Sunday, 30 October 2016

Google Map of anchorages and current position.
We will no longer be using Iridium Go and therefore tracking services will cease. I will however updat our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position. The link to Marine Traffic below will also be pretty accurate. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

ONWARD TO DUBLIN. August 5th

On Friday we headed back down the river in much better weather and were able to catch all the sights we missed coming in. There is a great cycle and walking path right along the southern bank which is  very well used. We passed Blackrock Castle dating from the 16th century. Built by the citizens of Cork in 1582 as a watch tower and fort to guard the river entrance against pirates and other invaders, it now serves as Ireland’s first fully interactive astronomy center, and is open to the public.

We were able to admire the riverside architecture and small towns like Ringaskiddy and Monkstown on either side. 
The impossibly tall and delicate spire of St Colemans Cathedral at Cohb had us searching for a dockside tie hoping to take the opportunity while passing to explore, however after a fruitless search we reluctantly continued on to Crosshaven and picked up a mooring for the night. Construction began on the magnificent neo-Gothic cathedral  in 1867 and was not completed until over half a century later due to increases in costs and revisions of the original plans.  The cathedral organ has 2,468 pipes. It also has a 49 bell carillon, the largest bell weighing 3.6 tons is suspended 200 feet above the ground The Cathedral has one of the largest carillon in the British Isles and has it's own carillonneur. Virtual tour of St Colemans Cathedral

Cohb St Colemans Catholic Cathedral.
There is also a Titanic museum in Cohb as it was the last stop for the ill fated ship. You always have to leave something to come back for.

Fort Davis and Rams Head forts loomed large on either side of the entrance to the River Lee. They had been shrouded in such heavy rain as we came in we completely missed them.

 We had an early start on Friday to Rosslare Harbour for and 86nm run. Fortunately the days are long and the current was favorable so we arrived just on dusk to tie up next to a fishing boat in the harbor. Rosslare is a ferry port with boats going to Wales, England and France.
Saturday dawn broke as we departed and the day was bright and sunny again. We motored for a while then the wind started to build. By mid afternoon we had 35 knots from dead behind and an uncooperative auto pilot. David managed to tame the beast after some excitement and eventually after playing with the settings we were once again under auto control. 
Wicklow Head Lighthouse
It used to be the ferry terminal. But closed.
Dun Loaghairy, our destination, is an old walled harbor dating back to the mid 1800s with Martello Tower forts east and west of it. The port offers excellent protection and easy all weather access, large enough to enable us to lower the main within its tall protected walls. Scott, the marina staff member on that afternoon came out to greet us and met us on the dock as we very gratefully threw lines and tied up Taipan after a fairly arduous sail.
Dublin is a 20 min train ride away from the station just across the road so a very convenient spot to stop.
So we are off to explore Dublin.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

TO CORK? OR NOT TO CORK? August 3rd. 2016

 
Port of Cork City Dock
Ordinary weather to go sailing. Too windy and too wet! Another boisterous sail. We left beautiful Kinsale to make the 40nm passage to Cork. It started out OK but rapidly deteriorated. It was so miserable and misty we hardly saw Cohb as we sailed past. Its 14 miles up the River Lee to Cork City. There was no one on the Port Of Cork City Pontoon, (not surprising in this weather) situated conveniently right near the center of the city so we docked without fuss and once secured, set out to find some city life. Wet and gloomy as it was, we managed to stumble onto a pleasant little Japanese Restaurant for sushi reinforcements and then while away several hours strolling the almost empty holiday Monday streets.
English market
 Tuesday we shopped and explored the English Market, an old Market building in the city with lovely fresh local produce, gourmet delights from near and far and a great dining experience overlooking the activity from the Mezzanine. 
Blarney Castle

Wednesday we grabbed a local bus and headed out to Blarney Castle. The weather was better and the 60 acres of parkland grounds were fabulous.   The first  structure here was a wooden hunting lodge constructed in about 1200 it was reinforced and built in stone in around 1210 then destroyed in 1245, it was later built in stone then in 1446 Cormack McCarthy demolished it for the stone to commence the building of the current castle.
Stable yard
There were far to many tourists, as you would expect, however we persevered for an hour and a half in the que to the top of the castle to kiss the famous Blarney Stone and are now suitable endowed with the gift of eloquence.
"There is a stone there,
That whoever kisses,
Oh! He never misses
To grow eloquent."
It was actually quite fun, with interesting people around and some diversions along to way into tunnels and various rooms leading from the steep and narrow spiral stairs. Always paying strict attention to ones footing on the aged uneven and worn stones. 
 
Blarney House

Once atop the great castle walls the view was lovely thanks to the clear skies. Blarney Castle is still in private hands and is extremely well presented with fabulous grounds to explore and a new home, Blarney House, built in 1874 for the owners,  in Scottish Baronial style and somewhat resembling a Disney castle. The Colthurst family still occupy it.
Beautiful gardens and grounds at Blarney Castle.
The Poison Garden, just beside the Tower is the only one of its kind in Ireland, complete with a fabulous canabis plant in a steel cage, along with wolfsbane, mandrake, ricin and opium Blarney gardens with its many other interesting and beautifully displayed plantings, it's a fascinating diversion. There is also a large fern garden and extensive water gardens and waterfalls.  There were rumored to be extensive tunnels under the castle but there is apparently no evidence of their presence today.
We had an unplanned adventure returning to Cork when we missed our city stop and ended up doing a bus tour for another hour or so south to Ringskiddy.
With Cork explored we decided to head to Dublin, taking Taipan instead of driving as planned. Accommodation was all booked out with a long weekend coming up. We will sail east to Rosslare then north to Dublin in 2 day hops.

Goodbye Cork
 
Add caption


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

AND IRISH MIST. NOT WHISKEY! July 27th

We arrived in the west and moved east along the coast.

The Wild Atlantic Way. Massive rugged storm lashed cliffs fall dark and broken into  white foamy sea which claws at them relentlessly from  murky grey depths. Treacherous jagged rocky post glacial remnants lurk off their perilous fringes, decorated with the treasures of countless wrecks, old and new. Watchtowers, falling down and tired remnants of the Napoleonic period struggle to attention on every hilltop. Cleaved to the cliffs, various ruined castles cast a baleful eye over us as we make our way along the southern Irish coastline through sun and rain, mist and fog, marveling at the beauty, power and history.
Some of the fishing vessels in Castletownbere.
Castletownbere.
Farmers fishermen and summer revelers frequent the quaint little villages on their various business. Castletownbere sits snug in a tiny dredged harbor, home to the whitefish fleet numbering over 80 ships, some from EU countries, Spain and France predominantly. The biggest whitefish fleet in Europe.
We dined in Castletownbere for Sunday lunch at Murphys, of course! The fare was simple, well cooked and followed by one of the many delicious deserts available. Patrick O'Sullivan was fated to have us accompany him during our lunch as the restaurant was understandably full. He obliged by regaling us with the local stories, gossip and legends as well as some useful facts about the life and times in the area. He then walked with us and pointed out the various places of interest. I had the best Irish coffee in Ireland at the local Pub later before we all returned to Taipan on the anchor in the small harbor.

Monday involved a quick trip to the local Fisherman's coop to pick up a few bits n pieces for the boat. Always a cheaper option than the Marine Chandlers. 

Next stop was Crookhaven. The deeply indented coastline topped by Ballyroon Mountain form a stunning backdrop as we sail across Bantry Bay, around Sheeps Head, Three Castle Head, Mizen Head and Brow Head. The famous Fastnet Rock just 10 nm to our south as we head into the very sheltered and pretty Crookshaven anchorage. 

The weather hasn't been great with constant mist and poor visibility. We did spot the Three Castles for which the head is named. They were apparently a folly built by some noble lord in the period past when castles were the architectural fashion. They are now ruins but are apparently a popular walking destination being set upon a pretty little lake in among dramatic rocky countryside, and of course with an outstanding view.
Crookshaven, probably named for the crooks who frequented the area in times past as pirates and wreckers. The coastline was notoriously dangerous and to add insult to injury it wasn't unknown for wreckers to be active in the area, luring unsuspecting ships onto the rocks to slaughter crews and passengers and to steal their cargoes. 
Crookhaven

Today however it's a pretty town, albeit shrouded in mist, set on a narrow promontory and forming a fairly deep and well protected anchorage. The last port for most ships bound for the New World. The two and a half million immigrants headed to the Americas would have fare welled Europe here and headed to the vast beyond with hope in their hearts and dread in their eyes. Marconi was based in town while he experimented with radio telegraph for sending and receiving Morse Code. We saw the small cottage he was living in at that time. He abandoned Crookhaven in favor of Rosslare Strand, Co Wexford After discovering that the copper rich rocks in the mountains were interfering with his signals.
While exploring the little village we met a gentleman with two small boys who were heading out fishing. Later we met them again and were presented with six big fat mackerel along with instructions for catching the same. Armed with this new knowledge and eager to put it into practice, Captain Dave rigged the line and promptly pulled in another 6 fat mackerel  even managing a triple header! So we were assured of another dinner as we set out for Schull the following morning.
Navigating the narrow Long Island Channel the short distance to Schull was very scenic with pretty farms dotting the small fields on the islands and mainland. We were treated to a rare delight as the sun shone through the clouds for most of the afternoon making for excellent exploring weather in Schull. Here we met Deirdre Crowley, an exuberant artist currently exhibiting in Schull.  She was fascinated by our story and took a great photo of the three of us in front of one of her works. Schull is a reasonably large village for the area and we spent several hours walking the streets checking the pubs and just getting exercise.
Next stop Baltimore was a mere 8nm away, through narrow convoluted channels and around numerous rocky islands. Low and pastured they too are small farms. Heaven knows how they get their stock to market but we did see some trailers which look like they go on local barges. 


The cottages are stone and nestle down in valleys sheltered, I imagine, from the howling, freezing winter gales. Today though the kids are out in small sailboats racing around the relatively protected waters off Skelkin Island, undeterred by the misty threatening weather. It is after all, summer in Ireland and they are taking their summer holidays seriously. Baltimore was much smaller than it looked on the map but a pleasant spot to walk the legs and reestablish acquaintance with the he blood supply to them. 

45nm east is Kinsale, a delightful small village built 5 miles upstream on the river Bandon. The weather was awful. Windy, wet and cold with a fair following sea. At least the wind was behind the beam. With one reef we managed good time and rounded Old Head of Kinsale, one if Ireland's oldest light houses, early in the afternoon.  The Lusitania was lost just 11 miles off this headland when it was torpedoed by German  U Boat. U20 in 1916. There was significant loss of life and a third of the passengers were American. This attack on a civilian vessel contributed to the American decision to enter the war with Britain against Germany. 
Old Head Lighthouse. One of the oldest lights in Ireland
During the passage we were followed for a while by an Irish Navy patrol boat P42, and then they called us for details of vessel and crew. We encountered them as we entered Brandon River mouth where they were anchored up out of the weather.

Charles Fort stands guard on the East side and James Fort on the west. They provide a startling reminder of the history of British rule and the intermittent Spanish and French involvement in Irish affairs over the centuries. Charles Fort was to provide us with an interesting and informative adventure in the coming days. James Fort, long abandoned and now a ruin, was also visited. 
Charles Fort. Kinsale.
 Kinsale is a gorgeous town. Busy with the hum of tourists from all points of the compass, eagerly enjoying the history, spectacular scenery and neighboring castles and coastline. The anchorage was good and we were greeted by the local yacht club manager in a small boat, come to ask if we were happy to anchor or would like to enter the marina. We declined his offer and secured the anchor in the river, an easy dingy ride to the Marina dock where we were provided with a key card and a very friendly welcome.
We spent 3 nights in Kinsale and should have stayed longer. There is much to see with an excellent bus service between Kinsale and Cork. 
A very ancient Celtic religious site now the site of Church of St Mutose Whilst the building is 850 years old, it has been a site of continuous Christian worship for of worship for over 1300 years. 
Lovely little shops and a small castle in town kept us busy on our feet all day each day. Shopping for provisions was easily achieved with several supermarkets right on the waterfront.


On day two we dinged downriver to Summer Cove and walked to Charles Fort where we spent an entertaining morning being further educated in confusing and convoluted Irish history. The first fortification was built of earth and timber on the site of an earlier fortification called  Ringcurren Castle. This was followed by a more substantial construction of a Star shape fort in1670's and 80's. It was besieged in 1690 in the Williamite War. In a combined land and sea operation, Williamite commander Marlborough, took the city and captured 5,000 Jacobite prisoners. Repairs were made after the seige and the  and the British used it as an army barracks for over 200 years.
 
Charles Fort
In the afternoon we watched the charity fun raft race on the river and then took the dingy to James Fort. A more leisurely pace with no guides or entrance fee. The main fort structure is walled off and gated as it is unsafe to enter. A short climb down to the river there is a Block House. It was fortified with 2 levels of cannon and a tunnel ran under the hill from the block house to the main fortification. This has been blocked off, much to David and Patrick's chagrin.
 
James Fort
Kinsale has numerous eateries and many of a fine standard. Patrick, being our resident epicurean maestro, was suitably impressed. There are also visitor moorings here and we could easily have arranged to leave to boat and tour by car for a few days. The hinterland looked very interesting especially to the west with the remnant glacial rocky lakeland and scoured hillsides offering great walking trips and scenic countryside.

All to soon we have to move on again. This time to Cork about 40nm to the east.

Monday, 25 July 2016

LEPRECHUNS AN GUNNESS ANYONE? July 24th 2016

Thats Taipan in the distance.

Eight days and nights of rocking and rolling across the last 1140nm stretch of the North Atlantic to Ireland and we arrived in Bantry Bay on the 21st of July in the windy, foggy  rain.  We first had to struggle with the main sail as a result of a broken lazy jack . Eventually we managed to tame and bag the unruly beast so we could maneuver between the extensive mussel and salmon farms. Bantry harbor is about 20nm up a long narrow bay and once tied alongside the lovely new floating dock we were well protected from both wind and swell. Customs and the Harbor Master were there to greet us and complete formalities. Very informally.

Bantry Bay on a foggy day.

Needless to say the first job was the Irish Pub and a Guinness or two. Then the normal clean up after a passage before the serious jobs. Not much to do really considering all the miles we've covered since the Bahamas in May.

Now we will be slowing down not just because with the local tidal range of around 5 meters we will be reduced to shorter legs or pushing current and years in the Kimberley in Australia's north west has taught us that pushing current just a waste of time.

Bantry House.
Bantry House is  probably the major attraction in Bantry. Dating back to the 1700 and open to the public it is also a B&B. Very attractive topiary gardens, inspired by the gardens of Europe, and expansive views over the bay make for a pleasant diversion.

Castletownbere
 Fresh provisions and we again headed to sea. Well the bay this time. Just 20nm out to Castletownbere a very busy fishing port with up to 80 large trawlers based from here. Nestled at the base of the rugged Caha Mountains with a very protected natural harbor this picturesque little town has also some renowned walks and is frequented by trekkers from around the world.



The forecast is not great but we will endeavor to move on towards the East along the southern coast of Ireland, making leisurely day sails as weather permits.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

FABULOUS FAIAL ANOTHER JEWEL IN THE AZORES. 13th July 2016

 
A new peninsular.


Such a lot to see and so little time. our Azorean adventure is drawing to a close but not before we take a look at Faial. Volcanic in origin, as are the rest of the islands, this one has a recently active volcano with attendant lava fields and an amazing volcano museum. Situated at the far western end of the island is Capelinhos lighthouse, which was buried to above the second floor when a new vent spewed pyroclastic material and ash for several years during the 1950s. 

Another lighthouse falls victim to a massive earthquake
A small village was buried and several thousand people fled the country entirely. Migrating to America and Canada. The new museum is also buried thus not impeding the spectacular view of the lighthouse and the new peninsular built by the latest activity. The island has also been subjected to multiple earth quakes during its history and the ruins of many buildings are testament to their destructive capacity.

Towards the old Whaling Station
Faial is nevertheless a beautiful island with spectacular views in all directions and also decked in the blue hydrangeas for which the Azores are famous. 

Sao Jorge

As we near time to leave there is the provisioning and farewells to make. The Azores has lots of great wine and cheese at very good prices so the boat is full of it.
Ian and Lynn joined us for a sail and overnight aboard to Sao Jorge. What a fun day in beautiful sunshine. Farewell new friends and beautiful Azores.

More photos from Faial and Sao Jorge.

Friday, 8 July 2016

PICO. VOLCANO IN THE MIST. 7th July

Pico in the early morning. Highest mountain in Portugal at.2,351 m (7,713 ft) Rarely seen in the past month.
Arising at zero dark hundred a couple of days ago to make our way to the inter-island ferry we were granted a rare glimpse of the volcano, Mount Pico. The excuse for dragging David and Paddy from their comfortable nests was a proposed visit to the nearby island at the invitation of Ian and Lynn Bashaw, "Windward", a couple we raced with at the George Town Regatta in 2015 aboard "Geniet Lewe". We didn't know Ian and Lynn very well but they took the trouble to call on us in the marina at Horta and invited us to come visit and welcomed us to stay. They also offered to show us the island they now call home for several months of the year. How could we refuse.

Lagido. Walls around each vine. No trellis
We were collected at the Ferry Terminal and after caffeine reinforcement commenced the island tour with a visit to the Lagido vineyards, apparently established by monks around the beginning of the 1800s. We sampled many a bottle over the next two days and can attest to their excellence. The vineyards themselves are on rock with black volcanic rock walls very close together, with only one or two vines growing within the walls which create a micro climate very conducive to grape growing and wine production. There are acres of these fields. I can only think of all the ruined backs!
 
Homes constructed with volcanic rock. It is cut for tiles, bench tops and numerous other things.
Next we drove to the Mountain House on Pico from where the hikers leave on their 6 to 7 hour climb. Our mountain goat friends Sven and Gerda climbed it and when asked if we would manage it..... they muttered something in German and laughingly agreed that it would be impossible for us!!! Thank goodness!! So we returned in automobile comfort to continue our tour of the fringes. 

Farming of cattle and some crops inside the stone walled fields on steep hillsides.
 Whaling was a primary source of income for a couple of centuries and the return of these leviathans had spawned a new tourism industry. Blue whales and Sperm Whales being commonly spotted from the boats. 

Overlooking Sao Jorge.

The countryside is just spectacular and Ian and Lynn have a fabulous home with history dating back a couple of hundred years on the north eastern end of Pico. The view is just magic overlooking Sao Jorge about 10 miles north. Pico's first settlers arrived as early as 1460. Pico's average minimum temperature is just 11°C and the average maximum is 25°C with ocean temperature fluctuating between 15°C and 21°C. Very little need for air conditioning or heating. Perfect  temperate maritime climate. Rich soil seems to grow anything. Strawberries were growing wild on the walking trail!
Housing is cheap as is the local wine and local cheese. What else does one need?

Feasting on Pico
 We had a wonderful feast with our hosts neighbors and friends on Monday night and so much fun was had we stayed on Tuesday night as well. More touring was followed by an hour walk down through the most beautiful mountain trail.

Add caption
   We returned to Taipan weary but excited to have been able to spend some time with Ian and Lynn, to have seen their beautiful island and to have the opportunity to get to know them. Wonderful new friends.

Maybe this could be our next challenge?