Thursday, September 15, 2016

Knightstown, Valentia Island, in the Kingdom of Kerry


Another beautiful day of sailing - leaving the Costa del Cork!

The Bull, the Cow, the Calf,
and the Heifer off Dursey Head
Yet another gale was forecast to pass through the following day so we left the Costa del Cork behind and made way to Valentia in the Kingdom of Kerry. We left Bere Island at 09:30 in fairly strong winds. We raised our sails at Castletownbere and sailed out of Bantry Bay. There was a schooner anchored just inside the Bay in the first cove we passed by the night that our self-steering failed.



We tacked along the Beara peninsula and needed to make one extra tack to avoid a trawler fishing out there. We saw the boat we thought was John Preisler's motor sail through Dursey Sound under the cable car. There is a vertical clearance of 21 metres (69 feet) when the cable car is not running. With our mast height of 60 feet plus instruments adding another 5 feet, we felt it was rather close to take a chance on making it through between cable cars.

A boat rounding close in to Bray Head, Valentia Island -
note the layer of fog. 
There are some interesting rocks out there. 
Once we turned the corner around Bull Head and got a favourable wind shift, Aleria was off to the races doing 8 knots the whole way up the coast across the mouth of the Kenmare River. We decided to pass the Kenmare by this time as the tides would not be right to visit Sneem. You can only make it by dinghy for about two hours before and after high tide and we'd be too late this day to make it there and back in time. Besides, the anchorage outside Sneem looked a bit exposed

Valentia seemed like the place to be in the approaching gale. Once we turned the corner into Dingle Bay the wind died and the swell increased so we decided to motor the last hour into Valentia.

Flocks of birds just hanging out
We'd forgotten how narrow the entrance is to Valentia Harbour from Dingle Bay, and the sea was breaking dramatically on the rocks by the light house. The sector light helped us line up the approach into Glanleam Bay. Once in, we dropped the sails and motored over to the pontoon in Valentia. The anchorage in Glanleam Bay below Glanleam House was empty of boats. We had used it as a passage anchorage once before. It's lovely and wild, yet protected from the elements.

There was supposed to be a marina in Valentia but no one knows if it will ever happen now. The story is that the big outer pontoon went walkabout as soon as it was installed, and it took the reserve funds to re-secure it.

Valentia Island
It's very large and very massively built. The pontoons, set up in a rectangle with one open corner, are concrete and have a wall running down the middle, something we've never seen anywhere else. There is water laid on but the electricity has never been turned on and the wires are corroding as they are not being serviced. The inner area of the pontoon was full of small boats, a few people living aboard for the summer as there is no one charging for the stay. The outer area of the pontoon had plenty of space. We assumed that it was because people thought the outside would be more exposed to the elements. As it turned out, the inside was more churned up than the outside during the gale and while the ferries came in.

Valentia Lighthouse
A boat just in front of us turned out to be from Westport, our home town. A man living in the Quay area was there living aboard and his son was visiting. Soon, another sailboat came into the inside. It turned out to be Patrick and Consilla Ryan from Galway aboard the boat we thought was John Preisler's. It was actually their motor sailer. They were aiming at a tiny slot between two power boats. Consilla was at the helm and aimed straight at the slot as Patrick threw us some lines. We heaved on the lines and hauled them in sideways sliding between the two little boats with inches to spare either side. They basically parallel parked into that slot without hitting anything. A feat we were all amazed at. A fisherman watching said he'd never have attempted it. Very impressive.

They said they had squeaked by under the cable car which had unnerved them. They quickly took showers and went ashore to find some dinner. We cooked BBQ chicken aboard.  The night was fairly calm but the gale was due the following afternoon. All was quiet on the docks.


Fog all around us but we were clear
The Skelligs in fog.
The gannets have made a real comeback
This rock has two helipads,
one completely taken over by gannets
Approaching Valentia Harbour from Dingle Bay


Approaching Knightstown
Patrick and Consilla tidying up
Ferry from Knightstown to Cahersiveen
Stunning sunset
The pontoon at Knightstown
Aleria at the dock.
No gale yet. All quiet. 
BBQ dinner
Reading below - Alex loves my new reading glasses!
Bye bye sun!

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