Thursday, September 29, 2016

Back to Bofin

It's a while since we stopped in Inishbofin.  We'd like to have stayed a while but we decided we'd push to get home before the forecast gale on Saturday. It was now more of a delivery than a cruise. So despite the northerly wind, we made for Inishbofin only 1which would make the last day quite reasonable. The wind was supposed to be 10-15 knots, no more, but instead it was 15-20kts and we bashed our way to Bofin under power. It was lovely to enter a nice quiet settled harbour.

We found an anchoring spot that was perfect and avoided the multitudinous mooring balls, none of which was a visitor mooring. We had 25 feet of water out from the ferry channel, perfect at low water. New favourite anchoring spot in this harbour.

We went ashore for dinner at Day's and had crab sandwiches on brown bread and a nice ale made especially for them by a microbrewery. Lots of locals, few tourists jammed the pub that day.  The season is coming to a close. As usual here, we had a glorious sunset.  Back to the boat and on to Clew Bay in the morning.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Clifden, in the heart of Connemara

The pontoon at CBC

We left early in beautiful sunshine again, raised our sails In Killeaney Bay, and jibed along the Galway Bay coast in about 15-18 knots SE, gusting higher. When we jibed again to head northward to clear Slyne Head, the wind settled down and moderated to a nice steady 15 knots. We flew up the coast, Aleria in her element on a beam reach. We were doing better than 8 knots. Glorious. Sunny. Hot. And it wasn't even the Costa del Cork any more.

As we approached Clifden, the clouds set in and wind picked up, naturally. So we doused the main, then the yankee, and sailed in under jib and jigger doing about 6 knots. We set up on the navigation line between the Point and the Rock as per ICC instructions and got in over the bar at about half tide with no problem. Aleria draws 8.5 feet.
Clifden Boat Club

As we made our way in past a fishing vessel, we spotted four moorings in "our spot" below the castle. There were many other mooring balls in the vicinity taking up valuable anchorage space near the Clifden Boat Club.  A fishing vessel undergoing repairs was on one of their guest moorings and blocking that whole area.

We dropped anchor but had to reset to get clear of all the mess. CBC had their own guest moorings and there were a couple of boats including Brian Quinn's on them. Soon the fishing boat was on its way.

Gerry came over to chat 'from the yacht club'. He told us about t he moorings and the fishing boat and the hours of the bar and restaurant - a fount of information. He said the clubhouse is open year round now and serving food and drink 'till about 10 pm. He also said the town was a short walk away, about 1 km. We decided to walk into town. We launched the dinghy and went ashore. The club has a small pontoon with lots of dinghies attached.  The hammer head is kept open for drop off and pick up.
Clifden outer harbour 

We walked past the people at the clubhouse and the campers parked along the shore on a sand spit. We started walking toward town but soon it was evident that it would be more than 1 km when we had walked that far and there was no evidence of town.

We decided it was an Irish km -- more like 2 miles long. It was a lovely walk along the inlet and there were quite a few people walking it. A few small boats were moored a bit farther into the inlet.  Then we arrived at a boat yard at the quay near town. There were some wrecks and strange boats tied up there. It was not clean, not a good impression.

There were very nice homes along the rocky cliffs en route, but arriving at Clifden with its strange back to the sea was less than impressive.

The town itself was not too bad. Lots of shops, lots of restaurants, lots of pubs, lots of tourists. You can see the Twelve Bens from the top of the street -- it is the heart of Connemara. There are several hotels, an AIB bank, and a large and very nice SuperValu right at the first intersection.

The Clifden Boat Club
I bought a beautiful silk peacock shawl to wear at a bohemian wedding in England in a couple of weeks. We had a pint in the beer garden of the hotel which was rather bizarre. Great view over the inlet but at the back of the hotel with all the other back yards stretched alongside.

We toted our rather heavy load from SuperValu back to the CBC, passing many walkers along the road. All the same ones we passed in the other direction and then some.

We stopped for dinner in the Boardwalk Cafe at the clubhouse. It's lucky we were there early because they were soon solidly booked. Simon the chef drew us a couple of IPAs and we ordered 8 ounce burgers. They were great! Crispy on the outside, cheesy, cooked to perfection on the inside -- mine medium rare and Alex's rare. Great flavour and served with a big wooden bowl of chips. Perfect! Agatha was very friendly and the service was really good. This is a little gem of a restaurant.

It should have been raining heavily according to the forecasts but it held off. We got back to Aleria and stowed everything just in the nick of time. Once the rain began, it poured all night long.

The walk into Clifden

The mooring field and anchorage

They serve from breakfast through dinner at the CBC.

RNLI has a lifeboat station here. 

Pretty views along to road to Clifden

Lots of walkers

Pretty boat

Not so pretty waterfront

Finally, Clifden

Quite a few wrecks in the harbour

Needs a little TLC in town too

Fairly big town

Happening place

Top of the town

Restaurants aplenty

Deli does picnic hampers

Outdoor sports shop

Eek, a giant croc monster.

Traffic jam west coast of Ireland style, 12 Bens in the distance

Bars and pubs 

Ice Cream shop

The Clifden waterfront

The hotel beer garden

The supermarket

Good sized market

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Inishmore, again

We sailed out of beautiful Smerwick, I should say we shot out like a cork out of a bottle, then the wind fizzled so we started the engine. And that would be the pattern for the entire day. On again, off again, this time with the engine. It was glorious weather otherwise but the consistent 15, gusting 30, that was promised was not to be.

Every time I took the helm, the wind picked up to a lovely 15 knots SW. Every time Alex took the helm it slowed to <5 knots.  We alternated about every 1 1/2 hours. Having left early (~07:30) we arrived in Kilronan at 17:30.

We tried to pick up a mooring but couldn't get the ball high enough to thread a rope through. Stupid design for boats with high freeboard like sailboats. So we gave up and anchored. We've seen so many people struggling with these balls. They need to provide pickup ropes. There was only one sailboat on a mooring, and one more on the wall -- the Ryan's from Galway.

We didn't go ashore, just cleaned up and had steak Oscar with Caesar salad and baby potatoes with blue cheese. We'd have another longish day tomorrow as we were trying to get as far north as we could while the southerly held. The wind was to veer north on Tuesday. We wanted to be north of Slyne Head when it did.