2014 Summer Cruise – Schuuper – Part 2

Read part 1 of this log

June 23rd – 12th July. The Irish side of the Irish Sea

We returned to Schuuper on early morning flight accompanied by Ian, Sue’s brother. Weather was hot and sunny but no wind, so headed into Dublin for the evening. Caught the Luas along with 500+ teenagers returning from day at beach – noisy or what!
Tuesday saw us up early for showers and fuel. Heading north for Carlingford Lough. Light winds and tide against, we had sail up but no wind. Two Irish Coastguards vessels doing huge figure of eights at speed; either on day out or perhaps chasing an intruder; who knows? Mountains of Mourne came down through the mist and went again as we arrived Carlingford 18.30. Not the prettiest place, industrial sort of estuary with a strange arrangement of concrete blocks at the marina entrance. Carlingford Lough forms a border between The Republic of Ireland to the South and Northern Island to the North, so Euros one side and Sterling the other.

strangford lough turbinestrangford lighthouse

Set off to explore this historic town, a Roman mint and a castle dating 1200 A.D.
The first watering hole we visited very quiet but the second – PJ’s, had live music, well a singer, and some dancing. Within minutes Ian was trying out his Salsa moves with All The Local Girls! Had late drinks back on Schuuper with other crews we had met, finally to bed 02.30. Very slow start next day left 10.00 for Strangford Lough. Mixed feelings onboard about this one; Peter and Ian looking forward to seeing the Turbine; Sue apprehensive, due to all the stories related to the horror of the strong tides!
Passed Hellyhunter mark at 11.00 am, engine off and 6 knots in a smooth sea – great sailing. Progress might have to ease off if to meet LW 14.00 at Ardglass for stores. They are clearly conditioned to yachts stopping at Ardglass to tune in the entry into Carlingford; as they charge the berthing by the hour! Left on time and at 19.00 turned into Strangford Lough spot on low water. Within 20 minutes, as we passed the Tidal turbine there was 4 knots from the tide.
20.00 Picked up Mooring at Audley Roads, pretty place. In morning walked up to castle, a film location for Game of Thrones. Met a resident who spoke highly of the wave turbine. It generates power for 20,000 homes in the locality; and, contrary to environmentalists concerns, does not chew up seals. Pleased to see that this experiment actually works, and it is no more a hazard to sailors, than the lighthouse at the entrance; just don’t hit it! Moved on up to Kircubbin SC , no sign of activity, raining ,sleepy lunch.

Down YC lightshipDown YC table

Continued on our way to Down YC, motoring between the Islets, very shallow through the last channel. Moored alongside pontoon of Lightship, no one around but open for visitors to use shower facilities and to have a look around. Bar not open the evening but we saw the table above; wonder how that would go down at RNYC. Caught a taxi into Balloo village, great mussels in cider with celeriac. Disturbed night with so much tide running under boat, Peter and Sue up in the small hours, rigging a ‘breakwater’ with some fenders. Had to wait for depth and tide, so jobs on boat. Left for Strangford Narrows, passed turbine at 8knots SOG. No problems and waved to engineers servicing the gears. Excellent sail down Lough under ¾ jib, straight out of narrows. Started beating north but eventually gave up sailing and motored head to wind thro Donaghadee Sound against wind and tide – full revs. Called at Bangor Marina for overnight stop. 28thJune, left for Belfast City Marina. No staff. They have an automated system which issues you a ticket with your number to access pontoon and facilities.£16 for 24 hrs, great value, with everything you need close by. We had pre booked tickets for the Titanic Experience, an interesting history of the building of Titanic not just about the ‘sinking’. Peter and Ian went off to explore Belfast, Sue used the opportunity to use the washer and dryer, all included in the £16. Busy Saturday night in Belfast, quite difficult to find somewhere to eat, trawled a few bars but very noisy, must be getting old.
Sunday morning, stumbled onto an Open topped bus doing City tour. Learned a lot in 90minutes travelling through this once troubled City. 1.30pm Ian left for the Airport.
Slipped out of Belfast City Marina at 2.00pm into a beautiful clear sea. By 4.00pm we could see Mull of Kintyre; Ailsa Craig; Mull of Galloway and Isle of Man; with the green backdrop of Northern Ireland behind.
Arrived at Glenarm at 7.00pm to find a pretty well kept harbour. No food ashore, but there was good company on the pontoons. We had a fascinating view from the cockpit of Guillemots flying straight into the harbour wall; tiny shadows showed where their nests were. In the morning there was a rowdy chattering from the inner end of the pontoons, as the young were taught to fly and swim. A walk through the pretty village brought two surprises; an Artisan Jeweller with just the thing for Sue’s birthday; and a delightful forest walk, which just allowed said jeweller the time to adjust it for length, and wrap it nicely! Job done and only a month late.
Coffee and cake before reluctant leaving; but not before hearing about the ‘Magic Carpet’ from the Harbourmaster. If heading across the North Channel; leave a clear hour before high; sail close inshore around the bay; pick up 1.5 to 2 knots reverse eddy, then pop out at the headland 8 mile North and pick up the ebb, across wherever your plan takes you. And it worked a treat; perfect crossing took us to Gigha by 20.00. The log showed 36 miles; but we had travelled over 40 miles. We now have a new expression for a reverse eddy; our own Magic Carpet. It got us there in time for the usual excellent meal in the Boathouse. Serenaded by ‘two in a canoe’ at 3.00am.
Tuesday First of July was a perfect holiday day on Gigha; walk to the South; Art Gallery; pub; sleep through the afternoon; but strong winds were approaching, so we left 04.00 Wednesday for an early run up the Sound of Jura to Ardfern. Stopped for fuel, calor, and stores, before slipping through Cuan Sound and out into a rather breezy Loch Linne. Suffered two hours of wind over tide; before the tide turned in our favour just before Lady Rock. The wind then showed us that it meant business, with 35knots off Loch Aline. We pressed on as we didn’t fancy entering in a strong SW wind, and we had an appointment with Doug Sharp at the Mishnish. Tobermory was totally full; but as we approached someone dropped a mooring; we swooped in and bagged it, just in case they changed their mind. A tough wet 76 mile day; double Rum.
Met Doug, with Roger and June Rhodes for a quiet drink; then bed!
They left for Loch Aline, despite the poor forecast, and we hid from the rain; Ah, Mull in July.
Saturday 5th July the weather had settled so we set off and had a fine sail across the Minch to Acairseid Mor on Eriksay. Usual first time nerves with a tricky entrance, but anchored safely with 3 other yachts. Great to be in the outer Islands again. Good walk to the SS Politician for an excellent fish chowder; followed by even better Scampi. We needed the walk back along the shore, with the sun setting over North Barra, to settle things down.

North Barra

Slept well and late into Sunday. Fishing boats started picking up floating crates full of crabs out of the sea about 11.00 am; by 11.30 a white refrigerated van had appeared on the dock, the boats pulled in, offloaded into the van and in 30 minutes it was fully loaded, and over the hill to the ferry; the Sabbath was hardly disturbed.
The afternoon brought a brisk Southwesterly so we left for North. We flew up the coast, past Loch Boisdale, and chose to stop at Skipport, and into Wizard pool – completely isolated. Total tranquillity; then 4 Kayaks paddled through. Sue and Peter both pulled out the paints and tried again to be the new Lowry, had more success with Mancala.
Left in the morning with Westerly 4/5. What fabulous sailing, we could go on for ever, but serious forecast brought us to reality, and heading in to Loch Maddy. Saw 6/7/8 masts over the pier, so no chance of a mooring- round the corner and Wow! New pontoons, wide and secure with electricity and showers to come. Great to be there, with good food at the Loch Maddy Hotel.

Taransay white sand

Set off through Cope Passage heading for Taransay. Great weather and great sailing. Spent an hour ashore, white sand, beautiful shells and only us. Anchored for the night in Loch Bub Abhain, off the head of West Loch Tarbert, under the ruins of an old whaling station. Sailed back down past Taransay in the morning, and this time we took the Stanton Passage through the Sound of Harris. Very shallow in places but well buoyed, and we fitted in a quick visit to Leverburgh. The hub of this place was the ‘Butty Bus’, doing a roaring trade of burgers and chips from an old bus.
Headed out, not quite sure where to at that point, then, as the weather was settled, decided on the Shiant Islands. Arrived 18.00 and motored round the Islands.

Shiant IslandsShiant Islands

Wonderful geology and fantastic birds – swooping, circling, ducking and diving. Puffins, Razor bills,Terns and Gannets followed by a great display from a pod of porpoises. Anchored off En an Tighe, paddled ashore and met a dozen people staying in Compton McKenzies old cottage and doing a survey for BOS, ringing birds and looking at nesting patterns. They do this every year over a fortnight with volunteers giving their time.
Next day left for Rona, light northerly which gave Peter a chance to play with the cruising chute. Arrived in anchorage – busy! 3 Swedish boats,1 x Hallberg Rassy, 1 x other, us and then 2 more arrived – it’s a quite small place . Peter had a walk ashore to ‘church’ in a cave, candles lit inside, quite blown away by it all. Sue painted. Peter bought some langoustines from the farm shop, made for a delicious meal. Delightful evening, bird watching.
Up a couple of times during night along with a few others – anchor, rocks, all good things to worry about in a busy anchorage.

Left at 09.00, blue sky, turquoise sea and good sailing on a gloriously sunny day. Arrived Baddachro, Loch Gairloch at noon, picked up mooring. Met with Rob Adams who looks after the moorings there, and felt we would be leaving Schuuper in a safe place, while we returned home, East Coast week was calling. We met three guys that evening, in the Baddachro Inn, who along with sailing were taking underwater photo’s. They had been into Fingals cave and the resulting pictures were truly amazing, turned out one was a professional photographer.
12th July, left for home, quite a complicated journey but beautiful scenery. On the train between Inverness and Edinburgh we met a lovely girl, a history teacher from Colarado, who had been on Skye doing a two month course on Gaelic music and dance, really interesting. She also had great knowledge of Scotch Whisky !
Schuuper bow