Compared to our earlier passages the passage to Howth was relatively uneventful. We took advantage of the strength of the tide by timing our departure for 6:30am, about an hour after low tide to catch the force of the tidal streams going north. Unfortunately, instead of westerly winds they were more like northerly so we were forced to motor sail most of the way with just the main up. But we had 3 knots of tide at times so 5 knots became 8 knots and we raced towards Howth. On two occasions despite relatively light winds we came across overfalls. The first was Breaches Shoal which was marked on the chart, the second was between Greystones and Codling Bank and was not marked. As wind was against tide these were disproportionately rough and as we were pitching into the waves I was surprised at one point by the bow going under and the boat, despite the motor, coming almost to a halt. I noticed that the water became quite shallow over the shoal (of course) and then sloped steeply away into deep water resulting in these huge transitional waves.
We had several near misses that looked threatening. One a huge tanker that looked as if it was going to run us down and the other the Stena Ferry probably from Angelsea. Both in the end cut in front of us to go to Dublin by about 0.7nm but nevertheless their size made it feel like a few hundred yards! The AIS of course did predict they’d miss by that margin but I took regular bearings in the old fashioned way just to check.
The Stena Ferry reminded us of the time Rosamund & I took our bikes on the car to Angelsea and then came across on the Stena Ferry to Dublin. We cycled through Dublin to the railway station and took the train to Cork where we were met by Richard Beard who drove us to Lough Hyne near Baltimore where they have a most beautiful house on the Lough. We stayed there with him and Irene for a few days before cycling on round the South Westerly tip of Ireland. I remember talking to Irene about one of her outbuildings that was rather ruined. Richard had purchased a day boat and we had fun sailing round Baltimore bay. “Wouldn’t it be good if we had a boathouse” said Irene. I sketched something on a piece of paper and was amazed the next time we visited to see it not only built, but the boat in it and places to change and shower as well. It was no coincidence that several years later when Richard had given up sailing the boathouse became extra accommodation for the expanding family and friends.
Howth was everything our Irish sailing colleagues had promised. The House restaurant was also excellent. Rosamund and I both ate fresh crab and hake. The Howth Yacht marina was huge (300 berths) and extremely well equipped. There was also an excellent Marine Supply shop and chandlery nearby, so I took advantage of some free time to both refuel and calibrate the fuel tank. We had nearly run out of fuel on the last trip because I’d noticed that the fuel disappeared more quickly when near empty than when full – I later discovered that this was because most boat fuel tanks are triangular in shape in order to fit in the hull and fuel gauges do not compensate for this – my calibration showed that the 71 litre tank held only 28 litres in the bottom half of the tank and 43 litres in the top half.
At lunch time Rosamund and I left for Dublin on the Dart train. It was rather a culture shock to suddenly arrive in the centre of a busy city. We had different objectives for our visit – I wanted to focus on the waterfront, while Ros wanted to do some shopping. As we both wanted to visit Trinity College and go to see the book of Kells and have a Guinness afterwards – we ended up doing everything. The Guinness was a highlight as they were playing live music in the pub we chose in the Temple Bar area and for me the tall ship in the waterfront area was a highlight as it was the 90m training ship, the Cuauhtemoc (1,755 tons) from Mexico and was open to the public so I was able to see around it. I’m fascinated by these ships as my great-grandfather, Jean Canese, captained one like it in the late 19th century on voyages to New Zealand and back. The Cuauhtemoc was a modern version built in 1982.
Not sure what Joanna would have thought of the new architecture on the river front. The new exhibition centre was like a Guinness can tilted on its side – the swing bridge was more elegant but in contrast to all the other bridges.
It was a relief in a way to return to the peace and tranquility of the waterfront at Howth and we were pleased with our decision to eat again at The House.