Ballycastle to Portrush - Sailing Northern Ireland

We were feeling lazy, so rather than sail across to Rathlin Island, we took the ferry across. Even in the ferry there was large swells and quite a few people looked the worse for wear. Beverley and I had no issues, but I guess we would of found another life if we had not felt at home on the sea. When we got to the island, a bus was waiting for us, which took us to where the puffins were. It was quite an experience on the bus as it had no suspension what so ever so we were up and down like a yo-yo. On top of the issues with the bus, the roads were quite narrow, and not that many places to pass other traffic.

When we got to the end of the journey, we were deposited at the RSPB Rathlin West light seabird reserve. Seeing as this was the reason we came, we went to see the puffins. We did see them, in among the thousand of guillemots and we were quite glad that they had not lost their beaks, which they do as the season progresses. After, we looked at the lighthouse we walked around the lighthouse which is still in operation. There are several differences with Rathlin West, in that the colour of the flash is in red, as this colour can be seen for a longer distance, plus the lighthouse is at the bottom of the complex, not at the top. This is so that when the fog comes down, again the light has a better chance of being seen. Once we had walked around, it was the arduous climb back up the 162 steps. Not being the fittest person in the world, I was wheezing like a trooper, well not really they are a lot fitter than me.

We once again boarded the bus, but we got off early so that we could see the seals and the other wildlife along the shore. On the ferry back we were treated to music from a bunch of guys playing the accordion.

The next day, it was time to leave and continue our journey on to Portrush, where Beverley's mum was staying for a few days. There was plenty to see along the coast with Rathlin island, Carrick-a-rede bridge, Sheep island and the Giants causeway coast. As we were admiring the view, all of a sudden our autopilot started to be on the blink, displaying a course 10 out from what we were travelling, we were not far from Portrush, so we just hand steered the rest of the way. As seems to be that way with our entrances, we arrived quite late and we had to raft onto the side of a large yacht.

We had organised a meal in our thermal cooker earlier, and once Salty Lass was secured, it was really great, to have a hot meal ready and waiting for us.

The next day, we managed to move Salty Lass back so that she was next to the pontoon, then once she was all secured, we went and had a coffee with Beverley's Mum. We chatted for ages, before we went off and explored the arcades. Portrush still has 2p slots, so you can spend quite some time spending a £1. For my £1, I won a rather classic keyring and a refresher bar.

Beverley and I then split up as I had to go and get some bits and bobs, while Beverley went back and put tea on. As I got change from my shopping I had another go at the slots and got myself a lolly.

Later that night, I was woken up by Salty Lass rocking from side to side and a huge amount of din. The dredging operation that had been quite all day decided to start up at 4:00 am. I will get up at 4:00am, but it is not my favourite time. The next day it got even worse as they used the bucket to move the dredger around less than 10feet away from the lass.

Soon, it was time for us to leave and as I continue to improve my skills, it was time for me to navigate us out of harbour. My stomach was in knots, but I had to do it. I need to be able to single hand the Lass and I'm not going to learn without doing it, my stomach was in knots, but I did it. Once we were out, Beverley got me to steer in circles which sorted our auto pilot out. We managed to sail for most of the journey, which is just magical, but then the coast guard, warned of strengthening winds, so we motor sailed until we were protected by the cliffs of Islay.

It was great to get in, safe and secure in port Ellen.

Raising money for the RNLI

The RNLI turned 200 years old on 4th March 2024. So as sailors and people who promote the joy of sailing, we thought that we would like to raise just £200. What we hope is that other people take up the shout and raise their own £200. In the last 200 years the RNLI have saved over 144,000 lives and yet they are funded entirely by people like you. They are not government funded.

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