22nd August – Dublin Bound

Too True!!!

Too True!!!

Twice Team A-Jay has lain in Bangor, each time for repairs and replacements: last time a new water pump, this time a new mainsail. Still, the sun had largely banished the rain, England was collapsing again in the cricket and the excited sounds of children at the fairground carried across the water: typical summer events.


Team A-Jay back in Bangor

The master plan was to head South across 3 tides for Dublin, to dock perhaps at Howth or Dun Laoghaire or somewhere in between.The logic, to take edvantage of the slack tidal conditions that seem to pertain for much of the tide in the bight off Carlingford, the lighter Southerlies and near neap tides whilst the weather window lasted. It would be good to escape from the clutches of the Irish Sea.

Meanwhile Barry had perked up a little, the bubble and squeak was delicious and the new mainsail rose and fell like a dream, all reefing lines properly refitted. Harry Three needed a compass reset and hopefully would then be a contented member of the team.

The Bangor seagulls have a clever modus operandi when it comes to handling mussels, a gull delicacy. Hover 10 metres above pontoon, drop mussel, land and stamp on mussel, peck, repeat …. again and again. The success rate sseemed variable but I never saw a skinny Bangor Gull.

Next morning temporary sunshine, smooth sea with the promise of thundery showers and Force 5-7 later. Through Donaghee Sound South of Copeland Island across Team A-Jay’s Northbound track, espresso to clear sloth from the brain, a well stocked nosebag to hand a hot meal for later. It felt appropriate to be reading- or battling – James Joyce’s Ulysses as we headed for Dublin.

Again heavy bovine air fell off the headland, enveloping Team A-Jay, so rich and full it seemed to hang, heavy like udders. Weak sun poked a finger through the cloud and the IOM beckoned a perfect sail West. A 2 mile line of caravans, black eyes seawards mocked from the shore whilst somewhere up ahead the front lurked.

Inside Skulmartin outside Burial Rock and past the Paddys, deadly zigzag, the shore stolen by rain. Strangford Buoy and little Ardglass, torrential rain, millpond sea, calm before the storm. The Mourne Mountains deep in the wet embrace of bloated grey rain cloud dark beneath and the busy mouth of Carlingford Lough. On on.

Barry the Barometer was still not panicking so thoughts turned to supper as dusk fell, though not before the skipper had tucked a reef in the mainsail.

There are benefits to being solo, I mused over hot pie: no one to nick your glasses, no pills to mix up, no one to spot your gaffs or see you enter the cabin and forget why, no one to hear your curses or wake when you pee at 3. Still it would be nice to have someone to share the skipper’s bubble and squeak, which would sink a gannet.

Gold dots along the coastline through the black night like ethereal stitching between Heaven and Earth. Rockabill Light the target up ahead, pass between the light and the Skerries, weather changing as A-Jay continued to slip South on a goodwill tide. Head torch on red, log and chart to update, head torch ditty to mind

Close East of Lambay Island lying like a somnolent monster at midnight, as the rain beat in earnest and Barry skulked in the dark above the chart table, down 4 milibars in 4 hours and falling. Off Ben of Howth A-Jay surfed on little white horses, white foam hissing in the darkness, wind in the North pushing towards Dublin ahead somewhere amongst the confusion of lights. Being a bear with simple brain the skipper had selected just 2 and there they were, amongst a host of unknowns. Harry Three’s pretty blue nightface remained resolute in direction, now a fully fledged member of the team.

Fighting a fierce Cross current Team A-Jay stopped ouride Dun Laoghaire Marina entrance for the second time rolling heavily in pouring rain as the skipper cussed and cursed the mainsail to order. 0245, alongside, 18 hours and 103 nautical miles out. Hot chocolate with a dram,  clothing steaming on the engine block.

Head torch ditty:

We’ve had our fair share of troubles

As we battled North last June

Maybe we’ll be friends one day

Wicked Irish Sea and me

From Milford Haven to Arklow

Harry Two died in big seas

Maybe we’ll be friends one day

Wicked Irish Sea and me


Engine failure off Calf of Man

To little Ardglass we fled

Maybe we’ll be friends one day

Wicked Irish Sea and me

Fairwell to the Mull of Kintyre

Hello to strong wind and waves

Maybe we’ll be friends from today

Wicked Irish Sea and me

To Dublin’s Fair city in rain

A peace we seem to have made

Maybe we are friends from today

Wicked Irish Sea and me.”





By ajay290

2 comments on “22nd August – Dublin Bound

  1. Two very long passages John, 21 and 18 hours giving an average of 5.5 knots! You must be made of some pretty hardy material mate! Looks as though you have 338 N Miles to run for home, that is coming south about Guernsey without any further trips down memory lane along the South Coast of Blighty. If that is to be your route we must organise an RV off Les Hanois, weather permitting. You seem to thrive in 25 knots, not sure I do!!
    Wish you safe passage.


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