Portaferry, Strangford Lough
After a very enjoyable sojourn with the McCrackens in Cultra
we departed from Bangor Marina expecting a pleasant sail down to Strangford
Lough - with forecast offshore winds of around 10-12kts, favourable tides and
sunny weather. Unfortunately, the reality didn't quite live up to this
The day started well and we sailed out of Belfast Lough,
taking the passage inside Copeland Island through Donaghadee Sound. So
far so good. Then the wind started to back from the forecast W/SW to S
and we could no longer sail our route without tacking. There is nowhere
to go to the west as the coast is littered with rocks and a north running tide
eddy - so we headed offshore. It's still quite shallow and the wind - now
up at 20+ kts on the nose was directly against the tide and the result was an
unpleasant chop - 2-3m square waves travelling in small gangs. Nothing
that Swallow could not cope with with ease, but uncomfortable to sail through.
As the winds were building and the sea getting rougher the
further offshore we went, we tacked in, reefed down further and then eventually
dropped the jib and motor sailed to the entrance to Strangford Lough. We
had met Alec, a great friend of the Lindsays and co-crew on a memorable multi
birthday cruise on Corryvreckan several years ago, on the dock at Bangor last
night and over a drink or two he recounted his unpleasant exit from Strangford yesterday
with massive waves and holes as he came over the bar. The way in is
easier and it turned out to be the gentlest part of the day and we forereached through
the narrows up to Portaferry in sunshine at a stately 4-5kts through the water,
but a racy 8kts+ over ground. Just before Portaferry is the newly
installed, and still uncharted, tide generator - smack in the middle of the channel.
Basically a large, twin rotor underwater windmill. It was undergoing some
maintenance, with it rotors raised - so more interesting to see than usual.
Strangford Lough Tide Generator - Portaferry behind
Tide generator - rotors raised for maintenance
The marina is just little further north and with the tide
still running at 3 kts things tend to happen quickly. We did a quick fly-by,
dodged the car ferry and guessed starboard side-to. Luckily there was
free berth and we came in smoothly, sitting on the tide with no drama.
Alec had been in the same berth in Elk - his classic gaff rigged yacht - a few
days previously, but without the manoeuvrability of Swallow had ended up pinned
across the two neighbouring boats for a few minutes - so big sigh of relief.
Portaferry from marina