Off to West Cork

Castletownbere, 16th of June

After a great trip to Spain walking with Anne, I was in chilled form and ready for the off. The forecast looked good with light winds from the west and north west for a while so I set off with Randall on board for the first time in ages. We motored to Wicklow on glassy seas and tied up in time to head to the pub to see the next game in the European Championships. It had been ages since I had been in Wicklow, but the berth was nice and we slept like logs after a few good pints and take out dinner. The next morning Randall complained that his head felt abused from the night before so we sorted it out by going for a long walk and visiting the excellent show in Wicklow Gaol commemorating the treatment of the 1798 revolutionaries and what bacame of most of them.

Setting off the next day, we had light onshore winds which evantually died before becoming force 3-4 westerly and soon we were romping along in the sun with a single reefed main and Harry the Hydrovane being well tested. Arklow was the next port, only 15 miles away but time flew as we got working to get the best out of the conditions. Another rush to the pub followed before dinner onboard watching the impressive Dutch hammer the Italians. Then it was all over for Randall, as he had to head to work the following morning, but at least he got to have a good spin. When he got up at 6.40 the following day, I headed out straight away with the tide as I wanted to see Spain play at 5 that afternoon. I initially motored on glassy seas before a pleasant Northwesterly breeze kicked in for a couple of hours and I felt at peace with the world until the wind eased and the iron donkey was brought back into action. I was dithering about going into Rosslare as it is open to the North, but it was where Christine was coming into the following morning. I had thought of Carne beach but I would have to cycle 4 miles or so to collect her at 7am. So I chanced tying up in Rosslare even though it could be a bumpy night. It was smooth in the afternoon but got a bit bumpy close to bedtime for a while so a restless night with little sleeping ensued.

After the early start, Christine and I headed out in light winds which freshened a little from the west. This meant a lovely sail to Carnsore Point, Ireland's southeast corner, before motoring into the wind the rest of the way to Dunmore East, avoiding the lobster pots along the way. But at least the forecast predicted better wind direction for the following day. The harbour of Dunmore was busy with lots of fishermen returning from a protest over fuel costs. As a result the harbourmaster wouldn't let us raft up so we anchored off outside and went for a rest. After a good snooze we had a stroll in showers before watching the Portugese beat the Czechs. We were both tired by then but a good feed set up up for sleep with the thoughts of better sailing the following day.

Thursday dawned sunny and breezy and soon we were off on a beam reach, with 2 reefs on flat seas doing 7+ knots at times. Harry was working, though had to be monitored since, like the skipper, he tended to wander off at times. But conditions were such that we decided to skip Ballycotton, to go on to Crosshaven in Cork. We sailed for 6 hours before the winds got fluky and the engine was on again. Luckily, it only for a short while as the winds shifted and came good again for the last 10 miles into Cork harbour. The entrance is always impressive as the hills rise and forts impressively look down on you as you go in. We had a bit of traffic to deal with before we turned in west to Crosshaven. I had been years since I had been here and it was as busy as ever. But a pint of Murphys in Cronin's tasted as good as ever!

We had light northerly winds the following day for the 15 mile trip around to Kinsale. Christine felt that after two long days we deserved a more relaxing one. So we sailed out on light winds from astern making 2-3 knots. The ghoster came out for a while before the winds died, only to come up again from the Northwest and we were off again doing 5 knots on glassy seas. It was coastal sailing at its best. Over the other trips I had made through these waters, my abiding memory was winds from the wrong direction and being held up every few days due to a blow coming through. This time I can't believe that I have had winds no higher than force 5 and nearly always from a good direction. Anyway, Kinsale was as busy as ever with tourists and some impressive sailboats were great eye candy. I know, some guys go away and look at the pretty girls. I just look at the pretty boats. Sad or what !!!

The following morning dawned still, with only the hint of a breeze. So it was back to the engine as we motored past a sleeping Kinsale heading west. Since Christine only had 2 days of sailing left, she had to decide our destination. But since we were now heading into West Cork, the options were endless, with lots of anchorages big and small to chose from. In the end she took us to Clear Island and after 7 hours of motoring we anchored in the idyllic anchorage of South Harbour. Motoring again after two lovely days sailing was a bit boring but it meant that we could get further along the way towards her final destination of Castletownbere, which she had last visited on the original Suckin' Diesel all those years ago. The itinerary for the visit to Clear was a quick stroll around the island before watching Spain squeeze past Sweeden, (accompanied buy a couple of pints of Murphys). We had an early night in preparation for Christine's last day. This was a real gem. We left at 8am and sailed out towards the Fastnet for a wee look before turning northwest for Mizen head. At this stage we had gone as far south as we would be this summer and it would be northwards for the next 6 weeks or so. The winds were light but enough to sail as we ghosted along at 3-5 knots to the rock and beyond before losing the wind for the last hour into Castletownbere. 270 miles covered in a week wasn't bad at all and for the first time in ages the wind gods gave us good winds and calm seas for most of the trip. When I think back on those hours Derrick, Randall, etc and I spent fighting headwinds on previous trips to here I realise how lucky we were this time.