I think many of you back home wonder what life at sea (in the winter) is really like. Besides putting on countless layers of clothes, sailing in the British Isles means that you really have to take the tides into account, as we have described earlier. Also, January is considered one of the months with most stormy weather of the year. So when we have a window of opportunity to sail south, we take it. Here are some notes of the 194 nautical miles journey that took us from Ardglass in Northern Ireland to southeastern tip of Ireland!
1.00 Beep beep, not enough sleep. Jens get up as the alarm beeps and gets ready to take off.
01.40 Leaving Ardglass marina, the waves bounces Mouni just as we get outside the pier. The AIS alarm on our VHF radio goes off telling us we have a lot of fishing boats close by. Impossible to sleep, so much noise! I go up to stow away some more stuff, and put on the navigation lights that Jens forgot.
4.30 Still no wind, we are bouncing on the waves and using the engine to get ahead, slowly. What I don´t know is that Jens has got rather seasick out there, as the motion from going by motor is not as pleasant as when sailing.
7.30 Jens was supposed to wake me up when he got tired, but since that has not happened I go up anyway and starts to make breakfast. We are finally proceeding by sail, but Jens seasickness has not passed and he does not want any breakfast.
8.30 Starting my shift. Jens takes down the Genua since the wind has picked up and then goes down to sleep. The forecast said it should be about 4 m/s but this is clearly at least 7 m/s. The sun comes out through the clouds. I am racing!
10.30 Not fast enough! We pull out some of the Genua and Mouni is sailing 6-7 knots. Yay!
12.00 A screw falls down on my lap when I´m sailing, where did that come from!? Jens goes to have a look, and then take back the helm while I go down to the galley to cook some lunch.
13.00 Try to transfer some podcast to the mp3-player, it doesn´t work so I rest instead.
14.00 Decision point. Should we try to pass Howth or not? Hoping that we could pass Dublin and reach Greystone before the tides change direction. We eat some cookies and then decide to stay at Howth since our speed is too slow. Jens makes up a song about the clouds.
17.30 Reach Howth and tie up the boat by sunset. Cook some bulgur and sausage with feta cheese to make sure that Jens gets his energy back after a day on empty stomach. The sailor life: “What did you do last Saturday night?” “We cuddled up after dinner and went to sleep waiting for the tide to change”.
23.00 Beep, beep, not enough sleep. Jens gets the boat ready for takeoff while I stow away everything down below, do the dishes, prepare some sandwiches and some ginger water for my skipper to help against the seasickness.
23.30 We leave Howth marina behind and head south passed Dublin.
3.30 Wake up from a dream as the bow crash into a wave. From calm waters there is steep waves in the middle of nowhere. I get some refreshments and join Jens out in the cold night. We decide to head for Wicklow harbour.
4.53 First lights of Wicklow spotted. But as usual, the last part takes forever.
7.10 Two hours later we arrive and tie up to the massive pier. The ladder is made for a giant! We go straight to bed
After brunch with pancakes and fruit we study the weather forecast and tide tables and decide that the best time to leave and continue is in the night. This gets us the day the day to explore Wicklow and rest. The reason for not staying here is that there is no real Marina and no electricity, which means that we will not be able to heat the boat properly for the week of strong wind that is coming. We run the generator to charge the batteries. We head downtown, have a tasty lunch at the restaurant by the old prison and take a walk to the old roman castle by the sea. After some dinner and an episode of Games of Thrones, we try to get some sleep.
00.00 Beep, beep, not enough sleep. Stowing away all the stuff once more and make some sandwiches.
00.40 Jens untie the lines from the pier while I hold the boat by the ladder. There is no wind so we use the motor.
01.15 We are sailing around a buoy on a shallow part of the sea, and the waves created are rocking us back and forth. We are doing good speed – 6 knots – half by the motor and half by the tidal streams.
02.00 I go down to read about Arklow harbour in the Nautical Almanac. A look at the map of tidal streams indicate that the streams can run in up to 3,5 knots. We should arrive in HW+5 to have a safe and easy entry to the harbour. We are too fast! New strategy, Jens turns off the engine completely for a while and we drift in 3 knots only by the stream.
05.00 We arrive in a quit and completely sheltered marina in the dark. Tie up and go to bed once more, this time with electricity plugged in and the heating fan is on! Nice and comfy.
Now Arklow was supposed to be the place where we stayed for the week of strong winds forecasted. But, when the forecast changed so did our minds. We decided to make a run for Kilmore Quay, our last port we needed to reach in Ireland, as there was a 24-hour window left. So, on Jens birthday I got up and served him a nice birthday breakfast and then we set off. While we did have a nice day of sailing, it was too slow of a start and we were forced to enter the commercial harbour in Rosslare in the evening to wait five hours so we would have the tides with us again and charge the batteries.
After some tacos and wine we rested a couple of hours, and once again took off in the night. The last 27 miles to Kilmore Quay was a little tedious after the long day of sailing the day before, but in the middle of the night Jens got a perfect late birthday present – at least 4 porpoises (or dolphins?) were playing in the waves next to our boat and swimming alongside us for at least 20 minutes. At five in the morning, we finally arrived to Kilmore Quay and in this well protected fishing harbour/marina we will rest and wait out the storm in good shelter.
Are we still tired? Oh yes! Was it worth it? Oh yes!
So, tell me. Did this post give you any more insights about the cruising life?