Tuesday started in glorious sunshine and really mild conditions.
A morning session learning about radar (Its fairly quaint that the key component is call a ‘Magnatron’.) was followed by us slipping the lines – there goes that nautical verbiage again – at around mid-day and heading out of Carlingford Lough with every good intention of ‘Lough-hopping’ up to Strangford Lough.
Now, as I have said before, sailing frequently puts paid to those best laid plans of mice and men and today was going to be no exception – maybe it came about that Robbie Burns got his inspiration for that expression after a day’s sailing on the West coast?
[As an asides, the actor/comic Eddie Izzard has a great little monologue about those “best laid plans of mice and men” that is very amusing. The gist of the humour is that, while we can all understand mens’ plans going awry, how do we know that mice actually make best plans that then, subsequently, go awry? Do they make any plans at all? And what are those plans for? 😀 ]
Putting our day’s ‘best’ plan into action, we motored out of Carlingford Lough onto a sea as calm and smooth as I’ve not seen for many years. We had time to do our first couple of fixes and hourly logs before the coastal mist descended. That thin mist turns to fog at around 3:15pm and so we are obliged to continue motoring, turning our navigation lights on and sounding our fog horn (1 long blast) every two minutes. That safety task was carried out at the bow of the boat with each crew member taking a 20 minute slot in cold and very damp conditions, as you can imagine. Such times are when the, oft derided, ‘Cuppa Soup’ really comes into its own. A good morale booster and nearly as good as the Hobnob/Jelly Baby combo.
3:15pm we went into the fog ( at which point Neil reminds us of that horror film classic, The Fog, to put us on edge even more) and came out the other end at around 8pm. Given that we were motoring at about 6knots, thats a good implied 30 miles in dense, tense conditions. Although maybe it was just one small cloud of fog that was our own personal cloud, travelling with us, and us alone, affecting nobody but us? (Isn’t that some form of existentialism?).
It has to be remembered that, during this time, we were also attempting to execute our best laid plan. That best plan was to make our entry and way into Strangford Lough and to moor up for the night. However, a minor miscalculation of the ebbing tide and its strength put us into the position of motoring at full steam (nearly 7knots), at the entrance to Strangford, but remaining in the exact same position due to the fact that the tide coming out was also at 7knots. A standstill event! As we would probably have ran out of fuel before the tide turned, we completed a quick ‘180’ and set our course for Bangor, further North.
After the fog had lifted we spent a further 4 hours under motor until we arrived, safely, at Bangor Marina where we berthed at just after 12am. Phew! Still, another 60mile plus qualifying passage to add to my log.
After a short lie-in, I spent the morning cleaning the boat with the other crew, and then a couple of hours on personal laundry duty to get the kit ready for the West Coast of Scotland.
We change Skippers (Instuctors) here which means that we say ‘Goodbye’ to Duncs and ‘Hello’ to Mervyn. It also means that we’ve come to the end of the first formal leg of RBE2014 so we can pat ourselves on the back and say a big Thank You to Duncs. Although we will see him again as he will take us from Edinburgh to London on the 4th leg.
Occasionally it has seemed as if our journey should be renamed the Motor Round Britain Experience as, at times, we were unable to sail through lack of wind. Still, we’ve had fun and have got to know each other – Me , Neil and Allan as crew and Duncs as Instructor/Skipper. I have certainly learnt some new skills and have re-learnt those that I’d forgotten. How to live in close quarters on a boat has been one new skill. Whether I have quite mastered that yet is something you’ll have to ask the other crew.
So, on Friday, we exchange Duncs for Mervyn (I hope I’ve spelt that correctly) and he’ll take us up the West Coast of Scotland and around to Scrabster (Thurso0 over the coming weeks.
Happy May Day.
Day 25, April 30th