Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Irish Landfall

The Titanic Exhibition Building
I am sitting in the cabin, listening to the rain on the roof and the wind howling in the rigging as “an unseasonal storm” (as the weather forecaster put it) passes through. The tent is erected giving me more living space and the fan heater is plugged into shore power to dry me out. This morning, I left Vagabond to her own devices in the marina at Bangor and went off to the Titanic experience in nearby Belfast. It was well worth the visit, tracing the history of the town industries and taking to the building yard to experience the making and the launching of the ship. It wouldn’t be complete without mention of the sinking but that is not the major part of the story. Excellent. Beats stuff at Epcot in Florida.
The only snag is that I had to go by rail and the train station is about a half mile walk from the centre. The heavens opened on my way back and I’m just recovering.

Peel Marina

Another digression from the main story, I’m afraid. We* had arrived on the Isle of Man and moved up to Peel, where a day or so of gales had kept us fretting on the pontoon.
At last, the weather eased to a nice 4 -5 Southerly wind, which would be just right to move us Nor’Nor’ West (300 deg True) up to Bangor. That tide gate across the harbour would be open at 08:30 just right to catch the tide in the same direction. We were ready. And then I checked the bilges. Brown water. Where’s that come from (the marina was in a river, conceivably it could be from that. Help, we’re sinking.
 Frantic sponging cleared it out and then I thought the smell was familiar. The Coke can (that I had bought for the teetol one of the architect couple that visited in Ramsgate ) looked a bit odd. It had exploded/corroded and emptied into the bilge. Phew! Panic over.
Through the gate, into the bay. Up with the sails and set course. The wind dies. Freddie comes on and we resume course.
He turned away
We were soon out of the wind shadow and Freddie was subdued. We whizzed along at over 6 knots as the wind and tide drove us NNW. Rain showers appeared all round us but missed. Trawlers ploughed furrows in the sea bed across our bows. I was just thinking of taking avoiding action round one, when he turned round and fled back the way he had come.
Scotland was sighted away in the North East and the Isle of Man disappeared in the haze behind.
The Isle of Man recedes

A yacht was sighted astern, slowly overhauling us.
But where was Ireland?
Thunder clouds towered to the West.  Still no sign of Ireland. By now, the GPS thinks it’s about 5 miles away. The boat speed drops off as the tide starts to turn south. The other yacht passes us and drops his sails.
There’s Ireland. The main bit is away on the port side and ahead of us is the little Island and the passage between it and the mainland that is our shortest route.
By now the tide is pushing against us. I roll of the jib and pull Freddie into life. The yacht ahead pitches and rolls as she enters that turbulent water in the passage. ‘He’s twice the size of us’, I think, ‘This is going to be interesting’ and crank the throttle open some more. Freddie now barks defiantly. I hope he keeps going. We’re in the channel. First we’re set towards rocks to port as the sail and Freddie drag us past them (our ground speed goes down to less than 3kn at one point). Then we’re set to starboard towards the other set of rocks. We gybe. Ouch.
Finally we drag ourselves clear. The water smooths out. Freddie is silenced once more and the sails take us down Belfast Lough towards the marina at Bangor. 

47 miles (mostly under sail), average speed 5.2 kn, max speed 8.7 kn - doesn't a good tide help!

I secure us alongside and tidy up, "putting the ship to bed” before reporting to the Marina office. Here, I discover that in the loo block includes a BATHROOM, with a BATH. I emerge after a half hour soak. Just what I needed.
Then I was ready for the Titanic.
The rain has stopped. It’s time to go outside again.

* By the way, the other of my readers has asked for clarification of the term “we”. Did I mean the crew? No. “We”, unless otherwise stated, means Vagabond and I. That’s quite enough for me to deal with.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure how you erect a tent in a marina! On the concrete, in a nearby field or on deck!!!!!!!!