On day four of the Tall Ships 2015 festival, it was time for the participants to depart and set sail for Portrush, where the race across to Norway would begin. I was delighted to get the opportunity to go to sea on board a Galway hooker, Mac Duach, which left York Dock on Sunday morning ahead of the main flotilla.
I had never been to sea on such a vessel before and did not know what to expect but skipper Michael Brogan from Kinvara and his crew made me welcome. There was a bit of rain as we left Belfast Lough but by the time we were off Carrickfergus, passing the Kilroot power station, we were in an excellent position to enjoy the aerial acrobatics of the Red Arrows display team.
With the sails up, the boat reached a speed of ten knots and made good time past Islanmagee, where the Gobbins coastal path is being repaired, and near Larne.
Eight hours after leaving Belfast, Mac Duach was rounding Fair Head and the small harbour of Ballycastle came into view, where the Rathlin ferry was about to depart. There was some puzzlement about the colour of the water as we arrived: a large brown slick covered the area. This was caused by the heavy rainfall which had washed away sections of the banks along the river and caused manholes along the street in the town to be pushed up, requiring the intervention of the fire service.
As we stepped onto dry land again, the sun came out and a rainbow could be seen above Ballycastle and also further away at Fair Head.
A nice end to a day’s sailing, marking a great maritime weekend.