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Carlingford 14th August
14th August, 2005
Yesterday morning, in Rogerstown Inlet, we woke early. The tide was turning and Quintet was rolling like a pig. You had to hang on to stay in bed. So we got up.
You had to hang on to hoist the anchor it was that rolly. I suppose it's the result of a very long, heavy, solid wooden mast and shallow draught. It's certainly bloody uncomfortable.
I was still feeling very ill, not like me, and once we had hoisted sail and some toast, I did make coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice for Clive but I couldn't face it myself, I went for a lie down. I got up periodically to plot the hourly fix but managed to sleep through two of those before I eventually came back to life at around 1.15 in the afternoon.
By the time I was back on deck we had covered a good twenty six miles and were going strong, this time without much tidal assistance; there isn't much tide along this bit of the coast. The magical, mythical 'Mountains of Mourne' were emerging from the milky mist in front of us and the lighthouse with the romantic name of 'Haulbowline' was clearly visible, marking the entrance to Carlingford Lough.
Part of the reason for my rousing was that the boat was starting to heel with the strengthening and veering wind. I was called on to put in a reef, about four rolls in the main, to make the boat steerable. Even then Clive had the main feathered right out and we were still doing more than five knots, mostly in the right direction.
Not feeling that bright for the last couple of days, I hadn't paid much attention to navigational 'things' so, when I looked at the detailed passage notes for Carlingford Lough I was concerned to see that low powered, small vessels are unlikely to be able to motor against the stream in and out the lough. Tidal timing is all.
In a panic, I didn't really want to stay out here for up to six hours waiting for a tide change, I checked tidal variation for Carlingford and discovered that our timing was perfect. We were arriving at the leads at a little after half tide, on the flood, and would be carried up the lough at a good pace. Arse triumphs over class once again! Of course the strengthening north-westerly wind gave wind over tide and would inevitably make for a wet ride but I could always slope below and 'navigate'!
We passed Haulbowline Light at 2.30 and entered the lough proper. We were screaming along. Every time we crossed a shallow spot in the channel, the water stood on end, sending showers of spray the full length of the boat. Speed dropped from above six knots to a little less than four knots every time we hit one of these rough patches.
We wound our way up the lough, staying inside the channel markers and paying special attention to the direction that 'a vessel should reach buoy number 18 before turning to port and heading for the marina'. There is a long sand bank parallel to the fairway, lurking under this enticing patch of water which invites you to turn too early and ground in full view of the marina with appropriate embarrassment guaranteed to follow.
We wove a way through the small fleets of J24s and Flying Fifteens which were racing around the buoys just outside the harbour entrance.
We had contacted the marina for directions and to reserve a berth and had asked for a berth near the entrance as Quintet is hard to manoeuvre in tight situations and strong winds. We were allocated a spot on the hammerhead of the pontoon, just inside the harbour entrance. The Harbour Master even came down to direct us to the exact spot.
I was starving when we got in and immediately downed a couple of cheese sandwiches. Clive settled for a simple apple. And then it was showers and before we knew it, it was dinner time.
I had bought some chicken legs in Dun Laoghaire before we left thinking that I could marinate them in some soy sauce, Chinese five spice, garlic, ginger, honey and some vermouth and then throw them in the oven. It was on the way back to the boat that I remembered that we don't have an oven! They cooked fine in a covered pan. We served them with stir fried vegetables very much like the night before and a huge mountain of noodles which Clive insists is the right quantity but which I believe would feed half of Szechwan province. But it was very good.
Over dinner we calculated that our distance covered that day was almost forty miles. In eight hours that's an average speed nearing five knots. This Quintet is no slouch in the right breeze.
We finished the evening in the 'Deck' bar at the marina. I was still feeling rough so restricted myself to just a single pint. Clive had his usual minimum of three.
Today I have been feeling better. We got up late and at some time around noon we wandered into Carlingford village.
Carlingford was bathed in sunshine. I contemplated partaking of the local delicacy, green candyfloss, but decided I have lost enough teeth this trip.
Carlingford is a place of pubs! Or perhaps that's all of Ireland. We had been advised to visit P.J. O'Hares for the best craic. When we found it, it certainly was bustling, serving Sunday lunches and with an air of expectancy at the Sunday afternoon jazz which was to begin at 3.30.
Another Guinness or maybe two might have passed our lips before we adjourned to the yard where, pretty soon, there was hectic and urgent preparation for the arrival of the band. There were piles of empty crates and barrels placed where the band usually set up but it came as a surprise that they needed to be moved even though the jazz happened every Sunday. So why the surprise? Therese, a charming blonde who was helping with our research for this article, suggested that it's because it's Ireland.
The band, the Four Pennies' was really great and, in spite of many years playing, (they were not callow youths) full of enthusiasm. The audience loved them, especially their version of 'Are you lonesome tonight?' They kindly agreed to a photograph; 2oldgitsinaboat with 4oldgitsinaband!
When the band finished, we headed for Captain Correlli's Italian restaurant where excellent past was to be had. Then across to the bar opposite where we were almost caught up in a local disagreement and where we met a charming man named Ronan from just up the road, Newry I think.
The town of Carlingford was on the front line during the 'troubles'. There is still a feeling of subdued tension in the place in spite of its prettiness and mainly happy and welcoming people. I hope that as a result of the current peace process the people of Ireland will be allowed to live happy and peaceful lives from now on.
Clive and I walked back to the boat by different routes. I took the quiet back roads and he marched up the main road, without street lamps or pavement. So I never did see the ditch that he lay in for a while, waiting for me to catch him up.
He did seem surprised to see me when he finally returned to the boat some time later. Apparently he had tried to telephone me, I assume to ask me to help him out of his ditch, but his 'phone didn't seem to work properly'!