Pembroke Haven Yacht Club

Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock


My last three trips to Ireland have been very successful being pitched in July, and I had been of the opinion that July was the region’s prime month for weather, however, be it El Nino or just increased global warming, this year just didn’t seem to comply right from the start. We scrubbed in late June and planned to start on 1 July, but had to keep putting off and putting off in the face of strong westerlies till eventually a decent Southerly was forecast, even if it was set to rise well into Force 6. Judging that this would be tolerable on the beam, indeed make for a quick trip, we provisioned up and got going from the pontoon in the late morning of 8 July.

Crew: David Hammond, Alan Pritchard.

Sailing Log

8/9 July    Pembroke Dock – Kinsale 154nm, 30 hrs wind S-SSW F2 -6

We were worried by the forecast of 3m swell, and  on the way out we picked up a discussion from VTS to a disgruntled tanker master that there was no time predicted for his pilot as there was too much swell for pilot boarding… oh well we decided to continue into it but preparing to turn about. As it happened the 3m swell period was 8/9 secs  and  Leonore coped just fine so we continued as the forecast was for dropping swell later on. South of Skokholm we lost the wind down to just a few knots, but plugged on to The Smalls towards dusk, where we had a close call with a small coaster whose English was very poor and misleading so eventually I decided to play safe and pass behind her. Putting the Sea Feather windvane on the helm, we headed for the Bulman rock at the entrance to Kinsale, distance 102nm. The wind rose in the night to a comfortable 20kt, and then on to 26kt before dropping to 15 or so in mid-morning.. all good going in SSW and eventually we arrived at the Bulman early evening to take the sails down and motor into Kinsale Yacht Club’s marina.  After tying up on the visitor pontoon we realised we were next to Otter a friend from Pembrokeshire cruising.

10 July    Day off - wind and rain

David walked around to the Charles Fort, while I got my phone fixed at a competent phone shop as it had taken on a strange mode of operation which rendered it unusable, to me any rate.

11 July    Kinsale – Glandore 49.6 nm 10.5 hrs Wind SW-NW F2-7

The weather was a bit more amenable this morning so we set off down the river at 8:30 with a just-useable WSW wind of F2-4/5 enabling us to make the Old Head of Kinsale  by 10 to resume our westward journey.

This went well with a single tack getting us across Courtmacsherry Bay to Seven Heads just after midday, and promising same again to Galley Head across Clonakilty Bay – but no – in heavy rain the wind backed and we were forced to tack towards the head in very squally wind. One massive rainsquall downdraught practically flattened us under full sail and then we were left with a 25 kt northwesterly meaning a beat to clear Galley Head and the dangerous semi-submerged Doolic Rock before we could reach safety  at the entrance to Glandore. Thank heavens for GPS plotters, as we really couldn’t see what we were doing after the dramas of the last couple of hours! Gradually the river afforded calm and we were able to get the sails down and prepare to anchor up by Glandore village. In fact we found a good mooring and were able to recover and get ashore early evening to complete rehabilitation.

12 July    Glandore – Baltimore   26.8nm 5.5 hrs

We were keen to get on, and with a westerly forecast F4-6, more beating was on the cards so we set 2 reefs in both sails to reach down the river and out to the west of Adam Island and out to sea. At High Island we were able to unreef the genoa and continue tacking out and then back towards shore as far as the entrance to Castletownsend then out again to the spectacular Stag Rocks, coming back inland to complete transit of Stag Sound. Now we could head out to sea in wind up to 25kt being dealt with comfortably enough past Kedge Rock to a point where we could tack back into Baltimore entrance. Approaching the town, we took up one of Atlantic boating’s moorings and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.  Ashore for the evening, we took advantage of the limited shower facility (one only but wonderful!) followed by the customary drinking, eating and drinking again.

13 July    Baltimore – Cape Clear Island North Harbour   10.8 nm  3 hrs

There were heavy wind warnings but with unclear timing, however in the morning things were pretty calm, and there were many safety options close at hand if required, so we set off out through the Baltimore entrance , tacking west in a F4 then entering the relative safety of Roaring Water Bay by taking Gascanane  Sound at the eastern end of Clear Island.  At this time a warning of high winds was received and we decided to take cover as soon as practical. Hailing (on VHF) a yacht seen leaving Clear Island’s North Harbour on, we were told that there was some room inside, so we headed over and motored in to the tiny harbour, waiting against the wall till the tide allowed entry to the pontoon area. Rafting up alongside two other similarly sized yachts, we made instant friends that were destined to be our companions on a small island for a few days.


13/14/15 July    Storm bound in Harbour

Well, if you have to take a few days off, and you like a nice peaceful setting, turns out Cape Clear Island is an excellent refuge. For a start, the snug marina hasn’t quite been finished - although there is water, showers and electricity. However technically it isn’t finished because they haven’t connected up the fire hydrants and so they can’t charge visitors yet! So, first evening the first pub (Cotter’s Bar) did us fine, and later next day we completed the Island’s crawl with the other pub, Ciaran Danny Mike’s. Wherever we went we socialised with other marina inhabitants as well as Island locals, a great atmosphere all round. There was fabulous scenery and wonderful walking all around, meanwhile outside, Roaring Water Bay lived up to its name as Westnorthwesterly gales built up the waves sweeping by in white cresting ranks. The South Haven was relatively quiet, only being open to the south, and this was a lovely spot to visit just beyond CDM’s pub. Three nights and two whole days did not pall in the slightest.

16 July    Clear Island – Crookhaven  13.2 nm  3.5hrs

All good things come to an end and with the wind falling to F4/5 we still had a chance to round the Mizen and have a couple of days beyond with luck, so after getting help from our new friends turning Leonore round (yes, yes, no reverse gear!) to face out, we continued our westward journey, pleasantly tacking  across Roaring Water Bay and then putting in to Crookhaven, as a rounding of the Mizen would have to be timed for the tide tomorrow. We tacked along the inlet, then took a buoy right opposite O’Sullivan’s Pub where we were in time for a late lunch.


A bit of a wander around and back to the boat for a planning session with more forecasts. So now the prediction was for a very quiet patch, followed by a storm. We thus planned to turn around and make our way home, maybe next stop Castletownsend or Glandore.

17 July    Crookhaven – Baltimore   15nm   5hrs

We set off running out of Crookhaven in a light wind, and made our way out around the south tip of Cape Clear , but the wind fell further as we crossed the South Haven and we were wallowing badly, so we turned to motor along the coast to Baltimore, the Fastnet Rock sadly diminishing behind us for this year. Taking a buoy in much the same place as before, we took the opportunity to visit Dun na Sead ‘Castle of the Jewels’ now an interesting museum featuring the history of the Sack of Baltimore by Algerian corsairs in 1631 when about a hundred locals were kidnapped and transported to Algiers as slaves. Good to have the time to visit when it’s open! Then showers, and dinner appropriately in The Algiers Inn followed by drinking as per tradition in Bushes Bar. Rain swept in for our ride out to the boat and it hammered down all night.

18 July    Baltimore – Glandore   23nm (with aborted trip)  8hrs all told

Rain put us off an early rise, and now the forecast said very light wind for three days then a big storm. OK so we’ll head home, but the long trip between Glandore and Kinsale was going to be a challenge in very light winds. Out at the Kedge rock we were downwind, wallowing and slatting so badly I decided to abort the trip and look to leave the boat at Baltimore, cut our losses and get home by bus and ferry , to return later when the weather improved. Back at Baltimore I could fix a mooring but not a safe place for the dinghy, so I called a contact in Glandore who offered the full package and as there was now a hint of a bit more wind took that option. Setting out again, the trip was more comfortable and even a bit of a reach as we approached Adam’s Island and made our way in to Glandore.  Identifying Dermo’s mooring we felt quite at home in the midst of about 10 local Dragons (Leonore has been described as a cruising version of a Dragon). We had a great meal in the Glandore Inn, whilst consulting bus timetables and determining that we had to walk to Leap (pronounced Lep, 45 mins) to get the bus to Cork, then Waterford, Wexford and then on to the Oscar Wilde at Rosslare Europort.


19 July – 9 August    Weather dictated Interval

All went as planned the night before, and we left our dinghy in the small friendly harbour with Dermo watching over both dinghy and Leonore.

The Oscar Wilde seemed to be a slight step up from the Isle of Inishmore, as it whisked us past the Tuskar Rock at sunset and headed for Pembrokeshire





As per previous trips I enjoyed entering the Haven, getting a checkup on what all the lights look like, albeit at double speed!

Back home the lows kept rattling in and what with other issues it was three weeks before we could get a favourable trip out organised. Going out on the Oscar Wilde at night we took the luxury option of a cabin, which despite being the cheapest was excellent, and got us off to a good start.

Chopping between the parallel bus services of Bus Eireann and local offerings, we arrived in Leap mid afternoon and got a few provisions before walking down to Glandore and emptying about 6 inches of water from the dinghy. All was fine, batteries up, engine started – off to the pub. Things being what they are in West Cork, although Dermo was away sailing a Dragon in Schull, everyone knew all about us, and it was fine leaving cash for our mooring with Lar the barman where we were drinking at Casey’s.

10/11 August Glandore – Pembroke Dock  log 172nm  35hrs

So, we planned a leg to Kinsale or Cork, prior to crossing directly to Milford. However, the day dawned with a thick fog. To let it clear, we took the dinghy to Union Hall just across the river, to beef up our supplies and get a coffee and generally pass some time. Still the fog remains and we can’t even see Glandore till we get half way back towards it. On board and coming up to midday it was still foggy but we decided to go and see if it was better offshore. It wasn’t, so we sailed in about 8kt of wind, so as to hear any other vessels. There were one or two, and we continued in fog to pass the Doolic Rock and Galley Head unseen, and then turned due East for the Old Head of Kinsale. All in all it took till 1630 to clear and then the wind picked up and we began to make decent speed. At 2100 we were 5 nm off the Old Head and it was getting dark so we figured it wasn’t worth putting in at Kinsale as we’d be really late and not really benefit from a stop, so onward with a reef in the main and the windvane set to steer us to The Smalls, some 100 miles away. Now there was quite a swell and setting up the windvane made me sick for the first time in many years.. oh well dinner ended up in a bucket, and later David was sick as well but luckily we phased it well and in any case we only had to keep watch as we were on a nice reach in the southerly breeze.  Milestones passed at gradually increasing distance north - Cork, Ballycotton, and around dawn Ardmore, till around midday in the area of the M5 Met Eirean buoy where there were quite a few AIS contacts, mostly a few miles off and probably fishing boats. At 1600 we started on the Southbound Smalls TSS passing very close behind a container ship. There was nothing in the northbound lane and we passed south of The Smalls at 1800 keeping up 6kt to Skokholm and by St Ann’s it was very dark, but there was no traffic as we entered the Haven under sail and pulled over just past Chapel buoy to get the main down and continue under motor up to our mooring – a quick whisky and some proper rest at last!

In the morning we were held off going to the pontoon for a while as a workboat was hauling out a barnacle encrusted car attended by a couple of ribs and quite a few people involved all told.


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