Pembroke Haven Yacht Club

Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock

Leonore Summer cruise 2023


My last three trips to Ireland have been very successful being pitched in July, and I had been of the opinion that July was the region’s prime month for weather, however, be it El Nino or just increased global warming, this year just didn’t seem to comply right from the start. We scrubbed in late June and planned to start on 1 July, but had to keep putting off and putting off in the face of strong westerlies till eventually a decent Southerly was forecast, even if it was set to rise well into Force 6. Judging that this would be tolerable on the beam, indeed make for a quick trip, we provisioned up and got going from the pontoon in the late morning of 8 July.

Crew: David Hammond, Alan Pritchard.

Sailing Log

8/9 July    Pembroke Dock – Kinsale 154nm, 30 hrs wind S-SSW F2 -6

We were worried by the forecast of 3m swell, and  on the way out we picked up a discussion from VTS to a disgruntled tanker master that there was no time predicted for his pilot as there was too much swell for pilot boarding… oh well we decided to continue into it but preparing to turn about. As it happened the 3m swell period was 8/9 secs  and  Leonore coped just fine so we continued as the forecast was for dropping swell later on. South of Skokholm we lost the wind down to just a few knots, but plugged on to The Smalls towards dusk, where we had a close call with a small coaster whose English was very poor and misleading so eventually I decided to play safe and pass behind her. Putting the Sea Feather windvane on the helm, we headed for the Bulman rock at the entrance to Kinsale, distance 102nm. The wind rose in the night to a comfortable 20kt, and then on to 26kt before dropping to 15 or so in mid-morning.. all good going in SSW and eventually we arrived at the Bulman early evening to take the sails down and motor into Kinsale Yacht Club’s marina.  After tying up on the visitor pontoon we realised we were next to Otter a friend from Pembrokeshire cruising.

10 July    Day off - wind and rain

David walked around to the Charles Fort, while I got my phone fixed at a competent phone shop as it had taken on a strange mode of operation which rendered it unusable, to me any rate.

11 July    Kinsale – Glandore 49.6 nm 10.5 hrs Wind SW-NW F2-7

The weather was a bit more amenable this morning so we set off down the river at 8:30 with a just-useable WSW wind of F2-4/5 enabling us to make the Old Head of Kinsale  by 10 to resume our westward journey.

This went well with a single tack getting us across Courtmacsherry Bay to Seven Heads just after midday, and promising same again to Galley Head across Clonakilty Bay – but no – in heavy rain the wind backed and we were forced to tack towards the head in very squally wind. One massive rainsquall downdraught practically flattened us under full sail and then we were left with a 25 kt northwesterly meaning a beat to clear Galley Head and the dangerous semi-submerged Doolic Rock before we could reach safety  at the entrance to Glandore. Thank heavens for GPS plotters, as we really couldn’t see what we were doing after the dramas of the last couple of hours! Gradually the river afforded calm and we were able to get the sails down and prepare to anchor up by Glandore village. In fact we found a good mooring and were able to recover and get ashore early evening to complete rehabilitation.

12 July    Glandore – Baltimore   26.8nm 5.5 hrs

We were keen to get on, and with a westerly forecast F4-6, more beating was on the cards so we set 2 reefs in both sails to reach down the river and out to the west of Adam Island and out to sea. At High Island we were able to unreef the genoa and continue tacking out and then back towards shore as far as the entrance to Castletownsend then out again to the spectacular Stag Rocks, coming back inland to complete transit of Stag Sound. Now we could head out to sea in wind up to 25kt being dealt with comfortably enough past Kedge Rock to a point where we could tack back into Baltimore entrance. Approaching the town, we took up one of Atlantic boating’s moorings and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.  Ashore for the evening, we took advantage of the limited shower facility (one only but wonderful!) followed by the customary drinking, eating and drinking again.

13 July    Baltimore – Cape Clear Island North Harbour   10.8 nm  3 hrs

There were heavy wind warnings but with unclear timing, however in the morning things were pretty calm, and there were many safety options close at hand if required, so we set off out through the Baltimore entrance , tacking west in a F4 then entering the relative safety of Roaring Water Bay by taking Gascanane  Sound at the eastern end of Clear Island.  At this time a warning of high winds was received and we decided to take cover as soon as practical. Hailing (on VHF) a yacht seen leaving Clear Island’s North Harbour on, we were told that there was some room inside, so we headed over and motored in to the tiny harbour, waiting against the wall till the tide allowed entry to the pontoon area. Rafting up alongside two other similarly sized yachts, we made instant friends that were destined to be our companions on a small island for a few days.


13/14/15 July    Storm bound in Harbour

Well, if you have to take a few days off, and you like a nice peaceful setting, turns out Cape Clear Island is an excellent refuge. For a start, the snug marina hasn’t quite been finished - although there is water, showers and electricity. However technically it isn’t finished because they haven’t connected up the fire hydrants and so they can’t charge visitors yet! So, first evening the first pub (Cotter’s Bar) did us fine, and later next day we completed the Island’s crawl with the other pub, Ciaran Danny Mike’s. Wherever we went we socialised with other marina inhabitants as well as Island locals, a great atmosphere all round. There was fabulous scenery and wonderful walking all around, meanwhile outside, Roaring Water Bay lived up to its name as Westnorthwesterly gales built up the waves sweeping by in white cresting ranks. The South Haven was relatively quiet, only being open to the south, and this was a lovely spot to visit just beyond CDM’s pub. Three nights and two whole days did not pall in the slightest.

16 July    Clear Island – Crookhaven  13.2 nm  3.5hrs

All good things come to an end and with the wind falling to F4/5 we still had a chance to round the Mizen and have a couple of days beyond with luck, so after getting help from our new friends turning Leonore round (yes, yes, no reverse gear!) to face out, we continued our westward journey, pleasantly tacking  across Roaring Water Bay and then putting in to Crookhaven, as a rounding of the Mizen would have to be timed for the tide tomorrow. We tacked along the inlet, then took a buoy right opposite O’Sullivan’s Pub where we were in time for a late lunch.


A bit of a wander around and back to the boat for a planning session with more forecasts. So now the prediction was for a very quiet patch, followed by a storm. We thus planned to turn around and make our way home, maybe next stop Castletownsend or Glandore.

17 July    Crookhaven – Baltimore   15nm   5hrs

We set off running out of Crookhaven in a light wind, and made our way out around the south tip of Cape Clear , but the wind fell further as we crossed the South Haven and we were wallowing badly, so we turned to motor along the coast to Baltimore, the Fastnet Rock sadly diminishing behind us for this year. Taking a buoy in much the same place as before, we took the opportunity to visit Dun na Sead ‘Castle of the Jewels’ now an interesting museum featuring the history of the Sack of Baltimore by Algerian corsairs in 1631 when about a hundred locals were kidnapped and transported to Algiers as slaves. Good to have the time to visit when it’s open! Then showers, and dinner appropriately in The Algiers Inn followed by drinking as per tradition in Bushes Bar. Rain swept in for our ride out to the boat and it hammered down all night.

18 July    Baltimore – Glandore   23nm (with aborted trip)  8hrs all told

Rain put us off an early rise, and now the forecast said very light wind for three days then a big storm. OK so we’ll head home, but the long trip between Glandore and Kinsale was going to be a challenge in very light winds. Out at the Kedge rock we were downwind, wallowing and slatting so badly I decided to abort the trip and look to leave the boat at Baltimore, cut our losses and get home by bus and ferry , to return later when the weather improved. Back at Baltimore I could fix a mooring but not a safe place for the dinghy, so I called a contact in Glandore who offered the full package and as there was now a hint of a bit more wind took that option. Setting out again, the trip was more comfortable and even a bit of a reach as we approached Adam’s Island and made our way in to Glandore.  Identifying Dermo’s mooring we felt quite at home in the midst of about 10 local Dragons (Leonore has been described as a cruising version of a Dragon). We had a great meal in the Glandore Inn, whilst consulting bus timetables and determining that we had to walk to Leap (pronounced Lep, 45 mins) to get the bus to Cork, then Waterford, Wexford and then on to the Oscar Wilde at Rosslare Europort.


19 July – 9 August    Weather dictated Interval

All went as planned the night before, and we left our dinghy in the small friendly harbour with Dermo watching over both dinghy and Leonore.

The Oscar Wilde seemed to be a slight step up from the Isle of Inishmore, as it whisked us past the Tuskar Rock at sunset and headed for Pembrokeshire





As per previous trips I enjoyed entering the Haven, getting a checkup on what all the lights look like, albeit at double speed!

Back home the lows kept rattling in and what with other issues it was three weeks before we could get a favourable trip out organised. Going out on the Oscar Wilde at night we took the luxury option of a cabin, which despite being the cheapest was excellent, and got us off to a good start.

Chopping between the parallel bus services of Bus Eireann and local offerings, we arrived in Leap mid afternoon and got a few provisions before walking down to Glandore and emptying about 6 inches of water from the dinghy. All was fine, batteries up, engine started – off to the pub. Things being what they are in West Cork, although Dermo was away sailing a Dragon in Schull, everyone knew all about us, and it was fine leaving cash for our mooring with Lar the barman where we were drinking at Casey’s.

10/11 August Glandore – Pembroke Dock  log 172nm  35hrs

So, we planned a leg to Kinsale or Cork, prior to crossing directly to Milford. However, the day dawned with a thick fog. To let it clear, we took the dinghy to Union Hall just across the river, to beef up our supplies and get a coffee and generally pass some time. Still the fog remains and we can’t even see Glandore till we get half way back towards it. On board and coming up to midday it was still foggy but we decided to go and see if it was better offshore. It wasn’t, so we sailed in about 8kt of wind, so as to hear any other vessels. There were one or two, and we continued in fog to pass the Doolic Rock and Galley Head unseen, and then turned due East for the Old Head of Kinsale. All in all it took till 1630 to clear and then the wind picked up and we began to make decent speed. At 2100 we were 5 nm off the Old Head and it was getting dark so we figured it wasn’t worth putting in at Kinsale as we’d be really late and not really benefit from a stop, so onward with a reef in the main and the windvane set to steer us to The Smalls, some 100 miles away. Now there was quite a swell and setting up the windvane made me sick for the first time in many years.. oh well dinner ended up in a bucket, and later David was sick as well but luckily we phased it well and in any case we only had to keep watch as we were on a nice reach in the southerly breeze.  Milestones passed at gradually increasing distance north - Cork, Ballycotton, and around dawn Ardmore, till around midday in the area of the M5 Met Eirean buoy where there were quite a few AIS contacts, mostly a few miles off and probably fishing boats. At 1600 we started on the Southbound Smalls TSS passing very close behind a container ship. There was nothing in the northbound lane and we passed south of The Smalls at 1800 keeping up 6kt to Skokholm and by St Ann’s it was very dark, but there was no traffic as we entered the Haven under sail and pulled over just past Chapel buoy to get the main down and continue under motor up to our mooring – a quick whisky and some proper rest at last!

In the morning we were held off going to the pontoon for a while as a workboat was hauling out a barnacle encrusted car attended by a couple of ribs and quite a few people involved all told.

Leonore Summer cruise 2020


As Covid restrictions gradually improved over the summer, I managed to get Leonore launched following along hot and dry spring which had seriously opened up her planking, and sure enough the water gushed in alarmingly and permanent pumping had to be arranged. After three days nursing in Neyland marina she had tightened up back to normal and I got her on the mooring whilst I went cruising to a Scilly just emerging from hospitality hibernation with my friend Phil in his boat, and contemplated options for Leonore’s cruise. British boats were banned from Ireland, although we could go to Northern Ireland. Scotland would be ok, and I had often mused over going up St George’s channel on the Welsh side rather than my usual approach of going direct to Dublin and up the Irish side from then on. So this was the year to try the Welsh side out, with a view to crossing to Northern Ireland from Anglesea. Various constraints limited time and crew and in a very fluid planning process I came out with just myself and David Hammond going for about 10 days.


24 July Pembroke Dock – Dale 7nm wind SW F4

We loaded up in the afternoon and took the very last of the ebb down to Dale, which involved a bit of tacking to get ourselves in the groove ready for a long sail tomorrow. We took a buoy while the tide rose, and eventually gauged the time perfectly to take Leonore onto the land pontoon, and check in to the Griffin’s newly erected outdoor restaurant tent area. The beer and fish-based meal was excellent, if expensive, but a real tonic after the grim restrictions on hospitality in Wales of late. Well sated we piloted Leonore back to a mooring for the night.

25-6 July Dale – Holyhead 127 nm Wind WNW F4/5

Leaving at 0800 we motored out of Dale and put up sails for a very lumpy rounding of St Ann’s and found we couldn’t quite make the west side of Skomer, so after a quick tide check we headed for Jack Sound and were popped through by the tide, although it was very rough at the north end and we took several waves right down the boat to the spray hood. Emerging, once again we couldn’t make the South Bishop as the predicted W-WNW held at the NW end and we had to navigate the rockery inside of the Bishops and outside of Ramsey. This was quite nerve wracking as we were doing 9 knots in varying directions not connected to where we were pointing. Carreg-trai and the Bais Bank were closely negotiated and it was a blessing to be free at the north end and set the controls for South Stac off Anglesey. We went well all afternoon and shortly after dark we saw the lights off Bardsey Island, and began a 1hour on and off watch as the windvane steered us northwards. There was no traffic. At daylight we were 10 miles off our safe turning waypoint to clear both North and South Stacs and clear the worst of the attendant races, which we reached at 0730 and then piloted our way east through minor races to the head of the world’s second longest pier and finally into quieter waters. There was still a way to go however, with still a fresh westerly wind as we headed over to where the GPS showed a large marina. Although we knew the marina had been wrecked a couple of years ago in storm Emma, we were dismayed at only having about 50m of pontoon with a single visitor yacht and half sunk wreckage all around. Still, we tied up and met our neighbours to discover that the marina wasn’t manned at weekends – logical? A long sleep was called for before venturing out for breakfast etc.


27 & 8 July Days off

On both days a strong WNW wind forcing spray over the top of the pier denied us any chance of heading to Northern Ireland or anywhere else for that matter. We walked the impressively long pier


and sought out the meagre covid-struck hospitality venues in and around town, which were such that we ate at the only close pub for three consecutive nights! Supplies were replenished after a longish walk into Holyhead, and the marina did open, to reveal very adequate shower and toilet facilities. We made friends with our neighbour boat and while they were waiting more days for the weather to settle for Northern Ireland we offered itinerant Polish crew member Marching to come with us around Anglesey and down the Menai Strait next day if he found his own way back.

29 July Holyhead – Caernarfon 34.9 nm wind W F3/4


At last we could move, and set out with Marching putting up the sails in harbour and making good progress up the west side of the island to Carmel Head. Here we took the inside route and there was no serious race to contend with as we turned east and goose winged our way along the north coast dodging various obstacles which gave us no trouble. I had to engage the windvane to show its virtues to Marching who was very interested as he was planning to get a boat and sail singlehanded. At Point Lynas there were again no races of note as we turned south and had a good sail down to Puffin Island. Here we began the Menai Strait, changing to engine power to follow a succession of buoys and keeping an eye on time so as to hit the Swellies at optimum time. Grand victorian Beaumaris was very impressive, and we had planned to stop and wait here if required, but as it happened we were spot-on time so just motored on. An hour later we came to the famous Menai bridge right at high water, so the Swellies rocks and currents just beyond were totally tamed though we stuck to the recommended route nonetheless.


It only remained to motor/drift on down the strait past Port Dinorwic to Victoria Dock at Caernarfon, where we entered over the sill with a short time to spare and were welcomed by the HM and triple rafted on a couple of unoccupied boats. Later on Caernarfon was much more lively than Holyhead, having a choice of several busy pubs though tables and food had to be waited for.


30 July Caernarfon – Porth Dinllaen 41.2 nm Wind SW 6/4

Water over the sill and at the Caernarfon bar dictated we sail off early, so we said goodbye to Marching who headed back to Holyhead. The wind was strong against us going down the strait and it was good to have heard from the HM that he HAD layed the buoys this year (himself) as according to the GPS we often strayed over shallow banks and should have gone aground. Finally we made it to the last pair of buoys and were able to lay off on a tack in safe water. We tacked over to Porth Dinllaen and then back out to sea before heading for the gap between Bardsey Island and the mainland, eventual target Abersoch. However, as we approached the gap it was obvious that the tide was against and a quick check found a planning blunder as I had got high and low tide mixed up as I concentrated on the Caernarfon Bar. We tried to beat the tide but had to give up and headed back at good speed to Porth Dinllaen for the night. The only pub had closed at 8pm, so we had a clip_image012on board and made sure the planning was right for tomorrow!

31 July Porth Dinllaen – Abersoch 24.1 nm Wind W F3/5

Timed our departure to have a good sail and arrive in time for the tide at Bardsey, and duly popped through into north Cardigan Bay and run east past a series of heads, inside an island and into a big sandy bay at Abersoch, where we anchored and marvelled at the huge variety of watersports going on all around. We VHF’d the Sailing club, asking for a mooring as the wind was now quite fresh but they said there were no serviced moorings, however as we needed fuel water and supplies they would treat us under ‘Port-in-a-storm’ and take us ashore in their water taxi, so we had a pleasant time ashore getting stuff though we weren’t allowed a shower. The club also took us back and managed to offer us a strong fishing boat mooring as the wind was now strengthening. This turned out to have an interesting pendant formed of two big wire cables each sheathed in soft hose and having nice cleat-sized loops to tie down onto our cleat- bomb proof and harmless to the boat. Planning for tomorrow opened the possibility of two long tacks, one down to Aberystwyth for the night then out to North Bishop the next day, but it wasn’t suitable considering the tides and onshore wind at Aberystwyth.. this sort of thing makes the Welsh coast awkward in several ways. So a direct southward journey was the only way. Dinner on board and hope the wind drops as per forecast in the morning.


1 Aug Abersoch – Skomer North Haven 78nm Wind SW/SSW/S 4/5

We set off at 0500 to get in a good day but progress was slow, and we were permanently on the wind which was much closer to South than we would have liked. Approaching the North Bishop it seemed unlikely we could get round it without a tack, so we put one in, but it wasn’t enough, and just as it began to get dark, and as on the way up, I decided to go close in to the west side of Ramsey. This was quite traumatic in the dark, but at least I had our northbound track on the GPS as a guide. At one point and blurred visibility with the sprayhood up I had a shock as we appeared to be really close to a flashing lighthouse on Ramsey, but it turned out to be the moon jumping in and out of view as the boat plunged in waves! Arriving at the south end of Ramsey I had had enough excitement and decided to call in at Skomer North Haven for the night and finish the journey next day, whenever Jack Sound allowed. This we did, joining two other yachts on buoys. A quick look at the tide table indicated 0800 would be right for the sound, so alarms set and a modest round of rum before bed.

2 Aug Skomer North Haven – Pembroke Dock 15nm Wind W 2/3

The overnight stop had worked well - a straightforward motor through Jack Sound and reach down to St Ann’s and then a run down the Haven against the tide and using the usual racing tactics got us to the mooring late morning to finish the cruise in good spirits.

Leonore Summer cruise 2019


Much planning had been done to enable this trip to be dovetailed with my friend Phil’s trip to the Channel Isles which I had promised to go on.. but the best laid plans went awry while we were in the Channel Isles, and my trip to Ireland had to be postponed, eliminating other crew save for myself and David Hammond an ex-colleague of mine.. and so it was that we rendezvous’d for shopping in Pembroke Dock and then after picking Christine up from work had a couple of pints in the Royal George in Pembroke whilst setting alarms for tomorrow.

13-14 July Pembroke Dock – Kinsale 140m wind F2-3 N

Our aim was to get a good way west in one go, and we set Kinsale as the target. Tide dictated that we should set off early, to make the most of west-bound streams, and so we did, leaving the mooring under sail at 0630 two hours after high water, with The Smalls lighthouse 27 miles distant. Progress was initially excellent with the light-ish northerly wind taking us to The Smalls shortly after midday, and we then entered the Smalls TSS, north-bound, no-man’s land then southbound with only one ship each way. We were then met with a wonderful dolphin display featuring lots of showing off – very welcome way of passing time un-noticed. In the afternoon the wind fell light and we struck the spinnaker to try and keep speed up, until dusk when we doused it for an easy night with about 70 miles to go to the Bulman buoy off Kinsale. In the night we motored to restore batteries but shortly before midnight we suffered a total electric failure, all lights and nav-aids going down. David got me out of bed and I went for a look in the switch-box, and on opening the door everything came back on, so neglecting further investigation for the moment we worked out a rig for jamming the door in an ‘on’ position, we carried on! We motored most of the dark hours in very low wind, but in the morning with about 40 miles to go tried the spinnaker again for an hour but not really progressing we returned to motoring. I was really chuffed that we could motor for so long on the refurbed and improved engine (see last year’s tribulations). A good winter’s work!


In mid morning we managed to sail again, eventually making our way past the Bulman and up river to Kinsale Yacht Club marina, tying up at the visitor pontoon, and having a swift guiness whilst paying at the club bar for our stay. Plenty time to fetch fuel and provisions from town before a rest, fix the electrical system (fatigued solder joint) and off to town for a top-notch meal at Crack-Pots and a few more drinks in assorted bars.

15 July Kinsale – Cape Clear Island North Harbour 46nm wind F3 E/ESE

We were fairly hemmed in on the pontoon in the morning but luckily folk in the outer boat ahead of us were up early and we pulled Leonore’s head out on my superlong polypropylene floating rope into position to put the engine on (no neutral available) Again, we planned to get west as quickly as possible and with a reasonable wind we reached down river and quickly over to the Old Head of Kinsale over breakfast, and then turned west where we had a great spinnaker run. Heads that are often so hard won in westerly winds passed quickly.. Seven Heads, Galley, Toe, and soon we passed Kedge Rock outside Baltimore and headed through Gascanane Sound into Roaringwater Bay under sail, then, heading for Crookhaven, I thought we would look into Cape Clear Island harbour to see what the new developments were like. As it was late afternoon, the busy ferry time had passed so getting caught in the narrow entrance channel was a low risk, and we had a clear run in, turning past what used to be the only deep water berth, and there it was – a sizeable deep pool with pontoons around the edge, so we pulled up on the nearest, and then turned the boat around ready for departure in case others came and made it difficult. Great.. off to pay dues but we soon found that it wasn’t considered finished yet, so was free for the time being.. better and better, considering showers and fuel were already available! A bit of walking in the evening and a simple pub meal made for a very satisfying day.


16 July Cape Clear- Glengarriff 31nm wind F2 W > F3 NW > F5 W

Up early again, but only light wind, so we motored to Mizen Head, and headed north, hoping to


make northwest to Dursey Sound and then Dingle, but this was impossible and we had to tack a couple of times just to keep to a northerly course and so decided to go for Bantry Bay. Passing Sheep head we were able to go on spinnaker as we turned into Bantry in a rising northwest wind and made good time to Glengarriff, where we picked up a visitor buoy. After a meal in town, the pub entertainment was Irish music, but performed by a multinational band which didn’t include any irish! Good to learn that the music is popular in Holland, Germany, USA and Austria!

17 July Glengarriff – Bere Island 18nm wind F5/6 WSW

Strong wind and rain was forecast for the morning, moderating later, so we decided on a tourist trip to the gardens of Garinish island, which we thought we would do by dinghy from the boat. However,


we almost didn’t get there when the cloud lowered to a fog and we had no visibility or satnav.. however we made it listening out for tourist boats, and then a lifting of the cloud. These gardens and walks are beautiful, even in the rain, and a warm café was welcome too. Making our way home, the outboard ran out of fuel, and we had not thought we needed to bring any (if we had made a direct line there) so time for David to try rowing. This was not easy as he hadn’t done it before and despite being a quality violin player was unable to master the co-ordination required and I despaired of getting home but for a strong westerly wind. If we hadn’t grabbed the boat at the first attempt I would have had to take over rowing, as the wind would have demanded straight line progress.

Anyway back to sailing.. it’s a long haul against the weather out of Bantry Bay, and as the wind was strong-ish I opted for a part-journey, stopping at the remote Lawrence Cove marina, and so we set off reefed down for a wet slog, which turned out to be quite fun and we were welcomed into the marina by the friendly owner to complete a good day, managed despite the weather. Here we met Kevin & Tina Rogers of Swn-y-Mor from Milford, who I knew in passing, so we had a good natter about our trips.


There’s not much on offer in the ‘town’, Rerrin, so we ate on board and investigated why the wind turbine had been going fast enough to explode before we tied it up en-route.. turned out to be a corroded connector allowing unrestricted speed. A trip to the quaint ex-military pub and then bed.


18 July Bere Island – Cape Clear Island South Harbour– Sherkin Island 52nm wind WNW 4

Up early again, and homeward bound now, motoring up to the top of Piper Sound just outside Castletownbere, where we could set sails for a broad reach in a nice moderate wind. Once we got out of Piper sound we had a lovely straight run for Mizen Head. On the way it seemed like a good day for staying at Cape Clear Island’s South Harbour (a first for me) with the wind being in the north, so after a spinnaker run from Mizen Head we pulled in to the bay and anchored in a really quiet spot. Motoring the dinghy ashore to the small harbour wall we went walking, ending up at the North Harbour again, where we got phone signal and found out that a strong southerly was on the way with a foul day tomorrow.


As the South Harbour is unsafe in a southerly we had a quick dinner and set off for Baltimore Harbour in a building swell.


Going for another first, we resisted the pull of Baltimore itself, and pulled up on the concrete barge pontoon at Sherkin Island, run by the Sherkin House Hotel just up the hill a bit, planning a day off tomorrow. For the evening we had a couple of drinks at the excellent proper pub the Jolly Roger a bit further up the hill, then came down to the Sherkin House for a dinner and a local’s music night.

19 July Sherkin Island – walking day off. Wind W F7

After a bit of a rough night being pushed onto the barge (there were no spaces on the lee side) we took breakfast at the hotel and picked up what there was on tourism, then adjusted and padded mooring lines then set off walking around the island, which does have some lovely locations and vistas – as well as some very wet overgrown grassy paths!


Unfortunately the café was having a locals lunch meeting so we only got coffee, but we were still running on breakfast really, so lunch was skipped and we got back to the boat and took showers offered by the Hotel. Later on we had dinner in the Jolly Roger to round off a relaxing day.

20 July Sherkin – Barloge Creek – Castletownsend 12nm wind WNW F4

A leisurely start, going genoa only out of Baltimore harbour and south of Kedge Rock,


making our way eastwards, and using GPS to find the hidden entrance to Barloge Creek (a third first on this trip).


The Creek is a popular tourist day tripper destination, renowned for the seawater waterfall at Loch Hyne. We anchored close behind another yacht in another beautiful location and took the


opportunity to experiment with set-ups for the sounder which has given up working in its normal location. By the time we had to leave we had sorted out a successful set-up with a sensor that read the shallow depth through the wooden hull, like for a fibreglass hull – conventional wisdom has it that this doesn’t work! Creeping carefully out we turned east and sailed through Stag Sound and into the river that runs up to Castletownsend.


Here we took a buoy that I have used several times before as it’s always free because it looks awfully close to Cat island and indeed the plotter says you’re over red-hatch uncharted rock but I found it works fine and have used it reliably. It being early we had time to look round the fascinating church and also walk out of town to the ancient hillfort which has fabulous views out over the coast. I was glad to see the portable toilet company with the world’s best strapline was still in business!


In the evening we had our second top-notch, at Mary Ann’s Michelin rated fish restaurant.. fabulous. Lily’s pub up the road provided music as part of a wedding do.

21 July Castletownsend – Crosshaven 52nm wind SSW 5>6

Wind was predicted good for a long passage, so we got up early, motored out of the river and made slightly south of east to clear the dangerous Doolic Rock (mostly underwater today) off distant Galley Head, then due East for seven Heads and then the Old Head of Kinsale which we took outside to avoid overfalls.


Heading north-ish for Cork we had to tack downwind for comfort and speed, skirting the Daunt Rock and then getting into the harbour at Roche’s Point to down sails and motor into the Owenboy River leading to Crosshaven. My favoured stop here is at Salve Marina because the understanding Dutch owner Wiese has always allowed me to stay where I have chosen to tie up on an easy berth given Leonore’s manoeuvring restrictions.. no such liberties at the Royal Cork – and it’s closer to town.


Going down to town we stopped at the Oar where we again met Kevin & Tina Roberts for a quick chat but we had to search out dinner, and promised to meet again at Fitzgibbon’s. Not much luck at Cronin’s but we were lucky to get a place sat up at the bar at the Ship which was crowded with families taking Sunday evening dinner. Ours was excellent and we rolled down replete to Fitzgibbon’s and had a pleasant late evening chatting with Kevin and Tina, and our expectation was to wait another day to see off heavy weather before heading for home.

22- 23 July Crosshaven – Pembroke Dock 129nm wind SSW 4/5 due to fall

Over a coffee in town we realised that although the wind was currently strong, calm weather was coming and we saw that we would have to leave today to get a decent stretch under sail, so we got back to the marina, showered up and went back to the coffee shop for lunch, and got ready to leave by 2pm. With a useful help from Kevin we turned around and headed out under engine and then at the harbour entrance set up the wind vane and sailed for St Ann’s 115 miles distant with the wind just forward of the beam whilst we cleared the next headlands and offshore rocks. These passed we bore away and went well, bringing the distance down to 70 miles by nightfall, when we also reefed the genoa.


The night presented us with lights from a number of mercurial fishing boats and a big ferry, probably Rosslare to Le Havre, and several distant big ships. Dawn came as we began the TSS crossing at The Smalls, although we had no troublesome traffic. Then passing south of The Smalls lighthouse with the wind backing eastwards we began to struggle with a strengthening north-going tide and realised we had failed to make south as much as we could have done earlier on. Eventually before Skokholm we had to tack south for a bit to get ourselves past St Ann’s into the Haven, at first sailing through Thorn Island Sound but then with a dead-east we motored against the tide up to our mooring at Hobbs Point by early afternoon. A journey that started so well, but was frustrating at the end. However, it was a good job we set off a day earlier than planned as the wind fell and what there was left now was easterly.

View User Profile for James Perrins

Leonore Summer Cruise 2016

Leonore was built in 1966 so this year is her 50th birthday year and I thought a special cruise was befitting. This thought was augmented by two factors: First towards the end of last year my friend and ex-neighbour Phil, being fed up with not managing to organise a cruise on his boat booked a place with me for 2016 like in the old days before he bought a boat - I snapped his hand off! Then at Christmas my friend Mick apologised for not coming in 2015 and promised to come this year, but tragically a few days later he was suddenly taken ill and died. Goes to show you can't tell what's round the corner and you should get on and do stuff while you can. Although it would be difficult on her, Christine was brilliant and fully supported me.

Phil and I toyed with joining the Classic Malts Cruise but in the end decided doing our own was better - after all seen one distillery you've seen ‘em all! I sketched a three week cruise basically one week up to Scotland, one up there and another back. A natural crew to make up the three with Phil was Jon as we had had many cruises in the past, so that was the middle week sorted. Once the idea was floated several others expressed interest and I put Andy Cunningham and Tim Davies together for the first week and David Hammond and Howard Williams on the third. A slight hitch occurred late on as Andy was unable to start till halfway through but luckily Paul Sanders stood in for that time.

11-12 June Pembroke Dock – Greystones (Dublin)

So all the prep work is done and finally three of us assemble at Hobbs Point to enact the great plan. Myself, Tim and Paul embarked at just before high tide to get a push downhaven and up to Skomer in the forecasted very light SSW wind. Actually and thankfully there was a bit of wind and we made adequate if gentle progress without engine. Rounding Skomer we made off for the Arklow Bank South end, passing close to The South Bishop lighthouse. The wind was never very much and moved to more southerly forcing us to tack downwind as there was a sizeable swell making a spinnaker run uncomfortable. By nightfall we were some 40 miles from the Arklow Bank and is a relatively safe area for traffic, and indeed there was very little. Dawn broke with still 20 miles to our first waypoint, and still tacking downwind, and thus it was early afternoon when we passed about 10 miles east of the 20 mile long Arklow Bank which is home to a striking line of massive wind turbines and guarded by the world’s biggest North Cardinal at its northern end. I don’t think they want anybody to miss it! At this point we’re actually north of Wicklow and Dublin is within striking distance. However, our poor progress had run us into a strong southbound anti tide and we would really struggle to get past Dalkey Island into Dublin Bay, so after a quick consultation of our library it looked like the new marina at Greystones was a possibility, and sure enough VHF contact resulted in a very friendly invite – the only problem was finding it along the grey coast. GPS to the rescue although we still weren’t sure where to enter till about 100m away! A brand new set-up greeted us with temporary facilities which were very welcome. We were in plenty time for a leisurely pint and stroll into town to choose our eatery, having forsaken the option of getting a train into Dublin to maximise the relaxation after our long journey.

13 June Greystones – Port Oriel

Next morning allowed a lie in waiting for the tide, however we were awoken by the steady clanging of a piledriver as the marina/residential complex continued to be constructed. Light rain accompanied our exit northwards in the tide up to Dalkey Sound and by the time we got into Dublin Bay visibility had dropped to a dangerous level given the traffic in the bay. We managed to cross the bay safely thanks to AIS which pinpointed the unseen traffic including 33 knot ferries and half a dozen anchored ships. Going north of Howth the viz improved and we had a decent sail, initially tacking downwind and deciding to go outside Lambay Island and pass close to the interesting Rockabill outcrop. We then had a go at running up the coast under spinnaker which was ok for a while as we again searched the books for options for the night, and eventually decided on Port Oriel although it didn’t seem to have much to offer it was in the right place. This time the GPS was not so wonderful, as its plot showed us passing over a concrete pier as we made the visually obvious approach to the fishing port. We pulled up to a wall to ask for mooring and were told we’d be ok right there so that was that and we got ready for a walk to civilisation at Clogherhead some 2 miles away. A meal was forthcoming, followed by a quaint but friendly pub session with very dubious local singing and an interesting RNLI museum curator who invited us to visit tomorrow. Replete, we ambled home to our working fishing port, noting that the inner harbour had dried completely.

14 June Port Oriel – Ardglass

In the morning a moderate northeasterly was established in mist and seeing as our destination (Ardglass) was north east we decided regrettably there wasn’t time to visit the RNLI museum so we set off after breakfast along the coast under the Mountains of Mourne.


A day’s tacking was virtually all heroically helmed by Paul as we passed the entrance to Carlingford, Kilkeel and Annalong eventually getting in a bit of a reach approaching Ardglass as the weather turned sunny! Coming in to a free berth in the marina we were met by Andy who had come down from Belfast and was well at home on a neighbouring boat that even offered him a bunk for the night as we were a bit crowded.


Off we went to the Golf Club for a couple of drinks before ending up in the Chinese restaurant.

15 June Ardglass – Carrickfergus

In the morning we said cheerio to Paul as he set off home by bus and ferry. It was a lovely day, especially welcomed after yesterday and began with a good breeze albeit putting us closehauled. However, as the sun shone stronger, the wind fizzled out and we continued on tide and engine, as we really had to make Copeland Island at the entrance to Belfast Lough before the turn. We managed it a bit late, at which point the wind came up and we tacked through Copeland Sound and then reached across the Lough to Carrickfergus, dodging large commercial traffic. On the way we somehow suffered the disaster of running out of tea! Had we not been close to port it would have merited a Pan-Pan, being as we were under the red ensign. Passing the famous castle we tied up in the council-run marina. Walking through town to refuel was unbearably hot in the sun, and we had to resort to Weatherspoons a bit early for refreshment.


Here we hatched a plan that in view of the forecast northerlies, we could maybe reach across to the Clyde, make up to the Crinan Canal (thanks for the advice, Maelstrom) and rejoin the northbound route at the northern end of the could be done in the available days.

16 June Carrickfergus – Whiting Bay (Arran)

Northerlies it was and as soon as we nosed out of Belfast Lough it was obvious the Clyde option was favourite. We couldn’t make Campbelltown, but the southwestern tip of Arran was possible though distant on port tack. The wind came and went but towards late afternoon we passed the lump of Ailsa Craig


and made on for Arran but the wind failed and we ended up motoring and took the first option of mooring buoys, which was at Whiting Bay just short of Holy Island and Lamlash. Pumping up the dinghy as we approached, we tied up and rushed ashore where we were lucky to get dinner in an excellent fish and chip restaurant , before finding a suitable pub complete with quiz night.


17 June Whiting Bay – East Loch Tarbert

A beautiful day greeted us and we were keen to get off and sail around Arran, starting with a reach up to the beckoning and impressive Holy Island opposite Lamlash.


By now we were having to tack north but drinking in the spectacular views of Arran’s mountains really made it a pleasurable journey.


The only downside was that progress was slow and we weren’t going to make a proposed lunch stop at Lochranza and still keep schedule for the canal passage – we couldn’t complain! Continuing north against the wind we plumped for an overnight at the marina in east Loch Tarbert, provided we made an early start for the canal in the morning. Although nobody was at the layed-back marina, facilities were open and the town provided good pubs and an Indian restaurant.

18 June East Loch Tarbert – Crinan

We duly got up early..well except Andy who stayed in bed having stayed up last night to test (successfully) that he could read in the remaining light at midnight. There was no wind so we made the 8 miles on engine in glorious weather, and at Ardrishaig drove straight into the first canal lock, tied up and sorted the paperwork. A hundred and forty seven pounds lighter I reboarded and we set off accompanied by two other yachts whilst ground staff did all the hard work on the lock gates for us.


We struck up a very friendly camaraderie with Mike and Jacky on Arietta which was just as well, as after a few locks our engine complained at all the ticking over and decided to take time out with a flooded carb. Tied alongside Arietta we were actually better off as they actually had the facility of reverse gear and so were able to hurry into locks and stop whereas we were having to approach dead slow which was slowing the party down. The scenery was very pleasant and the sun shone...what a great way to travel, even if it was fresh water! After fifteen locks we arrived at the Sea lock in Crinan and our fellow travellers carried on out to sea whilst we stayed in the large welcoming lock to relax and explore.


Fuel was available at a decent chandlery and later we had dinner in the hotel followed by an interesting bar session with fellow yachtsmen, where we were advised that the Oban marina we had planned was not providing a late night ferry service which we would be needing so a change to Dunstaffnage was recommended.

19 June Crinan – Dunstaffnage (Oban)

Happy birthday Andy! All very civilised we named our time with the lock staff and were duly moved out to sea, meeting a southeasterly force 4/5 with a bit of drizzle. The first of a long string of waypoints came up straight away at Dorus Mor a passage between islands that can be tricky at the wrong time of tide – no problem for us today.


For the next passage I chose to go inside Reisa Mhic Phaidean Island next to Craignish on the mainland so as not to be exposed to the push that exists on a north tide towards the Gulf of Corryvreckan, a very dangerous area that generates a big whirlpool in bad conditions. I thought this wise as our engine had been dodgy yesterday and you never know when the wind might fail. Next passage was the Sound of Luing, big and wide with a well-marked group of rocks at the northern end, then more rocks and up to Easedale followed by the Sound of Insh between Seil and Insh Island. Some trepidation here as this is where Maelstrom ran onto a sunken reef to the north of the island, just awash today.


So we kept well over to the Seil side whilst conjecturing as to which of the progressively disappearing reefs it might have been. Peeking out into the main Firth of Lorn we now made our way over to Kerrera Sound which leads up to Oban.

As we reached Oban, we briefly re-assessed the various options for mooring or marina, but decided we really didn’t want to crew change by dinghy in the rain so we cruised on by, and out of the northern exit of Kerrera Sound round to Dunstaffnage. Here we met up with Andy’s wife Lin and dog Brin who had come up by campervan. It rained most of the evening as we got tidied up and sorted for crew change before getting a meal at the Widemouthed Frog, the local bar/restaurant. The new crew were having a bit of a nightmare with rain and roadworks on the way up by car, and it was touch and go as closing time approached. Eventually the phone informed us they were close and I got them a round in despite barman ‘Mr Happy’ grumping about it. So hi to Phil and Happy birthday as to well to Jon.

20 June Dunstaffnage – Tobermory (Mull)

Tide dictated that we had most of the morning off completing our crew change, beginning with a breakfast in the Frog for both crews together. A trip down the road for re-provisioning, cheerios all round and we prepared for sea at midday. Still drizzling. A WSW 4/6 wind allowed a quick ‘finish with engines’ and we made our way over to the Sound of Mull on genoa.


This wind was converted by geography to run directly against us down the Sound, so we short-tacked up on the tide before motoring into Tobermory as the weather improved to make a lovely late afternoon. Not fancying the small marina we took one of many available visitor buoys, which turned out to be a good move as the pontoons were plagued with midges which didn’t seem able to make the short trip out to the buoys, plus the view of the pretty harbour was better.


We made a poor choice of pub for dinner, but it happens! At the subsequent planning meeting the Hebrides were our oyster and we decided we would go to the outer isles on a beam reach, Barra or the Uists or even Skye whichever fitted.

21 June Tobermory – Lochboisedale (South Uist)

Up early and motoring the rest of the Sound of Mull northwards we were met by a S to SW wind force 4 and increasing. Setting a beam reach past the Point of Ardnamurchan (most westerly part of the UK mainland) we were headed to Lochboisedale, where there was reported to be a new marina. This went fine but the wind steadily increased and reefing was twice required before we could see the outer Hebrides in the poor visibility. Locating the entrance and then the inward passage to Lochboisedale was not at all obvious, but GPS helped

and welcomed by the manager who even went and got our fuel for us from the village.


New facilities were wonderful, and the nearby village had a very agreeable hotel for dinner and drinks. The scenery here was remote and somewhat desolate, maybe it was just the mist but it didn’t have the charm of Castlebay on Barra that I had previously visited.

22 June Lochboisedale – Loch Harport (Skye)

We had toyed with the idea of going up to North Uist or to Dunvegan on Skye but it would rule out some other options later given upcoming weather so we compromised on Loch Harport, home of Skye’s famous Talisker distillery. Everything looked better in the clearer skies and as we drew away from harbour we could see much more of the outer Hebridean chain including some respectably high peaks. A good wind took us comfortably to Skye where we marvelled at McLeod’s maidens, weird towers in the sea just outside the entrance to Loch Bracadale,


which further leads on to Loch Harport.

By now it was a lovely day as we nosed our way down to Carbost spectacularly backed by the Red Cuillin mountains and identified a suitable visitor buoy.


The pub ashore had an excellent gastro menu, great beer and a peaceful view of the boats out in the loch – a lovely spot.


23 June Loch Harport – Loch Slapin (Skye)

We wanted a proper ‘wild camp’ location and identified Loch Slapin as the choice nearby, so after a quick trip ashore for a shop visit we made our way out to sea and tacked eastwards in light wind – pleasant enough. Eventually we had to use engine to get along past fabulous serene views of the Black Cuillins at Loch Brittle on one side


and the high peaks of Rhum on the other.


We then passed the island of Soay famous for sheep and into Loch Slapin. Some six miles up, we had penetrated into a niche of the Red Cuillins for the night’s anchorage totally alone in fantastic surroundings. Although we had no need, we inflated the dinghy just to take pictures!


A meal on board and a couple of beers was magical.


24 June Loch Slapin – Inverie (Knoydart)

Back in civilisation, the result of the EU referendum was now known, but we could get no radio reception. Eventually my transistor on LW with its aerial held to the mast hissed weakly that Cameron had resigned and that was how it dawned on us what the result must be. On board it was two outs and an in. As we made our way down loch and towards Point of Sleat reception came in and we listened to hours of indignation from the Scottish media so we knew to be sensitive to this in the evening. Going was slow and after rounding Sleat we were on a gentle run towards Mallaig, under windvane control with the sun shining


and generally having a most agreeable time – even eliciting Phil’s famous saying ‘it doesn’t get a lot better than this’!. Passing Mallaig, avoiding Skye ferries we entered Loch Nevis


and made our way to Inverie on the loch’s north coast, taking a visitor buoy. This area is Knoydart, said to be the most remote part of Britain. Contrary to pilot book notes we had there were no facilities, save a single shower in the pub for £4 – not taken up by any of us once we had begun drinking. The pub (The Old Forge) has a great reputation for seafood which was one reason for coming here - it was pretty good, but not spectacularly so and a mite expensive, but that’s understandable given the location. Not so the bar’s tendency to serve short pints and be grumpy about topping up. However it’s a great scenic setting which put us in a mood to excuse this. We were treated to a fabulous serene sunset.


25 June Inverie – Tobermory

Next morning started with mist swirling round the mountains.


We sailed off the buoy tacking out of the loch back to Mallaig and then turning south onto an all-day starboard tack whist we contemplated a stop on Eigg or Muck for lunch or even overnight, but in the end thought we’d better use the good wind we had and pressed on to Ardnamurchan Point in the sunshine.


From here we had a run down the Sound of Mull to Tobermory and took one of their buoys again. After showering we regrouped in the first pub on the quay which turned out to be perfect for beer and then food too. Forecast for tomorrow was poor later, but tide was best later. Weather won out and we opted for an early start.

26 June Tobermory – Dunstaffnage

Sure the sun was shining, but there was precious little wind and on the nose, with tide against.


Nonetheless we set off and clawed our way down the Sound of Mull getting only one or two knots closer to target every hour. Gradually the rain came and wind got up a bit as tide slackened and by the time we made it down to Lady’s Rock at the end of Lismore Island visibility became very poor and so AIS was scrutinised in detail as various ferries and craft were close by on various headings. As we drew away from the Oban area contacts cleared away and we made it safely to Dunstaffnage in the rain..does it always rain here? We tied up on the ‘breakwater’, a massively built new pontoon with a concrete surface, but as yet no services, and so shunned by the fridge and shower minded cruisers.

26 June - 1 July – Interlude

Phil had left his car at Dunstaffnage and so we quickly cleared up, refuelled the boat and headed into a different world in a swish and snug car shielded from the rain and headed down through Scotland and to Jon’s Lakeland house next to the pub where we had secured dinner in advance (thank you landlord). Next day we dropped Jon off at Liverpool to catch his plane back to Amsterdam while Phil and I continued to Bristol, from where I got the Megabus back to Pembroke Dock for a break.

After my break Maggie drove Howard and I to Carmarthen where we started our train journey north. At Preston we joined a train that was carrying David c.oming from Milton Keynes, so crew complete! Quick bite and drink in Glasgow and last train up to Oban where I had fixed a taxi to Dunstaffnage where we were in time for dinner and drinks before stumbling aboard.

2 July Dunstaffnage – Craighouse (Jura)

A drizzly start to the day, and the southbound tide through the series of sounds ahead was not going to start till early afternoon, and so we had a concerted effort to get the Widemouthed Frog to make us breakfast and though it was hard work we were successful thanks to a bit of charm from Howard! Then we began to get things together, sending David down to the shop for initial victualling. With a west wind we were all ready to go well before the tide and decided to make what ground we could as the rain had now stopped. We made our way round the fish farms and into Oban bay which was very busy and had the new crew on their toes judging the entry around the various comings and goings of ferries large and small. Things calmed down south of Oban as we made our way down the Sound of Kererra only sharing it with a couple of big Trawlers on their way back to Ardglass. Emerging from the southern end of the sound we were again exposed to the stiff westerly and put onto

the wind by the course to the next waypoint. This required a reef in the main, and almost complete I set to winding down the clew outhaul when BANG and I was holding the winch handle with a loose winch drum


attached, the winch having pulled off the boom where it had lived! Luckily an alternative winch on the mast did a jury stint and job was a good ‘un. So now we were on to the next sound, Insh Island, whose western side holds the notorious ‘Maelstrom Rock’ today just barely underwater as we passed well clear to the east. Now we were picking up speed as the tide strengthened, and the waypoints came thick and fast: Easdale, Bogha Rocks, Fladda, an into the long sound of Luing ending with the island of Scarba and the dreaded Gulf of Corryvreckan in the short gap across to the north tip of Jura.


Here we were doing 12 knots over ground and continued doing 7 knots for most of the rest of the trip close to the coast of Jura..what a push! Nonetheless it was 8:30 as we approached Craighouse so it was a case of blowing up the dinghy and preparing for shore as we went along, to give the best chance of dinner in the pub, which was duly provided with good grace as we shambled into the Hotel in our oilies just after 9pm - phew!


3 July Craighouse – Church Bay (Rathlin Island)

Southbound tides were later on today again and so after breakfast we went ashore and looked around, principally for fuel but being Sunday everything including the Distillery was shut.


We did get a shower and a very pleasant coffee in the pub garden however. As yesterday we set off with a bit of tide-against but with a fair wind from the west, which strengthened usefully in the gap between Jura and Islay, whose coast we now followed down to the open sea between Scotland and Northern Ireland, with Rathlin Island being our target. A cross tide put us on the wind as we started this crossing, but as it eased and reversed on approaching Rathlin in the evening, we were on an easy reach till alongside the famous ‘upsidedown’ lighthouse. From here we ran along the dramatic south coast of Rathlin and into Church Bay keeping clear of the wreck of HMS Drake (built Pembroke Dock) and nosing into the harbour with its new (to me) pontoons.


Tying up quickly in our now regular rush for the pub we scuttled off to it and secured beer and a good dinner.

4 July Church Bay – Carrickfergus

Now we could use a morning tide and so we started at 0600, motoring out south across Church Bay, headed for the great monument of Fair Head, the northeast tip of Ireland.


Here we picked up a superb tide and were doing 10kt SOG in a light wind. ‘Should have started earlier’ was to become a regular skipper’s gripe in the days to come. And indeed we should as although we kept 10kt to Larne, later on at the Isle of Muck short of Belfast we were clobbered by the tide 1 hour before HW Dover in contradiction of the tide tables. We did what we could motoring under the cliffs hoping for eddies, but it was very slow and worrying progress before we got some relief on clearing Black Head and entering Belfast Lough.


Now options were Bangor or Carrickfergus, but as there was wind that had moved to south a reach to Carrick was the choice just as it started to rain. Damp but relieved we picked our spot in a fairly empty marina and took was raining but still early afternoon, so we got ourselves showered and tidied up, regrouping at the Weatherspoon’s in Carrick town for a couple of pints whereupon we decided to investigate Howard’s recommended pub in Belfast, The Crown. A very smart local train service took us into Belfast City and right over the road was the Crown, bustling with after-work groups knocking it back like there was no recession.


We had a good look round all the intricate woodwork and stained glass that gives the pub a unique character before being the last to secure a dinner table as there had been problems with vegetable supply - ‘we’ve been banjaxed’ explained the waitress. Replete we retraced steps to the pub in Carrick and ready for an early start.

5 July Carrickfergus – Ardglass

Up to catch the early southbound tide, quickly across the shipping lane and then ran goosewinged down the Lough to its entrance at Copeland Island, where a reach took us south through Copeland Sound and out into the open.


A light westerly then took us at a reasonable pace down to the various rock obstacles on the way down to Ardglass. As we turned gradually west a great view of the Mountains of Mourne opened up with fair weather at last. Once again an early afternoon arrival made for an easygoing time and after initially tying up we rotated the boat ready for departure, which was just as well as a large steel yacht then came in and, sharing our bay, would have seriously restricted our exit manoeuvre.


Up to the Golf Club for a quick drink and we managed to fix a time to return for dinner so did a bit of shopping and went back for dinner with a great view over the golf course and out to sea. A couple of drinks checking out local pubs and back to bed.

6 July Ardglass – Carlingford

Planning to go to Carlingford required to run up the Lough on the tide so we had a late start after showers and a big café breakfast. The wind was a light south to southwest, as we tacked along the coast in rain on and off,


making the Hellyhunter buoy marking the way into Carlingford earlier than planned, as there was still an hour and a half of ebb tide to come, but we decided we’d give it a try anyway, emboldened by another yacht arriving just ahead of us.


Wow- what a run! A serious race got worse and worse as we made our way in, but Howard made an excellent job of tactical helming around the nastiest waves.


David had never seen anything like it but to be fair was confident in Leonore’s handling of it.


My job was strategic course selection and generally assessing progress. Gradually we made it into the channel proper and although progress was slow were making against the tide. On our way in we reported a rib as having gone aground on a bank with a bunch of kids aboard but we obviously couldn’t get close to it so carried on to the buoy number 18 which although way past the marina is essential to round if you don’t want to go aground like the yacht in front of us did! Coming in to the weird concrete block girdled marina we did ground as we came to a pontoon, but just managed to pull the boat in on ropes. An attempt to turn her around for departure was a complete failure so we gave up and walked into Carlingford town, looking for dinner and music. These we found in different places having a great evening in very friendly local company.

7 July Carlingford – Dun Loaghaire (Dublin)

Back to early mornings, and we made our way out, WITH the tide this time zooming along past the buoys (whose bases are actually little boats, to allow them to ride to tide easier) that were so hard to pass yesterday, and out through a much reduced race to the Hellyhunter again, now turning south to sail along the coast down to Dublin. Wind swung from west to southwest to south over the day and weather was pleasant as we began to tack past Howth Head and into Dublin Bay.


We could have stopped at Howth but had plenty of time so continued to Dun Loaghaire for a shorter trip home. Sailing across the bay we encountered several fleets of racing yachts limbering up for starts, as it was Wednesday evening. Making our way through them inside the breakwater we tied up on the pontoon at my favourite National Sailing Club. The only other yacht on the pontoon turned out to be Wanda, whose crew I knew having met in 2014! Robbie was on his own this time heading for a south coast cruise where he would meet others. Fantastic to see him again. Upstairs in the sumptuous clubhouse (despite this being the only club along the front not prefixed with ‘The Royal..’) we had drinks and dinner before heading into town and finding further refreshment at the Weatherspoons pub.


Despite the pleasant evening, future weather was not looking good, with a beat in strong wind on the menu for our home trip.


Over breakfast at Weatherspoons we took the weather again and it looked too strong and with an unviable direction so I wasn’t happy. Howard very sensibly pointed out that it would be so much better in three days’ time, and that he and David would welcome a short break in Dublin. Sorted! As I wanted to get home for the weekend as planned, after moving the boat to the marina I hired a car, drove to Rosslare and caught the Isle of Inishmore back home for two days.

We reconvened at what had turned out to be the crew’s home from home – Weatherspoons- and planned an early start.

11-12 July Dun Loaghaire – Pembroke Dock

The wind howled worryingly all night and getting up early as planned we found it was really a deal too much and so decided to wait a couple of hours. After showers and breakfast the wind began to drop and so we nosed out of the harbour, running initially to Dalkey Sound,


then reaching southward past West Codling, India Bank, Arklow Bank north and out to sea direct to the South Bishop. We went well, now with full main until the tide came against for its northbound turn which made the passing of the long Arklow bank with its seven giant turbines very tedious. It happens and in turn tide picked up with us and also the wind increased to force 6 which was not forecast and I checked with the coast guard who reassured me that it wasn’t forecast to rise any further. After a long session on the helm Howard went to bed and I took over sailing into the dark and through the night, passing close to the South Bishop and then on to Skomer, where I had hoped it would be light, but no. Opting for Broad Sound was nearly a mistake as we came too close and got entrained into the edge of the Wild Goose Race, and only just managed to impose our required direction with a full speed engine..phew!

Dawn broke as we gratefully approached St Ann’s and we woke Howard up to celebrate. Coming into the Haven we went through the Thorn Island passage to avoid a ship in the East Channel – not a record for the time trial Challenge I think..four weeks and three days! Motoring home we began to tidy up and get the sails away etc before pulling in at Hobbs Point where we were met by Maggie despite the early hour!

On reflection it was amazing how excepting the journey home, the whole trip went more or less to the plan I had sketched on the sofa before setting off. Many thanks to all the crew who made it possible!