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0024 - Loch Ryan to Belfast, Ireland

Lady Bay was a nice little anchorage, even if a ferry did pass just about every hour or so till quite late at night. It was a very pretty little place, I was glad we stopped up here and not down at the bottom of the loch - it was actually quite peaceful, most of the time.

Not saying the bottom of the loch, at the 'Wig' wasn't nice also, but the convenience of this place was good, as here, we were all set for the crossing to Ireland!

There was this farmhouse, just off the shore - You know, I kinda wonder who lives there...and gets to look at this place every day - I always think that when we visit some of the small places we go...there's always a little house somewhere...and someone lives there...

On the first evening, I noticed a strange humming - I couldn't quite locate the source for a little while - it came and went - every hour or so - bizarre.

After the fifth or so time, I finally discovered where the humming was coming from, it was coming from the mast. There is nothing in, or up the mast that could make that noise - yet it was definitely coming from the mast.

If I put my ear against the compression post and I could hear it. I happened to look out of the window and I could see a ferry going by, it passed and the noise stopped - about an hour later it happened again...

I still can't believe the noise, the vibrations were coming from the ferries 20,000hp engines...the ferry was a half-mile away... I suddenly felt sorry for all the fish and marine life that have to listen to that noise - all the time...I'd never even thought about it before, we always see these big ships, but never really consider those things, and the effect they have on ocean life...

It rained lightly and was just foggy for the next few days, nobody really went out on deck or even wanted to, it was just miserable really, but below decks, there was much play!

The girls were kept fully occupied with their toys and a fresh bag of catnip, as well as being very interested in what I was up to. I was trying to locate the source of some water in the bilges - It still remains a mystery, as such - water not salty enough to be entirely salt water, but a mixture of fresh water and saltwater, or freshwater mixed with old crystalized saltwater from a previous intrusion - ahh, the plot thickens...I have yet to locate the source............hmmmmmmmm

Well, there was one day, that had a few hours of relative dryness and the crew were quick to let me know this - some gentle pawing at the companionway hatch was all I needed to see to know what was wanted...

On the third evening I heard the soft rumble of an engine, and not one of the many ferries or fishing boats, and it was getting closer. Living in just about complete silence for a few days gives you the strange acute ability to hear even the smallest noises that are unfamiliar, and uncommon to that situation. Another boat was coming in to anchor in 'our' bay...and that's fine, we don't own it or We were floating above our anchor as the water was very still and there wasn't much wind and the new boat was anchoring a little too close. I hailed them on the radio just to let them know that we were floating above our anchor as opposed to at the end of our chain - I explained that from their angle they couldn't see our anchor tripping line.

Upon learning that we were using a tripping line, they decided to use one also - and also put a bit more distance between us - no one wants things to go bump in the night! A tripping line, if you don't know, is just an extra line on the anchor to a small float, and should your anchor get jammed on a rock or something - It's just a way to un-foul the anchor - I've never had a jammed anchor before, but one can see our float in the picture below.

The next morning we didn't have to leave too early as the crossing isn't terribly far but the current would be against us if we left too early, not that the currents were all that strong, but maybe a convenient excuse to sleep a little longer... Although, I don't really like to sleep late these days, sleeping late can become a bad habit if you're not careful.

Pulling up the anchor was no problem and the tripping line was not needed on this occasion, but, better safe than sorry - I had been warned about this area - best to err on the side of caution, and maybe I'm still a bit spooked from our last anchoring bonanza...

Before leaving, I drifted over to our new neighbors to say good morning and to 'journey well' as I saw them having breakfast in their cockpit - they seemed like good people, I doubt I'll ever see them again, like most other people I meet...however, occasionally I get surprised by someone who says - 'Hey, you get about, I saw you in such'n'such a place' - A familiar face can be nice sometimes.

As we left the bay, it was still a touch foggy, but it was a nice feeling, because today - we are going to IRELAND!!!!

Ireland is one of these places I've always wanted to go, but never really had the opportunity, and we had been told of a very economical marina in Belfast by a kind Irishman I had briefly met in Portavarde while we were getting some fuel, and the marina in question was only 10 mins from the city center.

Cities really aren't my thing, by its Ireland, and I would give it the benefit of the doubt as I haven't been to Ireland before and why not, right? I've only ever heard good things about the place.

After dodging some ferries on the way out, we were on our way.

We took one last look at Scotland (below) and wondered if we'll be back this point, I really don't know - it made me a little sad actually - Scotland has been our home for some time, and leaving our sanctuary of familiarity is a strange feeling...I think I'm going to miss it, but onwards and upwards...or something like that.

As soon as we had passed the ferries we began to catch the wind, and as Scotland vanished into the background we could soon see Ireland. But something wasn't going according to plan - the winds weren't quite what I was expecting or what was predicted and weren't entirely favorable and as a result, we would have to go North-West for a bit before heading South-West, a sort of zig-zag...but they were totally workable.

The sail over was awesome, the winds were nice and strong, and a pleasant 18-23 knots of wind was ideal for us! I shot a little video on the GoPro as the sailing was so good!! Just flying along...!

After an hour or two we could finally see Ireland, and I have to say the excitement is just building - I am so excited to be finally be going to Ireland - I can't explain it, but I've heard so much about this place, I want to see if it's all true…

It's a little bitter-sweet as I know we won't have much time here, the weather is changing, and we do need to be quick, but I'm going to take our time where we can, to soak as much of it in as we can! In the video below you just see Belfast Lough which is the bay that leads up into Belfast! So excited right now!

As we got closer still, more and more detail began to come in to view, we were getting so close, I swear I could smell it! Don't know if I actually could, but I sure felt like I could!

Seeing it off in the distance, the excitement just continues to build!

As we approached, there was a huge ship dead ahead, you can just see in a few of the pictures above, checking the AIS, we could see it wasn't moving and was anchored.

Time for a closer look.

These huge ships really make you feel like you are sailing a toy, these are bloody huge ships and there will soon be a lot more of them - If you haven't realized yet - we are heading to the Titanic Quarter of Belfast where one of the most famous ships ever built was constructed...

As we got into the bay, the winds changed and were right on the bow, so we dropped the mainsail and furled in the headsail, and we swung in for a closer look at Bangor, we may stop in there on the way back! As I understand it, it's a very happening little place!! From out here, it looks very colorful, kinda like Tobermory - just much bigger!

As we got further into the bay, things picked up considerably - wind-wise - what was a comfortable 20 knots now whistled down the bay at 26 knots and gusting up to 30 knots! Without the sails up it wasn't an issue, maybe a few extra revs on the engine to keep our speed up.

We also had to adjust our angle to the oncoming waves as the loud smacks on the hull were a tad perturbing. I mean, the waves were not all that big - but still, I'm sure, not good for the boat... and spray was pretty constant too..

We only saw one other boat out here, going the other way with the wind behind them, I watched them for a little while - they were having fun out here in the higher winds. They must have had a shallower draft than us, because we couldn't be where they are.

The water here quickly goes from plenty of depth to not much at all, and that's the reason for the dredged channel that exists, primarily for the huge ships that transit this area, that we would see shortly.

In order to get to Belfast, we have to continue to navigate some shallows and then enter a controlled channel but on the way, things seem to brighten up and conditions eased as we got closer and closer to that channel.

...and as we got further up the bay, the land was closing in also! Things were getting interesting indeed!

The channel is about 5 miles long, but we wanted to be in it as little time as possible, so we went as far as we could until the depth started to drop off. Now you can't just enter the channel, you must get clearance from the Belfast Port Authority who manages it.

We called up and were given permission to enter the channel between no.8 and no.10 port-channel markers, and maintain a constant heading on the starboard side of the channel as to not get in anyone's way - and we did just that - and we were on our way into Belfast - woot woot! You could see the Belfast industrial ship works looming in the distance!

Once into the channel we were only able to make about 5 knots and couldn't help but be passed by a huge ferry - it's an interesting experience getting passed by such a huge ship at speed, and this fella was going fast.

But somehow the wake wasn't bad at all, we're used to being chucked about a bit by the wake of these huge ships!

And the channel is lined with these huge channel markers, they are much larger than the usual buoys that mark some of the smaller channels we transit.

With each passing marker, we get closer and closer to Belfast!

After getting through the channel, we found ourselves in with all the big boys, this was not a place for a tiny yacht, but still terrifyingly impressive to see such industry at work.

Just incredible to see these huge ships and as we passed the ferry that passed us earlier still docking - and as we passed our tiny home was almost spun 180 degrees as they were using their thrusters to press the ship against the pier - this always happens to us, you could see all the turbulence in the water, and we always get tossed about like a toy by those things. Just soo much power in those huge ships.

As we passed through the docks the light was beginning to fade and in that light, even industrial works can look quite imposing...

Nearly at the end of our wee journey, we neared the City of Belfast, and already it looks awesome. I don't usually leave or stray too far from the docks when we get somewhere, but on this occasion, I intend on making an exception, this is Ireland after all!

With soo much history on our 'doorstep' I feel obligated to go and look at it all! but we were pretty much there, in a few minutes I will have to put down the camera and get us secured to a pontoon...