Bangor to Portaferry via Donaghadee

Day 138, Sat 20 May

Enough time before we set off for my first ever cinnamon scone and a really good cup of coffee at the Guillemot Café opposite Bangor Lifeboat Station. A perfect start to today’s next short dash and first port of call at Donaghadee.

Thanks again to Kevin & Co at the Habour Master’s Office in Bangor and Mark (LPO) at Bangor ILB Station this morning.

Just seven miles between two Lifeboat Stations but each with a quite different outlook.

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Bangor’s Inshore boat in a modern Boathouse overlooking Belfast Lough and a busy marina and harbour full of leisure craft, with many visiting boats calling in on passage to Scotland, Wales and beyond. Donaghadee’s Trent Class All-weather Lifeboat tucked behind a solid stone harbour ready to head out to sea in any direction as required. The old Boathouse has a cosy historic atmosphere. Not a lot of elbow room for a full crew of between 5(min) and 7 volunteers  hurriedly donning their full kit on a dark, stormy night.

An impressive turn-out on a Saturday morning here at Donaghadee. A great atmosphere in another close-knit community. Thanks Peter (LOM), John A (2nd Cox’n), Michael, John Paul, Ian & David (all crew), Nicky and Sarah and the very curious and attentive young Finn, the trainee guide dog. Also, thank you Mark (Bangor LPO) for catching up by car to take a few photos to share, having discovered a faulty SD card and had none of the images captured earlier at Bangor.

The next leg of today’s route took me via Burr Point, my final ‘Cardinal’ in a full set of the extreme points of the UK and Ireland.

Another five minutes of fame for Fondo as the most Easterly bicycle in Ireland.

The third Lifeboat Station and today’s end of the road is at Portaferry, at the southern entrance to Strangford Lough. The Atlantic 85 Inshore Lifeboat based here in a very smart Boathouse, spends more of its working hours on the popular Lough than it does out to sea. The seasonal leisure-boating fraternity much more likely to underestimate the potential dangers of the “safe haven” of a large open lough than the regular ocean going sailors.

Thanks Graham (DLA) for the welcome tea & useful local knowledge. The original 19th & early 20th Century Lifeboat station’s priorities were very different. Then known as the Cloughey Lifeboat, based a little further up the coast facing out to sea, the original Lifeboats were frequently called to ships in distress on the very busy Irish Sea. The old service boards, now safely hung inside the new Station, show the huge numbers of lives saved over many years of service.

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