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Competition time for Crazysails friends as Simon goes native in Scotland!

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Welcome back Crazysails friends

We thought before we get talking about our latest adventures, we would tell you about our Scottish themed quiz, which we hope lots of you Crazysails followers will enter. If you remember our Irish quiz, which was won by Chris and Carole from Kent, you may have been wondering what we have in store for our Scottish quiz. Well, we have three easy questions for Crazysails followers to complete to go into a draw to win a mystery prize with a Scottish theme.

These are:

  1. What tartan is Simon modelling (so glamorously) in the photos?
  2. What animal is the symbol for Scotland?
  3. How many miles will we have completed by the time we reach the Corpach entrance to the Caledonian Canal. (Predicted log)

Answers to be sent to me (Helen) by Messenger or email: hw.mozaic@outlook.com or texted to either of us, if you have our numbers (sorry we are not putting them on Facebook or in the blog) by 12pm Wednesday 27th July. All we ask is that everyone who enters could share the blog and the information about our challenge to support the National Autistic Society with as many others as possible and if you would like to make a donation to our JustGiving page, that would be amazing too; if you already have, our continued thanks for your support.

We hope you like the images of Simon all dressed up in Scottish dress. I’m rather jealous that his legs look better than mine in a skirt and I think he rather enjoyed it too. Thanks to Mary, Jane and Kirsty at Chalmers of Oban, who kindly dressed him – so he could fulfil a fantasy and we could have a question for our next quiz!

Now back to the travel log:

Crinan to Ardfern:  Friday 15 July

Crazysails readers will remember how much we said we loved Crinan and the stunning panorama of the islands that opened up as we looked out from the canal basin – as Mary Poppins said “practically perfect, in every way”. The following day, a beautiful morning dawned with the early sunshine casting magical reflections in the water. Although we would like to have stayed another day, we decided we needed to press on and so we set off for Ardfern.

We were in the first lock out of the morning at 9am and set out heading north for what was to be our shortest journey of the trip, just over an hour to reach Loch Craignish and Ardfern Marina.

The reason we were heading for Ardfern, which was so close by, was that the marina there had been recommended as somewhere with a good boatyard that could possibly help with the electrical problem we had with our instruments. The problem began with our echo sounder, which tells us the depth of water and is therefore quite important when there is the possibility of hidden rocks. Next the wind instrument stopped working, for no clear reason; this tells us the direction and strength of the wind and helps time sail changes and whether we need to reef down the sail. Finally, the GPS repeater, which shows our position, direction and speed as a one display summary stopped working. All of this information can be gained from other sources, by experience, instinct and close chart work. There was no clear reason why these problems occurred and Simon (chief engineer as well as skipper) had tested his electrical skills to the max, taken the boat to bits and exposed wires we didn’t know we had (to my dismay) and was totally flummoxed, so we welcomed Andrew from Ardfern Marina to help solve the problems. After some 3 days, some wiring changes, a replacement echo sounder and moving the boat to somewhere with less electrical interference (all completed under the cockpit enclosure due to driving rain and gales) we were all fit to go again, so, many many thanks to Andrew for his patience and help and support for our challenge.

We actually ended up staying in Ardern for almost a week as the wind was wild and, not being foolish or desperate to leave, we opted to stay on for an extra few nights until conditions improved. At one point our (now working) wind indicator recorded wind speeds of 41-44 knots – I just managed to catch some of these on film. The gusts were so strong that some of our fenders were squashed but the marina staff were great and lent us some of their big storm fenders. Eventually, it blew itself out and we felt ready to take advantage of a weather break and move on to our next destination.

For sailors considering a stop off in the Ardfern area on Lake Craignish, it is well worth a stop. With a lovely setting, good pontoons, an excellent chandlery, really helpful staff, a fantastic pub serving very good food, just up the road (The Galley of Lorne – we became regulars!)) and a very well stocked village shop, just outside the marina entrance, visitors are well catered for. The two downsides are the difficult internet reception and the lack of anywhere to sit outside and have a drink, near the marina office but everything else was just great and Ardfern will definitely make it into our top marina guide.

Ardfern to Oban

Spotting a gap in the weather we set off northbound for Oban at 6am on Thursday 20th July, timing our departure to get through the tricky tides around the Dorus Mor area at the end of Lock Craignish. It was a beautiful morning as the sun came up over the islands and there were lots of photo opportunities as we passed the top of Jura, then Scaba, Lunga, Luing, Insh and many other smaller islands, too numerous to mention. Coming around into the Sound of Luing we could feel the boat being pulled to the left, even though the tide was slack – we had read that this is the case and we needed to take care not to be pulled too far left into the Gulf of Corryvreckan, which includes a big whirlpool between Jura and Scaba. There were a few other areas with hidden rocks and overfalls but the charts were good and Simon had chatted through our passage plans with Andrew at Ardfern to get some local knowledge.

As we approached Oban at lunch time, the wind was again coming up and the sun disappeared behind familiar clouds. We were directed to our berth inside Oban Marina, which is actually located across the bay on Kerrera Island and we were glad to find a berth on the inside, which was well sheltered and just happened to be in a berth next to Sam and Robin who were working in the marina office and gave us a great welcome. In fact, when they heard the story of our voyage and that we are doing it for the National Autistic Society, they asked if they could make a film about our trip for the marina You Tube channel and to distribute it to the local press. Of course, ‘one take Ward’ (Simon) jumped at the chance and so, yesterday morning, we found ourselves being filmed talking about our trip. Robin, a former drama teacher, was great at putting us at ease and asking lots of questions to draw out information about our trip – think he may have a fair amount of editing to do though but many, many thanks to him and Sam for doing this. We haven’t seen the film yet but will, of course, be sharing links to it with Crazysails readers in the near future. Thanks also to Robin for tackling our mast to check out the mast speaker which needed replacing.

 

Oban Marina, Kerrera Island

We’ll be honest, before arriving, we were a little uncertain about the offshore marina as we wanted to stock up and see somethinga of a Scottish port however we are so very pleased that we opted to come to Oban Marina on Kerrera. The marina is under new ownership and we were warmly welcomed by Catherine, one of the owners and Ollie and his Osteopath partner, who are co-running the marina and the restaurant facilities. They have only been in place, since the early spring and fully acknowledge there is work to do but the restaurant is cosy and the food is delicious. There is a lovely outdoor seating area and bar, with a beautiful view of Oban across the bay. There is a regular, free water taxi service to and from Oban, where you can also get chatting to fellow yachties – hello to Siegrid and Philip from Spring Tide, we really enjoyed our chat and your recommendations yesterday – and the pontoons are sturdy and well maintained. The showers are adequate with a good amount of hot water operated by a token and there is a well-equipped laundry. These could be improved and it will be even better when the restaurant opens during the day too but otherwise this is a really lovely place to stay and without any doubt, we would recommend a stay here. Ollie told us that they are trying to create a special marina experience for sailors who want to enjoy friendly service, good food and hospitality in a relaxing, comfortable, yet natural environment – they are certainly on the way to achieving this. Many thanks to them all for making our stay so pleasant.

Spot the Lion’s Mane jellyfish – lots of them around the boats! Lovely food and beautiful island.

 

Oban itself is a rather typical small northern fishing town with tall, imposing Victorian buildings, built in local stone, surrounding the working harbour where small boats compete with fishing trawlers and enormous ferries, which take sightseers out to the islands and on wildlife spotting trips. A range of shops selling local souvenirs, cafes and restaurants are next to high street shops such as Boots and New Look. The whole town is overlooked by a folly which looks like a partially built Victorian colosseum and the ruined castle of Dunollie is about a mile walk past the rather imposing but unattractive cathedral. There is a very central tourist information office and the staff in there were very helpful and friendly explaining about the local area. Oban Distillery is a big attraction in the town and we were amazed at the number of German, French, Dutch and American tourists wandering around. We certainly heard more languages and saw more boats in the marina from different places worldwide than anywhere else on our travels. There is also development in Oban itself, with the completion of several new pontoons, due imminently – we really hope this won’t detract from the opportunity to stay at Kerrera, as the experience will be very different. Indeed for bigger yachts wanting longer term moorings and a real Scottish Island experience Kerrara offers far more than Oban itself. Oban does have a Tesco, however and we did manage to do some basic shopping – this was our first big supermarket for some time so we did feel we had hit civilisation however we were also pleased to get back onto the ferry back to the island.

There is no doubt that Satruday was a varied and interesting day which included our early morning mast climb then film making, Simon’s highland dressing experience followed by an amazing seafood platter served from ‘the green tent’ on the quayside near the ferry terminal. If ‘the green tent’ sounds vague, it’s because it is – there was no name on the tent to tell us what it was called yet it was heaving and the fish was amazingly fresh and fantastically good value, Our sharing platter for two was about £27 and included half a lobster, enormous crab claws, more mussels than you would get in a main course portion, languistines, prawns, shelled prawns, scallops, crab sticks, squid and salmon plus sauces and dips and brown bread and butter. We couldn’t finish it all – though we gave it a good shot and it was totally delicious. If you are visiting Oban and like seafood you MUST visit the green tent; you will not be disappointed!

Next stop: Tobermory, Isle of Mull then stop overs (weather permitting) at anchor in a few of the picturesque locks (thanks to Catherine’s Dad, Jock for his recommendation and the many others we have had too) between there and our meeting point with Sophie and Neil, who are joining us at Corpach, near Fort William, at the end of the month. We’ll also have some interesting new statistics from the national Autistic Society to share with you.

Thanks for following and we look forward to your competition entries.

Kairos out!

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Scotland and stunningly beautiful sailing.

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Hello Crazysails friends,

Long time, no blog!

As Facebook friends will have no doubt seen, we have made it to bonnie (wet) Scotland and can confirm there is a jaw dropping abundance of amazing scenery in the Western Isles but an almost total lack of good communication links to share the experience with you, so it has been a little while since our last post. In this blog we want to share with you a little of our journey from Ireland to the Crinan Canal. We are now in a place called Ardfern on Loch Craignish sorting our some electrical problems with our instruments – but more of that in the next blog!

Bangor  to Campbeltown (55. 42 41 degrees N, 5.60 54 degrees W), Talbert (55.86 32 degrees N, 5.41 56 degrees W) and the Crinan Canal (56.09 08 degrees N, 5.55 84 degrees W)

July 8th – 12th

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We said farewell to Ireland on a breezy, sunny morning and headed off for the Mull of Kintyre, which we could already see as a shadowy outline on the horizon, just off to the northeast of Bangor. We passed brightly coloured houses and attractive scenery as we left Belfast Lough, saying farewell to the north eastern Northern Irish coastline.

The forecast, yet again, proved to be less than accurate and instead of the promised smooth seas and light winds from the west, we had winds of around 16-20, gusting up to about 25, coming from the south east. The sea was also moderate rather than smooth, with a continuous chop from about half way over but the sun was shining! We sailed with a reef in the mainsail at first but then dropped the mainsail and sailed the latter half with a reefed genoa, which steadied the boat and helped it through the choppy waters.  As we made progress the familiar cup cake shape of Ailsa Craig appeared shrouded in mist and no matter how near or far we were from it, it maintained this slightly dreamlike quality. We made good progress but as we neared Campbeltown, on the south west of Kintyre, the skies clouded over with familiar, ominous blackness and we were pleased to reach the shelter of the harbour.

Commendations to Campbeltown for the excellent quality of their pontoons and also for the basic but clean and spacious shower facilities, which provided an unlimited supply of lovely hot water. Thank you to the harbour authorities too, for supporting our National Autistic Society sailing challenge – very kind and appreciated. We ate at the only place that looked reasonable which was The Royal Hotel, opposite the pontoons and we were very pleasantly surprised with a lovely atmosphere and excellent food – indeed we enjoyed one of our favourite meals of our trip there. Nowhere looks their best in the wind and rain, and Campbeltown was no different, but a quick look around indicated that this was a slightly run down little town, set in beautiful surroundings but in need of some tlc and an injection into the local economy, The exception the rather dated looking but very impressive hardware shop, comparable to Hayling Hardware (for Hayling friends) and just like an Aladdin’s cave with everything you could want in several different sizes, colours, shapes etc; needless to say Simon visited there several times and even won over the rather dour lady who ran it. The rain cleared during the evening to reveal the beautiful hillsides and we even had seals playing around at the end of the pier and the people were very friendly and helpful so our stay was a good welcome to Scotland , despite the weather!

Campbeltown to Tarbert

We left Campbeltown on Sunday and made our way up to Tarbert which was around 35 miles up the coast and on the banks of Lock Fyne. On the way we sailed along the western side of Arran, whose granite mountains and spectacular scenery took our breath away. Next, to the east of us was Bute but compared to Arran, this seemed rather flat and featureless, so we pressed on to Tarbert. Having negotiated our way through several small islands which are in front of the actual harbour entrance we arrived in a much bigger marina area than we expected. Again the pontoons were solid and of really good quality – non sailors may wonder why I have mentioned this feature about Campbeltown and now Tarbert but it is surprising how many spindly, narrow or wobbly pontoons you come across in different places and these were a pleasure to land and tie up against.

 

 

Tarbert, is a small picturesque harbour, surrounded by hills and greenery with the ruin of castle on the hillside and houses built in the hills around the harbour. The Lock Fyne Gallery has some beautiful pictures painted by local artists and I just had to purchase a couple (unframed) to go with those I had bought in St Ives, to remind us of our journey. A look in the local whisky shop showed it’s true that the Scots keep their best (and most expensive) whisky at home – a mere £140 seemed to be the average price for a bottle! Needless to say, we left it in the shop – maybe next time! Even pretty Tarbert, though, had some properties which showed a need for some investment in the area – but though a shame, this does not detract from the fact it is a great stop off point, before heading to the Crinan Canal.

 

Tarbert to the Crinan Canal

Having decided we would aim to get through the Crinan Canal over the next couple of days and through to the Western Isles, we set off up Loch Fyne to Ardroshaig. This small uninspirational place is the entry point through the sea lock into the canal. Although it is reckoned an experienced crew can get through all the locks on the canal in around 6 hours, the licence to use the canal actually lasts 4 days and most people seemed to spend 1-2 nights stopping off somewhere along the route. There is an option to have an an ‘assisted passage’, which means you have a couple of students who accompany you on their bikes down the tow path and they operate the locks, which, other than the final sea locks and a couple of bridges, are otherwise unmanned. Before we met someone from Campbeltown, who suggested an assisted passage would be useful for us as there was only the two of us, it hadn’t occurred to us that we wouldn’t manage on our own. I was reminded of when having Sophie (child no1) the subject of pain relief was mentioned – rather naively, it had never occurred to me that I would need pain relief; I did! The assisted passage through the Crinan, was very similar; I hadn’t thought about needing it but welcome it we certainly did – thanks to Tom and Hannah from the Yot helpers who were our canal pain relief (sorry can’t recall the actual company full name). Indeed, if I had to make two absolute recommendations about this trip they would be don’t sleep on the visitors buoys outside St Ives Harbour unless it’s a still evening and do book the assisted passage in the Crinan Canal, unless you have an experienced crew of 3-4.

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Once out from Ardrishaig and into the canal the scenery became very green and calm and we decided to stop for the night at a place called Cairnbann, which was close to where the ancient Kings of Scotland had their base. There was little there apart from a boat yard and a hotel, where we ate that evening. Of course, we had the mandatory rain and hurried back from the hotel under the umbrella. The grey cloud, rain and the fact our instruments were starting to play up meant Simon (who is not a northerner and used to poor weather, like me) began to feel that maybe Scotland wouldn’t live up to our expectations however the next day dawned brightly, the sun definitely put its hat on and came out to play. The rest of the canal journey was magical, through beautiful scenery, trees came right to the water’s edge and the sunlight cast its dappled light through them on the water, as we made our way through the final locks. Although the midges came out in Cairnbann and in the locks, we were prepared with mossie hatch covers on all the boat openings and lots of Avon Skin so Soft (another recommendation) for us, so weren’t bitten at all.

 

We arrived in the Crinan basin around 4.30pm, the sun was still shining brightly, the sky was blue and what a breathtaking sight awaited us as we berthed the boat against a stone jetty by the lock and gazed out across to the Western isles – I have rarely seen anything so truly beautiful – this is what we had hoped and sailed so far to see. The sunshine lasted into the evening, when we enjoyed a wedding anniversary meal at the Seafood Bar at the edge of the basin. Crinan will always be one of our most lasting and most beautiful memories and despite the continuing instrument challenges, we finally felt we had arrived in the Scotland we had hoped to see.

Unfortunately, a combination of WordPress having a bit of a go slow downloading photos and the poor internet here means I haven’t been able to upload the best of the photos – but there’s always another time!

Next time: Crinan to Ardfern, rain, wind and more rain and instrument troubles continue! Please keep following and supporting our travels, best wishes to all our CrazySails friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Lough to Lough.. Carlingford to Bangor (Belfast)

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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!

Kairos out!

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Crazysails crew enjoy time out in Dublin…but first important news!

July 17

Hi Crazysails friends.

It’s been a bit challenging to find wifi to update our blog (and complete some work on-the-go too), so apologies for the recent delays but I hope you are still enjoying our Round Britain Sailing Challenge news, when we can post.

In the last blog I promised a separate update focusing on our time in ‘Dublin’s fair city’ of the song, so here it is… BUT before we begin, I must tell you some REALLY EXCITING NEWS! Thanks to donations from many of you and, during our stay in Dublin, the exceptional generosity of  brother in law, Trev, we have hit the HALF WAY mark in our fundraising for the National Autistic Society. Very, very many thanks. Having heard from the National Autistic Society Community Fundraiser this week, I know they are very appreciative of all your contributions.

Dublin Highlights

June 28-July4th

After several long sails and poor weather (last blog), crazysails readers will recall we decided to have a slightly extended stay in Dun Laoghaire and to take in the sights of Dublin, a city Simon makes a bi-annual pilgrimage to watch the rugby international but one which I have not had the pleasure to visit, until now.

Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dunleery) is situated to the south of Dublin and is connected to the centre via the very efficient and regular Dart railway. It is home to no less than four yacht clubs – the Royal Irish, the Royal St George’s, the National Yacht club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Sailing Club. We visited the Royal Irish on our first evening. This is the oldest club and has a very palatial building but was also rather formal so we made our way to the Royal St George’s, which also has magnificent facilities and a beautiful view over the harbour but was also incredibly welcoming and helpful offering to share our information about our trip, inviting us to use the internet there and also accepting us as visitors to their Fruit de Mer evening on Saturday. This was a very enjoyable evening, especially as the evening was masterminded by a club member who is Dun Laoghaire’s local fishmonger and is a real character. The evening’s more formal entertainment moved on into a more impromptu singsong around the piano, led by amazing pianist Duncan, the fishmonger and several others – we had the Irish favourites such as Molly Malone and Danny Boy, as well as some Abba. Thanks to Gina (Flag Officer, Social) and Amy (Marketing) and Laura (Admin) for arranging this for us – a great night at a great yacht club.

The Culture Trail

Friday saw us visit all the well-known tourist destinations in the city. we started with the Dublin Castle area then walked down to Trinity College. There we saw the Book of Kells and the amazing and mind blowing Long Room, which is the library filled with so many old books and the beautiful harp, which is supposed to be the original harp which is the symbol of Ireland. This room absolutely oozed history, so much so you could absolutely feel it – I loved it.

After the historical culture, we thought we had better try some of that other culture Dublin is famous for, so via the statue of Molly Malone, we then headed up to the Guinness Storehouse. I realise from the comments on my Facebook post that I must be the only person in the universe who hasn’t been to the Storehouse before but I feel I have now come of age. I even tried a pint of the black stuff in the skytop bar – which, sorry everyone, I still don’t really like, so Simon had to do the honours. I have to say we both enjoyed the tour, which was really interesting, though Simon has done it before so I think it was the pint of Guinness at the end that was most interesting to him!

After the Guinness factory, we decided to continue the cultural tour in the famous Temple Bar area where having listened to some amazing Irish music and tested some more Irish hospitality, things got a little silly and we ended up having our faces painted and buying local hats – which I immediately lost and arrived back at the boat without it however my crazy, lovely husband sneaked back there the next day, while I was working, to get me a replacement. I think that’s why he went back anyway!

Our final real Dublin experience was of the Leinster Hurling final at Croke Park, the Gaellic national sports stadium. Before the match an old rugby friend of Simon’s (and Phil Mead and Martin Eley’s) arrived at the boat. Jon Dineen is a real Irish character who chats a lot and lives locally in Blackrock. He kindly offered to take us to Croke Park and show us some of the sites of Dublin on the way, so we had a guided tour around Googletown and the canal area, the embassies and rich roads, with some beautiful houses before being deposited at Croke Park – very many thanks Jon.

Now, neither of us knew anything about Hurling until that afternoon – and really we still don’t know much, except it is an exciting, crazy game played by crazy, very fit, passionate sportspeople – who are amateurs, so not paid. The first game was Dublin v. Killkenny (winners)and  was rather slower so gave us a chance to get to grips with how the score worked; this was also helped by some passionate fans, who sat next to us and helpfully explained some key points. The second game, which was the final, was mental but there was a brilliant atmosphere and the Wexford and Gallway (winners) freely mixed together with a friendly rivalry.

We left Dun Laoghaire Marina on Tuesday, having stayed an extra day due to the rather heavy previous day at the Hurling at Croke Park, another evening in Temple Bar and the realisation we hadn’t completed the passage plans (not good). So given Monday wasn’t looking great for sailing and I really needed to do some work, I set up office in the laundry, which is one of the more unusual places I have worked but it seemed the best place to get internet at the marina and I was able to multi-task doing our washing and plough through some work, while Simon serviced the autohelm and did some supplies shopping.

We’d like to thank the marina staff at DL Marina, who were so helpful and friendly and really made our stay very enjoyable and along with harbour and marina staff at Neylands in Wales, Killmore Quays, and Arklow really supported our trip for the National Autistic Society – thank you, your support is appreciated. We have now arrived at Carlingford Lough, which we will tell you about in our next blog, but the staff here have also been amazing and shared our post – thank you to you too.

Yet again, I am deferring the bests and worst of the trip but the list is gradually refining itself and we have had some amazing times and met some fantastic people – now weather….. if you could achieve the same loveliness,  it would be really wonderful! Who knows… the next week looks set fair, everything crossed!

For now though Crazysails friends, it’s farewell to Dublin, Guinness, Molly Malone, cockles and muscles and the lovely people we have met here and off to the land of….. nod!

Next stop Carlingford Lough (as guessed in our Facebook competition by Carole and Chris from Deal – prize on the way), then Bangor and a crossing to Scotland.

For now, though, thanks again for following us but for now,

Crazysails out!

Dolphins, Donations and now Dublin!

 

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Picture shows a windswept Simon and Helen departing Wales – St David’s Head in the background.

Welcome readers to our latest Crazysails post. First of all, can we say a huge THANK YOU for supporting the Kairos crew on our Round Britain sailing challenge – we have now reached 40% of the way to our target for the National Autistic Society, which, as you know, is £2017 – £1 for every year up to the year of our challenge, 2017.  It’s still a way to go, so if you can please do make a donation – every little helps. In this latest Crazysails blog we are going to tell you about our latest adventures and how we have ended up writing this post in the Royal St George’s Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, near Dublin.

The last week has been incredible –  three countries in three days, more dolphins than we could count, two whales, seals, a gazillion (is that a word?) puffins, razorbills and guillimots and ….. a change from glorious sunshine to wild winds and a disappointingly low 11 degrees on Thursday- where has that Cornish sunshine gone? I did realise I had made a mistake with my clothes packing when I looked for something warmer in my wardrobe on board and realised that I’d packed more for sailing in Greece than Scotland – and we aren’t even there yet! Needless to say, full of fear and anticipating the worst, Simon has hidden the credit card, just in case I feel a shopping spree coming on in Dublin but as I said to him …. I have nothing to wear and I NEED some new tops … he remains unconvinced! But I digress, back to our travels which, as I was saying,  have taken a turn for the chillier!

Shorts & strappy tops –  evidence of inappropriate clothing!

It is on wet and windy days, like those we have had recently, that we thank goodness for our C&J Marine cockpit enclosure which has enabled us to both keep warm and dry, given us a larger living space and also a space to air those wet sailing clothes, outside of the boat itself.  We mustn’t be too smug but I do feel an immense feeling of satisfaction when we can creep inside our canvas tent and feel snug and warm when others have to batten down the hatches and stay inside on such days; it was truly money well spent. Other sailors, if you haven’t got a cockpit enclosure – get one; you too can feel smug in the rain!

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But let’s go back a few days,,, well one week to be precise and our journey from England to Wales.

Padstow to Milford Haven (Neylands Marina)

Saturday 24 June                                                                                                                               We left pretty Padstow and our last stop in England (for now) early on the morning. The weather looked reasonably settled with the winds starting light at first but increasing to a 20mph later in the journey. The sky was grey and heavy with clouds, though the rain held off. It was a journey of some discomfort mixed with some of the most exciting moments of the trip. As we crossed the Bristol Channel, we had a relentless rolling swell of 4 metre waves coming in from the Atlantic, which was hugely uncomfortable and, as Facebook friends will remember from my post, it was not a sea for those with queasy stomachs, even I felt slightly nauseous by the time we reached the welcome haven of Milford Haven and celebrated our arrival in Wales.                                                                                                                                                  The trip was around 12 hours in total and all without any help from the autohelm which decided it didn’t want to play in the turbulent confused sea swell. This left Simon on the wheel most of the time with me trimming and grinding the genoa, trying not to feel yuk at the same time as trying to photograph the many dolphins we had with us throughout the trip. Yes, I must mention the dolphins. Having seen several dolphins over the previous days we have really thought they would prefer calmer seas and didn’t expect the volume we got during this trip. it was hugely exciting and really one of the special times we had had so far on our journey; they were literally everywhere to the both the port and starboard sides, on the bow and at the stern. We actually lost count of how many we saw but it was as if they knew we needed something to brighten this less than pleasurable sail.

Milford Haven was a welcome sight and not at all what we had expected. I had thought it would be industrial and the oil refinery would dominate the area. Yes there were some glimpses of this we made our way down to Neyland Marina which had been recommended to us and found ourselves in tranquil, pretty surroundings, beautiful scenery and a wonderful small, friendly, well equipped marina.

Milford Haven to Killmore Quays, Republic of Ireland

Monday 26 June

We had hoped to see more of the Welsh coast and certainly didn’t expect to be leaving Wales quite so quickly but as the weather forecast looked good for our next passage which was over to Ireland we decided we had to take advantage of this and so early on Monday 26th we left Neylands and headed out of the shelter of Milford Haven and into the Irish Sea. Leaving Wales through the islands that marked the Broad Sound, we had good visibility and were able to see the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline extending round past Skomer and other islands, to St David’s Head, a point which stayed in sight until we were 30 miles offshore. Having had an uncomfortable cross from Padstow, we were hoping to have a slightly easier crossing but had heard about the often tricky changeable conditions on the Irish Sea  (my nemesis) but it couldn’t have been more benign and the tide was certainly in our favour whooshing us along and cutting our journey from an expected 11 hours door to door down to 9.5 hours. We recorded speeds (over the ground speeds) of over 10 knots and averaged 8.5-9 for most of the journey. The sun tried to break through the clouds, the wind was a light 2-3 and the sea state smooth to slight. We even managed to eat our pasta salad (pre-prepared) and had several cups of tea! As well as seeing more dolphins and puffins, the highlight was undoubtedly the spotting of two minke whales. I saw the spout from the first one but wasn’t sure what it was so called Simon who was in the cabin below. He came out and (we had become casual about dolphins by now) announced it was dolphins playing in breaking waves. Pretty soon the spout stopped and a HUGE fin appeared together with a large body just visible under the surface of the water. Gee, that was one BIG fish! We looked it up in our pilot book which had a guide to wildlife at the front and sure enough it was a Minke whale. About an hour later when we were 10 miles off the Irish coast Simon spotted another – apparently they often travel singly and are seen around there.

Arriving in Killmore Quays on the East coast of Southern Ireland, we were faced with an incredibly tight right angle turn to port into the narrow entrance of the harbour. We moored up on a visitors berth and got sorted out just in time, as the weather began to change, becoming colder and the wind picked up. We took refuge in Kehoes, a pub recommended for it’s seafood and enjoyed a really delicious and welcome dinner in cosy surroundings but on the way back we felt the Irish rain in all its glory and got back to the boat more than a little damp!

Killmore Quays to Arklow

Tuesday 27 June

We had always decided that to try and keep up with our schedule we would need to move when the weather looked good so, although it had been a long crossing the previous day, it was up at 5.30am, ready for a 6am departure. We followed a Scottish boat, Aestrea and a Dutch boat out of the harbour and we all turned and headed north. It had been dry but damp (after a night of rain) when we left Killmore and we had the same conditions for the first part of our journey. Again we sailed with the genoa and enjoyed good tides carrying us towards Arklow but we had heavy overcast skies and needed several layers of clothing to keep us warm; I felt like a telly tubby, a weeble or some other unattractive rotund children’s toy but was glad of the warmth – is this really June? We had rain threatening most of the way but fortunately it held off and 53 miles and about 7 hours later we arrived at Arklow.

Now Arklow is ‘interesting’. Apparently it used to be a very busy area with a huge explosives and chemical industry. You will see from the photos that many of the old buildings are now abandoned and derelict. We faced another tight entry into a very small marina but we were greeted by a very jolly, helpful harbour master who showed great interest in our challenge and our quest to raise awareness and funds for the National Autistic Society. Further up river and over into the town there has clearly been investment to improve the riverside and shopping facilities and the river Avoca itself, is very pretty and, further upstream, is home to the village of Avoca where Ballykissangel was filmed. Would I recommend going to Arklow? Well probably not as a place in its own right but for a useful stop over and friendly welcome it is just fine.

 

Arklow to Dun Laoghaire (Dublin Bay)

Wednesday 28 June

Yet another early morning start but this time a mere 37 mile trip from Arklow to Dun Laoghaire beckoned. Again the Dutch boat and Aestrea left around the same time as we did and again we all headed in the same direction. This time we knew rain was forecast and we would be unlikely to miss it so our goal was to get the Dun Laoghaire as quickly as possible, where we planned to stay for a bit of a rest. This also coincided with a bad weather forecast so gave us a good excuse to spend time in Dublin’s fair city (as the song goes).

Our journey went smoothly until we arrived and were given a berth too small for us just as the wind picked up. Our usual smooth landing was not so successful this time and we had to ask for a different berth. DL Marina is huge and there were plenty of spare berths so the Harbour Master allocated us an alternative and pretty soon we were all moored up, electric on and the cockpit enclosure put up, keeping us snug from the rain – and so I return to where I started.

Dublin itself is worthy of a post in its own right and also since I started writing this blog we have had another amazing donation which has pushed us to over the halfway mark. Both of these as well the highs and lows previously promised, I will cover in the next blog  but for now Crazysails readers, I thank you for your time and your support and I will let you get on with your life, while we prepare for our next part of our travels.

Crazysails out!

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