The crew of Barada in Baltimore, SW Ireland .... + pics
The first 24hrs after leaving Horta we covered 120nmls. The following day brought calm seas and gentle winds with spotted dolphins swimming and playing around us – the following 5 days were similar and we only made about 100nmls during this time, but sightings of more than 3 groups of Sperm Whales in these calm and sometimes mirror-like conditions were fantastic. We witnessed Sperm Whales shallow-diving, which produced semi-tail-fluking on several occasions.
The best experience was two females, one either side of a tiny new-born, helping him to surface to breathe, with another Sperm Whale spy-hopping (vertical with his head out of the water watching us) about 10 yards from the group of three – maybe watching us to make sure we were not a threat to them or the baby Moby.
An increasingly smoky exhaust, despite repeated repairs by the Skipper, meant that we avoided using the engine except for topping up the batteries, so progress was slow in the calm conditions.
What happened to the south-westerlies, they only blew for us for a day or two?
By the 9th day – 23rd August, NNE winds on the nose make life difficult for us – this lasted for 10 days. At one point we were surrounded by gales, to the north around the UK, to the east off Portugal, behind us in West Altair even Hurricane Danielle was hard on our heels – the ENE wind pushed us further west and we found it hard to hold our ground in the Yachtsmans Gale of F6/F7.
We sailed out of the dark late on Thurs 2nd Sept when the wind changed to SE and we were able to make our way at last towards Baltimore, two very tired sailors and not a few pounds lighter. We were bombing along on Friday and thought we would be into Baltimore by Saturday 4th having had F6 overnight with lightening and rain, but Saturday morning with 50nm to run the winds turned into Westerly light airs… and we were becalmed all day aaagh!
At 2200 a breeze stirrred and we were on our way again, manoeuvring around fishing vessels and a small cruise ship – at sunrise we were passing the Fastnet Lighthouse and then Cape Clear Island to the sound marked by a lighthouse on Sherkin Is and a tall white conical Beacon on the mainland, which is the entrance to Baltimore Harbour. We were moored to the water-barge pontoon by 1015, very happy to make landfall and in such beautiful surroundings….