Monday 6th June 2005
Well we are finally on our way!
For the last 3 years we have been based in Rhu Marina working on Alba Voyager's refit while at the same time holding down shore jobs. We have completely rewired and re-plumbed her. The aft cabin layout has been altered to include an en-suite and increased storage for clothes, also a work area for the computer and printer. The saloon has also had a bit of a make over removing the single bunk to make room for cupboard storage and a small display area (for the whisky decanter and glasses, very important). The old table has been replaced with a new table that lowers to provide a double bed in the saloon for visitors ( in addition to the 2 singles in the forward cabin). On the port side we have installed the entertainment centre with TV. DVD, CD and Radio. Bookshelves and the cocktail cabinet are also located here. We have also had all the upholstery replaced which considerably brightens the area and with a few pictures added makes it look very homely. Forward of the saloon we have the main heads and shower to port, starboard we have new storage containing a full height hanging locker (which houses a 25gal calorifier, this is great for the clothes as it acts as an airing cupboard). Next to this we have our main clothes storage area arranged in a sliding box system (courtesy of Ikea). In the final part of the accommodation, the fore cabin, we have increased the storage through the addition of new lockers at high level on both port and starboard sides. From the sailing point of view we have re-engined her with a Perkins 4108 and fitted a 2kw diesel generator (for the ladies to dry their hair at sea). All the instruments have been replaced and upgraded. We have installed a laptop charting programme that can be linked to the auto-helm for those lazy hot days when you don't feel like doing much. And finally Alva Voyager now sports a complete set of new sails and canvas work including that all important Bimini.
Tuesday 21st June 2005
We departed Rhu Marina at lunchtime on Monday 6th June after saying our goodbyes to our many friends. Our crew for this first leg comprised daughter Susie, her Canadian boyfriend Scott and his mate also from Canada, Tyler. They had been with us for the last week and helped with some of the last minute jobs while at the same time getting in a bit of sight-seeing as this as their first time in Scotland (the Canadians that is). Departing wasn't at all what I had expected, after all the time we had spent on preparation I thought it would be a very leisurely affair, wrong!!!. For three weeks prior to departure the pace of things seemed to get quicker and the list of things to do get longer and longer. We were still flying about all over the place doing last minute jobs right up until the morning we left. As a result we were both pretty uptight by the time we cast off with our heads full of all the things we hadn't done. But sod it if we don't go now we'll end up bringing in New Year 2006 tied to this same berth.
The most asked question until now had been 'where are you heading for first'. Most people were expecting an answer like France or straight to Portugal. Well the way we were feeling the correct answer was Lamlash on the Isle of Arran about 25 miles distant. This would give us time to get our feet back on the ground( or should I say deck) and a good nights sleep. It would also allow the crew with exception to Susie hadn't sailed before, to settle into the boat. And so it was after eight hours of calm sunny weather we picked up a mooring in Lamlash Bay. Our next port of call was aimed at the Dublin area, so early next morning we set of into a light force 3 southerly winds (not the best direction for Dublin) having arranged the crew into watches. Susie and Scott Pt watch, Tom and Tyler Stb watch with Anne given the important job of ships cook. Winds remained light southerly all day and through the night so we sailed a bit and we motored a bit with the only excitement, dodging the Irish Ferries out of Loch Ryan. Finally when we were about 20 miles north of Howth at about 6 o'clock in the evening the wind died completely and we motored the last part to Howth Marina. On arrival we were advised we could only have a berth for two nights as the Marina which is owned by the yacht club were hosting a regatta at the weekend and were fully booked. However, next morning we were asked to leave as in fact the marina was at present fully booked and no berth was available. After a quick meeting with the crew it was decided to head south to Dun Laoghaire in preference to Malahide to the north but closer. This turned out to be a good choice as the marina is much easier to enter and has excellent facilities albeit at a cost(114 euro for a 3 night stop). We spent the afternoon ashore exploring the town and gathering information as to where the best pubs were. We found it better to split into two groups with the old ones doing their thing and the young ones something totally different.
This was Anne's first visit to Eire and she loved Dublin with its vibrant city atmosphere. The weather was warm and sunny so we walked around the city centre looking at many of O'Connell Street's landmark sites. Had an alfresco lunch sitting on the banks of the river Liffey and we enjoyed listening and watching the numerous street buskers. Anne even decided to have her photograph taken with that famous Dublin lady, Molly Malone. One thing on the downside, we did notice was that things were more expensive here than back in Scotland. Now whether this is capital city prices for tourists, as you would find in London or whether this applies in the whole of Eire we will find out.
Anne sitting beside the statue of Molly Malone
Saturday 11th June
After three very enjoyable days in and about Dublin we set off for Arklow about 30 miles south. The tides run fast along Ireland's East Coast, so we left at mid-day to take advantage of the south going tide and after a good sail arrived in Arklow at 18.30. Arklow has a very small marina and can't accommodate Alba Voyager at 13.4m so we made fast to some alongside pontoons just up river, being able to use the marina facilities (31 euro per night). We all had a quick walk into town to get the lie of the landand were surprised to find that this place seemed to have even more pubs than Dublin. Next day we went for a long walk round the town and to our surprise found a very large Tesco which although not what we were looking for came in very useful for replenishing ships stores. Arklow at one time had a large commercial harbour, all of which has, but disappeared, there is still a small active fishing harbour which you pass on the way to a lovely sandy beach. Most of the pubs here have live music on in the evenings, even on a Sunday, so the whole crew decided after dinner to adjourn to a pub with a traditional Irish group playing. We weren't disappointed. The Beamish was good too (sorry don't like Guinness).
Monday 13th June
This problem with tides down here meant a very early start, at least for the Skipper and Susie. 04.00 we were heading for Dunmore East a small fishing harbour on the south coast about 60 miles distant. We had the Tusker Rock abeam by 9.00 and at one point were achieving 9kt on the GPS but then it went downhill, as we started to turn southwest the wind decided to back southwest and there we were with 30 miles to go and the wind now on the nose. We soldiered on sailing a bit, motor sailing a bit, and now with the tide against us we arrived at Dunmore East Hb. at 18.30 and tied alongside a fishing boat that looked as if it wasn't going to sea, at least not in the middle of the night. After dinner we walked up into town and were surprised to find a beautiful quaint fishing village with many of the houses roofed with thatch. This is a place we would have liked to stop another day and explore further, but as the harbour has no facilities for yachts and we were eager to see Cork we decided to press on next morning.
Tuesday 14th June
Another early morning start at 05.00 to catch the tide, Skipper and Tyler with the short straw this time Cork 50 miles to the Southwest. Forecast wasn't all that great with the wind still on the nose so it was back to the old routine of sail a bit, motor sail a bit. Later in the day the wind increased to a F5+ and we had to reef the main and genoa, this combined with a lumpy sea made for the most unpleasant sailing we had had so far. By 16.00 we had the Coningbeg Light Ship close on our Starboard
and tacked for Roche's Point at the entrance to Cork harbour. We decided to make for Crosshaven only a few miles from Cork City as there is a choice of three marinas here. 18.00 we tied up in Salve Marina and booked in for 3 nights (30 euro per night). it was a bit like Rhu Marina but with a restaurant and better toilets and showers. Cork is S. Ireland's second largest city and in many ways similar to Dublin but a bit less cosmopolitan. We found the shops a bit more interesting with fewer of the High Street chains and more small local shops available, but the prices are a lot more expensive here, I would estimate 25 per cent to be an average. We have very much enjoyed our time here and for a final fling decided on a last night in a traditional Irish pub to round off our stay in Cork. Tomorrow we head back to England, Southern Ireland has been great with lovely people and lots to see and do, the only draw back is the cost of living.
Friday 17th June
Said Goodbye to Ireland and set course for Lands End about 100 miles distant rounding the corner and heading for Falmouth a further 50 miles. Weather not playing ball at all, wind has come round to the southeast F3, we want to make a course of 135 deg. and the best we can do is 160deg. visibility is also poor. We settle down into our watch pattern, for this passage Susie has taken over the job as skipper to complete her Skippered Passage for her RYA Offshore Certificate. This is a bit like sitting your driving test, everything must be by the book, so we have started off with a safety briefing and are all kitted out with life jackets and safety harnesses. During the night the visibility drops to 100m, fortunately we have seen no shipping all day and hope it stays that way. By morning visibility has greatly improved and the sun breaks through making things very pleasant although the wind is now round to Southwest F2 so we have had to resort to motor sailing again. Saturday 16.00 we enter the Traffic Separation Scheme off Lands End this puts us about 12 miles offshore so we are unable to see Lands End itself, which is a pity it's one of the best known landmarks in Britain. The wind is dropping and Susie makes the decision to head for Penzance instead of Falmouth. Penzance has a locked harbour with the gates opening 2 hours before high water (01.00 Sunday morning). With the wind now dropped to calm we motor at a steady 4kn which should get us to Penzance in time for the gates opening. We arrive just of the harbour at 00.45 and speak to the Harbour Master on the VHF radio, gates will open in 20 minutes and we have a berth for 2 days. (£20 per day). Everyone is looking forward to a good night's kip. Well done Susie for a good and safe passage.
Sunday 19th June
Penzance is a lovely quaint Cornish town which has managed to hold on to its seafaring heritage and the harbour has many old traditional boats many of which have been lovingly restored. The crew made arrangements to leave the boat here. Tyler returning to Canada and Susie and Scott making their way to Edinburgh to find work. Our many thanks to them all for all their help, we hope they have enjoyed the sailing (although it wasn't of the best), seeing new places and meeting new people.
The crew Tyler, Scott, Susie, Penzance Harbour
Monday 20th June
Thoroughly enjoyed our short stay in Penzance, the harbour gates open at 15.00 when we will depart on route for Falmouth (across the bay and round Lizard Point). The weather gods are on our side today, the sun is warm, the wind is Southwest F4 and we are averaging 6kt in the right direction. We round Lizard Pt. at 18.30 and about 3 miles offshore and point the bow for Pendeen Light at the entrance to Falmouth Harbour. Coming out of Falmouth we sight a square rigged ship under full sail, what a graceful sight, with the big Trafalgar event on next weekend we expect to see a few more (hopefully under sail). 23.00 we pick up a mooring and spend a quiet night after a good day's sail.
Wednesday 22nd June
In the morning we move over to the Visitors Yacht Haven and booked in for the night (£22 per night). We intend to stop here for the next 7 to 10 days to do various jobs, so we moved to the anchorage (50m from the pontoons) at £4.50 per night, this includes full use of the facilities (which are excellent, includes a laundry).