Within half an hour of docking at Dun Laoghaire, Graham and Rory had received an invite to join Pat, a local yachtsman, in the Royal Irish Yacht Club at 1700hrs for a drink. Rory had flown in to Dublin to rejoin the yacht for Isle of Man (I.O.M.) and the Belfast expedition.
The Irish are extremely hospitable and again we were taken on the Cook’s tour of all the various parts of the club but only after fair lashings of the local elixir brewed at St. James Gate, Dublin.
Our host then drove us to Dalkey which is a very upmarket suburb of Dublin and recommended the bar/restaurant called Queens. The food was excellent and it went down a treat with the tired crew. My son Rory mentioned that St. Bedes College, Christchurch operates an exchange programme with Blackrock College in Dublin. Our host Pat then drove us through the school grounds while en route for Dalkey.
The following day we were joined by Sarah Gooding (niece) and her boyfriend Luke Crozier who flew in from London for a couple of days R&R. Sarah is teaching English at a High School in Maidstone, Kent and was looking for a break from the English winter. We arranged to meet them in Dublin. Exploring the city on foot, it was not long before we found ourselves at a pub in Temple Bar looking for refreshment. Temple Bar could be described as the ‘Soho of Dublin’, and it rocks!! There was an Irish band playing and although it was only 5pm the crowd seemed to have a fair roll on and the singing was good.
We returned as a group to Dun Laoghaire Marina. They have a very sophisticated system of entry which uses the index fingerprints of each hand as the access code. When we made our mark, there were a couple of wise cracks about who had been fingerprinted before to which Jenny on reception said “I always know who has been fingerprinted by ‘Her Majesty’ because they always roll their fingers on the pad when it is not necessary”!
Sarah and Luke were given the Captain’s cabin and Rory and I bunked down in the saloon. We knew the table supports could be removed and that somehow we could lower it, line it up with the seats and make a large bed.
Graham and Rory organised it and presto we had a ‘sleeping pit’ that could probably take four on a good day. Mind you that would not be ‘large units’ and they would have to be comfortable with the nose to tail arrangement like sardines in a can and NO BAKED BEANS ALLOWED.
After a good nights sleep we were ready for the cultural experience and so back to Dublin by train we went. We bought tickets on the Hoppa bus which is a good deal because they last 2 days and you can hop on and off wherever you like around the city.
For example we hopped off at the Guinness Brewery and didn’t hop on for several hours as we found the brewery tour so fascinating.
Do you know that Guinness brew 3 million litres of the famous brew every day and that is for the local, the English and the U.S. Markets.
We found ourselves in the bar on the fifth floor drinking Guinness and eating delicious pulled pork baps (a soft burger-like bun) with a cider/apple sauce…yum!
The bar man could see that we were keen Guinness supporters and so he took it upon himself to keep our glasses full. Many of the visitors taste the Guinness under sufferance and when nobody is looking feed it to the pot plants and bloody well drown them! Well not this group, they downed every pint that was pulled. Sarah was getting G&Ts under the same ‘bonus scheme’ and the crew was very happy.
We then headed for the Gravity Bar on the top floor which offers amazing views over the city and was packed with enthusiasts. Our mate from downstairs did not want to see us suffer on the top floor and so issued a fist full of FOC tickets to exchange for elixir. What a grand day out we had.
We did our shopping in the Guinness store and then continued on the Hoppa bus.
We dined in Temple Bar above The Quays Pub and the food was very good. The Dart train back to Dun Laoghaire is great and they have free WiFi on the trains.
We were all leaving on the Thursday. The crew passed a slow morning catching up on emails and brunching in the town of Dun Laoghaire. The Captain bought a hair cut and a new pair of jeans and the crew were envious. We shopped for vitals including more rum and prepared ourselves for a day sail as it would be a new experience for Sarah and Luke. We sailed out of the harbour going south to Dalkey Island (pronounced Dorkey). We went through the narrow gap between the island and the mainland under full sail but I was ready to start the motor if we looked like stalling as there are some nasty rocks around the island.
Our new sailors enjoyed the outing and both of them took a turn on the helm. We were under the whip getting back into port as Sarah and Luke had a plane to catch but we made the deadline dumping them on the dockside while we went into the Royal St. George visitors berth.
Earlier in the day we had spoken with Jim Foley – a great guy who is heavily involved in classic yachts and racing. Jim was preparing his beautiful classic yacht for race week and he invited Rory and I aboard to look her over. Beautifully crafted in timber she once appeared in the James Bond movie “Casino Royale”! Jim and Yvonne are part of the Ryan family who own an apartment in Salou in the same block as my brother Leo and his wife Edie, and Leo had put us in touch with the family. The plan was to enjoy a BBQ dinner with the Ryan Family at the Royal St. George Yacht Club and then depart around 2200hrs for the Isle of Man. Dermott Ryan had been a former Admiral of the Club before he unfortunately lost his battle with cancer. His wife Sheila attended along with his son Paul and their lovely children with difficult to pronounce Gaelic names. Andrew Collins and Lucy Carpenter from the University College of Dublin joined us there also. Andrew and Lucy had stayed with us in Akaroa at Beaufort House some 3 months before and had said we should catch up when in Dublin.
As you know the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go asunder, and on this occasion the atmosphere and the craic was wonderful and every time I turned around our cups were full again. Yvonne took us all on the full Cooks Tour of the Royal St. George also – brilliant. We were finally ready to cast off lines by 0030 hrs on Friday 30th of May. At this stage the Captain stood himself down and passed command to the first mate who had been on fruit juice for the night – thanks Graham! A huge thanks to the Ryan Family for hosting us at the club. It was truly memorable. And one day Jim we may meet on the high seas.
We had chosen a departure of 2200hrs after careful planning of currents and tides and to time our arrival at the Isle of Man harbour when the entrance would be open. Note: the harbour at Peel is only open to traffic two hours either side of ‘top of the tide’ during spring tides and one hour either side of top of the tide during neaps. Well needless to say we put ourselves under a certain amount of pressure to get here on time due to a rather tardy departure from Dun Laoghaire but we made it. Once inside the harbour a sill is raised to retain water within the harbour when a huge tide recedes. Tide differential between high and low tide is around 6 metres!