Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bringing Aleria home

Aleria at the new marina pontoon

Aleria ready to go for a swim
What has become our new annual migration between Westport and Killybegs in the West of Ireland took place in the north to south direction last week. 

We launched Aleria on the high spring tide in Donegal on Wednesday evening. Having had a new shaft and prop fitted, our first dilemma was that the PSS gland was leaking too much. Back up in the sling and mechanics aboard to burp and tighten the seal. Back down again and ready out. Alex pushed the throttle and nothing happened! Back up again. Broken throttle cable. The mechanic suggested we drop in and motor slowly with him aboard to the new marina. We inch our way over in brilliant sunshine and total calm. At least there was something to be grateful for. The T end of the new pontoon is reserved for visiting yachts (€2/m/day). It had 24 feet of water at half tide. Phew!

The next morning he came back with a new throttle cable. He scraped the corrosion out of the throttle housing (salt + aluminium = corrosion), connected up the new cable and voila, we were in business. We tested the throttle and new MaxProp like mad in the harbour and learned that the new prop doesn't have prop walk. Oh no, how will we maneuver in harbours? We relied on prop walk (vs bow thruster) to get us out of tight corners. We even wrote an article about it. The MaxProp manual even says that the new props do not cause prop walk.

The new small craft harbour
We headed out across Donegal Bay in flat calm, delayed by at least 5 hours. It's 55 miles across to Broadhaven Bay but it's light out until almost 10 pm these days. It turned out to be a record setting day for temp - 25.5C degrees at Malin Head we heard on the radio. Dolphins, about 30 short beaked common dolphins came over to play, jumping high in the air and bow riding. Always a joy. Gannets were diving for fish from on high. Otherwise pretty standard, except it was sunny as hell. That's not usually standard along the wild Atlantic coast of Ireland.

Killybegs in sunshine
We motored for about 8 hours. Our new prop is about 25% more efficient than our old one so we made good time without pushing the engine too hard. We dropped anchor in Broadhaven Bay at about 9 pm thoroughly exhausted. We had a nice calm evening aboard, with lamburgers and wine. Ah, sleep came easily in the gently rocking cradle. Cruising again at last.

Well not exactly. Gales were predicted for Saturday with heavy rain expected all day so we pushed to get home by Friday night. Wind was variable so we motor sailed again right past all our favourite stops -- the Inishkeas, Blacksod where we dedicated a moment of silence to the downed helicopter crew, Clare Island and Achill. Showers caught us in Clew Bay and we got drenched. But it was warm and humid and not at all unpleasant. 

The new marina is not yet full.
Gales went somewhere else. We got to our mooring just after half tide and it was way high already. Tried mooring with the wind again the tide but the current swept us sideways. I came around to nose into the current instead and that time Alex managed to get the pick up stick. Success, thank good ness as we had an audience all around. The Douthwaites were watching from their house on the hill, boats were coming in and out, the Sammons were watching from the shore. Aleria did not disappoint. 

No cruising this weekend, but at least we're back on the water. Next weekend, Clare Island.

Lighthouse at Killybegs entrance


Sparkly Stags

Daria wrapped up

Alex at the helm

Look at that sun!

Anchoring before sunset

Beautiful evening at anchor

Sunrise the next day

Eagle Island lighthouse

Radar navigation in poor visbility -- approaching Inishoo.

Croagh Patrick drama

Inishoo disappearing

Soon it will be gone. 

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