In early 2006 we decided to take Temptress back to her original sailing grounds in Ireland (her first owner was an Irish solicitor). This is the story of the delivery and our subsequent cruise. The story really started in January so I’ve included my original journal for then:
New Year and Thoughts Turn to Summer
Already our second sail of the year – blue skies overhead dotted with fluffy clouds, asymmetric up in fickle offshore breezes. No not the summer, it is just the second weekend in January and Temptress with FullFlight is heading west down the Solent. The “plan” should we stick to it, is a night on Lymington Town Quay. Just beyond Stokes Bay, Temptress’s white asymmetric collapses – the breeze goes behind as it fades. Slowly it returns gradually moving forward of the beam, dropping back as it dies away. We stand on the side deck gently playing the kite river-style as the breeze plays games with us for nearly an hour.
Some way off Cowes what wind there was dies away completely. We were growing bored with the game of watching the boat speed move through the numbers in tenth of a knot increments – something very familir from last years offshore races! Full Flight, some way ahead with her cruising chute up, calls on channel 77 – how about Beaulieu? No one fancies a motor all the way to Lymington. Its not too long after low water but with Neap tides, Temptress’s 2.1 m draft shouldn’t find the bottom at the entrance. Mid afternoon finds both boats on bouys in the reach above the sailing club, watching birds wheeling in large skeins across the pink skies as the sun sets. Who can beat it?
Talk over supper is of Ireland; Full Flights first destination when she leaves the UK in the Spring before heading south and potential holiday cruising for Temptress this summer.
The next day out comes the Irish Pilot again and the Alamanc. A cruising note book is started – phone numbers of marinas, distances between safe havens from Dingle to Cork and a page is headed up “recommended places” – we’ll start recording anywhere of interest we find mentioned. Later the four of us look at charts electronic and paper to see what detail they have to offer – the answer is plenty. All we need are tourist guides to the delights ashore, road maps ready for cycling adventures and hopefully some books telling of past cruises to those shores.
With time off work already provisionally booked and first conversations with our home marina about taking a cruising credit ( a 3 month sabbatical that is refunded off the following years fees) already made, our cruising year is starting to take shape. Somehow I have a feeling that all the planing and preparation is going to be as much fun as the actual voyages themselves.
May bank Holiday Week 2006
Well that’s it Temptress is safely delivered to a new berth in Dingle. What a lovely spot almost completely landlocked, surrounded by green hills and a short walk from the town centre itself.
On Saturday when we left the Solent pausing only for a boat scrub at Hasler, there were moments when we doubted we’d make it. On board we were three – Kevin, Paul and myself, Susie; three skippers…
The wind was blowing hard from the south west and with an ebbing spring tide conditions were too rough for the Needles Channel so we motor sailed out via North Head with 2 reefs in the main and the tiniest scrap of the gennie out. After an hour or two of beating southwards the crew unanimously agreed that a pint in the Royal Dorset Weymouth seemed more attractive than a night at sea so we continued south until we could tack and lay Weymouth Bay avoiding the overfalls off Anvil Point. Big green waves continued to roll down the deck and find their way round the sprayhood until we were close into the Dorset coast. Looking at the chart the minds eye conjoured pictures of the wonderful scenery but that was all we saw of it until around a mile off the Nothe! It was a grey miserable day horizontally though looking up revealed patches of blue.
Sunday morning dawned bright and Temptress quickly reeled off the miles westwards but during the night the weather forecast told of strong northwesterlies arriving around the time we’d round the Lizard to head that way. The harbour staff at Penzance were a little surprised to find they had a request for berthing as they opened the lock gate shortly after 5am on Bank Holiday Monday! We spent a pleasant but windy day exploring Mount St Michael by bus, filling our faces with pasties and deciding where to eat supper. The Bakehouse is highly recommended.
Early on Tuesday we filled up with diesel and headed for Ireland well reefed. The wind was north-easterly despite the forecast of north backing west. Through the day and into the night we mostly motored as the wind died away. We saw little in the way of shipping and no other yachts. Soon after dawn on Wednesday the wind was a little fresher and freed off a little so we shook out the precautionary reefs in the main and broke out some jib. As we were doing so we passed a very large pot bouy complete with radar reflector just yards from the boat. About half an hour later the radio sprang to life with a french accent and after their thrid call we realised it was us that was being hailed as we were the only yacht any where near the position being given; “we ‘ave a net”. When the Skipper called them back they gave us the co-ordinates of each end of the net but without indentifying themselves. Plotting the positions on the chart revealed just how close we come to an unwelcome encounter!
Land Ho! The mountains of Southern Ireland appeared on the horizon, the sun came out and soon we were motoring past the Fastnet Rock. What a glorious day, so unlike the last time we sailed past this coast during the gales of the 2004 Round Ireland Race. This coast is wonderful – we soon had the chart on deck indentifying every headland, rock and inlet. The birdlife was amazing – fulmars, puffins and many more we coudln’t identify.
We sailed inside Puffin Island and headed into Dingle Bay soon after supper and were tied up enjoying Dingles famous hospitality – great stout and good music. A great end to a wonderful trip.
[We then left Temptress in Dingle for a few weeks before returning for our main summer vacation later in the month flying from Stanstead where we had spent the money saved by purchasing cheap flights on an expensive hotel for the night]
Flying with a Hangover – Saturday June 24
The wakeup call came at 4:30 as requested. Blearily we showered, paid the hotel bill, collected a free coffee-to-go and trundled along the walk way to check-in. Grey, damp miserable Stansted, and it was still raining when the plane landed in Kerry. Our taxi-driver was a chirpy Kerryman who waxed lyrical on rugby, football (through my hangover I failed to pin down exactly which London team he regularly travelled over to watch) and Mrs Murphy�s B&B Farm, a place whose delights Kevin had sampled as a child.
By the time we arrived in Dingle just over an hour later the rain had ceased and although thick cloud hung around the mountains like the last guests at a party; reluctant to leave, the place was drying out in the sunshine. Temptress was still there where we�d left her. The warps were hanging very limply stretched by strong winds sometime in the past 3 weeks but she was safe and welcoming. A full Irish breakfast was had in Harringtons and by 10am we were walking along to SuperValu to get some groceries with the Skipper still exclaiming his amazement at how much you can fit into a day if you start early enough! Food & fresh air started to drive away the effects of two bottles of red imbibed the night before (we had been seduced by the girls hanging from the roof dancing their way up the 20-30 m high wine rack which had been the centre piece of the bar). We checked with Johnny, the marina berthing manager and great friend to all his customers whether we owed him anything more for electricity (he�d promised to feed the meter for us in our absence). It was too good a day to stay in harbour and the Irish theme park that is Dingle�s streets & hostelries was beginning to pale.
After an hour or so pouring over charts and the pilot book commentary (we don�t exactly go in for advanced planning when on holiday!) we realised that a good deal of places received the authors accolade �the best anchorage in the West of Ireland� and a rough plan was formed to visit as many as possible. From land locked Dingle we�d head south to Portmagee Sound across Dingle bay and anchor behind Valentia Island (and no I�ve not provided a map � you�ll just have to find yourself one if you want to keep up!). Your only clue is that Kerry & Cork form the South West corner of the island of Ireland. From Valentia we�d round the corner into the Kenmare River for a couple of days before venturing into Bantry Bay and Glengarrif and then�. Well it would all depend on the weather and our whim.
Johnny and a couple of boat owners helped pull forward the boat in front of us so Temptress could swing out and slip through the gap between their stern and the boat on our port side. It was one of those departures when everything ran slowly and smoothly as the wind gently pushed the bow round and soon we could motor gently away. Fungie, the dolphin came out to wish us a final farewell and soon we were out of the narrow entrance in the hills that wrap Dingle and out into the bay. Sails were hoisted, Temptress kicked up her heels and skipped away south in N westerly 4�s on a broad reach. Green mountains were all around us and when the sun was out, quite warm, after all it was late June.
Out in the bay away from the immediate effects of the Dingle Pennisula, the wind was lighter and gradually became more westerly (the sea breeze?) so we slowly brought in the sails over the next hour or two until we were reaching. Then it became so light that the iron sail was required to make progress against the wind and the shortened versions of the Atlantic Swells that were careering down the bay. Presumably this was the effect of the Skelligs � a set of Islands ahead of us � it was a larger version of the well known Solent chop and just as bad.
We gratefully turned the corner into Portmagee Sound with the chart & pilot book for guidance. The pilotage mentioned several headlands by name and a large white bungalow. Their own chartlet and our chart failed to identify any of the same ones and there was a surfit of white bungalows so we were none the wiser! Fortunately various fishing boats choose that moment to return home so we simply followed the route they took winding through the low rocky promontories. Anchor at the ready once we got off Portmagee, we found the vistors moorings had extended leaving us with little swinging room for a 14.2 m boat in deep water so we opted for a buoy. Small bouys and large boats pose a problem � you need long arms! After a couple of attempts, mindful of the need not to loose another boathook (we were on # 3 this year), I lassoed the shiny new yellow buoy and Kevin heaved it out of the water so I could thread a line through the top loop. The water was so clear we could see its chain snaking away across the bottom.
Later after lazing in the later afternoon sun we pumped up the dinghy to go for an explore of Portmagee itself, on a hunt for supper. Food in this part of the world we had already discovered is expensive and we never failed to be amazed at just how mediocre it could be. Presumably with all the tourists there is no need to make an effort. The Bridge Inn had lots of awards for its food and hospitality displayed around the entrance but it didn�t make much difference. After some lovely Chowder served with malty wheaten bread we were both disappointed with the main course. The roast pork special turned out to be a massed produced stuffed loin served with cheap chewy frozen peas and mass produced chips. The crab au gratin was mostly cheddar cheese with little crab meat lurking underneath and lots of tiny bits of shell to give an unpleasant crunchy texture to every mouthful � there was no veg!
After the previous night�s excesses in the Stansted Hotel (superb steak & ribs had accompanied our wine) we really didn�t feel encouraged to linger. The days are long in June in these parts so despite it being well after 8pm there was no sign of dusk. We walked out over Portmagee Bridge onto Valentia Island. Green hills all around us. The landscape is old with soft rolling mountains beyond the coast, flooded valleys and craggy cliffs. The shoreline is rocky. Valentia Island is relatively low in the east rising slowly westwards. Behind Portmagee to the south the land rises up again into a range of almost mountains. Green fields stretch up until it gets too steep and their walls then continue reaching up like fingers through the moorland. Around us we see cows, a few sheep and hear birds, seagulls, pigeons and woodcock. On a little rocky islet uncovered by the tide we spy a seal and on the shore a grey heron combs the water�s fringes.
Portmagee Bridge has an air of abandonment, we assume it opens rarely if at all. The wooden piers are rotten below the high water mark, the posts for the safety chains on the top lie flat. The control box with its peeling paint and shaped like an airport control tower is completely neglected despite being less than 40 years old � or is this a sign of what the weather is really like on these exposed western coasts?
Back at the boat the light encourages us to sit and read in the cockpit but soon that 4:30am start begins to impact. By 10pm with no signs of dusk Temptress�s crew retire to bed.
Sunday 25 June dawned bright with a fair amount of cloud � the white fluffy kind with occasional grey bits. There were sufficient breaks to give some glimpses of blue sky and the sun was warm. After breakfast in our bunk (strange how I hate to do this at home but am happy to feast snuggled up in a duvet when on the boat), we dressed and headed off for the Kenmare River via the Skelligs � a rather round about route but hopefully it would give us a good sail. Once clear of the rocks of Portmagee we unfurled the genoa and broad reached across the northerly wind towards Little Skellig.
From a distance this jagged lump of rock looks like a cake dusted with icing sugar. Drawing nearer the sea was covered in gannets, puffins, gannets, guillemots, and yet more gannets. The white on the rocky island tops resolved itself into thousands of gannets sitting in rows outlining perfectly the crevices. Above the island like a cloud of gnats wheeled and circled thousands more. The sight was amazing. Temptress reached between Little Skellig and Skellig Michael and our attention turned to the ancient settlement high on the greener taller Skellig Michael. We picked out the steps zigzagging up the precipitous face to the village, a collection of stone walls and beehives which are apparently structurally sound enough to live in today over one thousand years after they were built. Who would though want to live out here? Even in today�s light winds there was a significant swell. In winter life must have been unbearably harsh with repeated Atlantic storms battering this remote spot.
Gybing we continued under genoa only down the South side of Little Skellig. The wind went forward and soon we were beating, although in the lea of the rock we almost came to a complete halt. Here there were more gannets just sitting in crowds on the water barely bothering to move as we drifted past. What breeze there was brought to our noses the smell of guano and to our ears the amazing sound of twenty thousand breeding pairs of gannets. According to our bird book a single gannet makes a gargling call when nesting. This, the second largest breeding colony in the world (the largest is off the Scottish coast), sounded like a rough running petrol mower!
Once out of Little Skellig�s protection the wind returned with a vengeance only easing as we headed for the north east corner of Deenish Island with a fishing line towed behind us armed with a few cod feathers. Inside Deenish towards the Kenmare entrance, the wind died in the afternoon sun so we motored slowly in the hope of catching something for our supper. The first catch was a reasonably sized mackerel � a starter for one person so we needed another. Some time later the line jerked up � something large. Our catch turned out after much hauling in to be a beautiful Pollock with big brown eyes. It died happy in a dousing of cheap rum and was baked for supper with dill, onion and butter � a delicious meal that was probably enough for four! A short while after hooking the Pollock we caught our second mackerel but that was all that fell for our lure except one that got away. We hauled in one last time, upped the revs and headed on into the Kenmare.
The scenery was superb on either side of us � we just didn�t know where to look longest. Small sandy coves, gently sloping grass fields with the mountains rising up behind. The chart came up on deck around 4pm as we felt our way into Sneem Harbour to drop the hook in 8 metres. We weren�t alone in this beautiful, rock strewn anchorage. To the west on a bunch of moorings were a number of Irish boats and to our right two Brit boats with their red ensigns on yet more moorings. The place was like a green shoreline rock pool on a grand scale with tree covered strata reaching down into the water. In the early evening we took the dinghy from its resting place on the foredeck and headed for a solid stone quay with several resident fishermen to the north of where we lay.
They obligingly offered to move their lines for us (so they weren�t Brits or Portuguese then) and we could land. Our intention was to go for a walk but first Kevin thought he�d test their local knowledge and ask if there was a petrol station nearby. Soon he was in the car and being whisked away to fill the outboard tank up. We repaid the kindness by taking the younger ones on an illegal tour of the harbour in the dinghy � no life jackets is a terrible crime in Ireland. Exploring the anchorage further we found an opening between the chunk of land with a few houses close to the �Irish Moorings� and what we assumed was the mainland. A narrow steep sided channel was revealed, very straight following one of the dips in the strata. A bit of a geography lecture; the rock in these parts must be sedimentary � the layers running almost vertically rather than horizontally. Erosion occurs between the layers leaving long, thin jagged uprights like rows of teeth. It was between two sets of these that we took the dinghy. The land was high above our heads and covered in rhododendrons � it must be a spectacular passage when the bushes are flowering in spring. The water was so clear we could see the yellow ribbons of sea weed growing up from the bottom � like a forest below us. After a hundred metres or so the passage widened out and deepened. With more crew you could take Temptress in here and moor all fours said Kevin, a veteran of such mooring techniques in the fjords of Norway. We sped round the top of the island on our counter clockwise circumnavigation, past the fish farm (oysters?) and into Sneem Bay once more ready for our fish supper.
It was a glorious evening warm enough out of the breeze to stay in the cockpit til late. So quiet was our wonderful spot that we could hear each oar stroke of the man rowing ashore to an accompaniament of bird calls.
A Grand Day Out
A lazy start, bright sunshine and little wind. We tried to sail for a while but caught no fish. Then we overtook �Cathay Clipper�, the prettiest of the Brit boats from our anchorage,. She was attempting to calibrate her log by motoring in circles.
Eventually, late morning we reached as far as we could up the river with the current state of the tide and all but ran aground in 1.5 m (ie zero cm below the keel). Anchor down we cooked the mackerel from yesterday and then added them to a risotto � a tasty lunch. By 2 pm there was enough water to make an attempt on the channel leading up to the quay at Kenmare Town. This was marked with two starboard hand cans and a red one all on the north shore of the river. None were on the chart or mentioned in our pilot. Despite the marks the channel was shallow but around 45 mins later Temptress was safely anchored off the quay away from the trip boats � a new distraction for the crowd waiting to board the �SeaFare�.
The town itself is a short walk further north and as you come over the hill meets you with a treat for the eyes: the straight main street runs down to the Market Square (actually a triangle but called a square � only in Ireland!). The buildings that line each side are a host of different colours like a paint chart with their sign boards swinging in the breeze and chairs and tables or goods for sale on the pavement outside. Not a high street chain store in sight and all the better for it! After a turn round the triangle./Square pausing briefly to visit the heritage centre we set off up a second street of shops and bars in search of fishing gear, specifically a landing net. We optimistically thought it might improve our chances of another seafood supper.
Retracing our steps, we headed back down the river to Kilmakilloge and Bunaw Harbour. We picked our way in anchoring on the transits off the head of the quay as per the pilot. Close by was Cathay Clipper and the boat we had moved in order to leave Dingle. Soon afterwards we were hailed by a passing dinghy laden with crew �you�ll be too late for the mussels unless you hurry�. Ashore we soon discovered why, the local mussels served at the bar in Bunaw were wonderful � our first really excellent meal ashore since arriving in Ireland with Temptress back in May. Later we sat outside the bar with our beers and chatted with a leather clad couple who had just taken part in the Harley meet in Killarney and a Dutch couple from a camper van parked nearby. All were enjoying the Kerry hospitality. It was starting to get dark when we headed home.
Can We Get Under the Cable Car?
For the first time this holiday we had somewhere to be � Glengarrif by about 4:30 – -ish this afternoon. It was a little misty and completely calm in Bunaw at 7am on Tuesday morning. We motored out retracing the tortuous route using the leading lights ( red lights mounted on yellow and black striped over tall pit props that had formed our transit on the way in.
Out in the Kenmare river the visibility was very poor so on went the radar but we actually encountered few other boats. There was a bit of breeze by now but not enough to sail or blow away the mist. Heading seawards the visibility improved but not enough to see the other river shore. By now our attention was on other things. Could we get through the Dursey Sound between the island of that name and the mainland? A cable car and a telephone cable stretched over the gap. Out came all our reference sources; Reeds Almanac, the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions (our trusty pilot) and the boat manual. Eventually we were convinced that it would be possible � a few hours off low water springs, 26m clearance on the telegraph cable, 23 m on the cable car cables and 21m under the car itself (these all measured at highest astronomical tides) with an air draft for Temptress of around 19m (depending on just how much weight we had in her). So at least 2 m clearance plus the tidal difference if actually passing under that car itself � which we didn�t fancy as it�s typical load is cows not humans! By now the tide was flowing north through the sound at 3 knots or more bringing us to a virtual halt. To complicate this little adventure there is a rock smack in the middle of the narrowest part of the sound � we had to pass to the left or right hand side. We aimed for the right, revving up the engine to push against the tide. I was at the helm, not quite shaking. �If you touch the cables turn to port as the wind will take the bow round faster and put the engine in reverse�.
�If I do that we�ll be on the rock in the middle� �better than hitting those to starboard� came the retort. Hearts in mouth we crept forward necks craning upwards. From our vantage point the cables seemsed to cross at the first spreader height, then the second spreaders then overhead. We breathed again. Big grins all round we were through!
Dursey Sound then dog-legs to starboard and widens to the open sea. Leaving the rocks on the headland clear we turned to port and headed into the start of Bantry Bay. The visibility though much improved wasn�t good enough to see the southern shore of this wide long bay but what we could see on our side was an exposed treeless terrain.
Soon the sun came out, the breeze increased blowing away the mist. Up went the sails and we beat along the northern shore until we had to tack to avoid a headland and a fishing boat. Tacking back the wind freed us so it was one long reach deep into the bay. We even caught a couple of mackerel as we went. By mid-afternoon the land to the south of us appeared an started to close in. Whiddy Island with its deep water oil terminal began to take shape ahead of us. We passed the light houses either end of Bere Island on our port hand side and as the breeze died in glorious sunshine we stoed our sails, turn to port and threaded our way between the fish farms and islets that fill Glengarrif Bay to anchor off the hotel. The phone rang, it was Maureen, who by giving us a running commentary on what we were doing established that we were the boat that Eamon could see though his binoculars!
Showered and dressed for going ashore we were greeted by Kevin�s cousins and Jan a journalist friend of theirs. We headed up through the village for a beer. After a couple of drinks at Bernards and saying farewell to Jan and another new friend Kate, we replenished the ships stores with some chicken for supper and collected their overnight bags, a banjo and 2 straw panamas from Eamons shed (aka their battered estate car). It was an overfull dinghy that headed back to Temptress.
The weather forecast had been predicting strong southerlies for a day or so meaning that Glengarrif village would be a lee shore so for comfort we moved to a visitors mooring. After our previous attempt at such a small buoy we knew our arms would be too short so we adeptly lassoed the thing. For a small plastic object it was incredibly heavy so eventually I got in the dinghy and threaded the line through from there � easy why did we not think of that earlier? We then tried to remove our favourite red �shore� line from around the buoy – it was stuck fast. Kevin stripped off and dived in and under. No wonder the bouy was heavy it had a huge crop of mussels attached to its underside and these had trapped the line. Two dives later and the red line was ours once more. It was quickly threaded through the loop to supplement the other line under orders from the Skipper. As I carried out the task smelly Glengarrif mud from the anchor rained down � one pink fleece was adorned with grey splodges. Coq-au-vin pressure cooker style and a session on the banjo from Eammon rounded off another great day in Ireland.
Magical Faerie Woods
Glengarrif Harbour is a wonderful place, surrounded by the hills of Co. Cork, its full of little islands, some tree covered other bare and many home to seals. Yet again the sun shone (the Irish relatives are telling me that I�m not experiencing the real Ireland � there�s a reason why everything is so green they keep saying). After a hearty breakfast, Temptress, with her two extra crew, headed out to enjoy the sailing breeze. As we went Eamon and Maureen were full of enthusiasm for the boat, the water and the views, Like children with a room full of new toys they oh�d and ah�d over sights made unfamiliar by the new perspective Temptress afforded them. One after another they pointed out friends homes, places they swam or simply had rowed out to from the town with the Sunday papers for a quiet read. Eammon had spent some of his past as 3rd mate in the merchant navy travelling all over the world and has sailed in exotic and far flung places but was still fascinated and interested in everything on the boat and on the water. Maureen soon found the gentle rocking motion lulling her in to that dozy, dreamy state on the way to sleep and crept below to a cosy bunk.
Some way down Bantry Bay we bore away and unfurled the genie, til now we had been motoring to windward so we could have a grand sail back. Having just a genie to manage is easier with a novice crew. Maureen returned on deck and tried to sit on the bow but decided the tiny seat over the water was too precarious. In fact it�s a safe if uncomfortable perch usually favoured by children who love to see the water rushing by below the bow. By lunch time we were at anchor once more in Glengarrif, this time close to the islands that close off much of the southern end of the bay. Only Cathay Clipper had a better spot close to the seals. It was a safe place to leave the boat for a few hours with the weather forecast still predicting those yet to appear strong southerlies.
Ashore after a little repacking of the Harris car/shed we piled in and headed out of the village on an expedition to visit their home up in the valley behind the village. After a 10 minute drive we parked and set off on foot up a forestry track. Their overnight bags on a trolley and umbrellas in hand � the Irish weather was threatening to show us its normal face. For a mile or so up the steep track Maureen & Eammon kept up the conversation whilst us unfit townies hadn�t the breath to respond. Eammon turned off to his left and disappeared into the scrub on anarrow even steeper path. We followed and were soon in the trees. A stream ran down a narrow cleft to our right, then we jumped to cross it, up a couple of steps, through a fancy iron gate in the wall and beyond was magical! Three wooden cabins one to our left and the other to the right parallel with the wall. A small clearing under the trees round a tiny pool with a thin slab from a large log serving as a table and a chair also made from a tree stump, bamboo canes grew near by. Elderly canvas deck chairs appeared and Eamon offered water and beer.The former in ajug filled from the pool above the clearing. These few acres of Irish woodland have been Eamons home since the late 1970�s. A cosy spot against the boundary wall of the former estate of Lord Bantry. The woodland is steep behind the wall wrapping itself around their home.
Maureen proudly showed us around; to the right of the gate, the path followed the wall rising up gently to the far boundary wall with a stile to the next plot of land. From the stile back towards the clearing we passed a huge gunnerhea (spelling?), then a pony trap tucked under their winter cabin on its stone stilts. This cosy place with its lattice windows was half full of a huge soft double bed with mounds of blankets, opposite a wood burning stove and all around examples fo their artwork. They make a living selling prints and originals at local markets. What space remained was full of bric-a-brac and books. It wasn�t difficult to believe Maureen when she said that even on the coldest winter�s day it could get so hot in here that they had to open the windows!
Next was the woodshed mostly occupied at this time of year by the cat and her kittens � one grown up and two very young and very shy. Beyond this a small annex serves as a bathroom with the only �mod-con� a small double burner gas stove to quickly heat water for washing and an early morning cuppa. Next door is the kitchen and dining area, the big round table like every other surface in their home covered in clutter � bowls, paintings and ornaments covered the cloth. Cooking is done over an open fire, but there�s another wood burning stove for winter warmth. Eamon does his painting and drawing here.
Across the little clearing past the luxuriant bamboo is the final cabin with a generous porch outside on whose roof grass grows. Inside to the right is a U of workbenches � Maureen�s workshop, studio and study. Her books on psychotherapy stacked above, the work surfaces covered in paints and fabrics with uncompleted paintings propped up all around. Beyond another cosy space with a bed filling one end; surrounded by lattice windows down to the bed itself. It must be amazing to wake up in the morning and without stirring watch the forest floor at eye level.
We then climbed up above the huts into the woods � lots of holly, a eucalyptus rowan, apples, red rhododendrons and many more exotic species fill this incredible little spot; mostly grown from seed collected by Eamon in foreign ports. From time to time walls indicate that this was once open land that was farmed. Eamon enthusiastically leads us through the trees. �This is a Faerie Wall � its circular and at its centre is a cairn. Holes built into the wall are to let the power flow through.� Another bank he explains was built by long ago Celts, part of their power house attempt to reverse the effects of the ice age � neither Kevin nor I could follow all this but Eamon obviously has a store of tales about the tribes who first settled this land over 1000 years ago long before the English lords of Bantry.
Too soon the afternoon draws to an end and all four of us climb down the hill back to the car/shed. As we later return to Temptress, a little of the magic stays with us, we find ourselves peaceful and totally relaxed. We�d love to be able to live without the trappings of modern life, no electricity, no bills, no demanding jobs, just relaxed and laid back living in an idyllic setting. But how hard it must be in winter when its cold. In Ireland where the rain predominates and the stream regularly floods what is effectively your living room carpet in the clearing. Everything has to be carried up or down by hand. Back on Temptress we appreciate more what we have and wish for a less materialistic peaceful life. Surely the Faeries have worked their magic on us too!
Day Six of our Irish Cruise and we awoke to a damp, misty day with not a puff of wind. Bantry and Whiddy Island had disappeared as had most of the surrounding hills.
After breakfast in bed we donned oilies, upped anchor and headed for Berehaven just a few miles away along the north shore of Bantry Bay to the west of Glengarrif. Again we simply unfurled a little genie as the wind rose enabling us to beat along the shore.
Having left just after eleven, by one thirty we were tied up in Lawrence Cove � the first marina berth since leaving Dingle! The only space was on the fuel berth. For lunch we became adventurous and had another attempt at making toast under the grill. The loaf we�d purchased was bun shaped producing wide, short slices so fitted perfectly under the measly rectangle of flame that serves as a grill. Beans on toast for lunch was a success and warmed us suitably after the wetness of the morning.
Afterwards the rain had ceased and the decks were drying. Ahead of us on the pontoon was Full Tilt, an American boat we�d met on arrival in Dingle back in May. Stopping to chat to her crew we also met Elizabeth from Malin Mist, a wooden motorsailer moored on the opposite side of the pontoon. Elizabeth an elderly but sprightly skipper asked if one of us could help her with entering waypoints into the GPS. No problem replied the Skipper and promptly volunteered his mate! We�re off for a bike ride while the weather is dry but we�ll drop by on our return.
We carried on our way and found the village consisted of less than a dozen houses including a bar, Kitty�s (a restaurant) and the village shop. Kevin popped his head round the shop door, �What time do you shut?�. �9:30pm� �That�s fine we�ll be back later for some milk�.
We pedaled on up the hill; �road blocked� stated the sign but walking towards us was a family with a fishing net and presumably they had got through so we guessed we should be able to. Further on round a bend or two, a road roller and heaps of stones filled the narrow lane along with four or five workmen in yellow jackets leaning on their shovels. We cycled past on the edge of the road meeting a JCB further on heading their way. We also met several car loads of army personnel making their way back to an encampment above the village from a firing range on the southern shore of the island.
The road sign at the next junction had a number of sights indicated including �Football Pitch�. A wonder in itself as we�d not seen that much flat land anywhere on our travels so far that afternoon. We headed off in a different direction entirely and ended up on a slipway chatting to an ancient local who had lived in the nearby house all his 70-odd years and was engaged in folding a net ready to be set in the tiny bay below to catch some bait for the prawn pots.
Back in Lawrence Cove we entered Elizabeth�s waypoints into her GPS with some corrections to the list she�d provided. Kevin had the charts out as she recounted tales of earlier years cruising along the coasts that bound the western English Channel. Afterwards, route to Kinsale complete and checked, over a glass of wine she told us how her husband had died less than a year after they�d purchased Malin Mist. It had not stopped her fulfilling their dreams and she had traveled all over the place with her. Early entries in her visitor book dated back before Kevin was born and several boats ago. Now she was looking for crew to get her to Kinsale and we were sorely tempted. Malin Mist had been in Lawrence Cove all winter and was now headed for La Rochelle. Despite her years (90 in a few weeks) we didn�t doubt that with the right crew Elizabeth would achieve her goal. An indomitable old lady of the seas.
Where next for us? We thought of staying a day or two and cycling via the ferry to Castletownbere but looking through the almanac, pilot book and the lonely Planet Guide to Ireland decide we�d move on tomorrow and head for Baltimore.
Kitty�s provided us with a fine supper � fish of the day proved to be Monk Fish in cream and was served with garlic potatoes in yet more cream. All was extremely �Moorish�.
Another flat calm day but this time it wasn�t raining although it was very cloudy. Ahead of were masts sticking out of the water mid-channel as we motored out of Lawrence cove and down the northern shore of the island towards Bantry Bay. When the chart marks a wreck with a symbol it�s usually not so obvious to the naked eye! Presumably what was once a large deep sea trawler or a coaster was now resting on the bottom and even at high water masts and a thin funnel showed several feet above the surface. We carefully left it to starboard.
On our left was a boat yard where the shed had a nifty opening roof so that the crane could manoeuvre in parts for the trawler inside. Then to starboard Castleberehaven (Castletown) harbour opened up and we caught a glimpse of the Irish fishing fleet lined up stern-to along the quay. A slight turn to port and we were heading out through Piper Sound with gentle hills rising green either side of the narrow gap that framed our view to seaward.
Once back in Bantry Bay the wind was Southerly F3 or so. Up went the sails and out went a trolling line but it didn�t last. Soon after lunch we had to resort to the engine again and we caught nothing. The scenery was fantastic � Mizen Peak rising a couple of hundred metres above us as we rounded the headland (the most SW part of Ireland) under Marconi�s telegraph station and headed east. Most appropriately the mobile phone rang � we spoke to Martin & Colette who had an hour or so earlier successfully crossed Biscay with Duncan (son) and Jazz (dog). They were now anchored in Ferrol with Pat & Tony enjoying the warm Spanish sunshine and a glass of champagne to celebrate their achievement.
By late afternoon we were motoring amongst the islands that make up this part of the Irish coast; Long Island to port and Clear Island to starboard. The landscape was much lower, flatter with more agriculture along these Gulf Stream warmed coasts than the wilds of Kerry. There all you might see are birds and sheep in the grass high above the cliffs, here there were fields and tractors. Through Gasconne Sound at low water � it was therefore easy to avoid the rocky bits. Turn to port and ahead was the entrance to Baltimore at the top of Sherkin Island between the white light house (to port) and Lots Wife Beacon ( to starboard). Inside the narrow rocky gap the harbour opens up into a big pool more than a mile across. Temptress rounded up and we tidied away the mainsail � with little wind and a flat sea is easy to achieve a neat result even with our spectre sailcloth which resists all attempts to fold it.
Motoring around the moorings on the Baltimore side showed nothing suitable and no room on the quay or the water-barge that serves as a pontoon. Kevin headed for the north side of the harbour towards the lifeboat house and we attempted to anchor off the north pier. Down went the anchor, out went the chain as the tags whizzed past I took my foot of the switch but the chain didn�t stop it just kept on rattling out. With no shoes on and not wanting to grab hold of the speeding chain I simply yelled for the Skipper. The anchor hadn�t bitten either so we slowly dragged down wind towards a couple of small yachts and some empty moorings. Then the chain jammed in the locker � great! Kevin tied it off and called for the toolbox. Once the gypsy was undone the problem was obvious � thick grey Irish mud collected from a variety of anchorages over the past week had jammed the pawl open. After a few buckets of water it seemed cured. We upped anchor and had another try but the holding in our second choice was poorer than the first spot so we headed back there. This time the anchor went down, the chain stopped and it all held fast � just like the text books say it should.
Showered we ventured ashore by dinghy for a walk and a pint or so of lethal Irish cider. The sun came out and children recently released from school for the summer played whilst their parents drank & chattered at the tables that filled the little triangle overlooking the harbour. We watched a Rival 38 have four or five attempts at anchoring and smiled smugly to ourselves before returning to Temptress for supper and a few games of cards.
An Adventure with Woodwork – July 1st
Saturday was a grey day looking like rain so we donned oilies and picked our way out of Baltimore putting the main up enroute. The southerly F3-4 was wonderful and by 9:40 Temptress was reaching just a little south of east along the coast, round Kedge Ledge but inside the Stags. A large French yacht was sailing nicely ahead and to seaward of us. Temptress was reaching at 8 knots and soon we realised we were overhauling the French boat. It was a blue hulled Nic� 55 with 4 or 5 crew.
By lunch time the front had almost passed overhead and the sun was trying to put in an appearance. Temptress�s crew stripped off, swapping fluffy mid-layers for shorts. Suddenly the gentle noise of water swishing past the rudder changed. Kevin climbed down the transom steps and laid on the bottom one � at 8 knots he was a little too close to the water for comfort! I let go all sails and scrambled for a boat hook. We�d run over an object that in a former life had been a box or a chair. It disintegrated under attack from the boat hook freeing the rudder and away as we reset the sails and tacked & gybed back onto course. By the time we had Temptress sailing nicely again the Nic had overtaken us- probably wondering what on earth we�d been up to.
We soon caught them up and as the wind moved aft decided to fly the asymmetric. Up it went but both crew & skipper were slacking and didn�t react quickly enough on halyard and sheet to remove a twist. Down came the wayward sail until sufficient pressure was released to free the twist � sheet in, release, sheet in, release – whilst the skipper hauled on the leech. Sheet in once more and it was free, filling nicely though there were still yards of halyard to wind up. Two exhausted crew tumbled back into the cockpit as George the auto pilot steered us onward. Eight knots plus all the way round the Head of Kinsale. Now we�re dead downwind and the asymmetric didn�t like it one bit, we quickly doused it and a great soggy heap was dumped on the saloon floor. Out with a goose winged genoa but the wind was dying in a combination of setting sun and shelter behind the headland so soon we were motoring through the racing Dragons and into Kinsale Harbour somehow ahead of the Nic 55. This was to be our last Irish port � a couple of days here, exploring the lanes & byways by bike, a birthday celebration dinner for Susie, world cup football and a spot of shopping then back across the Celtic Sea towards Cornwall or even the Scillies if the weather held. But we will be back � what a fantastic sailing ground this coast is and there is more further north on the west coast we�ve not yet seen.
Kevin & Susie
Temptress of Down