Summer drawing to a close - but busier than ever here at SailCork!

 In early July SailCork ran some very special courses aboard the Oyster 82 "Zig Zag". Luxury sailing at it's best! Tim Davison was the mate and yours truly was skipper. We had several sails in and about Cork Harbour, a visit to Kinsale and a few visits to Cork City. It was amazing to sail such a large yacht in confined waters and she was a mighty sight sailing past Cobh. I will be doing a special blog on sailing "Zig Zag" in the near future. Cork Week took place in the second week in July and I was sailing aboard the Humphries 42 "Oystercatcher XXVI " as navigator and crewmember. We had a fantastic week - afloat and ashore! On the racing front we had one victory and finished in the top end of our fleet. The race management was fantastic and conditions were really great for racing - especially on the Thursday when we had 20kn + and had a harbour race - it was an amazing feeling doing nearly 19 knots sailing past Spike Island! We had some great meals ashore with fantastic food - I must say the club dining room in the RCYC was exceptional! The crew of Oystercatcher also enjoyed some golf in Ireland and went back to their base in the UK very happy with their Irish experience!

With Cork Week over I had the task of skippering "Zig Zag" to Ipswich on the east coast of England - a journey of over 500 miles. We had a fantastic trip with stops in the Isles of Scilly, Fowey in Cornwall, Dartmouth in Devon, Cowes on the Isle of Wight and then on to Ipswich on the east coast. A really great journey on an amazing yacht ! (special blog on Zig Zag coming up).

Kites and WiresHaving returned from Ipswich I had one day in Cobh at the SailCork base to deliver a VHF radio course - then I was off the the west - for 3 weeks! During the last week in July the SailCork team descended on Baltimore to deliver a number of Powerboat Courses and a Dinghy Sailing "Kites and Wires" instructor course. We had excellent conditions with sun and wind in a town that was buzzing! It was great to work with the instructors from Baltimore Sailing Club who worked very hard to achieve the standard required! Twelve hour days and very fast sailing - they were all very tired at the end of the course.

On the Friday of the Bank Holiday Weekend "Holy Grounder" arrived with Yachtmaster Instructor Kuba who handed the boat over to me for two weeks - the following is a day to day log of my 17 days living aboard "Grounder"

Friday 30 July: Mate for the week Ian Scandrett and crew arrive for "Calves Week" - night ashore in Baltimore

Bushes BaltimoreSat 31 Jul: Plenty of breeze from SW so Grounder was reefed on leaving Baltimore. We had a cracking sail against the wind to Cape Clear's North Harbour but found it was very full so we nipped over to the Middle Calf Island where we anchored for lunch. Later we sailed to Long Island Sound where we practiced tacking before the rund back down to Schull. Schull was a major party town and the "Grounder" crew had a good run ashore at Newmans - we were looked after very well by John and Bridie. 

Sun 1 Aug: This is normally the day of the race from Schull to Baltimore but the breeze was zero! We didnt hang about as we knew racing would be called off and did some light wind sailing and caught some mackerel, cod and pollock - which Ian cooked up for dinner which we had in Baltimore before shoreleave at the Baltimore institution - Bushes.

Mon 2 Aug: Some new crewmembers joined ship in the morning and we got out to do some practice for the Regatta race. Our course was from Baltimore west around Sherkin and northwest to the Amelia buoy off Schull and then back to Baltimore for Regatta evening ashore. 

Tue 3 Aug: Motor sailed to Schull where we dropped Jo English on board Frank Murphys "Dreamcatcher" for racing. We then sailed to a beautiful cove on the south side of Castle Island where we had lunch in idyllic conditions. We jumped into action after lunch having heard a Mayday from a yacht aground on the southern tip of Middle Calf - she was really hard aground and was lucky enough to be towed off by the expert crew of the Baltimore Inshore Lifeboat. Having returned to Schull to collect Jo we had a really great sail back to Sherkin where we had a great meal aboard (thanks Jo) and a mighty "Holy Grounder" sing song in the Jolly Roger with our own balladeer Colm O' Connell. 

North Harbour Cape Clear Regatta DayWed 4 Aug We had a great sail around the islands to the south side of Cape Clear to South Harbour - it being the Regatta Day in Cape! We enjoyed the splendid anchorage before going ashore where there a full party in swing! We boarded "Holy Grounder" and sailed around to North Harbour where we berthed for the night.

Thur 5 Aug Early start at 07:00 - the best sail of the week in fresh conditions to Baltimore to drop off some crewmembers. We then negotiated the "Sound" under sail and went to Hare Island Pier where we tide up for lunch. We had a great sail in the afternoon before returning to Baltimore for the crews last night aboard. 

Fri 6 Aug .......late start....tired crew!! We sailed to Roaringwater Bay and Horse Island for lunch. The crew signed off having refuelled and got "Holy Grounder" ship shape. The new crew joined bang on time and following the quickest briefing of all time we departed for Crookhaven as we were on a one way weekend to Dingle. We were motorsailing in fresh westerly conditions and ended up towing in another yacht which was propped off Goat Island. The tow slowed us down so we didnt get ashore to celebrate Crookhaven Regatta.

Sat 7 Aug Early start at 07:30 as we had a long beat to get to Derrynayne Harbour into a fresh NW breeze. We got around the Mizen without too much bother and had a long leg on port tack to reach the Beara peninsula. We stopped for lunch in the amazing Poleen Harbour just west of the entrance to Castletownbere. We had a cracking sail to the Dursey Sound where we negotiated a foul tide to continue on to cross the Kenmare River and arrive in Co. Kerry. We anchored in Derrynayne and walked the 2 miles to Caherdaniel where we joined in the most amazing sing song in Freddies. 

Skellig MichaelSun 8 Aug Another  07:30 start and a lot of motoring in the morning as there was no wind. We had a special treat in store as we headed seawards to the Skelligs to see the most amazing Gannet colony on the Little Skellig where we saw  up to 50,000 birds living in harmony! Then on to see the amazing Skellig Michael with it's famous monastic settlements and lighthouses. We headed towards Dingle and were treated to a filling following breeze and had a great sail to arrive at Dingle Marina where the crew paid off and Jo and our kids Aisling and Eamonn joined for the week

Ventry Pier - cavity blockMon 9 We were to spend the week sailing in company with the Murphy Family aboard their boat Molia while we sailed Holy Grounder. Monday started off with relaxed shoreleave before an afternoon departure to nearby Ventry. We tide up at the local pier and climbed the small lane for a couple of beers ashore. Unfortunately as we left Holy Grounder got propped with a length of discarded polyprop tied on to a cavity block (luckily we didnt drive the block thro the hull! ) The tide was falling fast and by the time we had a tow organised with our traveling companions it was too late! We went hard aground and didnt refloat until nearly 02:00.

Kerry CaveTue 10 Early departure for sail out to Slea Head and on to the Blaskets - what dramatic scenery!  We anchored in warming sunshine at Beginish for a late breakfast. Too much swell to go ashore so we headed to Innisvicculane which was truly spectacular! We had a great sail back to Dingle where we overnighted.

Wed 11 The northerly wind pattern was still in charge so we headed east from Dingle in the shelter of the land and found an amazing little beach under the cliffs complete with its own large cave - the kids had a great time swimming and playing in the sand. We then sailed on a broad reach across Dingle Bay to Valentia -  a great sail and anchored under Beginish off Knightstown for the night.

Thur 12 A fantastic morning exploring Beginish and time on the beach and lunch before heading up the river to Caherciveen. The girls got some shopping including fantastic fresh fish - we had an amazing meal aboard Holy Grounder.

Fri 13 A quick sail down the river with 2 kn of tide with us. We took a look outside by Doulus and said we would give the crossing a go! So off we went under motor to Dingle and got there in less than 2 hours.

BlasketsSat 14 The northerly wind had eased so and early departure so we could get ashore at the Great Blasket. It is a beautiful trip and the anchorage there is stunning. The beach is amazing and the kids got a full day there as we took the ground for a while! We got a chance to go walking on the island and it is like nowhere else- truly amazing! Back to Dingle for a meeting with the sailing school to organise some special advanced courses there and  a special night out for the older members of the crew - pints in Dick Macs a fab meal in Denis O' Connors Half Door and nightcaps in Foxy Johns! A fitting last night.

Sun 15 Boat cleaning day!! The kids were at the beach in Ventry and it was a truly amazing day so we took some time out form cleaning duties to visit them and go for a dip in Ventry. We had the car all packed and ready to go and I completed my handover to Kuba and the new crew who were sailing the boat back to Cork. We got back to Cobh in plenty of time to see the fireworks at Cobh Regatta - a great end to our holiday - I was really glad to get back into a big bed too!!

Next Cruise aboard Holy Grounder is from Cork to Baltimore and back visiting lots of interesting places along the way and hopefully taking in Cape Clear and the Fastnet Rock. (September 5-10) 

Voyage to Kerry

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