0027 - Bangor to the Copeland Islands and on to Portavogie

I woke up this morning with one thing on my mind, Lemon Top Ice Cream. I had been reliably informed that the Ice Cream would not be available till the early afternoon - not sure why, but that's what I was told, so I had the morning to kill before I could experience the legendary ice cream.

Just deciding to use this time to tidy up the boat and make some small repairs and to let the girls go on deck for a while before making my way into town seemed like a good use of time...

I decided to stop by the office to see when I had to check out of this place and was surprised to find out that as long as I left before 12 midnight I wouldn't be charged for another day. Now this is new to me - most places want you gone by midday, and if you remain after, you get charged a short stay, and if you are there past 6pm you're on the hook for another nights berthing...I like Ireland.

On my way to the office, I saw a couple of cool boat names...I'm always amused by sort of thing...however, after I took the second picture - I was checking to make sure it was in focus as I walked away I promptly caught my foot in a cleat and broke my toe.

I say broke, but not bothering to go to a hospital to have that confirmed - but being able to twist the toe while it makes a horrible crunching sound is confirmation enough for me, I took this picture right after it happened - it hadn't had a chance to go purple yet.

Well, no shoes for a while I guess - this is just a mildly annoying inconvenience, I really need to pay more attention on these pontoons...never really liked that toe anyway, but I'd soon be on my way to get ice cream...woot woot!


Knowing we wouldn't be in marinas for a bit after we left here I grabbed a bag of ice and some fresh milk - refrigeration is always a pain - our refrigerator works great on 12v but not as great as when it's plugged in AC power, it also runs on gas but I've never tried it on gas - you have to buy these little gas cylinders that are not cheap and the way I see it - an unnecessary expense for slightly improved refrigeration...

If I just throw a bag of ice in there it takes about 5 days to melt and provides all we need in combination with the 12v setting...but it does love it's power and is a serious drain on our battery bank.

Not a super issue though, we have two battery banks -1 huge 800Ah one, and another smaller 110Ah one for starting the engine, and it's separate - so the fridge can't drain it also - and it would if it could - But wait - it's almost time for ice cream!!

Now this marina is huge, lots and lots of berths, probably a couple of hundred million dollars worth of yachts in here - getting from your boat to the land is easily a 5-minute walk...now an 8-minute hobble with the added complication of a busted toe.

I was looking forward to this ice cream...I had heard a lot about it. I walked, excuse me, hobbled all the way up the hill to the place where they sell it - It's the only place they sell it on earth - and I was all ready to buy - Then I saw it - this big ad right on the street - oooh, after all the hobbling I was so ready for this.

BUT - Then I saw that the place was closed...On this day, the only day I could actually buy one as we were leaving in just a few hours - it was closed.


All this way to see a closed ice cream stand - #dissapointed

Outraged, I marched into the restaurant nearby to politely get to the bottom of this tragedy. It's just closed on Mondays. I knew I should have got one on my way to the castle the day before.

The Restaurant next door was actually quite cool, they had a Bangor themed Monopoly table just inside the doorway - If only I had time, and perhaps a few friends - a good game could have been had...

Defeated, and now feeling the full impact of the realization I wasn't going to get to try this Irish delicacy - I went back to the boat to get ready to go. All I can say is, if you ever find yourself in Bangor and get the chance to try - do let me know what it tastes like...


Walking back to the boat I happened to notice some graffiti - Now this particular graffiti was sprayed in no less than 20 places - it was everywhere - but it was positive - I have no problem with kind of message - there's not enough of it around these days...

But it's time to go, and we have to say goodbye to Bangor and move on. We haven't been on the anchor for a while, so we're gonna do that. Checking the charts and the weather we can do a night in the Copeland Islands.


The large island to the south has a little bay that will offer shelter from the winds that are due to change. Presently they are coming from the South but shortly after we get there they should reverse their direction and the bay will be perfect for a nights stay...within an hour we would be on our way.

As the South of Ireland is kinda off-limits to us, as we haven't been here for two weeks yet, but we have been here for, at this point, 8 days, we are trying to add some short trips and stalling our potential arrival in south...we might just be able to do two weeks if we plan it right - but time is running out for us in a way as we have to get South of Ireland before the end of the month as the weather is changing, and we need to be careful - The Irish sea can be a bit wild at times...


Before we left, Bangor had one last treat for us, a little parting gift - purple bird crap!?


Never seen this colour of crap before... Ireland huh?

Anyway, we were ready to go, and with everything setup, we left the marina and on to a glassy Lough of Belfast...it was a perfect day except for the fact there was no wind - I just put the engine in 'tick-over' and we plodded along at 2.5 knots, burning very little fuel - At these low revs, Greta doesn't use much fuel at all! Maybe a quarter-litre an hour, just slightly more revs, and she drinks up a litre an hour....we were in no rush, and with just a few miles to cover we would be there in no time...

We checked out Bangor from the water as we passed, instead of going out to deeper water we just swung in close to the land, so we could see some stuff as it was kinda hazy with all the sun we were getting...

With all the haze anything more than a few miles away just seems to disappear in the haze, we watched a few boats just vanish into it...


But it was a beautiful day, and we were just coasting along without a care in the world - but that would change...

Our home for the evening was getting close, we could now see the Southern Island of which we planned to anchor in - The bay is a little strange and dangerous, with nasty rocks on the Westside, and irregular depths to the East.

Having to make some calculations to figure out our target depth to anchor in, taking into account of the current state of the tide, where it was going to be and whatnot I worked out that 4.5m was the depth we needed to be in so as not to touch bottom at low tide...

As we approached, I got the binoculars and scanned the bay behind the rocks - looking for masts...I kinda wanted to be on our own here. To our delight - we saw none, having our own private anchorage was looking promising...

But as we rounded the rocks and got into the bay, I realized that there was a motorboat anchored right where I had hoped to drop my hook...

I approached their vessel to see if anyone was on board, and as I got closer I saw two people sitting on the stern sipping wine and just living their best life watching the sunset. I would be happy to share an anchorage with these people - all too often these kinds of boats have too many drunk people onboard blasting music and making a terrific noise - Not these two.

I got closer and asked about the conditions and how safe it was to anchor and these charming people informed me I had nothing to worry about, and immediately seeing how nice these people were I decided to anchor West and to the South of their position as to not spoil their view of the sunset. Sometimes when you meet people you feel drawn to them, just such a nice energy surrounded them.

I found our target depth and dropped our anchor and got it firmly rooted in the seabed, and no soon had I switched off the engine - the crew were topside to take in the sunset...

Settling in for the evening - Ireland was to provide a stunning sunset...one of the finest we've seen since being here - it really was just incredible. I couldn't stop taking pictures, it was just so pretty.

Moments like these are just precious and need to be savoured because they don't come that often...and they just make you feel glad to be alive and just there - to be present - to witness all that comes of this life - and it doesn't cost a penny.

Chloe, however, was very suspicious of the other boat and spent a considerable amount of time keeping an eye on them.


Her suspicions were entirely unfounded, as something very sweet was about to happen, that I didn't plan for, or even anticipate...

I was sitting in the cockpit when I heard someone shout "Ahoy there!" It was the other boat, and the gentleman on board was trying to get my attention, I responded and he proceeded to tell me that rather than be on the anchor - I could use the mooring ball that was just west of their position as it would be safer if I was intending to stay the night.

Typically I don't like to just use random mooring balls as you never know - in the middle of the night you could get kicked off the ball as a fishing boat or whoever owns that ball may return to use it - and then you're in the dark trying to anchor... It turns out, the people on the boat knew the owners of the island, and the owner had seen me anchoring and called them to let me know that I could use the ball if I wished. How nice was that? I initially was a little hesitant as it was in shallower water but after some quick maths to ensure our safety - I accepted. I don't have any photos of the couple, but they were as nice as you could possibly imagine, and before moving over to the mooring ball I popped over to say hello and thank them for letting me know. The gentleman informed me that he had a very nice bottle of whiskey that he was working on, and if I could get close enough, he would happily give me a glass.

Now the prospect of having a wee drink with an Irishman and his wife in a secluded bay as the sun continued to set was just too tempting - I mean - How could I refuse such kindness - I very slowly manoeuvred my stern close to theirs and in no time at all, he was passing a very large glass of whiskey over to me.


As he held on to my stern rail keeping our boats apart, I killed the engine as the exhaust was filling the air with stinky fumes, there was no wind or breeze to waft it away. After I did that, we all sat for an hour in the fading light and had just a charming, unplanned and very nice conversation about many things. I found these to humans to be exemplary companions and although, lord forgive me, I cannot remember their names - It will be a long time before I forget them and their wonderful company.

It was almost dark when I had to politely excuse myself as I had to get to the mooring ball before it was completely dark...I wished I had more time to spend with his lovely couple, but as the rig of the situation played out, it had to come to an end. I started the engine and very slowly pulled away from their vessel. He informed me that he would keep an eye on me to make sure I got there safely - and in just a few moments, and without incident - I was tied to the mooring ball. I shouted over that all was well and we both wished each other well and retired down below to our respective saloons. It was a lovely end to the day - and despite continuously sipping on the glass of whiskey during our conversation - the glass was still a little under half full!

I quickly prepared dinner for both the cats and myself, finished my glass of whiskey and went to sleep without a care in the world - knowing that we were securely moored and wouldn't be drifting in the night...

TBH, not being a drinker - and with that much whiskey consumed - I was pretty buzzed! The cats and I were warm, dry and safe...and Chloe insisted on a petting session before bed...Compliance (said in the voice of Max from the movie Flight of the Navigator...lol).

The next morning I woke up and was a little sad to see that the other boat was already gone and like many people I meet - they live now, only in my memories, I would feel very blessed If I would ever be so fortunate as to meet them again...


I happened to notice that the wind was not as expected and within a short time we were hit with some swells that made this mooring a little uncomfortable, but nothing I figured I couldn't live with for a bit.

But then small swells turned into huge swells and cupboards began to burst open and things were getting chucked about - I looked at the cats - they looked at me - it was understood, it was time to leave here...and in that exact moment, my empty glass from the night before was flung from the table and smashed on the floor - we were leaving now.

Things got a bit complicated as we were leaving as we had a serious GPS malfunction that seemed to affect our main GPS - and all of our backups - some sort of anomaly perhaps - as we were not on the heading or even close to the position the chart plotter said that we were.


I quickly took a series of bearings on things that I could see and worked out our exact position and got us out of the shallows we found ourselves in while I worked on fixing the problem...All devices were reset and data caches were cleared, meanwhile, the waves continued to build and after all connections were reset and the system restarted things went back to working correctly and the autopilot was engaged to keep us on a steady course.

In the pictures, you really can't see the swells, but they were there...the wind was behaving itself, a steady 15 knots was not a problem, but those waves were something else...and getting away and putting some distance between us and the island took about twenty minutes as we made our way through the safe water channel marked by buoys...

Things just got more and more intense, the Irish Sea, I know, is not to be messed with and as things got continued to build - I had to change our destination, as we were getting thrown around a bit more than I would like. I kept the engine on low revs to help with the steering and keep us on course.

I don't really mind these conditions anymore, but the rig of this boat is a little old and as this yacht dips into the troughs between waves and the bow smashes through cresting waves the pressure on the rig is pretty intense


These conditions are not really all that bad - I can take it, but the boat is another matter - A serious problem with the rig cold end us as we just don't have the funds to make that kind of repair. Prevention costs a fraction of the cure...

I tried to radio a few ports and made a few calls to different places to see what our options were, and in the end, only one place made the most sense.


We were now headed to a place called Portavogie - not exactly a marina but rather an intense fishing village/town.

Our expected time of arrival was a few hours away and things were getting a bit hairy for the boat - I would like to point out that it was not raining, the water you see in the video below is saltwater from the almost constant spray of breaking waves on the bow. Best enjoyed in full screen and at full volume ;)

This went on for a few hours until we got to Potravogie, and even the approach was pretty intense, Sadly I don't have any pictures - I was a little busy for photographs - but the GoPro ran the whole time capturing footage from the starboard window.

Approaching Portavogie at low-water in these conditions is not a great idea, there are rocks all over the place and the entrance is quite a sharp turn to get in - with the waves picking you up and forcing you in directions you don't want to go in - some quick helming in required - its also quite shallow in places, and in the troughs of waves - at times we only had just over a meter of water under the keel - but we got in and all was well.

We circled the inner harbour a few times before a couple of fishermen told us where to tie up, as you can see this is not a marina but is, in fact, a full-on working harbour, we don't care, we were just happy to not be out in the weather anymore...

This place turned out to be a real treat, we will dedicate a full Ships Blog to just this place, some of you might not like it, but we found it to be one of the most real places ever...

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