Category Archives: Ireland

Belfast

We are enjoying Northern Ireland – though wish the weather was better! We took a tour around Belfast and then a tour out to the Giant’s Causeway – both were interesting but a little disappointing.

The tour of Belfast highlights a city recovering from the turmoil of the ‘Troubles’ but I have to say that to us it appears, despite words to the contrary from the bus drivers,  as though the troubles are lurking close beneath the surface. As we went down the Falls Road and then The Shankhill Road, famous streets for sectarian violence, there were flags and murals on display – and being kept up to date – announcing the desire to break away from the UK – or to remain within it. I have to say that the Loyalists with all their Union Jacks and Red White and Blue emblazoned everywhere were far more in your face than the Republicans. Why on earth they can’t all just let it go is beyond me, but with fervent flag waving like this, I fear it would be very easy for a careless match to start the fight all over again. Meanwhile, Belfast is a thriving city and there does seem to be harmony within the general population. It’s clearly just a minority of ijits that have and always will carry on the stupidity. OK, political posturing over!

The trip to the Causeway was interesting with a fun driver giving us an amusing (if somewhat constant!) commentary on everything out the window as we travelled along the coastal road (the long way). We stopped at Carrickfergus to look at the castle – though Laurie and I checked out the marina instead! We stopped at the ‘Rope Bridge’ – a robust swing bridge so we didn’t even bother going over! Then we went to the Bushmills Whiskey site – and didn’t buy any Whiskey!

Finally we made it to the Giant’s Causeway. It’s an interesting place, but having already been to Fingal’s Cave in Scotland (Isle of Staffa), the Giant’s Causeway is certainly a disappointment in comparison. The rock formations – which are very interesting – are not as extensive or as well defined as those on Staffa. We had a good walk while there however – in spite of the bloody weather.

Yesterday afternoon we took a walk around and found some delightful entertainment – an award winning walled garden that was an absolute delight, a very nice park with hugely diverse tree species and then came upon a crown bowling green – open to the public. So we paid our equipment rental fees and had ourselves our first game of full size (as opposed to carpet) Bowls. What an excellent game! A close fought game was finally concluded at 21:15!

Today, if the rain gives over we’ll take a ride on the tandem to Strangford Lough (pr Lock!) so that we can at least say we’ve been to the place (Marine Sanctuary). On Friday I take off for 2 weeks to India to earn a crust while Laurie remains aboard to make sure all systems are kept up and in working order! Friend Sandra arrives next week for a visit…

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In Dublin’s Fair City

We’re in Dun Laoghaire, just a little outside of Dublin.

We’ve been in to Dublin a couple of times – a much nicer town than either of us was expecting. The city is full of life, with pubs overflowing all over the place – helps that there was a friendly football match between Celtic and Liverpool being hosted this weekend! The fans were all very amicable.

We toured all over the place – and managed to secure the purchase of a Portuguese Mandolin – which turns out to be harder to play than I expected. However, determined to be able to play at least one Irish tune by the time we reach the UK.

The Irish do a great job in decorating buildings with beautiful flowers and there are several very pretty parks in the city that are used by all.

We thought we might enjoy tea at the Sheldon Hotel – until we saw the price – €40 seemed a bit steep! So we opted for more of the black stuff down in Temple Bar.

Abigail has been rather more adventurous – and athletic – with nighttime trips into the city and a long hike in the nearby town of Bray.

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Today we’ll wander around the smaller Dun Laoghaire and then head out this afternoon for an overnight sail to Whitehaven or Barrow-in-Furness (according to which way the wind blows) – for an afternoon arrival, when the 8M(!!!) tide will be in…

 

 

When Luck is on Your Side

Our passage from Crosshaven to Dublin was a short one – expected to be about 32 hours, so we left early on Wednesday morning – leaving the dock at 7:30 having loaded the dink onto the foredeck.

Winds were light in the marina and the seas flat. We motored out of the harbor and into the Celtic Sea, where winds had built to about 10 knots from the south, seas still flat, so with main raised and genoa back in action we turned towards the east and cut the engine. Almost immediately we were doing 8 knots!

Through the morning and early afternoon the wind slowly built – but only to about 15-18 knots . The waves built a little too – driven by the wind, but nothing unmanageable. We were having about the most perfect sailing conditions.

As dinner approached, so we approached the south east corner of Ireland – and so we would be facing a dead down wind sail – not our most favorite. However, as we jibed across to make the turn, the wind changed and started blowing out of the west. We were once again broad reaching at 8 knots. Just to add to the fun, we had a positive current of 2 knots to boot!

We were now in a situation where we had to slow the boat down – so as to avoid arriving in the dark. Fortunately that was cured when the current turned to give us a little bit of pay-back.

We arrived in Dun Laoghaire and were tied up at 9:00am – just 25.5 hours passage! Very cool!

 

 

Cork

We sailed into Crosshaven and stayed at the Royal Cork Yacht Club – oldest sailing club in the world, founded in 1720. The marina is on a crowded little river, with hundreds of boats packed tightly onto moorings and in the slips of the 3 marinas in town.

Town is a bit of an exaggeration – village is better but it does have about 6 pubs!

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Crosshaven  & Royal Cork Yacht Club (Not impressive, but nice inside)

We then went up to Cork City Center and stayed at the City Marina – just a dock with no facilities – but water and electric available. The motor up to Cork went right by Cobh – described in the Lonely Planet Guide as having a ‘palpable sense of tragedy’ as it was here people left Ireland headed for the USA to escape the famine. It’s also the last stop for the Titanic and the Lusitania which was torpedoed off the coast of Kinsale.

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Cork is a very friendly city – everyone extremely helpful. Unfortunately we arrived on a bank holiday though, so it was strangely quieter that normal. (One would think it would be businer). The dock was in the port area of town (naturally!) right beside the old customs houses – all almost deserted but neat looking buildings – and there were large ships loading and unloading just along the way from us.

Finding Irish music in the pubs was fun – had to grab a beer whether or not something was playing afterall! Enjoyed some very good music – especially in Charlies, where the players outnumbered the paying customers!

Abigail joined the boat in Cork, so we’re now three happy cruisers! She seemed to have fun, meeting an old friend and staying out until the wee hours!

We’ve been decidedly cut off since arriving – internet is non-existent and my phone has gone on the blink – telling me that there’s no SIM card in it. The local iPhone fellow tells me all is well with the phone, so it’s probably a US phone company issue… Oh Well! We are now proud owners(!) of an Irish phone – email me for the number if you want to chat!!!

Strangely, I didn’t take any pictures within cork other than of the strange little castle on the river bank approaching Cork – and a huge Swordfish that was being slowly hacked to pieces in the famous ‘English Market’ downtown! Complete oversight on the photos – sorry.

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Now on passage – overnight – to Dun Laoghaire, just south of Dublin. Just to help a little, Laoghaire is pronounced Leery  – but Leery doesn’t have nearly enough vowels to be Irish!

 

Kinsale and Life Aboard

We arrived in Kinsale on Sunday and plan to stay here until Sunday – then head to Cork where Abby will join the boat.

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Kinsale is a pretty little town, festooned with tourists! That’s not to detract from the tourists, being in a crowded place is strangely very nice, having been in out of the way places in both Ireland and the Azores. Kinsale is twinned with Newport, RI (Toodle-oo!’s hailing port) and they obviously take the twinning seriously. We went to the White House Inn and duly signed the guest register – a collection of guests that have visited from the Newport area – several by boat. We also enjoyed dinner there last night with the OCC Commodore and his crew!P1010417

We’ve been enjoying some Irish music too – most especially at Dolan’s Pub, where the pictured group play on Monday and Tuesdays. What’s neat is that they have various folk throughout the pub sing a song and then accompany them in the choruses – makes for an interesting dynamic.

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We’ve been having a great time as we’ve sailed the Azores and now Ireland – but it’s not been without its challenges…

While underway, the constant motion can become irksome. We found this especially true on our passage from the Azores to Ireland where we thankfully had great wind and made great time – but you can have too much of a good thing – and 7 days of constant heeling to port got old! Especially tiring for the Downstairs Skipper, balancing herself and items on the stove…

Laundry is a major hassle and becomes a very high priority when arriving anywhere new. In Ireland it’s been particularly challenging and we’ve ended up doing laundry by hand.

Internet is very hit or miss – more so in Ireland than in the Azores strangely – due to the fact that in the Azores there were many open signals that could be tapped into whereas in Ireland they’re all security coded.

Cooking and keeping the boat clean while wanting to enjoy the surroundings has been particularly challenging for Laurie and we will re-think some of our approaches to life aboard – make better use of restaurants and expensive drop-off Laundromats.

In Ireland we’ve been thwarted sometimes by the weather – as we try not to rent cars but make use of our walking shoes and tandem.

There have been several boat issues along the way – none major, but all needing attention. The generator quit generating, but we fixed that while underway in the Azores – with Mike Eslinger’s assistance. The engine alternator or charging system seems to be on the blink – only charges for an hour or so at reasonable amperage, then dropping to nothing (I need to fix this!). Nearly losing a mast winch would have been catastrophic (at least financially) but somehow when it disassembled itself in the middle of the night and fell to the deck, all pieces managed to somehow stay aboard – making reassembly easy. Our water heater element died in the Azores and we are awaiting Abby’s arrival with a new heater element. She’s also bringing new cap screws for the Genoa’s furler and new tires for our tandem – which are down to the threads!

Drinking in Ireland has been easy with copious amounts of universally good Guinness available on every street corner – in quaint little pubs! Wine is unfortunately expensive in Ireland whereas it was really cheap ($3/bottle) in the Azores…

Gleangarriff to Baltimore

Boy, having arrived in Ireland, internet opportunities have disappeared (all the viewable ones are secured) – until now – now that we’re paying 40€’s to tie up to a dock in Kinsale!

What’s been happening…

Well, we arrived in Glengarriff – a much smaller town – village – than we were expecting. Very picturesque and good Guinness(!), but not much else. We did get to try out our bubble (cockpit enclosure) to good effect in the damp, cool conditions. Very nice to be able to have dinner outside when it’s raining – which it does daily at various times throughout the day and night – but fortunately not for very long!

Laundry and money were a bit of a problem – lots of the former, precious little of the latter… Glengarriff doesn’t have a bank, an ATM, Internet or a launderette! Time to move on.

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So, after a couple of days (including allowing me to buy a lovely Arran sweater) we do. Planning to head to Baltimore – which is pretty stupid since we don’t have a weather forecast, it’s about 10 hours away and we have to navigate around the south west cape of Ireland – Missen Head. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. Half way down Bantry Bay, the wind driven rain reached 30 kts in our face – so, with reefed main and a little jib out, we decided to head for cover. We motioned towards Lawrence Cove on the north side of Bere Island – and as we did so, the Genoa decided to unravel itself!  Something broke and allowed the bloody great thing to come out – necessitating a manual pull down – always fun in a high wind! But we managed – and an hour or so later we were tucked up on a free visitor’s mooring in Lawrence Cove – parked right next to another American Flagged sailboat!

Mooring was interesting. Not Laurie’s finest hour! We were in a tight spot – with little room between the mooring and the rocks behind us… anyway, Laurie gamely took to the dingy to sort things out and did so admirably! Great recovery!

Bere Island is lovely, but there’s not much there. Certainly no laundromats or banks and unfortunately the pub was closed too!

We invited Tony off the American boat for some drinks. We didn’t have much, but Laurie managed to concoct a devilish Manhattan type drink that she and Jane had developed in Horta. Very nice – though we went through a whole bottle of Vodka in a single night!!!!

The following morning we continued our sail to Baltimore. We left at 9am – but forgot to take the engine off the dingy – so had to do so while on the move – made for an interesting getaway! We ended up having a great sail with Code Zero acting as our Genoa – in winds of 10 – 15 kts, making 8+ kts. We rounded Missen Head and then headed for the infamous Fastnet Rock. What an inspiring place!

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We arrived in Baltimore Harbor at about 2:30 – a nice peaceful town with a very active sailing club!

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Unfortunately, they did not have a launderette or internet – but they did at least have an ATM! Guinness can now flow unimpeded!

Next up: Kinsale – where there is Internet (slow) and Laundry! :-)