SailCork Isles of Scillies Cruise - to Dingle!

Having lived in the Middle East for over 25 years, and having left Ireland in the early '80's, my husband and I wanted to rediscover our coast and our interest in sailing. We did some sailing in the non tidal Red Sea port of Jeddah in the early years there and my husband's dream to return to sailing became a reality when he purchased Red Magic in Wales last year and sailed it back to Crosshaven with the help of a friend.


Red Magic cruising the Kerry Coast

It's a semi long keel Victoria 34, a lovely safe boat to sail. We found the strong currents in Crosshaven quite challenging and contacted Eddie English who confirmed this to us and helped us to acquire a more suitable berth for the boat. I found Eddie's encouragement gave me the confidence to become more involved in the sailing of Red Magic and when my husband suggested going as part of the flotilla to the Scilly Isles I agreed to do my Day skipper theory and go along as part of the crew. A work colleague of my husband who has done his coastal skipper and his Icelandic wife said that they would love to come along as they sail mainly in warm Mediterranean non tidal waters. It would be their first visit to Ireland.


Sean and I had done lots of chart preparation in advance of the planned voyage while in Jeddah and felt quite confident going along as part of Eddie's flotilla. However, Mother Nature changed all of our plans as we found out shortly in advance of the proposed cruise that the forecasted wind directions would have made our voyage most uncomfortable and unpleasant on both the outward and return passages, so Eddie at short notice, proposed doing a cruise to Dingle.

On Saturday afternoon, we met for a boat safety check and a passage briefing at Sail Cork East Ferry office and the plan was for our boat to leave Crosshaven at 0500 hours Sunday in company with another boat, the two faster boats would leave later in the morning. We would keep in touch by mobile and VHF radio and the plan was that after a day and night sail along the south coast, we would meet up in Dingle on Monday morning for breakfast.

Map Cork to Dingle

On Sunday at 0520 hours we left Crosshaven and made our way along the West Cork Coast in fair weather, passing close to the Old Head of Kinsale, Galley Head and Toe Head, then steering a course to the south of Clear Island. As we approached Roaring Water Bay we could not resist a detour to get closer to the Fastnet for some photos and then at 1700 hours we set a heading for the Mizen and commenced a watch rota for the evening and night hours.



Sailing around Old Head of KinsaleThe wind strength increased and we had a good sail across the outer reaches of Dunmanus Bay and Bantry Bay then steering a course to the west of Dursey Island. During a sunny evening we sailed on a north westerly heading crossing Kenmare Bay and a sunset came we could just see the lonely shapes of the Skelligs off our port bow. We passed close to Bolus Head seeing the lights of Waterville to starboard. The wind continued to pick up so by the time we passed Bray Head on Valentia Island we were in a constant 27 knots of wind gusting to 35 knots. The conditions gave us good experience on how the boat should be trimmed for these conditions and lessons were learned. By daylight we were making our way along the north coast of Dingle Bay. The winds eased with the sunrise and we were greeted by a pod of dolphins at the entrance to Dingle Harbour. We tied up at the Dingle pontoon at 0600 hours to a good breakfast and a well earned rest. The weather stayed good and we enjoyed the pleasures of Dingle including drinks in a good local pub.




Bantry BayOn Tuesday at 1000 hours we left Dingle and sailed south east across the bay for 10 miles to the beautiful Kells Bay where all four boats anchored for lunch. Then we motor sailed westwards hugging a dramatic coast, for about 15 miles which can only be seen from sea ward, and that evening tied up at the pier in Kingstown, Valentia Island. We took the ferry to the mainland and had great food and beverage at O’Neills and then caught the last ferry back to Valentia Island for more beverages in Knightstown.

Dursey SoundOn Wednes at 0600 hours, with slightly misty heads after the night before, we left Valentia on a 65 mile passage to Baltimore Harbour. The Skelligs looked dramatic in the morning light further out to sea and we again enjoyed a beautiful coast line along the west Iveragh Penninsula. Then steering a course south east we waited in anticipation our entry into the Dursey Sound, passing beneath the cable car and entering Bantry Bay on the east side of Dursey island.



Mizen HeadWe then had an 18 mile passage to round the Mizen which we came within a few hundred metres of, viewing the high footbridge on the headland. We had a shorter passage across Roaringwater Bay and the flotilla had agreed that we would approach Baltimore Harbour from the west and north via the Sound. It made for interesting pilotage and beautiful landscape passing by Hare Island and making it into the Sound, then south along the Sherkin Island where we tied up on a floating pontoon by the ruins of an old castle. Fish and chips and were devoured at the hotel on the island, washed down with appropriate beverages and then to our berths on board at the end of a long and very satisfying day.

Sherkin IslandThursday morning started as a grey day and the flotilla took the short passage over to Baltimore pier for provisions. We then set sail for a lunchtime rendez vous in Dirk Bay but first a bit of extra excitement, led by Eddie’s Holy Grounder we made our way through the Kedges, a series of ominous outlying rocks. We motored through the very narrow passage between the mainland and the first outcrop but Holy Grounder leading us, sailed through the gap in fine style. Dirk Bay was a lovely spot to drop anchor for lunch and then in the afternoon, with the weather improving we made way around the Old Head of Kinsale and into Kinsale Harbour, avoiding the boats that were racing there. We tied up at Kinsale Yacht club marina at 2025 hours and made our way for drinks in the Tap Inn and a meal with fellow flotilla members in the Jim Edwards, a great social night.

Customs at Sea off CorkFriday morning was a sunny, lazy morning with a look around the streets of Kinsale. At 1130 hours we left the marina heading for Cork taking a passage inside Bulman Rock and the Sovereign Rocks. During the return passage we noticed a customs vessel on our starboard quarter and then received a radio message from Irish Customs for us to standby. A RIB with 3 Customs officials arrived alongside asking questions about the boat and us. They were quickly satisified of our good intentions and the boat’s provenance and upon our request then courteously posed for photos for us, it all being a nice entry in the boat log immediately afterwards.

Fox's CoverOn the way into Cork Harbour Eddie arranged for us to all meet at a small pier at Fox's Cover as it was high tide and accessible. We got there at 1515 hours and
exchanged emails in order to swap photos taken along the voyage. We said our good byes there and 2 boats headed east to East Ferry and 2 boats headed west to Crosshaven, after 6 days on the water, 300 nautical miles and stops at 7 ports/anchorages.

Eddie promised that he would update us of future planned flotilla voyages on his website and hopefully if the wind is in our favour we might just make to the Scilly Isles next time.

Throughout the voyage, the flotilla boats we were in contact with each other, texts giving lat long , weather conditions and any sightings of fishing pots etc. were exchanged.

A great adventure, thanks to all the other boat crews but in particular to Eddie for the safe and exciting unscheduled cruise around our Cork and Kerry coast. It's definitely given me the confidence and desire to be part of future trips.

Ita and Sean
Red Magic

PS -  Isles of Scilly 2012 now Sept 2012! 

Places available aboard "Holy Grounder" and as part of SailCork Cruise in company. 

SailCork West Cork Cruise July 2012

SailCork Baltimore to Dingle August 2012

SailCork Isles of Scilly Cruise September 2012

bull rock


Holy Grounder

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