A pleasant week was spent with the O'Driscolls in Castletownbere. Lovely sun most of the time which became stormy the day before Derrick arrived from London. The first drama which occurred there was the puncturing of the dingy the morning that Christine left. Somehow I managed to get a 6 inch tear which took two attempts to repair. Luckily, I was due to be there for a week so I had the time to do the job right. The next drama was the night before Derrick arrived when I was awoken at 3am hearing voices. Now this wasn't the wine but it was weird as I was anchored in Castletownbere harbour at the time. It turned out that another boat had dragged their anchor when the wind got up a bit and was just about touching me. So I hurredly dressed and went to help. Also their engine wouldn't start so they couldn't motor away and drop their anchor again. So I started my engine to get out of their way. On raising the anchor, I found theirs wrapped around mine. Major doo doo !!!!!. Imagine the scene: pitch dark, two boats with wrapped anchors and one engine working. Luckily, my brain came to quickly and I got the boats tied together so that the one engine could give us some control. I then hopped into the dingy and unwrapped the anchors, having to cut away my anchor ball in the process. At this stage the other boat was in a good position to re-anchor so I released them and waited to see if their anchor would hold. When it did I moved off to anchor myself before trying to get some rest. It was still blowing a bit and I wasn't anchored in the ideal spot so at 6am I got up and reset the anchor in a better spot for some peace of mind.
By this time I was fairly shattered but still had a long drive ahead to collect Derrick.
The weather forecast on the radio on the way back from the airport gave 7-9 with gusts of 10
so I decided to come alongside a trawler for shelter. The harbourmaster hadn't been keen on
letting us do this when I asked earlier in the week but this was a case of "any port in a storm",
ie. we had a right to tie up to protect the boat from the weather. But after 36 hours it had
blown itself out so we went back to anchor for the last night in Castletownbere. The next day had light winds
forecast before another blow coming in and unsettled weather for the following days. This meant that
we would have to miss out on all the lovely picturesque anchorages in the Kenmare River and
head to a marina. The next one was Cahersiveen, up a river on the south side of Dingle Bay. I
had never been there before but Joe Thurstans had wintered there so I thought it would
be better than Dingle which I found a bit too touristy. As it turned out, we motored all
the way on bouncy seas with the wind only rising a bit as we passed Valentia. On a rising
tide we negotiated the sandbar at the river entrance and then tied up safe in Sive (as
the locals seem to call it). The town is basically a main street on the Ring of Kerry but had a good
selection of shops (and pubs). The most impressive feature is the former police barracks which
look like it was transplanted from Bavaria. It dominates the waterfront and had been well
refurbished after being destroyed during the Civil War. It was full of the history of the
town and particularily its most famous son, Daniel O'Connell who was born there.
As it turned out, we spent 4 nights there with gales going through. We were entertained by the
semi finals of the European Championships, with Spain producing some great football to beat
the Russians with some class. Evantually we had exhausted the options in Sive so, with a weather window
in the offing, we headed the short distance out of the river to anchor off Knightstown on
Valentia Island. This was the spot where the first transatlantic communication cable was laid from
and it has the story well laid out in the former national school which is now a heritage centre.
The village is small but tidy and neat, with a colonial feel to it. The hotel overlooking the harbour
is a beautifully maintained georgian classic.
The following morning, with the winds forecast 5-6 south westerly, we headed out to cross Dingle
Bay, aiming for Brandon. There was 2-3 metre swell rolling in from the gales the days before.
It eased when we got into the shelter behind the Blasket islands but rose again as we
rounded onto the north Kerry coast. The wind was now more or less on our stern at 18-22 knots.
Harry the Hydrovane worked marvels keeping us goosewinged in the rolling sea. Nearing Brandon
Head we headed closer to the shore but found the wind rising to over 30 knots and were down to
a triple reefed main and well reefed yankee headsail. The last time I was in similar conditions
was in Northern Spain with Gerry Jordan. That time we ended up with the staysail only in the 3 metre seas.
This time the seas had got up to 4-5 metres at times but with more sail up, our faster boat
speed helped keep the boat coping well. A valuable lesson learned in how to set up the boat for
Brandon anchorage was now not looking like a good idea, so we decided to head on to the marina in
Fenit near Tralee. This was due to be the final port of call for Derrick as he was flying out
from Kerry airport a few days later. This weeks weather was a pity, since we had missed the
opportunity of visiting the quiet anchorages along the way, but at least we got to sail a bit.
The trip from Valentia was 8 hours in rolling seas which we found tiring so it was an early night
for us. The highlight of the next few days was watching Spain win the final with a display
of great football. Now all I have to do is get more settled weather for the solo passage