Motor Yacht Ilmatar II

Howard & Maria.  Norman & Wendy

A total of 1480nm in 2008.  Nearly the end of the cruising, just the annual Boxing Day trip up the River Lagan to Pat’s Bar.  Howard and Maria will be in Cardiff for Christmas, leaving Norman and Wendy to cope with the dozens of revellers and stowaways.   In the New Year Pat’s Bar is being demolished to make way for even more flats.  The sad end of an era.

Cruise to Bristol, 2 cruises to the Clyde, 2 trips to Glenarm, numerous trips to Bangor for lunch and jazz at Jenny Watts, several trips to the lookout at Belfast for shopping and dining, committee boat for the Old Gaffers and lastly 7 sessions of committee boat for the Frosty Series buoy racers from Carrickfergus Sailing Club.

January will see the start of the maintenance in preparation for 2009.

May 2009 we head north and around to Galway where we will spend a fortnight while the Volvo Around the World Race will be there.  Wendy’s son Ian Moore is the navigator of the Irish boat “Green Dragon” so it will be one big party.  Afterwards we’ll continue south and probably take several weeks to return.

We’ll definitely be going to the RSMYC end of season dinner at Holyloch, we also hope to make some of the musters.

They Kept A Welcome In The Hillside

When I Went Home Again To Wales

The title of our 2008 cruise to Wales (can be sung if you wish)

Motor Yacht “Ilmatar II” with crew Howard & Maria and Norman & Wendy.

This was my dream of going to Cardiff by our own boat rather than Silver wings shining in the sunlight, however I hadn’t planned on rain, high winds and mutinous crew.

Monday 9th June

Arrived at the boat with a mountain of booze and some food. 

A night cap with friends and crew and a chance to thank everyone for all the hard work and help in getting “ Ilmatar II” ready for her cruise, especially Norman, Wendy and Rory for all their hard work when the boat was ashore having her winter refit.  Not to forget Maria who had the boat spic n span and looking like new, we’ll newish anyway.  Early to bed to be ready for a 10.00am start next day to catch the tide.

Tuesday 10th June

Departed on time and I felt like Bob Harper must of felt when he departed for around the world.

Passed Billy in “Charlotte Lady” who was going to Strangford where I live and just for a short moment I thought that common sense should prevail and go there instead but not known for being sensible we kept her lit.

Calm water and sunshine and thinking, you can’t improve on this when Maria suddenly arrives on top deck with drinks, that’s me wrong again.

Well down the Irish Sea and heading for Milford Haven with Maria on watch and suddenly she screams that there’s a load of dolphins escorting the boat, we all rush up on deck and of course nothing.  I think it’s time we closed the bar but wrong yet again and we later see not only dolphins but some porpoises.

The twilight watch and somebody has to do it, poor Wendy.  Still, she tells me that there’s a lot of interesting programs at night on her walkman thingy.

Wednesday 11th June

All excited we sail into a small bay at Skomer Island and welcomed by thousands of nesting puffins.  We were able to get quite close for a good view without disturbing them.  The bay was only accessible by sea.  Anchor down and lunch is served.  Although dominated by puffins, Maria spotted many different species of birds.

Weigh anchor and around to Dale Bay for an overnight on the pontoon in the middle of the bay.  Dinghy launched, outboard on, but even after a strained arm the engine would not start, thinking how could things could get worse when the skies opened up.  Oilies on and this time pumping that black rubber ball in the petrol line and we were away to the Griffin Inn to be wined and dined.

Back to the pontoon where 2 other yachts had now moored and greeted by a gentleman who wanted to know about the burgee we were flying.  Wendy explained that she was Northern Ireland Port Officer for the Ocean Cruising Club and then noticed his boat was flying the same burgee as he was the Port Officer for South Wales, an interesting chat followed.

Time for a night cap when the 2 gents from the other yacht came and said what a lovely boat we had, this is as you know this is code for can we come aboard for a drink.  That put paid to our early night.

p.s. I must get Maria a smaller drinks measure.

Thursday 12th June

7.30am start and we’re off to Swansea. 53nm and 5.50hrs later we arrive and wait to lock in.  Through the lock and sardines in a tin came to mind severely aggravated by strong wind.  All amazed that we were tied up and had not hit anything and to celebrate I decided to hit something, yes the bottle.

The marina is in the old dock with a tram museum, maritime museum and other shops. An evening meal at the sailing club and all agreed that Swansea was a place that we would come back to.

Friday 13th June

7.30 and we’re waiting to lock out, thankfully the wind had dropped.

Cardiff the next stop or more accurately Penarth Marina.  Arriving by sea at the Cardiff Bay barrage was nothing short of spectacular.  Quickly into the berth with Champagne corks popping, Maria asks if I’m alright and I tell a little white lie and say “I’ve something in my eye”

Full of emotion I had fulfilled my ambition.  The best drink of Champagne I’ve ever had.

A boat trip around Cardiff Bay and ashore to visit the continental market in the new hub of Cardiff City.  Certainly a highly recommended port of call.

Staying 2 nights in Cardiff enabled the Duggan Clan to descend on “Ilmatar II” After a particularly long day with bottles being emptied quicker than they were ever filled and grandchildren running up and down from saloon to top deck, like the rest of the crew I was exhausted and ready to hit the sack.  I said to Wendy that she must have found it hard going especially with the Welsh accent, when she reminded me that she done her medical training in Cardiff and was probably more Welsh than I was Irish.

Sunday 15th June

A walk along the sea front and a drink in the Penarth Yacht Club then back on board to depart for Bristol with Wendy making doubly sure that we got the tides right.  38nm later and we’re sailing up the River Avon under Brunel’s suspension bridge through a lock and then a swinging bridge and into Bristol Dock.  Once in and you have a choice of berthing on a pontoon, alongside a  dock wall or outside one of the many pubs or floating restaurants.

A very pleasant afternoon sunbathing and walking around the shops.  Yet again it’s time to go out for a meal.  Norman had earlier been out sussing out suitable places and had discovered a Tapas bar and restaurant.  The ambience and food were great made all the more exciting by the Flamenco dancers.

When we came to pay the bill there was good news and bad news, the good news was the table that were next to us had paid our bill, the bad news is we were given their bill for 14 persons.  It’s amazing when with a few bottles of wine and a level of frustration just how quickly you can communicate without speaking a word of Spanish.  Eventually sorted and by way of an apology we were given a voucher for a meal for 2.  Anyone going to Bristol let me know and the meals on me.

Monday 16th June

Another glorious day, more sunbathing and relaxing then a little wander around the dock are and back on board to discuss lunch only to find Wendy had her head stuck into almanacs, tide tables and charts and suddenly declares that we leave on the tide.  I immediately respond that we are staying another night and Norman quickly agrees that we’re stopping and sunbathing.  Wendy retorts if you stay tonight you’ll be staying for a further week, shorts and tee shirts it was hard to believe that bad weather was imminent.  Norman and I consoled ourselves that our return to Swansea and perhaps a walk along the Mumbles wouldn’t be too bad.  But of course Wendy hadn’t given all the news and went on to declare that we need to go nonstop to Milford Haven if we want to be there for the weekend and in time for the Seafair 2008 festival.

We cast off and move down the other end of the dock near the exit lock which just happens to be alongside a pub, so we got fed and watered and left at 4pm in readiness for our 108nm trip. Travelling down the 8nm stretch of the river Avon on such a glorious day is something to be experienced.

Watch’s scheduled, next stop Milford Haven.  It didn’t take long for Norman and I to concede that conditions were deteriorating rapidly.

Arriving at Milford Haven dock we were all excited and looking forward to being back in Wales, not least myself because on entering the lock, Norman said “gosh! I think you should slowdown” this was the gist of what he said; I’ve changed the exact words in case anybody sensitive should read this.

Once in the dock, lots of wooden boats had already arrived and we rafted outside several classic vessels.  No sooner had we tied up and a rather excited gentleman without an invite boarded us and declared that we were not a wooden boat and we obviously felt obliged to agree.  I stated that we were wooden boat enthusiasts and reminded him you don’t even need to have a boat to be one.   Once plied with coffee he relaxed a little and introduced himself as event organiser and stated wooden boats may not like a plastic one alongside and he would be finding us a special berth.  We would be official press boat and he presented us with £250 cash to defray our fuel costs.  Even though we said payment was not necessary he stated that it was in his remit and we would have to accept.  It enabled us to have the pleasure of having the Classic Boat technical editor Peter Willis aboard and to be part of the whole festival.

SeaFair 2008 was a fantastic weeklong festival with civic receptions in several of the towns and the main events in Milford Haven.

We enjoyed visiting the Tall Ships and many other classic boats along with the many shore side activities and Norman enjoyed sampling Cardiff brewed Brains Bitter, however he did upset me when he made the comment “the welsh people are really nice, I thought they were all miserable ???? like you”

Besides a great chandlery where Norman bought yet another jacket, (he’s got a thing about jackets!) there was a college where they teach traditional wooden boat building crafts, very interesting!

Due to the strong winds many of those booked did not make it, also the Around Britain Power Boat Race boats arrived by road because there was no way they could have come by sea.  They did however depart on time for the next leg to Bangor NI.

Milford Marina is surrounded by shops and restaurants with the main eating house being “Martha’s Vineyard” which is owned by Wendy’s cousin, we had a nice meal but unfortunately the owners were in Bangor NI. So there was no discount or extra chips.

Far too many interesting things happening to mention all but Maria and Wendy enjoyed a coach trip around the Welsh countryside whilst Norman and I enjoyed a visit to the West Wales Maritime Heritage Centre, we even bought the tee shirts.

Saturday night with great live music in the marquee and Wendy states that if we stay for the last day and the prize giving we would be staying for a least a further week due to high winds.  All the crew agreed to batten down the hatches and to catch the next tide and run for home and hope to miss most of the forthcoming bad winds forecast.

Having said goodbye to all old and new friends, I kissed the Welsh soil and it’s was off back to my adopted land.

Its 3.30am its pitch dark and were in the middle of the Irish Sea, the chart plotter shows Dublin/Dun Laoaghrie on the port side and Holyhead/Liverpool on the starboard quarter.  The AIS shows 3 ferries portside and 3 ferries starboard.  They obviously knew what they doing but as all 7 of us were going to be within 2 miles of each other, I just hoped they could see me.  I don’t know who had it in for me but all of a sudden we slowed having lost 1 engine.  Rather than stop and confuse everyone we kept going and Norman and I retired to the engine room to investigate, leaving Maria at the helm.  Once all boats had passed it was check fuel filters and back to normal operation.

Back in Carrickfergus we all agreed that we left at the right time and that our 656nm trip to the “welcome in the hillside” was truly an enjoyable and memorable trip.

We we’re pleased to see that Ilmatar II and her crew got a mention in the September issue of the Classic Boats magazine.  Not bad for a plastic boat!

Extracted from Howards log.

TWO WEEKS IN THE CLYDE                                  (Extracts from Wendy’s log.)

Aboard MY Ilmatar II with others from Carrickfergus Sailing Club and meeting up with the Royal Scottish Motor Yacht Club.

11th – 27th July 2008

DEPARTURE DELAYED

Strong winds spoiled plans as usual.  Ilmatar got away 24 hours late, submarined a couple of times off Muck Island (‘It’s just the overfalls’ muttered Norman and got back to his newspaper) and made it safely to Glenarm. Mac Twist made a valiant attempt but engine problems forced her to turn back.  Highlander and MacTwist headed off on Day 3 and all three boats met up in the anchorage at Sanda  Island.  But where was Flamingo?

KILBRENNAN SOUND

Sanda showed us sunshine and its best hospitality – a great stopover.   Next day we were greeted with grey skies and missle.  Mac Twist and Highlander opted for the bright lights of Campbletown while Ilmatar headed for Loch Ranza and a mooring.  Highlights of the visit ashore were a Monkjack deer grazing the scrub at the water’s edge and the midges, which drove us reluctantly into the pub.  No word from Flamingo.

LOCH FYNE

Fresh southerly wind and sunshine next morning brought us all to Tarbert.  It’s hard to pass such a pretty spot.  Our first Cruise BBQ on the pontoon started in fair weather but a cold wind drove us to Ilmatar for ‘after dinner’ drinks and chat.  The news from Flamingo was of engine and dental problems, both sounded painful!

En route to our run through the Kyles of Bute we took a quick look into the new marina at Portavadie.  Impressive size and layout, with plenty of depth and great shelter.   Next year should see more of the infrastructure in place and then it will be a good stopover, though lacking the character of Tarbert.    

Good news, Flamingo has thrown off the bonds of Carrickfergus and escaped to  Glenarm

THE KYLES OF BUTE

A trip through the Kyles is always spectacular and the sun shone all the way, through the Burnt Isles and round to Rothsay.   Another pontoon BBQ and the mandatory socialising on board Ilmatar.  Rothesay proved to be a great place to shop, the biggest problem being trying not to spend too much.  Flamingo?  Still in the grip of Glenarm.

Howard comments that the £100 he paid to replace an electric point has not been done.  As a result of this incident the old fashioned davits have been replaced with snap davits.

The planned stepping off place for our run up to Glasgow was to have been the moorings at Gourock with dinner ashore at Royal Gourock YC, but with forecasts of strong  NW winds we chose the marina at Holy Loch instead.  Anticipating the arrival of Clair’s Pride, a meal was booked ashore in the holy Loch Inn for 7.30pm.  Lovely meal with choices of local fresh produce, including vegetarian Haggis! (for Mark’s crew Stephen) and Ilmatar was once again the venue for the compulsory night cap.   An early start was required for the run up to Glasgow so we called it a night before daylight!          (well some of us did).  Next morning a bleary eyed Mark and Stephen confessed to a 5am marathon on beer and guitars – great - we have musicians with us!

THE RIVER CLYDE TO GLASGOW                                                                                              

The weather was misty, damp and breezy leaving Holy Loch at 8am to get the full benefit of the flood up to Glasgow but the day improved as we progressed up river.  Past the docks of Greenock and Port Glasgow and up to Dumbarton with its distinctive rock and Castle.  We waved to the paddle steamer ‘Waverly’ as she took her first passengers of the day down river.  The Navy must have heard there was a party in Glasgow for we were quickly overtaken by two destroyers.  Passing the Bowling  canal basin (Forth & Clyde Canal) we were joined by a miniature ‘puffer’, a barge and a small wooden yacht, dressed overall for the party, then under the huge Erskine Bridge.  The river Clyde was narrow now and the buoy laying vessel ‘Polar Star’   appeared astern making her way up to the city where she would be open to the public as part of the River Festival.  She squeezed past us just upstream of the silent Titan Crane at Clydebank.  This, and the John Brown crane, are monuments to the once thriving boatbuilding industry.  The yard at Yarrow was full of naval warships at various stages of completion.  Braehead Museum, shopping centre and leisure complex on the south bank had an inviting pontoon, however we were anxious to secure a good berth in the Princess Dock before it became too crowded. And so past the empty docks and disused slipways of Govan and round the bend to our first sight of the Squinty Bridge, the Armadillo roof of the Glasgow Auditorium, the futuristic Science Centre and Glasgow Tower.

GLASGOW RIVER FESTIVAL         19th – 20th JULY

Berthed alongside the temporary pontoon in Princess Dock, Clair’s Pride and MacTwist tied outside us. Highlander was in the next trot.  RSMYC members starting to arrive.  Time now to explore.  The paved square between the Science Centre and the BBC building was the arena for the festival with marquees housing Gaelgal displays, crafts and musicians.  The BBC had an outside stage with non-stop entertainment, highland dancers, young, old and avant guard! , choirs, solo and groups of musicians, even belly dancers!  A row of stalls housed a Farmers Market with the best of Scottish fare, Aberdeen Angus steaks, venison, fresh fruit, vegetables and fish.  In the river the Jet Skis and speed boats demonstrated amazing tricks and handling skills.  In the river were the Naval vessels and ‘Polar Star’ that passed us down river and a Belgian sail training vessel ‘Loth Lorien’ which we boarded that evening for a reception. 

Princess Dock is the home of the Isle of Skye flying boat which motors out into the river for takeoff three times a day.   Temporary pontoons held the  30 – 40 visiting boats, Gin palaces, Motor cruisers, yachts large, small and traditional, and all dressed overall,  and one dressed all in pink, raising funds for Action Cancer.  A Scottish breath blew round the basin and hundreds of flags whipped and cracked like mad.

Each boat from Carrickfergus were given an auto lifejacket for being the furthest travelled.

The weekend passed quickly and enjoyably with the activities of the River Festival, sight seeing, BBQ’s on the pontoon, cocktails on the upper deck, singsongs – never a dull moment.  Come Monday morning it was time to go, an early start to catch the tide and head south.  News Flash! Flamingo escaped from Glenarm and has reached Campbletown.  She will  meet us somewhere on the Ayrshire coast.

LARGS, IRVINE & GIRVAN

Clair’s Pride headed for home while Highlander, MacTwist and Ilmatar sailed to Largs.  While jumping ashore from Highlander with a rope, onto a very bouncy pontoon finger, Sharon lost her balance and fell in!  Having lost sight of his wife, Roy reversed out and moved to a nearby berth.  Howard just happened to be walking down the pontoon at the time and he and another passer by joined the rescue party.  As there was no ladder in the vicinity poor Sharon had to be hauled out by the two Sir Galahads.  Roy grabbed some dry clothes, towels etc.  into a bag and escorted the dripping  and shaken Sharon to the showers. She emerged 20 minutes later wearing pyjamas!  Well, at least she was dry, and warm. 

Over dinner in the restaurant plans were made for the next day.  Howard wanted to spend his pocket money in ‘the best Pound Shop’ in Irvine, while the others planned for Troon.  The forecast of fresh offshore winds would make for an easy passage of our 3 boats, but a long beat for Eric in Flamingo, who we discovered was single handed.  He settled for another night (trapped again) in Campbletown!

Howard was right, it is ‘the best Pound Shop’.    All sorts of amazing ‘must haves’ were purchased and we staggered back to Ilmatar where she was tied up to the Museum pontoon with the puffers, laden with things we just could not leave without!  Departing Irvine we found something else we could not leave without – a bright orange buoy attached to a lobster pot!

We all met up again for a night in Girvan before heading for Portpatrick, our last port of call.  Drinking pints in the sunshine in front of the Crown, Maria kept looking over her shoulder and muttering, “I’m sure that’s him!”  She was referring to a guy sitting alone on the bench outside beside the door.  Bold as brass, she went over and asked “Are you Billy from Emmerdale?”  He was!  ( We could do with her on our quiz team!)

And so to Carrick, and guess who we met there,  Eric, El and Flamingo! 

Extracts from Wendy’s log.

2nd Cruise to the Clyde        Extracts from Howard’s log

Disappointed that Norman and Wendy are putting their work before pleasure, Maria and I set off to the Clyde, looking forward to the highlight,  the RSMYC Holyloch end of season dinner dance.

We set off in horrible weather but we are only going to Larne Lough for the Millbay regatta.  Arriving and finding we were the only visiting boat and left to choose our own mooring.  Awful swell, strong wind and bad luck, we end up securely attached to the mooring, by getting it around our prop.

A phone call to our pal Eric who lives local and was waiting for us in the pub. He said he would send out a diver who turned out to be a young lad on a jet ski.  Asking us if we had goggles and a knife he dipped his head below the water several times, it was obvious that we were not getting anywhere so I asked him to put on a line to secure the mooring then cut the rope.  Unfortunately we still could not remove the bit left on the prop.  Giving Eric a second chance he arranged for a proper diver to come the next day.

Accepting a lift ashore from a gent in a dinghy I was able to thank the lad and be confronted by Tony the pub landlord who was the owner of the mooring.  (what a nice chap)

Dripping wet and time to throw a couple of quick Guinness’s down my neck before getting a lift back to the boat.  Strong wind, heavy rain, big swell, me forgetting I’m not 21 still and climbing aboard I slipped and got even wetter.  I have to say that this is the first time I’ve ever fallen in.

Ruined phone and severely damaged ego, it was a hot shower and hot whisky and an early night.

Next day the 2 divers arrived and cleared my prop but it was obvious that due to the weather that we were going to be anchored for a few days.

Having hurt my ribs when I fell, I did not want to lower my heavy rib dinghy then struggle to put the engine on also the rigmarole of the engine struggling to start, so we resigned ourselves to sitting quietly aboard.  Having to conserve the batteries we could not use the TV and there is only so much reading you can do.  However being in such a relaxed environment did have its compensation and we were able to revitalise our relationship, it did put a spring in my step but of course I had nowhere to step to.

Only able to cope with so much I decided that after 4 nights a few waves may be an easier option so it was off to Campletown where we met up with Mark & Alison of Claire’s Pride and to make a new friend Maurice of “Mary Ann Slo”.  Due to the weather we stayed for 3 nights but we did enjoy the wining and dining in company.

Great improvement in the weather and we were off to Lamlash, safely moored it didn’t take us long to decide that we didn’t like it there so it was up anchor and around to Broderick which we very much enjoyed.

Next port of call was Irvine which I must admit I was nervous of having caught a lobster pot last time.  We later learnt that this one particular fisherman laid pots appx. 100 yards apart and joined them with floating line. Doesn’t give visitors a fighting chance.

Berthing on the museum pontoon surrounded by hundreds of swans, great shopping with a super pound shop and great wining and dining.  Irvine is one of my favourite places and hard to pass.

On to Kilchattan Bay and onto the hotel mooring.  I will not be eating or drinking there again.

Next we’re into East Kyles and onto the Colintraeve Hotel mooring for lunch.

After lunch around to what was the Royal Hotel (forgot new name).  Really nice inside, enjoyed a drink but the menu looked expensive and it’s my policy not to dine where nobody else is eating, so drop mooring and back to a favourite of ours, the Kames Bay Hotel for an enjoyable meal and overnight.

We were both looking forward to our next stop which was the Royal Gourock Yacht Club.

After being allocated a mooring by the mooring officer, we went shopping, walking and ended up in the club.  We were made welcome and enjoyed a few drinks but was told there was no catering that night only for a private function that was going on.  They obviously felt sorry for us as they came up with fish and chips for us.  Very welcome and rounded of the night nicely.

And so it’s on to Holyloch a day early leaving us plenty of time to tidy up the boat and to go into Dunoon for shopping.

The son of the marina owner drove us around looking for a calor gas bottle, they have different sizes in NI.  This must be one of the nicest marinas in Scotland.

The end of season dinner was great.  Picked up by coach, good food, great music, a super night.

Our weekend at Holyloch was great, everyone made us so very welcome, and is firmly in our diaries for 2009.

Next morning we were invited with others onto “Clementine” (Trader 55, What a boat ) for coffee and cake and biscuits made by Rita, extremely tasty but I would question the amount of calories.

Wanting to catch the tide and make Campletown we said our goodbyes and cast off ready to slip away quietly but this was not to be, everyone was out waving us off.  I like to think that it was just a friendly jester and not just to see if we hit anything or made a mess of leaving the berth, however we managed to depart smiling having had a fantastic visit.

Non stop to Cambletown, pub meal, few drinks and an early night and to catch the tide the next day back home to Carrickfergus to be welcomed by Norman and Wendy.

A great trip but parts would not want to be repeated.

2009 Log

Maria just had to see Leonard Cohen in concert at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast but at £90 a ticket she was on her own but I did take her by boat and we over nighted at the Odyssey

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Old age and health meant I missed a lot of the boating season but did manage to be ship shape in time for the visit of the Tall Ships to Belfast. We were lucky enough to secure a berth in Barnett Dock near all that was going on. A good well organised weekend but a bit short on Tall Ships.

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22/23 August Carrickfergus Regatta. My friend was taking his boat around to be lifted out at the marina services and I agreed to be on the pontoon to take his warps. In my excitement I thought he was close enough to grab his warp, but I obviously forgotten I’m not quite as agile as I used to be and fell in. Remembering back to the last time I fell in and ruined my mobile phone I was pleased that it was back on my own boat on charge. My waterproof watch seemed OK and thought I had got away fairly lightly when I realised that I had lost my wallet. Besides the cash I realised that I had lost credit cards, membership cards, loyalty and all manner of cards which meant a nightmare to replace.

As I was going to the shower room everyone was shouting out “Happy Anniversary” and was quickly reminded that it was exactly a year ago that I had fallen in previously.

Nicely showered and changed I was able to enjoy the club regatta which was combined with a craft fair and the fire, police and coastguard services doing their PR bit.

Everyone took great joy in my having had an anniversary swim and I admit was keen to put it behind me when a Police women came up to me and said “are you Howard?” and have you lost anything. I replied No but I have been parted with my wallet which is 20’ below the pontoon and well sunk in the mud. She then held up my wallet and said “is this it”. I could not believe it had been recovered and she went on to say two gents had handed it in and she saw my club membership card and my photo on my driving licence and was quickly able to reunite us. She went on to say the two gents were fishing (spinning) on the breakwater when they hooked it, it was obviously floating below the water and was going out to sea with the tide.

Two very honest gents who took time out to walk all the way around the harbour and of course our wonderful police officers.

I really find it very hard to believe this story myself and although the police were not allowed to give me their names I hope that I will eventually meet up with them and at least take them out fishing.

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We were keen to attend the RSMYC end of season muster at Holyloch but Norman & Wendy were not available and being unsure of how I was feeling we decided to reluctantly miss it.

Wendy’s plans had changed and was now available so we decided to do a short trip to Ardglas. Force 6 on the nose we were pleased to get into Ardglas only to find the consensus agreed to take short break before carrying on to Warrenpoint where we could spend a couple of days relaxing before going to Carlingford for an oyster festival. Two days of Guinness and oysters and plans were made to go up the canal through Victoria Lock and into Newry. Highly recommended and we will go again. Couple of nights and then back to Warrenpoint and then back to Ardglas and Portaferry before back to our home berth at Carrickfergus.

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26th Sep

Over to Bangor to meet up with the Northern Ireland branch of the Royal Scottish Yacht Club for a picnic on the promenade, great weather and good craic.

In the evening we were in the local hotel to attend a wedding party. It seems like we’re having an Indian Summer.

Having used AIS receive for many years I have now upgraded to a Transponder so everyone will know where I am. Check out the link.

http://www.shipais.com/showship.php?mmsi=235050415

MOST ANNOYING

After using Posterous Log for the last 3 years to record my log and photos, I'm frustrated that they have closed down.

I've lost my log of our last 3 years trips locally also our annual cruise to the Bristol Channel, to Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Gloucester and up the River Severn to Stourport. Also our cruise last year via Whitehaven and Fleetwood.

2014

Not very good at keeping my log book up to date. Safely home so I’ll try and give a quick report on our trip.

A total of 904 nm taking just over 7 weeks most of it with brilliant sunshine and only 3 days of rain but now back home to cold wet weather.

Carrick Marine Projects lifted out the boat, bum washed, anodes checked and a quick polish to the hull.

We decided to go back again to the Bristol Channel which we always enjoy and also to be able to meet up with the family in Wales.

9th June.

Run through our safety gear and procedures, radio check and we’re ready to go.

Left Carrickfergus at 7.00am for Port St Mary in the Isle of Man, through the Calf Sound where we see a load of seals and luckily picked up a free mooring.

10th June

Next leg is Albert Dock in Liverpool but we need to arrive dead on high water or it’s up and down the Mersey River but with a strong tide, its better to avoid being early.

A forecast of SW 4/5 increasing 6 so we decide to get miles under the belt rather than stuck out in the Irish Sea, this of course resulted in being early and spent a few hours stemming the tide in the Mersey.

In Liverpool for 6 days for the Mersey River Festival, this is our second time for the festival and meant we could get into the Albert Dock which is next to the city centre shops and the main tourist centre. So much going on, met up with Brian & Moya of Pappilon again from Douglas and met some interesting new friend including David & Norma who have renovated a wooden launch “Albaquila”

Liverpool is definitely on our schedule for next year.

16th June

With tears in the eyes we leave for the Menia Straits but due to timing we had to tie up at the Menia Bridge pier alongside a fishing boat that was along side the research vessel Prince Madoc which meant we did not get ashore. Lunch time next day its through the Swellies, with Maria at the helm. We intended to stop at Port Dinorwyc and Caernarvon marina but due to strong winds being forecast we crossed the bar to Porth Dinallen in Caernarvon Bay so we could choose the best day for the long haul to Dale (Milford Haven)

Luckily found a mooring and it’s ashore for the local shop and pub on the beach.

18th June

After a long but pleasant trip we arrive at Dale and get a space on the floating pontoon in the middle of the bay. Met up with a boat that was on the pontoon last time we were there, they were local and go out fishing then BBQ their catch.

19th July

Off to Swansea in not a nice sea, very windy but only a 6 hour journey and originally this day was scheduled for our long haul down the Irish Sea so did not moan about conditions, glad Maria had made sandwiches and a flask of coffee otherwise it would have been miserable.

Arrived in Swansea in time for a jazz festival and pleased that the wind had dropped and we were to get blazing sunshine. Met up with John a big music fan who put us right as to which bands to see. Obviously we dined at the sailing club during our stay.

22nd June

Left for a short leg to a new marina at Porthcawl, terrific staff very helpful and good fun. Porthcawl is the Blackpool of Wales.

24th June

Off to the Cardiff Bay Yacht Club for the next 12 nights. Maria met up with her brother and the family came down to see us most nights but an extra special night was held when we had a family reunion in the club house.

Met Julian again who originally got me berthed in CBYC.

6th July

Son Ian and grandson Wills crewed for us to go up the Severn Estuary to Sharpness where we locked in to the Gloucester & Sharpness canal. Very spectacular trip with an 8 knot tide and a narrow channel to keep to and having to ensure not arriving too early or too late. Pub meal then my temporary crew desert ship.

7th July

Up to Gloucester and tied up directly outside a pub whose call was too strong to resist.

8th July

We locked into the River Severn and up to our favourite spot Upton on Severn and decided to stay 3 nights and not go any further this time because it meant dropping the mast and we had previously done that trip, but we also had to be in Bristol on a set date.

Berthed next to Paul & Jay of narrow boat Jasper.

11th July

Down river and branch off into the Avon Canal to Tewksbury, lovely town but heaving due to a Medieval Festival. Great night in a pub with live music.

12th July

Back down to Gloucester for 2 nights giving us time to meet up with Maria’s family and to party aboard Ilmatar, only trouble was they bought their St Bernard and a Newfoundland with them.

Drinks in the sailing club and a visit to the waterways museum which was terrific.

Gloucester Cathedral and shopping centre always worth visiting.

Met up with Nigel that we met 2 years earlier at Upton. Nigel also waved as we passed his work place on our way down the canal.

14th July

Time to leave Gloucester having given 24 hours notice for 2 major road bridges to be opened and we off to Saul Junction for lunch then back to Slimbridge for the night.

Met up with John who showed us around his riveted dutch barge which he had converted to electric propulsion.

15th July

Overnight at Sharpness Dock ready to lock out into the Severn Estuary the next day. Meal in the famous dockers club.

16th July

Portishead Marina. Drinks in the newly opened pub.

17th July

Up the River Avon to lock into Bristol for 4 nights.

Bristol Harbour Festival and so many other things to see and do really need a month there.

Both sides of family visit and the bosun’s locker starts to get depleted.

3rd time at the festival and nice to meet up with old friends. Met Alan & Lynn who are taking thier dutch barge to Ireland next year.

Good jazz aboard the barge Sabrina 6 which is home to the Bristol Boat Club.

Nice evening spent with old friend Ros watching the fireworks.

22nd July

Back to Cardiff for 2 nights and time to say goodbye to the family.

Met up with a couple who distilled their own whisky Much regretted the next day.

24th July

Back again to Swansea, met up again with John and dined in the sailing club.

25th July

Dale again to overnight and pleased we got a space on the pontoon.

26th July

Departed at 5.00am to arrive at 8.00pm at the National Sailing Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Meal and drinks in club house.

27th July

Ardglass Marina for the night.

28th July

904nm and back to the home berth at Carrickfergus to be welcomed by Wendy to be taken to the new club house and a celebration drink for our very successful and most enjoyable 2014 cruise.

2015

Not a great year for cruising due to personal reasons but we did get away in June when we were joined by Brian and Lorna when we went over to Liverpool via Ardglas and the Isle of Man for the Mersey River Festival.

Other than that we've only had local trips to Belfast also on duty for the Hansa Championship, also took out a party of councillors to see the new Gobbins Cliff Walk.

Looking forward to the annual Boxing Day trip to Belfast.

2016

May 28th Trip up to Belfast Harbour for the Belfast Maritime Festival.

May 29th . Mothership for World Topper event hosted by Carrickfergus Sailing Club.

June 24th Carrickfergus Classic Regatta. Acted as Committee Boat

June 26th Trip to Clarence Wharf, Belfast for a visit to HMS Caroline

July 2nd Trip up to belfast with crews of visiting OCC members.

August. Belfast for the weekend.

Not very good at keeping records up to date, not much distance covered this year but have used it a lot for staying on in Carrickfergus and enjoying CSC club activities, however has allowed us time to polish up and having it looking greast and looking forward to extended cruising in 2017.

2019 Another year of bad log keeping. Had a week in the Isle of Man also several days in Ballycastle plus numerous trips to Bangor and Belfast.