LOU'S NOTES: CCA - ICC IRISH CRUISE
Overview: July 2004 was the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Cruising Club. To celebrate the event, the ICC invited four of their sister cruising clubs from around the world to join them in a cruise of the southwest coast of Ireland. More than 180 boats and over 750 members and guests participated in the West Cork cruise starting in Kinsale and ending in Glengarriff.
Ireland's southwest coast is an incredibly beautiful cruising area: short sea passages, vast protected sailing areas in bays deeply indented into the coastline, interesting harbors and clear waters warmed by the Gulf Stream. This is an area that was high on my "to do" list. I signed on early and recruited CCA members from the SoCAl and PNW stations to join me in chartering a boat for the cruise. The experience exceeded our expectations. We all had a grand time. Ireland is truly a beautiful country, populated by beautiful people and cruising their beautiful waters is a very special and memorable experience.
Cruising Clubs represented: Irish Cruising Club (our host), Cruising Club of America, Royal Cruising Club, Clyde Cruising Club and the Ocean Cruising Club.
CCA Fleet: Nine boats sailed from the East Coast to Ireland in June for the cruise; Five members had boats in Ireland or sailing with local boats; Eleven charter boats with members from six CCA stations
Monday, 7/12. Getting to Ireland from San Diego is a pain. There is no easy way. Jack Cahill and I decide that the easiest way would be the daily Aer Lingus non stop flight from Los Angeles to Dublin, thus avoiding tough connections in Chicago, Boston or New York. However, this means subjecting ourselves to what is perhaps the worst, most crowded major international terminal in the world: LAX. And it lived up to its reputation. Jack rented a car in San Diego and we made the miserable 2-1/2 hour drive to Los Angeles International airport arriving at 1445 for a 1715 departure. The terminal was a zoo. It would be difficult to devise a system more cumbersome and complicated for checking in and clearing baggage for the trip. Particularly if your flying "steerage" in the back of the plane. There were at least 100 passengers ahead of us in line. It took nearly an hour to get to the ticket counter where you received boarding passes and baggage tags. However, you were still required to clear your baggage. Two choices both with long lines: one agent opening and hand inspecting every piece of luggage at the ticket counter, or, carting your luggage across the crowded terminal to the bomb inspection machine and waiting your turn to get your baggage cleared. We chose the later system but another 40 minutes in line. Our last line, passport and hand baggage X-ray was relatively short, and we were finally in the departure line 2-1/2 hours after our arrival at the airport. The post- 9/11 world has certainly made air travel challenging.
Aer Lingus #144, an Airbus 320-200, departed on time (1715) with every seat occupied for the 9-1/2 hour flight to Dublin. The dinner was fair. Drinks were $5/per including wine. All the airlines report that they are losing money (including Aer Lingus) but, on my travels, rarely do we have an empty seat. Something is very wrong with the industry's business model when they are losing money on full flights.
Tuesday, 7/13. Arrived Dublin airport on time at 1020 after a smooth, relatively comfortable flight if one can ever be comfortable in one of the international economy seats. Nice day: low 70's with broken clouds. Getting our baggage was a hassle; very crowded baggage area. Van taxi to the Berkeley Court Hotel in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin (45 minutes, 30 euros) with a colorful, elderly driver. Golf is a national pastime in Ireland and our driver was at one time a scratch golfer with many interesting stories of golf in the pre and post WWII era. I'd stayed at the Berkeley Court on previous trips to Dublin. It's a small, luxury hotel a bit on the pricey side (245 euro for large double). It's located on a site of the famous Botanical Gardens of Trinity College, founded in 1806. Many specimens of the original gardens remain on the grounds of the hotel today including a huge "Killarney Strawberry Tree" which still produces strawberry-like fruit which is edible. Ballsbridge is a particularly nice area of Dublin with large town houses on elegant, tree lined avenues. The U.S. embassy is a half block from the hotel.
After a restful afternoon, we had a fabulous dinner at the Royal Irish Yacht Club as guests of Mary and Barry O'Donnell. Barry and Jack were fellow surgeons who had worked together in London and developed a strong friendship that has lasted through the years. The RIYC clubhouse is at Dun Laoghaire, on the south coast of the huge Dublin Bay and overlooking the ancient 19th century artificial breakwater and marina with an ultra modern ferryport where one can catch the giant catamaran car ferry to Highhead, Wales, some 66 miles and 90 minutes away. Our host was a delightful Irishman with a fine wit and manner. The yacht club was founded in 1835, second only to Royal Cork YC in terms of age, and steeped in Irish tradition and racing. The RIYC have an unusual burgee design for a yacht club: a crown over a harp. It looks a lot better than it sounds. We enjoyed a delicious Irish seafood dinner in an elegant setting. All in all, a memorable evening with a gracious and entertaining host. It was obvious that Barry and Jack were great friends with lots of interesting work experiences over the years.
Wednesday, 7/14. Our challenge today is to get to Kinsale, located on the south coast of Ireland, about 190 miles from Dublin. Three choices all through Cork: bus, train or plane: I had planned on the bus but Barry, the preceding evening, had strongly recommended the train. The Houston train station was about 30 minutes by taxi from the hotel. The rail fare to Cork was 10 euros, about the only bargain that we found in Ireland. We had a lovely 2-1/2 hour ride to Cork through beautiful rural green pastoral countryside. A very nice, comfortable train. I'm sure glad we didn't take the bus.
Cork is a busy commercial city with a population of about 350,000. Our destination is the village of Kinsale about 27km to the west and a 30 minute, 40 euro taxi ride. Arrived mid afternoon at this charming and historic fishing/boating/resort center, population 2500: Checked in at The Old Bank House (Candy Isdale arranged the reservations), an old Georgian residence in the town centre. Only 17 rooms on four floors, beautifully furnished with antiques and located directly across from the harbor and next door to the town's supermarket. Magnificent views of the harbor jam packed with sailboats rafted four and five deep at the marinas. Our other crew members, Bill Whitney and Tom and Kappy O'Brien were already in town, Bill coming down from Shannon and the O'Briens by car from Dublin. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm afternoon and we took a quick tour of the docks looking for our charter boat, a 51-foot Beneteau named, 'Forrest Hill'. No luck finding our boat, but we did see a number of CCA burgees and had a quick visit with several old cruising friends.
Our crew had a great dinner at Toddles, a small and upscale French restaurant just up the Main street from our hotel. I hadn't realized that Kinsale, in addition to its maritime reputation, is also known as Ireland's Gourmet Capital. Local seafood and fresh local produce are featured. Great dinner, beautifully served albeit a bit on the pricey side (50 euro/person).
Thursday, 7/15. A fabulous Irish breakfast on an overcast, misting morning. We located our charter boat, 'Forrest Hill', docked in front of the Sail Ireland charter company and immediately adjacent to The Trident Hotel. To say that we were disappointed in our boat would be a vast understatement. The boat is a disaster, the worst charter boat I've ever had or seen. Absolutely terrible condition, beat up from over 10 years of charter service, 5 of which was with The Moorings in Caribbean service. Candy Isdale and Sail Ireland should have alerted me to the age and condition of the boat. Complaints to the manager of the charter company were unproductive (nothing else available) and we had no alternative but to move aboard. Checking out of our hotel was a bit of a shock: 195 euro per person for a small, but nice room. Horribly overpriced!
When you charter in Ireland you get a bare boat. And, I do mean bare. They take off everything. If you're lucky there may be a roll of toilet paper. Bedding is not included, another 30 euro per week, per person. Nor are towels, another 5 euro/person. On the plus side, the boat was clean and the design offered four double staterooms, four heads (but the two forward had been removed) and lots of storage space for our gear. A Zodiac dingy (which leaked badly) with a 3hp outboard was another 100 euro for the charter. Jack and I got a lovely suite in the hotel overlooking our boat, Bill, Kappy and Tom slept aboard.
Weather cleared mid afternoon and we had a lovely, warm, sunny afternoon and evening. Reception and dinner for CCA members at Kinsale Yacht Club. Wonderful local seafood buffet: salmon, crab, shrimp, mussels, whitefish, etc with Irish music and singing. An enjoyable evening.
Friday, 7/16. Most of the day was spent provisioning the boat. Local supermarket was surprisingly good with well stocked shelves and good selection. I was disappointed that the available lamb looked terrible, but chicken, pork and beef were great. We have refrigeration aboard (and it works), but no freezer. No ice is a bummer.
Afternoon in Jack's hotel room watching TV coverage of the 2nd day of the British Open.
The first cruise event was a wine reception at The Trident Hotel hosted by the Kinsale Mayor and members of his City Council. Very, very crowded. The room was much too small for the hundreds that attended, one of the disadvantages of such a large cruise. This is the first of four events where blazer and tie are suggested. Facilities aboard Forest Hill are not conducive to this type of dress.
I'm always amazed at how small our world is. Jack had invited another doctor friend, Michael Barry from Cork, to join us for cocktails. Again, a delightful, entertaining Irish couple. In talking with Mrs. Barry I learned that their son works for an Irish company and is stationed in Washington D.C.. The company is Old Castle, perhaps the premier international marketer of concrete products AND A MINORITY SHAREHOLDER IN OUR CHINESE BUILDING MATERIALS COMPANY. Further, their son's responsibilities are mergers and acquisitions and he has been deeply involved in negotiations with our management group. What a small world!
Saturday, 7/17. Morning mist but beautiful sunny afternoon. Completed provisioning and watched a little of the 3rd day of the Open. They're playing at Royal Troon, a course that I've played many, many times.
1600 departure by bus (four buses for our Kinsale group) for reception at the venerable Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven, a suburb of Cork about 20km and 35 minutes from Kinsale. Huge tents were on the front lawn of the clubhouse, left over from the Cork Week Regatta which had ended on Friday. The docks were crowded and colorful with many of the sailboats still dressed from the regatta. Cork week is a BIG thing in yacht racing, a biannual event attracting sailors and the hottest boats from around the world. This year's regatta attracted 584 boats (including Disney's Pyewacket) from 12 countries and over 5000 competitors with 18 classes racing over a 5 day period. Despite all the tents, hosting over 750 people of our party made for a very crowded, noisy affair.
1845: bus service to Cork City Hall for a reception and dinner in Millennium Hall. This is a very large, old Europe style meeting room capable of serving 1000+ guests. We were delighted to meet and have dinner with the crew of our "buddy boat". The Irish Cruising Club had assigned one of their members to each visiting yacht and we really lucked out on the draw. The boat was 'MAELDUIN' owned by Patrick and Camilla Blaney with Geoff and Sue Chadwick as crew. Wonderful people who added immeasurably to our enjoyment supplying us with charts, suggested anchorages, local attractions, cocktails- they couldn't have been more gracious or friendly. The "buddy boat" idea is a good one. Our dinner was an Irish specialty, boiled bacon, really quite tasty, a nice job by the wait staff in serving such a large group.
Sunday, 7/18. Crew aboard 'Forrest Hill' and we depart beautiful Kinsale harbor (52 42N, 08 31W) at 1030, on a spectacular sunny Sunday morning. We have a magnificent view of Old Head on our starboard, site of one of the best and most challenging golf courses in Ireland. Several of our group (Truman Casner, Steve James and the Rueggs from the Boulders) played Old Head on Friday and they raved about the layout - its beauty, its design, its toughness. They called it "Ireland's Pebble Beach"..
Destination today is Glendore, a distance of 32NM. Motor sailing against a 8-10 knot head wind until we cleared Galley Head and then a reasonably good sail into the harbor. Two rocks, Adam and Eve, obstruct the entrance, but the pilot provides clear instructions "Avoid Adam and Hug Eve" and by daylight it is a well-marked straightforward entry. We were one of the first boats in our fleet to arrive and it is a very pretty, postcard place, a great spot for our first port of call. A large harbor with excellent shelter. Two large castle estates are on the verdant hills, beautifully landscaped complete with stone walls and formal entrances. We dingyed ashore to a delightful pub and watched the final 9 holes of the British Open while sipping a pint of lager. Great finish with a 4 hole playoff between Ernie Els and Tod Hamilton. Hamilton won, an enormous upset.
The view to the southwest from the pub high on the hill was something else; over 180 sailboats swinging on the hook with the sun on the horizon in a magnificent setting.
Ireland has a tough life jacket law. Passengers in any boat less than 21 feet must wear a life jacket or be subject to a large fine. Landing a dingy in some harbors, including Glendore, is not easy. No floats, only slippery stone stairs designed to cope with the large tides and no good places to tie off the dingy painter. While we were watching the golf tournament, someone had drained the gas out of our outboard and cast off our painter, not a very friendly act. Luckily, we were ale to borrow a couple of cups of gas and get back to 'Forrest Hill'. There were some kids playing on the stairs when we arrived and I suspect that they took our inflatable for a ride and forgot to secure it when they were through using it. We'll never know.
Quiet night on the hook in a beautiful harbor. 52 33N, 09 07W.
Monday 7/19. Another fine, calm, dry day in Ireland - how lucky can we get in this land noted for its rain and wind. Gourmet breakfast with Chef Louie's famous cheese omelet and precooked bacon from Costco, courtesy of Jack.
1000 departure from Glendore for South Harbor, Cape Clear Island, 51 26N, 09 30W. Three hours of good sailing at 7.8 knots, tacking to make a due west course. The sails are reasonably new and in good shape considering the deplorable condition of the rest of the boat. Motor sailed last 13 miles to South Harbor, Cape Clear island. Anchored in 25 feet, a small, well protected harbor except open to the south and not a satisfactory overnight anchorage given the southerly gale weather forecast and the prevailing surge. We are the only boat in the harbor, the southernmost point of Ireland.
Ashore, the island is exactly what I expected to find in a remote port in southwestern Ireland: rural, rugged weather-beaten with a few stone houses scattered around the hills. The island is only 3 miles long, 1 mile wide and lies just 8 miles off West Cork mainland. Two small harbors, North and South (a little like Catalina's Twin Harbors only much smaller), beautiful green hills, wonderful views in every direction including the infamous Fastnet Rock Lighthouse about 5 miles to the west. Heather, gorse and wild flowers cover the rugged hills. Myriad stone walls provide a patchwork effect on the varied landscape spotted with Megalithic stones, a 12th Century church ruin and the 14th Century O'Driscoll castle. Bill and I took a tough, steep hike to the Island's Cultural Centre, adjacent to the Catholic Church. The Centre is actually a museum with a special exhibit memorializing the 25th anniversary of the Fastnet Race tragedy. We arrived well after the 5PM closing, but the curator, a young lady, who was on her way home on the narrow roadway, kindly turned around and re-opened the museum for a private showing. There is a fascinating collection of stories and photos covering the freak force 10 storm and its devastating effect on the 300 boats competing in the 1979 race. Only 85 boats were able to finish the race and exhibit brought to life the heroic rescue efforts to save lives and stricken boats. 16 boats were sunk and 11 sailors lost their lives in the storm; a reminder, once again, of the power of Mother Nature.
We had a neat view north across Long Bay to the mainland with all of the rocks and islets. Despite the strenuous hike, the afternoon ashore was a memorable one.
1830 anchor up and underway for an anchorage on the north side of Long Island. Tricky navigating across the bay with all the rocks but made it safely without mishap although we did have a near encounter with one of Irelands infamous fish nets. The long nets are difficult to see. There is a pole with a flag on the end of the net but floats supporting the net are very small and almost impossible to spot in any kind of a sea. The fisherman spotted us and headed us off before any damage was done. One of our CCA charter fleet was not so lucky and got hung up in the a net with all kinds of complications.
2000: anchor down inside the tiny Coney Island at 51 30N, 09 33W. A big open roadstead but sheltered from all directions. A great day in Ireland.
Chef Louie rewarded the crew with his crispy chicken dish - not too bad considering the primitive facilities.
A stormy, wet night with heavy wind and rain. Anchor held fine.
Tuesday, 7/20. Anchor up at 0930. The anchor had hooked an underwater cable. Fortunately there was a fair amount of slack in the cable and the windless was able to bring the cable to the service where Jack's deft use of the boat pole was able to clear the anchor. Short run to Sherkin Island anchorage on the west side of Baltimore Harbor (51 28.6N, 09 39W) for a CCA "Sandy Weld" rum punch reception and lunch. The CCA Gam was held on a 80'x30' rubber pontoon barge tied to the dock below the Sherkin Islanders Rest Resort Inn, a nice 21 room inn high on the hill overlooking the harbor where we all enjoyed a fine, cold seafood and salad buffet lunch. The local cold seafood was outstanding: poached salmon,, smoked sea trout, herring and baby shrimp plus a huge prawn on every plate. Delicious. After lunch a short hike to the ruins of the Franciscan & Dun na Long - Fort of the Ships. Weather still overcast but appears to be clearing.
1515 anchor up for a quick tour of the Baltimore Harbor anchorage and a run up the River Ilen. Tricky navigating the shoals but anchor down about 2-1/2 miles from the river mouth in Baltimore 51 30.9N, 9 22.5W. Neat spot: big, wide river (maybe a mile) cattle peacefully grazing on the green hills lining both sides of the river. Truly, a pastoral setting. .
1730. 'Forrest Hill' hosted cocktails for two of our cruise boats in the river. 'Maelduin', our buddy boat, rafted alongside with their great crew plus Joyce and Tad Llamon (PNW Bainbridge Island) and their English hosts, Sally and Jeff O'Riordan on 'Adrigole', a Rival 36. Great group of fun-loving sailors.
Dinner of Chef Louie's famous chutney pork chops. We dined on Gourmet food today.
Wednesday, 7/21. 0800 early morning departure for sail around Fastnet Rock via Long Bay and then on Schull Bay for an ICC reception/dinner for the entire fleet. Early misty overcast but weather report looks promising. Jack has the con today and we're determined to sail despite the light winds (most of the other boats motor sailed to the Rock and then set their head sails for their photograph rounding the lighthouse- but not 'Forrest Hill'; we were the only visible boat to sail all the way). A professional photographer was on scene in a small power boat to record each boat's passage.
1205: 'Forest Hill' rounds the famous Rock with Jack on the helm and the crew on the windward rail. Light wind 8-10 out of southwest and lumpy seas versus forecast of force 4-5 westerlies. Too bad, more wind would have made a better photo.
This seams like a good place to introduce a bit of history on the Fastnet Lighthouse. It sits 4-1/2 miles southwest of Cape Clear Island and 7 miles southeast of Crookhaven, tomorrow's destination. The Irish name Carraig Aonar (the lonely rock) describes it well. It was often the last sight of Ireland that emigrants leaving Ireland for the new world saw So it was called the "teardrop of Ireland". The old cast iron lighthouse was built in 1854 but was not powerful enough because Fastnet Rock (pre GPS)) had become the principal landfall light on the southwest coast of Ireland. Reconstruction, starting in 1896, took four years. This time it was built of rock quarried in England; 89 courses, 2074 stones weighing 4,633 tons. The lantern has a single flash every 5 seconds, 49 meters high with a visible range of 27 miles. It was completed in July 1904. It had a staff of 6 keepers, 4 at a time being present and 2 on shore. Relief's were made twice a month (if weather allowed) so that the keepers had one month on and two weeks off. In 1989, the lighthouse was converted to automatic. We were honored to have it turned on for our daylight rounding. Fastnet is arguely the most famous lighthouse in the world.
1430: anchored in Schull Bay, 51 31N, 09 32.5 W. Big harbor, easy approach. All 180+ boats in our fleet are here plus all of the regular fishing and pleasure boats. It needs a big sheltered from northerly winds by Mount Gabriel and the picturesque village has a commanding view of Carberry's Hundred Islands, Cape Clear and Long Island. Lots of water related activities here: a busy commercial fishing fleet, a modern fish processing plant, diving clubs, deep sea fishing, sailing schools and clubs and a boatyard handling boats to 16 tons.
Neat village up the hill. Charming main street lined with pubs, restaurants, galleries, a genuine meat market and a well-stocked supermarket. We enjoyed a pint in the pub (busy place) and restocked our depleted beverage inventory AND purchased four lovely fresh wild salmon steaks. Best looking salmon I've seen since Alaska.
Cocktails aboard 'Maelduin' with their crew and friends from the ICC. It's really great fun to be with these people. They enjoy life and they have added enormously to our Irish experience. How lucky we were to have them as our buddy boat.
BBQ dinner in huge tents on the grounds of the Community College, west side of the harbor. This is the 3rd of the four events where coats and ties were suggested. Docking inflatables from 180+ boats poses a challenge. Problem was solved by providing RIB ferry service for those not wanting to undergo the hassle of their own dingy and having a crew of strong young college students to beach the dingy on the lawn for those bringing their inflatable ashore. Quite a site to see 50+ inflatables on the lawn.
The BBQ dinner was very good, perhaps outstanding given the challenge of serving 750+ dinners in a short period of time (buffet). Again, too many people, too much noise and confusion for my liking. Wine was included with dinner, but drinks were 5 euros at the bar. After standing in line, I finally ordered drinks for Jack and myself, only to discover that I didn't have enough euros and the bar would not accept U.S. currency. The Irishman behind me a total stranger, seeing my plight, bought our drinks. We introduced ourselves, and I learned that he is the uncle of the eye doctor that Bill and I go to in Poulsbo, WA. Incredible, that with all these people crowded into tents, we'd find this connection. Again, a very small world.
Thursday, 7/22. A lovely Irish summer morning, Wall to wall sunshine. Anchor up (lots of mud) and motor sailing inside Long Island, the biggest of Carberry's Hundred Islands. There are a few Irish farmhouses scattered along the north shore. Cattle grazing on the green hillsides, a very peaceful scene.
1130: anchor down in Crookhaven, 51 28.5N, 09 43'W. Thios is a long, narrow, well protected harbor with high headlands to the West, North and South; open only to the East. The prevailing winds are the westerlies, storms from the northeast.
The village of Crookhaven has a distinguished history as the last port of call for ships journeying to and from America. Over the centuries ships stocked up with provisions here before tackling the Atlantic Ocean. Shipping lines had agents here to tell the Captains in which American port their cargo had been sold. During the late 1800's and early 1900's, the harbor was full of ships awaiting passage. The village had over 700 permanent residents against the 29 who live here today.
Interesting trip ashore mid afternoon. Village consists of three pubs, post office, sailing school (Mejeir sailing dingies), inn and restaurant. We had a fascinating hour visiting with the innkeeper, Barry O'Sullivan, a friendly, outgoing Irishman. He loves golfing in America at Myrtle beach. He's made over 20 trips. Great storyteller with rich Irish brogue and wit.
Tom and Kappy spent most of the day ashore visiting museum at Mizzen Head.
Cocktails aboard 'Corryvrecken', a 65-foot steel ketch from Scotland crewed by a neat Scottish couple, Doug and Mary Lindsay. Ned Rowland had chartered the boat before and he and Suzie picked up the boat in Scotland and sailed to Cork for the cruise. Seven other CCAers joined with the Rowlands on the charter. It is a lovely boat built in Holland 10 years ago and designed for charter service. Good visit with all and an opportunity to bring Ned up to speed on the plans for his April 2006 cruise of the Sea of Cortez.
Dinner aboard 'Forrest Hill'; grilled fresh salmon steaks (delicious) and cottage fried potatoes and onions together with a big green salad. The boat may be a mess but the food has been okay.
Friday, 7/23. Every day the weather seems to be better than the day before. Can this be the Ireland that I know? Today we have bright sun, with a light wind out of the west.
0800 pancake breakfast. 0900 anchor up for Bantry Bay, Adrigole Harbor 51 40.5N, 09 47.8W. Bill Whitney and the crew of 'Forrest Hill' have been invited an 1800 raft reception put on by members of the Royal Cruising Club.
O930: motor sailing with flat seas and light head winds heading for Mizen Head, the southern most headland in Ireland where the vertical cliffs go up 200 meters or more. There is a magnificent white lighthouse connected to the mainland by a long, spectacular, arched, graceful bridge. It is a beautiful day to be rounding Mizen Head, a memorable sight. I suspect that Mizen Head could be a difficult spot as the fetch comes all the way from New York. Fortunately, we are blessed with flat seas.
1030: Sailing along at 4 knots on port tack for big, wide entrance to Bantry Bay. A lovely day of sailing for our last day on the Irish coast. Bantry Bay is huge: 7 miles across at its entrance and extending 16 miles in a ENE direction. Our destination, Adrigole Harbor, is on the west side of Bantry Bay on the way to Bere Island. The Irish sailors rate this as one of the most beautiful anchorages in their country. And, we agree! Uninhabited (only a few homes on the hillsides) and surrounded by the peaceful beauty of Irish country. There is a large mussel farm off the port side as you enter the harbor. Anchor down 50 meters behind the beginning of the RCC raft. Neat spot.
1800. Bill and our crew to the RCC party: 5 sailboats, 40-48 feet, rafted and fully dressed. A beautiful sight. Perhaps 200 members and guests covering the decks like ants. I decided to skip the 8th straight night of cocktail talk and took our leaky Zodiac to the dock on the east side of the harbor to explore the area and see if I could find something for our dinner. About a mile up the hill and to the north, there was a pub and convenience store where I bought five frozen chicken curry dinners. They were surprisingly good, much better than most of the frozen stuff we get in the States.
A very quiet night in a beautiful anchorage, the best of the trip.
Saturday, 7/24. Broken overcast, calm morning. Delicious bacon and egg breakfast, the last of our supplies. Not much left in the cupboard.
0830: anchor up (very muddy) and underway for Glengarriff at the head of Bantry Bay. This will be the site of the huge sunflower raft of all 180+ boats in the fleet, complete with aerial photo. We decide to pick up a mooring in front of the Eccles Hotel, get our luggage off the boat and check into the rooms that we had reserved for the night. RIB service was provided and it was a relief to get all our gear off the boat prior to the sunflower event and the afternoon's closing reception. Bill and I are sharing a very small room but the shower sure felt good, my first since Kinsale.
The Glengarriff Eccles Hotel is a classic, one of the oldest hotels in Ireland. The original building dates back as far a1745 and, in its early days, hosted many famous literary giants, such as Yeats, Thackeray and Shaw. Later it became a health spa/resort. Today, it's a luxurious, modern 5-story, 63-room hotel with breathtaking views of Bantry Bay
Glengarriff is large, well-protected anchorage. While we were ashore, the four cardinal boats were is position and the Raft Master, on vhf channel 77, was instructing arriving boats to their position in the raft. The master plan was to get four rafts, North, South, East and West, with 45 boats in each raft (about every 5th boat set an anchor). When the four rafts were completed, then the rafts would be "tightened" to form the sunflower. Unfortunately, the wind started to come up with only 125 boats in position. Individual rafts started to drag and the newly arriving boats were requested to set anchors. But, it became obvious that the sunflower was doomed and just as we were ready to drop our mooring and join the raft, the Raft Master decided that it would be impossible to complete the sunflower by closing the individual rafts. The whole exercise was called off; a disappointment since the finished product would have been very special. Too bad.
1500: ceremony and plaque honoring Irish Cruise Club 75th anniversary on grounds of Eccles Hotel.
1530 - 1800: closing reception, brief speeches, lots of good fellowship but, again, very, very crowded and noisy. Too many people for the available facilities. Our final coat and tie event (thank the Lord as I'm out of clean shirts).
2000: Jack, Bill and Lou have dinner at The Rainbow Room, Glengarriff village. Wonderful, fresh Bantry Bay Prawns. Delicious.
Sunday, 7/25. Good nights sleep, a big improvement over the hard, cramped bunks on Forest Hill. Bill was off at 0600 on a van for Shannon Airport and an afternoon flight back to Seattle.
Jack, Tom, Kappy and Lou were on a 0900 van for the 90km run to Cork. Tom and Kappy overnighted at the Cork Airport Hotel before catching their return flights.
Jack and Lou took the 1400 train back to Dublin (50 euro on Sunday vs. 10 euro on Tuesday). Checked in at Jury's Hotel sharing a nice double modern room. Buffet dinner at the hotel.
Monday, 7/26. 0800 taxi to Dublin airport. Jack going on to London and Stockholm. Lou a noon non stop flight to LAX (arrival 1435), 1800 connection to Phoenix. A very, long exhausting day with every seat filled on both flights.
SUMMARY: (Lessons Learned)
1. Ireland is a fabulous country. I like everything about it. The lifestyle, the people, the natural beauty and the great boating along the southwest coast
2. All aboard had a wonderful time despite the deplorable condition of our boat
3. When chartering in the future, determine in advance the age and condition of the boat. Also, explore crewed charters of larger boats as Ned Rowland did in both the Grenadines and Ireland
4. Avoid very large cruises. Cruising facilities are often too limited for large groups of sailors and their boats
5. Limit the number of blazer and tie events; one or two at most
6. Promote the "buddy boat" concept for members unfamiliar with the waters
7. Guests from other world cruising clubs add a lot to any cruise
8. Print enough Cruising Guides so that each member and guest has a copy