To Schull past the Skellig monastery

As we left Dingle, its celebrated Dolphin came out to play, not with us but with some canoeists near the channel out. But we had a good look as Fungie surged past – a Dolphin on the large side, like a small whale, who has been living at Dingle since 1983.

The picture is from the web!

We originally planned to spend some time in the great bays of the south west, but when we looked at the logistics it needed a week to explore them all properly. They are also in relatively easy reach of the English Channel, unlike the far west, so we decided it would be more sensible to skip the Kenmare River and Bantry Bay and think of coming back one day for a separate cruise. So we headed for Schull.

We sailed in sight of the Skelligs, the pinnacles of rock where monks lived as hermits one and a half millennia ago. The Skelligs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like Dun Aengus. It is very hard to believe that anyone could live on these steep sided islands, but their chapels and cells are still there, and so are the paths up to them. They are perched at 160metres and the summit is at 230 metres. It is not usually feasible to land from a yacht, but in good weather there are excursions from the mainland, for what sounds like a rather daunting outing.

Here we all are, posing in front of the Skelligs.

Jean-Jacques
Jean-Jacques
Tony
Tony
Peter
Peter

Saw the Fastnet Rock in the distance as we approached Schull. Three times I got to the Fastnet and wished I could go into Schull or Baltimore rather than all the way back to Plymouth. By the time we fought up to the rock on the race, we were all beginning to wonder what on earth we were doing out there, cold, wet and exhausted. Of course, it always seemed much better once the parties started in Plymouth, which must be one of the reasons why many people do it again, and sometimes again.

The Fastnet Rock,  7 miles away
The Fastnet Rock, 7 miles away

After a fine but sometimes blustery day, the weather closed in and it was cold and wet when we arrived in Schull.

Chris
Chris

But everything cheered up when Christine,  part owner of Spring Fever, joined us as fourth crew member. She flew to Dublin and came by train to Cork and bus to Skibbereen, where she was picked up by her friend Johanna from Schull and Johanna’s friend John, who turned out to be a sailor of great experience, with a yacht moored at the bottom of his garden. He was preparing for a week of racing on a variety of boats in Schull’s Calves Week, a tongue in cheek references to Cowes Week. Chris visited John’s house on a nearby river on the way, and they were all waiting for us on the quay at Schull as we arrived.

Arriving at Schull in the rain
Arriving at Schull in the rain

John suggested we go alongside a fishing boat and come ashore for supper in a restaurant, where we had a splendid dinner of mussels followed by lobster with Muscadet to drink. John later pointed out the visitors’ buoys, and when we left our temporary berth alongside the fishing boat we picked one up for the night. But the weather was turning worse, and from the south, and John warned that Schull harbour became very uncomfortable in those conditions, and Baltimore would make a better alternative tomorrow.

Passage notes: log 72 miles, 12 hours, max wind WSW 4, min W 2, rain then bright then rain, swell 2-3 m. Alongside a fishing boat on the pier then to a heavy-duty visitor mooring on east side of harbour.

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