We have been steadily moving south, timing the tides and at times sailing with GPS speeds of over 10 knots. I could get used to these speeds! We've also done many predawn departures and we can do about 40 miles before the kids even wake up! Several times they have only woken up to the drop of the anchor chain after we've done a full 30-40 mile passage.
Belfast was super interesting! Very different from southern Ireland with all the single lane roads and small villages. The North is definitely the industrial part of Ireland and I can see why England did not want to give it up! We did a black taxi ride in Belfast, viewing the murals and "peace wall" that still divides the Catholics and Protestant parts of Belfast. Although there has been peace in Belfast since 2002, they still close the gates between the two neighborhoods every night at 6pm and keep it closed through the weekend. Murals on both sides depict martyrs lost, political injustices and historically significant events in the history of Belfast, but also worldwide. Throughout the centuries the English didn't treat the Irish very well (an understatement), and the Catholic Irish were treated pathetically. Surprisingly, the Catholics didn't even get to vote until after the civil rights movement in the US. While I'm pretty sure we got a biased tour (our driver was shot by Protestant terrorists in the 80's), it was eye opening nonetheless. The taxi ride was the most interesting part of our visit to Belfast, but we also spent hours at the Titanic Museum. Belfast boasts the largest Titanic Museum in the world and the great ship, as well as both the sister ships, were built in the Belfast boatyards. The Titanic went down about 300 miles from Cape Race, the point of land we left Newfoundland from. Local boats from Trepassey (our home for three days while we waited out the weather to leave North America) responded to the Titanic distress calls. We traveled the same ice corridor the Titanic did, although we were four months later in the year and there was significantly less ice. The museum was well done and we now are all experts in all things Titanic.
From Belfast we did a fast motor sail to the Isle of Man. We left at 4am, motored with a tide assist and covered the 40 miles in record time, getting in at about 9am with a full day to explore. We've been fortunate with our sailing in the UK and Ireland, but we still need to fill the diesel tanks every so often. We also use diesel to heat the cabin, and it is an efficient heater, which we use only an hour or so a day, but we do still use diesel. If you rent a car you will notice that fuel is expensive here, as well as in the rest of Europe. It is highly taxed and has always been more expensive than in the states. We only made one jerry jug trip to the gas station before we learned that if you fill up, not at the fuel dock, but where the fisherman fill up, you don't pay any of the road taxes and diesel is comparable to what we pay in the states. This was definitely a good find!
The Isle of Man was one of those places that was on our route, a made a convenient place to stop, but we knew very little about. Sometimes those turn out to be the most interesting places. The Isle of Man is an independent territory of the UK. They have their own capital, language and even print their own money, although the British pound is also taken. For us, it was kind of hidden gem in the Irish Sea since we had no expectations. There are more castles dating back to the 13th century and the kids love castles, so of course we explored those. They had a museum that was fascinating and really well presented, so all of us really enjoyed it. When you know next to nothing about an area, any museum is interesting, but in this case we were all impressed by the interactive displays and a museum that can keep three kids interested, spanning the ages of 5-13, as well as the adults for over three hours has got to be good! The island has been inhabited by the Celt's since at least 500 BC and monks brought Christianity with them around 1000 ad, which they used to convert the pagan Celts. During Nordic expansion it was invaded by Vikings. The Vikings brought mainly men to the island, so when they took Celtic wives some of the Nordic culture integrated into the Celtic culture, but mainly the Celtic culture and language dominated because the mothers handed it down and it was the mothers tongue that remained most intact. Later the English took it over (can't remember the era, maybe 1500's) and it became an Earldom and stayed in one family for centuries. Now the Manx people are fiercely independent and very proud of their traditions and culture. The local kids even learn Manx in school, which I can't imagine will serve them too well later in life, but they are determined to keep the language alive and it is admirable.
After three days in Man, we are now working our way down the southern portion of the Irish Sea. We are headed towards the English Channel with a passage across to Brest, France in the next week.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron