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Archive of entries posted on April 2007

To The South Coast






To The South Coast

Originally uploaded by arctica.

We reached the South Coast in two more legs – Howth to Arklow to Kilmore Quay. Lack of wind meant motoring down to Arklow, but we were aided by a 2.5+kts tide and arrived in harbour an hour ahead of schedule. It’s a river harbour and we tied up at the Sailing Club pontoon on the north bank. Hardly half a mile out the next morning our propellor was fouled by a floating line trailing from a lobster pot buoy. The rope cutter did its stuff but we were left trailing 30m of line and the buoy. Unable to free it off from the prop/rudder we had to cut it adrift. The passage down to and round Carnsore Point, the SE extremity of Ireland, was an exercise in buoy hopping in the haze. The coast is lined with offshore banks and shoals and we kept outside all these dangers, which are well marked with navigational buoys. Making west from Carnsore Point, we crossed St Patrick’s Bridge (a narrow, shallow gap in the reef between the Saltee Islands and the shore) and put in to Kilmore Quay, a busy fishing port with a small marina which welcomes visitors.

Kilkeel to Howth




Kilkeel to Howth

Originally uploaded by arctica.

We left Kilkeel Abruptly at 0830 when the dredger crew turned up ready to go out. As we left harbour, there were lovely views astern to the Mourne Mountains – small maybe in Scottish terms but attractive nonetheless. It was a fine day with a quartering Force 4/5 wind so we put a reef in the mainsail and enjoyed a forty mile sail down to Howth, at the NE corner of Dublin Bay. En route we passed the isolated skerry of Rockabill, the green island of Lambay, and the rocky and reef-strewn islet of Ireland’s Eye (derivation not known). Howth harbour is in two parts – a trawler dock and a yacht marina – so we took an overnight berth in the latter, enjoying a snooze in the sunshine after tying up.

Stopped and Searched






Stopped and Searched

Originally uploaded by arctica.

After spending a day at Portavogie while strong winds moderated, we
resumed our progress south on a fine day with scarcely a breeze. On
leaving harbour, we saw that we had got within 200m of our landfall in the fog – so near but so far away! We gave a friendly wave to HM Customs cutter “Sentinel” which passed by. Shortly afterwards, her RIB (rigid inflatable boat) raced up from astern with four burly, black-clad heavies aboard – not the sort to be tangled with. However, they were polite and charming as we were boarded, searched and questioned.
Whatever they were looking for they didn’t find, and we were soon left in peace again. We spent the night at Kilkeel, a busy fishing port with a long, narrow entrance leading to a fully sheltered inner basin, where we tied up alongside the harbour dredger at the harbourmaster’s behest. We enjoyed a stroll round the town before dining out in ther cockpit – our first alfresco meal of the season – on a beautiful evening.

Thick Fog




Thick Fog

Originally uploaded by arctica.

We left Bangor in the afternoon when the wind had moderated and the sun had appeared, and went south through the Donaghadee Sound. Soon a light mist obscured the sun and we were gradually enveloped in a thickening fog. Given confidence from picking up an offshore fairway buoy in the fog after three miles on a compass course, we continued for another four miles. On checking our GPS position, we knew we were very close to Portavogie Harbour but could not make out any shoreline. Then breaking water and surface rocks were sighted close to in shallowing water, and we were not happy. Having only a passage (not detailed) chart we decided there was no case for casting about in such conditions, and got on the VHF to contact a fishing boat which was harbour bound under radar. She directed us out into safe water, steamed up astern, and led us into harbour – the pierhead looming up out of the fog at 100m distance. When the fog thinned, we found this fine fellow standing at the harbour head.

Heading South




Heading South

Originally uploaded by arctica.

It was quite a day going down to Bangor, punching into a Force 7 wind against tide. The passage took five hours when three would have sufficed in normal conditions. Despite the drizzle, we enjoyed views of the low sea cliffs and green fields of the Antrim coastline. Crossing Belfast Lough was particularly rough, and it was good to get into the shelter of the large marina, although our berthing maqnoeuvre was rather inelegant due to the strong crosswind. Bangor is a pleasant, prosperous seaside town with good shops and services.

Landfall NI




Landfall NI

Originally uploaded by arctica.

We crossed the North Channel to Northern Ireland and put in at the small marina at Glenarm. Unfortunately we had to motor all the way against a SW headwind. On arrival we were welcomed by a cheery attendant who took our lines, details and berthing fee and pointed us in the direction of a lovely forest walk in the glen – one of the Nine Glens of Antrim. Showing us the toilets, which would have been a credit to any West of Scotland harbour, he opined that they were somewhat dated – describing them in his Irish way as being “new for too long”.

Problems, problems




Problems, problems

Originally uploaded by arctica.

A few unexpected problems with engine recommissioning delayed our launch for the season by a couple of weeks. Frustrating – not because time was critical, but the continuing exceptionally fine weather was giving summer temperatures in early April. At last all was put together again with no bits left over, and off we set from Dumbarton. The first short leg was down to Millport, then on to Campbeltown the next day. There we sat out a day of strong winds when the Sanda ferry was unable to reach the island.