We have spent three days in the Abercorn Basin, Belfast, we have had rain, rain and more rain. It’s the heavy rain that soaks you to the skin, being August, when you get out of the rain into a café or shelter you start to steam! But surprisingly we have enjoyed ourselves; the Abercorn Basin is in a central location, so just a ten minute walk right into the heart of Belfast, situated next to the Odyssey Arena, and five minutes from the Titanic building.
Sean found about sixty litres of salt water in the bilges, so pumped it out and during our stay here it hasn’t reappeared.
Since I was last here they have a shower block, so new within the last two years. The fees here are ridiculously cheap, £16 a night, which includes electric, showers and the use of a washing machine and dryer (perhaps I should have just kept quiet about the price!). You can enter the marina at all states of the tide, but I would recommend you ring ahead to reserve a place, as the marina is quite small.
This is how we occupied ourselves in Belfast, we attended a Gay Pride festival, it was such a shame it rained so heavily some of the outfits were outstanding, legs and heels to die for! A must was St George’s market, were locals come to sell all manner of items, we ate local produce and bought food for the boat. We also visited Sawers, an Aladdin’s cave of treats, pasta’s, cured meats, chutneys, jams, pickles, breads, you name it they have it.
Two evenings found us in local pubs listening to some local music. On another day we took ourselves off to the botanical garden and museum, where we spent the good part of five hours, plenty to see, and lots of places to get out of the bad weather. We also visited the Linen Library and looked at an exhibition of photography.
On another evening, when I just couldn’t get warm, we turned on the boat heating, set up the DVD player; ate in and enjoyed the time on our own.
Marian comes from Northern Ireland, so spent the time catching up with relatives and friends, we didn’t see much of Marian and Simon during our time in Belfast, which was nice for a change, and will give us something to talk about today when we head off to the Isle of man.
The morning dawned fine, and we left our berth at seven AM, we followed the marked passage out to mark 6 and then veered off right towards Copeland Island, we cut across the last of the sandbank, but as it was high tide this wasn’t an issue.
The passage went well; we all took turn and turnabout, motor sailing for the first couple of hours but for the remaining nine hours we were under sail only, and keeling over onto our port side. Marian went to use her heads and called Sean down as there appeared to be quite a lot of water sloshing from the bilges by her sea cocks!
Sean then ripped up the floor to the main bilges, now as Simon says ‘Don’t’ Panic’, but when there is a good foot of water right the way through the bilges, I think one is entitles to PANIC! The automatic float switch on the bilge pump hadn’t kicked in, and the manual bilge pump switch turned the pump on but it didn’t pump! (newly fitted in April). We used the manual bilge pump, pulled the sails in and turned the engine on, so that we could right the boat and get closer to shore quicker! We also bailed out the bilges manually using a sponge and bowl. There didn’t appear to be any more ingress, but we were still awash with salt water!
Once we got to harbour at Peel and had a further half hour to wait for them to open the swing bridge to let us into the harbour. There are a number of buoys in the outer harbour, entrance into the inner harbour is two hours either side of high tide. Once moored up Sean and Simon got to work, pumping out and going from one sea cock to the next and checking pipe work. Eventually Sean found a hose lose in the stern cabin, underneath the sink, when he thought about it, he had removed the shower pump about ten days prior to this, and hadn’t considered that the water would travel back into the boat. That’s why the water ingress has only occurred today really on a port tack. This morning he put the pump back in!
So then the boys set to work to sort out the bilge pump, Simon blew down the hose and discovered he couldn’t it appeared blocked. So starting from the outside locker they traced the pipe back and discovered that the pipe had been squashed when it got to underneath the heads, this was quite easily rectified using adjustable pliers and a cloth. The bilge section containing the bilge pump was then refilled with water and the pump tested. Thankfully as I stood outside to check the flow, the water flew out of the side of the boat about three feet before arcing into the water, so a good pressure had been achieved by freeing up the hose. The chaps then called it a day, the float switch still doesn’t work, but hey ho, two out of threes not bad! I think that problem can be saved for a rainy day in Dublin!
Belfast to the Isle of Man didn’t go too badly, other than the fact we almost sank!! We are here for two days, then heading back over to Ireland. The harbour master was off today as we discovered when we went to pay, and there was no honesty box, so I have no idea what the fees are for Peel.
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