First of all, we got the crew together - who had mostly not met each other before! Thankfully, we were mostly all from Edinburgh, apart from Stan, who we picked up from the airport on our way through to the west coast.
28/06/03: The plan for the first day was a short sail from Troon, over to Lamlash, where we would drop anchor for the night. On our way, we practiced some of the basic skills we would need, such as some pontoon bashing at Troon marina, tacking practice, mob drills, etc. Also gave the crew a chance to get to know each other, and work out everyone's abilities.
29/06/03: Our first big sail. A 10 hour hop over to Ballycastle Marina in Northern Ireland. A bit of sailing, a bit of motoring, and some great weather.
30/06/03: Up at 6am to leave Ballycastle for 6.30am. An 8 hour trip down the east of ireland to Carrickfergus. A few nights stay at the marina to take in some of the sights and get ourselves well rested for our next few passages.
02/07/03: After a few days rest, the crew are ready for another 7 hour sail further south, down the coast, to Strangford Lough, which is known for its strong currents. You guessed it, another 6.30am start! Apart from a 'gentle kiss' from the sandbank on the way out of Carrickfergus, we had a good trip down. More great weather, and just perfect wind to get some goose-winging practice! Strangford Lough has some really interesting overfalls, and its amazing to watch boats rip up and down, carried by the 7-9knot tides- definately not one to time wrong! Quite poor holding, so we had to drop anchor a few times. Also did an all-night anchor watch to make sure we didn't get any nasty surprises!
03/07/03: After everyone doing 2 hour rolling anchor watches, our skipper very kindly let us lie in until 7.30am! 10 hours later, we arrive in Dun Laoghaire (Dublin) where we plan to stay for a few nights for a few pints!
05/07/03: Dublin was great, to be sure, to be sure. The guys really wanted to see the Isle Of Man, so off we went on a long journey, in search for a single mooring buoy - the only one on the island big enough to hold our weight. So, 12 hours of listening to fishermen swearing on VHF later, we arrive safe and sound in Port St Mary on the south east corner of the island - where, thankfully, additional buoys had been dropped. After quite a long stay on the Isle Of Man, it was time to start heading for our final destination. Unfortunately, we weren't 100% sure we would have enough fuel, so we ended up carrying containers of deisel from the other side of the island by hand!!
08/07/03: Its 0200 hours - what does the 0 stand for? Oh my god its early!! A night sail out of Port St Mary towards Bangor - our final stop. About a 14 hour donk back over to the east coast of Ireland. We moored up in Bangor, had a wee night out on the town, cleaned the boat the next day, swapped over with the next crew, and finally caught the Seacat back to Troon.
Phew. At least 60 hours at sea, about 500 miles covered, and I wish we could turn around and do it all again!!! A great skipper, a super crew, a beautiful boat, and one of best holiday's ever! Thanks to everyone who made it possible, especially Robert for trusting us with his pride and joy.