Ireland to Brittany '15

The Summary of Suwena's Season 2015

  • Posted on: 6 May 2015
  • By: Eve

Cruising by sailboat has given to us amazing experiences in new countries and towns. This fifth season of 2015 with Nauticat 441 Suwena accrued 1025 new nautical miles on Suwena’s log while taking us towards more distant waters once again. We hoisted seven different courtesy flags and embraced ourselves with almost all of Celtic languages. Mostly our route followed the wake left by Vikings one thousand years earlier.

Most interesting thing to us while cruising is seeing and experiencing new cultures. We can live for a moment everyday life of local people and this way the travelling gives more than a quick weekend turnaround in touristic scene.

We departed from Troon of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic area) and sailed to Northern Ireland. Short detour from the green island took us to the Isle of Man (Manx language). Afterwards again the shores of Ireland‘s east and south coast became familiar with Irish Gaelic speaking people everywhere.

We only missed Welsh Gaelic passing by Wales when we had an overnight sail under the sparkling sky across the Celtic Sea directly from Southern Ireland to the Isles of Scilly.
We also stopped in a few towns of Southern England where we could certainly hear Cornish Gaelic in Falmouth. We sailed also to the Channel Islands and our final destination was the coast of Northern Brittany where Breton is still spoken.

This summer we got stuck for two weeks in Dublin because of heavy winds and broken batteries. Our visit to Ireland stretched out and there was too little time left for the south coast of England and the Channel Islands, indeed. The Irish east coast is called the motorway of boats not without a reason. As an afterthought we should have sailed directly to the southern coast of Ireland. After all the latter is the main sailing area of Ireland. Also if we had more time we’d ideally sail around the Ireland from the west. Fortunately we got a glimpse of the western Ireland’s scenery by taking a rental car.

The Isles of Scilly were definitely the best of the whole summer. Unbelievable nature and tropical microclimate gave a very unique and charming look to these islands. We also liked the Channel Islands so much that we hope to sail back again there.

The big thing this season was finalizing the circumnavigation around the British Isles after two years of sailing. The feelings were high as we were crossing the English Channel, this time towards the continent. We really did it and closed the loop.

Two year long route took us east from Solent and arriving back to the North Sea soon after the white cliffs of Dover. We sailed up the east coast of England and Scotland until reaching Orkney and Shetland later. Coming down from Shetland we passed the treacherous Cape Wrath and arrived in wonderful Western Scotland. Still southbound we stopped in Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man followed by east and south coast of Ireland. After crossing the Celtic Sea and stopping on the Isles of Scilly we were back in the English Channel and sailing eastbound on the south coast of England. After arriving to Guernsey it was really a reason for a celebration!

The blog stories of 2015, Ireland to Brittany can be read from the blog archive.

Log summary of Suwena 2015

  • Nautical miles: 1025 M, from where 24 % sailing, 17 % motorsailing and 59 % motoring
  • Engine hours: 141 h
  • Generator hours: 28 h
  • Fuel used incl. engine, generator and heater: 656 l
  • Fresh water: 10440 l, 85 l/day
  • Ports 18 + anchorages 8: total 26 ports of call
  • Overnight stays: 123 nights
  • Lockage: 4 locks
  • Dinghy fuel consumption: 5 l
  • Longest leg: 140 M Kinsale, Ireland– Hugh Town, Scilly Islands

Suwena's summer cruise chart.

The Isle of Arran and Culzean Castle

  • Posted on: 9 May 2015
  • By: Eve

We have now spent quite some time in Scotland as Suwena was wintering in Troon marina in Ayrshire. During the winter we have visited a few times onboard for checking her and used a rental car to drive around Scotland’s narrow and winding roads.
Winter sunset in Troon
One of the most memorable trips was the drive to the Highlands and a tour in the Glenfiddich distillery. We were enjoying bottling 25 year old whiskey from the year of 1990 with our own hands, to be enjoyed back aboard Suwena. We also tested the Scottish hospitality in B&B and tried to see the monster of Loch Ness. Unfortunately it was hibernating during the winter.
Glenfiddich distillery
Andrus tasting whiskey at Glenfiddich distillery
Loch Ness in the winter
We had a rental car during the spring maintenance as well and it was definitely useful when hunting for various spare parts and stuff. We got ourselves acquainted with shops both in Ayr and Glasgow. And especially then we got into local webshops with unbelievable fast and free deliveries to local stores or directly to marina. This year provisioning Suwena was really easy as we did not have to hand carry all the things to the boat.

I was delighted about Scottish traditional food, haggis which I had several times, even if Andrus did not dare to taste it at all. However, we found something very special from a store that even I did not dare to taste; a haggis tasting potato crisps. The proof is in the picture below.
Haggis potato crips
During our time we spent in Scotland, I made a mental note to return at least once a year for shoe shopping. Clarks shoes are about half price compared to our home and there is also size 3 available for all the models. The shoe freak lost control :) It means that I have to buy a weekend trip to the UK, order models I like beforehand for fitting in the store and take an empty suitcase as a luggage!

The Troon marina was an excellent place for wintering Suwena. Even if there were hurricane strength winds several times and in January-March period a gale warning was in force for two month continuously, the swell did not enter marina at all and the only damage we sustained was two bust fenders. During one of the storms we were onboard and it was quite a rumble when the wind was blowing at 60 knots. During this visit we did not sleep much indeed and it would be hard to call it a relaxing weekend onboard.
Suwena's bottom wash in Troon
Marina office of Troon
Coastal rowers in Troon marina
Lifting RNLI boat in Troon
We also found an excellent service company in Troon. West Coast Marine Services is doing all kinds of boat maintenance works in Troon marina. During the fall we lost again our water pumps and the new pumps were installed quickly. Also the water tank was cleaned during the pump changes. We had a coolant leak, so the broken hose and new coolant were changed together with a normal annual engine maintenance. West Coast Marine Services also helped us by doing some carpenting work when Suwena received a new cupboard. Many thanks to You, Hugh and Neil, for your professional service!
Hugh and Neil working on a boat in Troon
We had only a little time for sightseeing in Western Scotland as most of our time was spent on spring maintenance onboard Suwena. However during one of the sunny Saturdays we visited the best preserved castle in Ayrshire, the Culzean Castle. Originally Clan Kennedy had built a stone tower house to the clifftop in the 16th century. The actual castle was built in the end of 18th century. The castle is designed by a famous Scottish architect Robert Adam and it was a no-expense-spared project. After three deaths’in the row of Kennedy family, the estate tax grew so huge that the castle was donated to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945. Simultaneously the top floor was converted into a flat for use by General Eisenhower, as a gesture for America’s support during the Second World War. General Eisenhower visited in Culzean castle on four occasions including while president of the United States of America. The Eisenhower flat is nowadays a country house hotel. It would be a real treat to visit Scotland and stay in the magnificent castle with vast gardens around it.
Culzean castle in Scotland
Lunch at Dunure harbour
The sailing season was opened on the 22nd of April. The ttemperature was 18 degrees and we untied the lines for a 15 nautical mile sailing to the Bay of Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. Arran is often called "Scotland in miniature" because of its mountains in the north and lowlands in the south. The island has an excellent local bus service operated from Brodick including the north circular route, the south circular route and a route across the middle along the so-called String Road.
Holy Island next to Arran
Eve coiling a line at Lamlash Bay
Lamlash at the isle of Arran
Boat slip in Lamlash on Arran
In the evening at the Drift Inn we tasted a new fish called wreckfish or stone bass. It lives at the bottom of the ocean at the depth of up to 600 metres in the caves or shipwrecks as its name suggests. This deep water fish can grow up to two metres long and weight up to 100 kilos. Yum, it was really delicious.

After dinner it was getting dark and we didn’t plan staying so late so we had no flashlight with us. Of course there was already a low water and there wasn’t enough water at the slip for dinghy. There we were, in almost pitch black in a knee deep 9 degree water trying to launch the dinghy. Didn’t I mention it was already dark? We also had to find Suwena from the dark sea. Back onboard we spent a quiet night with water smoothly playing around Suwena.
Lamlash in April
In the morning we went exploring the Isle of Arran. The day was really warm and beautiful. After missing the bus by 10 minutes we decided it would be a nice walk from Lamlash to the main town of Arran, Brodick. It took some sweating to climb up and then more up. After being tendered by our daytrip we returned to Suwena, hoisted sails and had a relaxing sail back to Troon.
Northern Ireland ferry on a way to Troon
The feeling was high, the season was opened and Suwena is ready for summer voyage.
We still need to keep our horses until the weather was permitting to cast off the lines on the seventh of May for our summer cruise.

Bangor, Northern Ireland 7.5. - 10.5.

  • Posted on: 14 May 2015
  • By: Eve

When Suwena glided out from the Troon marina on 7th of May it felt like the summer has finally arrived. According to an old seamanship belief the sea voyage should not start on Friday and by departing on Thursday we started in a good standing with sea gods.
Restaurant Scotts in Troon marina
On Thursday morning before the departure I fastened the jacklines because the wind have been blowing for over 20 knots during the last three days and for sure there would be some old waves playing with us.

We have three separate jacklines: one on each side of the foredeck and the third going around the saloon roof. We can clip the tether to either one directly from the pilothouse door. We use the jackline on the deck when going out to foredeck and one on the roof when going to the cockpit. The sea was somewhat umpy and the jacklines had a good use immediately. Andrus has made a separate story about the length and tightness of jacklines.

During the morning the wind was variable between 8 and 15 knots. For a while we had a fantastic sail and made a summer’s speed record of 7.9 knots. Just a moment later the wind died, there were no thrills in our speed of going forward and we started Perkins. Andrus was quite frustrated as the wind was playing with us and we were continuously adjusting the sails. In the afternoon the wind settled and we motorsailed in light wind most of the trip until it completely ceased in the evening.
Muffin island Alisa Craig on Firth of Clyde
The sea was lumpy and during the early season we get some seasickness. After the first signs of nausea we quickly put on our Sea-Band wristbands. We’ve been using the nausea relief bands now for two years at choppy seas. As the season is progressing our body adapts to constant swaying and there is no need for bands except in really bad conditions.

This chemical free alternative really works for travel nausea. There is a plastic button on the flexible wristband that is positioned over the Nei-Guan point located on the anterior forearm. By having acupressure on the Nei-Guan point the stomach magically settles itself. They are definitely worth giving a try.
Squall on Firth of Clyde
It was also a time to make the summer’s first change of a courtesy flag as Scotland was left behind and we could see Northern Ireland in the horizon. Thus we changed the St Andrew's Cross into the Red Ensign. In total we sailed 71 nautical miles and when making her fast in Bangor marina we had been exactly 12 hours at sea.
Palms at the parking of the Bangor marina
Bangor is the sailing centre of Northern Ireland and it shouldn’t be wondered why. It is located on the southern shore of Belfast Lough and well protected from prevailing winds, still only a daytrip away from major cruising grounds in West Scotland.
Belfast Lough in Bangor
Belfast Lough in Bangor
There are 560 pontoon berths in the marina. The boats from Royal Ulster Yacht Club, Ballyholme Yacht Club and all other boats together with visiting yachts made quite a buzz with boats departing and arriving constantly.
Bangor Marina in Northern Ireland
General Eisenhower travelled with us from Scotland to Northern Ireland as the outer breakwater of Bangor is named in his honour to Eisenhower Pier. During our visit there were celebrations of 70 years since the World War II and Eisenhower Pier was one of the festive places.
Eisenhower Pier in Bangor
Bangor is one of the most sheltered places in Ireland and it had been a popular holiday resort already starting from the 1850s. Before, it was an important hub of linen industry. However the railways brought changes and new opportunities for Bangor. Nowadays Bangor is still a holiday resort and the commuter town of Belfast. Quite a few people from Bangor commute daily to Belfast. It is only 22 km and it takes 25 minutes by train. We passed the train to Belfast, as we’ll to next by Suwena there.

Belfast 10.5. - 17.5.

  • Posted on: 23 May 2015
  • By: Eve

It was only a short 11 nautical mile sail from Bangor to Belfast. The wind forecast was 20 knots but on the lough we had a 30 knots of wind from south. By staying close to the south shore of the lough there were no waves and with only a little bit of genoa out we made another speed record of this summer with 8.8 knots of speed through water.

The Belfast Marina is situated at the end of the commercial harbour. There are many guides in different pilot books and websites about where to sail and how to ask the permission for entry on VHF. The rules are rather complicated and made for big ships. It is all much easier for pleasure vessels. It is ok to sail outside the dredged Victoria Channel until the marker buoy number 12. Then take the sails down and ask the permission to entry on VHF channel 12. If commercial traffic is permitting you’ll be granted the entry permission to drive to Abercorn Basin where the marina is located. That’s all.

There isn’t much information available about Belfast Marina. Even in the newest Reeds Almanac it is only mentioned to exist. The marina is however very nice small establishment with 40 berths. It is also much cheaper than other marinas nearby, £16.5 regardless of the size of the boat. This price also includes electricity and water.
Belfast marina
The marina is located on the eastern shore of the river Lagan between Titanic centre and Odyssey pavilion. It only takes 15 to 20 minutes walking for reaching the city centre.
Samson and Goliath cranes in Belfast
Engine room of Harland & Wolff's crane in Belfast
We also visited Titanic centre and I must say that it was some kind of a disappointment. It is technically well executed and looks great. It can be seen that a lot of money has been used for building the presentations. However it felt that somehow it missed the point completely. The exhibition mainly focused on the shipyard during the building of Titanic in Belfast. There were animations for example about how many eggs were loaded aboard but information about the ship itself and its technological achievements in whole shipbuilding industry was very sparse. Also the last moments of Titanic were presented briefly. Of course for Belfast it has been enormous industrial effort to build the ship.

Next to the Titanic centre there was S/S Nomadic that was a tender to Titanic and other White Star Line ships in Cherbourg harbour. Quite a dinghy it was, with a capacity of transferring a thousand people at a time aboard ship. It was interesting to note that the benches and chairs were made for much smaller persons.
S/S Nomadic, the dinghy of Titanic in Belfast
Andrus in the helm of S/S Nomadic in the Titanic Centre of Belfast
One evening while returning to Suwena there was a test swim for Belfast Sea Cadets. Their task was to swim across the marina. There were shouting and puffing while the sea cadets, with their clothes and shoes on, were swimming in 12-degree water. Everybody passed the test and soon the happy swimmers run for a hot shower. I myself wouldn’t dare to be in such cold a water, even with the clothes on.
Belfast Sea Cadets in swimming test
We found Belfast to be a comfortable modern city. The streets of centre look new and clean. After the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast has had quite a transformation. There are many new buildings and trees have been planted as well. The tourists were strolling happily among the friendly locals in the downtown. There were no signs of the troubles of the past decades.
Town Hall of Belfast
Shopping street in Belfast
However the separation of Belfast was still visible in West Belfast when we hired a black cab for sightseeing. The tour was really enlightening and interesting. We went around both the catholic and protestant areas.
Eve on black cab tour of West Belfast
Our taxi driver was a catholic. He told equally and in an interesting way the view of both sides for the whole duration of the troubles. He also told the story behind each famous wall painting called mural that we stopped to look at in West Belfast and there are quite a few of them.

Even if the city centre feels modern and clean, still the tour in West Belfast showed the scars of resent history. There is still a wall between Protestant and Catholic residental areas. The barbed wire is still on the top of the wall and nearby houses have protected from above their back yards with chicken wire nets. The three gates in the wall are closed every evening for the night, two at 10pm and one already at 7pm.
Gate in the wall of West Belfast
Also the taxis have marked with colour stickers, so the customer knows which to take Catholic (white), Protestant (yellow) or neutral (green-tagged) taxi. During the first days it looked like the separation is in the past but after staying we learned to notice still the signs left by the history of the troubles.

Overall the peace process has been amazing. In just 17 years Belfast has rebuilt its reputation from a warzone to a modern lifestyle city. Everywhere the feeling is positive and we can only hope that the people in other trouble areas all around the world could follow Belfast’s footsteps. Like our taxi driver commented: "The troubles were not about religion or money. It was about somebody feeling being mistreated. The only way to end the war is that nobody wins it and people learn to coexist again, Like for example the children going to the same schools."

Strangford Lough 17.5. - 20.5.

  • Posted on: 27 May 2015
  • By: Eve

We had a plan to sail from Belfast to the Isle of Man. However the strong winds created high waves and made the Isle of Man unreachable to us. The local sailors recommended to visit Strangford Lough instead as it is not an open sea but more like a lake.

The current in Strangford Strait is strong, up to seven knots. At the strait entrance on the Irish Sea the tide is turning two hours earlier compared to Strangford that is located only five mile upstream on the strait. Thus it is better to enter the strait one-hour after the low water at the entrance for getting the favourable current. Our calculations were on the spot. We left Belfast around noon and arrived at Strangford Lough entrance at seven in the evening. The current was just changing its direction and we had an easy ride up the strait with the flood tide. When approaching the entrance we also spotted some breaking waves. This entrance has really to be taken seriously if the wind is against the current, especially during the onshore winds.

There is a small marina in front of Portaferry. Looking from the chart it looks very welcoming. According to local sailors the anchorage might be a better option at the next cove if you are not comfortable with manoeuvring the boat in tight quarters in a four knot current.
Ferry departing to Portaferry
For us there was a third option as well. Across the strait is the ferry pier of Strangford and there is also a pontoon for pleasure boats. It is nicely located just outside the strongest current. Coming alongside was easy as the tide is running in parallel with the pontoon. Of course there is some swell and noise from ferry propellers. For us however it was a perfect place for layover after a long day at sea.
Suwena at the pontoon of Strangford
Strangford Lough
We tried to be lazy and get something to bite from the local pub. It was Sunday and already past 9pm, so there was none available. We joined to local crowd for a pint of Guinness and later returned to boat for a cooking.

On Monday morning we went to explore the village of Strangford. An idyllic scenery with old Viking watchtowers looked just like Ireland we’ve been waiting for.
Guard tower of Strangford
Our timing was perfect as there was a drive-in of lovely vintage Austin cars at the Cuan Hotel. Mr George was very kind to show us his 1927 Austin. It was a lovely feeling to sit in the car and embrace yourself with the car world of the 1920s. His car was in an excellent condition and really sweet.
Mr George presenting his Austin to Eve in Strangford
Strangford Lough is 3 miles wide and 10 miles long tidal inlet. Even if the wind was blowing at 23 knots from the west we had a beautiful sail because there were no big waves. It was like being at the Archipelago Sea in Finland where the wind only creates small waves due to the lack of fetch. There are a lot of small islands and beautiful anchorages as well. In this sense it is also similar to sailing in Finnish archipelagos.

Already back in Belfast we got a tip about Sketrick island and a lightship with a pontoon in its anchorage. We can enter the Sketrick island only during +-2h of the high water thus we aimed at departing during the last two hours of the flood tide. This would enable us to come alongside at the slack water. Stargazer, a yacht from Wales was our neighbour in Strangford and had departed some time before us. We were delighted to meet them again at the pontoon of the lightship.
Suwena at the pontoon of the Down Cruising Club
During our Sketrick visit it was raining all the time. We had hoped for a long trek in surroundings but instead we only had short walks nearby between the showers. The island is very beautiful with only a few houses. We also saw sheep, cows and donkeys in the island. There were some dog walkers trecking on the paths as well.

There are many yacht clubs based in Strangford Lough. For example the lighthouse ship is the base for Down Cruising Club. Unfortunately we were there during the early week because the restaurant at the lightship is open only from Friday to Sunday. However the Daft Eddies restaurant on the Sketrick island was open and we sampled some dishes there on rainy evening.
Anchorage of Sketrick island
Anchorage on Strangford Lough
The strong winds on the Irish Sea enabled us this wonderful experience that otherwise we had missed by going directly to the Isle of Man. Now we’ve been sailing in one of the most beautiful sailing grounds of Northern Ireland for sure.

The Isle of Man 20.5. - 24.5.

  • Posted on: 10 June 2015
  • By: Eve

It took about two hours to sail from Sketrick Island in Strangford Lough to the open sea. Our calculations were correct and there were enough water under the keel for passing the narrows near Sketrick Island and the favourable current quickly pushed us to the sea. The tides in this area require vigilance for having enough water in both the departure and arrival ports. Our destination was Peel harbour in the Isle of Man that is accessible +-2 hours of high water.

The journey went quickly in 20 knots of downwind until about 20 miles before the Peel harbour the wind died completely after it has been blowing from north-west for several days. We also had missed the point that the same wind has been blowing on the North-Atlantic for quite some time and that the waves had a direct passage through the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland to the Irish Sea. We kept the mainsail hoisted for dampening wild swinging. Anyhow, the rest of the sail towards Peel was not by any means comfortable :) Next day when S/Y Stargazer followed us from Strangford Lough its skipper asked by smiling that "How was your ride yesterday?"

Our original plan was to sail to Douglas that meant going around the Isle of Man either from north or south bound depending on tidal currents and winds. But when everybody we met recommended Peel harbour we decided to listen the local knowledge. The distance to Dublin is more or less same from both harbours but our sailing to Mann was now 20 miles shorter.

We arrived in Peel in the beautiful sunshine and the harbourmaster welcomed us by showing the options. There was an on-going dredging operation in the harbour and we had an option either to go alongside the fishing boat or stay temporarily in the berth and move the boat as needed to stay out from the dredging work.
Peel marina on the Isle of Man The harbour was in a desperate need of dredging. At the assigned berth, Suwena’s keel was half a metre in the mud during the low tide. The locals were eagerly waiting for the dredging as well because in some parts of the harbour there was only 10 cm of water. Thus everybody was happy to mangle the boats as needed. Also the famous Isle of Man TT-race was about to begin at the beginning of June, then the harbour is packed by visitor boats.

Finally we were lucky and could lay at the same berth for the duration of our stay on the island. Later when visiting Douglas we also checked the marina there. It was very full and all visiting yachts were in rafts. We were really happy about staying in Peel. The bus network is excellent and it was easy to jump on the bus and go in any direction: north, east or south on different days.
Douglas marina on the Isle of Man
Visiting yachts in Douglas marina
Time passed quickly on the Isle of Man. There was so much to see around the island. We purchased a three-day explorer ticket that was valid to all public transport in the Isle of Man. And so the time travel began. There are still today in use the steam train, electric tramway and horse pulled tram from the 19th century. Exploring the island for three days was really fun!

On the first day we jumped into the bus and travelled to Ramsey that is located at the northern end of the island. We sat at the front seats and time passed quickly by chatting with a friendly bus driver. He was also a race driver and knew the road very well. He told about corners and jumps not forgetting to show straights were the speeds go over 300 km/h.
By bus on the TT racecourse on the Isle of Man
Did you know that driving fast on the Isle of Man is allowed also outside TT-race? There are no speed limits at all outside of towns and villages. The racecourse passes many small villages and of course during the competition drivers pass the houses at close distance. Many are familiar to German autobahns but driving 300 on these narrow and winding roads between houses and trees sounds unbelievable!

In Ramsey we changed our mode of transport to a narrow gauge electric tram. The tramway on the Isle of Man is the oldest still functioning electric tramway in the world that runs on original route with original carriages. All the tramcars are form 1893 – 1910 and there are a total of 27.4 kilometres of lines. What a wonderful clatter and feeling!
Electric tramway station of Ramsay on the Isle of Man
Eve and Andrus going to tram journey on the Isle of Man
Tram journey on the Isle of Man
The Isle of Man
The Isle of Man
Of course we had to test ride all the lines. First from Ramsay to Laxey, where we changed to the second line going to the top of Snaefell, the highest mountain on the Isle of Man. Being on the top of the mountain was like joining Frodo on Weathertop. The wind was cold, strong and going to the bones. We also heard that in good weather it is possible to see seven different Kingdoms from there.
Andrus at the top of Snaefell mountain on the Isle of Man
Back in Laxey we changed again for reaching Douglas that is the capital of the Isle of Man. The spirit inside the tramcar was high as it was squeaking and rattling the rails up and down the hills. We even heard that some locals still use them for everyday commute.

In Douglas we changed the electric power to the horse power, that is the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway. The line is 2.6 kilometres long and runs from tramway terminus to Victoria Pier. This route is older than electric trams and the hooves started pulling the carriages already in 1876 and it is the world’s oldest horse drawn tramway. From the 51 original carriages still 21 are running on the promenade of Douglas.
Horse drawn tramcar in Douglas
The horse tramway was definitely most incredible. Cars were passing us, almost touching the carriage and the horse did not mind at all. The conductor collected the fees on the step outside the carriage while the driver was guiding the horse in the middle of the traffic and of course stopping at traffic lights as well.

Horse called Una pulled us to Victoria Pier and a couple of days later we had to have another ride. Then the 14 year old Amby eagerly give us a ride of 2.6 kilometres in 20 minutes. Each horse makes at most three return trips daily and works as trammers on average for 15 years.
Amby leaving from the traffic lights in Douglas
We’re sure that Amby knew that he was on the last leg of the day. He was so enthusiastically pulling towards terminus and nearby Summerhill stables. We joined Amby to look at the trammers’ stables as well. There are total of 15 horses working as trammers.

Next journey took us again further back in time because the first narrow gauge steam train was puffing from Douglas to Peel in 1873. Earlier it was possible to take a train around the Isle of Man but since 1969 it has been operationing only on the south coast between Douglas and Port Erin.
Steam train on the Isle of Man
Drivers of the steam locomotive at the break on the Isle of Man
The six original locomotives still run by pulling 18 different carriages. When stepping aboard we could freely choose first, second or third class departments. Of course we chose the best and sat on the couches covered by velvet, this was the nostalgia at the best. For both of us it was the first time onboard steam train and the feeling was fantastic!

Now it was time to join the Hogwarts Express as the engine blew the whistle and steam started to puff while train was accelerating. Our top speed was 40 km/h. In the locomotive the coal was shovelled into burner and the smell of burning coal was getting into the carriages. About half a ton of coal was used during the one hour-long journey. The train followed the coastline of the Isle of Man. We climbed up puffing heavily and then descended back into the valleys and tranquillity of the countryside. The journey was over way too soon as we arrived in the station of Port Erin after 24.6 kilometres.

We were really lucky that we were on the Isle of Man during this weekend as there was something really funny going on in the ancient capital of Mann, Castletown. On Saturday we went watching the 44th World Tin Bath Championships. The competitors had decorated their baths and the winner is determined by who gets further by paddling before sinking his tin bath. This sounded so fun that we had to get there.

Over 70 participants both women and men were competing for the Championship. As the baths started to sink in the 13 degree sea water, the competitors were disqualified. Btw, the rules said that there must be floaters on the baths for retrieving the sunk baths back to shore. After the preliminary heats there were a finals and the winner had a title of the World Champion.
The boys preparing tin baths for a race on the Isle of Man
Start of the World TIn Bath Championchips on the Isle of Man
The tin bath championships was arranged in front of the Castle Rushen and we took an opportunity to visit there before the competition. The castle was extremely well preserved and no wonder it is said to be one of the best preserved medieval castles in the British Isles. Norse King built the castle already in 13th century and Vikings, Scottish, English and the Kings and Lords of Mann have ruled it. Up from the towers there was a magnificient view over the whole Castletown.

We could have been spending time for longer time in the Isle of Man. We were exploring the island for only three days and had to skip many sights.

The island itself is an exciting mixture of old and new. It has its unique atmosphere and first of all the Manx people are really friendly and most kind. Again we found a place on the Earth where would be nice to return someday.

Dublin 25.5. – 9.6.

  • Posted on: 18 June 2015
  • By: Eve

Our next port of call after the Isle of Man was Dublin. Instead of beating against the southwestern wind to Dublin we decided to turn west, cross the Irish Sea and spend a night in Ardglass harbour. Next day it would be an easy ride towards south and Dublin.

It is 33 nautical miles from the Isle of Man to Ardglass. At first we had a good sailing but soon we slowed down due to lack of wind and turned on the iron genny. According to the charts there are only 1.5 metres of water during the low water in Ardglass. However the locals told already on the Isle of Man that the harbour is 24h accessible nowadays. The entrance is dredged into the rocky bottom and one must only be careful about staying on the well-marked fairway.

Ardglass is a small fishing village that seemed to be an overnight resting place for sailors on a way south or north. Some call the eastern coast of Ireland a highway of the boats as most passing boats are either on a way north to Scotland or south from there.

We also concluded that we were one of the first Finnish boats there as one of the locals pondered about the location of Finland: "Finland, that is the capital of Greenland".

We also resorted to the help of Perkins on our journey to Dublin. Only at the Dublin Bay the wind suddenly increased to 20 knots and continued blowing like this for the next two weeks increasing at the times to 35 knots. During our entire stay in Dublin it was cold, rainy, wet and windy. Where is the summer?

There are four marinas in Dublin area. The northernmost is Malahide. On the north of the Dublin Bay is located the Howth Marina. Near the city centre is Poolbeg with only a few visitor’s berths and the stays there are limited only to a few days due to the high demand. On the southern shore of the Dublin Bay is the Dun Laoghaire Marina with 820 berths and at least the same amount of mooring buoys.

During the departure to Dun Laoghaire we called and reserved a berth for Suwena. When arriving in windy conditions it was easy to moor at designated berth instead of circling around and looking for a berth. The marina staff had told us to put the fenders on the starboard side. We prefer to moor her stern first and of course the fenders were on the wrong side. Andrus drove in circles while I quickly changed fenders and soon the lines were safely made fast.

The basin inside the outer breakwater is about 1km by 1km in size and it contains the marina, a ferry port, several mooring fields and a lot of free space. There are also seven yacht clubs based in Dun Laoghaire, three of them have amazing miniature Palladian villas in the neo-classical style as their clubhouses. The yacht clubs have made a good usage of the area inside the breakwater as the dinghy sailors and rowers went training frequently. The breakwaters give really a good safe environment for juniors to practice.
Dun Laoghaire marina
Dun Laoghaire marina
Last year, while looking wintering harbour for Suwena we seriously considered Dublin as one possibility. Most people we met recommended the Howth Marina to us. However Howth gave really indifferent image of itself, there were no answers to phone calls and emails when asking for wintering offer. Again this spring we initially planned stopping in Howth where we needed to have a parcel delivered for waiting us. Again there were no replies to emails or phone calls. It seems that visitors are not welcome there at all and we decided to stay in Dun Laoghaire instead, where everything was arranged easily. Later when we flied to Belgium for business during our stay in Dublin we descended over the Howth marina. It looked it was full of smaller boats and there wouldn’t be any space for Suwena anyhow.

There are 12 kilometres from Dun Laoghaire to Dublin centre and the local train DART is running every 20 minutes. It is amazing that we were again at a place where something had happened first time ever. In 1834 the first Irish train service started between Dublin and Dun Laoghaire. Of course nowadays there are also bus services to Dublin and airport. For example Aircoach is running hourly 24h every day to the airport.

The harbour is located next to the centre of Dun Laoghaire. While signing in we received a welcome package with the map of Dun Laoghaire including discount coupons for several restaurants and even a grocery store. We were also welcomed by local sailors to visit their Yacht Club's clubhouses.
Royal Irish Yacht Club clubhouse in Dun Laoghaire
There are a lot to see in Dublin. The mix of several languages creates babble that is a typical for a major tourist city. On the north shore of the river Liffey is the shopping paradise spread out on several streets. On the southern shore is the restaurant and pub area where the Irish music entertains patrons in many establishments. After a busy day of shopping it is easy to cross the river on various bridges. The most famous of the bridges is the Bridge of O’Connell. That is btw wider than longer.
The river Liffey in Dublin
O'Connell bridge in Dublin
Real Irish pubs in Dublin
There is the old saying that "Guinness does not travel well". It was definitely one of the mysteries for us to solve and after doing scientific tests in Mythbusters style we can confirm. Guinness really tastes better in Dublin.

Guinness is definitely our favourite beer and thus our steps took us to the pilgrimage to the lifetime work of Arthur Guinness. He must have had a good faith in his beer when signing a lease of 9000 years for four acres in 1759 where the Guinness brewery was originally located. I believe that Arthur himself would be rather satisfied to see that the Guinness Storehouse is the biggest sightseeing place in Ireland today.
Guinness Strorehouse in Dublin
While the Titanic centre in Belfast was a total disappointment to us, the Guinness storehouse exceeded our expectations. We learned in Guinness Academy on how to pour a perfect Guinness pint with that wonderful creamy head. The pint was even better after pouring it by our own hands.
Andrus pouring a perfect pint
In the tasting room we learned on how to properly taste Guinness and bring out the different flavours. One of the secrets of Guinness is hops that creates the unique taste. Maybe we should get the four ingredients ourselves: barley, hops, yeast and water. Still the recipe of Arthur’s stout is secret. Fortunatelythere is no need to play home chemist, the brewery makes three million pints of stout every day.
The water for Guinness is coming from Wicklow mountains
The making of the brew was presented in a very modern way. The head brewmaster was hopping from one screen to another as the brewing process progressed. The screens were embedded into the former brewing equipment and it was like being in Hogwarts and watching the previous headmasters in living paintings. The actual brewery is next door to the seven-storey exhibition house.

As Guinness does not travel well, it was really worthwhile to visit the brewery.

Western Ireland 4.6. – 5.6.

  • Posted on: 19 June 2015
  • By: Eve

We had planned that after arriving by boat to Southern Ireland, we could rent a car for exploring Western Ireland. However our departure from Dublin was delayed as we were waiting for the new battery from England. We’ll write a separate battery story another time. Thus we rented a car and headed west.

Our regular readers have probably noticed that we are fascinated by medieval castles. Already in wintertime I found from internet a story about medieval feast arranged in Ireland and we just had to to do it. Ireland is packed with old castles and ruins but Bunratty is different. It was intriguing to spend the evening at castle’s party instead of just going around and imagining the past.

The Bunratty Castle is located close to Limerick. We chose the scenery route from the navigator and after a short stretch of the motorway we turned into winding B-roads. We just followed the navigator and it was a pleasant surprise to pass Tullamore. The Tullamore Dew whiskey is part of the same Grants group as our favourite whiskey Glenfiddic. The Tullamore distillery isn’t open for visitors and we just opted to rejuvenate ourselves with a cup of coffee.

We were driving in the middle of lush countryside. At times the roads were so narrow that there were space only for one car at a time. Andrus whirled casually between the local drivers as this is already the second summer driving on the left side of the road. Soon we arrived in Bunratty and checked into Bunratty Castle Hotel that is only a short walking distance form the castle itself.

Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland and it is rebuilt four times at the same spot. Last time the building took place in 1425. It was expanded afterwards but today it is restored back to the glory of 1425. Maybe that’s why it might feel small. The castle is decorated with the furniture of the 15th and 16th century. And of course all the tapestries were fabulous.
Bunratty Castle in Western Ireland
Our host, butler Jim and the rest of the service crew were dressed in medieval attire. As we crossed the drawbridge at dusk it was like stepping into the different era. We were welcomed as "noble guests" even our clothes were from distant future. After climbing up the narrow spiral staircase we arrived in the Great Hall where the walls were decorated by beautiful tapestries. Costumed musicians performed beautiful harp and fiddle music as we were sipping a goblet of mead. The festive started by crowning of the Earl & Lady from the castle visitors.
Musicians in the Great Hall of the Bunratty Castle
Crowning of the Earl and Lady in Bunratty Castle
Eve and butler Jim at the medieval feast in Bunratty Castle
After formalities, we descended to the Banquet Hall where bench seating at the long oak tables with candlelight reflect the Banqueting style of the medieval era. The feast consisted of four-course dinner with fine wines and superb performance. The cheering was done medieval style by hammering the tables with fists that created quite a rumble. The Earl and Lady approved all dishes. The eating was done medieval way by fingers using only a spoon and a dagger as a fork was not used at those times yet.
Medieval feast in Bunratty Castle
Eve and castle Lady in the Bunratty Castle
In the middle of the evening a scoundrel was found among the visitors and everybody gets to vote if he should be thrown into the dungeon or put under the murder-hole. Fortunately the Earl pardoned him and the feast could continue. The whole evening was done very well and we enjoyed it vastly. The castle became really alive when we participated in the medieval feast inside its walls.

The next day we headed the car to the famous Irish scenic route, the Ring of Kerry. The route is 180 kilometres long at it is advised to drive it counter clockwise. The roads were really narrow and winding. However the speed limit outside villages were astonishing 100 km/h. Even the locals did not drive so fast. Andrus sighed that “I wish just now to have a proper sports car”. The roads went up and down with serpentine curves right and left. On the right side spread the open sea and on the left side rugged mountains raised. Oops, again after the blind corner was a bridge that only one car at a time could pass. Fortunately also the busses go counter clockwise as well and we could enjoy pushing our rental car around the curves.
Scenery of the Ring of Kerry in Ireland
Safehaven in Western Ireland
Winding roads of the Ring of Kerry have 100 km/h speed limit
There are quite a few sights along the Ring of Kerry, like for example the home of Liberator Daniel O’Connell. If we had time then trekking in this environment and just staying overnight in random B&B would have been great fun. We only had one day so we had to keep going stopping only at view points.

We diverged from the Ring of Kerry for searching the westernmost point of Western Europe. The lookout to west must somehow be in the genes of human. All Western European countries have their own end of the world point. There is Lands End in England, Cape Finisterre in both France and Spain and Cabo de Roca in Portugal.
Ferry to the Valentia Island in Ireland
Coast of Kerry in Western Ireland
Westernmost point of Europe on the Valentia Island in Ireland
Andrus at the westernmost point of Europe in Ireland
Thus we took a ferry to Valentia Island. On the west coast of island we went climbing up the Bray Head coastal cliff that is 140 metres tall. The sheep and cows around us were not bothered at all by biting wind up in the cliff.

The Valentia Island has a strong connection to west. In 1866 the first telegram cable between Europe and America was hauled from this island. We were now more west than any of the other points in Western Europe and the next into west would be America. Actually we are now cheating a little bit because the western point is 14 kilometres to the north, on the cape of Dingle which is still 1.5 kilometres more to the west. We however run out of time, as it would have meant driving another 200 kilometres to reach there.

We continued on the Ring of Kerry after returning from the Valentia Island by southern bridge. The Sun started to set and the scenery was painted in beautiful golden colours. Our round was terminated in Killarney that is the paradise for all the trekkers in Ireland. There were a lot of tourists and most of them were from America. We enjoyed the plate of seven fish before returning to Dublin and back to Suwena.

Arklow 10.6. – 11.6.

  • Posted on: 21 June 2015
  • By: Eve

It was like a restart of summer voyage when after two weeks we cast off the lines and the voyage continued. We had been stuck in until the new battery arrived from the UK. Dublin and Dun Laoghaire were left behind with Southern Ireland in front of us.

On a way to the south shore we made one stop for dividing the voyage into convenient day sails. From Dun Laoghaire to Arklow it was 43 nautical miles which we initially motorsailed and after the wind increased we used the silent propulsion from the sails. It was an easy day at the sea.
Suwena passing Wicklow Mountains in Ireland
Arklow is one of the harbours where many passing yachts stop on a way to the south or north. The harbour has 24h tidal access. It is also well sheltered a few hundred metres upriver from the sea. When searching for winter berth last year, we also got a recommendation for staying in Arklow. Arklow is located on the south side of Wicklow Mountains.

We arrived to the marina in the evening just as the local sailors were preparing for the Wednesday race. Almost 20 boats left the river with skippers shouting orders about setting sails. Our neighbour boat X-posure invited us to join the aftermath of the race at their clubhouse.
Suwena in the Marina of Arklow
Arklow in Ireland
Arklow Sailing Club seemed to be extremely lively community. Best all was that the sailors gathered at the clubhouse after the race for hearing the results. It was nice that the members also enjoyed spending the time together after the race and did not hurry up home after the boat was made fast.

The club members took turns on being a bartender and it was enjoyable to have a pint and pizza slice while chatting about the race. In our yacht club everybody has two rounds of night watch in the marina, here it was compulsory bar service a few times a year :-)

When the race referee started announcing the results, Andrus was really surprised as he was exactly like a twin to the race official at our club called Juhani. When we heard that his name is Jerry, we were really laughing. Jerry also told about his twin in an English yacht club. We wonder if every club has own Juhani around the world.

The time passed quickly with the skipper of X-posure yacht Lorcen and his crew. We got a decent amount of local knowledge about upcoming coastal passage. One of the best sides of long distance cruising is definitely spending time with same minded people all around the world.
Marina of Arklow
Marina of Arklow
In the morning we untied her lines and departed from Arklow with many new nice moments in our memories.

Waterford 11.6. – 13.6.

  • Posted on: 26 June 2015
  • By: Eve

During the following 86 miles we had quite an adventure. The forecast showed 15 knots wind from the northeast that should increase to 20 knots. Our plan was to pass the southeast corner of Ireland before the wind would increase.

According to the tidal chart we should have departed in the wee hours for getting the favourable current. However we were not very keen to have early wakeup and we thought that some adverse current wouldn’t matter too much. The journey started as planned. We had one to two knot current on the bow and northerly winds were pushing us forward nicely.

Six miles before the southeast corner of Ireland the current strengthened to over 3 knots and we slowly crawled towards the corner. When the current reached 3.9 knots, the wind of course increased to 25 - 30 knots. The wind against the tide created massive 3-metre waves. Our boat is quite well organized and all the stuff has its own place in cupboards. These waves however were rolling us from side to side and there was quite a clatter when the items were changing places in the cupboards. The sea was raging around us. We were just in a place where smart sailors don’t go – the wind against the strong tide.

After getting around the corner, the sea calmed and everything went back to normal. There was also a sailing boat anchored just behind the corner waiting for better conditions on a way to north.

Soon we also passed the harbour of Kilmore Quay that was strongly recommended to us. On a journey from Dublin to Kinsale it is just on the right spot for half way stop. From the sea it looked like a tiny village. Our destination was Waterford and we did not want to split the trip any more.

On the southern coast of Ireland Andrus had to be careful at the helm because amount of fishing nets and lobster pots increased exponentially. There were also quite a few pleasure fishermen on small boats lurking for the big catch.

There are several popular cruising destinations on the rivers of southern Ireland. The prevailing winds are from southwest and the rivers create well-sheltered areas for sailing. It also seemed that the dinghy sailing is very popular on these rivers.
The river Suir in Ireland
We sailed 13 miles upriver on the beautiful river Suir and made her fast in the shadow of historic Reginald’s Tower. The marina is maintained by town council, thus the harbour dues should be paid and the access key retrieved from the town house. We could get out from the iron gate but it took some time to find the right building. It was funny queuing in the line with locals who were there for car registration or building permit.

We only spent one day in Waterford. The summer had finally arrived and I must say there was a nice Mediterranean feeling while sitting in the street café, enjoying the sunshine and people buzzing by.
Waterford, Ireland
We visited in two significant sights. At first we explored in the narrow hallways of the Reginald’s Tower. Vikings settled Waterford twice. First in 853 and again in 914 when they returned to the river Suir and founded the first town of Ireland called nowadays Waterford. The tower was built for protecting the town. The Reginald’s Tower is one of the few buildings that still carry the Viking name according to its builder. The tower is now a museum showing items from the Viking era like tools, weapons, music instruments, money and even party games.
Viking era Reginald's Tower in Waterford, Ireland
Andrus and Viking boat in Waterford, Ireland
Surely for many Waterford brings to mind the crystal which manufacturing started in 1783. It is widely appreciated export item, especially in 19th century. The crystals were wonderfully presented at the showroom. It was surprising that it was ok freely to touch such an expensive items. The most expensive crystal what we found was the 40.000€ Cinderella’s Carrige. There were also some reasonable priced wine glasses. The fine glass was looking rather fragile so I wonder that it don’t like pumbing in Suwena’s cupboard when crossing the Celtic Sea. Maybe it is better quickly to sit down on the street café for enjoying a cup of coffee from the ordinary porcelain cup.
Eve and the Waterford crystals in Ireland
Cinderella carrige made of Waterford crystal