We had finally had enough of feeling our way from port to port in thick fog so in the morning we got up early, switched on the motor and all the gadgets and set off for the Isle of Man. We navigated briskly across the busy entrance to Belfast Lough and then gingerly through the Donagadee Channel using radar to avoid buoys and unseen boats. Next we set a course of 125 degrees magnetic and spent the next four hours watching the radar. At least Neill did. Heidi baked onion bread and cleaned the metalwork.
A few times we saw crossing or approaching boats on the radar but in the mist we only saw one for real. Finally, only six miles from the Isle of Man, we came out of the mist and in to sunshine and cloudless blue skies. We radioed ahead to Peel Harbour asking for a berth and he sounded very stressed and busy. He said to call again when we reached the outer harbour and we could have a berth if some one left.
On reaching Peel we were called in to the inner harbour and were stunned to be greeted by thousands of people, a live band and a huge street party. Every berth in the harbour was full and on the walls, boats were rafted four deep. And on every boat there was a party. We asked if every Sunday was like this and were told that today was “mad sunday” at the start of the TT races. One week a year and we had hit it on the nose.
The next day we caught a bus to the race course and were given a tip by a local about a great view point through a farmyard and across two fields. Here we watched amazingly crazy motorcyclists racing down closed roads just missing the stone walls on each side. The speed was unbelievable and the noise unbearable. Neither the photos or videos we took do the craziness of this event justice.
We walked back to the village, ate a monster ice cream and then took the bus back to town, visted the castle and went shopping – all the time with the sound of one of the thousands of motorbikes here on holiday in the background.
Slowly a pattern is emerging. This is the third time we have arrived for “the big once a year event”. Tobermory, Rathlin and now Peel. If we actually had a plan, it would be a good one.