Skippers Blog, Gigha to Belfast and Dublin, posted on 11 August

After the ´high´ of our days in Gigha waiting for the wind to blow somewhere other than from the South, we finally departed on Thursday 2 August at 0630 in light winds from the SE. As we passed the South Harbour, we noticed Maggie McSporran waving from her house, and we all

Photos from Upper left (1) Stuart at the helm (2) Fraser (3) Achamore Gardens, Gigha,  (4) Approaching Muglhins at SE corner of Dublin Bay (5) Peter in the early morning approach to Dublin.


waved back. Maggie really looked after us all in Gigha.  Also met with Alan Rankin, now Islands Manager for National Trust of Scotland (what a great job!), and his friend Tony from Aberdeen, who were also sailing in Gigha.

Sailing was necessarily intermittent, so we used a mix of sail and engine. The tide gave us a good start down to and beyond the end of Mull of Kintyre, where no mist was rolling in from the sea today, and the waters were unusually calm.

We called the harbor master in Bangor on Channel 80 VHF, and finally moored in Bangor Marina at 1830, and old friend Peter Willis joined the crew. We all enjoyed a roast Orkney lamb and red wine dinner together.

Fraser and Stuart disembarked on the following morning to catch the Belfast-Inverness flight at 0815, and Peter and I shopped, did laundry, filled with water etc.

Peter and I noted a good forecast and favourable tides for the morning of Saturday 4thAugust, and cast off at 0945 for Dublin Bay. It was a fine night for observing the stars, especially Polaris, sailor´s friend, steadfast in the North. We expected a day and a night sail. There was not much wind, and the tides were sometimes with us, sometimes against. The Irish sea is a very tricky place for tides, since the flow is at first around the north of Ireland and into the Irish Sea, but simultaneously, and further south, from the south and west into the Irish sea. There is a kind of tidal doldrums mid way. After calling the Harbour Master at Dun Laoghaire on Channel 80 and finding out we  we should moor, we finally arrived at our destination at 0700. Then we had a sleep, and later a large cooked brunch.  Later we visited the Maritime Museum, learning a little about Ireland´s maritime history, shipbuilding, and related matters.  That was very interesting, especially talking to one of the curators.

Peter had a day in Dublin on monday, and I did the laundry, shopping etc. Sally Shortall and Dave came for dinner and stayed the night, having been in Laois for a family 50thbirthday celebration. We were also joined by old Masters student Deirdre Joyce and her (sailing) husband Fergus, old friends that I had not seen for some years. We had a great evening together that ended all too soon. Fergus expressed a wish to join the Brazil venture at some point, which was great. All resolved that they would meet us when we land at Cork or Waterford next year after the sail from Azores. I hope we get there, as I know it will be a great party!

Tuesday was a day of preparation – shopping, laundry, filling water, checking all the forecasts and routing information we could get hold of, and so on.  Sally and Dave disembarked at about 1030am.  The sail from Dublin to Falmouth is a serious proposition, not for the faint hearted.  It is 236 nautical miles, and at an average speed of 5 knots, that means 48 hours – two days and two nights. In strong winds, there can be wind-against-tide turbulence, and St George´s Channel, Bristol Channel and the Western Approaches as well as Lands End and notorious. I was short-handed with only Peter, and I don’t normally do even one night sails with less than 3 on board, which allows one at a time to have a little sleep.  So I was both nervous and careful! Looking at the 5 day forecasts, we planned to depart on the mornings of either 7thor 8thAugust, leaving at High Water Dover to gain maximum advantage from the tidal flows, and trying to arrive at Lands End about 3-4 hours before HW Dover to maximize the gain from Tidal flows from there towards Falmouth.  The sail to Falmouth is the topic for the next blog post, so I will stop there.

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