Part 2 - Kilrush to Lawrence Cove - 103nm in 9hr15m (10:30-19:45)
Ok, Monty Froggies quest for ye Tall Ships race in Waterford continues. Tuesday 0600am in Kilrush Creek marina. Filled with anticipation as I eagerly check the sea area forecast on my iPad. Our dream of cruising from Lough Derg on the mighty inland River Shannon around the Irish coast to visit the Tall Ships race in Waterford hangs in the balance. We came out to Kilrush “in case” the medium term forecast had improved and it had. Winds forecast W-NW F3-4 that day, but a high is moving in which should give a weeks settled weather on the south coast which bodes well for making it all the way to Waterford city in pleasant conditions. Horray - We are on, but today might be slightly lumpy out there once past the mouth of the Shannon Estuary into the Atlantic swell, if there was much of a swell, but we wouldn't find out until we stuck our nose out. Fuel tanks filled the night before, oil checked and a brief underfloor engine check. Then Mrs OF made us a lovely porridge and fruit breakfast!
Kilrush Creek Marina - What a beautiful morning. There was still a breeze but it felt good in the marina lagoon.
If the wave conditions were good beyond the estuary we might attempt a run all the way around the coast to Baltimore in Co Cork, if not we could alternatively make Lawrence Cove in Bantry Bay, or at worst Dingle if the sea state really impeded our progress. The main thing is we knew the weather would be excellent for the rest week, but we may have to endure a little sea that day!
Kilrush to Lawrence Cove - 103 nm
Left Kilrush shortly after LW for comfort as wind would be with the incoming tide and happy to trade a few kt SOG for comfort at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary which is 8nm wide, especially when my dearest is on board. I had programmed the plotter with three possible routes earlier that morning as Jonie slept in the comfy aft cabin. It was a pleasant day with a smooth sea inside the sheltered estuary. This was going to be a long day if we were going to break the back of this trip to Waterford for the following Friday. All going well it should take about 8hr30m to make the 125nm to Baltimore if we could stay on the plane and at 15kt all the way around, “if”.
A happy Mrs OF at the helm. I thought it might be a good idea for her to stay here as we left the shelter of the Estuary and headed into the edge of the Atlantic. We enjoyed a cup of tea, the sky was blue and the sun was shinning.
Kerry Head on the port side in the distance with the mighty Mount Brandon in the far distance. Surely but slowly the sea state disimproved as we passed through the mouth of the Shannon Estuary. I checked the midday sea area forecast which had slightly disimproved to F4-5 from the west. We had a head sea off the starboard quarter but the sea state became slightly confused as the wind had changed 90 degrees over night, but Atlantic swells can take a few days to change direction! Hence no further photos until we got to the shelter of the Blasket Islands. About 30 mins after this last photo we got “thumped” a bit for four hours!
We had to slow as the head sea was making the boat slam a little uncomfortably, but my main concern was the forces acting on our small rib which was hanging from davits. It had been pulled up tight against the davits and strapped firmly, but the double wave action was causing quite some strain on the davits whenever we slammed a wave. Bang!!! I heard something snap as we hit a wave rather hard. It was one of the straps that had been under the rib to minimise its movement, now flapping in the wind from the davit extension. We slowed some more, now down to 10kt which seemed the most comfortable speed and took the strain off the davits. There was no way I was going to be able to repair the strap at sea as I was not prepared to climb down to the bathing platform in the rolling sea. It became obvious that we are not going to make Baltimore before dark at this speed, as we had to slow further to 7.5kt, and the plotter had recalculated an ETA of 02:00hrs, no use, so we decided to head for Lawrence cove which was about 3hrs closer. I hoped that once we turned south passing the Blaskets off the Dingle peninsula could get back to planing speeds with a beam on sea.
Blasket Islands. At last after hours of rolling around at displacement speeds in a confused swell we arrived in the shelter of Blasket sound. It was flat calm in here and such a comfort after the hours of pounding. These jagged rocks are the western most pieces of the EU on the Atlantic south west coast of Ireland. Surreal awesome beauty. During winter storms this is not a place to be and even Naval ships avoid the sound.
Great Blasket Island off the dingle peninsula. This is “Ryans Daughter” country where David Lean's famous movie was filmed in the 60s. This is a popular anchorage only about 90 mins from Dingle marina. The island is no longer inhabited bar occasional summer residents including an artist. This beech is where small local trip boats land tourists during the summer season. Some years ago there had been a legal dispute and for a few bizarre weeks “bouncers” patrolled the beach to stop the local trip boats landing tourists! Anyway it was pleasant in here so we took a break and had a snack as we drifted with the tide.
Sheltering off the Great Blasket Island. Decision time, continue on to Lawrence Cove or divert to Dingle. My beloved said go on, because if we stop now, she wasn't sure she would want to come out again. I reassured her that the weather for the rest of the week would be excellent. I could see some degree of doubt in her eyes, but grateful for her trust and approval to continue for what might be a further 4-5 hours. The photo in here looks deceptive and the sky lovely, but trust me outside the shelter of these islands the sea had more movement than some of some of Beethoven's greatest hits!
Dingle Bay looked enticing but we proceeded southwards.
Valentia Island - The sea state gradually improved as it often does once you round one of Ireland's major western Atlantic headlands so we got the speed back up to 15kt but the dingy seemed happy on the Davits. We start to enjoy the scenery once again.
Bantry Bay - After 7:40hrs underway at 18:10 we entered Bantry Bay, now only 90mins to Lawrence Cove marina on Bere Island.
Evening descends on Dursey Head astern with the Calf rock in the distance. The Bull and Cow rocks are out of sight. Boating has become very pleasant once again. The jagged coastline in this part of the world makes for fantastic scenery.
Castletown Bearhaven in the distance with Bere Island to starboard. Entering Bere Haven sound we slowed to displacement speed to enjoy the run in. Castletown is a busy commercial fishing port, and was still a sovereign British naval port until 1938 until it was returned to Ireland with the other two treaty ports (ie Cobh and Lough Swilly). (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_Ports_(Ireland) ). Castletown was a major part of the U-Boat campaign during the first world war. Winston Churchill was bitterly opposed to returning these strategic ports as he alone seemed to foresee the threat of the Nazi storm clouds on the horizon and feared Ireland's neutrality might weaken the Atlantic defences from a new U-Boat threat.
A beautiful Swiss Tall Ship in the anchorage off Dunboy house. The local authorities have provided yellow visitor mooring buoys all around the wonderful area. We didn't spot any cuckoo clocks, but I'm sure her crew are punctual anyway!
Rainbow over Berehaven sound - Co Cork to port and Bere Island to starboard. During WW1 this sound was the base for the massive US Atlantic Fleet. As Ireland was then part of the UK, the US fleet used this as it's war time base to protect Atlantic convoys and supply lines. I saw an old photo with 100s of warships anchored here 95 years ago! The sea bed here is littered with small wreaks and military debris.
Legend has it that this old Soviet Freighter was scuttled by her own crew in protest at not being paid. She is now part of the scenery in the sound and popular with divers.
Local Car ferry taking passengers and cars to Bere island which is only 5nm long. This island used to be an important military base during WW1. You can still make out one of the observation posts in centre right of picture. It was also strategic during the Napoleonic wars with it's martello towers and canon gun batteries. The WW1 batteries are still in place.
Entrance to Lawrence Cove. Yellow vistor mooring buoys are popular in this scenic area. Boy are we tired after 9:30hr underway with more than half of it lumpy. But it was a lovely evening in this beautful remoteness.