Saturday, 28 March 2015

Old boats

Delving back into the archives today - well, only to 2012, when a day trip to Rathlin Island was the order of the day.  Rathlin, in case you don't know, lies about 6 miles off the North Antrim coast.  It is inhabited and the only means of access is by boat - usually from Ballycastle.  It can be a rough enough trip and in the winter time often the ferry is often cancelled due to bad weather.

Rathlin is a fairly magical place.  Probably best known for its RSPB reserve, where in late July you can witness tens of thousands of seabirds nesting.  It is a visual and aural feast and well worth a visit. And Richard Branson crash-landed his big balloon thingy there a few years back.  Before that - around 1898 - Marconi staged the first commercial wireless telegraphy link between the island and Ballycastle. But today I only have a couple of old boats for you.  I found these two resting near the harbour in Rathlin - looks like the one on the left has been resting for some time, mind you, although the other one looks seaworthy enough.

Rathlin Island - the harbour, 2012
Not too far further along were another odd couple:

More old boats
Not sure either of these will float again.  That particular trip we took the kids along with us. The year before The Brother and I had gone on our own - and that was a never-to-be-forgotten trip.  We'd not booked a ticket on the ferry so had gone for a wander along Ballycastle Marina.  We spied a charter vessel by the name of Dan's Fastrack, so we paid our money and a little later were sitting aboard what seemed quite a small vessel for the journey to Rathlin.  Dan, it turned out, had some sort of physical issue - not quite sure what was going on there but let's just say he didn't inspire confidence.  There wasn't a life-jacket to be seen when we ventured out of the harbour walls and Dan hit the throttle - hard.  Next thing the front of the boat was up at an angle of about 45 degrees and we were holding on for dear life.  Well, that's not quite true - there was nothing to hold on to.  Our faces were about 2 feet from the water and that's how it stayed for the next 20 minutes or so.  To say I was terrified was an understatement.  As we pulled up in Rathlin, Dan helped me off the boat, grinned and asked 'How was that?' - I must have looked a sight.  But given some time to recover on the island I came to the conclusion that Dan knew what he was about and actually the return journey was quite enjoyable. But when we took the kids with us the next year we went on the proper ferry...

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