The season got off to a bright start with lots of sailing planned over the Easter holidays. John Joe from Donegal had been looking for a boat over the winter and the skipper had agreed to help him both find one, and skipper it home from wherever it was found. We thought we had some possibilities in Southampton which would have been a long 500 mile trip home but in the end he found a beauty in Carrickfergus, near Belfast which was much nearer home. I went up one weekend to help him prepare it for the trip and check things over. She is a Moody 37 in lovely condition and I was happy that she would serve hime and his family well. So it was with hope and good forecasts that Derrick and I headed up north on the day school ended for Easter. We had a morning tide so an 830am departure was planned for the saturday. A good sail was expected as a high pressure system was expected to settle over Ireland, especially the north over the next few days.
As it turned out, in the morning a diesel leak was found. Luckily we had Jim "master of all trades" Shields on board for the day. He got to work and diagnosed a leak in the fuel filter which he couldn't fix (yes, there are some problems that the master cannot solve !) and evantually Harry the local mechanic had to be called. He eventually sorted it out by replumbing the diesel return fuel pipe. So we went out for a brief spin on what turned out to be a blowy day (lucky that we didn't actually go very far, it would have been very uncomfortable) and John Joe at the helm got a feel for what his new baby could do. I for one was very impressed with her turn of speed and performance. we dined that night with Jim, Delores and assorted other Shields' little people and went to bed ready for the off for a second day. The sunday morning saw the winds much lighter and the sun was out but sadly the engine did not co-operate again. This time she would not start so Harry and his hangover had to be called into service. He used a spray of Easy Start and we were off. Glow plug problems were diagnosed but with the can he left us we knew that at least we could start the engine which went really well once started.
We motored out of Belfast Lough and turned north and as the tide started to run north with us, the sea turned lumpy. Passing Larne, we were able to set sail and she creamed well through the chop. The skipper was being his usual snoozy self by this stage and tested the comfort of the bunks down below for safety, etc...It was a lovely sunny day sailing past the Antrim coast, with its Glens falling down to the sea. Evantually we approached Fair Head for the turn west. The sea was very confused at Tor Head but the boat handled the conditions admirably. By now I was feeling that I hadn't let John Joe down in advising him to buy this boat. She would look after him and his family well in the years ahead. Rounding Fair Head the sea turned to glass and the winds died. we set course for Ballycastle, 10 miles away but changed our minds and decided to keep going on account of the conditions bing so calm. So after 10 hours at sea, we tied up in Portrush, happy after a long day where the only thing that went wrong was the skipper snoozing too much !!!!
By the following morning the skipper was deposed. John Joe became the Captain of his own ship as we headed off to round Malin head. Light winds headed us and slowly rose enough to sail. John Joe was getting good practice at sailing close to the wind, even veering up in the gusts as we approached Inistrahull Sound between Malin and the offshore island which bears its name. It became lumpy in the sound for a bit but on rounding we had a lovely wind from astern. Now John Joe learnt how to go on a run and even goosewing as we headed down Lough Swilly to our destination, Fahan Marina. He safely tied us up only to be greeted by some of his mates who had arrived to celebrate the arrival. Champagne and dinner led to a visit to the hotspots of Buncranna and a good sleep after a long day. The following morning we had little winds as the family arrived to head out for lessons on how to best manage their new "baby". John and Louise quickly bacame good crew and soon were telling Dad how to sail the boat better/faster/straighter, etc. After anchoring for lunch we did the "run aground on the sandbar" test so well that we did it twice more approaching the marina. Once inside we did lots of practicing mooring the boat so that everyone was confident in managing their new purchase. She is a beautiful boat, well may you wear !!
Derrick and I headed back on the bus to Dublin in glorious sunshine to prepare my own boat for a little Easter sailing. Good Friday we headed around Lambay Island, near Malahide in very light winds with Anne geting good experience of trying to make the most of every breeze. The following day, after dropping Derrick off to fly home, we sailed out with Joe, another liveaboard from the marina, heading for Skerries. Winds were light but steady, so a 2 hour trip took a relaxing 4.We anchored off the pier, a first for Anne, followed by dinner and a few pints in Joe Mays. The next day we had lovely winds from the north west and the crew decided that we should head south. Joe came up with the idea of going up the Liffey where we had the option of mooring at either the new Poolbeg Marina or on the pontoon in the IFSC in the centre of the city. Sailing was great and Anne quickly mastered keeping her on a steady course as we rounded outside Lambay, and going on a reach down to Hoiwth. At one stage, we even had to reef at a small front came through. Approaching the Bailey at Howth the winds headed us and bacame light so we motored to North Wall. Entering the Liffey we contacted Dublin Port by radio who set a time to open the East Link bridge for us. All were suitably impressed with how easy it was to be able to tie up in the middle of the city. Naturally we celebrated such an "epic" feat with a couple of pints in the Palace Bar. At lunchtime the following day we returned on westerly winds around Howth to Malahide. Anne did herself proud by keeping us close enough to wind to let us sail inside the island of Irelands Eye. Then, on a reach, she kept a lovely line to take us straight to the safe water mark off Malahide. The trip was not very long or challenging, but I think all on board enjoyed themselves and came back relaxed and refreshed after some really ideal sailing.
Sadly for some it was time for back to work, but this lucky sod headed off to Bilbao to catch up with my Spanish family. I did lots of walking, snoozing and wine tasting. What a great way to end a perfect Easter holidays!!