We pulled away from the quay in Belfast prompt at 0800 yesterday, Wednesday, on a quiet, still morning. Out on the Lough the clouds capped the green, green hills and the wind was ruffling the surface. Out of the channel we put the manta trawl over and for half an hour it was calm enough to seize up seaweed, crustaceans and whatever else we find when we can analyse it.
It wasn’t going to happen at the time. As we hauled it in, the forecast wind began to blow and soon was grey closed in and the rain began. The mainsail was set with two reefs, our course laid north east for one long board to Arran and off we went.
It was a hell of a sleigh ride. The wind blew a sustained 40 knots with gusts up to 46 knots while 2m waves surged and rolled and hissed beneath us. We enjoyed a good consistent southerly, giving us a broad reach with a strong preventer on the boom. The wheel was a living connection to gale and sea. It quivered and pulled, sometimes helping Sea Dragon find her course, at others pulling her away to Scotland or off to the outer Hebrides. Over the whole trip we averaged over 10 knots.
We stormed past the unmistakeable sugar load of Ailsa Craig to draw level with Holy Island, the small Buddhist islet protecting the bay at LamLash. Driving into the wind, we wrestled down the main sail, which needed both Cat and Holly’s weight to drag down the last few hanks. Hauling in the reeling lines, I leant forward just in time to get a faceful of cold sea water. That’s the dollop which meant my bra was wet when I finally got below.
Before then we came round into the beautiful bay and dropped anchor. We stayed in board all evening, reliving the highlights of leg 1 and laughing a lot; the night was calm and quiet, and my anchor watch at 0400 saw the sun rise slowly over the hills in hazy pink and gold.
The pix are Sea Dragon at anchor off the beach and a big panorama of the whole gorgeous bay.