|Aleria in her cradle in 2008|
Clew Bay to Inishbofin - spectacular!We'd done little sailing since returning from Scotland in August. 'Things' like weather and birthdays and business matters and novels -- the writing of one -- kept getting in the way. When it came time to put Aleria away for the winter, we were once again confronted with a dilemma. She's a big lady for this part of the world to handle. Our options were to bring her up on shore like we did in the past or haul her out like we did in the spring. Neither option had proven entirely reliable. She just doesn't like to sit on the hard. Alex actually thought she'd be best off on her mooring, which would have given me palpitations all winter long.
|Aleria hauled out on the Quay in Westport in 2013|
|Heading out of Clew Bay we could hardly see |
the salmon cages off Clare Island.
We looked up when the tides would be right for sailing Aleria down the coast of Ireland and entering the locked harbour. The harbour gates open for two hours before every high tide. Then we waited for a weather window. This is not a coast to sail cavalierly when storm season is upon us. Our prevailing winds are southwesterly and we were heading south to Galway from Clew Bay. That meant the usual bash down the coast. At least we wanted the tides to be with us and the winds manageable.
Fortunately for us, favourable tides and winds converged the second week in October. And even more amazing, after a gale passed through quickly on Monday, the forecast was for a week of northwesterlies as the Azores high once again settled over Ireland. That meant we'd be sailing with the wind instead of bashing into it. We got onboard first thing Tuesday morning and headed out on the just-falling tide to get over the oyster bed that creates a shallow between us and the outer bay. The conditions were beautiful - the seas were calm, the winds gentle and from the north as promised. We sailed off across Clew Bay and two tacks got us out to Inishbofin. We planned to island hop down the coast, stopping at Bofin and Inishmore. The northerly brought cooler weather but at least it was relatively dry and not nearly as cold as everyone was predicting. Lucky for us.
|Rainbow touching down on Inishbofin|
Meanwhile, Galway Harbourmaster, Brian Sheridan, looked up our weather window and texted us that he was coming out to Bofin to bring his boat back to Galway too, so we'd be sailing in company. It's always nice to have company out there.
There were angry clouds all around creating amazing plays of light and shadow. But we only had a brief sprinkle - more like a heavy mist or a low lying cloud. On approach to the harbour a rainbow touched down and kissed the island.
Coming into Bofin is always interesting, as the safe approach that avoids a rock under the surface takes you very close to the lighthouse and the rocks beneath it. We picked a spot off the Cromwellian fort in crystal clear waters and watched our shiny Ultra anchor disappear into the nice hard sand. We thought about going ashore but decided to just chill aboard. We had a celebratory cocktail and settled on deck to read our books. The great thing about being onboard is that there is no television. So we finally get to read books. Lots of them.
|It's always disconcerting to enter the |
harbour at Inishbofin so close to the rocks.
It's always disturbing this time of year when the days get shorter so very quickly. Each day gets shaved off more and more until there's only a bit of light to get you through those long winters. Winter is coming, and the Lord of Light may be our salvation. Guess what I am reading? The last book of Game of Thrones and it's too dark to read on deck now. Darn.
We made a nice dinner of spaghetti bolognese, then snuggled under warm blankets until bedtime. Meanwhile, the forecast changed, as it always does. Wednesday was to bring stronger winds and rain in the afternoon as the front that was originally passing over Scotland dipped down, so we decided to stay put on Bofin the next day. Thursday was forecast to be dry and with light NW winds. We thought we'd sail off then and see how far we could get - maybe Roundstone or Cashla would do nicely in a northerly rather than Kilronan Harbour on Inishmore, which tends to be more exposed.
|Cromwell's fort and the lighthouse under brilliant blue sky|
The island is so peaceful and quiet this time of year. Most businesses appeared closed, except for Day's Pub and the hotel. The shop was open and islanders were stopping by for their loaf of bread or milk. We saw Brian's boat tied up to the pier but he was nowhere in evidence. So we returned to Aleria for lunch. As the afternoon progressed, a cold rain and strong wind made for an uncomfortable day. It got cold, really bone-chilling cold, and as we do not have heat onboard, blankets and sub-zero sleeping bags kept us from freezing over.
We considered going ashore for a pint and dinner, but it was cold and damp and windy. So we chose to stay onboard. After a fine dinner of chicken in mushroom sauce with mashed potatoes and fresh garden tomatoes, we read a bit more then both fell sound asleep. At some point we got up and went to bed and had the deepest most satisfying slumber, once again in Aleria's cradle. I had really missed that. Being at anchor, gently swaying, after a full day of exertion. There's nothing else like it.
|Currachs and ribs tied up to the old pier. A|
fisherman drowned there the day we left.
|Bofin Harbour with visitor moorings, |
a new ferry pier and the old pier
|The anchorage with the ferry coming in|
|View from the hill near Murray's - spectacular|
|The barnyard crowd|
|The warren excavations|
|Inishark and the white sand beach on Bofin|
|Abandoned cottage decorated by the school children|
|A spotlight from heaven|
|View of the harbour with Connemara in the background|
|Breaking wave at low tide shows location of rocks|
|Murray's not the way it usually looks mid-summer|
|The inner harbour|
|St. Coleman's church built on earlier monastic ruins|
|The hotel and spa|
|The old pier|