Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The weather in the West of Ireland was filthy, but we couldn’t not sail!



Is there anything out there but miserable weather?

Summer Sailstice, a global celebration of sailing on the longest day of the year

 

A sliver of blue sky was hopeful
We sailed out of our inlet in Clew Bay at half tide. That’s when we can make it over the shellfish bed that runs across the entrance.  We had about a foot of water beneath our keel at the shallowest.  But that was not so much the issue. The issue was that the morning was cold, dark, damp and just miserable. Oh, and it was flat calm. 

When we got out into Clew Bay, there was not a boat in sight.  Then, a really dark cloud came by and it started to rain. Alex and I looked at each other and knew what we were thinking. Should we turn back and get back in while the tide is still with us?  Nah, we kept going in the shadow of the Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick.


Clare Island in the sun
Just as we were giving up all hope, Alex called out, “Look, there’s blue sky over Achill Island.” (That’s Ireland’s biggest island with dramatic cliffs that drop down straight into the sea.)  As I turned around, the sun shone on Clare Island lighting it up to show us the way.  A line of wind stretched from shore to shore and we could see it steadily advancing and pushing the clouds out of the way as the blue stretch grew wider and wider.  The breeze filled in catching our sails and we soared out of the Bay.

The ancient church with Medieval frescoes
Aleria in the harbour
By the time we dropped anchor at Clare Island, there was brilliant warm sunshine. We peeled off our foulies and launched the dinghy.  A shore visit was in order.  We walked the magical land where the Pirate Queen once ruled, basking in the warmth. Then we rewarded ourselves with pints of Guinness shared with new friends at the Community Centre as the music wafted out the door and spilled onto the terrace filled with footballers who had just finished a match.  That’s what a good day should be.  

Back on Aleria, our Bowman 57 ketch, we made dinner and relaxed in the cockpit until midnight.  It doesn’t really get that dark at this time of year. It was a beautiful evening on the longest day of the year forever imprinted in our memories.  

We rocked gently in the cradle through the night then, as the forecast was for deteriorating conditions, sailed back home early the next morning We’d had a most delightful day on the water in the stunning West of Ireland where the mountains come down to the sea.  A delightful Summer Sailstice.  

The island's foodstore
Lazy beds where potatoes were once grown
The B&B on the harbour
Tying up the dinghy to the old pier
Crystal clear waters
Underwater cable markers
Sheep on commonage land

Heading home
Fishing challenge underway in Newport Bay

Alex and Daria Blackwell are co-authors of Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way and the amazon best seller, Happy Hooking. The Art of Anchoring. 

john@summersailstice.com

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