We decided to leave Inishmore at midnight to make sure of getting through the inside channel at the Blaskett Islands before the tide turned, and also to beat a forecast veer in the wind from south east to south west, which would be almost ahead. It meant running the gauntlet of the lobster pot buoys and ropes, because we could not see them in the swell, even with the bright moonlight. But none of them caught us, though we spent the hours of darkness in fear of the shudder, swish and gurgle that meant we had caught one. The wind was light, so we motorsailed to make sure we did not miss that tide.
Ashore for breakfast, left dinghy on beach, and rented bikes from the shop a few yards away. Cycled to the extraordinary pre-Christian fort of Dun Aengus through delightful lanes and by tiny fields with a few cows in each, quite unlike the rocky view of the island from a distance. Ponies and traps trotted by carrying tourists.
First, a detour to Clifden to see the Connemara mainland at least briefly, though we had a long view of the hills all day at sea. Quite a swell running as we followed a complicated course through a series of reefs and small islands, with waves crashing unnervingly near.
Clifden has a peaceful little estuary and river, not the wild Connemara of legend, Continue reading “To the Aran Islands – Inishmore”
A lovely sunny day, though you wouldn’t know it from the forecast. The bad weather seemed to hang over the Mayo and Connemara mainland, where there were great storm clouds. Motorsailed in light winds past the 2000 foot cliffs of Achill Island, with Clare Island in the distance, to Inishboffin.
Heavy rain – no mood to get soaked unnecessarily – so rested at anchor until 1600, when it cleared. Headed for the little bay of Frenchport but then heard coastguard saying wind might go westerly, in which case it would be very exposed, so continued to Blacksod Bay, past a series of once inhabited islands (and also past the Eagle Rock, where the lighthouse used to be damaged regularly by storms). Continue reading “Blacksod Bay and Achill Island”
We refuelled from a road tanker and left mid-morning from Killybegs for Broad Haven, 60 miles away, relieved to get away from the noisy, smelly diesel generator charging the batteries of the trawler beside us. Continue reading “Stormy weather on way to Broad Haven”
Rathlyn O’Byrne is an island and lighthouse just off a headland, and to get there in good weather you can go quite close to some spectacular cliffs.
Brilliant, fast beam reach from Tory past Bloody Foreland, which is as undramatic as the name is gory (though it in fact refers to the colour of the rocks, not some great battle). Took inside passage round the islands, including Gola, which is being recolonised with holiday homes, by descendants of the original inhabitants.
So interested in the scenery that we snagged a lobster pot line, luckily on the keel, from which it pulled off without catching rudder or propellor. Continue reading “Bloody Foreland, Aranmore, Church Pool”
25 miles to Tory, Ireland’s remotest inhabited island, which has an unaccountably large number of Rodgers living there. I read that in an on-line search for possible Rodgers ancestry in Ireland, though the family evidence is for connections to County Cork, not Donegal. Continue reading “The Rodgers of Tory Island”
Left Port Ellen in brilliant sub, calm sea with mist, enough to use radar at the entrance/ exit from the North Channel traffic separation zone, where we detected only one ship at five or six miles, moving away. Continue reading “Passage to Ireland”
Woke to thick fog, but having found the chartplotter pretty accurate around the rocks we trusted it to take us out of Tinker’s Hole again, though the leading lines were obscured.
A few hundred metres visibility most of the way across to Colonsay, so radar on and constant monitoring of the AIT, which shows other vessels’ positions, and ours to them. Nothing but the occasional fishing boat showed up. Fog cleared completely for a while close to Islay. 10.5 knots with the tide down the Sound if Islay.
A day of distilleries – passed Bunahabhan and Caol Islay in the sound and then used Bob Bradfield’s ultra large scale charts to explore close inshore on the east coast of Islay. Continue reading “Islay in the fog”
Iona was founded by St Columba (or St Columcille as he is known in Ireland.) St Aidan then went from Iona to found the monastery on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off Northumbria, which we visited on the way up the east coast (and on the way down in our 2007-8 round Britain cruise). So there was a sense of completeness in visiting Iona, after several attempts last year and one this year in May were thwarted by bad weather.
We went ashore by dinghy, spent an hour in the atmospheric little museum, Continue reading “Iona”
Rain and mist till late afternoon. Leaving Ardoran at midday, regretfully, as such a lovely, friendly place, and Colin and Helen at the boatyard such nice people. We’ll also miss the world’s best seafood stall, by the ferry terminal in Oban, so tempting I could not pass it without having mussels for breakfast several times when we were last here. The scallops cooked in wine, eaten from a disposable plastic dish, were just about the best and biggest ever, and as for the oysters and the massively filled crab sandwiches…. must go back. Continue reading “Leaving Ardoran”
Heatwave in the South, pouring at Loch Lomond after we left Glasgow for Oban by train. Out to boat at Ardoran in a downpour and brought alongside to load. Hot till yesterday, said taxi driver – Scotland!
Sunny day, light breeze, perfect for a walk along the canal. Loch Crinan and the River Add are a delightful contrast of rocky shore, sandy estuary and saltings, and the woods near Crinan are said to be part of the old Argyll temperate rainforest.