Decisions Decisions

The crew – Kevin, Colum, Greg and Aine

Sometimes you have to make a decision and stick to it. After almost five days the attractions of Carrickfergus had been exhausted, we’d even managed to provision Temptress’ tin store for a long (eg Atlantic) passage as the supermarket was conveniently across the road from the marina. Time to leave. The new crew were from Clan Harris – Greg, daughter Aine and her cousin Colum and our intended destination was Ardglass some 40 miles south of Belfast Lough. Saturday was rainy and windy from the South West but after a full Ulster breakfast and saying farewell to Kevin’s cousin’s Trish (Greg’s wife) and Colin (Colum’s Dad) who’d delivered the crew we headed out for Donaghadee Sound on the south eastern corner of Belfast Lough.

Is it a ship, is it a rig – anchored in Belfast Lough?

The weather brightened and the wind bent by the lough shore was almost behind us. It was pleasant sailing with lovely views of the low lying coast – green fields, cottages and small towns. Aine and Colum got used to helming and picking out the red and green buoys that marked our passage through the sound. Once round the corner however the wind picked up and with it the chop, Temptress was making slow headway against the tide and wind.  With Colum starting to become a bit quiet and a little grey we discussed our options; plough on regardless to Ardglass or turn back to the Lough and sample the delights of Bangor Marina. The latter was voted for and we had a pleasant afternoon ashore (99’s and beers at either end of a long walk) before meeting up with yet another Harris cousin, Tania plus her partner Ian for drinks and nibbles in the cockpit. We can also recommend the Bokhara Indian Restaurant in King Street, Bangor where the crew had a great supper.

Sleeping Beauty

Just examining the inside of his eyelids

Sunday’s forecast was much improved and by ten o’clock we were on our way once more, a much brighter day with a westerly wind off the land so flat seas and sunshine meant we sailed most of the way only motoring when the wind died. Temptress has now done over a 1000 nautical miles since leaving Southsea! Late afternoon at Ardglass the Harris welcome committee was out in force (Colin with his wife Liz as well as Trish) complete with a chilli con carne supper for all (plus a veggie version for Aine). We were a merry bunch round the saloon table catching up on news and retelling tales of years gone by. Colin was happy snapping the harbour wildlife; oyster catchers, herons and grey seals from the cockpit. Ardglass is a very tiny, well sheltered and attractive little haven with rocks dividing the area into several little harbours and a friendly welcome at the marina. The village has not one but seven castles although most are not castles in the accepted sense of the word but are fortified tower houses. The golf course clubhouse is actually a series of fortified warehouses. All these “castles” are testament to the number of invaders who’ve ransacked this coast over the centuries – Vikings, Normans, English, Scots and even the American privateer John Paul Jones.

A Turnstone? On the rocks at Bangor

More decisions need to be made – where next down the Irish coast? Carlingford, Wicklow or even the new marina at Greystones? Wicklow is about 80 nautical miles south of Ardglass, a good days sail skirting the sandbanks that are a feature of the part of the coast. Carlingford and Greystones lie in between. From Wicklow we’ll make some westing by heading along the southern Irish coast another 140 nautical miles to Crosshaven.

And where after Ireland? Our original sketchy plan was to head out to the Azores but re-reading the pilot books the skipper realised we’d missed the boat (excuse the pun) as the Azores sailing season is June to Mid August. So Portugal and Madeira seems a more sensible route weatherwise meaning that currently the plan is from the South of Ireland to take the first forecast of northerly winds to head south past Biscay and Finnisterre to Bayona or beyond and aim to be in the Canaries in October.

Log: Carrickfergus – Bangor – Ardglass 67nm total 1006nm