Irish Damp 51 29N 09 17W
Ireland can be the most beautiful country in the world. Yesterday I remarked to Lorraine that it was more beautiful than some of the lovely islands of the Caribbean. Yesterday the sun shone, it was almost hot ......today it has rained and blown hard.
Our first siting of the Fastnet rock should have warned us that the weather was likely to be changeable. Although not raining and there was insufficient wind to sail it was nevertheless grey.
The harbour at Baltimore is perfect with shelter from all directions and a small lively village close at hand. There are islands all around, the view below is of Sherkin Island with its attractive old ruins and friendly pub.
We first came here in 1979 when Lorraine and I hired an Albacore dinghy then sailed and camped out amongst the islands. It rained for a good part of the week then and it seems things haven't changed. Climate change is not that fast. We hired the dinghy from Dermot Kennedy who we discovered still runs a sailing school in Baltimore. We went to find him and he appeared delighted to see us again after 36 years! Although in his 70s he runs an excellent small sailing school with an emphasis on dinghy cruising around the islands rather than the usual sailing around buoys.
Yesterday the sun shone and we headed out into the bay to revisit some of the places we had been to all those years ago. Our first stop was at Carthy's Island, a very small and idyllic anchorage set amongst some tiny rocky islands covered in gulls and terns with their fledglings just beginning to stretch their wings.
Jittery guillemots peered at us from the water but duck-dived and disappeared if we looked back. At the other end of the anchorage was a colony of seals that took some interest in these strange visitors.
We went out in the dinghy to see them and they launched into the water keeping their distance but getting bolder and nearer as we sat quietly. They were curious and followed us back to the boat, either that or they were seeing us off.
We have been back once since with Hattie and Peter and on that occasion hired a dinghy and visited the uninhabited Castle Island. Here it is ...still in the sun. Last time we had fun jumping off the quay into the water but not this time, the water is really cold.
Our final island of the day was Long Island where we were chased by a donkey being pursued by its owner many years ago. The island still has quite a few houses, some of which are holiday homes now but some lived in all year round. We were greeted by a pleasant Irish couple and their friend who had been born and raised on the island, he had such a strong accent we couldn't understand a word. We have rarely stumbled on such friendly locals ...another couple offered us a glass of wine as we walked by!
This time we saw no donkeys but we did scare the local bullocks.
After Long Island we spent a rainy day in Schull and then set sail for a beautiful anchorage at Barloge Creek. This is a perfect anchorage with near total shelter and surrounded by green hillsides at the entrance to Loch Hyne. Loch Hyne is an almost totally enclosed lagoon joined by a narrow entrance with a tidal rapid that flushes in and out of the Loch each day. Consequently it has some unusual ecology which has been well studied over the years.
Needless to say we do not have photos of the rainy days which have been interspersed with the fine ones!
Weather forecasters here say it is cooler than usual for this time of year so we live in hope.
........but at least it makes the flowers grow!