Derry found us about 1/2 way around the Island on our Ireland circumnavigation journey. We had arrived at the Southwest corner, rounded the Northwest corner, and now were within just a few miles of the Northeast corner and our turn to the south and down the Irish Sea.
Our first stop was Rathlin Island on the extreme Northeast of Ireland. We were met at the marina by Charlie the excellent Harbourmaster and she helped us tie up and get our bearings. The island is about 3 miles off the Irish mainland and only 12 miles from Scotland. It has a very interesting history that goes back several thousand years. DNA found in a tomb (behind the pub) uncovered in 2006 provided evidence that modern Irish people show genetic continuity to the inhabitants of Rathlin 4,000 years ago.
There is very little accommodation for overnight visitors so most tourists are day trippers. We enjoyed our day hikes and scooter rides, but especially loved the island in the evening when things got quiet. A throughly beautiful and welcoming island. We very much enjoyed meeting Nuala and Ian. We had dinner with them and learned more about the island. Also had a fun night at the pub meeting David, Gary, George.
As we have mentioned in past posts, the extremely large tides in the area produce various conditions that need to be considered for travel. In the Irish Sea the tidal currents are restricted between Ireland and England resulting in fast currents. We need to consider currents as we plan our way. We normally travel through the water at about 8 knots (nautical miles per hour.) If we have a 3 knot current with us, out speed over the ground is 8 knots + 3 knots for a total of 11 over the ground. If the current is against us then our speed over ground is 8 knots – 3 knots for a speed over ground of 5 knots. So, we you can see that with proper planning our overall speed can be twice as fast as our speed with poor planning. Using proper current planning we can make 11 knots and big leaps down the Sea in daylight segments.
We left Rathlin just as the unfavorable currents are subsiding leaving the calmest water to transverse the sound between Ireland and Rathlin. As the wind fills in and the currents become favorable, we see our water speed increase above 10 knots while the current adds in a few more. We are absolutely flying at 15 knots over the ground and life is good!
Next stop is Belfast. There are a few options for docking the boat in the area. We opted for Carrickfurgus because it was the most convenient for our route and also had excellent train service into the City. Our Ocean Cruising Club membership and flag worked well once again as locals Lesley and Dave saw Echo and reached out to say hello. We shared a very nice dinner in town.
Belfast is the political and industrial heart of Northern Ireland. We only spent a day in the city but did get to visit the Titanic exhibition. It told the story of the people who built the ship, the passengers and crew, and how it met its fate. After the museum, we caught a hop on / hop off bus for a narrated once around. Belfast actually reminded us a bit of our Detroit home town. Both are gritty, both are tough, both have needed to reinvent themselves as industry changed, both have faced prejudice and strife, both struggling to find a new and better future.
We stop for a couple of nights at Strangford Lough. The lough is a large inland lake, very beautiful, about 6 miles wide and 24 miles long. Tides are very important here because the lake is connected to the sea only via a narrow river so the currents are extreme as several feet and millions of gallons of water are breathed in and out with the tides.
Next we once again pass into the Republic of Ireland and make our way to Dublin. This is an exciting stop for us both because of the wonderful city, but also because of the many friends and relatives that live near by. Our first marina in the Dublin area was at Dún Laoghaire. Dún Laoghaire is a town on the south side of Dublin Bay. It has a protected harbour created by the construction of enormous breakwaters. The marina is inside the break walls and convenient to town and transportation.
Mary’s cousins Eamonn and Catherine live near the marina and we were fortunate to be able to spend time with both of them. Eamonn was the consummate host and drove us around to see many of the sights along the south side of Dublin Bay. Next day we rode our scooters to their new house in Black Rock. Eamonn told us we couldn’t get lost, but we did. We eventuallyfound our way and enjoyed a wonderful visit with them. We learned about the impending release of their Daughter-in-law’s novel, There’s Been a Little Incident. We bought the book and loved it.
We also took the opportunity to ride the train in and see a bit of Dublin. We visited the Irish Emigration Museum which we found very well done. It tell the story of why and how so many Irish left, and the incredible influence the they have had in the world.
We very often sign on to a walking tour when we visit a new place. It’s always a joy to get some local knowledge and perspective. One thing we learned was that the famous “Temple Bar” does not refer to a particular pub, but to a sand bar that used to exist in the River Liffey adjacent to the Temple family property. Now an entertainment district.
Although Eamonn and Catherine are on the south side of Dublin, Mary has more relatives north of Dublin. We decided to move Echo around to bay to the north and pulled into a marina at Malahide where, among other things, I got a much needed haircut.
Best part of this stop was all the visitors that came out to see us!
John and Paula knew we were on our way and came to Malahide to watch us come up the river and dock at the marina.
Kristoph, Cathy, Michelle, and Brian stopped by first with roses and champagne. We had a nice lunch and great conversation. Brian is a sailor and was very interested in Echo and our travels.
Bríd, Maura, and Brenda arrived next. It was a beautiful sunny day and we spent several hours catching up.
We enjoy using public transportation when we are out and about so we packed up for a trip to Ashborne to visit Tina. Kristoph and Cathy met us at the bus stop and gave us a ride to Tina’s place. We had a nice visit and continued on to lunch.
With all our visiting in the Dublin area sorted, it was time to continue down the Irish Sea. We left Malahide 8 September and headed South. Our next major stop was to be Waterford in preparation for a road trip to Kerry for a family meet up.
First leg was Malahide to Greystones. We caught the favorable tide and raced across Dublin Bay and on to the marina. Greystones was a very small fishing harbor that has now been built out with a huge sea wall and new basin. Very sheltered and comfortable. The town was probably more quaint before the sea front was “improved” but fun to walk around nevertheless.
Next leg was a jump down the coast to Arklow. This stop was up a small river to the town. We tied up on a wall held off with old black tires. All went well, but we worried about scuffing and damage from the wall. Definitely not a tourist hotspot, but we managed an enjoyable Guinness anyway!
Morning of 10 September we left Arklow on a falling tide and continued down the coast towards Rosslare. Just beyond is Carnsore Point which represents the South East corner of Ireland. Feeling great, we rounded the point and headed for an overnight stop at Dunmore East in preparation for Waterford. Dunmore is not well protected in swells from some directions and we did get a bit beat up here. No damage but we made an early departure for our trip up the River Suir to Waterford. We debated about Waterford because it is pretty far up river boy, what a great stop! The docks are adjacent to downtown, very sheltered, and made a great staging point for our road trip to Kerry.
With Echo safely tucked in at Waterford city docks, we rent a car for a road trip back to Kerry. Stay tuned….