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The West coast - Dingle Peninsula to Donegal

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Fairwinds Round Ireland - The West Coast
Smerwick Harbour to Kilronan (Galway Bay)

Friday 2nd July Smerwick Harbour - Kilronan

After about three hours sleep we got up at four o'clock and prepared for what we suspected might be a tough passage. Breakfasted, made sandwiches and a flask of coffee and slipped the mooring at 05:15 just as it was getting light. We lLeft Smerwick Harboutr with two reefs in the main and the whole genoa. Wind on the beam, 15 – 18 knots.

By 07:30 the wind was a pretty steady 18 knots gusting occasionally to 22. With the full genoa we were regularly surfing at over 8 knots. We took in six rolls and everything became more manageable – we were still making six and a half to seven knots over the ground. The seas were beginning to build.

Towards midday the wind freshened to 20+ knots with the seas building all the time. In the early afternoon we took a couple of big breaking seas on the beam. The first time I was in the leeward bunk . . . I was showered with a collection of objects normally securely stowed on the port side as the boat was rolled on its beam ends. The second time I was up but down below with Kathy on the helm when I heard her say “What's this going to do?”

It soon became apparent that she was talking to a large breaking wave on our beam. The next minute there was a loud bang, the boat rolled to 60 degrees or so and a huge wave broke right over us. I had a momentary panic that the window was coming in (a known Vega weakness) then went on deck to find Kathy soaked to the skin and a lot of water draining out of the cockpit. No harm done and an instructive experience for the helmsperson!

Skipper on the helm while mate dries off!

We saw several dolphins during the afternoon, all obviously enjoying the boisterous sea conditions. They were leaping across the bow and playing inthe near-vertical faces of some of the big rollers. Seeing them helped relieve the tension created by being many miles form a safe haven in deteriorating weather.

I was a trifle worried about Gregory Sound in these conditions – the ICC guide warns of 'turbulent seas', and we were so far ahead of schedule that we would be taking a bit of wind over tide – but my fears were unfounded and in comparison with the conditions outside the sound was a pussycat. We came into Kilronan with 25 knots blowing straight out of the anchorage and picked up a mooring buoy at the stern. The mainsail was such a mess that we put the boom cover on.

The anchorage at Kilronan - note mad swimmer!

We had just made a 70 mile passage in exactly twelve hours mooring to mooring. Jonika arrived three hours later. We went ashore and had a pint and a meal in the Pier House, then returned to sleep exhausted in spite of rattling halliards in the continuing strong wind.

Aran Islands Cashla Bay Roundstone Inishbofin Inishturk Frenchport Teelin