Missing Link log 11 June 1999

Crew: Kim Hollamby and Malcolm Threadgould.
From: Down Cruising Club, Ballydown Bay, Strangford Lough, NI.
To: Carrickfergus Marina, Belfast Lough, NI.
Port engine start hours: 377.8. Finish hours: 381.4. Hours run: 3.6.
Stbd engine start hours: 378.0. Finish hours: 381.6. Hours run: 3.6.
Log start: 4259.5nm. Log finish: 4315.4nm. Distance run: 55.9nm.

Navigation log (full commentary follows below)
1145: depart. Head down through inside of islands at slow speed.
1232: Brownrock Pladdy. Speed up to 22kn.
1255: alongside Portaferry Marina.
1450: underway. Speed 29kn.
1503: Bar Pladdy SCM. Turn to run for South Rock lightship. Wind: NE F3. Sea: slightly bumpy swell. Vis: 30nm. Speed 18kn.
1532: South Rock lightship.
1545: 54 27.10N 005 23.07W. Take photographs of Lord Nelson STS.
1606: Sculmartin SWM. Speed 22kn.
1628: 3.2nm off Templepatrick.
1640: Ninion Bushes PHM and through Copeland Sound. Interesting overfalls, not ugly in current wind, but could be! Once through speed to 30kn.
1710: inside Carrickfergus Marina entrance.
1720: alongside berth.

Kim Hollamby reports:

I’d seen pictures of the improbably sited lightship Petrel, headquarters of the Down Cruising Club, and the placid waters of Ballydown Bay over which she now stands sentinel. But you have to enter the tide-scoured narrows between Rainey and Sketrick islands to truly appreciate the sanctity of the place, a hideaway within the beautiful confines of Strangford Lough.

Dublin-built in 1911, the Petrel is of traditional iron rivetted and caulked construction, which makes her something of a rarity. Thanks to the goodwill of the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the ingenuity of Down CC members and a little negotiation in the style of the country in which they reside, the 172ft vessel found herself a new career, and a much more sheltered spot to lay, in 1968, around 12 years after the club was formed.Since then it has been a question of gently changing Petrel’s innards and some aspects of her outward appearance too. But although pontoons line her flanks, the original tall signal mast has been halved to ease maintenance and a bar, lounge and stage can now be found where cramped crew quarters, generators and fuel tanks once resided, there’s plenty left of the original for the intrigued visitor to explore. Perhaps of rather more practical interest, you can take a shower on the ship, or fill up with diesel from one of the modern tanks found on her deck.

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Close by you can find, almost equally improbably, a chandlers, and a large pub named in honour of Daft Eddy. According to local legend the poor lad was hopelessly in love with the daughter of a magistrate who was being held as a hostage by his mates. So intent on wooing was our Eddy, that he gave the game away. There’s nothing apparently daft about the way his namesake is run however and every table was full when Frank Robertson took us there to thaw out after our chilly exploration of Strangford Lough yesterday.

We have been experiencing a consistent weather pattern all week where the sun peeps out first thing in the morning and last thing at night, the rest of the day being socked in with grey cloud. I normally write these internet reports at around 7.00am, but by doing so had been missing one of the few opportunities to take photographs. So determined was I to capture Ballydorn Bay at its best that I stayed up late last night to finish off yesterday’s report and was jogged awake by the alarm, bleary-eyed but triumphant, to a sunny vista at 06.30am.


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