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Show MapIreland - August 2003

We arrived in Lough Swilly on Ireland's North Coast on 4th August, after a long day's sail from Islay. Our first international landfall! Next day we moved down to the head of the loch passing through spectacular thunderstorms en route. Lightning flashing all around makes you feel a bit nervous when you are sitting at the foot of a 40 foot aluminium pole (the mast). Anyway, we were lucky this time, but as a precaution we disconnected our VHF antenna and put the camera and handheld GPS in the pressure cooker (this protects electronics, acting as a Faraday cage in the event of a strike).

We spent a few days just getting used to Ireland (and the Guinness) again. Sue worked near Dublin for 18 months about twenty years ago when Tom was chasing her and we both have a soft spot for the country and her people. The Irish just seem to have a great talent for enjoying life.

But time to move on, so we headed west along the north coast to the island of Tory. As we entered the harbour, we could see an abandoned liferaft on the shore, from a tall ship wrecked on the rocks here in June.

There was music in the hotel that night - it started at midnight! (opening times in Irish pubs are a bit unpredictable). It was a good night with some Irish set dancing.

There is an unusual T-shaped cross on Tory from the time of St Columba, complete with grooves left by one of Cromwell's soldiers who liked to cut down stone crosses with his sword.

 

Tory Island.

 

Aranmore.

After Tory Island, we headed south to the island of Aranmore, again in beautiful sunshine - what a great summer we're having!

 

 

Our next stop was one we had been looking forward to for over a year... last May while passing through the Caledonian canal, we had met three great lads and great musicians called Paddy, Thomas and Derek. After a memorable session onboard, they even helped us with our ropes as we locked up after only 3 hours sleep! As we left they made us promise to pop into Teelin in Donegal on our way south.

Paddy met us as we entered Teelin harbour in his usual quiet reserved fashion (yelling and waving). For the next three days we enjoyed great company, music, Guinness and sightseeing.

With Derek, Thomas, Paddy and Christina in The Cuil a Duin.

 

 

The Giants Table and Chair, from Sleive League.

Thomas, Paddy and Derek playing in Jon Joe's, Kilcar.

 

Teelin Harbour viewed from near Slieve League.

 

We left Teelin, amazed at the friendliness and generosity of the people and wondering if we would ever come across any better place to visit.  

Leaving Teelin.

We spent the next few days sheltering in Broadhaven bay, waiting for the strong southerly winds to die down. Eventually the wind came round to the east and we headed south once more. After stopping one night at the island of Inishbofin (beautifully sheltered harbour with Cromwellian ruins, oh and a pub or two), we sailed through the night to get to Dingle in the south west of Ireland. Although quite a rough passage, we made good speed beam-reaching at 6 knots on a double-reefed main and a scrap of jib. During the night, Mars shone brightly up ahead, it being closer to earth than it has been for 60,000 years. We also got visits from dolphins, only detectable by the occasional phosphorescent streak in the black sea and their whistles and clicks coming through the hull.

Dingle was a great place to rest up and prepare for the crossing to La Coruna in northern Spain (52 pubs!). However, with the September gales coming, it was time to move on in order to avoid a rough passage across the Bay of Biscay, so on the last day in August, we slipped our mooring lines and headed south again.

In spite of its natural beauty, history and culture, the best things about Ireland are undoubtedly its people and the 'craic' - a great combination of drink, music and general good nature.

 

 

 

Nechtan in Dingle Marina.

 

 

 



Contact us:  tomandsue@mcnaughtan.net