We left Ballycastle planning a quick sail south taking full advantage of the tidal stream and then to drop the anchor south of Belfast Lough. We had however forgotten about Irish mist.
After rounding the first headland the visibility began to drop and soon we were cut off from the rest of the world and sailing in our little pool of existence. Occasionally a seabird would appear and just as quickly disappear. It all sounds very romantic but it is actually not such a great feeling. Seeing a hundred meters ahead of you and not knowing what is beyond is actually quite frightening.
Luckily we are 21st century sailors so we have two charts and two independent chartplotters that use GPS to tell us where we are and what else is out there. We also have an AIS system that transmits the position of larger boats in the area. We have an active radar reflector that tells the radar on other boats where we are and we have a radar of our own that shows us other objects. We also have ship to ship radio so we can call up approaching ships and ask if they have seen us. It all sounds great but it doesn’t change the fact that you are permanently sailing in to a wall of nothing.
Each day we sail a bit and then the permanent staring into the grey nothingness gets to us and we seek a bay to anchor and recover. As soon as the visibility improves, we are off again and shortly after we are once again surrounded by mist and hear only the foghorns of huge ships further off the coast.
Now, after three days, we are anchored at Antrim County Sailing Club and waiting for the visibility to increase enough that we can cross the shipping lane to Belfast.