Day 8 – Irish Sea

The fleet arrives in Portaferry Marina after a short passage from Ardglass


Position 54° 22.75 N 005° 32.92 W Portaferry Marina, Northern Ireland

The decision to stop at Ardglass last night before the trip here to Portaferry was a sound one. Coming into Strangford Lough, in which Portaferry sits, we witnessed whirlpools, a racing incoming tide and some very confused water. It was reassuring knowing there was 700 horses under our feet. And this was coming up to neaps and just after slack water!

As Calm Voyager moored, the larger Jolica II and Dragonfly were forced to wait in the Lough. Before we knew it they had been dragged a fair way down the waterway. Both had to stick on the throttle to get back to the marina.

This was the closest to drama the fleet got today after the six-mile passage from Ardglass. Once tied up in the marina, everyone took the opportunity to explore beautiful Portaferry. The town sits opposite Strangford on the other side of the Lough. Like other towns we’ve visited, this one has a castle and its share of narrow, winding streets.

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The harbourmaster and friendly nearby boaters were quick to fill us in on the goings on. Last night was a big one for Portaferry, as it saw the year’s big float competition. From what we could gather, rival pubs build floats that are judged by a team of local dignitaries. The winning pub gets the honour of having the cup (a chamber pot) escorted in a coffin to its doors by the previous year’s winner (the subject of the third photo). Of course, stops are made along the way at various pubs and the chamber pot is filled and drunk from.

Tomorrow is a rest day, after the gruelling six-mile passage from Ardglass. It’s a short ferry ride across the Lough to Strangford, so that may well be on the itineraries of captains and crews.

On Calm Voyager, our quest for fresh fish paid off handsomely today when Keith and Ann from Sea O2 pointed us to a local fisherman unloading his catch on a marina pontoon. We rushed over, and the gentleman very kindly filleted, cleaned and bagged six of seven freshly caught mackerel. He denied payment, but did accept a bottle of wine from the Calm Voyager cellars. The mackerel is currently sizzling in the frying pan, after cooking tips were gleaned from various cruise participants.

He also mentioned that at 11am tomorrow morning, the local langoustine fisherman would be pulling up at a pier not far from the marina?


Seascape IV in front of Strangford
Chris and Carolyn from Dragonfly talk to Neale in Portaferry
The trophy changes hands


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