Day 2 |
May 31, 2012

Douglas, Isle of Man 

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 54° 08 ’ N – 04° 28’ W
Weather: overcast and raining

Air temperature: 13° C
Wind: 13 km per hour
Pressure: 1015 hPa
Humidity: 85%

The Isle of Man was today our first stop of our voyage, and the town of Douglas appeared through the mist and rain clouds just before breakfast. With an elegant waterfront, the town sweeps along the bay with a long white beach in front. It is the main hub of this island, which is a self-governing crown dependency of the UK.

Two tours were offered during the day – the morning tour heading off in buses just after breakfast to visit Tynwald and Lady Isabella. Tynwald Hill, this small grass-topped, tiered hill, is made from the soil and stones from each of the Island’s 17 parishes and is the point from which, on 5 July each year, all the laws enacted in the preceding year are promulgated to the government officials and the public. The Isle of Man has its own Manx language, and this promulgation is done in both Manx and English. Since this process has been done for well over 1,000 years it entitles the island to claim that it is the oldest continuous self-governing nation in the world.

Unfortunately, due to the rain, a quick look at the hill was enough. Nearby, an exhibition in the church hall gave more information about the place, and we could also visit the church itself, which was lovely.

The next stop on our tour was Laxey, a former mining village and home to the Lady Isabella – a giant water wheel. Built in 1854 it was designed to pump water from the lead mines – once a major industry here on the Isle of Man. We had the opportunity to walk up the narrow stairs to the top of the water wheel and admire the clever engineering design of this structure.

The drive back to the ship and lunch was beautiful as the bus passed through rolling green hills and along the coast, which was dramatic and quite steep in sections. We caught glimpses of motorcycles and the infrastructure set up for the TT race. This annual event is a motorcycle race held on the Isle of Man running through public roads, and was for many years the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world.

After a quick lunch onboard everyone headed out once again into the buses for an afternoon tour to Cregneash – a heritage village of thatch-roofed crofter’s cottages, as well as Castle Rushen. Others chose to spend their afternoon wandering through town, taking in the elegant buildings, the horse-drawn tram, the abundance of visiting bikers, and other interesting things.

The rain gradually eased in the afternoon and it was nice to have extra time after the tours to explore the town at leisure. No activities were scheduled onboard for the late afternoon or evening so everyone could take in more of the town. Some made their way over to the TT race stadium and got into the spirit and mood of this incredibly fast race. During this Practice Week already 3 people had died!

During dinner we pulled off the lines and headed off towards Dublin.