2014 Summer Cruise – Schuuper – Part 1

Schuuper - Breehorn 37

Schuuper – Breehorn 37

Our cruise this year was broadly 3 x 3 week sections, giving us 9 wonderful weeks onboard. A rewarding first Summer of Retirement – and our introduction to The Magic Carpet!

Part 1 May 18th – 8th June. Scotland/IOM/Wales/Ireland (should have got a Celtic nations flag)

A strong Southerly with rain was not the best forecast to leave Ardrossan for our Irish Sea Cruise, but on 18th May, Peter, Sue and George Eland set off and whizzed across to Lamlash on Arran. We had a look at the new jetty on Holy Island but it looked very light so picked up a buoy near the Southern entrance. Rum all round – that seemed to start a trend!
A motor sail to the delights of Portpatrick next day, tied up on wall. Two excellent pubs, tempting to stay longer but early noises from other boats indicated time to leave; just as well as depth went to 0.1m under the keel over sandy bar on way out. Fabulous sail close down the Galloway coast in SE 20mph; reeled off the miles in a contra tide 100 yards from the shore, then launched out into the Rhinns at HW+1; absolutely not when you are supposed to!
White water for an hour, then a fast close reach across to Point of Ayre on the isle of Man. Again, a bit lumpy, with fascinating lines of sight between eyeball and chart plotter. How did people navigate here with Square riggers and lead lines? Wind headed and died so had to push the revs a bit to make the last lock into Douglas harbour. Well deserved Rum, then beer and meal ashore – plenty of choice!

Schuuper close reaching towards the Isle of Man

Schuuper close reaching towards the Isle of Man

George spent a further day with us, taking in a bus trip across the Island; sharing his expert knowledge of the TT course on route. The roads were being prepared for the 2014 race which was starting in a few days time – (and I thought our arrival date was a coincidence). Peel Harbour full with visiting yachts, very picturesque place and we fully recommend the Creek Inn.
Douglas Marina has friendly, helpful harbour staff and a very sociable Yacht club – a contingent of sailing supporters of TT entrants made for lively evenings! Family came out and joined us for a few days. The Island is a great place for all ages with many attractions – horse drawn carriages along the promenade, steam railway down to South of Island and glorious beach, electric railway up Snaefell – boys loved the journey but thick fog at top on the day we went – Laxey Wheel and the Mahannan Museum at Peel – a truly great place and we would recommend a visit.
And of course the TT bikes for the bigger boys!

Rowing practice with the boys

Rowing practice with the boys

Quarter bridge turn

Quarter bridge turn

After the family left we decided to take advantage of a late evening South-going tide, so did a last lock out of Douglas at 10pm heading for Port St Mary, on a very dark night. Arriving at Port St Mary midnight-ish, we wondered who had stolen the leading lights, they just weren’t there! going very slowly in, we found a huge Dutch Three Master, anchored across the bay obliterating everything! No time for going ashore, we were off early morning heading for Menai. A brisk NE giving a good 7k under full sail got us there in good time. Too good, in fact, so we had an interesting entry over Dutchmans Bank, wind over tide and swirling fog. Handy though, that the last of the ebb slowed us down, and allowed time to sort which way round the lighthouse we should go. The harbourmaster offered to take us alongside St Georges Pier, as the University boat which regularly berths there, was on expedition in Scotland. Great spot.

We renamed this place as ‘Missed’ as we missed:
1) Our friend Glenys who lives there –went on holiday the day before;
2) The Commonwealth Relay baton – stopped there the day before;
3) The bus to Beaumauris- complete service stopped that day;
4) Raft race and procession;
5) Heritage exhibition closed the night before;
Fortunately the pub was open!

Sat 31st May – Happy anniversary! Celebrated with breakfast ashore on the High Street, must mention the Ironmongers a treasure trove of delights for Peter.
We had advice from EVERYONE as to when to leave to go through the Swellies. We decided (planned) 2hrs before high water Liverpool therefore 11.30 depart. Great passage, perfect warm day with plenty of sunshine, just right for a celebration day. Fascinating scenery on either side, including Plas Menai.
Arrived Caernarfon Victoria Dock Marina, very peaceful, may stay 2 nights? Visited RCYC, entrance through a door in City Wall. Club .. Ummm a bit staid and dare we say a bit damp.
Best bit was the sunset. We then found the Black Boy a famous old pub, very, very busy.

schuuper-caernarfon-victoria-dock Schuuper Caernarfon sunset

We decided to head off the next day so a quick visit ashore for provisions – even got £10 off the shopping from Morrisons – must have known it was Sue’s birthday! We had planned to continue South out over Caernarfon Bar, down to Pilots Cove but a change in weather, of course meant change of plan, and as we had enjoyed the Swellies so much we thought we’d give it a second go! Destination Holyhead, the North way round. Again great fun, porpoises off Beaumauris plus a telephone call from Grandchildren to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ wonderful! Big change in weather from Puffin Island to Holyhead, strong Southerly, kept very close inshore in another reverse tide flow to avoid a hugely confused sea further out. Wind getting worse; 41knots at times. Schuuper and crew performed impeccably. Arrived in torrential rain, earning a substantial tot of rum, then had a very warm welcome at Holyhead Yacht Club, entertained by Tom, an old salt and definitely a character.

Schuuper Dublin Tallship 1 Schuuper Dublin Tallship 2

Next day left for Dublin 8am through Holyhead breakwater with ’fog patches’. Just what you want to cross the Irish Sea. Motorsailed most of the way, lots of ferries in both directions. On entering Dublin Bay we saw one then two, three then four Tall Ships/ Old Gaffers; there had been a gathering! The members of Poolbeg YC were most helpful and cheerful, we think still under the influence of the three day ‘gathering’! We were both tired but managed a couple of drinks in the clubhouse ( Guinness of course !). Late up following morning and after some jobs onboard headed into Dublin city. The Luas transport system is very efficient and quite reasonable in price. Had a trip down memory lane visiting a few well remembered pubs. Next day visited the Asgard Exhibition, Asgard is a 15m gaff rigged yacht that was owned by Robert Erskine Childers and in 1914 was used for a ‘gun running’ voyage from Germany to Howth to bring back rifles to arm the Irish Volunteers. The yacht has been restored and the story is fascinating. A change of culture then to took us to the Guinness Experience, we felt it a ‘must do’ as we were in Dublin – honestly no other reason.
That night there was an Eagles concert at the Arena, a stones throw from the marina, so managed to ‘obtain’ tickets. The show covered the start of the Eagles right up to date, with of course fantastic music. Late back to Poolbeg, but yes, the club was still open, so had to be sociable and have a drink. Chatted to a couple of hardened racers who could really drink!
Had pre booked a berth at our next destination Howth as we were planning to leave Schuuper there for a fortnight. Lucky to get last berth as they had a big regatta on that coming weekend. Huge clubhouse with facilities for everything – training,racing,cruising and wedding receptions – all going on at the same time !
Saturday was the Lambay Regatta, marina emptied, nearly every boat takes part in this one day race, fantastic. We decided to walk round Howth peninsula taking in such destinations as ‘the bog of frogs’ ! Great views of the racing. Had drinks on the roof terrace back at the club, as the racers returned, and as with any club brought lots of stories back with them. We met David, the current owner of Sparkle, previously owned by Brian and Ann. We were leaving the next day to fly home, so decided on a special meal ashore that evening to celebrate the successful finish to part 1 of our cruise.