Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

16 th to 19 th of July 2012 - Strangford Lough

Crew : Andy and Helen
Destinations : Quoile River, Strangford Lough, Sketrick Island, Strangford Lough and Audley's Roads, Strangford Lough.
Distance : 54 miles

Monday 16 th July

Our alarm call at 0500 had us leaving the Bangor marina by 0550. We motor sailed the whole way in quite bumpy seas but, fortunately, we had 1-2 knots of tide in our favour to make up for the wind against tide conditions. We got through the Strangford Narrows more or less at slack water, although still had 3 knots in our favour. After passing the tidal power station near Portaferry we gradually got out of the strong tides.

We found a lovely anchorage in the south of Strangford Lough, in the Quoile River. It was lovely and peaceful until a group of youngsters in canoes rafted together paddled past us and decided to jump in the water when they stopped on the shore for a picnic.

This made me feel like a row as well so we pumped up the tender. The sun came out and we had a relaxing afternoon reading and then I had a quick row in the sunshine. The seals popped up to have a look at the strange woman but then went on their way once they realised I wasn't very interesting. We had a very heavy shower just at the point that the weather forecast on Radio 2 said the rain was going to move to England from Northern Ireland. Well it soon past to England and we were left in lovely sunshine for the rest of the evening, watching the terns fishing around the boat. The scenery was very different to Scotland and it was lovely to be back on the hook.

Tuesday 17 th July

We thought we would sail gently north, to an alongside berth at Down Cruising Club by an old lighthship, however, it was raining so we changed our minds and decided to stay where we were until the following day. The anchorage was very peaceful and it was warm so we could sit in the cockpit. We experimented with making bannock bread which seemed to work well, so we had a bacon sandwich for lunch. We could see some dinghy's in the distance and at one point a yacht went past us but otherwise we had the place to ourselves. There are apparently 11 sailing clubs on Strangford Lough all with there own distinct goals, but they didn't seem to be doing much sailing today.

Wednesday 18 th July

Today we sailed north up the Lough. We had good strong winds. As we headed toward a narrow gap between two pladdys we were going so fast we decided to chicken out of pladdy dodging and turned quickly down wind and into the main channel outside of the rocks. Lough Strangford is full of submerged drumlins called pladdys, deposited during the last ice age. This makes for a lovely rolling countryside, but lots of hidden reefs. Because of the strong wind and tidal entrance to the very small bay with the lightship we found a place to anchor outside instead. We were just off Sketrick Island, so we took our tender around into White Rock Bay to look for Daft Eddie's pub. We found the causeway and carried the tender up onto the grass, finding Daft Eddie,s for a pint.

We then had tea and cake in the cafe next door. We returned to the boat from the other side of the causeway. Making for a down tide and down wind journey. After supper we watched the boats racing from Strangford Yacht Club. These were very pretty G class fixed keels and 3 flying fifteens.

Thursday 19 th July

We had no wind today so drifted gently back down the Lough on the tide at around 1-2 knots. When we got down to 0.5 knots we gave up and motored to our next anchorage in Audley's Road, across the narrows from Portaferry. We were able to anchor just out of the strong tides and outside of the mooring buoys which had taken up most of the space.

We thought we were in for another peaceful evening, but gradually more and more boats of various kinds came to the bay and rafted up on buoys. Various small boats also arrived being towed by big ribs. They all set off down the narrows and out to sea for racing and we were left in peace by 1900. We heard nothing else until around 2200 when they quietly came back. We finished season one of West Wing on DVD so now have to wait until we get home to find out who survived the shooting!

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