Round Ireland Ė 1997 

Always welcome, crew lending a hand during pre-cruise refit

"Hands up anyone who wants to swim round the fastnet Rock ..."

Mussel dredgers at Wexford.

Peel - Bangor - Yellow Stone, Larne Lough - Greencastle - Downings  Bay, Sheephaven - Killybegs - Broadhaven - Inishbofin - Rossvael Quay, Cashla Bay - Carrigaholt, River Shannon - Blasket islands - Dingle Marina - Castletown Bearhaven - Crosshaven - Drake's Pool - Owenboy River - Dunmore East - Wexford - Arklow - Howth - Ramsey

Boat: Anquette, Westerly Centaur, 26ft bilge keel sloop.
Skipper: Dave Le Geyt
Crew: Paul Robinson & Peter Robinson
Logged: 868.5 miles

Beneficiaries of fund raising during the North Atlantic Challenge 2001 were: The Friends Of Chernobyl's Children (Isle Of Man).

Sources of Information (future web site update)

 

A few weeks before the challenge, I invited two South African's whose home was 300 miles from the nearest coastline a weekend sail down the west coast of the isle of Man. During the afternoon we anchored off Port Erin, and I asked (half jokingly) whether anyone would like a trip to the top of the mast. Surprised to have two volunteers. Once they had each been to the top and were back on deck - I wondered if they might be interested in learning some other sailing skills... and so asked if they were interested in a sail round Northern Ireland and Ireland. They rowed ashore, and half an hour later were back onboard with a "We'll do it".

97/06/01, Sun: Peel - Bangor Marina

Set of at @0345 hrs, heading NNW, with Paul topsides and Pete below - trying to avoid 'mal de mer'. Nearing the Mull of Galloway, we could bear away. Progress reasonable, with a falling wind and ebb tide. As we'd been zooming along at 6 knots before slowing a little, I considered Larne Lough. Having passed the Copelands, with the wind light the motor was called into play.

Unfortunately it played up. So when north of Belfast Lough had to reluctantly turn into the Lough, to sail in a fluky wind. Later turned the engine on, it overheated. Sailed around for 1/2 an hour to allow it to cool, before proceeding to run it for few minutes only at tickover as we headed into Bangor Marina (with fingers crossed).

97/06/02, Mon: Belfast Lough, Bangor Marina - Yellow Stone, Larne Lough

Rang an engineer who arrived promptly at Anquette and checked everything, sucking and blowing through all hoses in case of a blockage preventing the water circulating round the engine block. We went motoring in the bay for an hour to test the engine - whilst Peter and Paul went into town getting groceries. The engineer couldn't find the problem, but removed the anti-siphon. After lunch we motored round the bay for 4 hours without further problems. Headed back to Bangor. When I asked the engineer how he'd like to be paid he said "give me a ring in a few days time". Set off around 1900 hrs, and motored round into Larne Lough to anchor for a peaceful nights rest SE of the Yellow Stone. Later on phoned the engineer and left my name and my address with his wife so that a bill could be sent.

97/06/03, Tue: Yellow Stone, Larne Lough - Greencastle

Got the 0550 hrs forecast and slipped at 0630 hrs. Three ferries in port, and one in the channel as we headed out. Sailed close in along the coast of Ballagalley Head, Red Bay and Cushenden Bay, then made seaward to give the option of either using the Rathlin Sound (between the island and the coast) or going outside the island.

Opted to pass inside - however the tide had other ideas ! So altered course northward to Altacarry Head and sailed close along Rathlin's north coast. Spotted a fin in the sea, west of Rathlin. Spotted a gunboat zooming toward us. In between Pete and I caught some more glimpses of dolphins. Also saw guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins and Gannets. The gunboat passed north of us before swinging round to SW.

Not sure where the night's anchorage would be, needed to get as far west as possible, but the tide would turn foul and impede progress. Near the Lough Foyle fairway buoy - when listening to the R4 shipping forecast. For Malin, E becoming SE 3/4. We tried sailing toward Inishtrahull Sound to see if it would be worthwhile making for Lough Swilly. Soon evident that the 25 miles would take too long if pushing a foul tide, so accordingly doubled back to head into Lough Foyle. Options; a possible anchorage behind Magilligan Point near entrance, Greencastle - reputedly a busy fishing harbour, and Moville Pier - a shallow harbour with 1 alongside berth and too shallow for anchoring outside. Both Magilligan and Moville would be bad in SE breezes. The pilot spoke of Culmore Bay (*) 16 miles up the Lough as the most suitable spot in SE'lies.

We took a look at Magilligan Point, through which the tide was running at around 3.5 knots. Decided not too chance it, so doubled back - careful to avoid a random scattering of partially submerged pot buoys. Ferry glided over toward Greencastle whilst Peter and Paul did the dishes leaving just enough time to put out the fenders before entering. One of the pilot books didn't recommended that yachts call in at Greencastle, but we found a berth alongside a motor launch along the SW quay - just inside the entrance. Was around 2150 hrs as we walked into the village for an entertaining evening at a nearby hostelry.

97/06/04, Wed: Greencastle - Downings Bay, Sheep Haven

Set off around 0650 hrs. Calm morning. Motored out into the Lough and headed for Inishtrahull Sound. Wind light, so reliance on the engine. Interestingly in the afternoon Malin Head observatory reported more wind than we'd experienced at sea.

Quite a view of mountains as we passed Strabega Bay (*** check spelling), Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay. Was evident that we couldnít make Aran Island by nightfall, so decided to make for Downings Bay, in Sheephaven.

A breeze came up, so switched the engine off, and hardened up - pointing toward the east end of the haven. I had mentioned that salmon nets could be a hazard from Loch Foyle westwards. That afternoon during a burst of rain - guess what ? I had just gone below to put waterproofs on when there was a shout from the cockpit - I went up to find that we had sailed over a monofilament net - which only required very tiny floats to support it. With bilge keels we couldn't pass over it, plus it was caught round the propeller. It was too dangerous to go over the side to clear it - as the movement of the boat was pulling the rest of the net in toward the boat. And a lot of it there was - filing the cockpit, a pile on deck and yet more in the water. We were a fair way offshore and there was no immediate panic. A fishing should be in attendance of the net. So we sat it out - they would appear at some time or other.

So it transpired, and once aware of out predicament they towed 6 miles of so into Downings Bay and organised a diver to  free us from the net. All had been amicable, and the situation handled in an efficient manner. We moved to anchor for the night south of the local moorings, in a calm. After a late supper Pete and I rowed ashore for a 1/2 hour walk. Meantime, Paul turned in.

Though we were to pass many more nets, others we detected by scanning ahead with binoculars and looking for the buoy at the seaward end with a fishing boat usually inshore (at the other end). Most nets we saw were set off the the north and south coasts.

97/06/06, Thu: Downings Bay, Sheephaven - Killybegs

Set off immediately after 0550 hrs forecast. A light southerly wind, so motor on. Sailed close to Horn Head then made for the north end of Inishbeg. Warm and dry - but no wind to sail.

Altered course to pass close to Bloody Foreland, then on past Gola Island, Stag Rocks (highest painted white), then close round Aran Island. From Aran's lighthouse set course for the headland containing Glen Bay. Dropped the mainsail, which had been sheeted tight amidships on account of the wind being dead astern, and unfurled the headsail in its place.

Got down to the (@ Glen May) headland sooner than anticipated, and then, the engine failed so resigned to sailing through the channel between the coast and Rathlin O'Birne island. Stuck a waypoint in for mid centre of the channel. The wind freshened and we sped in. However, it just as soon fell away - so there we were drift sailing through, at which time a RIB appeared - one minute later it was evident that it was Irish Customs.

They came alongside. Went below to answer a few questions, the usual, name and address, boat details, where from and bound to, plus who'd I spoken too. Finally rounded off answering questions about Paul and Pete. Showed a credit card for ID (having no passport or radio licence on board - having either overlooked putting them on board during preparation for the trip or else couldnít remember where exactly I had stowed them).

Then returned to the cockpit and hardened up for the sail along the coast whilst Paul was interviewed. Anquette was now over pressed and well healed. A custom's man inside asked out of interest how fast the boat was going. Once they were satisfied, we rolled the genoa and spilled wind from the mainsail to allow their launch to come alongside to take them off.

With NE 5/7 forecast, and the need for supplies I hoped to reach Killybegs, a sheltered fishing port, which being a fir way off made it liekly that some night sailing likely would be required - but hopefully without having to punch into the forecast F7 headwind.

We heard a loud bang, then noticed a mug sitting in the cockpit. After a few minutes I figured out what had happened. The shackle holding the topping lift onto the boom end fitting had parted. Probably, simply the pin having worked its way out. The shackle itself had fallen into the cup taking two chips out of the rim before landing inside!

With customs gone we rolled the genoa so that I could round up to level the boat, to try the engine. It seemed okay, so we started motoring on a more direct course. The whole section of coast between Malin Beg Head and Carrigan Head bears the legend "Uncharted rocks exist along the coast between White Strand Bay and Carrigan Head", so kept a mile and a quarter off. Paul wearing a hooded parker over waterproofs, topped off with pink coloured ski goggles - looked like a garish "Biggles" ! He did well to steer the boat to into the teeth of  headwind staring for a long spell at the compass. This allowed me to a keep to a track close south of Muckros Head, the island Inishduf, and then bear round to pass Drumaroo Head. The head dark in the cloudy, rain filled night sky. The passage between the head and Rathlin Island looked much narrower than it would no doubt prove to be in daylight. Elected not to anchor in Walker's Bay as it would have been hard to pick a suitable anchoring spot in such poor visibility and a rapidly shoaling bottom. Could be packed solid with moorings, keep boxes etc. So, continued further up the harbour until close to the jetties where the harbours lights helped Paul lay out the anchor cable. Then handed Paul a torch so that he could look out for a ship's mooring (steel and large enough to hole a yacht on impact). Decided to anchor a hundred yards or so north of the north cardinal mark, putting on the anchor light and staying awake until daylight as we were in the area through which a ship entering or leaving might wish to pass. Around 0315 hrs turned in till 10 am. As expected, buying diesel, food and water took up half the day. Replenishing in the Republic meant green coloured diesel.

97/06/07, Fri: Killybegs

A day off from sailing. Took till lunch to get fresh food and water. Made a mistake Friday night thinking that the anchorage was good enough to ride out S 6/7 gusts. I stayed awake to watch the anchor until 0330 hrs, at which time I called Paul to stand anchor watch for an hour. Lucky I did so. An hour later Paul called me to say that we were dragging. We'd dragged a quarter of a mile, and a bolder faced shore was behind us, with a sewer outfall leading out toward us. Quickly donned waterproofs, and put the motor into 'ahead'. Figured that the anchor had simply slid through thin mud.

  We motored round to the harbour and joined a raft of 6/7 fishing boats. Until Sunday, we got up in the morning to let them out between 0800/0830 hrs and back in again between 1700 and 1830 hrs. All the fishermen, involved in taking out angling parties, were all friendly and polite.

On Saturday night we went for a few pints in the local hostelries - joining up with a gang of girls on a hen night, which made the evening more entertaining ! At one point a very worried looking Paul, was surrounded by a small ringers of dancers; daughter, mother and grandmother - in danger of being settled down in Killybegs for good!

 

97/06/09, Mon: Killybegs - Broadhaven

Left Killybegs at 0430 hrs with Broadhaven or Blacksod Bay in mind. The outlook for fresh to strong winds from the southern quadrant. Once just behind the light house (*** called ?) we set sail and turned the engine off. Didn't head direct for Broadhaven, but made to it's east, on a heading more for Killala Bay. At first with a swell from the WSW and an easterly fresh breeze the going was quite lumpy. When it also started to rain it was quite cold, and I literally felt chilled to the bone.

Nearing Downpatrick Head the wind began to head us so started using the motor. Sea conditions had eased, just a swell to motor over. Headed parallel up the coast. A single fishing boat in Port na cloy. Pleasant surprise to see another yacht, around 35 ft in length, possibly running downwind, possibly for Killybegs.

We passed inside the Stags. Once we could see their SW faces, we could see two caves running clear through them. The coast from Buddagh round to Kid Island quite austere, with cliffs, and storm beaches, with isolated stacks standing off the latter. Another yacht, a Vega, passed by bound inshore of the Stags.

 

On entering Broadhaven Bay, we tried sailing again but starboard tack taking us too close to the reefs, so resumed motoring. Continued past Gubachshel light, before dropping the main and getting the anchor ready. Dropped anchor in the vicinity of the Ballyglass lifeboat and a small German yacht (around 24ft in length).

Spent a quiet night at anchor, in @5 m with around a knot of flood and ebb in the neck leading to the inner Broadhaven.

97/06/10, Tue: Broad Haven - Inishbofin

Left Broadhaven shortly after the R4 0550 hrs forecast. Under power as the wind very light. Off Eris Head we noted a fishing boat steaming close in under the head. We kept out a little as we rounded the various islets, then past Portnafrankagh and Blacksod Bay. Achill Island unmistakeable with its two tall peaks on its northern side. Passed inside of Black Rock and its lighthouse, then west of Bull Rocks towards Inishbofin though as far as yet undecided whether Inishbofin or Fahy Bay might provide the most shelter. Overcast, but still a certain amount of glare.

Quiet a swell from the NW. Made for the passage between the E side of Inishbofin and the island Davillaun (*** check spelling) (the passage also the direct track for Fahy Bay in Ballynakil Harbour). At the south end of the passage the effect of the swell only slight so decided to try Inishbofin's anchorage.

Kept a couple of cables off the east shore whilst heading toward the leading line (two white towers in line). Once on the transit, dropped the mainsail and started the engine. Passed close to Gun Rock, turned east round Port Island (*** might be wrong name ! - check) with it's impressive little ruin - Cromwell's fort, dropped anchor over  a sandy bottom, then went hard astern toward the moored boats to make sure that the anchor was well bedded in - strong NE'lys still being forecast.

Would have been a very attractive island - if only it hadn't been raining heavily. Pete rowed ashore to refill the 5 gallon water container. I stayed onboard - as I was feeling low with some type of flu bug, making my throat very sore.

97/06/11, Wed: Inishbofin - Rossvael Quay, Cashla Bay

Spent a peaceful night in the anchorage. Got up early, and made ready to leave. As soon as Pete had secured the dinghy the anchor was raised. As we passed an Irish Sigma 33, which had only just anchored, I enquired about the forecast, NE 6 possibly 7. The forecasts one saving grace - a following wind blowing slightly offshore.

Felt the full force of the wind once outside of the anchorage, a genuine F6 possibly with gusts to F7 though without wind speed instruments itís a all a guess !

Shot down quickly past High Island, then started flying toward Slyne Head - still a fast pace under headsail only. Once under the lee of Slyne Head we began to get some shelter from the swell running from the NW. With Paul on the helm I kept an eye on our position as we skirted close round the various islets and rocky reefs. Noticed a vessel behind carrying square sails on an identical course. At first I thought of Bristol's replica of the "Matthew" and then Australia's replica of "Endeavour". However, as it got closer I figured that it was Ireland's sail training vessel, "Asgard". Gradually it overhauled us. As we passed Golam, Asgard was to the SE - not having the capability of sailing quite as close to windward. Still, with its' powerful engine it was soon Cashla Bay. Pete was on the helm enjoyed the sailing, despite having spent most of the day trying to avoid being seasick.

Took care to pass south of Englishman's Rock, before dropping sail and turning the engine on - with cooling water making an appearance after repeating the start up sequence two or three times. The pilotage into Cashla quite straightforward. Though breezy visibility was good. Cairan and Coddu (*** check spelling) to starboard of the fairway both easily identified. So too, Temple Point slip with its grave end and church ruins. Once near Curraglas Point could see "Asgard" in the anchorage E of Sruthan Quay. A windy anchorage with a rock shore astern. Decided to take a look over Rosseal (? spelling) Quay. Piers No1 and No2 had a few fishing boats alongside, whilst four vedettes and closer inshore three small fishing boats lay rafted up. We went alongside a fishing boat, and despite the wind blowing into the harbour conditions were comfortable.

97/06/12, Thu: Rossvael Quay, Cashla Bay - Carrigaholt Castle, River Shannon

With Cashla Bay astern, headed for Gregary Pass between Inishmore and Inishmaan Island. I took the helm as we ran wing and wing in a sea becoming slightly choppier as we neared the sound. Quite a number of aeroplanes landing and taking off from Inishmore, coupled with several vedettes which had passed. On the SW and W sides of the islands the appearance "layers" of green, interspersed with lies of boulders, rough masonry - natural or put there to protect the islands from erosion ?

With slow progress I decided to make use of the engine, however it was playing up. The strainer of the intake side seacock was blocked with soft seaweed and small fry (fish). Once cleared, the cooling water appeared.

Gradually the lee of Slyne Head disappeared. The wind materialised quite quickly toward Loop Head and so we were soon sailing. From a mile west of Loop Head, started making for the point's lee. An impressive cave passed on the west side of Kilbaha Bay. Quite a large opening with the appearance of a castellated top, with an actual watchtower just above and to the right. Kilbaha bay looked windswept. Had already made my mind up to go to Carrigaholt, should offer the best shelter. The only drawback that it added additional miles to the day's sail. A fishing boat overtook us as he ran close inshore - except for a detour made when rounding Kilcredaun to keep clear of a wreck. Just past the point I turned the engine - no luck. Two or three starts later we had water. The usual anchorage off Carrigaholt Bay is shown as just NE of the new quay, but this would have been subject to some fetch. The Irish Pilot recommended anchoring off a slight bay just S of Carrigaholt Castle. We edged in cautiously and dropped anchor over a sandy bottom for a peaceful night.

97/06/13, Fri: Carrigaholt Castle, River Shannon - Blasket Islands - Dingle Marina

Underway early at 0515 hrs, in order to pass the narrow part between ???????????? and ??????????? - to avoid a foul flood tide. The wind from NW providing the prospect of a broad reach down toward the Blaskets. Once out of the lee provided by Loop Head, the NW swell returned. Off Tralee Bay a ship passed inshore of us, bound for the Shannon - noticeably rolling in the swell.

The ICC Directions speak of overfalls right from Sibyl Point to Great Blasket Island, and we would encounter a foul tide. So took the long route round Inishtooskert, Tearaght and Great Froze rock. High swell, and plenty of rolling. Paul didn't feel well after going below. So I hand a long session of hand steering - which though conditions were ropugh was tempered by the fact that Anquette was making swift progress. Near Terraght dropped the mainsail to head downwind in the fresh/strong NW breeze. Once sure to clear the Great Froze started to make for Ventry/Dingle. The latter the favourite as it provided the prospect of easy provisioning and showers.

The well known local "tame" dolphin Fungi jumped several times out of the water, first near Anquette, then in the vicinity of a small motorboat right in the entrance to Dingle Bay.

Dingle marina was small neat and tidy, with a portkabin providing the facilities. IR£10 for an overnight stay. Pubs, restaurants, pizza place and shops. Some of the houses painted in bright colours, live music in a bar or two.

97/06/14, Sat: Dingle Marina - Castletown, Bearhaven

Once up, headed into town to buy fresh food. Afterwards, I emptied the bilge (a daily duty since setting off), and then adjusted the stern gland whilst Peter and Paul went in search of diesel.

Just off the entrance to Dingle Bay a Russian "Ocean Expeditions" ship lay at anchor. As we motored past, Fungi reappeared and played about Anquette for a few minutes.

With a virtual calm we set off under power to cross Dingle Bay, round Valentia's Bary (*** check name) Head, past Puffin Island, inside of Lemon Rock, Little Skellig, and Skellig Michael.

The engine played up, so we turned it off. Raised the cruising chute, which hadn't seen use for some time. First I had a twisted tack, then halyard fouled the furling gear, then the luff pulled off the navigation lights on the pulpit ! Lowered and re-hoisted once everything as it should be!

Considered going through Dursey Sound. Not too much to be gained, plus channel reduced at low tide, so left Dursey to port and the Bull, Cow, Calf and Heifer to starboard.

97/06/15, Sun: Castletown, Bearhaven - Crosshaven

Having mislaid my journal this day's narrative has been written some years after the event...

This day was memorable on account of stupidity on my part. With Castletown astern and the tide making east, I took a kettle of hot water off the cooker and temporarily placed in on the toolbox/bottom step which attaches to the engine cover. It wasn't there long before it emptied it's contents over my left foot. I had been caught out - despite the fact that I am forever telling others to cover bare flesh when there is something boiling or hot on the stove. I rapidly filled a basin with cold water and stuck my foot in it. That took away the pain until I tried to take my foot out of the cold water !

I had a burn the diameter of a tennis ball just below my ankle, quite purple in colour with the visible blood vessels below. I wasn't keen to put shoes on during the next few days, and initially I could only bear to cover the foot in a carry bag whenever I wanted to go out into a wet cockpit. Fortunately a few weeks later it was much improved though the discolouration lasted quite a few months. (PS if you read the Round Ireland 2000 narrative you see that the SW corner of island always seems to have a nasty surprise in store for me !).

97/06/16, Crosshaven

Having mislaid my journal this day's narrative has been written some years after the event...

I have two memories of this day. The day's stopover was Crosshaven and as we approached the pontoons there, just one small space seemed vacant alongside. I said to Paul and Pete that there wasn't much room to manoeuvre into the tight spot. And that they might want to be prepared to put a foot toward the pontoon on account of the angle at which we would need to approach the pontoon. Anyhow, I was occupied backing the boat in and was unaware that Paul was preparing to leap onto the pontoon. He leaped and fell into the gap between boat and pontoon - just as the boat was slowly gliding to the pontoons face - I immediately turned the engine off and Paul's head bobbed up alongside the boat (on some boats I've sailed - the engine cannot be stopped without going below and lifting a  decompression lever situated with the engine box/compartment). I was shocked but relieved to see that Paul was okay. After showers, we made our way to explore ashore.

97/06/17, Crosshaven - Drake's Pool

Having mislaid my journal this day's narrative has been written some years after the event...

At home it seems I have about every chart there is for UK and Irish waters - however I hadn't managed to put all of the Irish ones onboard the boat! Despite a chart checklist - one was missing the one for the passage through the Saltee Islands. So it was that we headed over to Cork by bus - to an audio backdrop of politics and religion on the vehicles radio. Paid a visit to the fish market and picked up some lively crabs for just a £1 each, some mussels and expensive olives. That evening we had quite a seafood feast !

97/06/18, Wed: Drakes Pool, OwenboyRiver - Dunmmore East

A pleasant enough sail from Drakes Pool to Dunmore East. Dry, though at times overcast sky, SW 4/5 providing a down wind genoa only sail. From the navigational point of view a case of ticking off the headlands, as they were passed. Namely Ballycotten Island, Capel Island, then plotting on chart until drawing in near Brownstown Head with its distinctive twin towers.

Some hairline cracks had appeared across the compass bowl - though no one could recall accidentally clouting the the compass with any object.

Wasn't certain how bad the overfalls at the mouth of the Waterford estuary between Swines Head and Hook Head would be, nor whether Dunmore East would provide enough shelter to prevent us from having to sail up the harbour to Cheek Point (@ 9 miles). In the event the combination of wind more from WSW in conjunction with the early part of the ebb tide meant there was nothing to worry about. Headed into Dunmore East. Picked up half a dozen moorings until finding one, without a pick up rope, but a hefty ground chain - through which I passed a warp. Sent Peter ashore to check at the yacht club whether using the mooring would be okay. The chap he spoke to didn't know whether the owner would be back but suggested that we pick up the new mooring laid for Rasa, a Rival 34, which was on a trip up to Iceland.

Went ashore for a stroll through the village, Peter and Paul remaining onboard. A notice displayed at the harbour read ...

1.        Skippers should ensure that head and stern ropes are used when leaving port

2.        Outboard dinghies are correctly secured

3.        During the Herring season yachts should, at weekends, and during periods of bad weather, berth at Waterford

4.        To avoid making the harbour smaller than it is, user should ensure a spirit of polite co-operation


97/06/20, Fri: Dunmore East - Wexford

Left Dunmore between 0730 hrs and 0745 hrs. Leaving enough to get near Carnsore Point for the north going tide if we only averaged 3 knots (i.e. 8 3/4 hrs for 25 miles).

Not much wind around as we headed past Loop Head (plenty of small fishing boats around with their steadying sails) inshore then out toward the Conningbeg lightship.

Quite a pleasant sunny day. Made much better by simultaneous shouts from Pete and Paul of "Basking Shark". Sure enough a fin showing not far from the boat. At first I tried motoring closer to the shark for photos - but the shark simply slipped below the surface, to re-appear a minute or two later further off. Decided to cut the engine, and try and get closer under mainsail. In fact the tactic was so successful that we ended up in a situation with Anquette sailing on a head on course toward the apparently unaware shark. I couldn't decide whether to turn to port or starboard and was preparing myself for an evitable contact when the shark with a flick of its tail (showing off the starboard bow) slipped away safely to port. A little too close - fortunately the shark had been a small one around 15ft so we may have got away with a bows on "contact".

After time lost circling round the shark, Anquette was put back on course. A short while later dolphins were spotted! Managed to zigzag about, attracting and keeping the attention of the dolphins long enough for taking photos of them. Different from others I'd seen with rounded foreheads and no snouts. Hopefully I'd be able to "look them up" for positive identification later when the film gets developed.

Eventually, returned to the course to take us to a point just south of the passage between the shoals round the Bailies just off Carnsore Point, and the Tuskar Rock lighthouse. From the east, a ferry heading toward the South Shear channel. When abreast of the Tuskar, a breeze sprang up prompting engine off and progress under full sail. The strong N going tide had just begun. Whilst under sail took down the shipping forecast. It was just evident that we weren't going to make the South Shear close-hauled. Allowed Anquette to be carried north of the channel before rolling away the genoa, this kept us clear of the two ferries and Sea Cat now transiting the channel. A decision to be made Rosslare or Wexford, the latter could be claimed as a new harbour/anchorage. Conditions for the bar seemed favourable judging from the information contained in the Almanac and ICC Directions. If the entrance seemed impossible we could always double back to Rosslare.

Entered a waypoint east of the East cardinal Outer Bar Buoy, to keep us a safe distance off the extensive sand banks until a positive identification made. Having found the Outer Bar Buoy, the next buoy, one of a series laid by the Waterford Boat Club wasn't easily seen so sailed in toward the wooded Raven Point until the first buoy was seen close in to the shore. The passage into the bay didn't look overly inviting. We turned at the first buoy (leaving some of them close to port) to head for the second, marking the narrowest part of the channel - could have thrown a stone to port onto the sandbank, or to starboard onto the Raven Point foreshore. Pete spotted a seal playing near the narrow channel. Once past the third buoy much less worrying conditions within Wexford's Bay. As we followed the marked channel toward the embankment a few sandbanks could be discerned to port. From midway along the embankment the buoys lead over toward the training walls. Ignored two red perches with diamond top marks, but let the last red buoy with a radar reflector to port to turn inside the river. Some thin black spars with triangular top marks visible to port - no doubt on the larger southern training wall. Up ahead to starboard a green lateral visible marking the end of the shorter northern training wall. Left the "ballast boat" to starboard. Just a short block work structure - ship shaped. Some grass and a small tree on top with a collection of whelk pots stored on it. The embryonic new marina's outer walls present with two construction barges moored within. On the northern side of the river the mussel barges seemed to provide the best mooring option - though care required due to the strength of the river's ebb running alongside the rafted barges. Went ashore that evening for a pizza in town.

97/06/21 or 97/06/22, Wexford - Rosslare - Wexford

Journal entry having gone 'awol', if memory serves we moved from Wexford as entry and exit is restricted by the height of the tide and conditions near the bar. We initially made round to Rosslare, but it was breezy. After a short while there we decided in view of the possibility of the wind shifting and that Rosslare does not provide shelter in all wind directions that it would be prudent to head back to Wexford whilst conditions till permitted entry. A wet rough sail until back in Wexford Bay.

Having run out of leave, it was time for Pete and Paul to make their way back to the Isle of Man. Rosslare to Fishguard by ferry the quickest option. After they had departed, I was walking through the town when I rounded a street corner to be confronted by a gang of blokes kicking an older person was on the ground. Before I had time to run through the options in my head, one of the perpetrators suggested to the others that they disperse. The victim seemed okay (at least nothing broken) and once he had his glasses back was happy to make his own way.

97/06/23, Mon: Wexford - Arklow

Up early, in time to enter a series of waypoints and have breakfast before the flood tide finally slackened allowing me to leave around 0845 hrs.

Some of the local fishing boats heading out - so a fair chance that had I remained I would have had to shift berth.

Followed the channel through the bay and over the bar in much quieter conditions than the last inbound passage. Noted 20/30 seals hauled out on the sandbanks SE of The Ravens Point.

A reasonable sailing breeze, varying between close-hauled and a reach. The miles of sandy foreshore glittered brightly in the morning sun. Headed inside of the Blackwater Sands to pass through the Rusk Channel.

Sea slight in offshore W/NW wind. Much better conditions than my last sail up this coast - I seem to recall a very rough NE'ly breeze. Quite a few pot buoys to avoid in the Rusk Channel.

In the vicinity of "The Sluice" - white water indicated its position.

Between the No1 and No2 Glassgorman buoys the wind went light denying reasonable progress under sail against the foul south going tide. So on with the engine. Before I'd got to the No2 buoy a ship had passed ahead, to anchor off Arklow. I dropped the mainsail, and put the engine into neutral whilst making fenders and warps ready. Like another yacht ahead, it seemed to me that the dock was too full.

Went alongside a pontoon, and once tied up saw a notice "No mooring beyond this point". The Prout catamaran for MS Challenge asked to berth inside of me, so I motored off and came back alongside on it's outside. Was charged £10 for the night (the same for the larger catamaran). The money grabber didn't even say welcome, the showers are here, rubbish skips here etc - perhaps there weren't any on offer. Helped out an American gentleman with a yacht from Newport, R.I. who had locked himself out of his boat. It was secured by a combination lock, and his reading glasses were inside the boat.

97/06/26, Tue: Arklow - Howth

Left just after 0730 hrs, bidding farewell to the crew of Susan Jane. No wind to speak of as Anquette slipped through the pier heads. Soon out of the brown river water and into the turquoise sandy bottomed water. The tide already north going. Plenty of pot markers to look out for. All a combination of jerry can, pick up buoy and flag on a bamboo pole.

Malahide or the Skerries, possibly Lambay Island likely destinations - the further north the better (reducing the length of the next day's sail toward St John's Point in Northern Ireland), plus all the options new harbours / anchorages.

Passed close to the Breaches Shoal port hand buoy, then made for a waypoint just east of Burford Bank south cardinal. A slight SE'ly wind appearing but not enough to sail. Had been making 6/7 knots over the ground for a couple of hours. Speed started to tail off near the Burford Bank, but unfurled the genoa which lifted speed over the ground back to around 6 knots.

Listened to the forecast at 1423 hours, which gave an interesting forecast, W/SW 3/4 becoming E/SE 4/5 veering WNW 5/6 locally 7. Lambay and the Skerries no longer seemed viable. Malahide not attractive either, could get stuck at Malahide with a reasonable wind out at sea but impassable conditions over the bar. So Howth seemed most suitable. As I was off the Ben of Howth, just needed to alter course westward.

In Howth Marina, the wind was blowing strongly off the short stay holding berth. After two passes, someone called over and offered to take my lines in a finger berth. Had been moored up for 1/4 hr when a marina boat came round and asked me to move to a smaller berth G18. The people who had taken my lines ashore before kindly walked round to the revised berth.

With a bad forecast for the new few days I had no option but to arrange to leave the boat in Howth, and fly back to the Isle Of Man - as I was going to run out of leave before the weather was due to let up.

97/06/28, Thu: Non Sailing Day

Talk of moderating winds but still N 5/6 becoming 4/6 ovrenight. Tomorrow had to decide whether to book a flight to the Isle of Man on the strength of Met. Eireann's 0600 forecast , or risk waiting another day. The pros for flying - back at work on time, against - leaving the boat where I couldn't keep an eye on it.

Even if the wind moderated, if it ended up N or NE'ly it could be a long sail over to Peel. Leaving at 0400 hrs Sunday morning, I wouldn't have arrived at Peel until 2100/2130 hrs and might even have had to wait until the Monday morning HW in order to berth in the harbour. So left the boat's keys at the marina office, and made my way to Dublin airport.

As an RTE 1 radio announcer had said, "from a holiday point of view itís been a forgettable week".

 

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