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Archive of entries posted on August 2008

Rathlin to Oban




Rathlin to Oban | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Our second attempt at crossing to Islay was different – instead of too
much wind we had too little and had to motorsail. Unfortunately, steady
rain started at Port Ellen so none of us ventured ashore. Ann left on
the ferry to Kennacraig the next morning and the three of us left
shortly thereafter, ghosting through the Ardmore Islands inside passage
and catching a good haul of mackerel before picking up a fair wind for
Craighouse, Jura. From there we had a cracking sail up the Sound of Jura
to Ardfern, where we anchored and went ashore for a drink in the Galley
of Lorne inn. After a peaceful night we got away to catch the flood tide
through the Dorus Mor and Sound of Luing, turning west for a first visit
to the Black Islands, where we lunched in the good anchorage. A planned
landing on the Garvellachs was abandoned when we found the Garbh Eileach
anchorage to be tiny with no swinging room, so we made on to Oban, where
we moored as usual on a vacant mooring just off the esplanade. A trip
ashore saw us restocked for the final week of cruising, with lift-out
booked at Dumbarton for Thursday 4 September.

Portrush and Ballycastle




Portrush and Ballycastle | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Sailing past the Giant’s Causeway (unimpressive from seaward – dwarfed
by columnar cliffs along the north Antrim coast) we reached Portrush,
and dined at the much-recommended Harbour Bistro – liked the food but
not the two hour wait for it. Next day we took the train to Londonderry
and walked round the old city walls, visited the siege museum and
browsed the second-hand bookshops and charity shops. A poor weather
forecast ruled out rounding Malin Head so we stayed another day in
Portrush. Mike and the Skipper accepted an invitation to crew on a
racing yacht, which was fun but wet in a Force 7 wind. Continuing
westerlies made us abandon plans to go out west to Tory Island, so we
headed back east to Ballycastle, an attractive resort with a smallish
marina. After strong overnight winds the forecast of SW 5-7 was ideal
for sailing north to Islay, and we set off with barely 10kts of wind
registering. However it blew up suddenly, and in no time we had a W 7
gusting 8 with big seas from wind over strong tide, and a small tear
appeared in the reefed headsail. We turned and ran downwind into
Rathlin, where we await better conditions before continuing north.

Rathlin Island




Rathlin Island | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

With Mike and Ann aboard, our destination on a lunchtime departure from
Campbeltown was Rathlin, making use of the ebb tide through the North
Channel. A northerly 5 gusting 6 gave us a stirring sail down to Sanda
Sound, but we then decided to spare Ann (not a happy sailor) the longer
haul and put in for the night at Sanda south anchorage, tucked under
‘The Ship’ lighthouse,well sheltered from the sea running outside. The
demands of tide saw us on our way again in darkness at 0415 into a
westerly breeze, with rough seas at first until clear of the Mull of
Kintyre. Thereafter the crossing was easy, but requiring a huge course
offset to allow for the strong cross-tide. At Rue Point, the S end of
Rathlin, and slightly behind schedule, we ran into a 5kt tide race and
spent most of an hour clawing our way through to slack water and into
the shelter of the breakwaters to tie up alongside the pontoon at 0915.
After a hearty breakfast and catching up a couple of hours sleep we went
ashore for walks. Rathlin is an attractive island, popular with day
trippers who are soon left behind as you walk quiet roads bordering
fields of black cattle fattening on the lush grass. There is a bird
reserve, but a trip there will have to await our next visit.

Bangor and Glenarm




Bangor and Glenarm | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

We spent a day in Bangor, taking it easy and visiting the many charity
shops and the excellent second-hand bookshop. A pint of Guinness in The
Black Boat Bar went down well. At night, the Skipper returned for the
live music but was disappointed to find it was not traditional Irish.
However, in the back room at Fealty’s Bar there was a good going
session with flute, banjo, 3 fiddles, mandolin and guitar. They were
happy for a moothie to join them and the music went on until 2am. A wet
and windy forecast induced us to stay for a second day, but the actual
weather was not so bad although heavy rain started in late afternoon and
continued through the night, causing widespread flooding throughout
Northern Ireland. Today we sailed to Glenarm with its charming little
marina and helpful harbourmaster. We walked the three miles to Carnlough
and confirmed that its small harbour (photo) has no room for a visiting
yacht. Tomorrow we head for Campbeltown to be joined by Mike and Ann for
a spell.

Girvan and Portpatrick




Girvan and Portpatrick | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Heading SE to Girvan with a reef in the sails, we had a S5/6 to give us
a stirring sail with Ailsa Craig acting as route marker. With a little
lee provided by the shore, the seas off the harbour entrance were
somewhat reduced and we were sheltered by the breakwater before crossing
the sand bar, with 3ft of water to spare, into the harbour. The town,
like many a fishing/seaside resort, has a run down air – boarded up
shops, downmarket offerings and little sign of reinvestment – but is in
a nice setting with low green hills behind. We moved south to
Portpatrick (photo) on a windless day, and into the small harbour with
its tight and twisting entrance without difficulty. On a hot summer’s
day the place was alive with visitors – kids on the beach and fishing
from rocks, outdoor tables for food and drink, an amusement arcade and
folk strolling everywhere. The next leg took us SW across the North
Channel to Bangor, Co Down with Ireland’s self proclaimed best marina,
where we are spending two nights. Bangor is a prosperous town with well
developed tourism and a good range of facilities.

Music… at last!




Music… at last | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

It was a lively evening in Port Ellen as we played in the Ardview Inn -
including a bit of highland dancing in the tiny lounge bar. While Seol na
Mara sailed for Rathlin, we spent the next day on Islay, bussing to
Portnahaven, a very pretty village centred round a shallow harbour. The two
boats met up again at Sanda (off the Mull of Kintyre) on Friday evening for
the Bowling Harbour Ceilidh Band weekend at the Byron Darnton inn, and were
joined by Mike who had spent most of the day bussing over from Fife. Sanda
is a lovely little island, more Hebridean than Clyde, with an excellent pub
serving good food, letting cottages, bunkhouse and camping space. It is
popular with the local worthies from Southend, who come and go in all states
of inebriation in a variety of ribs and speedboats. We had a weekend of
music, song and drink, punctuated by an overnight SE gale, which saw a
number of yachts leaving in the early morning – but the holding is excellent
and we rode it out comfortably. On Sunday afternoon, after a final outdoor
session in the sunshine, we sailed off to Campbeltown and later saw Mike off
on the bus for home.

Jura and Islay




Jura and Islay | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

The regatta comprised four sailing dinghies and six rowing boats -
hardly the stuff of Cowes Week – but great fun was had by all. In the
evening, entertainment was provided by “The Wherries”, a three man
outfit who were big on audience participation. The ensuing dance with
“Skerryvore” started at 0145 (!!), and their six-man full-on
amplification in the small hall was so overpowering that we left after a
couple of sets. The next day we caught the tide through the Sound of
Islay and went into Loch Tarbert, Jura and spent the rest of the day
aboard in intermittent rain. The morning proved brighter, encouraging
the Skipper to don his boots for the three-Marilyn round of Scrinadle,
Corra Bheinn and Beinn Bhreac. At 10pm we spotted Seol na Mara going in
to anchor at the narrows, spoke on the VHF, and joined her in the
morning for a wee refreshment. We then sailed in company down through
the Sound of Islay to the Ardmore Islands, a favourite anchorage of both
skippers, where we enjoyed a joint dinner followed by a ceilidh. Today
we left together in thick drizzle for Port Ellen, where we are berthed
in the neat marina, restocking with food and drink.

Crinan to Jura




Crinan to Jura | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

After a short visit home, we travelled back to Crinan by bus and taxi
to resume our summer cruise. The Canal has been closed for two weeks
pending a temporary repair to the Crinan sea lock where the sill has
collapsed, preventing one of the gates from seating properly. As a
result, many holiday sailors are having to round the Mull of Kintyre for
the first time. Today we left Goat Island in Loch Craignish and headed
down the Sound of Jura. Initially misty and atmospheric, it became foggy
then rained steadily so we only persevered as far as Craighouse, Jura
where we picked up a visitors mooring. Later on the weather improved,
the Paps of Jura lost their cloud cover and patches of blue sky
appeared. In the evening we were treated to a display of flying by a
light aircraft which came over the bay, did a couple of circuits and
tight turns at mast height, and buzzed a large motor boat before
disappearing. Among the boats here for the night are a another Westerly
Corsair and a Fastnet 34 “Skibbereen”. We learned there is a small boat
regatta here tomorrow (the new dinghy pontoon was officially opened
today) so we may decide to stay, watch the fun and go to the ceilidh in
the village hall.