Sunday, May 7, 2023

2023 May 6, Days 22 & 23 Howth to Ballyholme Bay, Bangor.

On Friday forecasts were still equivocal with F7 in one of them for Sunday so I decided on a dash to Bangor on Saturday with the option of anchoring in Ballyholme Bay, as good an anchorage as you are likely to find along this coast in a strong southerly or going into Bangor Marina. 

Its a long way with complicated tides (explained here, opening in a new window) and I was recommended not to leave an hour either side of low water because of shallows in the fairway to the marina, having seen the area round the pontoons at low water I added on half an hour so that that there would be 1.8 metres (the boats draft rounded up) of water above chart datum if in the dark I went a little outside of the dredged area I would still be floating. So departure was set for 03:45, in the event I left 10 minutes early, did a 3 point turn to head out and was on my way,

Lambay Island from Seaward, previously I have always gone
the other side.
Some wind set in a little after 05:00 and the cruising chute went up in 11 knots from the SSE which was to be pretty steady until 14:00 when it died and the engine went on so that I would past Strangford before the tied turned foul.

At 10:15 the wind lightened to 8 knots and  went round to the SE so up went the spinnaker, typically 45 minutes later and before I had put the camera away from taking the above video, the wind returned to the SSE so the cruising chute went back up to replace it.
With 5 knots of wind or less the engine stayed on and I reached Donaghadee Sound  a couple of hours ahead of schedule, with very light winds and a "smooth" sea I decided to press on through even though it was only a day before springs which would have 2.8 knots of adverse tide in the narrow channel with over-falls and a bit more further north, both predictions that the Admiralties "Total Tide" app nailed. 

In the event the passage was uneventful but interesting with rapidly changing tidal flows, especially entering Donaghadee Sound going from a back eddy running northerly at 1.5 knots to a southerly flow at over 2 knots in a couple of boat lengths.

Once through the narrows the engine went off at 19:30 and I anchored at Ballyholme Bay, just east of Bangor at 22:10. 

90 miles in 19 hours.

The forecasts are still inconsistent with each other but all have dialled back on the F7 (Edit: the F7 reappeared in the mid day forecast on Sunday) and it should be possible to move north on Monday afternoons ebb tide to get into position to strike out for Islay or Ghia on Tuesday or Wednesday before the wind turns northerly. 

Update: I have (Sunday morning) given up thinking about that and will work out a plan when I see the forecasts tomorrow morning. In the mean time the flat calm this morning has been replaced with a fresh southerly wind that promises to get stronger overnight with the possibility of thunder storms tomorrow.

Approaching Donaghadee.
Ballyholme Bay (Bangor) Sunday morning.
Also Sunday morning: the ship at anchor had been clearly visible
5 minutes previously as this fog bank appeared from nowhere
A ferry coming down Belfast Loch entering the new fog bank,
it is likely that a small yacht ahead would not be visible from
the bridge, radar and AIS on both sides makes a huge difference.

2023 Wiklow - Bangor

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