Thursday, August 25, 2016

Kinsale...foodie heaven


Is that a sun trying to shine through?


We got up early to get to Kinsale before the wind started to pick up into the high 20s gusting well into the 30s by 1400h per WindGuru forecast.  Met Eireann was forecasting a gale overnight and into the next day for our area and strong gale, possibly storm, north of us.



There should be a hill behind Alex.
The only trouble was we were surrounded by dense fog. Pea soup fog. Maine and worse fog. There were no hills to see around us and certainly no view of the exit from the anchorage at Castle Haven. AIS on. Radar on. Chartplotter on. Foghorn on. Anchor up. Exit slowly by brail following the chartplotter and depth contour until Alex can put away the anchor and get on the instruments.

Where's the exit?
The entire coast was socked in. It kept lifting just a little to tease and then dropping down again. And then we suddenly sailed out of it. The coast was veiled in thick white cloud behind us. I should say we motored out as there was not a breath of wind -- glass calm. Suddenly we saw a disturbance in the water a little distance away. Alex yelled, "Tuna!" and went down for the fishing gear. I thought "Dolphin frenzy!" and went for the camera. But it wasn't easy steering Aleria and focusing the camera.

I was right. It was a school of about 20 common dolphins feeding. Babies and moms from the looks of it. This went on for a long time, maybe 15 minutes or even longer before we went on our way. I got video and stills and Alex got some really good shots. There were some tiny ones among that crowd.

Then a bottlenose dolphin came over for a bit of a bow ride. There were hundreds and hundreds of what I thought might be guillemots sitting on the surface in large swarms just hanging out. Every once in a while they'd dive down or fly away as we approached.
A pod of about 20 dolphins feeding

A pod of dolphins came by but their dorsal fins were different and the skin darker. I thought pilot whales more likely -- maybe ten of them -- but I didn't get close enough for verification. They were sighted off Dunworly Point.

Then I saw a sunfish with its pectoral fin flopping back and forth on the surface. I noticed it late and forgot to slow down so Alex missed it. That was cool. My first sighting of one of those.

There were more dolphins but we stopped recording and soon sailed back into the fog. Back on radar and foghorn as we approached Kinsale. There were a few sailboats heading out as we were coming in. But we really couldn't see anything beyond a short distance from our bow.  I stayed on radar to find the harbour entrance and then went to the bow to spot for vessels as most didn't have AIS or radar reflectors.

Tied up at Kinsale YC Marina
We radioed Kinsale Yacht Club Marina (note the land lines for KYC and Dingle Marina in our book are incorrect but the mobiles phones and VHF channels are correct). They asked us to go to the visitor's dock. Alex had set the docklines and fenders for port side to tie up since our prop walk kicks out to the left.  I was at the helm and there was plenty of room, but I didn't quite account for the hellish amount of current that we picked up as we turned in and I had to abort the attempt. Second time around I did just fine. I nailed it without hitting anything. Hurray! It's good to practice.

Soon the dock was full and boats were rafting up alongside as everyone started to come in to safe harbour to avoid the gale. We had lovely French guys next to us and one of the racing boats from Schull (British boys living in Ireland) tied up next to them. We had our Lucie lights on all night so people could see their way across and everyone loved them. The Brits ordered them online right from their boat.

KYC dinghy fleet
We walked the town in the filthy weather. Drizzly rain and constant fog. Ugh! but the wind never picked up, at least nothing we could detect from where we were.

We went to the antiquarian bookstore -- Traveler's Friend -- same as in Westport.  Brand new just a few weeks open. Lovely books there. One was rare bible worth €75,000. They had great displays of first editions of Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe. I found a lovely German illustrated book about Columbanus, but at €69 it was a bit much. I'll search online for a copy.

Then we went on to the Customs House, or Desmond Castle as it is better known. We learned all about Kinsale as a trading post in the 1600s, and the wine trade was at the centre. Then there was the flight of the Earls who became the Wild Geese who became winemakers all over Europe, and then the world. Fascinating.

Fog bank 
Finally we had pints of Black's Kinsale Pale Ale (KPA) at KYC followed by a great dinner at the Black Pig.  We chose Alta Vista Malbec which I'd read about in Vineyard at the End of the World. We had liver parfait, carpaccio, and crab stuffed ravioli in a fennel creme sauce. Magnificent and I usually don't like fennel. We sat at a tiny table on the terrace under an awning and a heat lamp near a wall covered with moss and water trickling down from above. It was charming. And buzzing.

The owner came over to chat several times, our waiter was very friendly and the young server was so cute -- she said to keep the bread so we could mop up the sauce, which we did. Fab experience. I gave them 5 stars in Trip Advisor. I don't do that often. And so also began our search for Argentinian Malbecs to try. A very nice experience to date.

We slept well after our first day in Kinsale.


Really yucky weather the first day.

Nice shops in Kinsale

The Kinsale brewery and bookstore/art gallery.

Colourful streets brighten up dull days.

Desmond castle

All the Irish-influenced wines represented by corks

The old market house

I'd never seen this Guinness poster.

Hahaha. Bookstore number two was really cool. Great reading room upstairs. 

The Black Pig wine and tapas bar

Nice wall 

Lovely outdoor space

Interesting menu, tapas style regional terroir

200 wines by the bottle, 100 by the glass

Good choice: Alta Vista Malbec!





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