Our last hoorah! No more sailing!

The weather was overcast, but there was no rain forecast so we decided to explore Islay, so we took the bus to Bowmore. Bowmore can be best described as a one street town with the circular church at the top of the road and the small marina for small boats at the bottom. Bowmore distillery is also there but the shop was appointment only and the distillery tours were over. There were still two distilleries open for tours, but neither of them was within walking distance, so maybe next year, who can tell.

Once the bad weather was over we motor sailed over to Ballycastle, there were more storms coming in from the Atlantic and rather than going to Derry/Londonderry we would finish the season early, the North coast was going to be hammered, so not a great place to be. While we were going over we played a game where we estimated the height of the swell from the Atlantic, we estimated this was 2m by the fact that the horizon disappeared for three waves out of every 8 waves. Our freeboard is just over a metre and when we are sitting down, you can add another metre for that, my mind was thinking Fourier transforms, a section of mathematics that I had not thought about for a long time, so it certainly kept my mind occupied during the passage. The other thing that kept my mind occupied was the additional speed increase from putting up the main sail, in our particular case we were punching tide to some extent, but by putting up that sail we managed to increase our speed from 3.9 to 4.6knots. Today, the technique of putting up the sail and really close hauling was working, but sometime it hasn't so trying to work out exactly what factors are needed to make the technique work was an interesting problem to solve. I have not got the solution yet, but a few of the factors are coming together like wind speed, angle to the wind, motor speed etc. but exactly how these all work together is still a mystery, but one I am willing to investigate further out in Belfast Lough when the conditions are right.

Coming into Ballycastle, we saw a whale, quite a distance off, but it was still great to see, other things that we saw at that time was the upside down lighthouse on Rathlin as well as Fair head. As we neared Ballycastle the tide switched to in our favour, so we entered at quite a clip, but we wanted the tide in our favour near Ballycastle because, having the tide against at that section would basically put us in Portrush rather than Ballycastle, so as far as plans had gone, we had got it right. So another good day on Salty Lass.

The next day was my passage planning day and although I had an easy passage to go past Fair Head, it was just a case of waiting until the tide flipped, I still had our failure praying on my mind, but fear is just something that you have to deal with and overcome. I knew that my fear was way out of proportion, I had mild weather, I had a short passage to where I needed to be at the right time so it should be fairly easy, but the fear was still there. Regardless of the fear, I still went out, fear was not going to stop me. As I thought, the passage past Fair head was really easy and although there were a few overfall's they were quite a way off my Starboard side. I had gone for the evening tide change so that I had good light to go pass Fair head, but soon the sun was low below dark rain clouds, it looked magnificent but that paled into insignificance when the most intense rainbow that I had ever seen turned up. It stretched right across the sky and had a glorious second rainbow as well. There are so many things that lift my heart and seeing natures rich tapestry is just one of them. As the sun came down, we got ourselves into Glenarm, where we stayed the night.

The next day we got up at the crack of dawn to catch the tide south, with the main sail up and the tide assisting us as well, we scooted past some particularly Irish countryside with mist on the hills and the wonderful green fields poking out from below the mist. We motor sailed for all of the North Channel, but once we got into Belfast Loch the engine went off and we sailed at last. We both took a go on the helm seeing as it was the last sail of the season, I needed the peace that you can gain from sailing and I have to say it was lovely.

We stopped off at Carrickfergus for two days, we stopped to see Beverley's Mum but she was far too busy to see us, so we just chatted to all our friends from Carrickfergus and soon the two days that we had booked were gone. When we went back out into Belfast Lough there was a fair wind blowing but because it was coming from the land then there was not much sea state to worry about. However it did feel like a hell of a splash and dash as I had 36knots of wind straight on my nose and there was a fair amount of chop. In addition to all the splashing and dashing there was plenty of traffic to avoid and we are not talking small vessels we are talking tankers.

Once we had got into Abercorn basin, we went out for our last hooray. It was great, there was wine, food and basically a good time was had.

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