Antipole cruises

The North Channel and southwards

We explored some of Rathlin island on our first evening, although the sea mist appearing and disappearing limited some of the views.  Sunday was much taken up with trying to dry the boat out to investigate a problem with the forwards heads (blocked toilet).  The very small tidal rise and fall made it only partially successful, but it did enable us to close the seacock.

On Monday we set sail southwards through the North Channel, aided by a strong tide that swept us along despite the head wind.  It is only eleven miles between Ireland and Scotland here, so we had beautiful views of the mountains on both sides.  We anchored overnight in Brown’s Bay.  We saw three other yachts that day, which is a big change from the west coast, where we might go all day without seeing another boat, apart from the odd inshore pot fisherman.

On Tuesday we pressed on south across the entrance to Belfast Lough and down the Ards peninsular.  We could see sweeping views of Ireland, Scotland, England and the Isle of Man all at once.  The vast, vast skyscapes were breathtaking.  The thought of one day being back indoors seems strange.

We finally came to Strangford Lough.  We were all set up to negotiate the entrance, had taken the mainsail down ready to reach in under genoa and lined up the leading mark with the castle behind, when we were hit by a violent rain storm, which soaked us and completely blotted out the navigational marks.  So we had to struggle out to sea again until things quietened down.

Strangford Lough is an extensive flooded drumlin – an area of boulders and other detritus left behind by a glacier, so it has lots of islets or ‘pladdies’, which are sometimes submerged.  There is a long narrow entrance through which the sea sluices in and out with the tide.  The stream frequently exceeding six knots.  We crept in during the calm after the rain storm under just our genoa but were actually exceeding eight knots over the ground.  We anchored overnight before going into the marina at Portaferry, where we have mains electricity and water alongside.  Tony has finally managed to unblock the heads.

We will sit out the coming blow and wait in Strangford Lough until Tony’s daughter Sarah arrives on Sunday for a few days.

Love as ever,
Ynskje & Tony

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