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Archive of entries posted on May 2007

Tory Island




Tory Island

Originally uploaded by arctica

After a night at Burtonport, entered through a narrow, rocky channel,
where we ate very well at “The Skipper’s Tavern” we set out for Tory
Island – the remotest inhabited island off Ireland. In a few miles we
came across “Napper Tandy”, a ketch drifting in the negligible breeze
with a dead engine but our help was not needed as a local boat was on
its way to assist. The weather was perfect with the hills showing sharp in the cool air before the temperature rose as the sun beat down from a cloudless sky. Tory Island is named from its three distinctive tors, and is the home of “Balor of the blows” – the Celtic god of darkness. The island teems with bird life and the Skipper got a rare sighting of choughs – shiny black cliff-dwelling crows with scarlet legs and beak. As the photo shows, we are nicely tucked in harbour alongside a very similar yacht.

Donegal Bay




Donegal Bay

Originally uploaded by arctica

Calmer seas prevailed for the long haul across Donegal Bay from Ballyglass to Killybegs. As we left in the early morning we got this photo of a rainbow highlighting the lifeboat. We answered a Coastguard request for a volunteer for a helicopter hi-line exercise (as we experienced off Shetland last year) but they wanted a larger vessel. A group of 8 or 9 very lively dolphins played around us for a spell, but as usual we failed to get a good photo. Killybegs is a major fishing port with many large pelagic trawlers laid up out of season, but we found a quiet spot out of everyone’s way in the harbour. As on the west coast of Scotland, there were many active Spanish trawlers unloading their catches on to huge trucks bound directly for Spain. Now at Teelin, a small, pretty natural anchorage on the north shore of Donegal Bay, we are well placed for the next leg round Rossan Point inside the wonderfully named Rathlin O’Birne Island and up to Aran Island (not to be confused with the Aran Islands of a week ago, off Co. Clare).

Triffids!!




Triffids!!

Originally uploaded by arctica

Don’t know what these are, but they could certainly pass muster as triffids. We have seen lots lurking by the roadside ….. waiting to pounce? At Achill Island the cox’n of the lifeboat was very good to us – ferrying us ashore, giving us a lift to the village 5 miles away, and sending a colleague to pick us up as we walked back in the rain. Fortunately it cleared later, giving a fine evening and the opportunity for a walk ashore. Today gave us the best sailing weather and coastal scenery so far. Achill Island has dramatic cliffs backed by sharp grassy ridges leading to prominent hilltops – it looks to be a really good walking area. In places the sea surge was shooting spray 50ft in the air, but sadly no photos – the skipper fully occupied helming in the confused seas, and the mate hanging on!

Islands at Last




Islands at Last

Originally uploaded by arctica

After 700 miles the cruising is becoming much more interesting, as we
are among islands and passages between instead of steadily passing
headlands to starboard. We are now getting some shelter from the
continual Atlantic swell, which makes 8 and 9 hour trips quite
physically tiring, but gives a real feel of being at sea when the
immediate horizon is the next big swell. After Inishmore we rounded
Slyne Head and made up the Connemara coast to the island of Inishbofin
for a good overnight anchorage. Then we island-hopped in the mist up
to the S end of Achill Island where, inside a narrow, twisting
entrance, we are in calm water on a visitor’s mooring just off this old stone tower. We have been fascinated by some of the names on the chart – here are just a few from the last couple of days …… Gubbinwee, Inishbiggle, Doonguddle, Inishgalloon and Carrickmoylenacurboga!

Dingle to the Aran Islands




Dingle to the Aran Islands

Originally uploaded by arctica

It was a 40 mile trip round the Dingle peninsula to Fenit with little
gained in the way of northing. However the scenery was good – round Slea Head, through Blasket Sound, past Mount Brandon (an Irish ‘Munro’) and into Tralee Bay. Fenit has a fishing harbour and yacht marina (photo) dominated by an imposing statue of St. Brendan the Navigator – a bit over-hyped as a “Heritage Park” as it would fit in your back garden! A 55 mile trip today gave us a fine motorsail, averaging just over 6 kts with still a SW swell, up to the Aran Islands of sweater fame where we turned in to Kilronan on Inishmore. A few miles away the smallest of the three islands – Inisheer – is better known as the “Craggy Island” of Father Ted.

Dingle Dolphin




Dingle Dolphin

Originally uploaded by arctica.

This is a bronze of Fungie the bottlenose dolphin which has made Dingle Harbour his home for over 20 years, and is a major tourist attraction. He did come out to greet us as we sailed in and eyed us closely, but decided we were not worth one of his spectacular jumps high out of the water. For once the weather forecast has not been an exaggeration and winds have reached force 9 (severe gale) with more of the same today. However showers have been infrequent and it is mostly sunny. Winds are due to moderate greatly overnight but we expect quite a residual swell off the west coast. We enjoyed some live music in a pub last night (uillean pipes, banjo and guitar) and may look in tonight at the pub advertising “mighty sessions nightly”. For anyone thinking of a visit to Cork and Kerry, we recommend Dingle – our most attractive port of call so far.

A Touch of the Irish




A Touch of the Irish

Originally uploaded by arctica

We knew there were smoking restrictions in Ireland, but hadn’t realised they extended to herring. So now they are having to catch their kippers at sea – as this packaging shows. We are now in Dingle after a long trip from Bear Island in Bantry Bay, with little to see other than headlands looming out of the mist as we progressed round the coast and across from Valentia. We plan on staying here to await better weather – the 24 hour forecast is for a SW Force 8 gale (and possibly 9!) – but we are tucked into a nice wee marina in a nice wee town so all is well. There are numerous pubs advertising live music so that will be tomorrow night’s entertainment. One pub that caught our eye was Foxy’s Bar and Hardware Store! Yes, there were gantries and beertaps down one side and bins of nuts, bolts and screws down the other, with the punters in the middle. A shop we saw elsewhere offered computer repairs and fishing tackle! (It’ll be ready next week – would you like to go fishing meantime?)

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Watch this space for improvements to the map over the coming weeks!

Mizen Head




Mizen Head

Originally uploaded by arctica.

Today we rounded Mizen Head, the SW point of Ireland after an extra
night at Crookhaven to let the passing gale blow over. There we had a
Saturday night Murphys at O’Sullivans pub, who declined to take a fee for use of a visitor’s mooring “until June”. As at all our other ports of call, the houses and cottages are all kept neat, tidy and well painted. There is an atmosphere of pride about the place – in contrast to much of the Western Isles of Scotland. We had fine sailing weather today and an excellent sail round Mizen Head, Sheep’s Head and up the length of Bantry Bay to Glengarriff. It is a well sheltered anchorage, protected by islets and skerries and with something of the feel of Balmaha on Loch Lomond – although that has nothing to match the splendid frontage of the Eccles Hotel. Come nightfall we half expect echoes of the Goon Show to waft across the bay!

Crosshaven & Kinsale




Crosshaven & Kinsale

Originally uploaded by arctica.

We reached Crosshaven for the rendezvous with our crew from London for
the holiday weekend with a day in hand, so we took the opportunity of
visiting Cork for an afternoon. We had shopping to do so we did not have time for tourist attractions, but found it an attractive city. Situated on the River Lee, it shares the distinction with Paris and New York of being founded on an island. Crosshaven is near the mouth of Cork Harbour, on a river with a strong tidal flow. With Finlay and Jeannie, Chris and Maria aboard we moved the short distance round to Kinsale on a day of mirror calm and brilliant sunshine, enjoying the brief company of a pod of dolphins on the way. Kinsale is a very attractive coastal resort and a major centre for yachting. The streets are narrow and colourful, as pictured, and are home to a huge number of pubs and good restaurants. Surprisingly, it lacks a chandlers and we found that the local filling station sells groceries but not engine oil or any motoring requirements!