Feeling the Irish Heat
Posted on the 9th July at 12:00 a.m.
Good Weather, Good Animals, Good Scenery and Good Craic
This is a blog post about our trip around the Southwest of Ireland! We sailed from Kinsale (near Cork) to Galway. It was epic trip, really good fun with lots of adventures! As we had almost literally no wind, this post is more about fun/adventure/food/scenery/wildlife than sailing, but hey ho. I love it! If there was wind, it was a light easterly - pretty hilarious as I had planned this trip with a strong Atlantic Southwesterly in mind. I've broken the blog post into themed sections as a full trip report would be like a million words.
The Route and Conditions
So our route followed the Irish coast from Kinsale to Galway, passing honestly a milion islands, inlets, cliffs, towns and things to see. 6 days is really not enough time. I reckon you could easily spend 4 months chilling out and cruising this area but still not see the all there is to see. Here is our route:
The weather was amazing - I don't think I saw a cloud all week. The downside of this is that there was a lot of motoring, though it was too beautiful to care that much!
Literally on our first morning near "The Stags" islands/rocks we came across a basking shark! We were able to get super close and he hung around for some time before he was too annoyed and buggered off.
Basking sharks are relatively common around Ireland, but only later in the summer, usually not this early. It was a small one, so maybe not quite learned in the art of migration yet.
Having a Whale of a Time
On two occasions we saw a Minke Whale!! Really special experience. The first one was really far away, and maybe there were two, but we only saw it around the boat at a distance. The second one was at 4.15am on our night passage, just before the sun rose. He/she was really close to the boat and came to the surface several times - really a very specially experience. Unfortunately most of the crew were asleep, but we got a cracking photo:
Too Many Dolphins
We saw a lot of dolphins! Mostly common dolphins, but we also saw two 'tame' bottlenose dolphins: Funghi who inhabits Dingle harbour and Dusty who haunts the North Strand on Inisheer. The common dolphins love to ride the bow:
By the end believe it or not we were bored of dolphins hahaha. Particularly special was a swim with Dusty at Inisheer:
The Island of Great Blasket
Great Blasket was abandoned in 1953 due to life getting too hard on this exposed and rough island. It is one of the most westerly points of Europe and juts out from the Dingle peninsula into the Atlantic Ocean. The bay with the village is quite a beautiful and wild place, with a great sandy beach and a ruined village. Echoing with the ghosts of the past ooooooh. We had a great swim and walk about!
A Successful Landing on Skellig Micheal
This was quite the endeavour! We landed 4 folk on Skellig Micheal - the famous island on Ireland's west coast for having a monks monastery on the pinnacle and hosting a gazillion seabirds - puffins and gannets! It is also the location of a key scene in one of these new Star Wars films. Landing was a bit stressful and terrifying as we had to battle strong gusts, a huge swell, cliffs and other tourist boats. What makes it hard is that there is no anchorage, so we tried to do it in two 'teams' of four, with one team holding Skylark offshore and switching. Much to everyone's dismay, the wind picked up so much that the row back to the boat was perilous and harrowing and it was decided that we could not attempt a second landing. I'm very sorry to those guys who couldn't go ashore! But we did get a few photos of the expedition:
The Aran Islands
The Aran Islands are a very unique collection of three islands in Galway Bay. We spend a day and half there. The first day we cycled around Inishmore and went to see Dun Aonghasa (a huge fort ruin on the cliff) and also Pol na bPeist (the Serpents lair) which is this really wicked totally natural rectangle cut in the rock, and hosts some extreme diving competitions. Really good for a swim!!
The next morning we went over to Inissheer - the smallest island of the three - and the home of Dusty the Dolphin! Despite the F3 Easterly, we were able to go ashore and explore:
Yes, thats the shiwreck from the start of Father Ted!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib1WMwCZjAM
One of the most important things on a trip is the food - good for morale and general enjoyment. And jeeso did we have good food. Thanks to Jerome for using his professional chef skills to craft some absolutely wicked meals. A particular highlight was fresh mussels from some mooring buoys. Here is Eleanor preparing them:
And the final pot:
Its always a challenge cooking at sea (the sail ties (gravity indicators) are hanging vertically to give you an idea of the heel of the boat):
But worth it:
Other Wee Things
So in general it was a really great trip. We had a few other wee adventures, much too many to mention in this blog post. Here's a few more photos:
We did a night 'sail' *cough*motor*cough* that went really well, it was really nice being in the middle of the sea with a full moon and flat sea and the sunset and sunrise were really amazing. It was during this early morning (around 4.30am, just after sunrise) that we motored past a special thing - an ocean sunfish! An extremely rare and elusive visitor to the British Isles, and a fantastic thing to see. Didn't get photo (so I hope you believe us) but here is a photo from the internet:
Sailing really is a great way to see some amazing places and do some amazing things all under you own steam - which is an amazing feat. It is also a great friend building environment! On that note, many thanks to the crew were amazing! Tom, thanks for being my first mate. And generally cheers folks for being awesome! Thanks for reading!