Last Sail in Bangor

On the 23rd March 2020 the UK closed down for three weeks, but before it did we managed to get a few sails in.

For once it was a sunny day in Bangor, so we took the opportunity to get out. However, I still had plenty to complain about because, it had gone from horrendous winds, to absolutely nothing. Beverley was a little bit more positive however, as she could see smoke slowly drifting which is force 1, but with the mirror like water, it was barely that.

When you do get a boat ready for sea there are loads of jobs to do, for example take the dinghy off the foredeck, which can be quite a job involving several lines and the main halyard. Eventually Salty Sausage was secured in the neighbouring slip, and we were able to get Salty Lass ready for sea.

I was on the helm, to take Salty Lass out and although I had checked that the fuel dock was clear, before I departed the slip, a small yacht was at the fuel dock when I arrived, so I successfully had to go astern into another slip to wait, until they had left the fuel dock. From there I took her to the fuel dock where filled up on fuel.

When we were fuelled up, it was straight out to the lough where we found some wind, so the sails were up as quick as we could, so that we could practice gybing and tacking. It was great to get out, but it is clear that we still have loads to do, to get Salty Lass ready for a trip. For a start, quite a few of our lines have just got green from the winter.

A few days later, I found Beverley wearing gloves inside Salty Lass, so I asked her exactly what she was doing. Well apparently she was stocking the bilges. We were stocking a little earlier that we would normally, because there was a very bad virus going around around and if there was a lock down then we would be prepared. Realistically, though this was not panic buying, we were just buying what we would normally before we would go off cruising, it was just a little bit earlier than normal. The food we put in the bilges were things like, tinned tomatoes and dry goods like noodles and pastas as they keep well on a boat. Cured Spanish sausages like chorizo last for six months so they are great. Eggs last for at least a month outside of the fridge so they are great too.

Other essentials are things like coffee, green tea and loads of chocolate, then there are things like soups, mushrooms and peas. We have not bought potatoes this time as last year, we didn’t use a single tin. Also we are in Ireland at the moment, so potatoes are everywhere because this is where potatoes come from.

As we stacked everything away, I found some true grit at the bottom of the cornflakes bag, but it wasn’t something we really wanted. At the end of that particular shopping trip we had filled just one bilge box, so more shopping to do.

On Monday 23rd March we noticed the L flag flying in Bangor, so we asked the marina staff what was going on, so he said that he expected a lock down that night, so we phoned Carrickfergus and asked them if we left today, would they let us in, to which they said Yes. So we prepared Salty Lass for sea and got underway. It was a bit risky leaving the slip but we managed it. Beverley got us out to sea like a professional and although I am getting better, it is Beverley’s level of competence that I aspire to.

Once we were out in the lough we motor sailed with the Genoa out to just the second reef. With the engine and the scrap of sail out we were travelling at 6knots which meant that we would reach Carrickfergus in just 40minutes.  So we were out in a strong breeze, but because of the geography of the lough, the sea state was more like 5, so didn’t feel too bad.

It was important to us to motor sail however for a number of reasons:-

  • We felt like everything would be closing down, so we wanted to be closer to Beverley’s mum, so that if she needed us we would be able to help
  • The price of Carrickfergus would be cheaper that Bangor because Bangor had changed its contract to 5months at winter rate and 7months at summer rate
  • The weather was pretty nasty, we could cope, but the weather could get worse and easily turn into really nasty weather.
  • There was just a lot of uncertainty in the air, so the sooner we were in the better.

While we were motor sailing across, we looked at the charts and Beverley felt like Pythagoras there were so many triangles about. Some of these were caused by large tankers anchored out in the lough, while others were just normal shipping, in total, there were six ships nearby with the Stenna superfast ferry the closest, with a minimum distance between us of one mile. Beverley waxed lyrically about them and in this case, she would say might is right, as we would scratch their paint, while we would sink.

It was a bit interesting going into Carrickfergus marina, but we got into our berth allocation with no bother, soon Salty Lass was squirrelled away and all I could think of was dinner. While we had been out sailing Mr D had cooked us a really great beef madras.


Two hours after we were in Carrickfergus, all marinas closed down except for commercial traffic.

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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