The Isle of Man

We sailed to the Isle of Man on Monday – leaving with almost no wind and being happy to eek out 3 knots. We ended the sail some 5 hours later with double reefed main and small jib in 25kts! We anchored off the small town of Laxey as close as we could the the shore to get shelter from the wind. This was our first experience of anchoring in a location with over 20ft tides – you really have to know what state the tide is at when you drop the hook and what’s it going to be at – deepest and shallowest through the night… We managed quite well sitting in about 4M at low water, 10M at high with 40M of chain out. Unfortunately, the wind was holding the boat at 90 degrees to the swell – so we rocked and rolled all night long!

We didn’t even get off the boat – upped anchor the following morning and headed for a sheltered harbor – Port St. Mary on the South Western tip of the island. Since we were already uncomfortable, we decided to depart early and deal with some negative current… (OK Stupid Move!!!)

What a trip! We started off with 35kts! (fortunately from behind us) and made our way down the coast with an adverse current – wind against current is not good – and it kicked up a violent chop. We had to give  the southern head, Deswick Point, a wide berth since the current there was 5kts against us!!! We therefore went 5 miles off shore to avoid the worst of it – still getting 2.5kts against us. The worst of it was then having to make the final stretch INTO the wind which was still blowing 30kts and still a violent chop. It took forever to cover the last 5 miles and we arrived weary but into a nice sheltered anchorage (with wind only blowing 25kts) and secured with some difficulty to a visitors mooring. 15 miles as the crow flies, 30 miles and 6 hours by Toodle-oo!

The following day when talking with the Harbor Master he commented that they had watched us arrive – they being a crowd at the local pub I gather – we must have made a sorry sight! Later that day we bumped into a couple of golfers – one of which said – oh – you were in that boat beating across the bay!!!! Everybody’s watching our antics it seems!

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The Isle of Man is really nice. Rolling hills, excellent walks, interesting transportation opportunities (steam train, electric tram, horsedrawn trams and cog railways) which can be sampled on a one day ticket – along with the bus.  We had a really nice walk down to the Calf of Man – the south west tip – where brave sailors can sail through a narrow cut and shave a good amount of time off their journey – but have to plan (better than us) to ensure current is going the right way – as standing waves are not uncommon there. When we arrived (on foot) the tide was almost slack, but there was still signs of standing waves!

In the early evening, back on the boat we watched the RNLI Lifeboat head out of the harbor at full tilt… Less than an hour later it arrived back with a 30ft sailboat in it’s care – they’d lost power in the calf and were slowly but surely being swept to the rocks! Interestingly in the UK the RNLI is funded by gifts/donations only and there is no charge made to those that are rescued. Moreover, you don’t already have to be in dire need (like in the water) for them to come out and get you. The US Coast Guard could certainly learn something here!

Unfortunately, our visit to the Isle of Man was cut miserably short due to the impending arrival of some severe weather that was forecast to stick around for several days – so we reluctantly made our way to Bangor in Northern Ireland where we’ll park the boat for a month while I fly off to India for a couple of weeks and while Laurie has her friend Sandra aboard…

Fortunately, the crossing to Ireland was not difficult – with light winds unfortunately pretty much on the nose – but we arrived in our slip some 11 hours later… Interestingly, the boat that had been rescued left at the same time as us, also headed for Northern Ireland – he didn’t use the same shortcut again!!!



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