Sunday was a leisurely day of laundry, cleaning and planning in Kip Marina while waiting for the late arrival of Dave and Mike by taxi from Glasgow Airport. Perversely, although I was able to pick up a good TV signal in Holy Loch, Kip marina seems to be a black hole and I had to go to a local Hotel to watch the Canadian Grand Prix and you can’t sit in a bar without refreshment!
With the prospect of an 82 mile passage to Bangor in Belfast Lough, an early start was required and getting under way at 5am, we had a very pleasant passage with an enjoyable proportion of it under sail.
‘Captain Cooke’ (who had been on two of the previous legs) and his charming wife Linda were in Bangor, sailing on their friend’s Moody 38 and it was good to catch up and get the ‘inside track’ on Peel and Conwy which were to be our next two stops and had been their previous two.
A train into Belfast and the City tour bus gave us a picture of Belfast and it is curious that the history of the ‘troubles’ has become a significant component in what the City has to offer the tourist. The Titanic exhibition in its impressive new building exceeded all expectations and we spent several hours, captivated by the various aspects of the story.
With entry into Peel harbour on the Isle of Man restricted to near high water, it is inevitable that one has to ‘plug’ the tide when heading south and with light winds we found ourselves beating back to Scotland. Later the wind filled in and we had a sprightly and memorable sail although Dave had adopted his customary position asleep in his bunk. This is a man who comes sailing to relax and escape work as a partner in a London accountancy firm but still ‘picks up’ 150-200 Emails a day! Poor bugger!
Following a short wait on a mooring buoy, we entered the marina over the sill and past the open footbridge to take up the berth and made ‘last orders’ in the excellent Creek Inn.
A £7 one day bus pass gave us the opportunity to see much of the Island, concluding that Peel is probably the best spot. Our visit happened to be soon after the annual TT motorcycle races and the infrastructure was still being dismantled. The bus route from Ramsey back to Peel took the route of the course for some of its length and the dangerous nature of the races was very apparent with what must have been incredibly fast sections of almost straight road with trees, walls and posts alongside the road with only token protection. It seems that there are inevitably fatalities, not only among the racers but the public who throng to the island and ride the course, seemingly, trying their hands at racing on the unrestricted roads.
We slipped out at the beginning of the tidal ‘window’ at 10pm and picked up an overnight mooring buoy outside in preparation for an early start to catch a favourable tide on our 75 mile passage to Conwy. The early light winds soon filled in and the sun came out so we had a super sail agreeing that ‘it doesn’t get much better’!
Anchoring for an hour to enjoy dinner in Moelfre bay, we resumed to enter the approach channel leading up to Conwy Marina soon after the sill had dropped and in time for another ‘last orders’ pint in the Mulberry Pub directly outside the pontoon gate.
For several days we had been trying to organise rail tickets and to locate somewhere to watch the All Blacks v England rugby game early on Saturday morning and the quest had been complicated by the fact that the IOM is a ‘foreign’ country and the Hejira WiFi didn’t work. The situation was resolved, on both counts by booking the train from adjacent Colwyn Bay where we also found a pub opening at 8am, providing breakfast and showing the rugby – result !
Dave and Mike left on the train after the game and I was left to clean up, do my laundry and shop in time for John’s arrival later in the day. Routine checks in the main and engine bilges revealed water in both. The main bilge turned out to be (I think) a loose leaking shower hose in the forward head so that whenever the tap was turned on, the connection leaked running back down into the cupboard and bilge. The engine situation was more worrying as there was a lot of salt water in the engine ‘bund’. After checking the usual suspects, the hose connections and the pump cover, the problem turned out to be a tiny hole in the exhaust water lock which, under pressure and gravity, squirted a steady stream into the bilge. This was particularly annoying as the box had been welded up over the winter – clearly not properly. Limited access left few options but I was able to drill the hole bigger and self- tap a screw with a washer and rubber gasket into the hole which has appeared to stop the leak but it will need monitoring pending a more permanent solution over the winter.
Now it’s time to plan for a passage through the Menai Straights and the daunting ‘Swellies’!