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Rebecca and Friends with us on the West Coast of Ireland

August 6th, 2008 · No Comments

Mary: We left Westport for Inishbofin, a distance of thirty two miles, leisurely sail with time to catch up on Rebecca’s news. Camy and Peden again closely watching their speed when helming, and yes you can go faster if you sail off course and more down wind!

We’ve been to Inishbofin before (day sailing to Commemara) and I remember it as a tricky entrance, I don’t know why because it is pretty straight forward, although the leading line takes you close to the rocks, better that than over the rock lurking just under the water in the central channel. Great to have charts!

More... The new storm defences are rather ugly but necessary. Friendly island, good pub at bottom of hill,14_Pub_inishboffin.jpg with Dolphin Resturant at the top. Swimming and exploring the castle at the entrance provided an afternoons entertainment.

Out into a lumpy sea, with the waves crashing onto the many rocks, foam and froth everywhere, but we did have a good wind and as we slid past Slyne Head we could ease the sails and into the main Aran island.

There is a three year project here to improve the harbour and increase the pier length, three toots then they blasted the rock, the thud could be felt below decks, drilling and general building noises fill the air.

First evening and we wander ashore to a quiet island, somehow it feels wrong, lots of icecream boards and tacky gift shops. An island waiting to pounce on its tourist, I think.17_Aran_islands_2.jpg

Our morning alarm, is the wash off the first ferry boat, one of many, they all rush for quay space and as soon as unloaded rush off to get the next lot of punters. Tourists troop off cash in hand ready for the pony and trap ride or the bicycle hire, fast food etc etc. Swimming off the boat is good though, as the water is shallow for some distance and has had time to warm up or so I’m told!

Early evening and now we like the rest of the tourists desert the island. Night sailing to arrive at Smerwick harbour at dawn. Not long into the evening and a pod of common dolphins come to play, they really do play, swimming along side then rushing under the bow, they are so close that you can almost touch them. They dive backwards and forwards so close I don’t know how they miss the boat. Lots arrive to play in the boat wash, its fantastic watching them. They leave when they have had enough, and we watch them go. Everyone now is looking closely at the water, looking for the next pod, and it’s not long before a few more arrive, play and go. Wind has increased a bit so we take a reef in, lights appear in the distance and we have to try and work out what they are. Well they are not moving, they are white, they are not bobbing up and down, so must be big. We are sailing at 7.5 knots. They are not getting closer or further away. Mmm. Next the lights change and we see green and white and froth all over! Now, it’s easy at home, not so easy at sea but we do now have a fishing boat, trawling. So identified, we can avoid him and his nets. Sometimes fishing boats don’t always have the correct lights, they keep their fishing cone up even in harbour, so what can you believe? Now its midnight in our trip and good night because I’m off watch! Dawn comes and a call for the anchor down comes, yes I’m tired but glad to be here putting the anchor down and not starting a new watch!

A new day dawns, well the same day that I put the anchor down in but I’ve been to bed since then. I show the boys a leaflet about fishing in Ireland with a picture of a fisherman and a large fish, one like that would be good I said. Off they go.

Giselle, Giselle, Giselle this is Mouse, Mouse, Mouse (name of dinghy)

Yes Mouse.

Peden has caught a massive fish. the radio booms.

22_Big_Fish_Smerwick2.jpgThey continue fishing and return a few hours later, with a catch for the five thousand. See photos! What do you call Pedens Pollock after I’ve had it for a few minutes?

Gutted! The Rick Stein seafood cookbook has proved very useful!

From Smerwick we head though the Great Blasket sound, wind as you would expect, flucky, blowing down off the high cliffs, lumpy seas and keeping on course very important with the jaggy rocks spraying up anything that comes in contact. The land is very bare, dark, and no trees. In behind Valentia Island, and anchor off as visitor moorings are too close together for us, although we did pick up two just to check or was it to give me practise, lying on the deck and picking up the buoy?

Morning and Rebecca and David go ashore. They buy the last pack of onions; the last carton of milk etc etc either they don’t expect many customers or only put out one pack at a time. Portmagee, is home to tripper boats for the Skelligs, islands about ten miles off shore, 715 foot of slate mass and home to many seabirds, especially gannets, forty thousand. The passengers probably don’t know what awaits them on the island, a very steep climb to the top, but the views on a clear day must be great. There are the remains of St Fionan’s abbey and six complete beehive cells, drystone huts that have survived centuries of foul weather. It is however some climb to get there, worth at least two mars bars. The weather today is just amazing clear blue skies, wind behind us and the spinnaker is up, we are steaming along. Bantry Bay here we come.

We anchor at Castletownbere, next to the lifeboat. There are lots of fishing boats tied to the quay, well looked after but idle. Quotas I expect. Our evening trip ashore takes us to a blue bar with blue music, live, but with large TV screen (on) behind the guitarist. Our second bar is MacCarthy’s here we have great live music, a blether with the locals, and are locked in. Well there is the back door, which we use and return to the boat.2188

A short trip up the coast and we arrive at a marina where we all have showers, fill the tanks up with water and have a huge late brunch. Now, off up to Bantry, deviate slightly to Glengariff Harbour birthplace of the Irish Cruising Club. Very pretty harbour a lot like Scotland well west coast anyway, rocks to go round, mussel beds to avoid, generally very picturesque also now we have trees and green land. Again a trip ashore to find the best music and we’re not disappointed, if you listen I can hear the fiddle and the guitar playing out the tune, can you? Well your dafter than thought!

Sunday is a sad day for me because Rebecca goes back to London. 27_travelling_light.jpgI’m told, if you don’t let them go they can’t come back. Right. Only mothers understand.

We go back to Castletownbere.

Tags: Atlantic Leg · Friends & Family