The Swedish, the Welsh and the Irish

July 23, 2017

With the boat put on location in Belfast for flights arriving from Copenhagen and Cardiff, things were off to an easy start for this group of friends who were having their annual 'meet up' together on private charter (as they did last year).

Five lads, three from Wales and two from Sweden, make a point of meeting up once a year for a weekend of adventure. July 2016 was their first taste of sailing and they came back in 2017 to do it all over again.

They had explored some of Scotland's west coast in 2016 with our three night island hop . This time, they wanted to taste life in our capital city and experience the beauty of this stunning coastline. Good sailing and decent weather, allowed us to put a fair few miles under the keel over the weekend. With the transfers in place for collections from both international and city airports, we all met on board on the Thursday evening. Arrival was early enough to allow a stroll around Belfast's city centre and sample some local cuisine and a few beers at the Spaniard, the National and McHugh's.

Friday morning was relaxed with a walk to St Anne's Square for brunch before Titanic Belfast, HMS Caroline and some photo opportunities around the industrial side of the city, including the domineering cranes Samson and Goliath at H&W. We slipped lines at around 3:00pm for our short sail to Bangor. A brisk southerly called for a reef in both sails but our passage was fast. We cruised comfortably at around 8kts the whole way to Bangor.

Friendly pubs & live music

What's not to love? Jenny Watt's is a favourite having berthed in Bangor's large marina where we had all the amenities we needed. The extensive menu, live music and traditional decor make for a warm welcome. The service is excellent and the guys enjoyed some good Guinness and indeed were quite taken by their first sample of Hop House 13.

Appropriate restraint ensured that they were still able to enjoy our 60nm sail on Saturday. North across Belfast Lough took us in the direction of The Gobbins, The Maidens, Fairhead, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle, The Skerries and Ramore Head before arriving at our destination of Portrush. Each one, and many in between, make for the most stunning of views that can really only be fully appreciated from the sea. I never tire of them.

Ramore Head and the finest restaurant

As we berth at Portrush Harbour, the harbour master welcomes us onto the pontoon. Six showers later (not each), we're all refreshed and ready to explore. An exhilarating walk around Ramore Head to stretch the legs sets us up perfectly for the best Guinness in Northern Ireland. The Harbour Bar serves just that. Three courses in The Mermaid restaurant doesn't ever disappoint and this was no different. We had a mega foodie and wine guy on board. "That's one of the best starters I've ever eaten" was enough for me to know it had been a good call.

Saturday evenings in Portrush are about as good as Saturday evenings get. Plenty of boats in the harbour, the town busy with holiday makers and locals alike and the bars lively with music makes for a great atmosphere. The yacht club provided the night cap for a good night's sleep before our early sail back to Nebraska's home berth at Ballycastle. Fair winds with only a little chop, let us revisit Ramore Head, The Skerries, Dunluce Castle and Carrick-a-rede in the morning light.

Until next year guys...