Aleria's Jaunt to Scotland: 6-7 July 2013 Arranmore, Donegal, Ireland
Fog in Donegal and PRMMMC*
*(personal remote maritime mobile mechanical consultation)
|Glen Head just as fog rolled in and the engine alarm went off.|
|Daria sails back toward Killybegs|
Meanwhile, we had mobile signal strength so Alex called our friend and local chandler and engine mechanic in Westport, Tommy Moran. Tommy walked Alex through a series of diagnostics. Yes, we had checked the coolant level. No, it was not overheating. Yes, there was water flowing through the exhaust. Then Tom suggested two possible issues. One was that the sensor might be faulty, especially since Alex had been working in the engine compartment and may have dislodged something – Tommy has just replaced a faulty sensor on a Yanmar similar to ours so it’s a known problem. The other was that there might be an airlock in the coolant system, in which case the sensor was doing its job.
|After Alex solved the engine problem,|
Daria monitored radar and depth while
Alex steered through dense fog.
|The cardinal mark at Arranmore finally visible|
A new forecast called for mist and within the hour a dense fog settled in and the coast disappeared, not unlike in Maine. Fog is not so common around these parts so people tend to stay put in fog. We turned on the radar. Soon Alex spotted a sailboat passing close to port which was invisible on radar without a radar reflector. Alex stayed on the helm and I watched the radar as we entered Arranmore near Burtonport in Donegal.
It’s always rather exciting coming into a port that is foreign to you in challenging conditions. This is a tricky entrance with lots of unmarked rocks. You have to line up a set of range markers after passing a cardinal mark from due North. Nothing was visible in the fog and none of the markers that were supposedly lit actually had lights on, including the lighthouse. So I stayed on radar watching the rocky coastline and kept an eye on the depth sounder corroborating what the other instruments said. The chartplotter can be off quite a bit as the most recent surveys of Ireland’s coastline were done in the 1800s and GPS anomalies exist more commonly than one might expect. Alex calmly steered the specified 186°M course.
Finally the black and white striped cardinal mark on the rocks came into view with huge waves crashing over it. Shortly after, we could make out the RNLI boat, the ferry, and the miniscule obelisk on the shore which marks where to turn into the anchorage. Piece of cake. We anchored, had a wee dram, dinner of beans and sausages, and collapsed.
|Aleria at anchor in Arranmore|
|We knew we were still in Ireland|
Arranmore (Irish: Árainn Mhór) is a lovely island. It's the largest populated island in Donegal and the second largest in Ireland after Achill. There are lots of holiday homes and perfectly groomed gardens, English style. Many of the holiday goers here are from the North as Derry is quite close by and Belfast not very far either. We walked up to the crest of the island by the lakes, which was one hour straight up the hill.
|Morning reveals what we didn't see in the fog|
We enjoyed lovely warm sunshine, but at the top we saw that we were surrounded by fog and had found a little hole in it. We learned from walkers coming the other way that it was another 3 hours around the loop and fog was sweeping over the hills so we turned back and tracked down the hill appreciating the magnificent views of the harbour from up there. The people were very friendly but there were far too many cars. The Siopa (shop) was closed so we missed our chance for fresh bread.
|Village along the beach|
|Busy weekend with ferries going back and forth all day long|
Fortunately, the following morning was full of sunshine and no fog. Time to lift the anchor and press on to Scotland.