Passage 29, Glenarm to Belfast
I was fearful that insufficient winds would necessitate motoring for much of this passage. One mile out from Glenarm there was a whisper of wind and I turned the engine off to see what gives: 2 or 3 knots in a F2 wind. Oh well, I'm in no hurry I thought, I'll just waft down the coast at this speed. The wind was on my bow again reverting to usual procedure and I had to tack a couple of times but essentially I managed to scrape down the coast at a leisurely pace. I got to see some spectacular cliffs with deep caves close up.
The wind slowly picked up and as I was approaching Belfast Lough it had reached a F4 so by then I was bowling along at 6 to 7 knots as I had some tide with me too. Perfect.
As I approached Belfast I had to take sails down to satisfy the harbour authorities and was in communication with port control as this is a very busy commercial port with big ships coming in and out. Indeed, I was closely followed up by a large ship on its final approaches into the harbour. I snuck in just before it though - all closely monitored by harbour control, of course.
It's quite a long haul all the way into Belfast but I felt the diversion would be worth it as I was going to spend the next day sightseeing Belfast.
Once berthed I had a friendly chat with the harbour master (berth master, actually) who was taking it easy with his wife and a mate of his aboard his rather impressive motor launch. They pay these berth masters handsomely, I thought. Though the reality is that he'd obviously acquired the not inconsiderable funds to own and service a boat of this ilk by other means. They were very friendly and I ended up having a beer and a good old natter with them.
That evening I cycled into town and treated myself to fish and chips as I was getting fairly bored of porridge, soup and rice over the last few days. Yum.
So the next day, Friday, was discovery day. First I walked down to the Titanic Experience and devoured that. Permit me to make an observation concerning this. They call it a Titanic "Experience" for good reason as it's a rather extravagant form of museum. It's set as a most complicated multi-tiered "tour" (at one point even having a theme park style ride) and it has all sorts of fancy gizmos and displays to attract the attention. Every one is green screen photographed at the start so they can be merged into a personal titanic moment in a photo or film. Dear me. I declined. And that's why it cost £16. Call me old fashioned, but I'd prefer a more toned down version with simple displays and explanations which would no doubt cost considerably less. I fear that in todays expectations of instant gratification, "museums" have to go ballistic to ensure that they meet the demand to be force fed rather than having to bother to feed oneself. Obviously, like so many things, there is a gradual scale of possible levels of sophistication here . After all, I could have just read a book. But I do think the Titanic Experience has overshot the mark a tad. And it costs.
Anyway, I then saw the SS Nomadic which was a rather large and fancy tender to the Titanic. Good stuff. Back for lunch on the boat and out on the bike this time into Belfast proper. I cycled to the Crumlin Road Jail where I had a guided tour. Very interesting. A victorian jail built for 500 people but was populated by 3 times that during "The Troubles". Funny term that, if you ask me; "The Troubles". It smacks of slight understatement. I mean, it's like calling it "The Inconveniences". Or "The Bothersome Times".
Whatever, next stop was the Ulster Museum across town. A kind of general purpose museum that I would rate quite highly. Nice section about "The Troubles". It was next to some lovely gardens that I cycled through back down to the river Lagan along which I had a pleasant cycle back to the marina. Belfast appears to be a vibrant and pleasant city. Good one, Belfast; I like.
I did a bit of provision shopping and that was my day. Damn fine.
A gentle passage of some 34 miles most of which sailed, somewhat unexpectedly. Moored in the heart of Belfast and got to see as much of the city as I could the following day.