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Spruce Goose’s Travels – Part 3

Spruce Goose’s Travels (part 3)….

 Wednesday 26 June 2019 

We arranged a visit to the Laphroaig Distillery, fortunately only a half-hour walk away. The history of the family was very interesting, especially as one of them managed to sell the whisky to the USA during The Prohibition: it smelt and tasted so peaty, he convinced the authorities it was medicinal! We, of course, couldn’t leave without a sampling session and a visit to their shop. The sun shone all day, but it wasn’t hot.

Thursday 27 June 2019 

Today we visited the Bruichladdich Distillery. This was a bus ride away, which unfortunately took us past the Bowmore distillery which we had no time to visit. We had to cut short our afternoon visit to the Bruichladdich distillery due to bus times, but again the history and tour were very interesting and although this is home to my favourite gin, it has given me a taste for its single malt!

Again we had a sunny day, but without summer warmth.

 Friday 28 June 2019 

A sad day as we were preparing to leave without sampling the other seven distilleries on the island! We set off for Ballycastle in Northern Ireland with a reef in, but had to shake it out, only to repeat it a couple of hours later. It was a really difficult trip: we had a short choppy sea and very strong winds (we were told later by the Ballycastle Harbour Master 40 knots had been reported). The trip was only the same distance as Poole to Cowes, but it was quite a challenge, not only with the wind but various strong tidal streams to play.

Saturday 29 June 2019 

We couldn’t leave this area without a trip to the Giants Causeway, so we took a bus. It was spectacular, but the columns were much smaller than we imagined. During our visit, I spoke to a guide who told us the location of the filming of the series Game of Thrones, which happened to be on our bus route, so we visited the car park and rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede and Larrybane.

Sunday 30 June 2019 

We had another early this morning heading for Bangor, Northern Ireland, arriving at 1030. It was another white water trip complete with showers. We had enough time to explore this lovely, family-friendly town and to have an afternoon drink in the very welcoming Royal Ulster Yacht Club.

Monday 1 July 2019 

Today we visited Belfast which we discovered seems to be a vibrant up-and-coming city, at least in the centre. It is well worth a visit. We visited HMS Caroline, the last remaining WW1 battle ship, the Titanic Experience, complete with its tender and took a tourist bus around the city.

Tuesday 2 July 2019 

Feeling the need to experience some summer warmth and to attend to my neglected allotment we left the boat in Bangor and returned to Bournemouth via the Belfast-Birkenhead Stena Line & National Express.

Thursday 11 July 2019 

We returned to Bangor via a flight from Bournemouth to Dublin. We arrived on the boat around 2100.

Friday 12 July 2019 

Our next port of call was to be Dun Laoghaire located on the south side of Dublin Bay.  We set off at 0415 and arrived at 2030 following a fast reach with fickle, frustrating north-westerly winds of 10 – 20 knots.

Saturday 13 July 2019 

Rest Day in Dun Laoghaire. We spent it victualling & housekeeping in preparation for sailing further south tomorrow. Then we thought we would sample the hospitality of the two royal clubs in this huge marina complex: The Royal Irish & The Royal St George. They were both holding after-sail festivities following the conclusion of the biennial Volvo Regatta. The attendance at both clubs was unbelievable!

Sunday 14 July 2019 

We set sail at 0600 bound for Kilmore Quay. This is one of our favourite spots. We visited this marina twice in 2013 when we came to Ireland on our previous boat Red Rooster, to join the Irish Sailing Club in their Gathering. It’s a sleepy little village surrounded by countryside where nothing much changes, with a lovely sheltered beach and where the fishing boats & lifeboats slip quietly in & out.

 Monday 15 July 2019 

This was another rest day which we spent taking a coastal walk & having a barbeque on the sheltered beach.

Tuesday 16 July 2019 

We set off at 1130 heading for UK waters. It was a satisfying sail: sunshine, a constant wind and a smooth sea. The boat speed averaged 5 knots, day and night. During the night we witnessed a partial lunar eclipse, activity on an RFA ship and a tanker apparently at anchor in the middle of the Celtic Sea in 97 meters!

Wednesday 17 July 2019 

Several pods of dolphins came to greet us as we left Irish waters. This was the most sightings of cetaceans we have had during this adventure. We decided to drop anchor in the Helford River when we arrived in Cornwall. It had been a long sail and we were both very tired after a 33-hour sail. We had just settled when the rain arrived.

Thursday 18 July 2019 

Before heading for Falmouth, we journeyed up this very pretty river as far as Frenchman’s Creek.

Friday 19 July 2019 

Tucked up in Falmouth Haven Marina, we set off on foot to explore Pendennis and St Mawes Castles – in the high winds and heavy rain that had come in overnight.

Saturday 20 July 2019 

We motored up the River Fal this afternoon before dropping anchor at Channels Creek. Giles swam in the river.

Sunday 21 July 2019 

After a very peaceful night, we awoke to rain – again. At 0700 we monitored out of the river and then as the wind picked up we managed a sail to Fowey, arriving around lunchtime.

Monday 22 July 2019 

There was a thick fog this morning so we took a bus to Charlestown to visit the Shipwreck museum and the famous quay used in several film and tv productions, such as Hornblower, Taboo and Poldark.

Tuesday 23 July 2019 

Water in the bilge! We postponed our departure for 24 hours. By lunchtime Giles had control of the leak so we went for an afternoon walk in the shade of the trees on the Polruan side of the river.

Wednesday 24 July 2019 

At 0700 we toured the River Fowey before heading for the Yealm. It’s amazing how many wharfs and how much industry are hidden up river! The Yealm was as beautiful as ever and this time we used the dinghy to explore it before settling down for a peaceful evening.

Thursday 25 July 2019 

Having arranged a lift out at Queen Anne’s Battery tomorrow we arrived at the MDL Marina just before lunch. We walked around the quaint old city and Plymouth Hoe. It was another hot day.

Friday 26 July 2019 

We couldn’t leave Plymouth without organising a tour of its gin distillery, which was very informative and interesting.  We then moved the boat to the waiting pontoon for its lift out. The scrub off was very quick as only the rudders seemed to be affected and ABS Ltd fitted the broken guard on our bow thruster (the main reason for the lift out).

Saturday 27 July 2019 

As we weren’t setting sail for Dartmouth until 1100, we squeezed in a quick visit to the Mayflower Museum on the quayside. By the time we entered the Dart it was after 1700 so we moored alongside the town quay pontoon (1700 – 0800) and went for a meal to our favourite pub here, the Cherub (parts of which date from 1380).

Sunday 28 July 2019 

We left Dartmouth at 0600 heading for Poole. (We had hoped to visit Salcombe and Weymouth, but with the weather system arriving, we decided to press on.) Having motored almost to Portland we sailed the rest of the way in quite a stiff breeze. We arrived at our mooring at 1900 to a very warm welcome from our friends and the Commodore and his wife.

We have spent 58 days aboard the boat (excluding two nights at my sister’s and nine nights at home) and have travelled 2,158.1 nautical miles. We have experienced the good, bad and ugly of sea states, winds and weather, have witnessed the clutter in the North Sea from wind farms, oil rigs and gas fields and the unexpected tranquillity of anchorages in the far north west of Scotland.  We have also visited delightful places we would otherwise never have seen. What a holiday!


Northern Irish Coast

Giants Causeway

Ropebridge at Carrick-a-Rede

Dun Laoghaire Marina


Volvo Regatta


Kilmore Quay

Helford River


Pendennis Castle


River Fowey

Leaving River Yealm

Plymouth Gin Distillery


Cherub pub, Dartmouth


Safely back and celebrating their return



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