Thursday, June 26, 2014

Visiting the wild Inishkea Islands in Ireland




Islands with a checkered history


The Inishkea Islands (Goose Islands, Irish: Inis Gé)  are situated off the Mullet peninsula in Erris, which was recently voted as the best place to go wild in Ireland. We wholeheartedly concur. It was our first visit of many more already planned. The Inishkeas were abandoned in the 1930s along with many other islands on this inhospitable coast. They are slowly returning to their wild state. Having gone ashore and felt the spirituality of this place, I am certain its residents over the millenia were one with the sea as we, too, hoped to experience.

There are two main islands - Inishkea North and Inishkea South. A small third island called Rusheen lies just off the main village on Inishkea South, and several smaller islets trail from its tail.  The islands are just off the mainland coast along the Wild Atlantic Way and offer some protection to the Mullet from the power of the wild Atlantic waters. They are now home to a large number of bird species, grey seals, rabbits, many sheep and a few donkeys. It seems that man's removal from the islands has encouraged return of the birds that once numbered so many and were nearly obliterated.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Loss of steering along a rocky shore


Crowded anchorage at Clare Island

Saved by luck and a bit of ingenuity


What do you do when you've just raised anchor, you engage the engine to head out, and the wheel just spins freely in your hands without turning the boat?  PANIC! No. Do not panic. Think, and fast.

We've lost steering twice before, both times in the middle of an ocean where there is nothing to run into and where Aleria steers herself very nicely with sail trim alone.  Out there, there is plenty of room to think things through and work on the problem to resolve it. Not this time. No, this time, the wind grabbed the bow and swung us around toward shore. Not just a sandy shore but a rocky promontory.  We reversed the engine but that caused us to head out to sea. What we needed to do was get back into the harbour where we could re-anchor. The dinghy was on deck and there was no time to launch it.  We had to find a way to steer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

An autopilot with a mind of its own

Fixing the Raymarine


BOAT: Break Out Another Thousand is Alex's theory of boat ownership. My theory is that Alex is conservative. The truth is that the BOAT theory is directly proportional to the size of the vessel multiplied by the number of gadgets it can fit.  Naturally, a bigger boat can hold more gadgets. In addition, everything is bigger and heavier and, therefore, costlier.  Aleria is 57 feet LOA.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mayo Sailing Club Gets Out There

To Clare Island and into the Wild Atlantic Waters



The race action around Clare Island on the Sunday of the June bank holiday weekend had all the intrigue of a world class sailing race. Wind out of the SE holding steady at 20 knots at the start but gusting over 40 knots on the North side of the island. Fog, mist, rain.  An MOB (man overboard) successfully recovered in textbook style within about 3 minutes attesting to the fine seamanship of the skipper and crew. Gear failure. Seasickness. The makings of many stories.  Two boats retired.  Six over the finish line with the faces of experience on board. Awards won by sailors sporting broad smiles knowing they had lived up to the challenges.  Characters from every walk of life, both young and old, had set their sails against one another for the prestige of winning the Kay O’Grady Memorial Trophy.