Carlingford, 28th June

Suckin' Diesel had a healthy month of June with Anne deciding to take the opportunity of good forecast to head to the Isle of Man on the June Bank Holiday. We sailed for the first 3 hours of the trip there and the same coming back. We were blessed with sunshine for our whole time there, on the first weekend of the Isle of Man TT motorbike races. Dad and Derrick had been regular attenders in their youth, Derrick even honeymooned there with his ever patient wife Jean. The races attract bikers from all over Europe in bikes of all kinds but what surprised us was the fact that they were mostly middle aged and male. We expected to see more young mad bikers but I suppose the ferry and accomodation cost put them off. We were in Peel for Mad Sunday, which is traditionally when the racecourse of 37 miles on normal country roads is left open for visitors to try. They had a festival in Peel with stunt cars and bikes which was great fun. We headed south to Port St Mary on the south on the Island for a last quiet day before heading home mentally refreshed.

A wedding in Spain followed, mixed in with some great hillwalking in the Picos de Europa.

But then it was back to the boat for a week with Edelle. We had planned to go to Scotland but we were asked to join a flotilla of boats to do support for a rowing crew who were going to the Isle of Man. So we left on a bright morning to meet the flotilla in Clogher Head, north of Drogheda. We had lovely sailing conditions for the first three hours up to Skerries and motored the rest of the way on glassy seas. The group were originally meant to leave on a Friday morning but bad weather forecast for that evening meant the trip was brought forward. So at 7pm, two hours after arriving, we set off on calm seas following 7 different boats heading for the Isle of Man. The night passage was largely uneventful, with the exception of seeing whales just off the Irish coast, we kept to the back of the pack keeping out of everyone else's way. On arriving at Port Erin, a small bay on the south of the island in the morning, we heard the forecast for strengthening wind on the nose for the return so we decided to stay on the island and not return. Later on the rowing crew followed suit as the wind was already beginning to increase a little. We sailed north for Peel, 10 miles away and got in at high tide in perfect time to lock in to the inner harbour.Edelle took the helm and was made aware of the differences of reversing a 41 foot boat versus a car!

Our first day on the island was all about catching up on sleep so after a breakfast and rest we did a little wander around town to give Edelle her bearings. It was really hot which was a great treat but by 6pm the front started to come in and it cooled down noticiably as the cloud and wind rose. The next day, refreshed after a great nights sleep, Edelle and I set off to explore. She had bought a pair of hiking boots for the Scottish trip last year and felt she should use them in anger. So I found a waymarked trail along an old train line that led 10 miles from Peel into Douglas, the Capital of the island. It was a very pleasant walk on a tree lined path most of the way and in just over 3 hours we were in Douglas. There we found two of the boats who had been on the flotilla. They had broken off just before the island and headed to the opposite side from us. We did the touristy thing and walked the pedestrian shopping street and came back along the prom. The wind was gusting up by now, with a gale warning in force for the next day. Stopped off in the British Empire for a lovely hard earned pint of Cider! As we bussed back from Douglas, the cloud was already increasing along with a little rain.

Sunday awoke to a gale with the wind funneling down harbour between the hills one one side and the buildings of the town on the other. I had to put on extra lines to keep SD snug in positon but it was very much a day for chilling on board and reading. I used the time to mess with the second hand long range radio I had installed. It it a complicated piece of kit and I was on a steep learning curve. Fernan in Bilbao is a keen ham radio fan and had sourced it for me. I had damaged it before the wedding so had to bring it in my backpack when we went over for him to fix it for me. It seems to be working now but I have a lot to learn about how to get the most out of it.

The gale ended on the monday and by now Edelle's blisters were under control so she decided to take us for another walk, this time a more rugged one. We headed south along the coast to Glen Maye and then inland uphill, returning to Peel along country lanes. Of course the maps didn't know the exact route so a few 'Johnny routes' were engaged. That was a lovely walk with lots of lovely views of this island stuck in the middle of the sea. It was a lovely last day for us on the island as the wind was forcast to ease making for a pleasant passage back to Ireland. We celebrated our last night with pints in the Creek Inn, having enjoyed our few days on the island.

We awoke on the Tuesday morning to be greeted by a lot of noise in the marina. Everyone seemed to be eager to make their way from Peel and by 11 there was a queue of traffic waiting for the bridge to swing. Edelle took it very handy out of the marina and then our main sail raised we set off for Ard Glas. We were pleasantly surprised after just setting off that the wind picked up and we were able to raise the yankee and stay sails to enjoy a comfortable 7 hours sailing. The crossing was peaceful and very easy on the stomach. We were supposed to use the marina in Ard Glass as it was a comfortable berthing but the skipper completely misjudged the tide so the boat ran a ground. Bold bold John. We tied up along side a trawler and got stuck into some lovely cottage pie with the pint settling the nerves of the crew.

We were woken quite early on the Wednesday morning with the other trawlers returning with their catches of prawn and the screeching seagulls so decided to catch the tides out towards Carlingford. Another jammy 3 hour sailing was ahead along with beautiful sunshine, we made it to Carlingford by 12.30. After a little chilling time and a lovely Spainish omlette we motor boated into the town to meet Yoga Queen herself Lyndsey. Following a few pints on in a local pub we made our way back out to the boat and had a lovely meal of veggie burgers, salad and wedges with a glass of red.