Sailing Northern Ireland

Summary on all the great journeys that we have done around Northern Ireland, Carrickfergus to Portrush, Glenarm and around Belfast Lough and Ardglass to Bangor.

We sat down to do our Sailing Northern Ireland video for the eight time. We had started the video in Liverpool, long before we knew that we would be coming back to Northern Ireland for the winter. Unknown to us the camera run out of battery half way through the take, we did this again but with a different camera. We then had a software problem where the camera recorded the audio, but only one frame of the visuals, we had a grainy picture issue and one take where the focus kept on moving around so much that the video gave you a headache, so although we both wanted to do the video, we were going to junk the whole project, if we didn't like this take.

We left Liverpool in late May and we sailed through the night to Port St Mary In the Isle of Man, we managed to just about get a cup of coffee, before it was the ideal time to go through the Calf Sound. You do need to get the timings right for this stretch and the best place for the tidal flow information around the island was the Isle of Man Government with this page on Tides and Flapgates (Link correct on day of publication). After we got through Calf Sound, we continued on our journey to Peel, which is a great place right in the middle of the Irish Sea.

Carrickfergus to Portrush

From Peel we went over to Carrickfergus which won our best Bathroom award, as it had a great bathroom, with a boat and excellent decorations. There we meet up with some people from Sailing and Cruising Northern Ireland facebook page. We joined them in a little flotilla going up the Irish Coast. We did the journey in two stages, the first stage going to Glenarm, using the tide to assist us. We then had a short rest while the tide reversed, so we were able to use the tide to assist us to get around Fair Head and Tor Head where the tides can be quite fierce.

The Sailing and Cruising Northern Ireland had organised a social at the Maritime festival in Ballycastle, with a group discount to encourage members to join them. There was lots to do, with the festival and socials where we met up with other members from the group and skipper James, who introduced us to a new drink called Buckfast. If I had any hairs on my chest, I would of lost them drinking that stuff and all I can say is, what happens on the boat, stays on the boat.

Quite close to Ballycastle is Rathlin Island which does have a small pontoon for visiting boats, but we fancied taking the ferry. Rathlin Island is a great place to go to see the local wildlife as they have a Puffin sanctuary there so you can see the Puffins in among the guillemots. You can also get quite close to the seals and see then too.

From Ballycastle we went along the coast, which is really beautiful to Portrush which we christened Port Slow as it was so quite, we practically had the place to ourselves apart from a dredger, which frightened Beverley at 4o'clock in the morning. The only great thing about the dredger was I was able to use it to get us a deal, as the dredger should not be part of your harbour experience.

From Portrush we went over to Scotland for which we have already created a Sailing Scotland Summary

Sailing Scotland

Glenarn and around Belfast Lough

After we had toured Scotland for a few weeks, we came back to Glenarm which has a great deal where you pay for one night and you get the second night free, It really encourages you to stay and explore Glenarm, or just have a rest. When we left Glenarm we didn't get the weather right, so we went into Larne Lough. There we managed to get a free mooring courtesy of East Antrim Boat club. The mooring was a little roly because of the ferries, but it was secure.

After that we went to Carrickfergus, which again has the deal, where you pay for one night and get the second free. Carrickfergus is great for food shopping and it has two pubs close by and a cinema just a short walk from the marina. It has five gold anchors, so is a fantastic marina. The people at Carrickfergus Yacht club are really nice too, as they invited us to come to there regatta.

From Carrickfergus, we crossed Belfast lough to Bangor, where you have to have a transEurope card to get five nights at half price. You can also get a deal if you are a Quay Marines berth holder, where you can stay in another Quay Marina for free for up to 30 days. Bangor got our award for being the most professional marina, as it has great staff and is a great marina.

From there we went down to Abercorn basin, where we moored our boat at £18 per night, so won the best deal award, as £18 per night was the normal rate. It also was the most unique marina as it is a pay and display place where you get a ticket from the machine and you stick it to your window. As we had Karen on board when we were in Belfast, it meant that we. were paying £6 each to be in a city. With it being a city there was so much to do, with museums, shopping, pubs and lots of places to party.

From there we went back to Carrickfergus, where we met up with people from Carrickfergus Sailing Club and joined in their regatta, which was very nice. The weather calmed down and it was back to Liverpool via the Isle of Man

Ardglass to Bangor

We then cruised around Wales before returning to Northern Ireland, where we went to Ardglass. Ardglass can be a tricky little marina, but is well sheltered in a storm. The only thing that was bad about Ardglass was we didn't get a deal.

After that it was back to Carrickfergus, before we returned to Bangor which is where we decided that we would take up their winter deal which meant that we would be paying £6 per might for six months