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Redbay Ardbeg Trip 2006 Report
Redbay Boats 30th Anniversary was celebrated with the Annual trip to Ardbeg, on Saturday 5th May. After a great spell of settled weather, it was hoped that the calm conditions would continue over the weekend. Although the conditions were far from the sun-bathing conditions of last year, the seas proved much more fun and probably brought more satisfaction and confidence in their RIBs to all who took part.
41 RIBs attended the event, the largest ever to date. There were 11 x Stormforce 11, 11 x Stormforce 8.4, 8 x Stormforce 7.4, 6 x Stormforce 6.5 and 6 x Stormforce 6.1 RIBs. This amounted to well over 200 people taking part in the anniversary outing.
At 11:15, the flotilla of RIBs of all sizes and models left Cushendall heading directly to Ardbeg. Conditions leaving Cushendall were good, with warm clear skys and only a slight chop in the bay. As the fleet passed Cushendun and Torr Head, the Southerly Force 4-5 winds had started to create a fairly moderate sea. This provided an exhilarating ride, as the RIBs surfed their way downwind heading Northwards to the Scottish Island of Islay, arriving at around 13:00 as planned.
Ardbeg is situated about 5 miles from Port Ellen and the distillery includes an excellent restaurant and visitor centre. As the procession of RIBs made their way through the rocky channel to tie up off the pier at Ardbeg, participants where treated to a truly warm welcome, complete with Scottish Piper. The mood at the distillery was very relaxed and spirits buoyant, helped along by some live music, and a fantastic three course buffet lunch.
The fleet then left Ardbeg at around 15:25 to head back towards Cushendall, but first making a stop at Rathlin. Shortly after departing, the winds continued to freshen as forecast, to around Force 6 (gusting to Force 8), with the sea becoming rougher. However, this didn't disrupt the RIBs, and the fleet continued without any problem with the sea now on the bows. Arriving at Rathlin, the conditions on the south side of the Island were much calmer and allowed some even the opportunitiy to put in a spot of water-skiing!
Leaving Rathlin at around 17:30, the group made its final leg back to Cushendall. Conditions had improved now, and the RIBs made their way home hugging close to the Antrim Coast, arriving back in Cushendall at around 19:10.
Ardbeg 2007 proved to be a complete success and was a fitting way to celebrate 30 years of boat building, with so many RIBs crossing the Irish Sea in rough conditions without any problems. Commendations must be made to the helm and crew of each RIB, who handled their craft excellently on the sea. It was also fitting to see a good representation of all the models from 6.1 to 11 metres at the event.