough. 

 D-Day Celebrations at Carrickfergus

The view from our berth in Carrickfergus Marina

Our stop at Carrickfergus also coincided with the Giro d'Italia cycle race. As keen cycling fans we were looking forward to seeing a bit of the action. Conveniently the cyclists were due to pass down the main road within 500 yards of the marina. Ten minutes before the race was due the sun was shining  and we were in place for a good view up and down the road. Then it started to pour with rain, the umbrellas went up and our view was all but obscured. The roar of the crowd as the cyclists flashed by was quite an experience.

 Carrickfergus Castle.

Crowd waiting for the Giro d'Italia cycle race to arrive in Carrickfergus.

The rain seemed to follow the cyclists all day!


Bangor - May 6th to 8th

The inshore waters forecast was for south or southwest 4 or 5 increasing 6 for a time in far southeast. Heading down wind in a F6 should not give us any cause for concern. Tidal considerations required us to leave Ardglass after midday to catch fair tide up the coast later in the day.

As we set off it was bright and sunny and we were soon sailing in a F5 with full main and slightly reduced genoa. Over the afternoon the wind increased and we reduced our sail area. Further up the coast required a course change to a more down wind point of sailing.  The main was taken down and we continued, albeit a bit slower, with just the genoa up. The sea was increasing and we did not want to risk an involuntary gybe. The wind was gusting F7, a bit more than we were expecting.

Heading for Donaghadee Sound the wind died, the engine was turned on and with a fair tide under us a maximum SOG of 9.2 knots was achieved. Just after 19.00 hours we were tucked up in marina berth in Bangor, feeling very lucky not to have got wet from the rain which had been forecast.

Bangor was our first new port of call this year so we spent a couple of days exploring. Shopping was easy as the marina was located at the end of the main high street and we had a nice walk along the coast to the west. I was charmed by the local feathered residents, black guillemots nesting on the marina harbour wall. It was a real treat to see them diving and flying under water.

  Bangor Marina Office.

 Black guillemots nesting on the harbour wall by the Marina Office.

 Entrance to Bangor Marina.

Coastal path west of Bangor looking west.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Departing Deganwy

Rob has been busy as his Mum has not been so well, hence I (his other half) am writing the blog. We thoroughly enjoyed our overwintering in Deganwy Marina. Many a good walk was had along the coast, looking out over the sea and wondering where our next adventure would take us.

On Friday 2nd May we left our marina berth just after midday and motor sailed with our new blue genneker up along the north Anglesey coast. The wind was light and dying but with a tide increasing in our favour we made good progress to Cemmaes Bay where we anchored for the night.

First outing of new genneker sailing south towards Beaumaris before our departure.

The next day we were ready to leave Cemmaes Bay just after eight in the morning. A few expletives later and Rob informed me he couldn't start the engine as the new ignition key had broken off in the switch. We suspected it had been knocked and bent the previous day. My mind was racing ahead thinking about how to get back into port without an engine. I need not have worried as ten minutes later there was the happy sound of our engine running. We were soon on course for Ardglass in Northern Ireland.

Again the wind was light so we motor sailed with the blue genneker up. Just before midday the wind picked up and we switched the engine off. Over the rest of the afternoon the wind steadily increased to F5, necessitating several changes in sail plan, to die again in the early evening. With sixty four nautical miles logged we arrived in Ardglass.

This was our second visit to Ardglass so we were comfortable in knowing where to shop, walk and eat out in the rather good local Chinese restaurant. We were not disappointed with our meal on our return. We had two nights in Ardglass whilst some stronger winds blew through and were reminded of the dangers that can be faced at sea when another yacht came in with one of their coachroof windows smashed.

Ardglass Marina