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News from the North, By Maeve Bell
November 2022

Rallies made a welcome return this season with an
enjoyable get together in Portaferry and Ardglass at the start of June while an inland gathering on Lough Erne towards the end of September brought the season to a close. We were delighted to welcome visiting members from Eastern region to the fi rst and members from every region to the second.

Many congratulations to our Vice Commodore Derek White and his wife Viv who barely took time to recover from organising the spring rally before setting out in Ballyclaire to join the West’s Awake Rally. After enduring that I could absolve myself from any navigational responsibilities as there are thousands of islands, skerries, and rocks ranging in size from something barely suffi cient for a lonely seabird to perch to those large enough for communities to live on year round. Ballyckaire arriving at Clare Island after an “interesting” journey. the sort of conditions on the north coast which would  have defeated lesser mortals, they made it to Clare Island to join the rally, continued to Inishbofi n where they were storm- bound for days, and finally enjoyed better conditions at the event in Laurence Cove before completing their circumnavigation.

Others had their share of  tribulations too. Peter Bullick and Rosemary Stevenson in their Rustler 36 Kittiwake left Bangor, heading into a fresh northerly. Peter says the boat was handling like  a perfect dream but, when they left Gigha for Oban two days later, the engine stopped a mere 100 metres from the pontoon they had just vacated. No propulsion, no wind… but their luck was in. Another yacht was departing at the same time and towed them back to the pontoon. The problem was dirty fuel. The twelve hour shake up from Bangor via Glenarm had played havoc with the 200 litres of nice clean fuel. Further problems cropped up, so they never managed to reach the Outer Hebrides but nevertheless had an enjoyable number of weeks.

Des Brown’s sailing was also limited this summer. Des tells his story on page 25.

Alan Leonard had a happier experience. He was in Scottish waters for 10 days with his son and daughter in law who are mountaineers, so a deciding factor in where they went was that there should be mountains to climb! First stop was Craighouse, Jura, from where  he younger generation ran from the anchorage to and then over the Paps and back to Craighouse, returning in time for lunch! Loch Tarbert & Port Ellen completed the circuit, then home via Ballycastle & Bangor.

Others cruising in Scotland this summer included Frank Smyth, Myles and Brenda
Lindsay, Gregg Taylor, and Oliver Lynas. Derek Jones, meanwhile, spent most of
his time refi tting the Dehler he had just bought but was delighted to take part in the regatta at Quoile with three generations of his family on board.  Graham Chambers joined Adrian and me in Sweden. He summed up his first impressions as follows. “The first morning, a chart of the Stockholm archipelago was opened. This was to be ‘The Map of the World’ for the next few days I was very happy  Very soon, it was obvious what was in store: There were islands of all sizes, narrow passages, large areas of open water, yachts of all shapes and sizes, power boats, RIBs, anything that fl oats. There were also ferries, both fast and slow. It was certainly a very busy scene when compared with a quiet summer’s day on Strangford Lough.”

“A two-week Greek flotilla – what could be better!” writes Margie Crawford. “At the start of June three other girls and I joined a fl otilla at Astros on the Peloponnese east coast. For the past five years Rachel and I have been introducing friends to sailing by inviting them to join us on these fl otilla holidays.” “On day one after the usual brie fi ng, we set off for Navplion 10 miles away. Within an hour we had gone from sunny blue seas and a gentle 7 knots of wind to 35 knots with thunder, lightning, and lashing rain. Luckily, we had stowed the sails in time and had the motor full on just to keep head to wind. Twenty minutes later the system passed, and we were back to sun and blue seas. This was a bit of a trial by fi re for Hanna who had just started sailing and for Sarah who had limited experience.”

“Every day was different, sometimes quite volatile while at other times we had no wind at all. Lazy lunches were spent anchored in small bays, swimming and snorkelling. On calm days we occasionally swam way offshore with who knows how many meters of water beneath us!”

Finally, a taster from what will surely be a fascinating log. Andy McCarter relates: “Paddy and I sailed Gwili 3 to La Gomera in the Canary Islands in summer 2007
and, although we’ve enjoyed the intervening years of winter sailing in shorts and t-shirts immensely, we began to yearn for home. This was partly to undertake some much-needed re fitting (Gwili like myself no longer   a spring chicken!) and partly through a growing desire to revisit old haunts on the Scottish  west coast and around Ireland.” “Our original plans were to make the voyage back in 2018 but our Volvo Penta engine decided she didn’t want to leave La Gomera, and we ended up losing the best part of a year. Shortly after the new engine was installed, I paid the price of running a hill walking business in my retirement and went into hospital for a bit of a refit myself. I am now the proud owner of two titanium knees and a ceramic hip. Recuperation delayed us another year during which we were fortunate to
fi nd a very competent and reliable marine engineer who undertook Gwili’s refit in Tenerife. Our plans were pushed back to spring 2020. We fl ew home for a
final jaunt and promptly found ourselves locked down due to Covid. The boat remained in Tenerife, while we went into confinement in Derry. Gwili3 stayed put until 17th May this year when we finally left intending to return via the Azores.”

As you can imagine, further adventures ensued. They fi nally reached Lough Swilly on 11th July. Welcome home from all of us.