So what happened since the last post in Dublin? Quite a lot and the problem has been getting connectivity. We have an iPad but I can’t cope with editing this blog on that device. Anyway, we are now in Liverpool having arrived here at 0900 this morning. We planned to be here a week ago but the weather has been against us. Those readers who live in the south of the UK will know how foul its been and how much rain there was in April (wettest on record, apparently). What many won’t have appreciated is how consistent the winds have been from the north and north east and how strong they have been. We have spent the last week sheltering in the Menai Strait. Ironically when we left the NE end of the strait last night at just past midnight there was very little wind and we motored the 47Nm to Liverpool. I have rarely arrived in the land of my birth by sea and it is certainly a fine way to do it, even on a flat grey morning (I was born in Birkenhead).
Whilst in Liverpool I hooked up with a bunch of old friends who I had gone to college with. Accompanied by our wives we ate together on Saturday night…
It was the crew’s birthday today! We celebrated by taking friends out on the Mersey in what must be said were fairly poor conditions. With wind over tide there was a good sea running and with rain becoming increasingly irritating we locked back in about 1230 and had lunch on board in the marina. Our youngest son, Ben, joined us for the evening having travelled from London via Manchester. Really nice to see him.
Peel, isle of Man
Just a quick note as I sit in The Creek (its a pub) on Peel harbour side waiting for the laundry to do. We crossed from Liverpool on Tuesday 8 May and arrived at Port St Mary by Wednesday lunchtime. Quite a slow crossing with periods of no wind. We left Port St Mary on Saturday afternoon and sailed round to Peel (well motor sailed, anyway). We are currently waiting for the wind to drop before crossing to Northern Ireland and Strangford Lough. This is Peel Castle……
Peel to Strangford Lough
Crossed to Ireland for the second time on this trip. This time our destination was Strangford Lough. The crossing was uneventful and a good days sail was had by both. The Lough is lovely and well worth the time taken to visit.
After a night at anchor we motored round to have a look at the Down Cruising Club. What a lovely welcome! Although we had only intended to stay for the day we were made so welcome we stayed overnight.
As you can see DCC have an old lightship for a clubhouse. Unfortunately, as it was mid week, the bar wasn’t open so we went to Daft Eddies, a short walk away, and enjoyed some excellent Irish real ale.
Having left Strangford Lough on Thursday morning we spent the night at anchor off Copeland Island at the entrance to Belfast Lough. The wind allowed us to sail away from the anchorage and most of the way to the Belfast port limit. By 1300 we were alongside at the city marina, a short walk from the new Titanic Experience building….
The “experience” is well worth a visit and does an extremely good job of explaining the history of Belfast and how Harland and Wolf have been a major part of it.
Tonight’s stop is the lovely Rathlin island at the NE corner of Ireland. I have a fondness for small islands and Rathlin doesn’t disappoint. The people are most welcoming and even when I couldn’t get any cash to pay for a round in the pub no one was concerned. Sheryl ended up paying!
Isle of Gigha
As far as I am concerned Gigha is a mandatory stop on any cruise of the West coast of Scotland. It is a complete delight and this visit easily lived up to expectations. The weather is warm at last and the bluebells were out at Achamore gardens……
A very quick update to let all our avid readers know we are alive and well and cruising in the land of my fathers. The weather is absolutely perfect with hot sunny days coupled with up to 25 kits of wind and no sea – amazing. I’ll hopefully get this site up to date when we get to Arisaig next Thursday.
A quick dit – we ran out of diesel two days ago and I am now well practised at anchoring under sail, weighing anchor under sail, sailing alongside a pontoon and bleeding air out of a Volvo diesel engine!
Isle of Coll
A decent internet connection at last! What a day we’ve had today! We were anchored on the north side of the Ross of Mull last night. This morning the weather was grey overcast and very little wind. We set off under sail towards Staffa, of Fingal’s cave fame, and after an hour or so of 1-2 Kt drifting motored the last five miles and anchored off, close to the entrance to the cave.
We then launched the dinghy and went inside Fingal’s cave…
After the cave we continued north and anchored off the Tresnish Isles. This is the home of a large Puffin colony and again we launched the dinghy to take a stroll around. Puffins are amazingly tame birds and you can walk to within 2-3 feet of them. I’m no naturalist but it appeared they were in the nest building stage of the breeding season. They live in burrows and on Lunga appear to co-habit with rabbits!
Once back on board we set course for Coll, about 8 miles north. Again we were motoring over an absolutely flat calm sea. Apart from lots of birds there wasn’t much in the way of sea life with the exception of a solitary seal about 3 miles south of Coll. That was until we got close to Arinagour. As we approached we could see what appeared to be lots of fins in the water. Indeed there were and we were soon in the midst of a large group of basking sharks! Sheryl counted 20 and there may have been more. The largest was about 20 feet long and most seemed to be 12-15 feet. They seemed completely relaxed about us and not even very bothered by the engine. We spent about 30 minutes drifting amongst them as they swam slowly around feeding on plankton.
So the main reason for stopping at Coll was to see an ex-Lockheed Martin colleague of mine, Ian Rae. I should have booked! Ian was away on the mainland but his wife, Gill was most welcoming and showed me their new house…Gill was also kind enough to show me something of the north end of their lovely island home, thanks Gill!