Saturday, September 23, 2017

Starting in Ireland 1st of July

Dark skies with cracks of hope

We departed on the 1st of July bound for Inishbofin. It was windy. Much windier than it was supposed to be. And choppy, with a big swell. It was SW-erly and we were heading -- SW! I was not feeling great. Lunch was Ritz crackers with peanut butter, yogurt, saltines with Gubeen cheese, apples and strawberries, and water. It was all I could muster. Weather alert - F6 for a time. No kidding. Why knot hailed us to tell us it was pretty hairy off Achill Head. So rather than beating ourselves up, we opted to stop in Clare Island. We tried to anchor but it wouldn't hold - damned shale. We picked up a mooring but it seemed to drag. We picked up another but I misjudged the first time and had to go around. Got it on the second try and it seemed to be holding. Phew. This was the first day? We were exhausted. Damien Cashin delivered a bottle of wine for our trip and things were looking up. We had burgers and a beer in the Sailor's Bar, a good rest and continued on in the morning. 


Lake with reeds and water lilies.


St Colman’s 14th Century Chapel
Walking the East End loop

The village being restored for holidaymakers

Slightly damp

At Inishbofin, we walked the island's east end. The Cloonamore Loop which runs over green roads, bog roads and laneways runs along the beautiful East End Beach and St Colman’s 14th Century Chapel and Church Lough, a fertile valley with reed beds. It was lovely to see the water lilies on the lake and the village along the beach being restored. We got thoroughly soaked and chose the shorter of the loop options. Instead, we headed over to Day's and called a friend who lives on the island to join us for dinner. The crews of Elixir and Freebird arrived late and drenched. A schooner dropped anchor, home port Brisbane, but we didn't meet them. Lots of chatter in the bar.

The inner harbour at Inishbofin - almost at Day's
It was interesting to hear about John Mercer's efforts to find a way to control the false rhubarb that has invaded the countryside. Gunnera manicata, a giant plant sometimes called dinosaur food, was originally from Brazil. The young, peeled petioles of Gunnera tinctoria, its Chilean cousin, are consumed much like rhubarb  in the British Isles. In the mountains of Brazil, Gunnera is used in traditional medicine to cure sexually transmitted diseases. Non-edible uses of Gunnera manicata include using root tannins as a black dye. Originally introduced into Ireland as a desirable, architectural garden plant, Gunnera species are now recognised as an invasive, colony-forming threat to the native flora. This vigorous plant produces masses of seeds (more than 80,000 seeds per seed-head) which are spread by birds. It also reproduces via rhizomes and is, therefore, extremely difficult to eradicate.

Chasing Freebird and Elixir to the Aran Islands
The following morning, despite a forecast of no wind and more rain, the skies cleared and a light NW-erly filled in. We took off for the Aran Islands and were joined by three Mayo Sailing Club boats heading there for the WIORA Championships. The wind started picking up and, naturally, a race ensued. The minute we saw spinnakers flying, Alex had to pull ours up. We had a glorious spinnaker run down the coast.

We anchored in Inishmore and had dinner aboard because WIORA meant the island would be jammed; we got a message from our friends from Galway, Vera and Peter, who said they were anchored nearby. We took a ride over for drinks, and stayed into the wee hours while their two young children slept below. (We hoped.)  It had been a good day, a brilliant day, a cruising kind of day.


Cruisers on moorings at Inishmore


Night descends with heavy clouds

Our next leg was to Dingle and we got up early to push through the 50+ mi. Flat seas, damp, motor sailing kind of day. At least we saw lots of dolphins. We spent two nights in the marina, doing laundry and preparing for the offshore passage to Spain. Had a fabulous dinner at OOTB (Out of the Blue) a Michelin rated seafood only restaurant that advertises in OCC's Newsletter. Paid €25 for a load and a half of laundry. Topped off fuel and groceries. It was curious to think Aleria would not be back in Ireland potentially for a few years.

We set out for Spain in flat calm. After 10 hours of motoring and forecast of continuing calm for the next two days, we gave up, pulled in to Crookhaven and dropped anchor. Time for a pint at O'Sullivan's.

Fog in Dingle

Damp misty weather in Dingle

Scallops and Sole at OOTB (Out of the Blue)

Spoiled ourselves with a Sancerre

Aleria at the marina in Dingle


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