TALL SHIPS DAY FOUR

Michael Brogan skippers Mac Duach as she leaves Belfast Lough, followed by Naomh Crónán  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Michael Brogan skippers Mac Duach as she leaves Belfast Lough, followed by Naomh Crónán Photo: © Michael Fisher

On day four of the Tall Ships 2015 festival, it was time for the participants to depart and set sail for Portrush, where the race across to Norway would begin. I was delighted to get the opportunity to go to sea on board a Galway hooker, Mac Duach, which left York Dock on Sunday morning ahead of the main flotilla.

Passing the Stena Line ferry ready for departure from Belfast to Cairnryan Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Passing the Stena Line ferry ready for departure from Belfast to Cairnryan Photo: © Michael Fisher

I had never been to sea on such a vessel before and did not know what to expect but skipper Michael Brogan from Kinvara and his crew made me welcome. There was a bit of rain as we left Belfast Lough but by the time we were off Carrickfergus, passing the Kilroot power station, we were in an excellent position to enjoy the aerial acrobatics of the Red Arrows display team.

Red Arrows in formation passing Kilroot Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Red Arrows in formation passing Kilroot Photo: © Michael Fisher

With the sails up, the boat reached a speed of ten knots and made good time past Islanmagee, where the Gobbins coastal path is being repaired, and near Larne.

Is that a plane I see above me? Red Arrows planes pass over Mac Duach in Belfast Lough Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Is that a plane I see above me? Red Arrows planes pass over Mac Duach in Belfast Lough Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eight hours after leaving Belfast, Mac Duach was rounding Fair Head and the small harbour of Ballycastle came into view, where the Rathlin ferry was about to depart. There was some puzzlement about the colour of the water as we arrived: a large brown slick covered the area. This was caused by the heavy rainfall which had washed away sections of the banks along the river and caused manholes along the street in the town to be pushed up, requiring the intervention of the fire service.

Isle of Man ferry heads towards Douglas   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Isle of Man ferry heads towards Douglas Photo: © Michael Fisher

As we stepped onto dry land again, the sun came out and a rainbow could be seen above Ballycastle and also further away at Fair Head.

Ballycastle Harbour with Fair Head in background and Mac Duach in middle Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Ballycastle Harbour with Fair Head in background and Mac Duach in middle
Photo: © Michael Fisher

A nice end to a day’s sailing, marking a great maritime weekend.

Ballycastle Harbour with rainbow    Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Ballycastle Harbour with rainbow Photo: © Michael Fisher

TALL SHIPS DAY THREE

German ship Alexander von Humboldt in the Yord Dock Photo:  © Michael Fisher

German ship Alexander von Humboldt in the Yord Dock Photo: © Michael Fisher

Some pictures taken during my exploration of the Tall Ships in Belfast as a volunteer on day three of the event. The ships were concentrated around the Titanic Quarter, with many small ones berthed in the Marina. Other tall ships could be seen in Pollock Dock and in York Dock, as well as alongside Queen’s Quay and around the Clarendon Dock area.

Galway hooker from Kinvara Mac Duach alongside the Naomh Crónán from Clondalkin in the York Dock Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Galway hooker from Kinvara Mac Duach alongside the Naomh Crónán from Clondalkin in the York Dock Photo: © Michael Fisher

The traditional Galway hooker Mac Duach from Kinvara, skippered by Michael Brogan, arrived in Belfast on Thursday evening and berthed alongside a similar boat, Naomh Crónán, a replica built in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin.

The view crossing from the channel from the Titanic Quarter side across to York Dock by water taxi Photo:  © Michael Fisher

The view crossing from the channel from the Titanic Quarter side across to York Dock by water taxi Photo: © Michael Fisher

Meanwhile many of the visitors were enjoying themselves on the beach…yes, on the pop-up beach in Belfast city centre at Custom House Square. A touch of Belfast-sur-mer!

On the beach in Belfast Photo:  © Michael Fisher

On the beach in Belfast Photo: © Michael Fisher

And this is what the children (and some adults!) spent their time doing…a far cry from making bonfires! DSC_3665 (2) (450x800)Meanwhile over at the Lidl marquee, visitors were sampling local food and enjoying plenty of other activities including story-telling for children and cookery demonstrations introduced by Pamela Ballantine.

Pamela Ballantine introducing cookery demonstrations in the Lidl arena Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Pamela Ballantine introducing cookery demonstrations in the Lidl arena Photo: © Michael Fisher

Over the three days thousands of people came to see the Tall Ships in Belfast and they brought a truly international atmosphere to the city.

RNLI lifeboat moored at Belfast Marina for the duration of the festival. LE Creidne in background. Photo:  © Michael Fisher

RNLI lifeboat moored at Belfast Marina for the duration of the festival. LE Creidne in background. Photo: © Michael Fisher