Howth – Ardglass
Winds mostly NW4 backing W 5-6 (increasing with the falling pressure readings) with slight and then moderate seas.
57 NM (307 cumulative NM)
The day didn’t start very well as Pete’s phone battery died overnight meaning the 07:00 call didn’t sound, and we woke at 08:30. Ooops! So much for being up to receive the weather broadcast and be ship-shape to leave for Ardglass. When we surfaced, a couple of boats around us had already left. The Scots on their way to Spain, and the French boat (not sure where they were headed). Pete spoke (in French) to another French guy who was heading our way too.
It took us two hours to make ourselves ready to sail, departing at 10:30. Of course, when we came to slip our lines (and there were many of them to deal with as we’d been well secured in our berth) there was a gusty spell. Fortunately two boats had vacated behind, so that Pete was able to spin Whinchat around in order that we could drive out. Within half an hour of leaving Howth, we had all our sails raised and we were trucking along very nicely. The sea state was much more benign that I’d feared (stugeron had been taken as a precaution after a week of high winds, one can never be too careful), and the wind was perfect for our course. It was one of those starts when everything worked well, and it was a blessed relief to be out on the water after 5 days of being weathered in (the first two days were planned stays so I don’t think really count). We knew that we had a long day of sailing, and we operated an ‘hour on-hour off’ system around the log entries (on the hour). I helmed the first hour, then Pete, and so on. Doris was deployed during Pete’s watch, and she did a fair amount of sailing that day. The only thing I didn’t really manage was in putting enough clothes on, so I got really cold. Pete was in his foulie trousers, a sensible move. I just didn’t want to put mine on; it’s such a pfaff for a girl when you need to go to the loo!
As evidence of how benign the conditions were, Pete was able to make lunch, delivering a lovely ham corn tortilla wrap. I hadn’t really expected us to be able to cook anything.
Around 16:00 the pressure on the barometer was beginning to fall, with the associated strengthening of the wind as it backed westward… all as predicted. Pete had asked me to note what felt comfortable (and not) but the winds that were taking us northwards were good sailing winds. They were strong, but because they came behind the beam you’re not pounding away. For those who don’t sail, it’s rather like walking (or running). It’s much harder to walk into the wind than when the wind is behind you. The level of comfort is also true – it’s far noisier when you’re walking into the wind (beating, is the sailing term, perhaps for obvious reasons) than if the wind is behind you. It’s just altogether less dramatic when you’re being blown along by the wind. Even with the wind around 25 knots, it was good…. almost! (Mum, skip to the next paragraph as I don’t want to add more dramas to your bank of sailing nightmares…and it’s theory now, not actual event) There is a point where the wind from behind is stressy for me, which is when it’s blowing dead behind, running in sailing terms. You have the mainsail flat out, at right angles to the wind as you’re trying to gather as much wind as you can into the sails. The boom is right out, making this happen. The danger is here, if your concentration fails, or the wind shifts, is that you catch the wind on the wrong side of the sail and BANG the boom flies across the boat (you’d better be sitting well clear of it) and this is dangerous because of the load it puts on the mast. Accidents can happen and masts can break…
Anyway. I don’t like sailing this way, so I handed the helm to Pete! We had to reef the main (make the mainsail smaller, because of the strength of the wind) as Whinchat was becoming harder to control. It didn’t really compromise our speed, but made it much more comfortable. At 19:00 we shook out the reef, as the wind had died off.
We we all tied up in Ardglass by about 20:10. Neither of us could be bothered to cook, so we went ashore in search of food and a beer. The photo above shows her as we walked ashore – not exactly a busy marina! We ended up in a pub, the Harbour View. It was a classic night. No one else in there except a couple of guys at the bar, who were chatting to us. I could not understand a word he said! The menu was simple, but all of it fried. So we ate our fried food watching the TV. Said guy couldn’t believe I was good with “Question of Sport”. The funniest was watching “Million Pound Drop” (a first for both of us) when we both knew about phone hacking (they didn’t have a clue) and then Pete knew the answer to a question about the names of bears. Spectacled, Goatee, Monobrow and something else. Pete (yur’man) was very confident, and was right. As we left, Pete got a big handshake and a hug! He wanted us to stay ‘for the craic’ but we left. We think that the man in the bar at Harbour View thinks he just met the most intelligent man in the world. Classic.