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Inverness to Falmouth Aug 2010

Leg 1 – Round the World

So here we are ready to set off on the first leg of our Adventure. Finished work on Friday evening, celebrated with a large Gin. Crew (Johanne and Allan) arrived in Inverness on Monday night. A good Indian takeaway awaited them at home (courtesy of Gabi’s in Avoch).
 
Tuesday 3rd August 2010.   We arrived at Inverness Marina and boarded Red Ruth at approx 7a.m. With the plan to travel through Caledonian Canal there was no requirement to ready the boat to sail so we dropped lines from our pontoon berth A15, home to Red Ruth for the past 18 months, at 07h30. There wasn’t a breath of wind and the sun was shining as we entered the Sea Lock with no drama. One other yacht entered along with us. We both arrived at Muirton Basin at 08h53.
 
(pic:- heading out of Inverness Marina towards Kessock Bridge and Canal entry – avoiding the sand bank)
This was Johanne and Allan’s first time through the Canal. The climb up the Muirton steps was hard work as we had to learn how to throw our lines and pull them in as we lifted up. The lock keepers as always were patient and helpful. We entered Loch Ness in good time for a 19 knot wind, gusting 28knots (True) on our nose. We motor sailed down Loch Ness with one reef in the main, tacking all the way to take benefit of the wind, arriving Fort Augustus at 16h30 – 30.7nm. A couple of drinks in the pub and we
headed to bed.
 
Wednesday 4th August 2010. A restless night thanks to a couple of drunken youths who parked up on the bank next to us and attempted to sing all night. Lots of shouting and foul language heard as well. We all thought of getting up and phoning the police but were too tired. A hot shower and cooked breakfast revived us and we entered the locks by 08h30.
 
A large fishing vessel, New Craig, went through the locks with us (lots of diesel smoke) along with a large American Yacht- Bright Ayes – and some Caley Cruisers.
(pic:- Caledonian Canal at Fort Augustus)
 
A GP friend, from Fort William, came along to visit us at Banavie. We last saw him when we were sailing Norseman west to east through the canal on the return journey of the Cromarty Boat Club Cruise in 2007. We had just rescued 2 fish farm hands whose engine had failed with the subsequent consequence of being swept out through the Corran Narrows. Their boat was a fairly big solid rib which we towed in our 24ft Hurley. We got them safely back to the fish farm and carried on our way. As we approached Fort William we heard some shouting and looked back to see the two gents in another rib heading our way bearing gifts of 2 large salmon and a bottle of red wine. The ensuing party in Corpach by those CBC members on the cruise are still talked about. Our friend came to our rescue, the 2nd salmon lived in his freezer for nearly a year and still tasted fabulous when cooked.
 
Thursday 5th August 2010.  Up and out of Banavie at 08h00. Through the locks, meeting George Selvester delivering a boat to Inverness, and into Corpach at 10h00 where we tied up for an hour, had coffee and filled water tanks. We were out through the sea lock at 12 noon. Wind was on our nose most of the way but we spotted two porpoises off Oban which cheered us up, and we were able to sail through the Sound of Kerrera. But the sea state as we came out of the Sound was lumpy with both the sea and the wind back onto our nose. Our destination was Puilladbhrain to anchor for the night. We were all feeling very tired – the result of noisy, sleepless nights and lots of fresh air. Puilladbhrain was quiet calm and sunny, what a difference, most welcome. Allan and Peter dropped the anchor successfully and we took stock of our anchorage. A young lad fishing on the yacht next to us had caught some mackerel so we gave him a big cheer. Later on he came over with a bag of 4 gutted mackerel for us.  
We didn’t have much to barter with so a punnet of fresh strawberries purchased in Corpach earlier that morning was accepted. Allan then caught 5 more (I would ask you to note that having trawled hundreds of miles with a fishing line over the past few years and only having caught 3 black bags and a seagull this was a cause for celebration with yet another gin and tonic) so we baked them all and had a lovely fishy dinner with salad. Great to eat freshly caught fish!
 
Friday 6th August 2010.  Depart Puilladbhrain 06h45 heading to Port Ellen on Islay to catch the tide. Wind is S – SE approx 18 knots. Sails up and motor sailing. Chugging along nicely when we hear a noise in the engine compartment as we approached the top of the Sound of Luing. We cut engines and headed back out to sea under sails. Investigation revealed nothing and on restarting engine no noise heard. We think it may have been something caught on the prop which was knocking against the hull and by switching off, turning the yacht round a couple of times, whatever it was, dislodged.
 
Our good weather start to the trip dissipated with rain most of the journey and some limited visibility.   We arrived in Port Ellen at approx 16h00 and moored up on a pontoon berth. We noticed another Rustler – a brand new 44 tied up on opposite pontoon – Peat Smoke. Marina fees were only £14 but there were no ablutions!
(pic:- Peat Smoke at Port Ellen, Islay)
 
We were all hungry so we dined on local fish and chips at the nearby Cyber Café. Peter and Allan went to the pub later in the evening whilst Jo and I relaxed on board. On the pontoon we spoke to a young woman delivering a platter of seafood to another yacht. It looked so good that we ordered a platter for 4 for the next day’s lunch from the Seafood Shack.
(pic – Seafood Shack Platter)
 
Saturday 7th August 2010 – Port Ellen to Ballycastle
The day dawned sunny and quite warm. A gentle walk to the shops for a newspaper (no Times available), groceries and some cash. The wind was picking up all morning. We watched The Hebridean Princess arrive and offload passengers for the customary distillery tours. Our seafood platter arrived and was consumed with relish. At approx 13h30 our decision was that the gusts were dropping so we sprung off the pontoon and left. Wind NW now gusting 28 knots, when we left after it had abated. Main up with one reef and stay sail out. Sailing at over 7knots most of the way across but a large quartering sea on the starboard quarter left us all feeling a little off colour. At Rathlin Island the wind abated but the sea was still very lumpy and on the stern so we put the sails away and started the engine to get to BallyCastle in reasonable time for us all to recover. Fish and Chips from Mortons on the harbour head had been recommended (still not as good as Pierowall). Walk to the local pub for our first Irish Guinness!
(pic:- Ballycastle Harbour)
 
Sunday 8th August 2010.  Day of rest and relaxation in Ballycastle. Up early due to some more drunks on the harbour wall shouting and swearing – we hope this isn’t going to become a trend. Showered and put on a load of laundry. Took out our folding bikes and cycled to town for a look. It’s a nice, clean town with a lovely beach (similar to Lossiemouth), and well cared for streets and buildings. Plan to visit Giants Causeway today so we caught the bus out to the Causeway. 
A lovely place and well visited by the tourists (in their droves). The crew from the French yacht tied up along the marina from us did the same trip. Whilst waiting for the return bus we visited the mini-steam railway.
 
(pic: Giants Causeway mini steam railway - Bushmills)
 
Monday 9th August 2010 – Ballycastle to Bangor
Passage plan done and off we went at dawn to catch the tide. Peter decided to change course so had to scrabble about getting the charts out and plotting the course again! Sea swell had us wallowing in huge overfalls so on went the motor to travel further out to sea and avoid any further swells Wind W/SW 4-5 expected 6. So, yet another passage of motor sailing in ‘dreich’ weather.  We telephoned ahead to the Marina who advised us to berth on E pontoon 1-22. We arrived in sunny and calm weather.
Bangor is a very modern Marina with 24 hour office. Their facilities include a BATH however it was disappointing as there was no hot water so ended up with a shower. Walked around town looking for Chandlers – we had been told it was up the hill after clock tower – problem was the clock tower is in the centre with 2 roads – both of which go up hill! We eventually found the chandlers and the admiralty chart shop so the men folks were happy. The chandlery staff recommended lunch in Coyles Bar – excellent mussels in garlic sauce –very yum! An evening walk along the sea front ended a lovely day. Bangor is a very impressive area, well kept, clean, friendly. You can see that once there was (and probably still is) lots of money and still has an aura of wealth.

Tuesday 10th August 2010 – Bangor - Howth( original destination Dun Laoghaire.) 

Left Bangor at approx 6am. Sea state better than the previous days sail with a longer wave period. The girls were feeling a bit tired by mid afternoon so we made the decision to change to Howth as it is 5 miles nearer than Dun Laoghaire. We phoned ahead for a berth and were advised – B9 port side. We found the entrance quite difficult as it looked very different to the Almanac. We went aground (right in front of the yacht club building) at the entrance to the marked channel, we had turned in the wrong direction. The Marina workboat pulled us off and we tied up without any further problems.

Howth is a busy marina. There were many classes of racing events happening whilst we were there including keel boats, lasers, sonatas and Etchells (which were participating in the world championships).   The Marina office is manned 24 hours and the facilities are within club changing areas. The club house was very grand with panoramic views of the marina (which the yacht club owns) and the bay.
 
(pic: - low water at Howth Marina)
 
Wednesday 11 August 2010 – Howth
We investigated the harbour area first thing and were amazed and delighted by the number of fresh fish market shops and restaurants. Absolute heaven for Peter - the rest of us were just as enthused by it. We couldn’t believe how busy this Club is with dinghy training/sailing, keel boat cruiser racing. As it was the school holidays the youngsters arrived at 9am and were there until 9pm doing various training (shore based and water events). In the evening the keel boats took to the water for their race. Unfortunately it was the lowest tide for some time at 0.1metres below chart datum. All the keel boats, heading out for a race, went aground leaving the marina – which redeemed our embarrassment somewhat. We took the Dart into Dublin and visited the Temple Bar area, stopping in the Temple Bar for Guinness and Oysters. They took over half hour for the oysters and by that time our Guinness was finished, not impressed. Did some shopping – new shoes in Arnotts, souvenirs etc. We walked along the waterside of the Liffey, having had lunch in McGuires pub, then caught the Dart back to Howth. Dinner that night was at The Oar Restaurant on the pier. We had an excellent meal and a lovely night out. There are lots of early bird meal deals before 7pm. You can also get a bag of fishy bits from the fishmongers to feed the seals in the harbour.
(pic:- History of Maguires)
 
Thursday 12 August 2010 – Howth. 
We decided to stay another night in Howth as we were enjoying it so much. The Club sailing was very active again from early in the morning. The water hadn’t heated up properly for my early morning shower so it was a cold water shower. We did our fish shopping on the pier at Nicky’s plaice then walked along the pier to watched the seals being fed. At the end of the pier we admired the scenery over to Irelands Eye. As the men folks enjoy browsing the chandlers we thought we would try to find the Chandlers in Sutton so we caught the Dart. After 3 sets of different directions from various shop keepers we ended up on the point at the Sutton Dinghy club. At that point we gave up on finding the chandlers. We later learned that if we had stayed on the first set of directions we would have found it!
Peter decided we should walk back to Howth over the summit convincing us that it wouldn’t be far. His ‘Not far’ ended up being 3 and half hours walking. We stopped at the Summit Inn for a drink as our muscles were really aching by then and feet raw…..
Back at the Marina we had a pre dinner drink in the Club bar, then ate a fresh fish dinner on board.
 
Friday 13 August 2010 – Howth - Kilmore Quay
We left Howth at 4am with another yacht ahead of us by 5 minutes. A huge super-tanker approaching Dublin Bay left Jo and I thinking we were going to collide. Changed direction only to discover that it was 2 ships and not a huge super-tanker and by changing direction we were now on collision with them both, so returned to original course and they passed behind us. Sails up and a good sail all the way to south of Arklow with a 3 knot tidal benefit. The wind died and the tide turned against us from there so we motor sailed. At Carnsore Point the tide was back in our favour so we made good progress. As we passed Tuskar Rock and turned west the DSC went off followed by a Mayday Call (didn’t at first recognise the DSC response on the radio). The original position given on VHF was close to our position so we offered assistance to coastguard which they accepted. After a few radio communications between the stricken yacht and the coastguard and 3 or 4 different positions (one of which was on land) it turned out the position was wrong and the stricken vessel was north of Arklow – 4 hours away so we stood down.
We called ahead to Kilmore Quay and were told to berth on the west hammerhead. As we approached the Saltee Islands we were invaded by tiny black flies. They were floating in clumps on the surface of the sea and being blown in the air in thick clouds. They stuck to everything. On arrival we were met by the Harbour master. Once tied up we visited the harbour office then had a quick walk around town and a couple of celebratory arrival drinks in the Kehoe Pub, a lively place on a Friday night. We even met the prince of the Saltees!
 
Saturday 14 August – Kilmore Quay.
Spent the day shopping and seeing the village. There is an excellent chandlery right in the village. We bought Bacon Butties at the local shop and walked round to the Memorial Garden, sitting on the bench enjoying our food and watching life on the water and land in the bay. Our passage plan was to go via Scilly Isles if the weather permitted however the forecast wasn’t good for a trip there, so we decided that we would go straight to Falmouth. During the afternoon on a walk round the pontoon we noticed a fisherman with a seriously big fishing hook stuck in his thumb. Somehow Peter got volunteered to undertake surgery and remove the hook. Unfortunately it was too deeply embedded so we convinced the fisherman to stop at the A&E unit on his way home to Dublin. We prepared the yacht, filling water tanks and removing our rubbish and tidying up ready for the next leg of the trip – to Falmouth.
The marina, harbour and harbour master are all excellent here in Kilmore Quay; but the entrance can be tricky in foul weather as evidenced by the number of wrecks around that part of the coast.
 
(pic: Kilmore Quay Harbour/Marina)
 
Sunday 15th August – Kilmore Quay – Falmouth.
Up early this morning and set off for the last trip of this leg. The weather was good and we motored out of Kilmore Quay. We didn’t cross Bishops Bank this time and went between the Saltee Islands. There were some overfalls between them but nothing to worry about. Once we cleared the channel the wind got up and we were able to sail for a couple of hours until it dropped and disappeared completely. We didn’t see it again until we arrived in Falmouth! We motored, using the overdrive option to conserve fuel, the rest of the way. We had agreed to do 2 hour watches each (or 4 hours watches for two people) and that we would start our watch at 8pm after our evening meal. At about 6pm we were visited by a pod of Common Dolphins which swam alongside and in our bow wave for just over an hour. It is always a special thrill to see our wildlife up close. 
I had the first watch as I am not good with nights finding it difficult to do the midnight to 6am section (I like my sleep!) I had the privilege of watching a wonderful sunset before Peter took over at 10pm. Jo and Allan took over at midnight and once again the DSC went off during their watch but fortunately no response was required. At 4am Peter took over again and I joined him at 5am. The sunrise was again spectacular – a large ruby red disc appearing over the horizon. The sea was flat and oily looking with good visibility for a few feet below the surface. As we approached the traffic separation system the ASI showed ships around us but fortunately they were quite far off. At about 6am I spotted some rubbish floating in the sea around us and took over from the auto pilot to avoid collision – it was a mixture of empty oil cans and plastic cans. As we came out of the rubbish I spotted another single black fishing pot which I avoided. Peter came back on deck and a few minutes later I spotted some more of these black fishing pots. On viewing them through the binoculars I discovered that they were actually sharks. They moved much closer to us over the next half hour. I had gone to the mast to tie up a line and on stepping back down to the deck there was a Basking Shark right next to the yacht with its mouth wide open, feeding. Another exciting experience, and such a special moment.
 
As we neared Lands End there was a ‘haar’ hanging over the land. The Longship lighthouse appeared out of the gloom but by the time we passed it the sun was out and the mist was clearing.
 
(pic: Longship Lighthouse)
 
This was our first time seeing the south coast so we were thrilled to view the Minack Theatre and Lizard Point. We were amazed by the amount of yachts out sailing as we neared Falmouth – we love seeing others enjoying the water and using their yachts. Our opportunities are limited in the North of Scotland with our wonderful wet and wild weather. As we motored up towards Falmouth the engine suddenly cut out. We always motor with our main sail up so we switched off and came off the wind to maintain some momentum and direction. The guys went below to check the situation – no diesel! Fortunately our Rustler 42 has a reserve tank so after a few minutes of transfer we were back in business. The next excitement came when we contacted Port Pendennis Marina who met us on the pontoon and assisted us to tie up. However it was a new pontoon with no cleats and very tiny rings which our lines wouldn’t go through. We managed to tie up however we felt very insecure especially if the wind were to get up. We moved into the inner marina the next morning and were pleased to see another 3 Rustler 42’s there as well.  As you can tell our Rustler is very special to us and we felt extremely privileged to be bringing hull Number One home, albeit for a few months only.
(pic: saying goodbye to Red Ruth for a few months)
 
We headed home, after a few days in Falmouth and a visit to the Rustler yard, by car to the north of Scotland to fend off the weather and spend our winter passage planning and preparing for the next leg of the journey.