Hello Crazysails friends
In our last blog post we mentioned we had reached the stunningly beautiful Carlingford Lough; in this post we want to tell you a little bit about our sail to and stay in Carlingford, our last destination in the Republic of Ireland and our next sail up to Bangor, which is situated just inside Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland. During these two trips we had the best sail of the trip so far – not the fastest but the longest and most consistent but we also had the most lethargic and slow motor sail of all.
Tuesday 4 July
Dun Laoghaire (53.29 44 degrees North 6.13 39 degrees West) to Carlingford Lough (54.05 38 degrees North 6.13 84 degrees West).
On leaving Dun Laoghaire, the weather was cold and overcast, the wind was a light south easterly and the rain was either threatening from dark clouds or spotting on and off. What a contrast from three weeks ago – sunshine, pleeease come back!
A friend had mentioned Howth to us but unfortunately we didn’t make it round to the small fishing town on the northern pensinsula of the Dublin Bay. We did, however get to round the lighthouse which clings to a rock at the cliff edge and marks the end of the channel we were taking, going north to Bangor. I practiced taking photos with my new camera and was pleased with the results. I then realised I had taken rather a lot of photos of different lighthouses and am just hoping I can tell the difference when we get back; I suspect this could be tricky but here are a few for you to see, starting with Howth, then who knows where…
The Irish Gap
This was explained to us at DL Marina as a gap in the tidal flows between the north and the south of Ireland. At this point and for some distance in the Irish Sea outside Dun Laoghaire there is no tidal effect at all – the tide is either to the north going up by the Scottish Islands or to the south. This meant that although we took into account the notional high water and left shortly before this to hit slack water and pick up the tide going north, there was actually very little tide at all in this middle bit and our speed was therefore much slower than it had been on previous journeys, only averaging 6 knots). On the other hand the wind was constant and from a good direction for us, so we were able to sail the whole way – all 8.5 hours and 52 miles with only slight tweaks to the mainsail and genoa. In addition, the autohelm played ball so, other than keeping watch for rocks, the dreaded lobster pots, other vessels or floating things than shouldn’t be in the sea, we could relax, enjoy the standard tuna and pasta salad for lunch and enjoy a good sail in the chilly weather – trying not to think of the sunshine now out in our home waters of the Solent!
Kairos crew on watch……and not on watch!
On arrival in Carlingford, we were stunned by the beauty of the surroundings. The low lying cloud that was floating around the top of the mountains soon drifted away to reveal the a scene more akin to the Swiss Alps or possibly some of the Lake District areas, than we imagined in Ireland. To the north of the lough, ‘the beautiful Mountains of Mourne roll down to the sea, just as in the song, while to the south, the village of Carlingford is situated at the base of Carlingford Mountain and Slieve Foye. The lough itself, was serene and calm and, once in through a rather ramshackle harbour wall, the marina turned out to be a little haven of tranquility with super friendly staff and a wonderful Indian restaurant and bar run by the equally friendly Singh family. Thanks to Jonny from the Marina office who took our photo with our National Autistic Society banner to share on their Facebook pages and website and also took pity on me, letting me use the internet near his office, so I didn’t have to sit in the ladies toilets trying to get online anymore – another weird office location for me! Later we sat in the bar on comfy sofas, enjoying the view and using some more internet time – got to grab it while you can! Thanks to the Singh family for delicious food and hospitality and if you are ever in Carlingford do visit the SITAR RESTAURANT – deeelicious!
The village of Carlingford is a small, very attractive medieval village situated on the south side of the Lough. The Lough marks the boundary between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and Carlingford is at the furthest end of the Southern Irish side. It’s history is clear with evidence of its medieval past visible in its castle remains and other old buildings which stand side by side with traditional Irish pubs and a number of restaurants and other small shops. Jonny, from the marina, had recommended PJs in the Anchor as a refreshment stop, so we popped in to test it out and, of course, Simon had the mandatory Guiness just to wash down the few oysters he also decided to try! All were declared delicious – by him!, I am NOT an oyster lover, this feeling of revulsion at the slimy stuff is also felt by many other female friends as evident from feedback on my Facebook post – I do declare there could be a bit of a boy/girl split here (sorry Amanda, who also loves them). After Guinness and oysters we had a little wander round the back lanes of Carlingford and across the park, where we happened upon the public toilets, which looked for all the world like one of those little houses (a weather house?) where the woman comes out if its going to be sunny and the man if its going to rain – we decided to act out this scene (I know, odd) much to the amusement of the local Irish girls, who took our photo as seen below. Simon says this will sound very dodgy to readers, so I apologise but it was actually just a funny, silly moment – rather like the face painting in Dublin; maybe we’ve been at sea too long!
Carlingford Lough to Bangor (Belfast Lough)
Thursday 6 July
We said goodbye to Carlingford Lough at a civilised 09.30, which was an hour before high water. We had timed our departure to catch the start of the tide going north but were prepared for a day of motor sailing as there was barely any wind at all. We reached the end of the channel out of the lough itself, an hour later, popped up the mainsail to get the most out of the very light east/south easterly winds (which were totally against the forecast and should have been westerly) and set off. The sea was flat as flat can be and there was actually very little tide at all, so combined with light winds we again made slow progress again averaging 6 knots, even with the motor on. You could call it a leisurely sail, you could also call it a lethargic sail, it was an odd dreamlike journey which, once we had left behind the beautiful Mountains of Mourne had a flat, uninspiring shoreline and absolutely no wildlife to keep us occupied; we only passed one other boat too. It was in this slightly trancelike state that we passed Strangford Lough and then the islands which marked the entry into Belfast Lough. There was one near crisis when we discovered we have almost drank the ship dry – down to our last tea bag, out of wine and even down to the last spoonful of Simon’s coffee! We definitely needed civilisation and a shop!
After a 65 mile run (our third longest of the trip) entering into Belfast Lough and then into Bangor was a welcome and delightful surprise, with rows of brightly coloured three and four storey Victorian and Georgian townhouses lining the shore and up into the gentle hills above. Boats were out sailing and the marina was welcoming with generous sizes pontoon berths, electricity, super-duper internet – and the showers were fantastic – more about showers and marinas generally later; there’s lots to say! The town itself is adorned with flowers and flags and has all the UK shops such as Asda, Boots, B&M and, with a move back to sterling, union jacks in the street and the God Save the Queen banners up the High Street, it’s clear we have moved away from southern Ireland and back to a part of the UK.
All being well, we leave for Scotland tomorrow, so our trip to Bangor has been short and sweet but so far, so good. Simon managed to get some emergency supplies last night after we arrived (wine and tea) but we have now done some proper supplies shopping, so it’s a bit of work, dinner and a general tidy up before we say farewell to Ireland (North and South) and head off to the land of whisky, tartan and haggis – look out Scotland, the Kairos sassenach sailors are on their way!
Campbeltown, Mull of Kintyre, here we come!