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The South-West

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Fairwinds Round Ireland - The South-West
Baltimore to Schull

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Dingle - Smerwick
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Monday 12th July Baltimore to Schull

Baltimore was a bit exposed to the persistent South Westerly, and we were anchored slighlty closer to an unmarked reef than I really liked . . . on the other hand, the trusty Spade had a good grip and the weather was revolting visibility down to less than half a mile, drizzle and a wind still on the nose for going almost anywhere. We decided to make a decision by 4pm at the latest and if conditions had improved to head through the Gascanane Sound and over to Crookhaven.

At 4 o'clock visibility seemed to have improved and the wind was down to 15 18 knots SW, so we set off. As we left Baltimore visibility increased to over a half mile, but we were motoring into steep seas and a headwind that increased with every gust. We hugged the coast of Sherkin Island until off the Sound, then hung off to make a good offing from Illaunbrock and avoid getting drawn into Gascanane Sound prematurely by the North-going tide. This was our last chance to turn back to Baltimore with a fair wind, as we would not have made it back through the Sound against wind and tide.

The wind was now gusting to 30 knots, and as we decided to go for it and turned onto a heading of 360 degrees we were hit by a prolonged gust of 35 knots and a couple of huge seas . . . a warning it might have been, but we had had enough the wind was forecast to decline 4-5 then 2-3 so we carried on. The run up through the Sound was rapid and peaceful, sheltered as we were from the worst of the swell by Cape Clear Island. However, as we came out of the top of the Sound the visibility decreased again and the sea rose. Navigating rather basicly by following the helpful gridlines on the Imray chart we continued N. to an appropriate latitude to clear the Bullig reef off the N. of Cape Clear Is., then turned due W. along this parallel to a waypoint off Calf Island West.

The seas we were heading into grew steeper and bigger, but confused Fairwinds would ride a dozen gracefully then pitch and roll like a mad thing for a few seconds. No sign of any of the Calf Islands though we could not have been more than two or three cables off. We decided that another two or more hours motoring into these conditions to Crookhaven was not on, so at the waypoint we turned North for Schull.

I put in a waypoint from the almanac half way between Long Island and the green can marking Amelia's Rock, more in hope than anything. To my astonishment, when we reached the spot we could see both the light on Long Island and the green can. Back to visual navigation and an easy entry into Skull Harbour. The picture shows some Oppies on a buoy with the beacon at the entrance to Schull in the background.

Optimists in the mist

We eventually found the visitors moorings away over in the NE corner of the harbour. The first one we found had a notice saying it was unsafe . . . we picked another one up for a few minutes then decided it was too rolly and too far out, so anchored just to the S. of the pier just clear of the fairway, which is marked by unlit buoys with flags on them. A riding light is necessary here as fishing boats berthing at the pier pass quite close - but there is not a lot of traffic.

Anchored in Schull just S. of the pier

We inflated the dinghy and after a meal of pasta and delicious locally smoked mackerel bought from a stall on the pier at Baltimore that morning we went ashore where we enjoyed music and ale in the Black Sheep and heard a rendition of the infamous Cork 'Langer' song.

From Kilmore Quay Ballycotton Kinsale Glandore Baltimore Schull Crookhaven Lawrence Cove Dingle Smerwick Harbour