Monday, 30 June 2014

The Strangford Narrows

When I set out so carefully this morning to establish the correct time to safely leave Carlingford and enter Strangford, I was certain that the times were correct. The exit from Carlingford worked precisely right, and we got our tidal gate at Strangford exactly on cue.

However, although we were careful to time our entrance so that we missed any huge turbulence and standing waves on this, a springs day, in fact we instead were treated to the most extraordinary conditions.

We had deliberately chosen to time our arrival at Strangford for an hour before slack water, and expected a powerful spring tide to simply take the edge of our progress.

What we got was four miles of churning water with massive tide against us, and whirlpools and eddies.  It was one of the most challenging passage I have ever made. But great fun.

The tide was consistently running at an astonishing 8 knots against us at its worst. Our engines were producing around 10 knots through the water at one point, and yet the 8 or 9 knot tide reduced our progress to a mere 1 knot.  Over the following four miles, there were many gigantic whirlpools around fifty feet across, there were waterspouts, there was breaking water, and in the eddies the surface of the sea actually bent downwards. Astonishing. Little eddies ran all over over the sea, the boat is not small by any means, yet Alexandria writhed and skewed on her bearing as the whirlpools  did their work.

It was a very difficult passage and yet, as we neared the marina,the tide slackened completely

A day to remember, especially as I am pleased to note that Andy joined us today.

Tomorrow, we will likely stay in Strangford loch, then meet Charles in the late afternoon. I might plan a passage  to Isle of Man if everything aligns the following day.

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