More Hard Lessons

On Sunday the beast from the East was raging so Beverley and I went out for a walk, just to create the introduction to this weeks video, as our odyssey into the past continues with more hard lessons, but this week in Ireland and parts of Scotland.

So the ten areas of interest in this area are:-

Burnt islands

The channel between the Burnt islands at the top of the Kyles of Bute is by far and away the skinniest channel that we have gone through at only 3 boat lengths wide, so when the tide is running this could be a particularly dangerous passage, but we timed our passage to be going through at slack and that made it a rather easy passage. We did put the motor on for that passage and I can imagine going through at the run of the tide to be particularly dangerous, but timing your passage to be going through at slack is just what you need to do.


Just south of Islandmagee and Portmuck are the Gobbins, and just off the coast of the Gobbins is a counter current. This means that between the main current and the counter current there is a lot of disturbed sea. Just sail about a mile out of the land and you will miss all of that disturbed water.


On the other side of the North channel is Portpatrick and that too has a counter current that can run to your advantage. However we went out into the North channel and tried to go against the flow. In three hours we had travelled 7nM and we made the return journey in 40 minutes. When we returned to Portpatrick we had other issues in that the waves had come up outside of the entrance and we were having difficulty getting into harbour, which is why the RNLI crew came out to help us and calmed the waves down soi that we could get in. We promised then to raise £500 for the RNLI and we have done that.

Corsewall point

This is the area just south of the Ailsa Craig, which seams like it would cause no issues but the slight funnelling of tide coupled with two headlands which when you look on the chart look tiny, means that you can get disturbed seas, which coupled with higher than predicted winds, caused us a lot of pain. It was our first sail on Salty Lass and to say that I looked like a drowned rat at the end of the sail is an understatement

Copeland Sound / Donaghadee Sound

This is a small passage at the south of Belfast Lough, it can take a lot of time off your passage and the tide can flow through the sound at quite a good rate. It looks quite tricky, but in reality it is fairly simple. The hardest part is the fact that a local fisherman uses that area to drop his pots and that is something to look out for. The other issue is that the tide flows in different directions in this area so sometimes you can get lumpy seas where they meet, but it is soon over.

Carlingford Lough

At Carlingford Lough you have a very narrow channel at Greenore point, feeding a much wider lough, so the currents in and around Greenore point can be quite strong. Arriving near slack water is the ideal time to arrive. A boat quite close to us, who was also at Carlingford when we were there had their dingy davits ripped off by a wave just because they came in at the wrong time.

Strangford Lough

Very narrow channel feeding a much wider lough, so the currents are quite strong. We watched a boat sailing against the tide and at some points they were going backwards. It was only when they managed to trim their sails, were they able to use the strong wind, that day and go against the tide. They were also sailing close to the edge of the channel where the tide is weaker. There is a marina in the narrows, so expect to ferry glide coming in and going out of that marina. The only real issue is that the leading lines are very difficult to see so you need to make sure that you have updated your chart plotter with the route.

Fair head/Tor head

The passage between Rathlin island and Tor head, is full of rips and overflows, so going through this area at slack is very important. The passage between the island has eight hours of flow going East to West, but only four hours of flow going West to East, so if you are travelling West to East make sure you understand when you can make your passage. There is a passage close to shore where the current is mitigated and using this inside passage makes for a smoother journey.

Doris Mòr

An area with a fearful reputation, which it gets from the huge number of upwellings and rips that you get in that area. Even on a calm day at slack Salty Lass was pushed about by the upwellings, so travelling around this area outside of slack would be quite dangerous, so adding some strong winds as well will just make the journey really bad

North Channel

A lot of water travelling so if you have a wind over tide situation like we did then the waves can get quite big. We were travelling in Convoy that day and at one time one of the other boats could see our keel. Since then we have motored across the channel on several occasions, but we have always looked for calm days by which to travel.

So we hope you got some useful tips from all that and that you can learn from our mistakes

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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