27th July to 1st August 2001

Passage to Ireland - 27.7.2001
We left South Haven, Skomer for Kilmore Quay at six a.m. on the 27th July.    We had planned to leave at five a.m. but unfortunately overslept after our night of sleep disturbed by the Manx shearwater bombardment of our rigging!    Of course, our main VHF wasn't functioning properly, due to the crash landing by one bird on our aerial.

The crossing of the Irish Sea should take about twelve hours, six hours of north flowing tidal stream and six hours with the tide heading south.   Our plan was to leave Skomer as the tide turned to head north, allowing Anju to be pushed north of our target by the tide for six hours and then the south flowing tide should compensate and put us right back on course for Kilmore Quay just as we would be due to arrive.    Simple, unless the navigator, on this occasion Christine, is a little rusty and has forgotten that all the tide timings are related to high water in some far distant place called Dover in England, 300 miles away and not on the times of high water in nearby Milford Haven, which had up to that point been our reference for all of our navigation.    An elementary mistake, highlighting just how out of practice we had become in our tidal navigation.    

Friends in the Irish Sea


After a perplexing half hour, trying to understand why we were being strongly pushed to the south rather than the north, the penny finally dropped and after a short period of self-chastisement, we decided simply to reverse our plan and head south first with the tide, allowing the north flowing tide to put us back on target instead.   Luckily our "Plan B" worked just as well.

The crossing to Kilmore Quay in Ireland was very flat with no wind, so it was a comfortable motor sail.  During the crossing, for thirty magical minutes, we were accompanied by a school of around 30 dolphins, our Irish welcoming committee.   We had a spot of trouble with something in our battery management system overheating but being unable to locate the source of the fault, we just reverted to our normal battery charging mode, instead of the more efficient charging we could achieve with the management system.

Kilmore Quay
Kilmore Quay


The approach to Kilmore Quay marina can be tricky.   In the past we had passed between the two marker buoys, positioned to mark the only passage through St. Patrick's bridge, a long shallow shoal leading out from the entrance to the port.    The buoys weren't easy to pick out during our previous approach two years earlier, when we had been heading west into the evening sun and the waters around the shoal were quite disturbed.   We were pleased on this occasion to be approaching from the south, passing close to the Saltee Islands before picking up the transit markers leading into the harbour. 



Despite the fact that we'd been careful not to use our handheld VHF, to save the power in the rechargeable battery for only emergencies or our arrival at the marina, on trying to call them up, we found there wasn't enough power to transmit left in the battery and had to resort to the back up power pack using normal AA batteries, allowing us to transmit at least long enough to be safely berthed inside the marina.   We very rarely use our handheld but the rechargeable battery just doesn't seem to hold it's charge at all.

We made good time and arrived in plenty of time to have the welcome assistance of the harbour master in tying up alongside a hammerhead berth.  Kilmore Quay is a very welcoming and friendly place and just as lovely as we remembered from our last visit.  In fact the marina workers remembered us and Anju from the week we had spent there two years earlier.   Even Sophie, the cat, and her passion for the delicious, juicy scampi, were remembered by the lady in the nearby Silver Fox Seafood restaurant!    During our stay of a couple of nights, we sampled the scampi to the point where we couldn't face another prawn for at least a month.    

On our previous visit, before we'd discovered the delights of the prawns, we'd returned to the boat with a simple cod and chip take-away supper, to find Sophie on the pontoon, with a new Irish friend, owner of a boat moored nearby,  eagerly tucking into the left-overs from his lobster supper.   She had no time at all for tidbits from our offering!   At that moment we had an inkling of how the crew on those super-yachts must feel watching their guests tuck into luxury delicacies.     

The very next day Sophie actually won us a free supper, as our fishermen neighbours kindly donated a whole bucket of freshly caught fish, "for the cat"!    Of course Sophie ate her fill and we still had plenty to make a fresh fish dinner for ourselves and four visitors!

Lacking the stamina to paint the town red, after our night disturbed by the constant twanging of shearwaters on our rigging in Skomer, we retired early, after a couple of medicinal Guinness, the best cure we've found so far for land-sickness!   By nine am the following morning, Phil was at the top of the main mast doing what he could the repair the bird damage to our VHF aerial.    Later it was time to explore and we decided upon an excursion by bicycle to a nearby bird sanctuary, just to prove that we had no axe to grind with our feathered friends.   

We very soon realised that although we'd been working hard for months on the preparations to Anju, we had become rather unfit and on finally, arriving at the nature reserve with legs of jelly and t-shirts damp from the unaccustomed exertion, found that no access was possible to the nature reserve due to the foot and mouth crisis and had to make do with a visit to a second hand bookshop and an ice cream instead, which did nothing to improve our level of fitness at all!    We returned to the marina via the beautiful beach with its golden dunes after another brief period of exertion paddling in the sea.

After yet another scampi dinner from the Silver Fox, we made our way to Kehoe's pub, to enjoy the live music.    Unfortunately the band didn't start to play until almost eleven and by this point, after such a strenuous day and several Guinness too many, we just didn't have the stamina to stay right through the entertainment.

Route across the Irish Sea

Next morning we said a sad farewell to Kilmore Quay and headed across the bay to the entrance to the Waterford River.   Our passage although short to the river mouth was unpleasantly bumpy with wind on the nose and the tide in the opposite direction, giving both us and Sophie a taste of things to come in the next few days.

We were surrounded by lush and beautiful countryside on our passage up the river, to reach the town of Waterford, about thirteen miles away.   It also gave us a good opportunity to refresh our river pilotage skills.   

Since our last visit, Waterford had installed new pontoons on the river for berthing.   On our earlier visit during our Day Skipper Course, we'd been forced to keep watch through the night to adjust the warps as the tide fell and rose again, to avoid being left hanging high and dry on the wall.   The pontoons made life much more pleasant, although we were glad of our newly installed shower as there were no amenities provided with the new pontoons.


Who's in charge here?   Oh!  Must be me!

We had chance to visit our friends Janet, Neil and their new baby Colin in Clonmel whilst in Waterford and spent a lovely day in their garden trying to remember how to relax!  It sounds strange but one of the hardest adjustments we've found in changing our lifestyle from the rat race to cruising was actually learning to relax and not feeling guilty about taking it easy, despite the photographic evidence to the contrary!

We had planned to head west from Waterford to visit Kinsale and Cork but frustrated by day after day of westerly winds, finally we decided it was time to head straight for Spain instead.   

Spain, we'd been told by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in the UK, require a veterinary health certificate for animals visiting their shores.   However, they refused to issue one before we left the UK due to the fact we would be calling into Ireland first and told us we would need to have a certificate issued there.    So, we set off in search of a vet able to provide the necessary documentation.  Finally managing to evade the hoards of people curious about what we were carrying around Waterford in our cat box, we arrived at the vets.    In the waiting room a small dog had scared Sophie and by the time the vet took her from the box for her checkup, she was like Houdini.   We spent an amusing few minutes trying to retrieve the most disgruntled feline from behind the vet's furniture before the certificate was issued.   Of course, on arrival in Spain, none of the Customs Officers we met were in the slightest bit interested in our cat and her certificate!

We set our departure time for high tide in Waterford at 6.15 pm and left our space on the pontoon with the friendly assistance of other boat owners.    We decided to prepare dinner in the calm water whilst we were travelling back down the river.    A moment of stress occurred when the chef, Christine, surpassed herself by causing a small fire in the galley.  The kettle, which must earlier have been placed on a plastic bag when hot, causing plastic to melt and adhere to its base, was placed on the gas burner and naturally the plastic immediately began to burn.    Luckily the fire was immediately put out as the kettle was small enough to fit into the sink.     Not a good omen at the start of our crossing of Biscay!

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