53.29N 04.24W

Wing and a Prayer
Joy Hughes
Sat 30 Aug 2008 10:58

----- Original Message ----- From: "graham & Joy" <wingandaprayer {CHANGE TO AT} mailasail {DOT} com>
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Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 5:41 PM
Subject: Summer in the UK

Sailing in the Irish Sea
Surprise! Surprise! Yes the Hughes's are still around as summer 2008 draws to a close and as I hadn't written a missive for a while thought you may like to be brought up to date as to what we have been doing with ourselves. In return hopefully also hear how things are with you.
As you are aware we are now back home in Bolton. Keeping busy in the garden and doing DIY jobs round the house. Not too interesting or exciting.
Though I thought you may be interested in a trip we made to Scotland earlier this year.
During the dark cold days of winter enjoying a glass of the brown stuff with sailing friends in our local. Its was suggested that a friend of ours, Paddy , with a completive boat should get a team together and compete in a sailing regatta in Scotland, the Scottish Series at Tarbett held at the end of May. The conversation continued on the lines that Graham and Joy could take it up, as we are retired with lots of time on our hands. I must have had plenty of jungle juice as I agreed.
So on our return to the UK in May we found ourselves been driven down to Pwhilli in Wales where the boat is berthed accompanied by Ian an experienced dinghy sailor who had decided he would like to try an off shore passage and our grandson Alan 14 years with all the confidence of his passage with us last summer, with the task of taking the boat up to Scotland a journey up the Irish sea of approx 250 miles.
The forecast was winds 3/4 with occasional 5. Dull/showers Visibility Mod/Poor. Pretty normal for the Irish Sea.
We left the marina on a wet and dull morning with just 10kts South Easterly on sail assisted by the engine. We managed to gybe through Bardsey Sounds on slack tide. A notorious tidal gate, with strong tides of over 7kts. You don't get this one wrong.
It was dry but cold eventually the sun broke through the wind increased to 16kts not too bad. A lovely evening followed by a quiet night through which we did our 3 hour night shifts. The morning dawned overcast and as we continued to Bangor the wind eased to 8/10kts went into the east and was piercingly cold - not used to cold after our years in the tropics.
We eventually arrived into Bangor marina and headed for the hot showers.
Leaving Bangor on the evening tide we sailed overnight across the North Channel and as morning broke bright and sunny if still very cold we sailed up the Clyde and into Largs as requested by the Paddy. Thankfully it had stayed dry
I returned home whilst Paddy and crew including Graham did the racing. They did very well. Getting a Second overall in their class, a successful regatta.
Just one little, or not so little problem, the boat now needed to be returned home to Wales.
So once again I was persuaded by Graham to accompany him up to Scotland and sail the boat back. Just the two of us, he said its now June, warmer?? And we could do it slowly - take a week and sail down the Irish coast - a holiday.
On a lovely sunny morning we caught the train to Scotland. We had checked the weather forecast for the week ahead and it appeared fine. By the time we got to Largs the forecast had changed .The forecast winds 4/5 occasional 6 N/E with showers but good visibility. So we would be reaching or on a run. Should be OK
We slipped our mooring early morning; it was bright and sunny but no wind as we motored down the Clyde.
Unfortunately when the wind came in it was an S/E and it was a beat. The sun disappeared and before we reached the North Channel it began to rain. We did the remainder of the trip 5hours, the wind on our nose, the rain lashing down and no spray hood to hide behind. I must be mad?
Sailing into Bangor in the dark, frozen and on the point of developing hyperthermia we requested assistance from the marina to dock the boat. Graham and I were completely blown and felt we were a danger to ourselves and the boat. Not to mention other vessels in the marina. Safely docked we showered and fell asleep exhausted.
Thankfully the remainder of the week remained fine though we never took off our jackets. We had pleasant stopover along the Irish coast at Ardglass. A small fishing village with a safe natural harbour, where when the tide went out the boats were left in a small pond completely surrounded by high cliffs. Very pretty.
Leaving Northern Ireland we continued down the coast into Dublin Bay and the town of Dun Laoghaire, south of Dublin. A very big marina with rates to match. We left 40 euros lighter after one nights stay. Who says the Med is expensive try Southern Ireland.
A day sail across the Irish Sea brought us back to Wales.
Home at last, but not quite. Pwhelli marina is at the end of a twisting channel that silts up and we had been warned. Drawing 2.2 meters you won't get up at low tide. We checked the tides and decided we were on neaps and over an hour before low water we would be OK. Wrong!! We almost made it, at the last bend we drifted onto the mud and there we sat for 3 hours. Once again frozen as the sun sank out of sight, the tide went out and returned to release us. Paddy who had driven down to collect us and drive us back home took the photograph that said it all.
The Verdict - It's just too much like hard work, cold and uncomfortable cruising round the UK. "No" I think at our age we shall stick to warmer waters.
Now planning to return for a couple of months to Lanzarote, plan to sail round the Canaries returning home for Christmas.
Will keep in touch