The weather forecasts have been confusing. We are using three main sites: wetterzentrale, windguru and pocketgrib for grib files as well as the usual UK shipping forecasts and navtex. A couple of days ago they all said that we might expect to have westerly winds today, but things seem to have changed… There was no fog when we woke up – at 5.30am – so decided to leave for Holyhead hoping for the westerly wind to fill in. The first 5 hours were very wet, and the wind was on the nose – i.e. easterly – but at least we sailed. It gradually veered and for a short time we thought we might actually end up reaching in the right direction, but the wind dropped and we had to put the engine on – for another 6 hours. Once again the fog came down and visibility was down to about 200 metres. It was really scary as some very fast ferries come in and out of Holyhead on the route to Dublin, and we couldn’t even see the entrance until we were nearly on top of it. The strange thing was that once inside the harbour the marina itself was bathed in sunshine.
Another half empty marina, with very good facilities, so we will sleep very well tonight.
Still no wind but we didn’t want to stay in Greystones any longer as it has little to offer except scenery – which we couldn’t really see! The visibility had improved a bit so we decided to go to Howth – a village just to the north of Dublin Bay which, according to our pilot book, is a good starting point for crossing back to Wales.
We phoned in advance to check that there would be space for us – and it turned out that there was some sort of international sailing event going on there over the weekend and they couldn’t fit us in – so we changed our plans and instead went to Dun Laoghaire.
In Dun Laoghaire we had a choice of either going to the marina or the Royal St. George Yacht Club. They are next door to each other and, simply on the basis that we had washing to do, we decided to go to the marina. Dun Laoghaire is another place that’s been hit by the recession in Ireland. The big marina has good facilities, lots of hi-tech (the entry gates use finger print recognition!), but a lot of empty spaces – filled with enormous seagulls and their deposits… However, it was a good choice. Slightly cheaper than Greystones, and very friendly.
Irish Lights HQ in Dun Laoghaire harbour (equivalent of Trinity House
The weather is still rubbish. Odd moments of sunshine interspersed with fog and/or rain. Had a walk up to a village called Dalkey, but got absolutely soaked on the way back. Still, being a Saturday, it was nice to see lots of boats out in the bay trying to sail. The seas are so quiet on weekdays that you wonder if anyone else is out and about.
Georgian seafront at Dun Laoghaire
We We had a night in Dun Laoghaire on our honeymoon, and Richard also came here to a Laser team racing championships in about 1977, but it has changed so much that neither of us recognised it. The championships were held at the St. George, so for old times’ sake we went there for a drink on Saturday night – but it was deserted. We spent a half hour talking to a New Zealander who was also a visitor, and then gave up and went to bed.
Left Arklow at 7.30 am – late by recent standards! Once again visibility wasn’t that great, but we thought it would improve… it didn’t. It got steadily worse and we had another miserable motor in thick fog but at least the strong tide was with us. Thank goodness for radar and AIS although it was hard to see the fishing floats and we heard on the radio Wicklow lifeboat being launched to assist a yacht with a fishing float line wrapped around its propeller. We had been in two minds about whether to push on to Dun Laoghaire, or stop at a small town called Greystones about 10 miles further south. There was a slight break in the weather as we neared Greystones, so we went for it. Thank goodness, because almost as soon as we arrived, the fog closed in again. A disappointing day in that we couldn’t see anything, and it turned out the Greystones Marina, which has very limited facilities, was quite expensive.
Still it gave Richard a chance to do some jobs on the boat. One of our biggest problems since leaving on this journey has been to keep all our various mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, etc.) charged up. We only had one rather wobbly USB adaptor in the one 12V lighter socket in our chart table console – but now we have three. Richard fitted a new fixed double USB socket plus a replacement 12V lighter socket for the inverter, etc., and a very neat job he made of it too. Also, while in Arklow we bought an Irish Vodafone data sim card for our dongle so we can now be back in regular touch with the world, as marina wi-fi is, to say the least, a little unreliable and slow.
Woke up the next morning to find that the weather had not improved. It was just about all right in Greystones itself, but thick fog out to sea so there seemed little point in pushing on. Instead we caught the very regular and inexpensive Dart train into Dublin, spent a very happy day sightseeing, had a very good lunch and soaked up the atmosphere of a vibrant capital city.
Trinity College Dublin
Temple Bar, Dublin
County Wicklow is described as the “Garden of Ireland” but we saw absolutely nothing in the mist yesterday. We therefore decided to stay in Arklow for the day. Our first stop was the Tourist Information Office. It wasn’t a good start. When the man there found that we didn’t have a car he was at a loss to suggest anything for us to do in the town! We were therefore left to our own devices.
Our new friend, Ken, had told us that a nearby village called Avoca was worth a visit. It was only a 15 minute bus journey, but there was no return bus. Feeling that we needed to stretch our legs, we took the bus anyway, and had a great time.
Fitzgerald’s Pub – featured in Ballykissangle
The village’s main claim to fame is that its pub was used in the TV series Ballykissangel – that didn’t mean much to us as we had never seen the programmes.
However, it also has an old mill where they make the most amazing hand and machine woven articles – all in vibrant colours.
We had a lovely afternoon going round that and then, surprisingly, enjoyed our walk back to Arklow. The countryside really is beautiful. Green and fertile with rolling hills and, again, masses of wildflowers.
Most of the walk was on the road, but we had understood that one bit would be through some woodland. We stopped to ask directions from some local people, only to find that they were in the process of putting a vintage First World War Napier lorry away in their garage, as well as various other old vehicles that they had taken to an event over the Irish bank holiday – so that kept Richard happy for quite some time. The woodland walk petered out so it was back on the road to find our way back to Arklow for a well earned shower and then supper.
First World War Napier Lorry