Crossing to Ireland

From Lochmaddy we continued our journey south anchoring in a stunning Loch on the Isle of South Uist and mooring just off the pontoons in Castlebay (Brian, a friendly local, lent us his mooring after warning us about the bad ground for anchoring). The next night we anchored off the white sands of Vatersay Bay in clear water and sunshine.

Leaving the Outer Hebrides from the Isle of Vatersay, we then “island hopped” our way south passing Iona and anchoring off the Isle of Gunna and in Inner Loch Tarbert on Jura. We had to leave Loch Tarbert at four in the morning to catch a tidal stream that washed us through the Sound of Islay at 11 knots. 11 nautical miles in one hour. Amazing how fast you can go if your calculations put you in the right place at the right time.

Our plan was to spend the night in the marina at Port Ellen on the Isle of Islay. We arrived there in a 20 knot wind and found the marina full. Luckily we have learned to rely on our anchor and we, and an american boat, rode out the storm anchored just off a beach in the bay.

The crossing to Ireland was only 20 miles but took some detailed planning. Based on the phase of the moon (height of tide), where the moon is (time of tidal flows) and the projected wind, we calculated that the optimum time to leave was 13:30. This meant that we would be pushed west in to the Atlantic for three hours and then back in to the Irish Sea for two with a net result that we would land at Rathlin Island. We also had to take in to account that we would be crossing a traffic separation scheme (motorway for ships) which we should do as fast as possible.

First Guinness in Ireland
First Guinness in Ireland

We left as planned. We sailed directly south and drifted west as planned. We were halfway across the TSS when the wind dropped to nothing completely contrary to all the weather reports. So there we were becalmed halfway to Ireland watching for approaching oil tankers. An hour later and we gave up and motored the last miles to Rathlin Island, the marina, a Guinness and some irish folk music in front of the bar.

So now we are in Ireland and it is finally shorts and T-shirts weather.

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