Up at 6am… a beautiful morning but alas no wind…. to the showers first. We planned to depart at 9.30am when the big tide that runs up and down the east coast of Ireland changes from north to south to the other way… and helps to carry Poli Poli northwards to the big marina at Dun Laoghaire ( and for those uninitiated like me… you pronounce this place as “Dunleary”.
Photo…. sunset the night before departure. Poli Poli on the Avoco river, Arklow, Ireland.
Various jobs have to be done before setting off…. make sure the water tank is filled, disconnect the shore power, winch handles into their special pockets in the cockpit, the spray hood and cockpit tent should be taken down, all the essential instruments should be turned on eg the two chart plotters, the VHF radio, Navtex, AIS receiver, Sea Me Radar transmitter, Radar etc etc, the main sail furling winch should be set to “out”, an engine check should be carried out… oil dip stick, coolant check, tension on alternator belt, amount of diesel in the fuel tank etc, and most important…the main engine sea cock sea water intake valve should be open, all instrument covers taken off… wind, depth, speed, auto pilot, and chart plotters… and a few more jobs as well. Make sure all the hatches ( windows ) are secured shut and watertight!!
The nineteen arches of the Avoco Bridge at Arklow, the morning of departure.
Before setting sail you also have to consider what will happen when the boat “heels” ie the whole boat will lean one way or another when the wind is in the sails… the heeling will be countered by the big one ton keel and two tons of solid grounding plate in the bottom of the boat.
So anything left out on a horizontal surface before heeling… ie plates, cups, the electric kettle, toaster, books in shelves, anything on the trays on the table in the saloon, in the two bathroom/toilets…. anything that will move… if not secured will fly across the boat from one side to another when she heels. Sadly sailing folk have been badly hurt when tins of food, plates or saucepans start hurtling across the galley or saloon when the boat is heeled under full sail. So what do we do on Poli Poli?
As a matter of good practice, before we depart we put up one of the lee cloths on one of the long saloon seats. This creates a safe place to store anything that will move when the boat heels….so books from the shelves, first aid kit, all torches from the shelves, kettle, toaster, cushions, trays, bowls of fruit, etc etc…. literally anything that moves. We check that every horizontal surface is clear of any moving object.
Photo… all ready to go at 9.30am Wednesday 4th July. Poli Poli at Arklow,
The same goes for the two “heads”… soap dish, liquid soap dispenser etc all go into the
sinks. In the two cabins… likewise… all things that can move are placed securely in the centre of the bed at as lower level as possible. It is not like driving off in a car… open the door, get in and off you go. Pre-sail stowage is vital and needs to be thought through.
The mooring lines and fenders will need to be looked at prior to departure… all the three mooring warps ( ropes ) that have secured the boat to the pontoon overnight need to be turned into “slips”… so they can all be let go from the boat… and nobody has to be on the shore side when they are released. Are all the fenders correctly positioned as the boat pulls away forwards or in reverse when she finally leaves? Where is the hull of the boat going to touch the dockside?
What seems a complicated long list of things to do, simply becomes a matter of routine that everybody knows and understands “why”… and of course it is good practice.. and keeps everybody safe and prevents damage to the boat. It does not take long, but we always believe it is a good 30 minutes pre-departure routine well spent.
So having done all the above we slipped our lines at 09.30 hours and set off down the Avoco River in Arklow for the Irish Sea. Once beyond the harbour breakwaters all the fenders and lines are stowed away safely so that the decks are clear.
It was a lovely morning…. still in shorts and tops… plus life jackets of course… as we motored out into the bay which is enclosed by a long thin, curved shallow bank of rocks called the “Arklow Bank”. This you cannot miss as there are six massive wind turbines …. this morning turning very very slowly, if at all in the south easterly breeze. We went “head to wind” and put up our main sail, just hoping that any available wind would fill it!! The big head sail followed.
The sea surface was a dark blue glassy, oily sheen, not a ripple to be seen. Waves of any description were absent… flat as flat as flat…. very different from the previous day when the white horses and one to two metre waves dominated. So the boat stayed virtually level…. no wind means no heeling!
Sure enough the tide turned at 9.30am and began to help push us northwards to the north cardinal buoy known as North Arklow… marking the top end of the dangerous rocky bank mentioned earlier.
Our route northwards would take us past the small town of Wicklow, the county town just south of Dublin. As was the case yesterday, we did not sail a route too far out to sea… we could view the coastline today very clearly in the early morning sunshine. Wicklow ( meaning the “church of the toothless one”! Work that one out! ) was backed by rolling hilis that merge into the Wicklow Mountains. What struck me was the depth of green… and the varying shapes… conical hills and one called the “sugar loaf” mountain. This lovely landscape continued all the way to Dublin Bay.
So we passed Mizen Head, Wicklow Head, Greystones ( a small town with a harbour ), Bray Head, and finally the red buoy known as Muglins off Sorrento Point. Parts of the coast were steep and rocky in brown merging to grey and black in varying shades of colour, off set with verdant greens above and into the hills and mountains beyond. As we rounded Bray Head, Mike pointed out the bay where he thought that Irish celebrities and stars had set up very posh and palatial homes… eg U2 star Mister Bono! He also owns one of Irelands most famous restaurants/hotel in O’Connell Street, in the centre of Dublin.
An uneventful “sail” … entertainment provided by the passing Irish landscape … working out which towns were which, the names of the mountains in the backdrop, and the wide sweeping bays. We had the occasional AIS target to monitor,,, and empty gas tanker heading south, a massive container ship also heading south and onwards to Antwerp in Belgium and a small coaster… literally hugging the coast coming south to Wicklow.
At 1.30pm …. four hours after leaving Arklow, we entered the huge outer breakwaters of Dun Laoghaire harbour marked impressively by two mini green and red separate lighthouses…. which you could not miss. Fenders and lines had already been put out ready for berthing…. another absolutely essential routine… never ever enter a harbour or marina without being ready!! And on both sides of the boat… as you do not know which side you are docking!
Photo… Poli Poli with dinghy in the massive Dun Laoghaire marina near Dublin.
Poli Poli at Dun Laoghaire Marina…. top centre, church spire and town centre, white building below is the Royal Irish Yacht Club ( Irish equivalent of the Royal Yacht Squadron in West Cowes, Isle of Wight ). Dun Laoghaire also has two other famous Irish yacht clubs here.. the Royal St. George and the Irish National Yacht Club.
Again there was no help in taking our lines…. but we docked safely in berth ND21 in Dun Laoghaire Marina and tied up with three warps… stern, midships and bow. A really huge 850 berth marina…. lots of lovely boats… but also lots of empty berths.
Photo…. Poli Poli in Dun Laoghaire Marina, near Dublin. Note the massive breakwater wall in the background. This hides Dublin Bay and the city itself.
Very different and the complete opposite of the small scale long pontoon side on berth of
Arklow or the enclosed, tight little stone harbour of Kilmore Quay. Very different. We are here now for three nights. Our second capital city…. with Dublin the capital city of the Irish Republic not a stone’s throw away next door.
Today’s mileage… 36.6 n.miles, duration 4 and a quarter hours Arklow to Dun Laoghaire.
913.3 n. miles from Eastbourne our starting point on 27th May, 2018.