2ndAugust.  Early mornings are beautiful when the weather is calm. It was a 5.30am start this morning, to catch the tide as it started to run east out of Rathlin Sound.  The water is not always this flat as the water rushes past Fair Head and Torr Head.  We passed Torr at 10 knots (about 5 kts of tide) – and that was at the start of the tide, before it gets to full flood.  With no wind to propel us, we motored gently south making good speed – there was at least 2 knots of tide with us for most of the journey.  

To our left in the distance the Mull of Kintyre remained in sight, making Scotland seem close. The Mull of Galloway also appeared, and in between we could see Ailsa Craig silhouetted in the gentle orange morning light – a mezmerising sight as the light slowly changed.

Ailsa Craig

Immediately on our right, steep green slopes and rocky crags rose high above the water, dotted with remote white-painted cottages and farms.  Along the shoreline there were small settlements and in the distance the more industrial buildings of Larne grew closer.  

Antrim coast

Off the high cliffs of Islandmagee, we passed the Maidens, two rocky islets each with a lighthouse (one abandoned, the other operational).  

The Maidens

As we motored up Belfast Lough, which is flanked by hills on either side, we passed the ancient castle at Carrickfergus. Ahead of us the Harland and Wolff gantries (Goliath and Samson) were visible on the skyline and, for the first time in weeks, we were arriving at the heart of a city.  The route into Belfast Harbour marina, close to the new Titanic quarter, is up the Victoria Channel, past WWI ship HMS Caroline, past the ‘Great Light’ (the largest Fresnel lighthouse lens, originally used on Mew Island, just off the entrance to Belfast Lough) and finally past the slipways where Titanic and her sister-ship Olympic were built.  We’ll spend a few days here exploring the city and Anne will fly home for a few days visiting family.

Samson and Goliath (Harland and Wolff shipyard)
  • Distance: 43nm logged, but in fact 50 miles – the difference is due to the effect of the tide. Motored 7h
  • Wind: negligible


On our passage ‘Around These Islands’ Anne is writing about each trip, and Jonathan is writing some more ‘technical’ blogs, from our perspective as ordinary cruising sailors. We are sharing what we’ve learned, and welcome your thoughts too. Please remember that this blog – and your comments – are public.

There’s also a special focus on 12 key ports on our planned route, with articles from These Islands and a series of podcasts from Chrome Media called ‘Around These Islands in 12 Ports’.


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