#1 2011-06-08 21:25:07

Registered: 2011-02-24
Posts: 337


Celebrating the Irish Cruising Club's 75th Anniversary

By Nell Faulkner

As members of the Clyde Cruising Club Tony and I were invited to join in the 75th celebrations of the Irish Cruising Club. This involved a cruise in company along the south coast of Ireland with various events en route culminating in a meet at Glengarriff, Bantry Bay where the Irish Cruising Club was founded.

Now that we are retired we were able to set out in plenty of time to reach the start of celebrations in  Kinsale on 17th July.  This was just as well!

On 5th July we left Pwllheli for Fishguard motorsailing into a fitful southwesterly.
As I do not like night sailing we usually proceed in short hops and we were hoping to cross to SW Ireland the following day.  However, the weather forecast belied the peaceful sunlit evening and next day the gales, which ravaged the South Coast at this time, caught up with us.  We felt perfectly secure behind the breakwater at Fishguard but laid out a kedge as insurance.  Wherever one anchors in Fishguard the swell comes round the end of the breakwater.  I made the mistake of investigating the focsle where we usually sleep and was very nearly sick with the rolling. For the next 48 hours we rolled but the anchors held which was more than can be said of the mooring a small Irish catamaran had picked up inshore of us.

By the morning of the 9th we estimated the sea would be reasonable for a crossing.
The anchors were so well embedded it took us two hours to raise them and clean off the incredibly adhesive black mud!  This meant we set out later than intended so motored with full sail to make up time. The Tuskar lighthouse was sighted but vanished as a squall approached. We managed to take in a reef and furl the jib just before the squall hit us.  The wind increased and kept changing direction, continually heading us.

Visibility was poor and darkness was falling; not good conditions for picking up the buoys on St. Patrick's Bridge .  It was possible to see the gap between the Saltee Islands and after careful navigation to avoid other rocks we picked up the occulting lights of Kilmore Quay standing out surprisingly well against the lights of the town.  There was a nasty moment when I saw a pot buoy rush by less than a metre from our starboard side - one reason I don't like night sailing!  Just before midnight we berthed in Kilmore Quay, fourth out from the pontoon.

Saturday, 10th July
Next day Kilmore Quay was very busy with yachts departing and arriving on their way to Cork Week as well as the Cruise.  We were delighted when two Starlight 35s arrived.   Jomora and Jig Time were friends from Scotland.   Jig Time lay outside us and when the crew of Jomora came to visit we waylaid them for coffee.  Later that evening we all met aboard Jomora and agreed to spend another day in port.

Sunday, 11th July
Sunday was something of a festival in the town.  A splendid traction engine puffed and thumped at the marina gate raising money for the children of Chernobyl.  We watched sponsored swimmers coming ashore from the Saltee Islands to an enthusiastic reception on the beach.  After showers at Stella Maris Centre, Tony and I walked in the early evening above the west shore to the moving memorial garden to those lost at sea.

Tuesday, 12th July
The skipper of Jig Time is an early bird!  We awoke at 6.20 to find that he was already up despite entertaining us the night before!  Leaving the Breton lads who had come alongside yesterday, we unwound the knitting of our warps and departed, waving to Legend of Madoc from Pwllheli who was on her way home.

In bright sunshine with a light southwesterly we had a splendid morning's sail past cliffs with old towers in front of blue mountains.  The black and white lighthouse at the entrance to Waterford River reminds me of the little man in the TV ads!  We had sea birds for company and fishing buoys to avoid!  Later the wind dropped and we had to motor. Then it rose again but was now on the nose.

When we reached Ballycotton, the Starlights had picked up moorings and were socialising.  There was a vacant buoy next to Katriona, a very smart Nelson 44 motor yacht.  We were relieved to catch the mooring at first attempt.   A few minutes later Katriona's skipper came over in his dinghy to offer us a lift ashore 'to save us blowing up the dinghy'.  He had been a sailing man!   We declined as we had food to eat up on board so he insisted we return with him for drinks aboard Katriona, "Just as you are."  The toes were protruding from my deck shoes but I went anyway!

Wednesday, 13th July
Next morning the Starlights had departed before we awoke.  It was a dull hazy day with a flat sea.  Cormorants were fishing and flocks of shearwaters were taking a rest from their search for food.

Salmon fishermen were laying their long nets so we called them on VHF for directions to avoid them.  The nets can be nearly a mile long with small disc floats lying flat on the surface and very difficult to see.  A flag, usually black, marks one end and at the other is a small open boat, usually well inshore. The season runs to the end of July by which time each fisherman is allowed to catch forty fish, which are tagged.  Restaurants and shops selling wild salmon are supposed to produce the tags to prove they were legally obtained.

Near Cork the yachts competing in Cork Week were fanning out from the harbour entrance.  In the light airs bright balloons of spinnakers emerged from the gloom.   We kept to seaward of the racing fleets, motorsailing into the light headwind through the occasional shower.  At the Bulman Buoy we turned for Kinsale past James Fort and Charles Fort, the not too successful guardians of Kinsale.

The marina master directed us alongside another friend, Sueda, whom we met last year in Glenarme.  The Starlights lay inside Sueda; they couldn't get away from us!  From here we had a grandstand view of new arrivals.  Being some of the smaller boats had advantages.  The adjacent forty footers were now eight deep from the pontoon.

Thursday, 14th July
Next day after shopping we registered at the Yacht Club to receive the literature about the event and a large white banner depicting the emblems of the participating clubs, Irish C.C,  Royal CC,  Ocean CC, CC of America, and Clyde CC.
Later in the day, Aoefe, a 31ft Dolphin, berthed alongside.  She had been lovingly restored by her owners, two doctors from Galway; an amusing pair, who invited us for coffee after dinner, laced with whiskey, of course!

Friday, 15th July
Friday was still rather wet.  Tony and I went for a walk to St. Multose church, (sounds like a sugar!) which had some fine stained glass windows.  In the evening the mayor of Kinsale held a reception for the Cruisers.  It was his first official event and we thoroughly approved of his style! The speeches were short, drink flowed and there was so much food that we didn't need an evening meal!  We met all sorts of interesting people such as the German couple who own the beautiful American yacht,  Norma of Minnott's Light.  They live in Ireland now 'because the atmosphere is more laid back'.

Saturday, 16th July
At 4.0pm we boarded one of several buses taking us to a reception at the Royal Cork Yacht Club which is regarded as the oldest yacht club in the world.  The sun came out as we stood on the veranda chatting.

A formal dinner at Cork City Hall followed when six hundred of us sat down to a very pleasant meal.  I had packed a long black skirt for this event but realised that no way could I climb across five boats to reach the pontoon in a long narrow skirt!  Most other women wore trousers too.

Sunday, 17th July
The knitting of mooring warps was somehow disentangled and we left Kinsale in bright sunshine with a light southwesterly.  Off Old Head of Kinsale the engine was stopped and we sailed, tacking with the wind shifts.  Many of the other yachts stayed inshore and complained of fickle wind but further out we had a cracking sail, touching 7 knots at times with some help from the tide.

Approaching Glandore we 'avoided Adam and hugged Eve', the rocks in the channel.  We anchored off Union Hall opposite Glandore (Union Hall so called in honour of the Act of Union 1801).  A group of boats behind us anchored but were warned to move as the trawlers would be leaving at midnight and they were in the fairway.

When we went ashore after our evening meal the sun was still warm and naked children were still playing in the water.  Climbing the main street we counted five bars.  After a glass of Murphy's in a now pleasantly smoke free bar we explored the rest of the village.  On the way to the quay, there were plaques at intervals in the stone wall illustrating birds and animals, such as gannets and otters and giving the English, Latin and Irish names and a sentence about each creature; a very nice idea.

Monday, 19th July
After heavy rain and wind during the night the morning was bright with a 3-4 south-westerly. With the dinghy towing behind us we set out for Castletownsend, just three miles along the coast.  Yachts with local knowledge took the short cut west of Eve and behind High Island but we opted for the seaward passage.

In the channel up to Castletownsend we were horrified to see rows of buoys across the fairway and just managed to squeeze round the end of them.  Then we noticed a boat sailing out straight through them and realised they were lanes for gig racing.  We anchored off the east shore opposite the village and watched the rest of the CCC fleet arrive.

Atlantia arrives in Castletownsend

Our dislike of the little plastic oars and rowlocks supplied with many modern dinghies was confirmed when, as one of our neighbours was passing, his outboard failed.  He was making no headway against the tide but we called and he crabbed across to us and Tony towed him to his boat.  She had been chartered by RCC members, I don't think they would have owned such a dinghy!

Several of the larger CCC yachts rafted together and we were summoned to the advertised CCC Whisky Party.  In gentle evening sunshine we were plied with drinks and nice nibbles and chatted to old and new friends.  Sadly, we heard that Realta,  had had an electrical fire, the skipper had burnt his hands and they had to return home.  We ferried Jomora's crew home and spent the rest of the evening aboard her.  All was very quiet in the darkness as we crept back to Red Magic.

Tuesday, 20th July
The day dawned dull and damp. (Not that we saw the dawn after last night!)  There were not many early risers and we left a good many boats behind as we pulled down a reef and motor-sailed to windward until we could fetch Stagg Sound.   Setting stays'l and then jib we reached into Baltimore anchoring opposite the town quay behind Atlantia.   I took some photographs during the brief gleam of sunshine including one of Ann-Caroline, a Norwegian yacht anchored next to us.  I later obtained their address and sent Salvesons a copy.  I have just received my first Christmas card ----- an RNLI Giles from Norway!

Aboard Atlantia there was more conviviality.  Will and Margaret Rudd and their daughter who had just finished her degree, were about to set out on a world cruise following the current celebrations.  Atlantia is a magnificent yacht with a somewhat piratical air as she has a large rear window like an 18th Century captain's cabin.  She also boasts a bath and a marble topped galley!   However the family are charming  and unpretentious and I am sure will make friends in all parts of the world.

Wednesday, 21st July
We awoke just in time to hear the day's instructions on VHF at 9.30.  A photographer will be at the Fastnet rock to take pictures as we sail past.  A salmon net had been reported across the channel.

After shaking out our reef we followed other yachts out of the harbour on the principle that they would find the net first.  We saw a fishing boat moving away, presumably beating a retreat in the face of the approaching Armada!  In bright sun and a southerly 4 we had a great sail out to the Fastnet.  At the Fastnet,  we bore away to go round the Rock and pass the photographer.   The wind immediately disappeared and the foresails began to flog. I jiggled the sheets desperately but was sure the photographs would be disappointing.


Haze increased as we bore away towards Schull in the company of puffins and dolphins.   Approaching Schull we took Goat Island Sound and then the inside passage, Long Island Sound.  Seals popped up to inspect us and a long row of cormorants lined the rocks off Long Island.  Schull is a popular holiday town and was very busy during the Irish school holidays.  We found a spot to anchor on the far side from the pier near Katriona.    After tidying up Red Magic a bit we asked the crew of Katriona over for drinks.  Elizabeth Wiltshire had joined her husband.  They were kind enough to appreciate the view from our wheelhouse.

At 7.30 we went ashore for a barbecue in the marquee, and found ourselves dancing later to trad jazz music - our era!   The photographer showed his results on a screen, four for each yacht.  To our delight our sails were drawing in most of them but there was no difficulty choosing the one in which a wave is breaking on the rock behind us - even the photographer liked it!  We have never had a shot of Red Magic under sail until now.   During the evening I tracked down the crew of an elegant American yacht, Diva, whose lines had given us pause for thought, and yes, she was a Chuck Paine design!

Thursday 22nd July
When we went ashore to shop there was quite a scrum at the dinghy pontoon.   Wearing life jackets in small craft is now the law in Ireland and we were all getting used to it.

We decided to leave Schull the way we came in, via Long Island Sound.  We motor-sailed under main and stays'l into the long Atlantic swell.  The forecast had suggested 4,5 or 6 but it was more like 3.  We saw pot buoys but no nets. I took photographs of Mizzen Head with its little bridge to the mainland.  Gannets, fulmars and puffins were seen and a few guillemot chicks with their fathers.  They always dive as we approach as the adults are probably still renewing their flight feathers.  Fulmars seem to love to fly across just in front of us like children playing 'chicken' across a road.

When we bore away the swell took the wind from the sails which were banging even with a preventer.  More nets were reported and a yacht astern was caught up off Mizzen Head.

It was difficult to think of a place that wouldn't be crowded with boats.  Tony decided on Dunboy Bay, a little anchorage on the west side of the channel into Castletownbere.  Five yachts were at anchor already but there was plenty of room for us in this attractive spot with its wooded shores and romantic ruin at the head of the bay.  Our companions included Minot's Light and Aoefe.  As we sat in the cockpit enjoying the view and jam butties, a Frances 26, Greylag, appeared and anchored ahead of us.  Anne McQuaid  and her friend came round later for coffee and we learnt that Greylag spends the summer in the Baltimore area.

Friday 23rd July
Another beautiful sunny morning.  Greylag had departed to my disappointment as I wanted to photograph her in front of the ruin.  Over the VHF we overheard the RCC planning a party at Castletownbere tonight.  Someone had borrowed a watering can from an American yacht in which to mix the drinks, its usual use, apparently!

On contacting Lawrence's Cove marina we were pleased to learn that they had room for us so we looked forward to showers and doing some washing at the laundrette.

From Dunboy we passed Colt Rock marked by a perch with an iron horse on top. Two cormorants sitting on the horse were certainly worth a photo.  Luck was with us in Lawrence's Cove; a yacht moved off the fuel berth just as we arrived.  Water took longer. The water pressure was very low as so many boats had filled their tanks.  The large bag of smelly clothes was reduced in the laundrette.

After our meal Tony and I walked up the road behind the marina and watched swallows and sand martins catching insects and found stripy cinnebar moth caterpillars on ragwort.  No rabbits appeared and not many small birds.

Saturday 24th July
Tony extracted us neatly from the pontoon and, under jib and engine, we joined the procession to Glengarriff.  Few people were sailing but there was one spinnaker.  The plan was to form a sunflower and by the time we arrived the larger boats had anchored at the four quadrants. We were directed to the north quadrant next to Sueda.  Tony managed to anchor and drop back neatly into line.  There were remarks of "you've done that before!" which, of course, we have, several times, at the CCC meets in Loch Spelve.  For most people it was a new experience.


The sections gradually grew but it became obvious that there were not enough boats to close the circle without a major upheaval.  The wind was rising so the attempt was abandoned.  By the time half the boats had broken away the wind subsided but it was too late.  I believe the trouble was numbers.  Some boats had had to go home early with problems and a few coming anticlockwise round Ireland had not arrived due to weather so the organiser's carefully worked out plans failed.

At 1600 hours we went ashore for a reception at the Glengarriff Eccles Hotel. We were puzzled to find a plaque to say it was opened in 2002 by the PM, but we were there in 2001!  Perhaps 'Eccles' revamped it.  We collected drinks and chatted for a while.  The commodores made speeches and the Irish CC were given mementos by the other clubs.  The dinner at Cork had raised 6800 euros for RNLI including Jomora's skipper's 800euros for a bottle of champagne.  The ICC commodore had some specially blended whiskey in a barrel which we were all invited to try.  I had some and tried to find Tony to share it, but failed.  It was rather good!

Back on board Red Magic we consumed jam butties to absorb the alcohol before this evening's formal dinner.  I was still not destined to wear my long black skirt so carefully transported from home!

At dinner we sat with friends from N.Ireland, Dagmara II's crew.  They found that they had been at school with other people on the table!  It had been a week of co-incidences.  A pleasant evening ended with dancing.  I hope the Irish never decide to breathalise us in dinghies but lifejackets were certainly a wise precaution that evening!

Sunday, 25th July
After a leisurely breakfast we went to the Ilnacullin Gardens on the nearby island.
These well-known gardens are very sheltered and contain many exotic species such as yuccas.  The classical temple with pool was very photogenic and the Martello tower provided an impressive view of the approaches. We met the Rudds from Atlantia. Their daughter had processed my photo of Atlantia sailing to anchor in Castletownsend - it had been a spectacular feat in a crowded anchorage - and they were very pleased with it.   Will is interested in seeing Red Magic; with a view to his old age!  We also came across the Americans from Canty who remembered us from the Millennium Classic Malts-----people remember a red boat!


On the way back in the dinghy we watched tysties (black guillemots) diving and seals playing on the rocks.

Red Magic at Glengarriff

Monday, 26th July
This morning was overcast with a faint west wind. We passed Four Heads Point and Sugarloaf Mountain and the quarry on the north shore, which isn't marked on our charts.  The bleak bare mass of Hungry Hill had its head in the clouds but sun gleamed briefly on its lower slopes and a heather fire smoked at its foot.   The odd pot buoy was well out of the channel.  Some distance away on the south shore the oil terminal seemed very quiet.  Perhaps the tankers discharge from the large red buoy and do not need to go alongside.

At the quay opposite the entrance to Castletownbere there were three new-looking fishing boats and four or five larger vessels inside the harbour. Certainly more signs of profitable fishing than we had seen so far.  We anchored between the moorings near the steps and went ashore with washing and to shop for food.  Murphy's was a large well-stocked supermarket not far from the quay but the only post box in town was three quarters of a mile up the main street.

This is a fishing port and yachts are not catered for.  We watched a French/Spanish yacht which had gone alongside the quay, get pinned in by two fishing boats in a very awkward situation.  Later I collected the washing, which was all neatly folded and done up in a bag. We met the Rudds who, like us, were going to Dunboy Bay for the night so we invited them aboard and had a very pleasant evening.

Tuesday, 27th July
It was a dull morning, very calm with an occasional shaft of sunlight.  We went ashore in the dinghy to explore the ruin.  The style was Elizabethan/Gothic and the iron girders betrayed it as Victorian. At the far end was a much older looking structure, the remnants of a tower house.

The ruins along the Irish coast had intrigued me and later I found 'The Castles and Fortified Houses of West Cork' by Michael J. Carroll.   It starts with the history of West Cork and then details every tower house in the area, even if no trace remains now.  The ruin at Dunboy is actually Puxley mansion, built in the 1860s on the site of the original Dunboy Castle, which was built about 1473, probably by an O'Sullivan.  After the fiasco at Kinsale, the English army marched west and besieged Dunboy in 1602.  It was bombarded by cannon and much of it reduced to rubble.  When the defenders surrendered, they were slaughtered by the English.

John Puxley was given the land by Cromwell but his grandson found copper nearby which he mined very profitably.  His son built the mansion or the Marble Palace, as it was known.  Before it was complete his wife died in childbirth and, heartbroken, he stopped building and left Ireland.  Some of his relatives lived there later but there was only a caretaker when it was burnt by the IRA in 1921.

Puxley Mansion at Dunboy

After leaving Dunboy we headed out of Bantry Bay just as the sun broke through and we sailed into a glorious blue day.  On the passage through Dursey Sound we passed under cable car cables.  The car would take 6 people or 1 person and a cow between Dursey Island and the mainland.  At the northern end of the channel there was a slight chop, even on this calm day. It has a bad reputation in conditions of wind against tide.   We considered going out to the Skellig Islands, bird islands with a famous gannetry, but decided against a long passage today so continued with our northerly course across the mouth of the Kenmare River.

We had just furled the sails in preparation for the channel between rocks leading to Derrynane when a smart customs vessel appeared with attendant rib, which came alongside and put an officer aboard us.  He asked a few very perfunctory questions, not even how long we had been in Irish waters -perhaps they knew!  They were very proud of their new vessel!

Having negotiated the entrance to Derrynane we found the anchorage full of mooring buoys and other anchored yachts.  Eventually we found a place to anchor. Several of the other Cruise yachts were in and Canty, the 4Ift American, followed us.  Canoes and dinghies could be hired from the beach.  Runabouts were buzzing around and people were swimming.  It was a far from peaceful!  At last the children went home and we enjoyed quietness and the soft evening sunshine.

Wednesday, 28th July
We awoke late. It was still sunny despite a poor forecast.  As we left Derrynane Little Skellig could be seen between two nearer islands, shining white in the sun.  As we rounded Two Headed Island Katriona appeared from up river.   She circled us taking photographs and I took some of her which we have since exchanged.  Red Magic then sailed herself gently up the Kenmare River in the company of terns and shearwaters and guillemots, some with two youngsters.


After lunch Sherky Island was abeam and we turned to port to find Sneem. The obvious anchorage was to port but there were visitors' moorings east of the quay.  Cuilaun, a beautiful 55ft varnished yawl voted the most desirable yacht on the Cruise, was on one of them.

A Westerly Corsair, La Bamba lay at the short quay. We asked to go alongside to reach the tap.  The helpful owner lent us his hose when ours wasn't long enough.

We had just settled in the western anchorage when at least a dozen dolphins came into the haven.  They jumped and frolicked for about twenty minutes. Some were quite big, probably Bottlenosed.  We were too far away to see if they were chasing a shoal of fish. One small boat had sailed in with them and they almost jumped aboard her.  They splashed and jumped and blew all over the haven.

The dinghy from La Bamba came over later with a bucket of mackerel they had just caught and offered us as many as we liked.  Four small ones were very tasty.

Thursday, 29th July
It rained heavily and blew from various directions during the night. Several yachts dragged their anchors.  By the morning there was fine drizzle and a light north-westerly. Tony and I decided to go up river to Sneem by dinghy, with the flood, as recommended. Unfortunately this meant wind against tide so was rather splashy and we had to look out for rocks and weed concealing rocks.  Above the haven the river widened out with several inlets making it difficult to know in which direction Sneem lay. Most of the shores seemed to be wild but occasionally there were rather nice houses with land down to the river.  Just below Sneem quay two fishermen in a small boat had a net across the river. As they directed us round it, they claimed to be having a good catch.

On each side of the road from the quay a small park had been developed. One with grass and rocks and a picnic area and the other with flowerbeds, including wildflowers. The effect was most attractive.  A vivid yellow ochre shop selling wool was the first in a row of shops before the old four arch bridge over the rapids of the River Sneem. Beyond the bridge we were spoilt for choice with bars and cafes.  Sneem is on the Ring of Kerry so was busy with tourists.  There were statues to a world champion wrestler and Charles de Gaulle who apparently stayed here once!

When we returned to the quay the fishermen were still struggling with their net.
The journey back, in the sun, with the wind behind us, seemed much quicker and near the top of the tide we had less worry about the rocks.  Some time later the fishermen from Sneem appeared in their boat selling salmon to the yachts.  I bet they were over their allowance!  I didn't have room for a whole salmon but they sold several.

Friday, 30th July
Despite a strong wind warning it was a very calm night with gentle sunshine in the morning. We decided the mountains beyond the range behind Sneem must be Macgillycuddy's Reeks. What a name!

We decided it was time to return through Dursey Sound.  There was more wind towards the mouth of the river and we had a pleasant close reach with a SSE breeze to the entrance to the Sound.

The Sound was quite docile though the swell was breaking dramatically on the nearby rocks. We motor-sailed through Bear Island Sound to Lawrence's Cove where we berthed alongside William Tell, a Bowman 40, another Chuck Paine design.  Several other Cruise boats were still around.

Saturday, 31st July
We chatted to the crews of two Vancouvers in the marina.  Guillemette,a Vancouver 38 is owned by a retired airline pilot and his wife. He belonged to the ICC, the Icarus Cruising Club for retired airline pilots.  Leaving the marina we had a brisk sail to Lonehort Point before turning into the main area of Bantry Bay.  An Irish Navy vessel lay at anchor. We wondered how many there are. Another cracking sail took us to Sheep's Head and round into Dunmanus Bay.

A superb reach almost due east took us to Dunmanus Harbour, rather a misleading name for a little bay in where there were moorings for two fishing boats and two other small craft.  A picturesque bridge spans the stream and three storeys of a once four storey tower house stands on the shore.  The Normans built towers first to control the headlands though at that time the dense forest inland meant the Irish chieftains still held sway over most of the land. The chieftains decided tower houses were a good idea and built their own at every strategic point. This was an Irish one.

Two young boys in a red sailed, gunter rigged, clinker dinghy were having a great time and sailing very well - not an adult in sight-- real Swallows and Amazons stuff.  Their dinghy reminded me of my first boat.  A peregrine flew low over the shore.

Sunday, 1st August
A dull morning with cloud over Gabriel Mountain.  A reef seemed indicated for comfort as the forecast promised Force 5.  During a pleasant reach down Dunmanus Bay we passed a pod of 15 - 20 dolphins feeding on a shoal.  Gannets were diving for their share too.  At a steady six knots we passed the wild and lonely coastline and well-named Bird Island, the low cloud somehow inducing a sense of intimacy with the birds.

By Three Castles Head the sun began to break through.  We shook out the reef off Mizzen Head but there was still no sign of the expected east going tide so we stood well off on port tack finding the seas less turbulent further out. Eventually the tide took us clear of the Alderman rocks at the entrance to Crookhaven.

Barley Cove lies between Mizzen and Brow Head, the bright sand of the beach is obvious from the sea.  We were told that the dunes were thrown up by an earthquake in Lisbon in 1755.

Crookhaven was very busy.
Ribs and small runabouts kept up noise and waves until well into the evening.  We could see the quay was seething and gave up ideas of going ashore that night.  After our meal we moved to a quieter spot near a disused quarry.  Apparently the rock went to make Welsh roads until 1940.

Monday, 2nd August,  Irish Bank Holiday
Going ashore to shop we found the proprietor of the store sweeping up the debris from last night's revelry-----continued on a yacht near us until 3 am.   He claimed it was the busiest night of the year!

We motored out into a grey hazy morning with a flat sea and slight swell alone with guillemots and gannets.  Although originally intending to go pass south of Long Island we became fed up with the increasing swell so cut through Goat Island Sound to the quieter waters between Long Island and the mainland.  As the sun broke through we anchored for lunch and a snooze after last night's disturbed sleep.
Water skiers put paid to the dozing.

On raising the anchor the fitting connecting anchor to chain failed and the anchor plunged to the bottom! We were so shocked we didn't have the presence of mind to look at the GPS or take accurate bearings but trying to retrieve it there would be difficult and expensive.  The annoying thing was that Tony had replaced the fitting at the beginning of the season thinking there was wear on the five year old one.  However, Tony, being the proverbial squirrel, had an anchor in the cockpit locker from our previous boat.  As we reached along slowly under jib he attached it to the chain-- by a shackle, this time!

We had looked forward to exploring Roaring Water Bay only to find it full of mussel beds.  Visibility was deteriorating as we began to negotiate the channels between rocks and islands in the approaches to Baltimore.  Tony's bearings were disappearing as soon as he had worked them out but between DR and GPS he piloted us to the Ilen River by which time the sun broke through and the mist cleared.  Trees, fields, and rough pasture lined the river banks and we glimpsed the occasional enviable house with moorings or landing stage.


On rounding a bend we found Greylag at anchor so waved and took a photo.  About 300yards ahead, at the water's edge, a ruined church was completely covered in ivy and we decided to anchor there for the night.

Tuesday 3rd August
We awoke late after a hot and wakeful night to a dull morning with occasional rain.
Low water springs meant we had to wait for the flood before negotiating the rocks and mudbanks, some of which were now visible downstream.  It was also prudent to avoid the strongest ebb when making the sharp turn across the current towards Baltimore.  Wading birds were enjoying the exposed mud. A young pied wagtail alighted on our jib sheet, looking at the mast and rigging inquisitively.  Did he think we were a tree?

By mid afternoon we swung with the flood and began feeling our way down stream.
We nearly turned too soon but at last Baltimore harbour lay ahead with dinghies everywhere!  We picked up Giullemette's mooring as her owner had suggested.

The moorings were quite choppy with ribs, dinghies and ferries.  Getting ashore involved a struggle to reach the pontoon between all the large rib-type tenders on short painters.  After an expensive but good value meal at Chez Youen we walked up the hill and round the back of the town.  We found a huge new complex of holiday apartments near the site of the old railway station together with a large hotel with sports complex.  It was a very different Baltimore to the one we found when we first visited Ireland forty years ago but it is a good thing that so many people can enjoy water sports now.

Wednesday, 4th August
This morning was sunny with a light northerly breeze.  After shopping, we filled our water breakers from the fishing quay tap, the type you keep your finger on, as the pressure was very low in the pontoon supply - too many users.

After lunch we hoisted main and left Baltimore avoiding the Irish navy who had announced that this afternoon they were going to fire live shells nine miles to the south.

We set all sails and in a gentle south-westerly were soon gliding past Kedge Island, which has a hole  through it, to the passage inside the Staggs.

About 1800 we reached Castletownsend and anchored near our previous position.  The rowers, male and female, were still practising.  In calm evening sunlight we enjoyed the mackerel bought on the quay this morning and finished off a previously opened bottle of wine, deciding we were too dopey to go ashore tonight.

A Frances called Amorelle, with a blue ensign, anchored near the town.

Thursday, 5th August
The forecast promised a strong south-easterly so we decided to stay here.  An air/sea rescue was being organised for a fisherman overboard.  At least he was wearing a lifejacket.

We decided to explore ashore but on the way it began to rain seriously so we went up to the church.  This early nineteenth century Anglican church had some brilliant stained glass windows by Harry Clarke of Dublin, the leading exponent of his time.
The organ was playing, rehearsing for the evening's concert.  Unfortunately all tickets had been sold.  In 1403 the priest had been an O'Driscoll.  They were the chief family in this area until the rebellion of 1601 after which the main members had to flee to Spain.  The name is still in the town on some shops.  Somerville was another important family.  Admiral Somerville, died 1950 and a much decorated Captain Somerville was killed in action 1942.  They claimed to be descended from Louis IV of France.

It was still raining hard when we emerged from the church so we took refuge in Mary Ann's, 'the oldest pub in Ireland.'   The food had supposedly been much recommended and was quite good, but, sadly, they had run out of prawns, my favourite.   We sat next to a woman with four young children who had come to fish.  We saw them later paddling on the slip with their lines.  They start angling young!

Friday, 6th August
We were looking forward to exploring the east bank of the haven but as gales were forecast decided to move on at least as far as Kinsale.

Broad reaching with engine and some tide we made Galley Head. A few dolphins appeared, probably common.   On an even broader reach to Seven Heads we tried goose-winging the jib but much to my frustration, I couldn't keep it drawing. With a guyed main we bore away for Old Head of Kinsale, the swell making for awkward steering.  An Irish naval vessel tore past in the distance.  Once out of the swell round Old Head we had a pleasant sail to the mouth of the river

The marina master suggested that we could raft wherever suitable and the skipper of a Bavaria 35, Kee Wee Tu, helped alongside. They had just come in from the Scillies, their first time in Ireland.  Soon after Amorelle appeared.  She had left Casletownsend last night.  She rafted alongside and we were just swapping stories about Christchurch where she hails from and where I first started sailing, when Paul, the marina master suggested we should move to a more sheltered position in the marina as serious wind was expected.  We helped each other move to inside berths.

Later Tony lent his bosun's chair to a character who was trying to fit a VHF aerial on a nearby mast.  A real extrovert, he was entertaining the group below while working.  When he returned the chair we learnt that he was a French speaking West Indian from Guadaloupe married to an Irish girl.  He loved our boat as his name was Francis!

Saturday 7th August
I took some laundry into Kinsale and on returning heard that Paul had had a message from the holder of the berth we were in that he was off Old Head and wanted his own berth.  We had to move hastily and whilst manoeuvring it began to rain hard and we were still in shore trousers which got very wet.  We hadn't moved a moment too soon, the berth owner arrived before we had settled in our new position.

Showers at the Yacht Club, (who own the marina,) cost 2 euros for a token giving a shower of fixed time and temperature and little privacy.  What a money-spinner this summer!  However, we had a reasonable meal at the Club that night.

Sunday, 8th August
It was still blowing hard but sunny.  We went for a walk along the Headland to Charles Fort, the fort built in 1670 after the events of 1601 when Spanish soldiers supporting the Irish, defended James Fort, on the opposite bank, against the English army.  Charles Fort was a large, state-of-the-art construction when built but, I believe, was never put to the test.


We had a pleasant evening with Derrick Thorrington from Amorelle.

Monday, 9th August
Bathed in warm sunshine, Kinsale was amazingly quiet when I went in at 9 am to collect  laundry, photographs and food while Tony filled the water tanks and paid our dues.

We left the marina about 1100, had a pleasant sail to Cork and up through the harbour past the oil terminal to East Ferry.  This is a quiet wooded branch of the harbour with a quaint little church on the east bank and a small marina on the west.  The marina master was very helpful and found us a port side to berth, which is always easier with Red Magic. He extolled the virtues of the pub and we did indeed have a good meal there.

Tuesday 10th August
The weather forecast was still bad and we could see clouds tearing past overhead but it was beautifully quiet just here.  We went for walks ashore past farms and gates to mysterious estates.   There is also a quay on the opposite bank but it appears to be for fishing boats.  Yachts are discouraged.

Wednesday 11th August
The Irish weather forecast predicts winds of 5-6 but the BBC suggests SE 3-4.
I was rather reluctant but we left about 8.30 setting main with a reef.  Cobh cathedral was visible to starboard and some more of the Irish navy.   We stood out in a southerly direction for about four miles.  The wind was only 3-4 but there was an unpleasant chop.  After a couple of tacks we cleared Ballycotton Island in time to see the lifeboat charging out.  We believe someone had run out of fuel.

We were both getting fed up with the motion in this lumpy sea which kept stopping us at intervals with a sickening thud.   Helvick wasn't suitable in a south-easterly.  Dunmore East and the Waterford estuary were ten hours away.  Although the pilot book had warnings about entering Youghall in or after strong SE winds and we had not been in before, it would be towards the top of the tide so we decided to risk it.   It turned out to be less difficult than we imagined.

Finding a place to anchor was more difficult but we found a spot on the east side of the harbour north of the moorings.  It seemed exposed but the holding was good and the surrounding water fairly shallow.  We just got the hook down before a heavy shower arrived.  As it was 4 pm we celebrated with cups of tea and a very good Irish fruitcake.

It rained all evening and all night so we didn't see the Perseid shower predicted for the night.

Thursday, 12th August
We motored out of Youghall into a very light southeasterly.  It was still raining heavily so we steered from the wheelhouse - the benefits of a Frances!   The jib was set to reduce our rolling in the swell.  Further east the sea became flatter and the sun came out.  Another threatening black cloud appeared as the Waterford river was drawing abeam so decided on Dunmore East for the night rather than continue to Kilmore Quay.  The only room in the harbour was alongside a recently unloaded fishing boat.  We made fast our warps before deciding that the smell was too overpowering and reluctantly opted for anchoring outside.  Between the moorings and the racing yachts and dinghies there was very little room to anchor and our first attempt skidded over a stony bottom so we decided to go on to Kilmore Quay.

After dark I took our spotlight onto the foredeck to look out for fishing buoys.  We reached Kilmore Quay at midnight in another downpour.

Friday, 13th August
There was a great deal of activity in the harbour next day.  All the other yachts on our pontoon departed and several others came in.  Those from the west reported gales while the ones who had come down the east coast complained of fog.  More fishing boats also appeared until they lay six deep opposite the end of the pontoon and we wondered if there would be room to get out!  The relief Arun lifeboat departed on her way back to Poole but soon radioed back that she was assisting a casualty, so the Kilmore Quay Tyne shot out to take over. They now have a berth in the marina instead of launching from the slip-less entertaining for spectators.
We decided on a rest day and finished with a pleasant meal at Kehoe’s pub though they didn't have the huge seafood platter remembered from 2002.

Saturday 14th August
It was a calm bright morning. Several boats had departed very early so there was plenty of room for us to get out.   As we crossed St Patrick's Bridge the sea was glassy, dozens of sea birds were taking their rest and we saw dolphins.  Keeping close in off Carnsore Point we had a good view of the wind generators which were turning well despite the very light airs. In a soft grey atmosphere we suffered the fitful breeze until well past the Tuskar.

Early in the afternoon the sun reappeared and the wind increased to 4+ from SSE and we had a great sail, touching 7 knots at times as we surfed gently on the swell.  We saw a few cargo vessels and altered course for one. The radar came in useful for assessing their speed and distance.

Strumble Head was abeam by 6.0pm as the wind died down.  The Seacat ferry appeared out of Fishguard.  She had passed us only three times during the day instead of the usual four!  We anchored inside the outer harbour just before another downpour.

Sunday 15th August
We had to motor most of the way to Pwllheli as the swell was shaking the light air out of the sails but the sun shone on the mountains and us as we sailed across Cardigan Bay.  As it was Sunday there would be no firing from the gunnery range. We passed close to their very battered target.  I am glad they hit it sometimes!
For the last two hours we stopped the engine and sailed in the soft evening light towards Pwllheli. The numbers of sea birds increased as they returned to their roosts on St. Tudwal's Islands.  After dropping the sails in the lee of Gimlet Rock we motored quietly up the river to our berth in the marina.  It seemed a long time since we left.

We had had a great time.  Old friendships had been renewed and new ones made.  We had met a lot of interesting people and boats and been to interesting places, some of them for the first time.  We had also had some superb sailing as well as the usual frustrating stuff.  Ireland is a great cruising ground but it is getting busier all the time.  Our advice would be to avoid August, the height of the holiday season, if possible, and, unless competing, avoid Kinsale and the Cork marinas in Cork Week.



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