Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Bear Haven to Crookhaven - a near sinking averted (not us!)

It just rained and rained last evening so we didn't move from the visitors' buoy in Bear Haven after all.

This morning we left at 6.00am to gain the favourable tide south round Mizzen point (where the flow can reach 4 knots). A Force 4-5 Easterly meant we charged southwards at a great rate, though the tidal flows remain a mystery - we had adverse tide for most of the trip then a favourable shove off Mizzen Head. No that we saw the Head - dense mist made our circle of visibility less than half a mile for most of the way.

We came into Crookhaven and picked up a mooring buoy close to the pub! The visibility closed in further so we've decided that we won't be going on to Baltimore this afternoon - too many rocks and small islands to avoid. Anyway, there was an exciting boat rescue mission to accomplish.

We noticed a motor boat moored alongside the pontoon - it didn't look too happy and, as we watched, it was visibly sinking.

We were about to phone the pub to get someone to go and check it when the ownwer and his friend arrived, armed with a bucket. Once we launched our dinghy, I took our emergency 12v bilge pump across to them and we managed to raise the waterline enough to be able to get it onto the trailer. Owner Andrew was less than impressed with his U-boat, especially after texting the dealer later to be told that there was a known design-flaw in the Warrier 175!

Anyway, boat saved, Dianne and I made it to the pub to log into to their free WiFi and Andrew insisted on buying us a very good seafood chowder each (plus associated Murphy's) as a token of thanks.

The forecast still looks favourable for the Irish Sea tomorrow so we'll have a relaxing afternoon aboard and will leave early in the morning. It'll be a shame to leave Ireland.

Final note for Steve - the dinghy repair was a success! Many thanks.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Cahersiveen to Bear Haven - in the rain

A really wet day, not much wind and a rolling swell left over from yesterday's wind; not a great combination but the 40-mile, 8-hour passage was still interesting.

We left Cahersiveen at 6.00am to gain favourable south-going tide, knowing that we wouldn't be able to reach Dursey sound before the adverse tide made it impassable. So we had to go the long way round, passing the rocky islands called The Bull, The Cow and the Calf. On the way we passed Puffin Island and saw about 20 Puffins near the boat.

The Bull

The Cow

The Calf

We had to motor the whole way, with only 6 or 7 knots of wind. Not enough to sail but we hoisted the mainsail anyway to help reduce the rolling (which was a bit uncomfortable near some of the tidal headlands). We saw one other yacht, motoring in the opposite direction, which re-affirmed the advantages of Maunie's pilothouse design. Their crew were all dressed up in full foulies and huddled for shelter in the forward end of the cockpit - we were sitting in normal clothes in the pilothouse, CD player on, watching the world around us and flicking the windscreen wiper switch occasionally (it really needs a variable time delay setting or, even better, a rain-sensor!)

We made into Bear Haven just in time to pick up a visitors' buoy for a lunch stop. The main harbour of Castletownbere is a major fishing port, so no great attraction to us, so we plan to move across to a small marina called Lawrence Cove on the north side of Bear Island. We're informed that there's no mobile phone signal there.

The weather forecast promises another poor day tomorrow - mist and light winds - and then a west or northwest wind, plus sunny skies on Tuesday so that looks like our window to cross the Irish Sea back to Cornwall. If we waited until Thursday (our original plan) the wind will be on the nose all the way, not nice!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Just the two of us...

Sorry, Barbara and Steve, but we had the best wind of the holiday today! Once Fungi had signed us out of Dingle, we had a great Force 4-5 close reach across to Valentia Harbour, making over 7 knots pretty consistently. Di treated it as her upper-body workout at the wheel as we bounced over some short wind-against-tide waves.

We crept over the sand bar with only about a metre under the keel and then motored up river to a small town called Cahersiveen. It has a tiny marina, carved out of the riverbank, and Kieran, the very friendly marina manager who used the lovely phrase "Take your ease", meaning don't rush to come and sort out the paperwork.

After a late lunch we walked into a town dominated by an extraordinary building that looks like a Schloss - a C19th army barracks. After a shortish walk we found our second Keating's Bar of the holiday so, of course, had to support the family business again.

The evening has cleared and the wind has dropped but there are heavy, ominous clouds all around us. We're planning a longish day tomorrow to Bear Island and another small marina at Lawrence Cove so we'll see what the weather brings us. All continues well aboard apart from a technical hitch: having replenished our food stocks (including Yeo Valley yogurt) at the Supa Valu supermarket in Dingle (much better than its name suggests), we have found that the aft fridge (yes Maunie has two!) has packed up. Forward fridge is now stocked tightly!

Dingle - and the first rain of the trip

Last night (Friday) the first rain of our trip arrived, together with a fair amount of wind overnight. However. we'd managed to make the best of the sunshine during the day; Steve completed an expert fix to a leak on the dinghy.

Dianne and Barbara visited the local farmers market and brought back a feast of Irish cheese, pate, smoked mackerel dip and soda bread for supper.

This morning, Steve and Barbara caught the bus to Tralee and we're just contemplating heading southwards again. The weather forecast suggests a reasonable day today, heavy rain tomorrow and, unfortunately, a return to fairly fresh south-easterly winds on Thursday. This is not so good - Thursday was our planned day for crossing back to Cornwall and a south-easterly would mean a beat all the way. Might have to revise the timings!

Finally, this is Fungi the Dolphin:

Friday, 28 May 2010

Derrynane to Dingle

More amazing coastline to view today, plus some incredible wildlife.

We motored out of Derrynane in light winds again but the overnight wind had generated quite a big sea swell so there was a lot of white water crashing over the rocky entrance to the harbour. Once the wind piped up we were close hauled for the Skellig Islands of Valentia. Little Skellig has a Gannet colony of over 20,000 birds and we could smell them as we passed close by!

After the ornithological excitement we stopped for a lunchtime anchorage beside Valentia Island, a remote lump of rock originally only accessible by ferry (there's now a road bridge) that became hugely important to world communications. There was a Marconi radio station on its most western tip (the ruin still visible)where Morse code messages would be transmitted to America. You can imagine the briefing to the radio operators when told of their new posting:

Chief Radio Man, in clipped British tones:"Good news chaps, you're going to Valentia."
New Radio Man: "Absolutely spiffing, always fancied Spain, old man."
C.R.M: "Ah, not quite the same, I'm afraid. Splendid views, though, and no shortage of wind".

Anyway, lunch over we reached past the north side of the island over to Dingle. We saw a group of Gannets diving into the sea just ahead of us and, the next minute, had over 20 Common Dolphin all around us. They got bored of us quite quickly and went back to their fish hunt.

As we approached the entrance to Dingle harbour at about 6.30pm, we had half an eye out for further dolphin encounter. We'd read of a resident dolphin called Fungi who is said to welcome each boat personally so, of course, didn't believe it. More than a little yelp of surprise from the crew, therefore, when he popped up about 2 metres from us, had a good look (presumably making notes of boat name, sail number, length and number of crew for his records) before gently rolling back under to wait for his next vessel!

Dingle has a small but new marina with a working fishing harbour across the other side of a large breakwater. After showers, we walked into town for drinks and a meal, slightly overwhelmed by the sudden re-introduction to a place with more than one bar and a shop! Dingle is really geared up for the tourist (we felt outnumbered by the Americans) but we've got acclimatised now and have found some less busy, more genuine parts.

Today (Friday) is Barbara and Steve's last day on board and we'll miss their company. We had an excellent fish lunch at a small cafe in the marina, went for a 3-hour day-sail to try to catch some mackerel (failed) and will have a final meal aboard this evening. In the morning they catch an early bus as the first stage of a complicated bus/train/ferry/train/car trip back to mid-Wales.

Crookhaven to Derrynane

We didn't realise how spectacularly beautiful the Kerry coastline would be. We were dimly aware of the Ring of Kerry - the tourist road upon which we've seen coaches at roughly five-minute intervals - but from the sea and in such fantastic weather, it's been awe-inspiring. Even Barbara has run out of superlatives!

We left Crookhaven at 7.00am as we had arrived, under sail. An interesting beat out of the narrow entrance followed by a run westwards along the coast to Mizzen Head, where the lighthouse and coastguard station clings to the cliff.

From here we turned northwards and had a gentle Force 3 and flat water to sail up to Dursey Sound, a very narrow (100m at most) short-cut between the mainland and Dursey Island.

From here, with Puffins sighted, we hugged the rocky coast to the natural harbour at Derrynane. It's worth looking it up on Google - a really narrow, rocky entrance opens into a small anchorage with a fantastic beach close by. Steve volunteered to complete the (very optimistic) 3km hike to the nearest village for milk and a few other essentials whilst the rest of us walked the beach.

The area is liberally sprinkled with holiday homes, most of little architectural interest, but we fell in love with this mini ship!

Exercise completed we had a couple of thirst-quenchers outside Keating's bar - well, we just had to keep the family business going!

Mrs Keating pours a pint for Mr Keating in Keating's Bar

The wind piped up in the evening - a cold north-easterly Force 6 - but a home-made chilli supper aboard warmed us and we slept well.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

A memorable night in Mary Ann's and round the Fastnet

We had a superb meal in Mary Ann's in Castletownsend last night and it turned into a very memorable evening. We ended up in conversation with everyone in the bar and met Robert and Freda Townsend (who we met last year) again. Lots to eat and drink so we got back to the boat just after 11.00pm, feeling full.

Today has again been bright and sunny, with a sighting of a couple of basking shartks, so we had a short motor round to Lough Hyne (a tiny anchorage outside a dammed sea lough which is a marine nature reserve) for a walk ashore. After coffee back aboard, watching otters playing in the kelp, the wind had piped up enough for us to fly the asymmetric spinnaker (in Irish flag colours) past Baltimore and Cape Clear and on to the Fastnet Rock.

Once round the Rock we gybed and headed north-east to Crookhaven - a very popular anchorage that is still pretty deserted (May is regarded as very early season here). We sailed into the anchorage and onto the visitors' mooring without starting the engine.

I'm writing this at a table outside O'Sullivan's bar where we were (easily) persuaded that Cork-brewed Murphy's is better than Dublin-produced Guinness. Mind you, we've had to taste a few of each, just to be sure! Tomorrow we head north to a wild anchorage called Derrynane where there's unlikely to be any kind of signal so next post may be from Dingle.

For the younger previous crew viewers of this blog, we can confirm that the pegs have only been used for the washing - so far!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Safely into Ireland

Very little mobile reception here, hence a short update for the moment. However we arrived safely into Castletownsend at 11.00am Monday.

After a great start from Newlyn at 7.00am Sunday with a 4 hour spinnaker run, the wind died and we had to motor for 23 hours across a very smooth sea. There was a fair amount of fog and a few fishing boats to avoid but we arrived feeling only a little sleep-deprived!

We're just about to go ashore to the famous Mary Ann's pub! Cheers!
Sent from my Blackberry

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Helford to Newlyn

Wow - what a great day (for Blackpool FC too)! Apart from the 6.00am departure, that is.

The day dawned bright and sunny with a nice following wind to blow us westwards. We had the spinnaker up for about an hour then, once past the Lizard Point, we gybed into Mount's Bay. Really great sailing - clocking over 7 knots of boat speed pretty consistently.

We anchored for an early lunch in the lee of St Micheal's Mount then sailed on to Newlyn, with a short delay to avoid a powerboat race in the bay. Newlyn is very much a fishing harbour with no special facilities for yachts but the harbourmaster was very friendly and we're snug on a pontoon mooring.

Barbara and Steve arrived by train just after 5.00pm, after a long cross-country trip from mid-Wales, so we've had a meal aboard and are just contemplating the Irish Sea crossing tomorrow (about 170 miles or 30 hours). The forecast suggests calm seas and we just hope there'll be some wind.

Next post will be from Ireland, all being well.

Friday, 21 May 2010

A gentle, sunny sail to Helford

Summer is here, for the moment! Bright sunshine and a very gentle breeze. So after showers and breakfast, Graham took part in another conference call to the Soil Association at 8.30 before we could stroll into Falmouth for some food shopping.

We left harbour at 12.30 for a very gentle sail towards the Helford River - we're talking less than 1 knot of boat speed! However we've picked up a visitors' mooring and had an lovely lunch in the cockpit. There are a few non-urgent boat jobs to be tackled sometime this afternoon, plus some navigation planning to be done. No rush, though; it's great just to relax and take in the view.

Sent from my Blackberry

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Fowey to Falmouth

We had a really relaxing evening on the mooring in Fowey - including producing a batch of leek & potato soup for lunches over the next few days - and a quiet night (di managed 11 hours sleep!)

Today didn’t start terribly well – the turn of the key to start the engine was met with a click and then silence! However, we didn’t panic and, working through the symptoms, discovered a loose connection on the battery bank. Once tightened, the engine burst into life – much relief all round!

We relied on the engine for the whole passage today (just 20 miles) – hardly a breath of wind and a calm sea but, again, fairly poor visibility. However, it gave us the chance to practice what we’d learned in our recent Radar course and we passed this lovely old boat motoring back to its summer mooring in St Mawes – she was built in 1912! Anyway we arrived at Falmouth at 5.00 and moored in the visitors’ haven close to the town centre.

We’re eating ashore tonight for the first time on the trip and hoping that WIFI in the cafĂ© will let me load this blog and photos up since my normally trusty mobile broadband dongle seems to be struggling.

Thoroughly enjoying being back in cruising mode!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The start of the summer (?) cruise

Well, were off! We left Dartmouth at lunchtime on Tuesday for a great beat out to Start Point - sunshine and a good Force 4n perfect. We also had a couple of boats to compete with and were very pleased to overtake a well-sailed Contessa 36 (a quick boat).
As we passed Salcombe, though, the wind died so we motored for about two hours toward the River Yealm. A slightly surreal hour was spent on a conference call to four other members of the Soil Association Council as we motored about 3 miles off the coast and the call ended with half a dozen dolphins arriving to play in our bow wave! 

After a very peaceful night. this morning, unfortunately, dawned drizzly and misty but we left at about 11.30 for a really good sail to Fowey. A Force 3-4 close reach, with the cockpit speakers providing music to take our minds off the drizzle. As we neared the harbour visibility reduced to less than half a mile so we crawled in under radar and GPS assistance.

A china clay carrier feels its way out of the harbour, just after we arrived.

The mobile phone signal isn't very good here so I'm hoping that this email upload to the blog works! We should be able to add pictures tomorrow.
Graham Keating
Director of Communications
Yeo Valley
T: 01761 461490
M: 07747 868832
Sent from my Blackberry

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A short May weekend cruise

We've just returned from a really lovely 3-day cruise down to the River Yealm and then up the Taymar from Plymouth to anchor in the St German's River, close to the Navy's Juniper Point seamanship training centre.

The boat went really well, with her clean bottom and without the extra drag of Winnie's rudder - her turning circle under power is dramatically tighter too, so much so that Di nearly fell overboard during a swift change of direction!

We were able to enjoy the peace of a sheltered anchorage and some great sailing home to Dartmouth, with some time to reorganise food stowage in the galley and give the cockpit a good clean and polish. All ready for the main trip to Ireland in a couple of weeks!