The weather was dreadful on Thursday, but we blew up dinghy to go ashore and talk to secretary/admin officer of the sailing club and check that they were happy for us to use the club moorings. He was really friendly, didn’t charge us anything and even offered to drive us to the shops. We felt that was taking advantage – although wished we had accepted when we realised just how far away the shops were. In fact in the end it was so wet that we didn’t go at all. Still, we had plenty of food on board and sat out the rain feeling fairly cosy. The forecast was for the wind gusting force 7 for the next few days, so downloaded a few books…
On Friday morning the weather was better than expected. We went back to the sailing club, in search of a shower and a bit of company, to find that an older members’ coffee morning was in full swing. They were very welcoming, chatty and interested in what we were doing and we had a happy morning, topped off with a nice lunch at a local cafe.
Back on the boat we were beginning to think that we had been whimps for not sailing, when suddenly the skies darkened, there was thunder and lightning, very strong gusts of wind and big hail stones. We had made the right decision.
By Saturday it was really time to move on, but the forecast was still for strong winds so we didn’t want to leave the shelter of the Lough which is sheltered and relatively flat. We decided to go back towards the entrance, ready to leave tomorrow. We left in around 12 knots of wind and, as we only had a few miles to go, towed the dinghy rather than putting it away. Big mistake. Within 10 minutes of leaving the mooring the wind was gusting 25 knots and we were doing about 6 knots through the water with the genoa half furled and no mainsail. The wind continued to go up and down, but within half an hour it was up to 30 knots – and the dinghy broke free; the painter snapped. We had to put our man-overboard skills to the test – and it has to be said that I needed the practice… Hope it doesn’t happen for real – but at least I would do better the next time!
The dinghy was safely recovered and we anchored in Audleys Roads just next to Strangford with two other yachts and spent the afternoon listening to Wimbledon on the radio: Djokovic v Querrey, a really gripping match with a surprising result!