Before I start talking about the trip into Belfast let me tell you that when we came to Glenarm Marina three years ago on our semi-circumnavigation of the UK, when we were here last there was a port-a-cabin for the office and shower facility. Now there is a smashing new purpose built block, with a laundry room, showers and office.
We have another first for this trip, the washing machines and dryer at Glenarm Marina are free and so were the showers and electric on the pontoons, and the berthing was £23. So I rate Glenarm Marina as the best value for money location.
It was quite tempting to find dozens of items to put through the wash, but we honestly only had one wash, so didn’t abuse the system. The harbour master we remembered from last time ‘Billie’, what a lovely man, he has recently won the World host recognition for excellent customer service, Billie didn’t tell us this, but we found the certificate pinned on a wall, those that have visited Glenarm Marina wouldn’t be surprised.
The whole town has had a serious make over since our last visit, they hosted the Dalriado Sprint Triathlon event which occurred here earlier on in the year, and apparently the council paid and helped to spruce up the town. The council repainted the high street, creating false windows and door images for houses no longer lived in, and did a lot of replanting. The knock on affect is that Glenarms community has rallied round and continued to work on the flower arrangements and boarders of the town. This year they have entered the Britain in Bloom contest, it was judged the day before we arrived, I have to admit the town looked smashing, it is hard not to upload all the images I have of the flowers, I do hope that they get some acknowledgement for their hard work.
Sean and I walked around the town, and popped into Steensons which is a jewellery workshop, for almost 40 years they have been hand crafting distinctive individual jewellery on the site, we walked round and asked if they had any nautically themed pieces and were pointed to the Titanic range, each piece was individually numbered, beautiful but not for me. We did watch the work in the workshops which we found fascinating.
We also went to Glenarm Castle and visited the tea rooms, where we spent a cosy couple of hours catching up on the blog, and enjoying coffee and cake. On our walk round we approached one of the castle gates across a bridge, as we were turning to leave an older gentleman approached the bridge from one of the cottages nearby, he was in his slippers and clutching a dog bowl filled with bits of bread. So I engaged him in conversation (which is how I get all my snippets of information, chatting up the locals!), he explained why the town was looking so lovely, and how a lot of folks in the town kept pigeons (we then noticed various pigeon lofts and a pigeon owners meeting hall), he also pointed out that the ducks in the river were quite tame, we saw mallards, Ida ducks, and a barnacle goose. We stayed with him whilst he fed the ducks and gave us some history about the buildings around us; he was a pleasure to converse with.
On our way back to the boat we did a pub crawl, it didn’t take long as there are only two pubs and they sit next to each other. When entering the first pub, we were the only occupants, the landlord clattered down from upstairs, we approached the bar, and Sean asked for a pint of Guinness, and I asked for half a draft cider, he responded, no cider on draft. I then asked for bottled cider, ‘yeah we got that’ he said, so I asked which ones, to which he replied ‘Stella’, so I declined his ‘cider’, and asked for alcoholic ginger beer, at which point he said ‘we don’t do any of those tourist drinks!’ so I settled for half a shandy.
Simon cooked dinner tonight, a rare treat indeed, he cooked us a gammon joint, chopped it up and then added a medley of other vegetables and spice, it was delicious.
This morning we headed off towards Belfast at 8am which enabled us to make the most of the tidal streams. Coming out of Glenarm Marina, be aware there are a large number of salmon nets, which could easily cause quite a hazard to boats. We followed the shore, heading east, passing Larne and Muck Island; Sean did the passage planning and had identified the rock we caught two smashing Pollock on three years ago. So Marian kept us on a course of 137’ and Sean set up his rod, and I trailed a line of feathers, we decided to have a fishing competition. Sadly the rock produced nothing this year, we trailed for about half an hour and then wound our gear in and set off again.
We were able to sail most of the way today, the wind was variable, sometimes we were gliding at three knots and at other times keeling right over at 6.4 knots, which on the first occasion caused a flurry of activity and Marian dashed about the galley securing things! We were mostly on a starboard beam tack which means the wind was hitting us square on the right hand side of the boat.
We made our way down the marked channel into Belfast, calling up at mark 12 to inform Belfast port control of our intended entry to the Abercorn Basin. What a contrast in our surroundings, earlier this week we were enjoying the scenery of the Scottish Islands and today we were in the industrialised docks of Belfast. We passed Samson and Goliath the two famous cranes on the dock, and as we passed these, the new Titanic centre came into view and then the marina. Last time we arrived to be met by various port officials, who shook our hands when we landed, apparently we were the first yacht into the marina! On this occasion we took the last berth, it is no wonder the marina is popular, based right in the heart of Belfast.
Not to bad a trip from Glenarm to the Abercorn Basin in Belfast. We moored up, and quickly worked as a team to put the cockpit cover up, just as the first spots of rain appeared. Marian hopes to catch up with various friends and relatives so we have planned to stop here for a three or four nights.
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