Pembroke Haven Yacht Club

Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock

Leonore Summer cruise 2020


As Covid restrictions gradually improved over the summer, I managed to get Leonore launched following along hot and dry spring which had seriously opened up her planking, and sure enough the water gushed in alarmingly and permanent pumping had to be arranged. After three days nursing in Neyland marina she had tightened up back to normal and I got her on the mooring whilst I went cruising to a Scilly just emerging from hospitality hibernation with my friend Phil in his boat, and contemplated options for Leonore’s cruise. British boats were banned from Ireland, although we could go to Northern Ireland. Scotland would be ok, and I had often mused over going up St George’s channel on the Welsh side rather than my usual approach of going direct to Dublin and up the Irish side from then on. So this was the year to try the Welsh side out, with a view to crossing to Northern Ireland from Anglesea. Various constraints limited time and crew and in a very fluid planning process I came out with just myself and David Hammond going for about 10 days.


24 July Pembroke Dock – Dale 7nm wind SW F4

We loaded up in the afternoon and took the very last of the ebb down to Dale, which involved a bit of tacking to get ourselves in the groove ready for a long sail tomorrow. We took a buoy while the tide rose, and eventually gauged the time perfectly to take Leonore onto the land pontoon, and check in to the Griffin’s newly erected outdoor restaurant tent area. The beer and fish-based meal was excellent, if expensive, but a real tonic after the grim restrictions on hospitality in Wales of late. Well sated we piloted Leonore back to a mooring for the night.

25-6 July Dale – Holyhead 127 nm Wind WNW F4/5

Leaving at 0800 we motored out of Dale and put up sails for a very lumpy rounding of St Ann’s and found we couldn’t quite make the west side of Skomer, so after a quick tide check we headed for Jack Sound and were popped through by the tide, although it was very rough at the north end and we took several waves right down the boat to the spray hood. Emerging, once again we couldn’t make the South Bishop as the predicted W-WNW held at the NW end and we had to navigate the rockery inside of the Bishops and outside of Ramsey. This was quite nerve wracking as we were doing 9 knots in varying directions not connected to where we were pointing. Carreg-trai and the Bais Bank were closely negotiated and it was a blessing to be free at the north end and set the controls for South Stac off Anglesey. We went well all afternoon and shortly after dark we saw the lights off Bardsey Island, and began a 1hour on and off watch as the windvane steered us northwards. There was no traffic. At daylight we were 10 miles off our safe turning waypoint to clear both North and South Stacs and clear the worst of the attendant races, which we reached at 0730 and then piloted our way east through minor races to the head of the world’s second longest pier and finally into quieter waters. There was still a way to go however, with still a fresh westerly wind as we headed over to where the GPS showed a large marina. Although we knew the marina had been wrecked a couple of years ago in storm Emma, we were dismayed at only having about 50m of pontoon with a single visitor yacht and half sunk wreckage all around. Still, we tied up and met our neighbours to discover that the marina wasn’t manned at weekends – logical? A long sleep was called for before venturing out for breakfast etc.


27 & 8 July Days off

On both days a strong WNW wind forcing spray over the top of the pier denied us any chance of heading to Northern Ireland or anywhere else for that matter. We walked the impressively long pier


and sought out the meagre covid-struck hospitality venues in and around town, which were such that we ate at the only close pub for three consecutive nights! Supplies were replenished after a longish walk into Holyhead, and the marina did open, to reveal very adequate shower and toilet facilities. We made friends with our neighbour boat and while they were waiting more days for the weather to settle for Northern Ireland we offered itinerant Polish crew member Marching to come with us around Anglesey and down the Menai Strait next day if he found his own way back.

29 July Holyhead – Caernarfon 34.9 nm wind W F3/4


At last we could move, and set out with Marching putting up the sails in harbour and making good progress up the west side of the island to Carmel Head. Here we took the inside route and there was no serious race to contend with as we turned east and goose winged our way along the north coast dodging various obstacles which gave us no trouble. I had to engage the windvane to show its virtues to Marching who was very interested as he was planning to get a boat and sail singlehanded. At Point Lynas there were again no races of note as we turned south and had a good sail down to Puffin Island. Here we began the Menai Strait, changing to engine power to follow a succession of buoys and keeping an eye on time so as to hit the Swellies at optimum time. Grand victorian Beaumaris was very impressive, and we had planned to stop and wait here if required, but as it happened we were spot-on time so just motored on. An hour later we came to the famous Menai bridge right at high water, so the Swellies rocks and currents just beyond were totally tamed though we stuck to the recommended route nonetheless.


It only remained to motor/drift on down the strait past Port Dinorwic to Victoria Dock at Caernarfon, where we entered over the sill with a short time to spare and were welcomed by the HM and triple rafted on a couple of unoccupied boats. Later on Caernarfon was much more lively than Holyhead, having a choice of several busy pubs though tables and food had to be waited for.


30 July Caernarfon – Porth Dinllaen 41.2 nm Wind SW 6/4

Water over the sill and at the Caernarfon bar dictated we sail off early, so we said goodbye to Marching who headed back to Holyhead. The wind was strong against us going down the strait and it was good to have heard from the HM that he HAD layed the buoys this year (himself) as according to the GPS we often strayed over shallow banks and should have gone aground. Finally we made it to the last pair of buoys and were able to lay off on a tack in safe water. We tacked over to Porth Dinllaen and then back out to sea before heading for the gap between Bardsey Island and the mainland, eventual target Abersoch. However, as we approached the gap it was obvious that the tide was against and a quick check found a planning blunder as I had got high and low tide mixed up as I concentrated on the Caernarfon Bar. We tried to beat the tide but had to give up and headed back at good speed to Porth Dinllaen for the night. The only pub had closed at 8pm, so we had a clip_image012on board and made sure the planning was right for tomorrow!

31 July Porth Dinllaen – Abersoch 24.1 nm Wind W F3/5

Timed our departure to have a good sail and arrive in time for the tide at Bardsey, and duly popped through into north Cardigan Bay and run east past a series of heads, inside an island and into a big sandy bay at Abersoch, where we anchored and marvelled at the huge variety of watersports going on all around. We VHF’d the Sailing club, asking for a mooring as the wind was now quite fresh but they said there were no serviced moorings, however as we needed fuel water and supplies they would treat us under ‘Port-in-a-storm’ and take us ashore in their water taxi, so we had a pleasant time ashore getting stuff though we weren’t allowed a shower. The club also took us back and managed to offer us a strong fishing boat mooring as the wind was now strengthening. This turned out to have an interesting pendant formed of two big wire cables each sheathed in soft hose and having nice cleat-sized loops to tie down onto our cleat- bomb proof and harmless to the boat. Planning for tomorrow opened the possibility of two long tacks, one down to Aberystwyth for the night then out to North Bishop the next day, but it wasn’t suitable considering the tides and onshore wind at Aberystwyth.. this sort of thing makes the Welsh coast awkward in several ways. So a direct southward journey was the only way. Dinner on board and hope the wind drops as per forecast in the morning.


1 Aug Abersoch – Skomer North Haven 78nm Wind SW/SSW/S 4/5

We set off at 0500 to get in a good day but progress was slow, and we were permanently on the wind which was much closer to South than we would have liked. Approaching the North Bishop it seemed unlikely we could get round it without a tack, so we put one in, but it wasn’t enough, and just as it began to get dark, and as on the way up, I decided to go close in to the west side of Ramsey. This was quite traumatic in the dark, but at least I had our northbound track on the GPS as a guide. At one point and blurred visibility with the sprayhood up I had a shock as we appeared to be really close to a flashing lighthouse on Ramsey, but it turned out to be the moon jumping in and out of view as the boat plunged in waves! Arriving at the south end of Ramsey I had had enough excitement and decided to call in at Skomer North Haven for the night and finish the journey next day, whenever Jack Sound allowed. This we did, joining two other yachts on buoys. A quick look at the tide table indicated 0800 would be right for the sound, so alarms set and a modest round of rum before bed.

2 Aug Skomer North Haven – Pembroke Dock 15nm Wind W 2/3

The overnight stop had worked well - a straightforward motor through Jack Sound and reach down to St Ann’s and then a run down the Haven against the tide and using the usual racing tactics got us to the mooring late morning to finish the cruise in good spirits.

Leonore Summer cruise 2019


Much planning had been done to enable this trip to be dovetailed with my friend Phil’s trip to the Channel Isles which I had promised to go on.. but the best laid plans went awry while we were in the Channel Isles, and my trip to Ireland had to be postponed, eliminating other crew save for myself and David Hammond an ex-colleague of mine.. and so it was that we rendezvous’d for shopping in Pembroke Dock and then after picking Christine up from work had a couple of pints in the Royal George in Pembroke whilst setting alarms for tomorrow.

13-14 July Pembroke Dock – Kinsale 140m wind F2-3 N

Our aim was to get a good way west in one go, and we set Kinsale as the target. Tide dictated that we should set off early, to make the most of west-bound streams, and so we did, leaving the mooring under sail at 0630 two hours after high water, with The Smalls lighthouse 27 miles distant. Progress was initially excellent with the light-ish northerly wind taking us to The Smalls shortly after midday, and we then entered the Smalls TSS, north-bound, no-man’s land then southbound with only one ship each way. We were then met with a wonderful dolphin display featuring lots of showing off – very welcome way of passing time un-noticed. In the afternoon the wind fell light and we struck the spinnaker to try and keep speed up, until dusk when we doused it for an easy night with about 70 miles to go to the Bulman buoy off Kinsale. In the night we motored to restore batteries but shortly before midnight we suffered a total electric failure, all lights and nav-aids going down. David got me out of bed and I went for a look in the switch-box, and on opening the door everything came back on, so neglecting further investigation for the moment we worked out a rig for jamming the door in an ‘on’ position, we carried on! We motored most of the dark hours in very low wind, but in the morning with about 40 miles to go tried the spinnaker again for an hour but not really progressing we returned to motoring. I was really chuffed that we could motor for so long on the refurbed and improved engine (see last year’s tribulations). A good winter’s work!


In mid morning we managed to sail again, eventually making our way past the Bulman and up river to Kinsale Yacht Club marina, tying up at the visitor pontoon, and having a swift guiness whilst paying at the club bar for our stay. Plenty time to fetch fuel and provisions from town before a rest, fix the electrical system (fatigued solder joint) and off to town for a top-notch meal at Crack-Pots and a few more drinks in assorted bars.

15 July Kinsale – Cape Clear Island North Harbour 46nm wind F3 E/ESE

We were fairly hemmed in on the pontoon in the morning but luckily folk in the outer boat ahead of us were up early and we pulled Leonore’s head out on my superlong polypropylene floating rope into position to put the engine on (no neutral available) Again, we planned to get west as quickly as possible and with a reasonable wind we reached down river and quickly over to the Old Head of Kinsale over breakfast, and then turned west where we had a great spinnaker run. Heads that are often so hard won in westerly winds passed quickly.. Seven Heads, Galley, Toe, and soon we passed Kedge Rock outside Baltimore and headed through Gascanane Sound into Roaringwater Bay under sail, then, heading for Crookhaven, I thought we would look into Cape Clear Island harbour to see what the new developments were like. As it was late afternoon, the busy ferry time had passed so getting caught in the narrow entrance channel was a low risk, and we had a clear run in, turning past what used to be the only deep water berth, and there it was – a sizeable deep pool with pontoons around the edge, so we pulled up on the nearest, and then turned the boat around ready for departure in case others came and made it difficult. Great.. off to pay dues but we soon found that it wasn’t considered finished yet, so was free for the time being.. better and better, considering showers and fuel were already available! A bit of walking in the evening and a simple pub meal made for a very satisfying day.


16 July Cape Clear- Glengarriff 31nm wind F2 W > F3 NW > F5 W

Up early again, but only light wind, so we motored to Mizen Head, and headed north, hoping to


make northwest to Dursey Sound and then Dingle, but this was impossible and we had to tack a couple of times just to keep to a northerly course and so decided to go for Bantry Bay. Passing Sheep head we were able to go on spinnaker as we turned into Bantry in a rising northwest wind and made good time to Glengarriff, where we picked up a visitor buoy. After a meal in town, the pub entertainment was Irish music, but performed by a multinational band which didn’t include any irish! Good to learn that the music is popular in Holland, Germany, USA and Austria!

17 July Glengarriff – Bere Island 18nm wind F5/6 WSW

Strong wind and rain was forecast for the morning, moderating later, so we decided on a tourist trip to the gardens of Garinish island, which we thought we would do by dinghy from the boat. However,


we almost didn’t get there when the cloud lowered to a fog and we had no visibility or satnav.. however we made it listening out for tourist boats, and then a lifting of the cloud. These gardens and walks are beautiful, even in the rain, and a warm café was welcome too. Making our way home, the outboard ran out of fuel, and we had not thought we needed to bring any (if we had made a direct line there) so time for David to try rowing. This was not easy as he hadn’t done it before and despite being a quality violin player was unable to master the co-ordination required and I despaired of getting home but for a strong westerly wind. If we hadn’t grabbed the boat at the first attempt I would have had to take over rowing, as the wind would have demanded straight line progress.

Anyway back to sailing.. it’s a long haul against the weather out of Bantry Bay, and as the wind was strong-ish I opted for a part-journey, stopping at the remote Lawrence Cove marina, and so we set off reefed down for a wet slog, which turned out to be quite fun and we were welcomed into the marina by the friendly owner to complete a good day, managed despite the weather. Here we met Kevin & Tina Rogers of Swn-y-Mor from Milford, who I knew in passing, so we had a good natter about our trips.


There’s not much on offer in the ‘town’, Rerrin, so we ate on board and investigated why the wind turbine had been going fast enough to explode before we tied it up en-route.. turned out to be a corroded connector allowing unrestricted speed. A trip to the quaint ex-military pub and then bed.


18 July Bere Island – Cape Clear Island South Harbour– Sherkin Island 52nm wind WNW 4

Up early again, and homeward bound now, motoring up to the top of Piper Sound just outside Castletownbere, where we could set sails for a broad reach in a nice moderate wind. Once we got out of Piper sound we had a lovely straight run for Mizen Head. On the way it seemed like a good day for staying at Cape Clear Island’s South Harbour (a first for me) with the wind being in the north, so after a spinnaker run from Mizen Head we pulled in to the bay and anchored in a really quiet spot. Motoring the dinghy ashore to the small harbour wall we went walking, ending up at the North Harbour again, where we got phone signal and found out that a strong southerly was on the way with a foul day tomorrow.


As the South Harbour is unsafe in a southerly we had a quick dinner and set off for Baltimore Harbour in a building swell.


Going for another first, we resisted the pull of Baltimore itself, and pulled up on the concrete barge pontoon at Sherkin Island, run by the Sherkin House Hotel just up the hill a bit, planning a day off tomorrow. For the evening we had a couple of drinks at the excellent proper pub the Jolly Roger a bit further up the hill, then came down to the Sherkin House for a dinner and a local’s music night.

19 July Sherkin Island – walking day off. Wind W F7

After a bit of a rough night being pushed onto the barge (there were no spaces on the lee side) we took breakfast at the hotel and picked up what there was on tourism, then adjusted and padded mooring lines then set off walking around the island, which does have some lovely locations and vistas – as well as some very wet overgrown grassy paths!


Unfortunately the café was having a locals lunch meeting so we only got coffee, but we were still running on breakfast really, so lunch was skipped and we got back to the boat and took showers offered by the Hotel. Later on we had dinner in the Jolly Roger to round off a relaxing day.

20 July Sherkin – Barloge Creek – Castletownsend 12nm wind WNW F4

A leisurely start, going genoa only out of Baltimore harbour and south of Kedge Rock,


making our way eastwards, and using GPS to find the hidden entrance to Barloge Creek (a third first on this trip).


The Creek is a popular tourist day tripper destination, renowned for the seawater waterfall at Loch Hyne. We anchored close behind another yacht in another beautiful location and took the


opportunity to experiment with set-ups for the sounder which has given up working in its normal location. By the time we had to leave we had sorted out a successful set-up with a sensor that read the shallow depth through the wooden hull, like for a fibreglass hull – conventional wisdom has it that this doesn’t work! Creeping carefully out we turned east and sailed through Stag Sound and into the river that runs up to Castletownsend.


Here we took a buoy that I have used several times before as it’s always free because it looks awfully close to Cat island and indeed the plotter says you’re over red-hatch uncharted rock but I found it works fine and have used it reliably. It being early we had time to look round the fascinating church and also walk out of town to the ancient hillfort which has fabulous views out over the coast. I was glad to see the portable toilet company with the world’s best strapline was still in business!


In the evening we had our second top-notch, at Mary Ann’s Michelin rated fish restaurant.. fabulous. Lily’s pub up the road provided music as part of a wedding do.

21 July Castletownsend – Crosshaven 52nm wind SSW 5>6

Wind was predicted good for a long passage, so we got up early, motored out of the river and made slightly south of east to clear the dangerous Doolic Rock (mostly underwater today) off distant Galley Head, then due East for seven Heads and then the Old Head of Kinsale which we took outside to avoid overfalls.


Heading north-ish for Cork we had to tack downwind for comfort and speed, skirting the Daunt Rock and then getting into the harbour at Roche’s Point to down sails and motor into the Owenboy River leading to Crosshaven. My favoured stop here is at Salve Marina because the understanding Dutch owner Wiese has always allowed me to stay where I have chosen to tie up on an easy berth given Leonore’s manoeuvring restrictions.. no such liberties at the Royal Cork – and it’s closer to town.


Going down to town we stopped at the Oar where we again met Kevin & Tina Roberts for a quick chat but we had to search out dinner, and promised to meet again at Fitzgibbon’s. Not much luck at Cronin’s but we were lucky to get a place sat up at the bar at the Ship which was crowded with families taking Sunday evening dinner. Ours was excellent and we rolled down replete to Fitzgibbon’s and had a pleasant late evening chatting with Kevin and Tina, and our expectation was to wait another day to see off heavy weather before heading for home.

22- 23 July Crosshaven – Pembroke Dock 129nm wind SSW 4/5 due to fall

Over a coffee in town we realised that although the wind was currently strong, calm weather was coming and we saw that we would have to leave today to get a decent stretch under sail, so we got back to the marina, showered up and went back to the coffee shop for lunch, and got ready to leave by 2pm. With a useful help from Kevin we turned around and headed out under engine and then at the harbour entrance set up the wind vane and sailed for St Ann’s 115 miles distant with the wind just forward of the beam whilst we cleared the next headlands and offshore rocks. These passed we bore away and went well, bringing the distance down to 70 miles by nightfall, when we also reefed the genoa.


The night presented us with lights from a number of mercurial fishing boats and a big ferry, probably Rosslare to Le Havre, and several distant big ships. Dawn came as we began the TSS crossing at The Smalls, although we had no troublesome traffic. Then passing south of The Smalls lighthouse with the wind backing eastwards we began to struggle with a strengthening north-going tide and realised we had failed to make south as much as we could have done earlier on. Eventually before Skokholm we had to tack south for a bit to get ourselves past St Ann’s into the Haven, at first sailing through Thorn Island Sound but then with a dead-east we motored against the tide up to our mooring at Hobbs Point by early afternoon. A journey that started so well, but was frustrating at the end. However, it was a good job we set off a day earlier than planned as the wind fell and what there was left now was easterly.

View User Profile for James Perrins

Leonore Summer Cruise 2018


Leonore’s last two trips to southwest Ireland have been restricted by bad weather to the south coast, not managing to get around the southwest corner at Mizen Head and onto the west coast, so there was hope that we could do better this year with a widely predicted fair weather summer and do more exploring in the beautiful cruising grounds of west Cork and Kerry. Myself and Andy Cunningham would do the whole journey, whilst first David Hammond and then Jonathan Turnbull would do a week each with some variable overlap in the middle.

4/5 July Pembroke Dock – Ballycotton 121nm

In the early afternoon David, Andy and myself got it all together and caught the last two hours of tide down haven and out into the open sea, in what seemed more like Mediterranean weather


The plan was to head for a waypoint south of The Smalls and then as west as we could in the variable 3/4 wind with the general aim of Kinsale. Going was slow and we didn’t get to The Smalls till dusk and then at about 3am the wind turned west and we tacked SW then NW but then gave that up and went on motor to head west. After an hour and a half I was asleep when the motor stopped and Andy called to say he thought we were out of fuel. Can’t be, I thought and sure enough we had plenty but the motor was very hot and on inspection I discovered that it was very rough to turn over by hand and had probably partially seized (It’s a Dolphin petrol engine). However there was also another problem – the timing of one cylinder was out which has happened before so I took a seasickness pill and dismantled the timing section while Andy continued by sail. When I was finished the engine started and ran well, but for only an hour and a half when a banging noise began, which was probably backfiring. We allowed the engine to cool and so it went on, but the wind was now kinder and we made progress throughout the new day, with the Irish coast showing up around 5pm (Mine Head). We set our sights on Ballycotton for the evening landfall, eventually gained by 1050pm, whereupon we went into a rehearsed ‘cockleshell heroes’ mode the three of us each having planned tasks as we blew up the dinghy en-route, de-sailed, picked up the mooring then dashed over to the harbour and pub. 1055, Phew! The landlord was outside watching our capers and relieved us with ‘you’re alright boys’ – turned out they didn’t close till 1130!

6 July Ballycotton - Kinsale 31.4nm

So we had a poorly but usable engine if the wind would be kind. Sailing away from the buoy, we made our way round Ballycotton Island with its unique black lighthouse and began tacking coastwise in the force 3


southwest wind, accompanied by warm sunny weather, arriving outside Cork harbour at lunchtime and at the Bulman Rock outside Kinsale in the late afternoon.


Sailing a good way down river to Kinsale we de-sailed and then motored around the visitor pontoon at Kinsale Yacht Club looking for a suitable space, but there was none, so we rafted alongside a welcoming liveaboard yacht. A couple of pints in the yacht club were followed by a trip into town to get dinner.

7 July Kinsale – Old Head – Kinsale 12.2nm


We started early as the wind forecast was poor, and headed downriver and out to the Old Head of Kinsale without being able to relinquish the engine, and so it was that the rough running and probable backfiring began again. As there was no wind I determined to sort the problem which I thought to be a connected to a bearing which I had always had trouble lubricating properly due to its location. Thus as we drifted pathetically back with what wind there was we phoned all sorts of suppliers in Kinsale and Cork and eventually located bearings, grease, pullers, sealants and advice from Dolphin to at least be prepared for a bearing replacement. We even arranged for Howard back home to enter my cellar and pick up a spare unit which he only just managed to get onto Maelstrom as they sailed for Ireland! Dolphin advised me that it was a deep job, requiring most of the engine to be dismantled so I decided it would have to be held over until we were absolutely desperate if we became stranded without wind as we were able to use the engine on-and-off. Docked in Kinsale again we dispatched David to Cork where parts had been left in garages and the like as it was Saturday and some places were closed by the time he got there. I scoped the replacement job and saw that it was indeed a ‘three spanner’ undertaking with significant risk of broken bolts etc which would land us in deeper trouble. Later we heard that Maelstrom was stopping at Youghal on the way to Kinsale, so we decided that with the new bearings obtained we wouldn’t need the part they were kindly bringing (Many thanks to all concerned) and so we would move on in the morning.

8 July Kinsale – Glandore 25.5nm

Wind forecast was for nothing to start with then building later, so we had a relatively lazy start and headed out to the Old Head again, now using the motor on half duty cycle so it took a while, but


once around the head we got wind, but of course it was southwesterly, so it was down to tacking again along the coast past Seven Heads and then Galley Head.


At this point the wind perked up and changed a bit northerly and we set the windvane up and headed northwest towards Adam’s Island and Glandore. Motoring up the river we picked up a rather dubious buoy, but it was ok in the light weather.


Going ashore our eardrums were assailed by outlandishly loud music from a live group playing a cross between rock and trad Irish music. At the pub the decibels were unbearable and we had to find a place indoors to eat despite the wonderful weather and glorious view down to the harbour and out to the Adam and Eve islands.

9 July Glandore- Crookhaven 29.9 nm

We set off at 0800, and began sailing as soon as we could, passing to the west of Adam’s Island and out past the Stack of Beans and then High Island, turning west to pass through the dramatic Stag Sound. clip_image016

Now the wind was just a few knots and westerly plus there was tide against, so we motored half time but had to be stoical during the sailing time and just enjoy the sunshine! By 4 o’clock we picked up some wind and sailed through Gascanane Sound and into Roaring Water Bay, though not living up to its name today. We enjoyed an unexpected pleasant beat over to Crookhaven, and then motored in to take up a mooring directly off O’Sullivan’s Bar.


For the first time that I’ve been here, the sailing facility was open and we were able to have a much needed shower, followed by dinner at the Crookhaven Inn before finishing up at O’Sullivan’s.

10 July Crookhaven – Derrynane 35.8 nm

Waking up for a pee at 0600 I felt a reasonable easterly breeze – this is not to be wasted I thought so I got the boat and then crew moving out to the entrance and then using GPS slipped through the narrow channel inside Horse Rocks to emerge on the south coast and


run west to Mizen Head with the tide as an added bonus. Still mindful of a previous scare we had here in 2013 it was with great respect and gratitude that I rounded the Mizen in today’s benign conditions.


The wind remained east and we managed to head straight for Dursey Sound right across Dunmanus and Bantry bays. Arriving at the sound in the last hour before foul tide we were able to sail close up to the famous overhead cable-car that crosses over the sound



before we had to resort to motor to be sure of clearing the various hazards that lurk either side. Emerging into Kenmare River (really an inlet/bay just like Bantry) we were again able to take up with the east wind and continue sailing north across the bay. Shortly after starting this journey, we were treated to views of the stunning rock islands of Bull Rock and the Great Skellig out to sea.


They really are magnificent. We sailed on to the north and came to Derrynane, known for its challenging entrance and beautiful anchorage, and so it turned out – plotting our way in right next to rocks close underwater on either side was a job neither crew member would


entertain, so it was down to me as owner! Once inside we found ourselves in an almost totally enclosed protected sea lake with a sandy shore being enjoyed by loads of holiday makers.


So wonderful was it that we were soon changing for a swim ourselves in the acceptably warm water.


Later we went ashore and quickly found a very basic pub but as the day was yet young we walked on via Daniel O’Donnell’s ancestral home into the village about 4 miles away, which had a full-service pub for dinner. This was certainly a most satisfying and attractive turn-around point for our cruise.


11 July Derrynane – Castletownbere – Lawrence Cove 28.3nm

We woke up to another sunny day in this charming setting, but unfortunately with no wind and a rendezvous to make later on in Castletownbere. Motoring out of the dodgy entrance channel it was now low tide and we could now see all the rocks more clearly which made it easier but just as scary.


Soon we were out in the clear and in a light westerly reached down south across Kenmare River to re-enter Dursey Sound, once again using engine to ensure safety till under the cable car, after which we tacked down the wider sound and exited east-bound along the coast in Bantry Bay. To help us along we put up the spinnaker, and found that a rip in it was perfectly placed to keep a useful view of the cliffs we were running close alongside.


In the late afternoon we arrived at the southern end of Piper Sound which runs up to Castletownbere with Bere Island on its eastern side. We managed to sail up to this large fishing port, and find a temporary alongside berth by the harbourmaster’s office. Unfortunately on approach we had a slight mishap passing a strange large aluminium catamaran with a huge anchor which snapped our fibreglass wind generator pole like a matchstick., and bent our aluminium windvane. Tying up we passed up the broken bits to Andy on the quay who sawed and bent till we were repaired or jury rigged for continued use. So now where was our new crew, Jonathan? Well almost immediately up turned a bus and out he hopped – perfect planning! Not fancying a stay on anchor in the harbour we headed out for Bere Island and the attractive marina at Lawrence Cove, which as the wind failed we ended up having to approach with a complaining motor again. The lovely setting and welcoming help from the marina owner settled us down and we got our stuff together for a walk into Rerrin, the local village, a relic of British naval operations up to 1938.

12 July Lawrence Cove – Crookhaven 22.8 nm

Right, it was time to try and improve the engine, which had been overheating, and so we used the marina hoses to flush the engine cooling circuit back and forth, collecting quite a bit of crud from inside the passageways, forced out by the superior pressure of mains water. This was all made possible by the afternoon tide window for rounding the Mizen, and once done we set off sailing up to the top of Piper Sound and then down it and out into Bantry Bay. Here the wind was more or less south, but we still had time to tack down to the Mizen, coming in closer than ever before to the rock letters spelling out ‘EIRE’ on the slopes of Sheep’s Head put there after the handing back of Bantry Bay to Ireland in 1938, to warn WW2 bombers they were travelling over a neutral country.


Down at Mizen Head things went smoothly and turning it we were able to reach along the south coast back to the Horse rocks and into Crookhaven again. Motoring up to find a mooring, I was happily surprised to see Sol Quest moored up and took a turn around her to make contact and agreed to meet up in the pub later. And so, after a meal in the Crookhaven Inn we met with Chris and Angela in O’Sullivan’s for cruise story swapping.

13 July Crookhaven – Baltimore 10.7 nm

Very low wind predicted today, so a limited distance, plus the need to get David off onto a bus home suggested Baltimore as the target. Waving to Sol Quest we motored out of Crookhaven inlet and began to drift-sail eastwards into Roaring Water Bay.


Shortly afterwards Sol Quest motored out and we photographed each other as they set sail in the opposite direction, bound for the Mizen. Going was very slow, but pleasant in the sunshine. Gradually the wind picked up and we were able to run under spinnaker past Cape Clear Island and its newly much improved North Harbour, to be sampled on a future occasion. Drawing up to Gascanane Sound, we managed to sail through this fairly straightforward channel, although it has quite serious tides at times. Out on the south coast again, we reached along to Baltimore, securing a place by radio with Diarmuid of the quirky Atlantic Boat Services Marina – alias an ex-Pembroke Dock WW2 concrete water bowser. We needed a bit of assistance from the ever helpful Diarmuid who nudged us into our berth with his RIB as we couldn’t quite make the required turn. We were in plenty time to relax in various ways before seeing David onto his bus to head east and then hiking along out of town to Casey’s for a great seafood dinner, followed by a return to the harbour to sample The Algerian and the favourite Bushes bar.

14 July Baltimore – Kinsale 41.7nm

Wind forecasts for the week being light led us to opt for a run to the far southeast in order to shorten the journey home, rather than plan to go straight home from Kinsale. Thus we set off for Kinsale, motoring out of Baltimore ad setting sail with a light following wind to go outside the Kedge Rock,


inside the Stags and on to Galley Head, passing outside the menacingly dangerous Doolic Rock, only half underwater. In the afternoon we crossed Klonakilty bay and rounded the Old head of Kinsale a mile or so outside, avoiding the fairly tame-looking race. A nice reach took us quickly to the Kinsale entrance and up the river to the Yacht club for our third night this trip! Now there are myriad restaurants in town and we found it difficult to choose, however we decided this may be our only opportunity to have a curry for a while, and so entered the only Indian for miles around. This was a big mistake as it was not only expensive, but service was poor and the food left a lot to be desired – Oh well strike it off for the future, and make up for it in the pubs!

15 July Kinsale- Dungarvan 45.3nm

This morning there was a decent wind, SW 3-4, so we were hopeful of making a trip to Dunmore, and set off down river quite early. We struggled a bit to get out of the river, against wind and a full spring tide, but reaching the Bulman buoy outside we managed to bear away and broad reach along the coast, in gloomy weather where drizzle came and went periodically. This was dispiriting after so much sunny weather but we kept going, past Cork, Ballycotton, Youghal, and coming to Mine Head at the end of the afternoon we’d had enough and made our way via Helvick to Ballynacourty Point and thence up the buoyed channel to Dungarvan, pulling in at the Sailing Club pontoon. Nipping up to the club we were advised to re-moor at a point where the pontoon takes a slight corner and it would be alright to move a couple of boats out of the way. So we began to do this, and half way through a chap in a string vest fresh from sleep appeared at the companionway of one of the boats we were moving, so we thought we were in for a bollocking, but not so - he was ok with it, saying he had bilge keels and agreeing it was the best spot for a long keeler. It’s a matter of getting a place with depth, but also soft mud plus avoiding landing on the chains that secure the pontoons! On previous trips we have taken on an alarming list and it was now top springs again. Dinner was excellent at Merry’s as was the accompanying local ale.

16 July Dungarvan – Kilmore Quay 35.6 nm

Again we had a decent SW wind and even sunshine again, so we set off at the top of the outgoing tide at 9am but chickened out of sailing straight out as local boats did (almost all bilge keelers) and opted to more or less follow the buoyed channel. Once again at the entrance we could set sail northeast aiming for Kilmore Quay. A pleasant sail took us past Dunmore and Hook Head and over to the Saltee Islands where we turned in to Kilmore Quay harbour and moored up on the reception pontoon. After sorting ourselves with the harbour master and getting showers etc we made the standard pilgrimage to Kehoe’s for the legendary ‘trilogy of fish’, washed down with our last Irish Guinness for the time being.

17 July Kilmore Quay – Pembroke Dock 69.2nm

The forecast told of very low wind at the start of the day, so we weren’t too fussed about an early start except that the tide was east-bound, so we made a compromise and motored out at 9am, slipped through St Patrick’s bridge and began sail/drifting in the general direction of Pembroke Dock, though the wind was very slow to rise above a few knots and we had to motor in periods. Eventually when the wind did pick up it was just east of south and so we set up the windfeather on closehauled starboard tack and settled down for the afternoon. Gradually we picked up speed and in the evening we came alongside Grassholm and caught the down-going tide to Skomer, turning into Broad Sound and making for St Anns. Now the tide turned and we struggled to get into the Haven and up to Hobbs Point with no wind and a protesting engine, mooring up in the dark and deciding to stay on board overnight and leave the cruise-end sorting till morning.

Overall a highly successful cruise and I may become a fan of light weather, as we sailed every day and had very pleasant sunshine for all but one day. I didn’t put my boots on all trip!

Leonore Summer Cruise 2017

Saturday 10 June Weather dictates

My favourite plan to start a trip to West Ireland is to dedicate 20-30 hours overnight on a westward thrust to get a good number of miles under the belt and avoid the trap of arriving in the south-east and then having to hack down the south-west trending coast. So Jon flew into Bristol from Amsterdam on Friday, was picked up by Phil and would have headed straight over to Pembroke Dock ready for a start around midday Saturday. However, westerly gales occupied the whole screen on the mobie, so I put the boys off for at least a day, and they sauntered up later on Saturday. We made the best of it with a curry and pub, not needing to hold back as the chances of sailing on Sunday seemed pretty hopeless.

Sunday 11 June Pembroke Dock – Dale 8.3nm

A slow start to the day and much poring over very uninviting weather forecasts. The chances of the favourite plan working even on Monday were scotched by a predominantly west wind, so with the urge to get on with what we were all here for we decided to get the beat down the haven over with today before starting out on Monday when the wind was due to moderate a bit. There was quite a sea running even at the Hobbs Point pontoon which had Leonore bucking wildly as we loaded up with some foreboding. Off we set late afternoon with just a scrap of genoa, tack tack tack got the winch monkeys sweating with the wind in the early 30s and a max of 42kts (force 9). One spot of luck with this plan was that high tide enabled us to tie up on the land pontoon at Dale and have a good drink and meal at the Griffin without getting wet.

Monday 12 June Dale – Kilmore Quay 73.1nm

The wind howled all night, which was expected, but I was not happy with the way it continued into the early light hours and so was pessimistic about the viability of starting out today. However by about 10 o’clock there was a definite moderation and we had breakfast to check it was really going to stay that way. Unfortunately the late moderation meant the sea was still up and we prepared for a bashing whilst the plan against the westerly was to head south west on starboard, and hope for a backing to allow port tack to take us somewhere west, perhaps my dreams! We stuck a couple of hours out on starboard and took such a bashing that we couldn’t see ourselves putting up with it through the night and so switched to port tack and settled for Kilmore Quay. Having some westing under our belts this looked possible and we seemed to be making west of Grassholm, but in the end couldn’t manage that and grazed as close as we dared to the east coast, holding our noses grimly against the stench of guano.


At first we made course for Kilmore, but tide pulled us away and we ended up well down on course but we weren’t going to tack again and at the point of running into shallows east of Kilmore resorted to the engine to climb back up to St Patrick’s Bridge. It was well dark by now and after some scary moments getting the main down over rocky areas the crew were impressed and very grateful that the skipper was familiar with the way in! It was 2 am time we were pontooned and settled with a whisky, quite exhausted.

Tuesday 13 June Kilmore Quay – Dunmore East 20.1nm

We already knew that the tide would be going east all morning, so a lay in was declared and we gradually rehabilitated with showers and breakfast before making ready to leave around midday. Out in the daylight the channel leading marks made sense to the crew and once safe we headed across Ballyteighe Bay tacking towards Hook Head in a nicely moderate southwesterly.


Rounding the head closely we bore off to the north across Waterford Harbour entrance to the harbour at Dunmore East. Here we discovered the massive new (to us) pontoon and selected a spot to circle into, with some help from the big aluminium boat we pulled up in front of. We were in time to catch the Harbourmaster and were shown around his well-appointed new domain whilst paying our dues. A quick call to my old local friend Tom Kennedy and we fixed to meet him at Powers Bar after dinner, which we had at the excellent Azzuro – Italian, but with Guinness for us who wanted! A very congenial night followed in the bar with Tom.

Wednesday 14 June Dunmore East – Ballycotton 48.3nm

An early start and a much friendlier wind now nearly south allowed a close reach on port tack to catch us up a bit and we slipped past Dungarvan and Youghal to wind up in Ballycotton, where we picked up the nearest buoy to the harbour. Rowing ashore we had a quick couple in the Harbour pub before rolling in to the posh Bayview Hotel for a very civilised meal, kindly paid for by Phil. Before the recession rough sailors such as ourselves were never allowed in here, but now anything goes! To bunk, satisfied with a decent day’s run at last.


Thursday 15 June Ballycotton – Crosshaven 32.8nm

Wind was up again today knocking on 30 knots as we tacked out around Ballycotton Island and out to sea. We tacked back into land, arriving close to Cork entrance, then tacked out beyond the Daunt rock and out further to clear the Sovereigns and make for Kinsale. However the wind was getting up and on reefing the genoa a second time we suffered a jam wrapping in the spinnaker halyard, which we only got out of with some luck before continuing under double reef and No.3 genoa, but still getting a bashing hard on the wind as we were. I wasn’t happy as the steady wind crept over 30kt and when it reached 34 I decided we should turn back for Cork as it was likely to continue rising. The crew complimented the call and we shot back to the Daunt rock and on into Cork’s entrance, and then into the Owenboy river up to Crosshaven. Now I’ve never really liked the Royal Cork marina with the river flowing so hard through it, so opted to pull in at the closer Salve marina which has a long outer pontoon in line with the flow. It turned out to be a lot friendlier, informal and cheaper too, so now Crosshaven is back on my list! Down in town is the bit I’ve always liked with the Oar and Cronin’s firm favourites and now that Paul had joined us (re-directed by mobie as we came back to Daunt) we had a bit of a crawl, signing a visitors oar at the first and having a meal at the second.


Friday 16 June Crosshaven – Kinsale 24.0nm

An early start got us showered and breakfasted in time to pack Jon and Phil off by bus to Cork and on to the ferry back to Pembroke Dock, whilst Paul and I made ready for sea with again a strong wind, though not as bad as yesterday.


Déjà vu as we tacked out to Daunt and on along the coast, well reefed. Once we got to the Sovereigns we opted to go inside for a bit of shelter and tacked our way up to the Bulman buoy. From there we could relax and bear away up the river to Kinsale and take a place on the visitor pontoon. David had contacted us and was on his way down by bus so I took time to refuel etc. Racing boats were arriving for next week and it became a bit crowded. After meeting up with David we had a tour of pubs and a fish and chip dinner before seeking out some music with indifferent results.

Saturday 17 June Kinsale – Baltimore 47.0nm

Wind had really dropped this morning and after ablutions etc, we took a single tack southwards out to the Old Head of Kinsale not making great progress, and soon a fog descended but thanks to GPS we rounded the head without seeing it. As the day went on we passed Seven Heads, Galley Head and then the spectacular Stags, the wind dropping all the while.


I was determined to make Baltimore and so asked the galley (Paul) to rustle up dinner on the way, and excellently done it was. As we approached the Kedge rock with failing wind I decided to save time by going inside as I had seen a yacht do it years ago and now with chart plotter it was going to be possible. Wow! It is pretty tight and there was quite a stream (against) which made steering a bit wobbly and I was really glad to see the forward speed pick up on the other side as we made our way towards Baltimore harbour. The ‘marina’ was full (Pirate weekend) so we took a nearby buoy and rowed ashore for a couple of pints before turning in, well satisfied to be here.

Sunday 18 June Fastnet Rock round trip 23.4nm

Now we’re in the playground but the poor start this week and some easterly winds upcoming in the forecast would make the return difficult if we went beyond the Mizen, so realistically we’d have to restrict ourselves to stay this side of it. The wind was very light so the obvious ‘tourist trip’ was to round the Fastnet Rock and come back through Roaringwater Bay to another port of call, although in our case Baltimore was favourite again, as we had to take Andy on board tomorrow morning.


Motoring out of Baltimore harbour we managed to sail on and off between spells of motoring and as we came alongside Cape Clear Island there must have been a glut of baitfish as we were treated to a fantastic feeding frenzy of about 100 dolphins and loads of dive-bombing gannets. This lasted a good half hour and after that we began to notice some of the mammal shapes were bigger and sure enough out there were several whales, Minkes, involved as well. As the excitement dwindled, the wind picked up a bit and we managed to sail up to the outstandingly handsome Fastnet


Rock and creep round it as dictated by chart plotter, heading back into Roaringwater Bay with the wind behind. Now sailing on the north side of Cape Clear Island we passed the tiny North Harbour and then tacked through the Gascanane Sound, to find the tide was seriously against and many tacks were required before we got safely out in the open sea again. Another spell of wind failure meant we motored in to Baltimore again, this time securing a place on the marina, rafted three boats out thanks to the obliging Diarmuid. Having a bit more time tonight we had a shower at Bushes Bar and then walked to Casey’s at the far end of the town for good beer and a steak dinner. Back in town we visited the Algerian and then back to busy Bushes Bar to finish off the evening in nautical surroundings.


Monday 19 June Baltimore – Glandore 19.4nm

A call from Andy early on confirmed that he would be on the 10 o’clock bus from Skibbereen where he had seen in his birthday at a B&B. The rest of us got cleaned up and breakfasted so that we could take off on his arrival. On exiting the harbour we set sail in a light easterly, tacking out to sea first, way out past the Kedge Rock and here we were treated to about a dozen close sightings of Minke whales obligingly spouting noisily to warn us of their impending full emergence. Unusually they seemed to make regular and predictable repeat appearances. Once the shows were over we tacked back towards land to come inside the Stag Rocks and back out again before coming in to the west side of Adam Island then motored in alongside Eve Island and on to Glandore. At the moorings we had to take a grotty old thing as several decent visitor moorings were taken by local small boats, still not to worry with no wind and beer calling. We had a typically lovely evening in the village overlooking the harbour – a beautiful setting.


Tuesday 20 June Glandore – Union Hall, Day off 1.4nm

A strong easterly wind had set up overnight and was forecast to stay all day, so we decided on a day off and swapped our mooring for a better one out of the wind in Union Hall, a short motor across the harbour. This was a first for me, as Glandore is so attractive and Union Hall is usually described as a commercial fishing village where yachts are tolerated rather than welcomed. Such a description ignores the charm of the village which we very much enjoyed in the windy sunshine. Later on although we failed at the fishermen’s showers (closed) we got a very passable meal in Moloney’s Bar.


Wednesday 21 June Union Hall – Crosshaven 40.5nm

At last a reaching wind, southerly, was forecast and off we set, albeit having to motor against the wind to get out to sea, where we set sails to pass the dreaded partially submerged Doolic Rock, but we only just managed it as the course was considerably south and after that we still had to tack out to sea to clear Galley Head from where we could truly reach along the coast. Again we saw several whales reasonably close by.


Beyond Galley the wind picked up as we made the long reach to the faint shape of the Old Head of Kinsale. On approaching the head we had a fair wind and at first opted to go close-in but the race was quite lumpy and so we moved out to sea to avoid the worst of it. Continuing on to pass Kinsale and several racing fleets on different courses which provided a bit of entertainment. Somewhere out there was Maverick but we weren’t close enough to her class to see. As Kinsale would be full of racers we went on to Cork and opted for our newfound alternative, Salve marina in Crosshaven once more. Another great night in Crosshaven, calling at the Oar, then up to the Anchor Inn as I had found out on a previous trip that it was once owned by the Crean family and as Andy is a massive fan of Tom Crean, one of Shackleton’s crew, we just had to go. Unfortunately they didn’t have any Tom Crean Ale beer mats so from my previous trip I’m one up on Andy there! A good chat with the staff held us there for a few pints before we made for fish and chips on our way to Cronin’s to round the evening off.

Thursday 22 June Crosshaven – Dunmore East 54.1 nm

Forecast gave a westsouthwest wind, force3 and rising to 7. Paul was determined to honour his commitment to run the BBQ at the PHYC regatta on Saturday, so left us to go by bus to the ferry home. So the remaining three of us motored out of Cork, now helpfully on the tide, and turned towards the east. First we raised aspinnaker and did well but soon it seemed likely to get out of hand so we doused it. As the wind built we set a poled genoa and goosewinged with a reef in the main. Dave did a creditable job learning to sail the goosewing but after a couple of accidental gybes he was happy to retire and myself and Andy took turns for the remaining journey as we romped along – the best day’s sailing of the cruise! There was a big wind coming tomorrow, so we determined to make it a long trip today and aim for Dunmore East, which we managed by 8pm, but I was dreading getting the pole in as it was unlikely we could get any shelter from the land. We rehearsed it in our minds and out loud then executed the moves perfectly and safely - I was really proud. Rounding up we made our way into harbour and tied up on the pontoon. Being relatively late we scuttled up to Power’s Bar for a well earned drink. It was music night and we had already decided to take tomorrow off for strong wind, so no holding back – bliss. When we headed back it was late, but we still managed to get in a very fair Chinese on the way back to the boat.

Friday 23 June Day off

A windy day, and we started with a good cafe breakfast although we couldn’t get a forecast as the cafe proudly boasted ‘Don’t ask for our WiFi code..we like to talk to each other here!’ We lazed about and explored the area, meeting up for fish and chips at the cove in Lower Dunmore, eaten on the sea wall.


Then it was off to Powers bar to meet Tom Kennedy again with Leonore’s new crew. A fabulous night of cameraderie had to end early so as not to affect tomorrow’s start.

Saturday 24 June Dunmore East – Pembroke Dock 85.6 nm

Maybe we should have gone yesterday! Up at 0400 and straight off. Motoring out from the pontoon we had to keep motoring to Hook Head as there was barely any wind. Setting sail at this point, the wind was below 7 knots to the Coningbeg Rock and beyond. Not till 2pm did we get anything to work with, and then it came behind so we set a spinnaker and also the Sea Feather self-steering as we were getting tired. The set-up worked well hands-off and we got good sleep in turn, all the way to Grassholm. Shortly afterwards we downed spinnaker before deciding whether we were going to go for Broad Sound or go around Skokholm. The tide was going well for us, but would soon turn, and it was a biggie, 7.3m. We decided we could hold it past Skokholm, but alas no, and we were nailed by desperate tide-against as we crawled pathetically past the island, and then ran into a really bad case of St Ann’s race, shipping the odd wave. Once out of the race we put the spinnaker up again to try and improve our speed, only dropping it as the light failed at Carr 2. Dropping the main we had to go downtide for a few minutes and lose precious ground before motoring onto our buoy and blowing up the cruise dinghy to get ashore with a minimum of kit. Anyway we were home! We hadn’t got all that far but six of us did have a great time in 500 odd miles trying to.

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Leonore Summer Cruise 2016

Leonore was built in 1966 so this year is her 50th birthday year and I thought a special cruise was befitting. This thought was augmented by two factors: First towards the end of last year my friend and ex-neighbour Phil, being fed up with not managing to organise a cruise on his boat booked a place with me for 2016 like in the old days before he bought a boat - I snapped his hand off! Then at Christmas my friend Mick apologised for not coming in 2015 and promised to come this year, but tragically a few days later he was suddenly taken ill and died. Goes to show you can't tell what's round the corner and you should get on and do stuff while you can. Although it would be difficult on her, Christine was brilliant and fully supported me.

Phil and I toyed with joining the Classic Malts Cruise but in the end decided doing our own was better - after all seen one distillery you've seen ‘em all! I sketched a three week cruise basically one week up to Scotland, one up there and another back. A natural crew to make up the three with Phil was Jon as we had had many cruises in the past, so that was the middle week sorted. Once the idea was floated several others expressed interest and I put Andy Cunningham and Tim Davies together for the first week and David Hammond and Howard Williams on the third. A slight hitch occurred late on as Andy was unable to start till halfway through but luckily Paul Sanders stood in for that time.

11-12 June Pembroke Dock – Greystones (Dublin)

So all the prep work is done and finally three of us assemble at Hobbs Point to enact the great plan. Myself, Tim and Paul embarked at just before high tide to get a push downhaven and up to Skomer in the forecasted very light SSW wind. Actually and thankfully there was a bit of wind and we made adequate if gentle progress without engine. Rounding Skomer we made off for the Arklow Bank South end, passing close to The South Bishop lighthouse. The wind was never very much and moved to more southerly forcing us to tack downwind as there was a sizeable swell making a spinnaker run uncomfortable. By nightfall we were some 40 miles from the Arklow Bank and is a relatively safe area for traffic, and indeed there was very little. Dawn broke with still 20 miles to our first waypoint, and still tacking downwind, and thus it was early afternoon when we passed about 10 miles east of the 20 mile long Arklow Bank which is home to a striking line of massive wind turbines and guarded by the world’s biggest North Cardinal at its northern end. I don’t think they want anybody to miss it! At this point we’re actually north of Wicklow and Dublin is within striking distance. However, our poor progress had run us into a strong southbound anti tide and we would really struggle to get past Dalkey Island into Dublin Bay, so after a quick consultation of our library it looked like the new marina at Greystones was a possibility, and sure enough VHF contact resulted in a very friendly invite – the only problem was finding it along the grey coast. GPS to the rescue although we still weren’t sure where to enter till about 100m away! A brand new set-up greeted us with temporary facilities which were very welcome. We were in plenty time for a leisurely pint and stroll into town to choose our eatery, having forsaken the option of getting a train into Dublin to maximise the relaxation after our long journey.

13 June Greystones – Port Oriel

Next morning allowed a lie in waiting for the tide, however we were awoken by the steady clanging of a piledriver as the marina/residential complex continued to be constructed. Light rain accompanied our exit northwards in the tide up to Dalkey Sound and by the time we got into Dublin Bay visibility had dropped to a dangerous level given the traffic in the bay. We managed to cross the bay safely thanks to AIS which pinpointed the unseen traffic including 33 knot ferries and half a dozen anchored ships. Going north of Howth the viz improved and we had a decent sail, initially tacking downwind and deciding to go outside Lambay Island and pass close to the interesting Rockabill outcrop. We then had a go at running up the coast under spinnaker which was ok for a while as we again searched the books for options for the night, and eventually decided on Port Oriel although it didn’t seem to have much to offer it was in the right place. This time the GPS was not so wonderful, as its plot showed us passing over a concrete pier as we made the visually obvious approach to the fishing port. We pulled up to a wall to ask for mooring and were told we’d be ok right there so that was that and we got ready for a walk to civilisation at Clogherhead some 2 miles away. A meal was forthcoming, followed by a quaint but friendly pub session with very dubious local singing and an interesting RNLI museum curator who invited us to visit tomorrow. Replete, we ambled home to our working fishing port, noting that the inner harbour had dried completely.

14 June Port Oriel – Ardglass

In the morning a moderate northeasterly was established in mist and seeing as our destination (Ardglass) was north east we decided regrettably there wasn’t time to visit the RNLI museum so we set off after breakfast along the coast under the Mountains of Mourne.


A day’s tacking was virtually all heroically helmed by Paul as we passed the entrance to Carlingford, Kilkeel and Annalong eventually getting in a bit of a reach approaching Ardglass as the weather turned sunny! Coming in to a free berth in the marina we were met by Andy who had come down from Belfast and was well at home on a neighbouring boat that even offered him a bunk for the night as we were a bit crowded.


Off we went to the Golf Club for a couple of drinks before ending up in the Chinese restaurant.

15 June Ardglass – Carrickfergus

In the morning we said cheerio to Paul as he set off home by bus and ferry. It was a lovely day, especially welcomed after yesterday and began with a good breeze albeit putting us closehauled. However, as the sun shone stronger, the wind fizzled out and we continued on tide and engine, as we really had to make Copeland Island at the entrance to Belfast Lough before the turn. We managed it a bit late, at which point the wind came up and we tacked through Copeland Sound and then reached across the Lough to Carrickfergus, dodging large commercial traffic. On the way we somehow suffered the disaster of running out of tea! Had we not been close to port it would have merited a Pan-Pan, being as we were under the red ensign. Passing the famous castle we tied up in the council-run marina. Walking through town to refuel was unbearably hot in the sun, and we had to resort to Weatherspoons a bit early for refreshment.


Here we hatched a plan that in view of the forecast northerlies, we could maybe reach across to the Clyde, make up to the Crinan Canal (thanks for the advice, Maelstrom) and rejoin the northbound route at the northern end of the could be done in the available days.

16 June Carrickfergus – Whiting Bay (Arran)

Northerlies it was and as soon as we nosed out of Belfast Lough it was obvious the Clyde option was favourite. We couldn’t make Campbelltown, but the southwestern tip of Arran was possible though distant on port tack. The wind came and went but towards late afternoon we passed the lump of Ailsa Craig


and made on for Arran but the wind failed and we ended up motoring and took the first option of mooring buoys, which was at Whiting Bay just short of Holy Island and Lamlash. Pumping up the dinghy as we approached, we tied up and rushed ashore where we were lucky to get dinner in an excellent fish and chip restaurant , before finding a suitable pub complete with quiz night.


17 June Whiting Bay – East Loch Tarbert

A beautiful day greeted us and we were keen to get off and sail around Arran, starting with a reach up to the beckoning and impressive Holy Island opposite Lamlash.


By now we were having to tack north but drinking in the spectacular views of Arran’s mountains really made it a pleasurable journey.


The only downside was that progress was slow and we weren’t going to make a proposed lunch stop at Lochranza and still keep schedule for the canal passage – we couldn’t complain! Continuing north against the wind we plumped for an overnight at the marina in east Loch Tarbert, provided we made an early start for the canal in the morning. Although nobody was at the layed-back marina, facilities were open and the town provided good pubs and an Indian restaurant.

18 June East Loch Tarbert – Crinan

We duly got up early..well except Andy who stayed in bed having stayed up last night to test (successfully) that he could read in the remaining light at midnight. There was no wind so we made the 8 miles on engine in glorious weather, and at Ardrishaig drove straight into the first canal lock, tied up and sorted the paperwork. A hundred and forty seven pounds lighter I reboarded and we set off accompanied by two other yachts whilst ground staff did all the hard work on the lock gates for us.


We struck up a very friendly camaraderie with Mike and Jacky on Arietta which was just as well, as after a few locks our engine complained at all the ticking over and decided to take time out with a flooded carb. Tied alongside Arietta we were actually better off as they actually had the facility of reverse gear and so were able to hurry into locks and stop whereas we were having to approach dead slow which was slowing the party down. The scenery was very pleasant and the sun shone...what a great way to travel, even if it was fresh water! After fifteen locks we arrived at the Sea lock in Crinan and our fellow travellers carried on out to sea whilst we stayed in the large welcoming lock to relax and explore.


Fuel was available at a decent chandlery and later we had dinner in the hotel followed by an interesting bar session with fellow yachtsmen, where we were advised that the Oban marina we had planned was not providing a late night ferry service which we would be needing so a change to Dunstaffnage was recommended.

19 June Crinan – Dunstaffnage (Oban)

Happy birthday Andy! All very civilised we named our time with the lock staff and were duly moved out to sea, meeting a southeasterly force 4/5 with a bit of drizzle. The first of a long string of waypoints came up straight away at Dorus Mor a passage between islands that can be tricky at the wrong time of tide – no problem for us today.


For the next passage I chose to go inside Reisa Mhic Phaidean Island next to Craignish on the mainland so as not to be exposed to the push that exists on a north tide towards the Gulf of Corryvreckan, a very dangerous area that generates a big whirlpool in bad conditions. I thought this wise as our engine had been dodgy yesterday and you never know when the wind might fail. Next passage was the Sound of Luing, big and wide with a well-marked group of rocks at the northern end, then more rocks and up to Easedale followed by the Sound of Insh between Seil and Insh Island. Some trepidation here as this is where Maelstrom ran onto a sunken reef to the north of the island, just awash today.


So we kept well over to the Seil side whilst conjecturing as to which of the progressively disappearing reefs it might have been. Peeking out into the main Firth of Lorn we now made our way over to Kerrera Sound which leads up to Oban.

As we reached Oban, we briefly re-assessed the various options for mooring or marina, but decided we really didn’t want to crew change by dinghy in the rain so we cruised on by, and out of the northern exit of Kerrera Sound round to Dunstaffnage. Here we met up with Andy’s wife Lin and dog Brin who had come up by campervan. It rained most of the evening as we got tidied up and sorted for crew change before getting a meal at the Widemouthed Frog, the local bar/restaurant. The new crew were having a bit of a nightmare with rain and roadworks on the way up by car, and it was touch and go as closing time approached. Eventually the phone informed us they were close and I got them a round in despite barman ‘Mr Happy’ grumping about it. So hi to Phil and Happy birthday as to well to Jon.

20 June Dunstaffnage – Tobermory (Mull)

Tide dictated that we had most of the morning off completing our crew change, beginning with a breakfast in the Frog for both crews together. A trip down the road for re-provisioning, cheerios all round and we prepared for sea at midday. Still drizzling. A WSW 4/6 wind allowed a quick ‘finish with engines’ and we made our way over to the Sound of Mull on genoa.


This wind was converted by geography to run directly against us down the Sound, so we short-tacked up on the tide before motoring into Tobermory as the weather improved to make a lovely late afternoon. Not fancying the small marina we took one of many available visitor buoys, which turned out to be a good move as the pontoons were plagued with midges which didn’t seem able to make the short trip out to the buoys, plus the view of the pretty harbour was better.


We made a poor choice of pub for dinner, but it happens! At the subsequent planning meeting the Hebrides were our oyster and we decided we would go to the outer isles on a beam reach, Barra or the Uists or even Skye whichever fitted.

21 June Tobermory – Lochboisedale (South Uist)

Up early and motoring the rest of the Sound of Mull northwards we were met by a S to SW wind force 4 and increasing. Setting a beam reach past the Point of Ardnamurchan (most westerly part of the UK mainland) we were headed to Lochboisedale, where there was reported to be a new marina. This went fine but the wind steadily increased and reefing was twice required before we could see the outer Hebrides in the poor visibility. Locating the entrance and then the inward passage to Lochboisedale was not at all obvious, but GPS helped

and welcomed by the manager who even went and got our fuel for us from the village.


New facilities were wonderful, and the nearby village had a very agreeable hotel for dinner and drinks. The scenery here was remote and somewhat desolate, maybe it was just the mist but it didn’t have the charm of Castlebay on Barra that I had previously visited.

22 June Lochboisedale – Loch Harport (Skye)

We had toyed with the idea of going up to North Uist or to Dunvegan on Skye but it would rule out some other options later given upcoming weather so we compromised on Loch Harport, home of Skye’s famous Talisker distillery. Everything looked better in the clearer skies and as we drew away from harbour we could see much more of the outer Hebridean chain including some respectably high peaks. A good wind took us comfortably to Skye where we marvelled at McLeod’s maidens, weird towers in the sea just outside the entrance to Loch Bracadale,


which further leads on to Loch Harport.

By now it was a lovely day as we nosed our way down to Carbost spectacularly backed by the Red Cuillin mountains and identified a suitable visitor buoy.


The pub ashore had an excellent gastro menu, great beer and a peaceful view of the boats out in the loch – a lovely spot.


23 June Loch Harport – Loch Slapin (Skye)

We wanted a proper ‘wild camp’ location and identified Loch Slapin as the choice nearby, so after a quick trip ashore for a shop visit we made our way out to sea and tacked eastwards in light wind – pleasant enough. Eventually we had to use engine to get along past fabulous serene views of the Black Cuillins at Loch Brittle on one side


and the high peaks of Rhum on the other.


We then passed the island of Soay famous for sheep and into Loch Slapin. Some six miles up, we had penetrated into a niche of the Red Cuillins for the night’s anchorage totally alone in fantastic surroundings. Although we had no need, we inflated the dinghy just to take pictures!


A meal on board and a couple of beers was magical.


24 June Loch Slapin – Inverie (Knoydart)

Back in civilisation, the result of the EU referendum was now known, but we could get no radio reception. Eventually my transistor on LW with its aerial held to the mast hissed weakly that Cameron had resigned and that was how it dawned on us what the result must be. On board it was two outs and an in. As we made our way down loch and towards Point of Sleat reception came in and we listened to hours of indignation from the Scottish media so we knew to be sensitive to this in the evening. Going was slow and after rounding Sleat we were on a gentle run towards Mallaig, under windvane control with the sun shining


and generally having a most agreeable time – even eliciting Phil’s famous saying ‘it doesn’t get a lot better than this’!. Passing Mallaig, avoiding Skye ferries we entered Loch Nevis


and made our way to Inverie on the loch’s north coast, taking a visitor buoy. This area is Knoydart, said to be the most remote part of Britain. Contrary to pilot book notes we had there were no facilities, save a single shower in the pub for £4 – not taken up by any of us once we had begun drinking. The pub (The Old Forge) has a great reputation for seafood which was one reason for coming here - it was pretty good, but not spectacularly so and a mite expensive, but that’s understandable given the location. Not so the bar’s tendency to serve short pints and be grumpy about topping up. However it’s a great scenic setting which put us in a mood to excuse this. We were treated to a fabulous serene sunset.


25 June Inverie – Tobermory

Next morning started with mist swirling round the mountains.


We sailed off the buoy tacking out of the loch back to Mallaig and then turning south onto an all-day starboard tack whist we contemplated a stop on Eigg or Muck for lunch or even overnight, but in the end thought we’d better use the good wind we had and pressed on to Ardnamurchan Point in the sunshine.


From here we had a run down the Sound of Mull to Tobermory and took one of their buoys again. After showering we regrouped in the first pub on the quay which turned out to be perfect for beer and then food too. Forecast for tomorrow was poor later, but tide was best later. Weather won out and we opted for an early start.

26 June Tobermory – Dunstaffnage

Sure the sun was shining, but there was precious little wind and on the nose, with tide against.


Nonetheless we set off and clawed our way down the Sound of Mull getting only one or two knots closer to target every hour. Gradually the rain came and wind got up a bit as tide slackened and by the time we made it down to Lady’s Rock at the end of Lismore Island visibility became very poor and so AIS was scrutinised in detail as various ferries and craft were close by on various headings. As we drew away from the Oban area contacts cleared away and we made it safely to Dunstaffnage in the rain..does it always rain here? We tied up on the ‘breakwater’, a massively built new pontoon with a concrete surface, but as yet no services, and so shunned by the fridge and shower minded cruisers.

26 June - 1 July – Interlude

Phil had left his car at Dunstaffnage and so we quickly cleared up, refuelled the boat and headed into a different world in a swish and snug car shielded from the rain and headed down through Scotland and to Jon’s Lakeland house next to the pub where we had secured dinner in advance (thank you landlord). Next day we dropped Jon off at Liverpool to catch his plane back to Amsterdam while Phil and I continued to Bristol, from where I got the Megabus back to Pembroke Dock for a break.

After my break Maggie drove Howard and I to Carmarthen where we started our train journey north. At Preston we joined a train that was carrying David c.oming from Milton Keynes, so crew complete! Quick bite and drink in Glasgow and last train up to Oban where I had fixed a taxi to Dunstaffnage where we were in time for dinner and drinks before stumbling aboard.

2 July Dunstaffnage – Craighouse (Jura)

A drizzly start to the day, and the southbound tide through the series of sounds ahead was not going to start till early afternoon, and so we had a concerted effort to get the Widemouthed Frog to make us breakfast and though it was hard work we were successful thanks to a bit of charm from Howard! Then we began to get things together, sending David down to the shop for initial victualling. With a west wind we were all ready to go well before the tide and decided to make what ground we could as the rain had now stopped. We made our way round the fish farms and into Oban bay which was very busy and had the new crew on their toes judging the entry around the various comings and goings of ferries large and small. Things calmed down south of Oban as we made our way down the Sound of Kererra only sharing it with a couple of big Trawlers on their way back to Ardglass. Emerging from the southern end of the sound we were again exposed to the stiff westerly and put onto

the wind by the course to the next waypoint. This required a reef in the main, and almost complete I set to winding down the clew outhaul when BANG and I was holding the winch handle with a loose winch drum


attached, the winch having pulled off the boom where it had lived! Luckily an alternative winch on the mast did a jury stint and job was a good ‘un. So now we were on to the next sound, Insh Island, whose western side holds the notorious ‘Maelstrom Rock’ today just barely underwater as we passed well clear to the east. Now we were picking up speed as the tide strengthened, and the waypoints came thick and fast: Easdale, Bogha Rocks, Fladda, an into the long sound of Luing ending with the island of Scarba and the dreaded Gulf of Corryvreckan in the short gap across to the north tip of Jura.


Here we were doing 12 knots over ground and continued doing 7 knots for most of the rest of the trip close to the coast of Jura..what a push! Nonetheless it was 8:30 as we approached Craighouse so it was a case of blowing up the dinghy and preparing for shore as we went along, to give the best chance of dinner in the pub, which was duly provided with good grace as we shambled into the Hotel in our oilies just after 9pm - phew!


3 July Craighouse – Church Bay (Rathlin Island)

Southbound tides were later on today again and so after breakfast we went ashore and looked around, principally for fuel but being Sunday everything including the Distillery was shut.


We did get a shower and a very pleasant coffee in the pub garden however. As yesterday we set off with a bit of tide-against but with a fair wind from the west, which strengthened usefully in the gap between Jura and Islay, whose coast we now followed down to the open sea between Scotland and Northern Ireland, with Rathlin Island being our target. A cross tide put us on the wind as we started this crossing, but as it eased and reversed on approaching Rathlin in the evening, we were on an easy reach till alongside the famous ‘upsidedown’ lighthouse. From here we ran along the dramatic south coast of Rathlin and into Church Bay keeping clear of the wreck of HMS Drake (built Pembroke Dock) and nosing into the harbour with its new (to me) pontoons.


Tying up quickly in our now regular rush for the pub we scuttled off to it and secured beer and a good dinner.

4 July Church Bay – Carrickfergus

Now we could use a morning tide and so we started at 0600, motoring out south across Church Bay, headed for the great monument of Fair Head, the northeast tip of Ireland.


Here we picked up a superb tide and were doing 10kt SOG in a light wind. ‘Should have started earlier’ was to become a regular skipper’s gripe in the days to come. And indeed we should as although we kept 10kt to Larne, later on at the Isle of Muck short of Belfast we were clobbered by the tide 1 hour before HW Dover in contradiction of the tide tables. We did what we could motoring under the cliffs hoping for eddies, but it was very slow and worrying progress before we got some relief on clearing Black Head and entering Belfast Lough.


Now options were Bangor or Carrickfergus, but as there was wind that had moved to south a reach to Carrick was the choice just as it started to rain. Damp but relieved we picked our spot in a fairly empty marina and took was raining but still early afternoon, so we got ourselves showered and tidied up, regrouping at the Weatherspoon’s in Carrick town for a couple of pints whereupon we decided to investigate Howard’s recommended pub in Belfast, The Crown. A very smart local train service took us into Belfast City and right over the road was the Crown, bustling with after-work groups knocking it back like there was no recession.


We had a good look round all the intricate woodwork and stained glass that gives the pub a unique character before being the last to secure a dinner table as there had been problems with vegetable supply - ‘we’ve been banjaxed’ explained the waitress. Replete we retraced steps to the pub in Carrick and ready for an early start.

5 July Carrickfergus – Ardglass

Up to catch the early southbound tide, quickly across the shipping lane and then ran goosewinged down the Lough to its entrance at Copeland Island, where a reach took us south through Copeland Sound and out into the open.


A light westerly then took us at a reasonable pace down to the various rock obstacles on the way down to Ardglass. As we turned gradually west a great view of the Mountains of Mourne opened up with fair weather at last. Once again an early afternoon arrival made for an easygoing time and after initially tying up we rotated the boat ready for departure, which was just as well as a large steel yacht then came in and, sharing our bay, would have seriously restricted our exit manoeuvre.


Up to the Golf Club for a quick drink and we managed to fix a time to return for dinner so did a bit of shopping and went back for dinner with a great view over the golf course and out to sea. A couple of drinks checking out local pubs and back to bed.

6 July Ardglass – Carlingford

Planning to go to Carlingford required to run up the Lough on the tide so we had a late start after showers and a big café breakfast. The wind was a light south to southwest, as we tacked along the coast in rain on and off,


making the Hellyhunter buoy marking the way into Carlingford earlier than planned, as there was still an hour and a half of ebb tide to come, but we decided we’d give it a try anyway, emboldened by another yacht arriving just ahead of us.


Wow- what a run! A serious race got worse and worse as we made our way in, but Howard made an excellent job of tactical helming around the nastiest waves.


David had never seen anything like it but to be fair was confident in Leonore’s handling of it.


My job was strategic course selection and generally assessing progress. Gradually we made it into the channel proper and although progress was slow were making against the tide. On our way in we reported a rib as having gone aground on a bank with a bunch of kids aboard but we obviously couldn’t get close to it so carried on to the buoy number 18 which although way past the marina is essential to round if you don’t want to go aground like the yacht in front of us did! Coming in to the weird concrete block girdled marina we did ground as we came to a pontoon, but just managed to pull the boat in on ropes. An attempt to turn her around for departure was a complete failure so we gave up and walked into Carlingford town, looking for dinner and music. These we found in different places having a great evening in very friendly local company.

7 July Carlingford – Dun Loaghaire (Dublin)

Back to early mornings, and we made our way out, WITH the tide this time zooming along past the buoys (whose bases are actually little boats, to allow them to ride to tide easier) that were so hard to pass yesterday, and out through a much reduced race to the Hellyhunter again, now turning south to sail along the coast down to Dublin. Wind swung from west to southwest to south over the day and weather was pleasant as we began to tack past Howth Head and into Dublin Bay.


We could have stopped at Howth but had plenty of time so continued to Dun Loaghaire for a shorter trip home. Sailing across the bay we encountered several fleets of racing yachts limbering up for starts, as it was Wednesday evening. Making our way through them inside the breakwater we tied up on the pontoon at my favourite National Sailing Club. The only other yacht on the pontoon turned out to be Wanda, whose crew I knew having met in 2014! Robbie was on his own this time heading for a south coast cruise where he would meet others. Fantastic to see him again. Upstairs in the sumptuous clubhouse (despite this being the only club along the front not prefixed with ‘The Royal..’) we had drinks and dinner before heading into town and finding further refreshment at the Weatherspoons pub.


Despite the pleasant evening, future weather was not looking good, with a beat in strong wind on the menu for our home trip.


Over breakfast at Weatherspoons we took the weather again and it looked too strong and with an unviable direction so I wasn’t happy. Howard very sensibly pointed out that it would be so much better in three days’ time, and that he and David would welcome a short break in Dublin. Sorted! As I wanted to get home for the weekend as planned, after moving the boat to the marina I hired a car, drove to Rosslare and caught the Isle of Inishmore back home for two days.

We reconvened at what had turned out to be the crew’s home from home – Weatherspoons- and planned an early start.

11-12 July Dun Loaghaire – Pembroke Dock

The wind howled worryingly all night and getting up early as planned we found it was really a deal too much and so decided to wait a couple of hours. After showers and breakfast the wind began to drop and so we nosed out of the harbour, running initially to Dalkey Sound,


then reaching southward past West Codling, India Bank, Arklow Bank north and out to sea direct to the South Bishop. We went well, now with full main until the tide came against for its northbound turn which made the passing of the long Arklow bank with its seven giant turbines very tedious. It happens and in turn tide picked up with us and also the wind increased to force 6 which was not forecast and I checked with the coast guard who reassured me that it wasn’t forecast to rise any further. After a long session on the helm Howard went to bed and I took over sailing into the dark and through the night, passing close to the South Bishop and then on to Skomer, where I had hoped it would be light, but no. Opting for Broad Sound was nearly a mistake as we came too close and got entrained into the edge of the Wild Goose Race, and only just managed to impose our required direction with a full speed engine..phew!

Dawn broke as we gratefully approached St Ann’s and we woke Howard up to celebrate. Coming into the Haven we went through the Thorn Island passage to avoid a ship in the East Channel – not a record for the time trial Challenge I think..four weeks and three days! Motoring home we began to tidy up and get the sails away etc before pulling in at Hobbs Point where we were met by Maggie despite the early hour!

On reflection it was amazing how excepting the journey home, the whole trip went more or less to the plan I had sketched on the sofa before setting off. Many thanks to all the crew who made it possible!

Leonore Summer Cruise 2014

Leonore Summer Cruise 2014

This year’s two week cruise was for various reasons timed for early-mid July and I had three groups of crew lined up. Andy Cunningham would do most of both weeks but had to leave sometime in the second week, my stepson Dave and his mate Luke, keen fishermen would do the first week, while my old caving pal Mick Dunleavy would make it this year for the second week. We originally planned to leave on 4th , however the weather did not look kind for this period, and not wanting to use up off-work days unnecessarily I advised Dave and Luke that they could put off their arrival from Bristol till 5th and myself and Andy would perhaps try and get the boat over to Ireland before that if they could get the ferry/bus to meet us. As the time came closer I also recruited Mikki to join for a one-way trip and on the 3rd we had a serious weather pow-wow round my computer at home with a view to going overnight that day. Outcome was that whilst ok to start, a nasty looking force 6-7 SSW was heading across our path and round up into St Georges channel, hitting our track in the early hours of 4th. As we couldn’t be sure to be out of the way by the time it hit, we settled to leave later on the 4th, however this ruled Mikki out, which was a shame, Wassail being shore-bound for this season. We confirmed with the boys to take the ferry and we would contact them later. All sorted but as the wind was set to veer round westwards, there Was no hope of making the spectacular westward progress we managed last year.

4-5 July Pembroke Dock to Dunmore East

So it was then that Andy and I began to load up provisions and gear at 3pm in time to catch the last of the tide down Haven, which coupled with a force 5 SSW wind gave us a quick if dismal and wet start. Of course turning St Ann’s at low tide meant anti-tide through Broad Sound and up to Skomer. Worse still, the ol’ Wild Goose race was on top form, giving us a very unpleasant ride till we were clear of Skomer. I grabbed some sleep while Andy did a great job on tiller but couldn’t avoid three big ones getting into the cockpit. The lowering skies with occasional rain brought dusk on early as we headed out as close to West as we could, although in fact 300 degrees was as good as we could manage and as the night wore on we were resigned to making landfall at Dungarvan at best. Unfortunately, in the rough seas I didn’t fancy struggling on the aft deck setting the windvane (mental note for jobs list..I must make this task easier) so I took over from Andy and hand-steered through the night. At around midnight dolphins surrounded the boat, their shapes continually giving me small frights as they plunged alongside. Now it was obvious we could only make Dunmore East, so I trained the GPS onto the Koningbeg rock (so as to miss it!). Gradually the rain stopped and the wind dropped so that by morning we were actually a bit short of wind and had to motor a bit by the Koningbeg, but then the wind picked up again and we had a very pleasant sail into Dunmore in sunshine! As soon as we got reception we messaged the other crew who had just arrived by Ferry into Rosslare and were getting the bus westwards.

Docking at Dunmore’s new pontoons inside the harbour is quite difficult as there’s not much of it and it’s popular, however we were lucky as the crew of Wanda (a Halmatic 30) were aboard and friendly, helping to tie us up alongside. We soon got to know Robbie (skipper), Jack (his son and cook) and Barry (friend) who were very like-minded and heading west as well (from Dublin). Back to business and we had to link up with the rest of the crew, which was not as straightforward as I had thought, the bus service down from Waterford being infrequent and not meshing well with the main route over to Cork. This allowed us a welcome sleep and by early afternoon Dave and Luke arrived got sorted out in the boat (a bit of a cram in Leonore especially since Luke is a big bloke! Time for a Guinness! Over to the Sailing Club sorted that out, though we were careful to pace ourselves. Dinner at the club barbeque followed and then we went pub crawling, ending up in the Butcher’s (Power’s Bar: see last year) where World Cup football was on…little did I realise this would come to dominate evening planning over the next two weeks.

6 July Dunmore East to Dungarvan

Up a bit late and after showers etc. in the harbour facilities, ready for sea at 10, luckily a good deal earlier than Wanda who said they might follow us to Dungarvan and we swapped estimates for this evening’s high tide time and set off, soon reefing down in a stiff westerly forcing us to tack the day away and wait outside Dungarvan doing some fishing till 2015 when I thought it was half tide. As we made our way in along the buoyed channel full of confidence..bump! oh well these channels move about..anchor and wait ten mins for the tide to come we go again..bump! and a third time.. After that it was ok and we got into the main town river and quickly tied up to the Sailing club’s brand new but deserted pontoon. On pontoon duty that evening was Austin who I have met before and who was most helpful sorting us out on the stand-up-in-the-mud end of the pontoon and with entry to the club for showers and the bar. Here we discovered that high tide was 2 hrs later than I had too casually agreed with Wanda’s estimate, so we had in fact tried coming in at 5 hrs wonder we bottomed on the way in! Silver lining was that we had a longer evening for pub crawling which was mostly done in our favourite ‘The Local’ run by famous bodhran virtuoso Donnacadh Gough. No sign of Wanda

7 July Dungarvan to Ballycotton

In the morning duty pontoon man Tommy Power kindly drove me to refuel with petrol whilst others showered and provisioned (especially white pudding) and we then had full Irish breakfast on board. First opportunity to negotiate the channel out was about 11 o’clock so we nosed gingerly out without problems and headed west past Helvick where Wanda was in the small harbour. At first the sailing was good, and more or less all on port tack in a southerly breeze, however this dropped in the late afternoon and we motored off and on after Capel Island. Here there was a bit of trouble starting the engine at one time and I ended up changing the carburettor to solve it. Lucky I carry a large box of spares!We had dinner on the way and eventually motored into Ballycotton as dusk descended. The boys wanted to stay on board and fish while Andy and myself dinghy’d into the harbour and up to the Bar for a few Guinnesses and an internet connection telling us of a better NW 4-6 tomorrow.

8 July Ballycotton to Kinsale

Over breakfast Dave and Luke regaled us with stories of the big bull-headed fish that got away etc..however we did have a couple of pollak for starters..very nice. Motoring out round Ballycotton Island we then set sail westward on a fine reach with the wind regularly up to force 6 but at least we weren’t tacking. Past Cork harbour and on to those impressive rocks the Sovereigns, big and little.


We stopped for a quick fish passing landside of the big one (these boys are keen!) At last we caught some mackerel!.. a rarity in Pembrokeshire these days it seems.


After fishing the wind had turned west so we tacked to the entrance to Kinsale and had a lovely reach north up the river past the massive Charles Fort and onto the KYC marina, where we pulled up alongside Wanda again, although her crew was out on the town. Kinsale YC is expensive but wonderfully appointed with great showers, a permanently open bar and good food care of a franchised caterer. Back at the boat we met Wanda’s crew and fixed to go to town, where we had to find a suitable venue for the football match, Brazil v Germany..well I’m no football fan but the atmosphere was terrific at Madison’s as Germany thrashed the hosts with the whole pub cheering them on. If you popped to the Fir (gents), another goal had been scored when you got back. On returning to the boat we were unable to cross Wanda without falling into the cabin to sample Robbie’s whiskey and Gin collection. It turned out that Barry is a sculptor in bronze and offered to help Andy out with a memorial he is organising for the US coastguard to commemorate two of theirs who washed up on Fresh East beach in the First World War and are buried in Lamphey. Nice one.

9 July Kinsale to Glandore

Off to a fairly good start in a NNW wind reaching over to the Old Head of Kinsale where Dave, trolling, foul-hooked a very large sand eel and immediately stuck it live onto a huge hook and almost as immediately caught a whopper which turned out to be a 6 lb pollack.


Unfortunately as we crossed Courtmacsherry bay the wind turned west and became quite strong, so more tacking and no hope of making Baltimore, and we re-jigged for Glandore but even that was hard work. The natural beauty of the anchorage at Glandore was adequate compensation, and even more so a good meal at the pub. Wanda sailed in and we joined up for the evening. However, apparently the pub wasn’t showing the football, so we had to order a taxi and shuttle over to Union Hall and Maloney’s bar for that, which was a bit of a waste of time as football so often is but I hadn’t been to Union Hall before so that was a new experience…much more authentic as a working fishing village plus you can fix to lie alongside if you ask nicely. Another taxi ride home and a very dodgy drunken dinghy ride back to the boat.

10 July Glandore to Schull

We got up and had loads of breaded Pollack for breakfast cooking some also for Wanda, however even by the time we were ready for sea they still hadn’t stirred so we left with the spare fish heading out to the two Islands in the river, Adam and Eve. With help from the plotter it wasn’t such a gamble to tack out through Adam Sound despite the catchphrase instruction ’Stay away from Adam and hug Eve’ which applies particularly to entry from the East. A force 3-4 NW meant we were hard on the wind again as we closed the Stags, where we stopped yet again for a bit of drift fishing, without much luck. Pressing on and being accompanied by dolphins

clip_image008we decided that Baltimore was a bit too close for a day’s sail and not particularly good for the required crew change, so we sailed on past and turned north into Roaring Water Bay through the narrow Gascanane Sound, again sailing it with the help of GPS, and the same for the sound between the Middle and East Calf Islands. Now it was only a short distance to carry on north-bound into Schull’s harbour and take a visitor buoy. Wanda came in later and deployed local knowledge to tie up on the fishing quay.

Once ashore we couldn’t find anyone who knew where to pay or when the shower facilities might be open, so settled on pub-crawling round town taking in a pub meal where the Wanda boys joined up with us. No football tonight.

11 July Schull to Castletownbere

Andy got up early and took Dave, Luke and all their gear off to town in the dinghy, to catch the bus to Cork and on to Waterford where Jack (as group youngster) had recommended they break their journey for a night’s clubbing etc. Returning with provisions Andy cooked breakfast and we set off in the drizzle to round the dreaded Mizen (see last year), Andy catching up on sleep in the blissful absence of Luke’s snoring. Of course wind today was SW and light, so tacking again we weren’t making sufficient progress to get the tide right at Mizen, and I put the motor on for a few miles to Mizen Head in varying degrees of poor visibility.


Passing Barley Cove I marked on the plotter the position of a bad race probably worse than Mizen itself which was passed without incident but the northbound coast passage frustratingly still required a close reach to keep away from rocks. Visibility remained poor as we passed Dumanus Bay and Sheep’s Head into Bantry Bay, and in fact all the way over to Piper’s Sound and up to Castletownbere, where on Dinish Island we did manage to clock one of Barry’s sculptures - a memorial to fishermen lost from the town.


clip_image014Anchoring in the designated area we made off to town in search of a shower, which was eventually found after blagging our way into a new gym. Unfortunately they hadn’t yet rigged up the hot water to the shower, but what the hell it had been a cold wet day anyway. Now at least we were clean. The convenience of moby texts had enabled us to let Mick, our new crew know where we would be as he made his way west from Cork airport, and we duly met him in McCarthy’s Bar (made famous by the eponymous book, with the front cover picture of a nun sat outside the bar). It was a great night to be here as the band arrived and set up right next to us and delivered as good a session of Irish ballad singing as I’ve heard in a long time. Many, many pints later we staggered down the road and out to the boat by dinghy.

12 July Castletownbere to Baltimore

We had planned to go into Kenmare River (actually a full sized ‘fiord’ like Bantry Bay but called a river by a past noble landlord to infer riparian rights over fishing etc…end of historical note.) and over to the northern side where Derrynane is a stunningly beautiful harbour, a fitting turn-around objective for the cruise. However, we actually had difficulty seeing our way into Piper’s Sound and on exiting into Bantry Bay found continued poor viz and a contrary west wind for our proposed 10 mile trip to Dursey Sound before we could enter Kenmare River. After so many days on the wind and with the prospect of poor visibility at Derrynane, plus the wind predicted to go SW tomorrow (beating to Mizen), we ditched the plan and luxuriated in a reach south with today’s west wind. Luxuriate is though, too grand a word for a rough drizzly day, but still it was a relief to be reaching and it didn’t take too long to get down to Mizen Head, tame today, and start running east. As it was Saturday we briefly considered stopping at Cape Clear Island for the famous gaelic music session but mooring here in the tiny harbour was problematic last time I came, so we pressed on for Baltimore. This meant passing through Gascanane Sound again and following the south shore of Sherkin Island into Baltimore harbour, where we rafted up at the ‘marina’- an ex Pembroke Dock concrete water bowser as per Thorn Island, except afloat!

Another pub crawl (well, there are only two pubs) with a meal at the Algiers Inn between two visits to Bushe’s bar (including a shower) was the order of the night, with Andy staying at the Algiers to watch the football. Making our way back to the marina we were flabbergasted to find a swish new public toilet/shower block which had been built since last year when there were only toilets which were particularly dire as a rule. Chatting whilst we walked in through the grand entrance we were startled by hammering on the other side of the Gents area which turned out to be a guy who had been locked in. OK we said, we’ll help and fiddled with door handles etc, but it became obvious that the door was indeed deadlocked, as was the Ladies, and our immediate thought was ‘what chance of contacting the council at this time of night? I left Mick comforting the captive while I went round to the pub and asked a barman, who asked another and then one of the customers, who had the phone number of the guy who locks up for the council. Something to be said for small town networking! Round at the toilets, the council guy turned up and unlocked the crew member of one of the English marina boats… he had called everyone on his phone but nobody could help, so he had camped down for the night on his towel. Council man apparently checks for people, looking under the toilet trap doors and if he can’t hear a shower running, locks up. Said the ex-captive ‘but I was probably just drying off after shutting off the shower’ however council man gave no indication he was going to change his routine, so watch out!

13 July Baltimore to Kinsale

We awoke to sunshine..first time in a few days, and a fine westerly force 4 to go with it! So enjoy breakfast and motor out of harbour, setting sail for a leisurely run eastwards. Easy progress meant we passed Castletownsend, Glandore and Courtmacsherry without any need to be stopping and in fact as we approached Old Head of Kinsale we were making nearly 8 knots overland.


Sizing up the race off the Head we kept out to sea but moved in once south of the head avoiding the white curly ones which weren’t too bad today. Once past the Head we turned north reaching up to and into the river to go up to Kinsale and just as last week, there alongside was Wanda, so we tied up to her. This time they were all on board so we planned our evening in two groups – all out football fans to watch the World Cup Final and drinkers to tour best pubs with a view to keeping up with play as and when. Most everyone favoured Germany, who duly won in what seemed to me like an uninteresting match.

14 July Kinsale to Ballycotton

Andy got us a good breakfast and then decided to jump ship at this point as he had a unique chance to meet an old friend back in England. A decent SW force 5 was spoiled by poor visibility, but we made our way out of the river and eastwards north of the Big Sovereign . As forecast, the rain and poor viz improved gradually all the way to blue sky, although the wind stayed up which made for

nice early stop on a visitor buoy at Ballycotton. Up went the dinghy and we went ashore for a few pints at the Harbour Inn and a good chat to a Dutch singlehander who was planning an onward trip to Milford, so we gave him advice and offered help if he needed. The locals told us of the recent arrival of the old Ballycotton Lifeboat Mary Stanford to a display location on a plinth to the west of town, so we went for a look. As shown in a painting in the pub, Mary Stanford took part in a famous


rescue in Feb 1936 for which a gold medal was awarded. Conditions were horrendous, hurricane force winds with rain and snow, with spray flying over the 200ft lighthouse on Ballycotton Island. See Wikipedia for more.


Previous trips have found food scarce, and a likely looking posh hotel has always been too posh for the likes of us, however, things have changed economically and Mick managed to persuade the hotel to let us have a meal there.. absolutely excellent it was, fish and steak alike, although the myth of Ballycotton potatoes being the best in Ireland is overstated.


15 July Ballycotton to Dungarvan

It seems to be a rule for our eastbound trips that there will be no wind at Ballycotton… and so it was today. Starting early we part-motored and part-drifted in a very light southerly. Still, it was nice and sunny and very gradually the wind picked up to a constantly sailable level as we passed Youghal and Mine Head. Arriving early at Dungarvan Bay we anchored up at Ballynacourty Point and slept awaiting the tide for a motor in up the buoyed channel to Dungarvan at 1745. At the new pontoon we were again met by Tommy Power and given keys etc. for a welcome shower at the Sailing Club. We had a great last evening in Ireland eating at The moorings and pubbing at The Local where we got a good forecast to get home tomorrow, not so good the following day. Having had a few too many and relying too much on previous experience of the old pontoon, and neglecting the current spring tide, we both went to sleep on the starboard side outside the pontoon, and were shocked to wake and find the boat leaning over at about 20 degrees outwards with the warps straining horribly. The mud at the new pontoon is not as soft and liquid as it used to be! As the tide came in we righted with no apparent damage. Phew!


16-17 July Dungarvan to Pembroke Dock

With a high tide around 11 we had a leisurely and large caver’s style breakfast at the Ormond Café before vittaling up and getting ready for sea. Tommy told us we had no need to use the buoyed channel with such a big tide, but we took the safe option and followed it anyway.

clip_image025Out at sea,with 70nm to The Smalls, a SW force 4 was ideal for heading across to Pembrokeshire via the Koningbeg Rock, and the Sea Feather windvane did a great job steering for us all the way to The Smalls whose TSS lanes we began to cross in the late evening. Here the sea became rough and the wind dropped, so to avoid the annoying rolling and sail slatting we had to motor on and off. However as we headed over to Skokholm in the dawn we managed to sail more stably which was a real blessing for our one-on-one-off watch system . At last we came in between St Ann’s and the mid channel tower, but probably a bit unsociably early to use the newly acquired moby signal. At around Milford we reported in to the coastie, downed sails and packed up ready to for a quick dock at Hobbs Point to unload and off to the mooring to round off a great trip in which Leonore sailed every single day, we didn’t get seriously wet and winds were not too strong or too light.


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Leonore summer cruise 2013

Following a string of 5 wet and windy mid-July cruises I was determined to try something different this year and following various discussions in the club and elsewhere, plumped for early June in the hope of better conditions. For crew I had Andy Cunningham keen again and my old pal from caving days, Mick Dunleavy, but at the last minute he went and pulled his back messing about on his allotment and was ruled out by his doctor.. I always told him he should buy his vegetables at Tescos like everyone else! Last minute attempts at pressganging others failed, so that just left the two of us. Still, the weather was looking very promising.

6-7 June Pembroke Dock – Kinsale

With a very decent weather forecast (NE 4-5) we had opted for a long overnight start, heading due west, sort of lunchtime-to-lunchtime plan. Thus we got all the provisioning etc sorted for a short stop on the Hobbs point pontoon at 12 o’clock and set off down haven on a run as the wind was actually easterly. Sorting the spinnaker pole I discovered a large brown speckled egg nestled in the toerail! Still unidentified.. it was cold so we jettisoned it.


We soon picked up with Mikki in Wassail who was out for a daysail and absolutely green with envy that we were heading westwards unbounded. Around the heads we found the sea breeze exactly cancelled the easterly and we wallowed unimpressively for an hour and a half or so before the easterly took over and we got the spinnaker up for a westward push, only getting it down as night


fell to avoid complications. As predicted the wind built as northeasterly and we set up the Sea Feather windvane to take over steering while we worked a two hour one on, one off watch system operated from the comfort of the sprayhood with regular look arounds, but there was nothing much. By about 2am the wind was a very decent force 5 and we were really licking along with a little bit of spray making its way into the cockpit. And so it continued into another sunny day and eventually we came to Cork in good time and decided to go on to Kinsale, which we made by 2pm,


allowing a long pleasant afternoon’s walking up to Charles Fort and around. A good evening up at the Spaniard for music before turning in for a proper night’s sleep.

8 June Kinsale – Baltimore

The sunny weather continues, though forecasts show something nasty our way in a day or two. After a bit of a struggle to get off the pontoon in the easterly wind we motored away and soon got the sails up. A lovely beam reach took us down the spectacular river entrance and on down to the Old Head of Kinsale where as usual we recalled the nearby sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.


Now we had a run, with failing wind so up went the spinnaker again to try and maintain speed. A lazy sunny afternoon was enjoyed passing the various heads with their attendant ports-of-call and then inside the impressively viscious-looking Stag rocks and on past the kedge rock (wreck of Kowloon Bridge just the other side) and into the Baltimore approaches. Now we’re really into the cruising playground, heralded by the daymark known as Lot’s wife or the Irish moon rocket (curvaceous shape is right but in Irish fashion it’s made of brick!)


On the blower to Diarmuid at the ‘marina’ secured us a berth and we motored into this wonderful expansive a small San Francisco. The marina is actually an ex-Pembroke Dock concrete water bowser, like the ramp at Thorn Island. Amazing connection for us..apparently there are a few of these in Ireland, towed over(with care, presumeably). A balmy night in town, visiting the two pubs (Bushe’s and The Algerian, where we met our French neighbours from the pontoon..keen drinkers they were, on the Guinness. Eventually to bed on a starry night.


9 June Baltimore – Bere Island (Lawrence Cove)

No wind to start with and another bright day, however, after breakfast as we got ready for sea, a wind sprang up and one or two clouds made an appearance. long motoring trip. Sailing out through the entrance, we were passed by a Minke whale heading in! good start. Wind fell a bit fickle and we had odd bursts of motoring and fishing as we drifted down the outside of Cape Clear Island and then across to Mizen head. Passing close in by the head was very calm and peaceful with a fair tide.. this is how I’ve always found it in the past.


Now we’re heading north and have spinnaker up but the wind is still fickle and requires a gybe every half hour or so. Arriving at the west end of Bere island we downed spinnaker for the restricted passage up to Castletownbere.


Here suddenly the wind piped up and we were tacking up the channel well heeled over. We were in plenty time, so decided to press on along the north channel to Lawrence cove, easy going in a good wind. Never having been here before spotting the entrance was a little difficult, but the plotter gave great confidence as usual and we were soon alongside an uncrowded pontoon. What a magic place! A beautiful wooded cove with a sort of Scottish island feel and with a very relaxed marina


atmosphere. As we set off to town it was noticeable how much more advanced all the flowers were compared to home. Only downside was no sign of the pub opening, but we were told to try again at 9:30, so back to the boat for a meal before retuning and sure enough, the pub opened although we were the only customers for an hour or so. The pub, like so much else here is Victorian military and a relic of the time up to the 1930’s when the Royal Navy had a big base here and the population was 2000 rather than the present 200. Beer was very acceptable and the company convivial. Pleasant stroll back, but weather definitely predicted to dive tomorrow.

10 June Day off Bere Island

Sure enough, rain and a force 6 greeted us in the morning and we were already resigned to a day off. On with the waterproofs and armed with a guide leaflet we set off to walk around the island. Lots of militaria including an interesting battery at the East end, complete with six-inch guns and some great pictures of fleets of warships in harbour back along. Walking back along the south coast we were very glad not to be out sailing as we got the full force of the wind. Here there is a an ancient Viking harbour, with a man-made sill at the entrance. Boat for dinner and we now knew the routine for the pub..still it rained and tonight a crew from a chartered boat provided a great yarning and drinking evening.

11 June Bere Island – Glengarriff

At last a dry start.. a bit of help from our French friends pulling our nose out against the wind and we were off out into the main channel and decided to go East down Bantry Bay.. I had a nagging foreboding as we ran down that we were storing up trouble in the form of a twenty mile beat out of the bay next day, however the pull of the beautiful anchorage in Glengarriff was intoxicating. We tied up to a buoy, and the surroundings were as I remembered.. a perfect quiet natural harbour.


Imagine my delight when a) I had ‘phone signal and b) XC was now predicting an easterly for tomorrow! We went into town for a look around and ended up in Casey’s Hotel where we had a good chat with an American couple. We had to explain that the word ‘fecking’ wasn’t really considered to be swearing by young Irish, as they were quite shocked to hear it all the time. Other than that they were having a great time. We returned to the boat for dinner and then back to town for music and drinking, but were disappointed with the music..American.. and it rained between pubs so not a great night, compounded by blowing a shear pin early on the trip back and rowing the rest in the rain. Good job I put an anchor light up as it was pitch black.

12 June Glengarriff – Crookhaven

Up reasonably early and a good cooked breakfast. The wind was indeed Easterly and we set off hoping it wouldn’t change too much towards West. Out past the masses of mussel’s good to put a place to the label ‘Bantry Bay Mussels’ you see in the supermarket. We goosewinged our way towards Bere Island and the wind began to back towards southerly, but we held off the wind ok. Having seen the west end fort on land the other day made its positioning more purposeful seen from the sea. As we passed on along Bere Island the wind swung towards Southwest and I remember thinking I ought to reef the main as it’s bound to be stronger out in the Atlantic, however I continued to doze as we continued out and turned south towards Mizen. As we approached Mizen Head the wind strengthened and we were badly heeled, but I figured we would soon be turning off the wind along the south coast…and it was getting pretty rough for reefing work. However I hadn’t bargained on some seriously adverse tides North and West and another step up in the wind. Thus we ended up having to tack away from the menacing rocks and not drawing away very convincingly. So on with the engine.. but shortly afterwards the prop came out of the water, engine revs shot up and it conked out. Try and start go! No chance to look at it, so we hove-to to put two reefs in the main and roll in some more genoa.. this was accomplished remarkably easily considering that Andy had a chance to read the wind meter whilst I was at the mast and it showed 42 kt… and stayed there a while! We were now pulling away, but I was still concerned without engine, so called the Coastie to let them know we were in a bit of trouble, but coping.. they were fine and it was good to have the contact and we declined the offer of any assistance for the present. Reassuringly my handheld managed to contact him as well. Gradually we had enough offing to make our way east along the coast and the tide slackened, as did the wind. There was still a fair sea running, so we declined to take the short cut into Crookhaven as there were white rollers in the gap we would need to go through. Taking the main route in we sailed gratefully in the calm of the haven, right up to Sullivans Bar where we picked up a mooring.


Once fast I felt compelled to investigate the engine and before delving thought I may as well try it… up it started just like that.. I still don’t know what went wrong. Anyway we had a good night down Sullivans recalling the drama. A local skipper confirmed that this does happen and the Mizen, along with Carnsore and Malin should be considered as dangerous tidal gates in heavy weather.. I consider myself updated, as my five previous encounters have been totally trouble-free.

13 June Crookhaven – Baltimore

After yesterday’s experience we fancied a quiet day and opted to go inshore, genoa-only over to Baltimore, once the wind had dropped a bit in line with prediction. This worked out fine with a SW enabling the tricky passage of Gascanane sound to be negotiated under sail on not too much of a close haul.. (engine at the ready this time!) On the run in to Baltimore the sun actually showed and all was very well with the cruise. Diarmuid once again sorted us a berth alongside the concrete barge. On the other side was an absolutely massive motor yacht 50 ft plus with several storeys, and a very friendly and down-to-earth skipper who helped us tie up.


Tonight and tomorrow were going to be bad, so he was going to earn brownie points taking the wives shopping tomorrow.. I have no idea where round here! Another pleasant beery evening in Baltimore after a curry on board.

14 June Baltimore – Castletownsend

The weather was indeed awful overnight and into morning, a westerly with sheets of rain, but predicted to finish at about 4 o’clock said XC. We stayed in bed late, hoping for the best. The boat was battering and fenders squeaking against the barge. Andy disappeared and had breakfast ashore, and I did likewise a couple of hours later then came back to read a heavy newspaper while the rain slashed on. At about 3 we both went up to have some lunch in a café and get a new Gaz bottle, but there was no sign of better weather. Diarmuid rang to say he was sending all boats off to moorings as the barge couldn’t take any more battering, so we went on down to make ready.I decided that rather than a mooring here, we could make it into the shelter of Sherkin Island where a pub offers a pontoon! Magically, as we left, the wind dropped and the sky blued. In a fit of optimism I said we could just nose outside the harbour and see what sea was still running and maybe we could start our journey eastwards, but I promised we would turn back in if we were likely to be shipping waves. On a very broad reach we rode fine, lifting unbelievably to each following swell and not shipping a drop. Going inside the Stags we turned into Castletownsend and reached up the river still in a strong breeze.


A suitable buoy presented itself and we moored up and quickly sorted dinner and dinghy inflation before heading to the village as it was getting late. After a couple at Mary Ann’s we ventured up to another pub I hadn’t been in before and we had a great night.. Andy found a fireman from New Orleans and his missus so he was well away!.. come see us etc… We were very deliberately as safe as we could be on the dinghy journey back.

15 June Castletownsend – Kinsale

Again the forecast was strong wind but improving later, so another late start, but no rain and a beautiful setting with the grand manor house and posh houses along the front of the village. Out at sea the horizon was distinctly curly.


After lunch we set off, again running, and had a fast uneventful trip to the Old Head of Kinsale , and the reaching up river towards Kinsale. We sailed most of the way, but when I went for the motor…nothing! Battery volts were very low, and while Andy rounded up under genoa I wound on the starter cord (petrol engines have to have some advantages!) and she started up straight away! Whew! Plan B on the hoof was to anchor in Summer Cove. We nosed in very gingerly to a Leonore length gap in the boats on the visitor pontoon and were helped in by others. Off to the club again to register for €30 a night fees and have dinner (very good). General chat was for a truly awful day tomorrow.

16 June Day off Kinsale

And so it was! It rained hard with a vengeance and you could tell it just wasn’t going to stop. Oh well, showers, breakfast, a reasonably large town.. not too bad.. but every trip out involved staning in the new location dripping all over the floor before dis-robeing. At the club we met our Frenchman from Baltimore and recounted our respective journeys.. we had chuckle when he was so gutted to hear that there WAS a pub at Bere Island, which he didn’t find out about! He had to head for Brest next day, which was due to clear up in the morning. We had a sodden evening sampling bars and finding some reasonable music.

17 June Kinsale – Ballycotton

The rain petered out somewhat reluctantly by mid morning and we headed out, the engine starting well after I gave the batteries a charge yesterday. Getting something back for €60 fee, I got their rib to tow our head out from the pontoon and into the channel where we were fairly close on the wind, and had to take to tacking to get past Cork, but then it set in a better direction and fell away so we settled on making for Ballycotton. A local fishing boat came past going for the gap between the Island and the harbour, which I bottled out of following as it’s known to be a ‘local knowledge only’ passage and I didn’t know his draught.

clip_image030Sailing round the Island we took one of the visitor buoys and got into our usual dinner/dinghy routine before going into the harbour for refreshments. Walking into town we hooked up with a couple who ran a hotel somewhere in central Ireland and they insisted on getting us a drink, so we reciprocated and so on through the various pubs in town.

18 June Ballycotton – Dunmore East

Practically no wind this morning, but as prediction, so I got up early at 6am and ‘sailed’ off the mooring and very slowly made our way east while Andy slept. .still, it was nice and sunny and occasionally a breath came up and we reached the dizzy speed of 3kt for a few spells. My failing batteries gave a good excuse for a bit of motoring from time to time… still Andy didn’t wake..Capel Island, Youghal, and eventually Dungarvan crawled by.. I had planned to stop here, but somehow on double-checking I had made a balls-up of the tide calculations and it just wasn’t going to work out..pity because Dungarvan is one of my favourites but accessible strictly 2hrs either side of HW. On we drifted eastwards and I ‘phoned my old pal Tom Kennedy of Dunmore (Waterford Harbour SC) and we were then set up for the evening. In classic style a very healthy wind blew up for the last couple of miles and we made our way into the much-awaited new pontoons Tom had told us about in the SE corner of the harbour. These are not actually that brilliant, being crowded with some permanent craft, and a bit stuck in the corner… but only a problem for us long-keeled, no-reverse luddites. Rafting onto a very helpfully crewed yacht made it easy in the end.


Tom came and greeted us and promised to get us some petrol..brilliant! We were whisked off to his home just up on the cliff and treated to a steak and potatoes dinner, followed by a trip to Powers Bar, known locally as ‘The Butchers’ (for that it used to be… nice to see pubs being created rather than the other way round we seem to get over here) This was local music night which was a great bonus for us and we had a fabulous night socialising with all Tom’s friends… with only a reluctant eye on the coming 5am start for home tomorrow.

19 June Dunmore East – Pembroke Dock

Five o’clock start, circling around inside the harbour we de-fendered and got the main up to avoid bouncing around outside. A beautiful sunrise was still lingering over Hook Head lighthouse as we made our way out over the races at Waterford harbour entrance and set course for the Koningbeg buoy.


Again luck was with us and we were usefully off the wind and a bit more so once we got to the buoy. Apart from a short spell of failing wind in the middle of the day we made good progress and eventually Grassholm came into view.. I find this always takes much longer than it should, but the explanation is that the white guano cap blends into the horizon so that its height doesn’t show. An easy expectant cruise down to St Ann’s then got us home into the Haven and we made it up to Hobbs to dump gear and get back to the mooring by 10pm with just enough light.. a big advantage of a June cruise.

RNLI race

Great BBQ – fantastic burgers thanks Paul.  Weather helped of course.  A few not great photos of the race if anyone is interested.

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Autonomy trip to Lundy

Lovely sail down to Lundy – broad reach the whole way with 15 to 20 knots of wind, a bit splashy but consistent speeds of 7-8 knots meant we arrived a bit early really so it was a little lumpy round the North tip of the island.  It was a tad chilly despite the bright sky. Dolphins for company a lot of the way.


We anchored in the lee of the island just off the jetty,  had a bite of lunch and were just setting off in the dinghy when Carpe Diem followed us round the corner.  We went for a brisk walk around the island to build up an appetite for dinner at the Marisco tavern.

Sailed back the next morning – pushed the tide a bit – but it wasn’t too bad.  wind ranged from 8-12 knots from SW so just enough for a reasonable sail.  Got back to Hobbs point, cleared up the boat and managed to get last orders at the club.



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Maelstroms trip home

Thursday 2nd May

Light winds and more sun forecast for today so the gate opened at around 10am and promptly saw a mass exodus of boats out of the harbour. Leonore was towing a ferrow cement gaffer round to face the gate and by the time they let the line go poor old Alan had missed the gate but the gaffer motored straight out. Having spun himself back round Alan followed on. Peter George and Barry Kingston have all headed off to so even less boats in the harbour. Have run some reefing lines in the main ready for tonight's departure. Plan to leave on tonight's gate and sail overnight back home. Hopefully make the club for a pint at 5pm depending on tiredness. Rob doing breakfast as I scribble this whilst Doug and Chris chat to our new neighbours for the day Bob and Ruth Keys. They plan to leave on Saturday so at some point will have to swap places with us as we are inside boat. Doug, Chris and I went on Jaws 11 for a high speed trip round the bay. The driver stopped off at the place the old MFV Courageous was lost on Monday morning. Work boat gone up there to try and recover the engines. Those that have been to Padstow for May Day will know Courageous as the boat in the corner by the Shipwright. Been coming here for 25 years apparently, darn shame she came to such an end. All persons were ok tho. Looks like power nap time again judging by my return from a stroll and Rob being the only awake soul. Popped up the Shipwright to check the tables were back and that Rack of Ribs was still on the menu for our last supper before tonight's departure. There was a group of local old boys having a sing song in the beer garden which was very entertaining. Supper done and a little snooze before departing gate at 2215hrs. Very light winds from the south west so motor sailing to make some headway. Cleared Newlands island at 2300hrs and set George the task of keeping us on course home. Dolphins with us almost immediately and were a source of company most of the night. Very clear sky although the moon was hiding till mine and Robs watch at 0200hrs. We unfurled the headsail and turn engine off at half 4 cos the wind was up to 12knts by then. Been sailing ever since and now directly opposite Milford at 1031hrs. Been a cracking sail with slight seas and the forecast SW 14-17knt wind. Safely on Hobbs point pontoon and just the sorting personal stuff out to do.

Thanks to James for uploading these blogs and hope anyone who has read it has enjoyed. This is me signing off till next time. Take care all and enjoy your sailing.


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