Across the Irish Sea

5 Jun

Friday 29 May 2009
Fleetwood to Arklow – 143nm

Forecast: – E/SE 3-4; Visibility; Good, occasionally very poor in fog patches.

90 minutes before high water, the lock gates opened and, once again, we headed for open water. This time it wasn’t just a brief shakedown jaunt, it would be an overnight passage to Arklow. The forecast was perfect, apart from the threat of fog. The real start of our voyaging on ‘Two Choices’.

For the first few hours we motor sailed past the Morecambe gas field; there wasn’t quite enough wind to keep us going above 5 knots. It gave us a chance to get to know the electronics a bit better and it revealed that the GPS doesn’t speak to the auto helm. A quick call to the former owner confirmed that it wasn’t something that we were doing wrong; he said he’d deliberately left them unconnected to try and prevent total wipeout in the event of a lightning strike. Hmm… we’ll have to decide whether to change this, not something that we’d thought of, having previously had all instruments communicating with one another.

Another change from our previous experience is the lack of a chart plotter in the cockpit; it is now situated at the chart table. In practice, it didn’t prove to be much of an inconvenience but a repeater is on the e-bay shopping list!

As the sun started to slowly descend the wind rose just enough to switch the engine off. The boat handled well and she glided along in a groove at around 7 knots. The night passed uneventfully, apart from me sleeping through my watch. I put it down to the skipper forgetting to wake me up because he was having too much fun playing with his new toy!

Skipper enjoying the sunset

Skipper enjoying the sunset

Given the proximity to routes to Liverpool and Dublin and to the Skerries TSS off Anglesey, there was plenty of shipping going about, but none that caused us any problem. Once we got closer to the sandbanks off the coast of Ireland the sea state deteriorated somewhat with the tide against us and a nasty rolling motion set in. We headed inside of the Arklow Bank, with its neat row of 7 wind turbines gently whirring away, and the engine went on again as we were only making 4 knots over the ground.

In no time at all, the entrance to Arklow appeared and we got ready to head in. It was no surprise to learn that I’m not tall enough to bring down the last few feet of the mainsail, so PT did the honours on a boisterous deck. We made our way in, passing a procession of yachts on their way out. We sneaked a look at the marina from the safety of the river…. very compact and not so bijoux so we decided to give it a miss. We hadn’t been able to get hold of the marina on the VHF so we just took pot luck and moored up at the first available space on the river pontoon. Predictably, we were soon asked very politely to move. It turned out it was regatta day at Arklow Sailing Club (hence the procession of sail) and spaces were at a premium. We didn’t have to go far though and before long we were relaxing in the sun making a toast to ourselves and the boat with a nice cold beer!

Time of arrival – 12.45; just over 22 hours passage.

Post-sail de-brief: still happy! 🙂
Need to develop strategies to allow me deal with the mainsail – no problem!

Two Choices moored on the Avoca River

Two Choices moored on the Avoca River

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