Tucked up on the marina in Kilrush life felt good. No Alarms, no boat admin, no worries.
After a very good sleep i made breakfast, the full deal, and thought about the day ahead. Not much to do, just boat service and think about restowing the boat so that there is enough room for the family.
I filled 25lt of diesel into the tank and calculated i was 5lt from full: plenty. While in the lazarette i spent some time getting the dinghy, outboard and safety gear out. Sailing singe handed there seems little point in having the life ring or dan buoy out, but with the family on board it is essential deck gear. I stowed the spare sails from the forepeake into the lazarette and made room for a nice bunk forward. I was carrying the crusing shute, spinnaker and a large 150% mylor Genoa as well as a 45% jib and dedicated storm sails which i hope will stay well stowed for many years. The 95% working sail i bought for the trip was working very well, and although a tad small, in the conditions so far it was a perfect working sail.
In the afternoon my neighbours turned up and we exchanged greetings. After 10 minutes it seemed there was a problem. The first mate (wife) had fallen down the companionway steps and gashed her leg badly. I offered assistance but they had organised an ambulance and so the afternoon was spent helping out as i could, feeling lucky i had not had any accidents of my own.
That evening i took dinner ashore, an average meal, and was early in my bunk with a good book and some music....lovely
Monday 3rd July
Great nights sleep and starting to feel myself again. I had booked a sports massage in town so ambled off to get sorted. Looking for a massage to ease my strains i had gone to a spa to try and book one in but it was apparent that they were not too keen...i didn't really need a tickle anyway...... but a strong massage on my weary muscles, so was directed to a lady who did proper sports massage. She examined me and worked on my lower back which was tight and gave me some exercises to loosen up my muscles. It was definitely an improvement.
Ashore i found a courtesy flag andthe obligatory penny whistle. With great plans to learn the whistle i returned back to Slamat, hoisted the flag and went for 40 winks.... Im afraid the whistle is still in its packaging with the book, so that will be another time.
In the afternoon someone knocked on the hull. Aran Williams had arrived in the marina with his wife Hanna and 3 daughters to continue their cruise on Seaway. Having seen the RCC burgee, asmembers, had come over to say hello. The club is really fantastic as you know when someone says hello that they are really accomplished individuals and like people. Seaway had cruised North up the Irish coast last season and now planned to head over to Scotland and up the Caledonian canal as the summer cruise. She had spent the winter in Kilrush and was now in the water ready for action.We arranged to get together and share notes on the South and North. After a kind invitation to dinner with the Williams , they departed to a nearby village and i went into to town for some shopping and a light supper.
Back on board early, my bunk was beckoning ..... more sleep catch up.
Tuesday 4th July
I cant put it off any longer, i have to write the blog.
After a hearty breakfast i settle down with my tablet and start to write up the passage from Scalloway to Kilrush, 750 miles and the main event on the passage round the UK.
The tablet is ok, but not nearly as easy as the PC to write on, but its on board and i have the day, so i can get it done.
Aran came over and i joined him on Seaway to share knowledge and look at his track from the previous year. Its always very useful to understand where people have been, what they liked, what facilities are available etc as we planned to cover part of the same ground down to Cork. It seemed we could expect more sea life, mist, rain and spectacular scenery. I had little to share on the North route as Kilrush was my first port of call, but i found a useful 2017 marina guide which covered part of their route into Scotland and so could pass that on for its trip back to Scotland.... I was given it in Peterhead and it was on its way back!
I watched as Seaway pulled off the dock on schedule at exactly 1600. I was impressed. That day in the sun and rain they had bent on the sails, provisioned, and sorted the boat out ready for sea. In addition they had driven the hire car to Shannon airport and caught a taxi back to Kilrush..... that's a lot of organising and doing for a day before slipping lines and heading out to sea. I watched as their daughter, reversed Seaway out of the dock and headed for the lock to exit to the Shannon river. She handled the boat like a seasoned hand and must be no more than 13.... so good to see.
Dinner ashore in the pub, Crotty's... Irish stew which was delicious, then back on board to finish the blog..... I finished late, but was happy that it was done and dusted for another week or two.I decided to move into the forepeak berth and spent a comfortable night with a deep sleep.
Slamat was ready, the laundry done, boat clean, blog written. All ready for Amanda and the boys the following day.
Wednesday 5th July
Feeling great this morning. I am excited that Amanda and the boys are arriving today and look am looking forward to being back on board with the family. I love being with everyone on the boat. The proximity of the family stimulates conversation and interaction which you just don't get on land or in a house and we laugh and talk together. Ok so the phones and tablets still get used, but not as much... books are read and cards played... its real family time
I had organised a taxi for Amanda from Ennis (50E) and confirmed that they had arrived and were on the bus. The flight was from Southampton, so really easy from the Island and only 50 minutes to Dublin. The Bus was only 20E for the whole family and a 2 and half hour run, but by 1400 they were all in the marina and what a joy to see everyone.
We spent a moment stowing stuff, sorting bunks and settling in. I was excited to see everyone and expectant about setting sail and heading off to cruise the Wild Atlantic Way... However conscious that settling in period was required and a good nights sleep.
Supermarket, provisions and a good walk with the boys. Amanda on board alone for a while getting familiar with the forepeak berth and all back for tea and cake.
Ashore for dinner to Kelly's seafood and steak restaurant, the best of the three restaurants (pubs) in town and after an average meal retired on board. It felt good to all be together again.
Thursday 6th July
We all slept well and after coffee and a full breakfast worked on our plans. We wanted to see the town and then g=figured that it would be great to head 5 miles west to a small anchorage before crossing the mouth of the Shannon the following day. Ashore we wandered round town and bought a few bits from the supermarket. With 4 on board provisioning was more critical and luckily Amanda was there to take control of all the goodies we would need. The brief was for 3 nights at anchor before our next restaurant, so we made sure we had enough cake, chocolate and bacon to get through.
Lunch aboard and family monopoly waiting for the tide. I paid the marina for 5 nights and electric (121E + 10E) and at 1530 turned the engine on and slipped lines.
Conditions were mild as expected and finding a counter current on the N shore of the Shannon motor sailed the 8 miles up to the anchorage at Carringholt bay. The boys put a line out and 3 mackerel were caught, and after gutting them JJ decided that was supper for him....Louis and i opted for chicken breast and vegetables... delicious and a welcome change from pub food or the red / white stew of my single handed cruising... thanks Amanda.
Coffee and cream and fruit cake rounded off a lovely dinner. Out with the cards and we found a game, Parliament, which was to become our staple family card game... great fun and a good laugh. 2100 bed after a lovely family day.
Friday 7th July
0530 up and tea on. Amanda and Louis up to. Louis loves the boat and the action and was excited about pulling up anchor and heading off South across the Shannon. We had held well overnight and had a good night at anchor.
Engine on and slip lines at 0620 and off we headed. The conditions were light winds on the nose and some Atlantic swell. Dolphins by 0645 which was great as we headed over to the South of the Shannon entrance to Smerwick Harbour.ith the swell and light winds Louis was feeling a bit rough, but unfortunately that's Louis and after a day or two he would get used to the motion. JJ spent the journey reading his book with occasional trips to deck to monitor our progress, but was happy and content.
By 12.30 we were at anchor in Smerwick harbour and all was well. Although both boys had felt off in the swell, they both were excited about our first anchorage and the prospect of swimming. With the water temp at 15.5 degrees it was a bit parky for me, but the boys seemed to think it would be ok.
After a ships lunch of bread, ham, cheese and pate we launched the dinghy and off they went to land on Irish shores and explore a smallbeach. Bravely they immersed....not sure you would call it swimming but heads under... much talk of brain freeze... but full marks for endeavour and we shall chalk that up as first swim in Ireland.
We all got in the dinghy with the engine on for a walk ashore. Now the dinghy i had bought with Slamat is not really designed for 4, so its got what you would call low freeboard.... definitely a wet backside with all the family aboard. However we got ashore in the calm conditions and landed on a small beach. We made our way across fields, past the bulls, through barbed wire fences and to a road. Walking in the afternoon sun was great and we made our way to the Dun An Oir, a headland where 600 Italian Spanish and Irish were massacred by 4000 English in 1580. (part of the second Desmond Rebellion ). It seemed a remote location for such large forces to fight so many years ago.
Back to the dinghy and more swimming for the boys... total immersion this time... and back on board. Dinner of Steak and coleslaw and after dinner games completed a full day. We all slept well with a peaceful night at anchor in the well protected bay 30 meters from the beach... perfect.
Saturday 8th July
Some blue sky, Still... no wind... eggy bread breakfast and all clear by 08.30. Today we head around the point of the Dingle peninsular and around the Blasket Islands. Stunning and dramatic.
0900 anchor up and away. and out of the bay onto some Atlantic swell. 0930 dolphins alongside as we approach the Blaskets. 10.20 first seadog sighting. (Seals hang out on the islands but when seen as they pop their heads above water and look like swimming dogs, so we call them seadogs.) 10.30 first Puffin sighting... lots of sea life today which is great. Loads of Puffin, Razorbills, Fulmars, Gannets and Guillemots.... Dolphins and seadogs.... lots to see and watch as we make our way past the dramatic islands.
We decide to make our way round Great Foze rock and up to Inishvickillane for lunch. Not thinking we motor up the West side of the island and duck into the pass between the two islands to make a small anchorage for lunch. On arrival we decide to motor up the lea of Great Blasket Island to the east as its not a good looking anchorage and a little rolly. (Of course at this stage i have actually missed Inishvickllane island having passed it to Starboard, but i am unaware of it at this stage... the simple brief...) rounding the point to the landing area on Great Blasket island we are surprised to see maybe 100 people on the beach and 10 boats at anchor... all a bit crowded for us so we head off to the mainland and slowly make our way the 10 odd miles to Dingle.
It has been a hot and sunny afternoon and with lots of sealife and we are all happy as we arrive in Dingle andtie up alongside the marina. Dingle seems busy. Its full of tourists and we discover its the most visited town in Ireland....
Dingle harbour has a resident bottlenose dolphin, Fungie. There is a whole tourist trade built around this large marine mammal and as we entered the harbour there hewas, jumping out of the water 20 ft away from Slamat. Fungie is pretty large, and i feel quite sorry for him. But he pays his way and shows off to the various tourist boats who chase him around, decks full of multi national punters snapping photos of him
Dinner ashore i think... Saturday night in Dingle..... Music, seafood, Great!
The boys always manage to busy themselves when alongside. Louis has decided catching jellyfish is the afternoon sport. Having landed a couple of large ones its a question of stingability... call Dr Google. Its ok they only sting a little... well that to an 11 year old is a challenge.... confirmed..."its not too bad really"... although its a bit red and swelling a little, but "doesn't really hurt".
We venture out for a look around and dinner. Dingle is awash with people but we find a cheap seafood restaurant and all have delicious squid and chips... err except louis who has opted for southern fried chicken and coleslaw... which i must say looked very good.
The end of another good week on Slamat... We have not done any mileage, but we are all together and enjoying family life aboard again.