Saga Mode, no rush, all preparations made, lists checked off … can’t have forgotten anything surely? Time in Craobh Bay to welcome Harry Three to the team … a little fine tuning required later no doubt. Trickling along, one reef in the main, a sensible solo pre-nightfall precaution. The wind barrelled playfully up the Loch between Luing and Scarba and up from Jura at 18-20 knots, engine on tick over, sails and tide helping, 5 knots over the ground.
Soon the sun reluctantly began to set over the chilly, choppy Sound, up ahead the Paps of Jura clear to starboard not yet abed. By 2035 the sun finally sank behind the soft curves of the Island, the scene slipping from cheerful day to sinister dusk, the previously jolly Paps now more like the dark heights of Mordor.
Dark in the Sound, rocks around, diamond studded canopy above, wind elsewhere for now, lights to identify one by one from the planning list, head torch aglow, plots to make, hot drinks, skipper’s stew at two; gently through the night.
From 0400, a juvenile dawn began to chase the stars away and by breakfast Team A-Jay waved goodbye to the Mull of Kintyre heel of Scotland, and crabbed across the North Channel shipping lane, leeway 28° Northwards, just one ship for company.
“There is a place I’d rather not be
That is, of course, the Irish Sea
It always turns to fight hard with me
Makes me detest this Irish Sea”.
Yup every word is true. As Team A-Jay swung South, the Irish Sea embraced us with 25 knots on the nose, playing its mocking tune in the rigging, fighting with the sweeping tide and piling up irritable, steep seas.
“I’ll stop you, just you see”, it seemed to say, then put its hand in its pocket to pull out Irish rain, heavy, blinding. No-one does rain like the Irish, I’ll give them that; ought to be a national treasure with its own museum.
The North Irish coast was so close, Glenarm a lovely little refuge, just a few tempting miles South, but Bangor it would be, as the wind gusted to a nasty 30 knots, like a fist in the face. I had put a precautionary second reef in awhile back and, together with a push from Yanny, reasonable progress was possible by slaloming either side of the rhumb line, choosing an angle each side of the line, to make best speed across the steep, ugly little seas.
Things eased as Team A-Jay crossed Belfast Lough and tied up in Bangor Marina, 110 nautical miles and 21 hours out. To think you could do such a distance in 2 hours in a car – didn’t bear thinking about!!
There are always positives, no matter how horrible the situation; for me, one was realising yet again what a good sea boat A-Jay is. She had been completely unperturbed by anything that had been thrown at her, unlike her skipper. There is no doubt that some of that is due to her healthy ballast ratio – ‘nowt so good as a nice lump of lead slung far below I always say. I like to think that her skipper was beginning to get the hang of it too.
Thoughts on the North Scottish part of this journey?
Subarus are not extinct, unlike in other parts of the UK …..
You need sunshine to see, never mind enjoy the Western Isles …..
Despite the weather there are 2 VERY special places I would put in my pocket to take away if I could … (avid readers will know☺) ….
Expect not to pick up Radio 5 Live, or much else in many places …
The people are wonderful; Barry 2 Boats, Willy the Rig, Biker John, and the travellers you meet … Lief, Iwona, Marek and all …. I salute and thank you ..
Expect a good chat and a more laid back approach ….
Don’t expect a good glass of hair restorer unless you like what is contained in those cl. 175 bottles …
Don’t believe all you read about midges … they only like some people ..
Will I go back? Most definitely if only to actually see it.
The mainsail had received terminal damage so had to be changed, an operation that required 2 hours next day, in the strong wind, most of that controlling 275 square feet of flailing Dacron, with much muttering and cussing from the skipper. That’s a big sail for a small boat.
Chart on the table, wind singing in the rigging, boat tugging at at her warps, where to next? Dublin for sure with luck. But afore we go there are things to do…..