7th June – East to Holyhead (Part 2)

I don't Know where my Wallet is!

No idea where my wallet is ….

It was this Big!

It really was this big ….

Leprachaun Shows Skipper the Way

Leprechaun points the way

Skipper at Ease

Skipper relaxing … again

Early Morning Dublin Docks

Early Morning Dublin Docks

The gale had blown itself out, so it was a simple matter to reverse out in the quiet early morning and squeeze past the slipway across which I had seen an enormous rat run busily, the evening before.  Port Control advised that I should wait to the West, whilst Stena Adventurer slowly eased out of her berth and proceeded up stream.  As we dallied I listened to names on the VHF, Ulysses, Coromel, Johnathon Swift, A-Jay and White Snake, a motor-cruiser that slithered past towards Dalkey Sound as we pottered out.

Nothing could spoil for me the pleasure of a rare fine morning; not the crumbling Northern breakwater, the mountain of rusting heavy metal at the recycling yard, the dirty candy striped chimneys of the city’s incinerator, or even the caustic chemical stench oozing frothily from the South side piles.   Johnathon Swift, looking like a Tupperware on stilts, aimed its twin hulls at Holyhead 60 nautical miles away and shot off, as Team A-Jay paused, whilst the skipper clumsily untangled the main halyard from the topping lift, evidence of sloppiness born of too long ashore.

Dublin's Incinerator

Dublin’s Incinerator

Piper's Head

Piper’s Head

Piper Head eventually fell slowly astern as we tried valiantly to sail, but the main and genoa barely filled, the exhausted ensign hung limply down the flagstaff and A-Jay hardly stirred the water’s surface, but I didn’t care!  It was sunny, the Irish Sea was a pussy cat, we weren’t fighting a force 6 on the nose, Harry 3rd was playing ball and it was time for breakfast.

Farewell Dublin

Farewell Dublin

Later, motor-sailing serenely across the calm seas, I finally finished Jan Swaffor’s enormous, monumental and scintillating work on Beethoven.  What a guy and such a pity he drank himself into a premature grave at the youthful age of 57.  Progress was slow but peaceful and it was no surprise to see Johnathon Swift pass us for the third time – I wondered if the Captain had perhaps pointed us out to his passengers as a semi-permanent fixture upon the Irish Sea.

2/3 of the way across a swell began to build, but not enough to disturb A-Jay, who gently head butted the occasional rogue.  Holy Island, whose secret had been revealed for some time by the crown of clouds curving over the still invisible land, came into view and crept imperceptibly towards us.  The wind, defying all predictions slipped round to the SE but with no strength to bother us, as Mr and Mrs Puffin took off in alarm, their sagging bellies scuffing spray off the wave tops before flopping back onto the surface at a safe distance.  Busy Guillemots ignored us completely.

Holy Island

Holy Island

Eyesight and haste in my late evening passage planning brought another “Doh!” moment, for the tides were doing the exact opposite of my predictions, meaning we would trot to the finish line, rather than gallop – but Hey!  Supper was on, the evening was pleasant and we were in no rush.  By 2230 we were tucked alongside a pontoon in a chilly, increasingly breezy Holyhead Harbour, protected by the enormous 1½ mile long breakwater.


Nightfall … approaching Holyhead Harbour

Next morning I awoke with a plan to walk to South Stack on Holy Island before looping round to Holyhead Town.  My Welsh is coming on well and I know that “araf” means slowly and I should have ‘arafed’ round Holy Island and not set off like Red Rum in a Grand National, for my ankles seized after 10 miles and I finished more like Toad on a pogo stick, though that would be to discredit that honourable creature.


Sunset Holyhead

Stumbling past the Titan Tattoo Parlour, which is next to Wynes Worms (fresh & frozen) I collapsed into an hostelry for an enormous lunch and pint of John smiths for £9.  As I ate, I wondered whether Wyne’s worms were purchased by the kilo, or pint … or even perhaps the yard and what one did with them ….

A rufty tufty, very well organised little number docked without fuss or drama earlier and I chatted to the ex RN skipper (not that I hold that against him).  The only interest my chaotic little assemblage generates is “what is she?” referring to A-Jay, as you don’t see many of those about, rather like the wide mouthed South African bull frog (it’s a very long story).  He had sailed solo round GB in 2013 and had contemplated doing the same in 2015, so I am again reminded that my little adventure is really no big deal.


Holyhead Marina to Holy Island


Holy Island Tower


Holy Island Ruins

Holy Island Mine

Holy Island Mine

Holy Island Hill

Holy Island Hill

Holy Island Dwellings

Holy Island Dwellings

Bleak Holy Island

Bleak Holy Island

All solo skippers I have met have been on the curmudgeonly end of the spectrum, like me and I am beginning to think we are all doing it solo because our First Mates are probably glad to lose us for a while!  Mind you, it does mean we don’t have to tidy up the cabin so much.  Which reminds me – I must wash my green maggot liner as it can now stand, unaided.

Holy Island is a lovely place to walk, but don’t expect the 2 cafés to be open … or the first two pubs you find in Holyhead.   It has a wonderful wildness to it, but I rather expected to see a ruined abbey or two, but could only find derelict mine workings and a crumbling tower and castellated ex hotel.

The helpful signs show a circular walk, but as there are so many paths converging, diverging and disappearing, all marked thus, it is pretty impossible to do much but walk in lots of circles.  For an irreverent second I wondered if I was still in Ireland.  It would have helped if some had been marked; “NO! Not this way silly!  The other way!” But with the central high hill and the sun to guide you, it wasn’t hard to find one’s own circuit.

We will stay another day and I’ll finally sort Billy the Bilge Pump, who spat out his dummy yesterday, due to bad workmanship he tells me.  I’ll probably also do something really interesting … like go boat spotting.

Ensign Evening Salute

Ensign Evening Salute

For now

Toot toot

By ajay290

5 comments on “7th June – East to Holyhead (Part 2)

  1. Dear John

    You are gradually getting there and we follow progress in our road map! We have had a hectic few days as helpers if various sorts at the Cathedral for Magna Carta celebrations. Concert stewarding ensures these impecunious pensioners get to see all the wonderful Salisbury International Arts Festival events and we gave been doing calligraphy workshops and I (Paul) am a costumed volunteer playing a medieval mason and a Parliamentarian Soldier – much to Lindsey and the kids’ amusement. Meanwhile the estate dies well with roses in bloom and Guernsey clematis doing a treat.

    Keep well



    Sent from my iPad


    • Always good to ‘hear’ from you. Getting there slowly; Holyhead is gorgeous. Having cracked Holy Island yesterday and the breakwater today, I’ll stay another day in order to visit the Maritime Museum and complete the passage planning, hopefully getting the tides right this time!

      Love to see some pictures of my ex Chairman in his mason’s and soldier’s regalia!

      Glad the garden is doing well and the Guernsey clematis is in bloom – suspect its made of tough stuff!

      Best wishes



  2. Glad to see you upon water again, thought you might forget what to do! But no 😄 you and your 29… OOOPS 290! are well on your way again. Hope you enjoy some good weather coupled with good sailing. Was so good to see you in Dublin 😊 Take care, Rach and Ted x

  3. great photos, great text, you should take this further – your blogs are becoming the highlight of the day!


    Most impressed by your travels and how you deal it all. Hope the winds finally turn in the right direction and you can turn the engine off at last!




    Gesendet: Montag, 08. Juni 2015 um 22:03 Uhr Von: ajay290 <comment-reply@wordpress.com> An: nigel.willis@gmx.de Betreff: [New post] 7th June – East to Holyhead (Part 2)

    ajay290 posted: " The gale had blown itself out, so it was a simple matter to reverse out in the quiet early morning and squeeze past the slipway across which I had seen an enormous rat run busily, the evening before.  Port Control advised that I sh"

  4. Thanks Nigel.. I’ll head North out into the Irish Sea again tomorrow with the aim of anchoring off the South of the IOM. Will be sorry to l;eave this lovely place.

    Hope all well.

    toot toot for now

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