During the crossing to the Isle of Man we had a strange experience: for many minutes, about 20, we had something big swimming 3-5 m under Avventura’s keel. We are still wondering what it could be…
We heard later in Peel that basking sharks abound in these waters (and also whales, actually), but we did not see any fins. Anyway, the animal seemed to be in control, it never touched us. We admit we were a mixture of worried and exhilarated… We even wondered whether it could be a submarine!
The crossing from Howth is more or less 70 nm long. When you plan it, try to arrive at high-water Peel +/- 2 hours. Otherwise you have to wait for hours on yellow buoys right off the harbour or alongside the big breakwater, where the tidal height difference is as much as 8 m!!! The harbour is protected from the tide by a lock and is behind a lifting pedestrian bridge. We arrived at 1800 on 19.6 and had to wait until 0030. It was a little adventure to come in at night in the dark, but the streets around the harbor are illuminated. If you should experience to come in at night like us, you do not need to worry too much. Call Peel Harbour on channel 12 and let them know you are there when you arrive. They are very friendly and tell you when they open the lock.
Peel – A rough charm.
The landscape around Peel is a mix of lush green pastures, low vegetation like dark pink heather and red sand stone rocks, which dive right down into the sea. The Peel Castle dominates the landscape at the harbor entrance. The ruins are beautiful seen from the top of the mountain right behind it. You can visit the castle by paying an entrance fee of 3-5 pounds and listen to the history of Peel on machines (press the buttons). Martin and Bendik from SY Fryd had a combined visit of the Castle and the Manannan Musem, a museum focused on the Isle of Man. It is located right beside the marina. Th combo ticket costs 4,2 Pounds (child price). The boys learnt a lot about the role of the Vikings on the island and were satisfied with the experience.
A sailor’s everyday life
Sailors are not usual tourist We grownups had to work a bit today: fill the tanks with fuel, buy food & drinks, get gas, check the weather forecast, plan the next leg to Scotland in detail (tidal streams are very strong along the Mull of Galloway, it is good to have the current with you). Luckily we had the opportunity of having a stroll in town by doing all this. The architecture is really special here. Some characteristics like the use of wood and stones and the kind of roofs remind of some houses in the Alps, while other buildings are typically British. Anyway the result is a fascinating, unique mixture with a rough character which makes Peel to a scenic and relaxing place to visit: small streets, ruins, towers, old houses, beautiful flowers along the streets, small, old fashioned shops and smiling, helpful people all around. The local Pounds have the same value as the British ones, but they are different. I think they are not accepted outside Man, but you can use the British Pounds here.
Ya, Man 🙂 Proud of being from the island…
I talked to a lady in a shop about our sailing trip and when she heard we came from Norway she was impressed and very glad! The people here have very strong ties to Norway because of their Viking legacy. The Norse historical period was one of stability and prosperity for the Isle of Man, therefore the enthusiasm… She herself was not from the island though, and was very sorry of admitting it; it almost looked like she was a little embarrassed at telling us that she came from Northern England!! But she was proud of saying that she had lived here for 50 years and her husband’s family had been Manx for 4-500 years. So she felt like a local.
Creek Inn, the best pub in town!
We have spent a very nice time in Peel and have had a tasty dinner at Creek Inn, one of the island’s most traditional pubs, according to a newspaper article they proudly show near the entrance. They make exquisite fish and chips and even better «Queenies», small scallops from Man cooked in wine and butter with herbs and bacon. Several sorts of ales, among others the island’s Okells (two different kinds), ginger beer and Manx cider are definitely a more original choice than drinking lager like Grolsch or St.Miguel… To avoid any kind of doubt, we tried both 😉
Walks by the coast
Wenche (SY Fryd) and I enjoyed very much having a little tour to the top of the mountain near the castle. You can actually walk along the coast for miles, but it started raining and our shape is not at the top after several months at sea 🙂 We nonetheless recommend to take this tour very strongly: from there you enjoy a wonderful view of the surroundings, the whole town and the coast all around.
We are leaving Man in the middle of the day on 21.6 heading for the Crinan Canal (Kintyre Peninsula), Scotland. The weather and time are merciless dictators. Stefania would have spent at least a week here and travelled around the island using the famous steam railway, busses and trams, visited Douglas (which according to Wenche & Co (SY Fryd) is much more like a tourist machine and less genuine than Peel), Castletown and several other places. But the weather is ok for sailing further and we have to go back home. So, as for Ireland, the sensation by leaving Man was of having had an alluring appetizer without having the opportunity of enjoying the whole, delicious meal which you expect after that…