Northwards to the Scottish islands

Port Ellen, Islay 14th of June

The forecast for the start of the trip was for light winds for a few days. With Derrick arriving on sat evening, the day was spent provisioning the boat and cleaning up. We decided to head out as soon as he had arrived for the couple of hour trip to Skerries. We motored on glassy seas into the descending sun, anchoring at 9pm. It was great to have made a small start to the voyage, and even better that Anne, the real skipper, was on board to tell the skipper what to clean and how, etc. A fine repast was followed by a quick spin ashore to visit Joe May's where Liam McCarthy joined us for a farewell pint of Guinness. All slept well but were woken at 7am by a slight swell rolling in since the wind had come up a little from the East. So all got up earlier than expected and had a quick breakfast before Anne had to go ashore as she had to return to the world of work (what ever that is!!).

All stowed, we motored off into the slight swell, heading offshore across Dundalk Bay for Ardglass. We soon lost sight of the land as a haze obscured the vista so we just settled our bodies into the newness of the movement of the boat. After a couple of hours the wind got up enough that we could sail for a bit and we relaxed into the trip. Sadly it was not to continue and we were back onto the engine for the remaining hours to Ardglass. The skipper was his usual snoozy self and Teresa joined in the habit only to be woken when we were less than 5 miles out. The small marina was half empty so no problems mooring and we relaxed after a long 9 hour trip.

The following day saw glassy conditions and we motored all the way past the County Down Coast, across the entrance to Belfast Lough and into the new marina in Glenarm, overlooked by the famous Glens of Antrim. The welcome from the manager was really genuine and dispelled any unease we might have felt being southerners visiting Northern Ireland. An evening walk followed dinner and we went to bed looking forward to leaving for Scotland in the morning.

We woke refreshed and left at the respectable hour of 9am, heading out into the North Channel to pick up the tidal current which was to catch us and send us on our merry way northwards. There are shipping lanes here but not as busy as the lanes we passed in the English Channel last summer, but they had to be respected and planed for in navigating our way to Scotland. The haze as we left became solid fog with visibility down to 250 metres so the radar was on, reminiscent of the Siobhan trip through the FOGGGGGGG all those years ago. Luckily there was little traffic and even better, the wind got up a bit so we could sail close hauled for a couple of hours on wonderfully smooth seas. Later the fog lifted and took the breeze with it, only to return from dead astern so we were able to goosewing until almost at Port Ellen on the southern coast of Islay. The Lonely Planet Guide Teresa brought didn't make it sound appealing but when it appeared out of the haze we were glad to have arrived and looked forward to having a couple of days to meander around.

As it waa the forecast for the folowing day was for strong winds on the nose so we used the day for a break from sailing. We had a slap up feed of Pork a la Teresa (very continental on Suckin Diesel !!) preceeded by, endured with, and followed a "few wee drams" of wine etc. The next day we headed off on the late bus to Bowmore, the Capital of the island, 10 miles away. We then could see the size of the place and just how flat it is. Lots of Connemara scenery with turf bogs that give its whisky its distinctive taste. Bowmore is quaint but small dominated by a lovely circular church on top of the hill. We were lucky to find some scallops and trout on sale from a van to celebrate our day off sailing. They turned as if by magic into a great feed that night.

All that day it was windy only easing a bit in the evening. We had considered heading the following day but it was worse in the morning and with a forecast of the same for 24 hours at least. So we decided to have a chilled day doing stuff on the boat and reading. Such is life when the boat is on passage: you just have to work with what you have and when the weather says no, just accept it.