Sunday, August 11, 2013

Aleria's Jaunt to Scotland: 4th July 2013 Black Sod Bay

Happy Independence Day America! 

Huge swell combined with cross waves to create a confused sea.

Pounding around Achill and into Black Sod Bay, County Mayo, Ireland


Well at least it wasn't a red sky at morning.

The concert before we left had ended with a fireworks display reminiscent of American Independence Day.  We’d had our fix of oooohs and aahhs and ohwwwsss! All we could do now was celebrate our independence by setting off and hoping for the best.

In the morning, despite a threatening looking sunrise, heavy swell and confused seas, we left Clew Bay and sailed around Achill Island to Black Sod Bay.  It was like being in a washing machine, tumbling every which way off the crests of waves that squared off against a huge 20 foot ocean swell.  Despite 25 knots of wind out of the WNW, we were so closely hauled that we had to power with the engine on full to make way through the pounding surf around the imposing headland.  The cliffs off Achill are the highest in all of Europe. The waves bounce off and back at you.  You cannot make a mistake here on a lee shore.  It was nail biting and poor Onyx, who elected to come with us on this trip, got seasick for the first time in many years.



We pulled into Black Sod just after 8 pm and made our way into quiet Elly Bay. It was a wide open bay surrounded by white sand beaches and no swell!  It stays light until about 11 pm this time of year so we had plenty of light left in the day.

Alex motorsailing around Achill.
Black Sod couldn’t be more different from Clew Bay. Where Clew Bay has mountains all around, Black Sod has gently rolling low lying farmlands and lot of beaches.  It is far less rocky and shallower, more sandy.  We vowed to come here to explore another time. Perhaps combined with a visit to the Inishkeas just outside the entrance.

Dinner consisted of pre-cooked chicken, boiled potatoes and salad. Alex continued to fiddle with the AIS and VHF radio while I cooked. After dinner, sleep came really easily. We were back in the cradle swinging gently at anchor. We had both missed that magical sensation. We spent the night with the wind howling in the rigging, and got up early to press on while the wind continued to blow.

Seeing Black Sod open up and the seas calm was welcome.
Later, we heard from American friends, Vicki and Paul on s/v Nokomis anchored in Black Sod with whom we were trying to meet up, that a foreign flagged vessel had sunk just off the Eagle Island lighthouse that day. The crew who had taken to their liferaft were rescued dramatically by helicopter.  Our friends were wondering for days if it might have been us.  Fortunately, it wasn’t.


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