Observant readers may have noticed a rather prolonged hiatus in this blog in recent weeks. This is because the author has been on an extended sailing holiday from Holyhead to Northern Ireland. With a couple of crew changes, Caledonia has visited the Isle of Man (Port St Mary and Peel), and Ardglass, Bangor, Glenarm, Ballycastle and Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland. Ship's dog Monty was the only constant crew member apart from myself.
Ardglass was the first and last stop in Northern Ireland. A small marina in County Down, it is far and away the most convenient transit port between Dublin and Belfast. It has the benefit of another resident Springer Spaniel, Monty's friend Ben.
Strangford Lough is an amazing place. An enormous body of sea water in the heart of Northern Ireland. Caledonia stopped at Quoile Yacht Club, a totally isolated spot miles from anywhere, with tranquill views over the river as here.
The narrow entrance to Strangford Lough is the site of the UK's first tidal electricity generator, seen here with the rotor blades raised for maintenance. Tides run at great speed here, and on its first passage through the narrows Caledonia recorded 12.6 knots over the ground with the help of nearly 8 knots of tide.
Bangor Marina at the mouth of Belfast Lough is a convenient place for a crew change, with a 20 minute train ride and short shuttle bus to Belfast City airport.
Glenarm Marina, 25 miles north, is another convenient transit port. We didn't see much of this, leaving at 0530 the next morning to get to Ballycastle in County Antrim. Ballycastle has a great marina, and is a 40 minute bus ride from the Giant's Causeway.
Rathlin Island is a magical place, somewhat detached in many ways from the rest of Northern Ireland. Here's a view of the harbour, with a new pontoon for visiting yachts. It's chief visitor attractions are its three lighthouses, South (Rue Point), East (Altnacarry Point) and West. But West Lighthouse is also the home of a major RSPB bird reserve, with thousands of sea birds including puffins, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and many others. The island is also home to the Irish Hare.
But the best part of this voyage, compared with previous ones to Ireland or Scotland, was the weather. It was ideal; much better than that enjoyed by the folks back home in England. We lost one day's sailing to inclement weather, and apart from Portrush which we decided to avoid after hearing woeful stories of its facilities for visiting yachtsmen, managed to reach every port we'd planned. The main objective in getting to Portrush was toe visit the Giant's Causeway, but we managed to reach that from Ballycastle instead.
Now, back to PCDB Waypoints...
A bit of a hiatus recently, while Elaine and I spent ten days in France, staying with some friends in Alsace and then a few days in Ornans, near to Besancon. Not brilliant weather, and somewhat spoilt by Elaine developing a nasty cold and cough which kept her in bed for two days. But we had some great meals, brought back the odd bottle of Cremant d'Alsace, and saw some wonderful scenery.
I noticed on my return that fully 30 people have now downloaded PCDB SuDoku Lite, and 15 have it still installed. But no-one, to date, has gone the whole hog and bought the much more sophisticated full version. Stlll, the tablet market is expanding by the day, and more and more people are discovering the benefits of applications designed to run on tablets rathern than mobile phones.
Work on PCDB Waypoints has focused on tidying up the Import Database feature, so that it isn't possible to invoke it by mistake. And I've started to look at ways of using data from the app to overlay Google Earth. It would be even more useful it I could overlay my Navionics charts of the UK and Holland, but Navionics don't seem to be very willing to allow this yet.
A slightly related activity is updating all my charts, and reading up on the pilot books, for our trip to Northern Ireland later in the Summer. Planning for that is now pretty complete and a full crew arranged, including Chief Seadog Monty.
I've been developing an app to solve SuDoku and Killer SuDoku puzzles for several years now. With the increasing availability and use of Android-powered devices, I've recently ported the app to this platform, and it's now pretty well ready to publish on the Google Play (previously Android Market) website. There isn't much point in publishing an app like this without some degree of support, so I've set up this (PCDB Dev) website to provide that support. See what you think of it.