I had a very early start at 0500. After collecting Deep Six
and donegaldan we had a two hour drive to Redbay during which time the day closed in completely. Despite the rain and the forecast wind there was a tidy bunch of diehards beginning to gather at the quay. At 1030, on flat water and in pissing rain, the following boats departed for the first leg direct to Ardbeg Distillery, Islay.
7.4m - open boat - gets Medal of Ardbeg (Post.)
6.5m - open boat - gets Medal of Ardbeg
- open boat, baby of fleet - gets Medal of Ardbeg and
Good speed was made to Torr Head where things started to get choppy. This deteriorated as we cleared Rathlin and became lumpy with bunched confused waves beaten up by a stiff northerly. If my homework was correct, we were in tide against wind territory. The rain was non-stop but about ten miles from Islay it eased up and the visibility improved. It got calmer in the lee of Islay and we arrived in Ardbeg about fifteen minutes after the "big boys". Deep Six
, at 6.1m the smallest boat in the current Redbay family had performed very well and is nicely balanced with the 140 Suzuki. Enough power to pull out of waves but light enough not to spoil the balance. We ran at speeds of between 28kts right down to 15kts in the worst bits. AT no point in the trip did we feel uncomfortable in the conditions experienced. Remember, we had made the same crossing two weeks before in similar conditions in the 1050, so we were very aware of the size difference!
Lunch in Ardbeg was very good. I grabbed a bottle from the shop, thus explaining why I was walking around with an largely empty Pelicase. A Peli 1400 is EXACTLY the right size to fit two boxed bottles of whisky.
We saddled up again and headed South for the western side of Rathlin. Viz was very poor and soon we were experiencing bigger swells - easily over 3m in places. The fleet was very spread out and we shadowed Wicklow Wave
for much of the way - maybe they were keeping an eye out for us? The rain became heavy and eventually Rathlin loomed up out of the filth - her cliffs appearing and disappearing behind the swell. Soon we were moored up and in the pub, where puddles spread around us as the rainwater worked it's way groundward. The group enjoyed the best of Guinness and fried Lough Neagh eels before heading back down to Redbay. On departure we got word from HQ to warn of flood debris along the coast and sure enough, we met floating trunks and branches in the chocolate brown water. Calm conditions meant good time back to the quay. After recovery, we dried off and headed to the Boat Club for a feed of pints, a cracking supper and a table quiz.
The next day we rose to find a Tall Ship in the bay. We met Ribochet who admired our van before showing us over Ricochet, his 7.4m ex-SAR boat. Fantastic craft - fully sorted. But that was it, time to go home. We have a bit planned for the season - local stuff, maybe a Donegal to Rathlin trip for the music and the Dunlaoghaire trip. There's a rumour about something further afield too, but enough of that for now...
Echoing sentiments above - many thanks to the Redbay guys and girls - great day, mighty craic!
P.S. Conor - we haven't forgotten