Baltimore to Schull via the Fastnet Rock
We have had a very gentle couple of days. On Saturday, we awoke to a flat calm. What a contrast to the day before. We breakfasted in the cockpit in the early morning sun, watching an otter diving and blowing bubbles around the boat.
John tasked Chris and Fernande with getting us to our next port of call, Crookhaven. The Fastnet Rock is just offshore, so the planned route took as right round the rock. Even in a flat calm, there is a swell in the Atlantic, which crashes against the rock. It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like living there as a lighthouse keeper with the winter storms crashing in.
Crookhaven is in a very safe inlet, running North East, South West, completely protected from the prevailing westerly winds. We were able to pick up a visitors mooring and take a run ashore. A notice by the quay heading advised that a 10 euro mooring fee should be paid at the pub. The fee was accepted, and entered into a special book for the ‘owner’ who was ‘supposed to maintain them’. The clear implication was that had we not offered to pay, we would not have been chased.
The village itself comprises only a few dwellings, on the tourist run out to the Mizzen Head Peninsula, so blessed with the usual array of bars, restaurants and gift shops. Dinner ashore, our first, proved memorable for its very small lobster full of lurid green gloop. I was assured by the owner of the restaurant that this was the ‘best bit’, a ‘delicacy’ and that I was lucky to have it, but I can assure you that the colour is seriously off-putting and I’m pretty certain that the lobster was undersized. Restorative cointreau on the rocks required after that experience.
The next day took us back to Schull, where Chris and Fernande were able to catch a bus back to Cork Airport the next day. This is also a sheltered anchorage in a wide open bay, the only danger being winds from the south. We still had no wind at all, so this posed no problem and we were able to pick up one of the visitors moorings.
The small farmers market yielded good food for lunch, which we ate anchored off Long Island, just opposite the entrance to the bay. This was followed by a walk out to the lighthouse on the easterly point of the island. This turned out to be rather more adventurous than expected. About 100 people live on the island, and there is a road that runs east to west but this gave out well before the lighthouse was reached, and we were left forging a path through undergrowth, clearly untouched by human foot for years. We found ourselves plunging knee high through vegetation, never sure when our feet would reach firm ground or alternatively ankle deep pools of water. Added to this, a yelp from Fernande alerted us to the presence of ticks that she had found all over her light green trousers. We all got seriously worried about Limes Disease, a potential killer, and made a thorough inspection for ticks when we got back to the boat. I can happily report the all clear. The plus side was that John saw a distinctively speckled yellow, orange and brown butterfly that he hadn’t seen for years, a Marsh Fritillary.
After eating an excellent dish of Cod a la Portuguaise made from fresh caught cod bought at the farmers market, we went in search of music. Disappointingly this yielded only renditions of Johnny Cash and Elvis so we headed back to the boat for a night cap. The following morning we bid Chris and Fernande farewell as they caught the early morning bus back to Cork