Thursday, 30 July 2009

Goodbye Scotland, Hello Northern Ireland

It was sad to be leaving Scotland yesterday but next stop was the homeland so wasn’t too bad! If the weather had been kind to us Largs would not have been our last stop, and we could have continued cruising in the Clyde for another couple of days before making the hop across the Northern Ireland. However, the weather was not going to make our lives easy so it was a hop across to Belfast Lough in one fell swoop. With the front having gone through in the morning, we waved goodbye to Largs and Scotland and sailed down the Clyde. The wind did not play too nicely to begin with as our making tack had us heading to Ayr, which for those of you not familiar with the layout of the North Channel is on the opposite side to Belfast! However, after the odd wind dance the wind started to come round from the west and we were able to start actually heading where we wanted to go - sadly on starboard tack again!! It was an awesome sail from this point on, the odd boat, lighthouse, stars, setting moon over Blackhead and plenty of sea birds to keep us entertained. It was a bit of a late arrival into Carrick but we had the promise of a long lie and then next day I was coming home to Bangor. So here we are now sitting in Bangor marina, mum and dad came to catch our lines - thank you and brought us some extra supplies - they’ve not all been finished yet!! Weather due to blow in again tomorrow so I think it will be a day of shoreside activities, which may or may not involve swimming!! Until then Karen out x

John, 28.7.09
Largs was my first encounter with the Scarlet Oyster and under a certain amount of trepidation. I have nothing to be concerned about. Welcomed aboard by Kathy who is the skipper and introduced to first mate Karen, along with Angela from NI Cancer Trust and her charge of five young people who have faced adversity from cancer. It was fantastic to see how upbeat and positive they all were, and sad to hear them talk of tumours and treatment in between discussing “normal” everyday things. Heroes.

John 29.7.09
No sleep. Yawn. Unfamiliar sounds and teenagers talking until silly O’clock not conducive to sleep. This was unfortunate as Kathy tells us we are going to exploit a gap in the weather and cross Irish sea to Carrickfergus which will take until approximately 2pm. First proper sailing and at night time too. Had good weather to start with but quickly got cold. Kathy keeps us well looked after with special hot chocolate and soup. Have a go at the wheel, bags of fun but cold and tiredness gets better of me and I crash for half an hour. Wake up shivering as we are getting closer to the harbour but wind dies on us and we switch to engine. Loads of stars in the sky, recognise the plough. We finally arrive and moor up at night, make good the boat and everyone crashes.

John 30.7.09
Some sleep. Yawn. Seem to be awake before everyone else so I decide to wander round Carrickfergus marina. The sun is shining warmly and all is good. Have a quick saunter round Black head (lighthouse) after having passed it last night before we exploit another break in the weather to skip across to Bangor. A very pleasant jaunt in fab weather and we chat as we cross. If I couldn’t see the attraction yesterday I definitely do now. Sailing is ace. Back to boat for ace lasagne and garlic bread, yum. Later, John. [30/07/09 22:00]

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