Ocean Froggie's 1000nm Coastal Cruise
Killaloe to Dun Laoghaire

Part 7 - The Voyage Home - Bantry Bay

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Cruise Maps


Ocean Froggie Specs

Day 22 – Kinsale to Lawrence Cove (77nm AET 0615 fog, sun wind and swell)

Evening before departure, we enjoyed a nice meal in a restaurant overlooking Kinsale harbour. We watched with interest a fishing vessel on the quay feeding a friendly seal, gleefully consuming all the man would give it like a grateful labrador. Next morning was the first rain I had experienced for weeks. It was forecast to clear early with good visibility and sunshine by mid afternoon and winds 4 occasionally 5. Solo once again as family heading home on the cork train. I decided to leave around 1330 to make the most of the weather on the 116nm passage to Dingle, hoping to arrive about 2000. Holiday is now over, so this is just a mission to get the boat back to base on the Shannon as quickly as possible. Prepared the boat for the passage taking the usual extra precautions for single handed cruising taking into account the expected swell and breeze (eg remove any reason to go on deck mid passage, check grab bag, personal EPIRB attached to belt, secure and strap rib firmly on davits, take all ropes and fenders in off decks, etc). Waved good bye to my family as I left Kinsale harbour. Cruising at 18kt and weather permitting ETA Dingle 2000 six and a half hours later. It didn’t permit!

Kinsale YC - Crew depart for Cork train home complete with folding bikes. Fuelled and ready to go. Final checks and slip my lines at 1324, ready to start the voyage home.

There was a lot of activity as I left Kinsale, many of the Cork weeks boats were now cruising to their various home ports or cruising the amazing SW coast for a break after the hectic week long regatta. It was grey but forecast to clear quickly to sunshine, but no sooner than I had passed Bullman south cardinal marking the entrance to Kinsale harbour that I realised the visibility would be somewhat different. The old head of Kinsale light house soon evaporated into a shroud of mist and fog rolling in from the sea, which then enveloped me and all the yachts around me – click “who turned out the light”! Within minutes I was in thick fog and pegged the speed from 20kt back down to 7kt and then 5kt as the visibility dropped to about 80m. The radar was alive with targets, so took it easy, sounded the horn appropriately and scanned both the radar and forward. Had plenty of conflicting targets to avoid, and got a chance to eyeball one or two of them. Some yachts did not appear on my radar till they were less than 1m away, so I had to keep the speed down. COLREGS my backside, none of these yachties took any avoiding action (probably no radar or not being monitored), so I was up to me to keep us all out of harms way. I didn’t see land again for 3 hours, when the muck finally lifted revealing a beautiful sunny evening south of Glandore harbour. Picked up the speed again to 20kt, past Clear Island and the Fastnet rock, but the wind had picked up and we were now more exposed to the Atlantic swell that had been brewed up nicely all week before.

Fastnet Rock photographed three weeks earlier. But this time the sea was a little more animated.

Boat handling well, blue sky and sun, what more do you need. As the waves increased, now on the nose, I had to slow again to 15kt to avoid slamming. I then noticed the RIB and Davits were not as secure as I had thought and became concerned that I would loose the rib or break the davits if I kept this speed up so I slowed to match the wave frequency. Usually I have the rib up tight against both davits with zero movement possible, but now there was ½ inch of play adding enormously to the stress loading on the davits. I was tempted to go out on deck to secure it, but due to the conditions and being on my own decided against it, the rib was more expendable than my children’s dad. Now well behind schedule due to slowing first for the fog and now for the head on sea I was wondering about the wisdom of arriving in Dingle well after dark, tired, and perhaps without the RIB. I pushed on past Mizen head now F5/6. It is amazing how quick the sea state can change once your round one of these major Atlantic SW coast headlands such as Mizen head, Dursey head , Valentia island, and Sybil not ‘Fawlty’ Head :) It wasn’t that bad, but I was tired, 3 hours behind so I decided to divert into Bantry bay and head for Lawrence Cove marina in Bear Haven. Sea no longer head on so got back up to 15kt and cruised towards the entrance to Bear Haven sound (ie behind Bear Island). It was a lovely sunny evening but lumpy out in Bantry bay.

Mizen Head

Entering Bearhaven – shelter at last. Looking astern with Ardnakinna Pt Lighthouse to stbd and Bantry bay and the Atlantic behind.

Ahead Castletown harbour a busy commercial fishing port with – NO PARKING for leisure craft. It was alleged few weeks later that port authorities turned away a transatlantic yacht. There are no facilities whatsoever here for visiting leisure craft; however Lawrence Cove marina is just around the corner in one of the most scenic locations in Europe. There are also quite a few wonder anchorages and bays tucked away in hear in Bear Haven sound and most of them have yellow visitor mooring buoys. The local authorities take them in each winter and reset them each spring so you can be sure they will hold. There is no charge for use.

Arriving at Lawrence Cove marina located at Bear Island on Bantry Bay. Popular with visiting yachts, it is the only marina between Kinsale and Dingle bay. The surrounding scenery is awe inspiring. This small friendly family run marina has all the facilities including 220v, water, showers, diesel jetty, and a call phone, yes you may need one as there is no mobile phone coverage. They have a cute little souvenir shop with all manner of Lawrence Cove labelled boat wear.

This marina is a little paradise, an oasis of escape from a busy world, one you can forget so easily here. Irish fisheries protection vessel moored outside me for the night complete with a friendly crew including a Scotsman, a Welsh man, an Ulsterman on board. Listening to the wind blowing up over night, I was beginning to doubt the forecast weather window promised by the met office. The first wave of nasty Atlantic depressions in a month was due to arrive with winds F6/8 for a week.

Kinsale to Lawrence Cove

Day 23 – Lawrence Cove to Killaloe on Lough Derg (152nm AET 1300hr)

Next morning I woke up to these views. Good for the soul.

Fishery patrol back on duty preparing to get under way. I was to meet them again some hours later near the Bull rock.

By 0900 next morning the winds suddenly dropped, so I topped up with diesel, checked the forecast and decide to attempt the 152nm trip all the way home to Killaloe. The forecast was NW F4 and the tide for passage up the Shannon estuary was fair, with just enough time to get under the bridges in Limerick after HW and get through Ardnacrusha before dark when the lock closes. It was going to be a long but enjoyable passage.

Fr Ted's Bear Island Car Ferry. Hardly restricted in her ability to manoeuvre! The marina is on a small island after all. Must be murder to run a funeral ashore!

Famous wreck in Bear Haven sound. Industrial relations gone wrong – story has it the crew of this Russian freighter opened the sea cocks and sank her many years ago when the management couldn’t pay their wages. Who knows? A well known divers playground now.

Bear Haven sound looking east into Bantry Bay. I’ll be back here next season that’s for sure. This must be one of the most scenic cruising areas in Europe.

Heading away out of the Haven back into Bantry bay. Fantastic hot weather again and calm waters, but three major Atlantic headlands and bays yet to cross. Wow this kind of cruising is exciting. This time the RIB is strapped as firmly to the davits as “Quasimodo”.

Passing the Cow and the Bull rocks off Dursey head (Bull to starboard)

Looking astern at Dursey head. Looking like a tamed beast, a dinosaur having a drink, or is it a Rino complete with ears!

Kenmare Bay – Looking north east down the bay at the mountains of Kerry – The Kingdom! I then passed Valentia Island, crossed Dingle bay, and through Blasket sound in rather lumpy wind against tide conditions. Once through the sound passed Sybil head I headed NE passed the three sisters, Ventry harbour and one of the most spectacular stretchs of gothic coastline. Sea state comfortable and I was able to maintain 18kt.

Farewell Kerry - Mt Brandon, 3 sisters and Blaskets astern, till next year

Shannon Estuary – Calm and Serene. Sheehan Light house on Beeves rock just east of the famous Foynes Island. Hard to believe that back in the days of the Atlantic flying boats that this place was the busiest Atlantic air hub in the world. The spiritual home of PAN AMs vast Clipper flying boats. FOYNES YC has a small visitor jetty and there is a flying boats museum nearby. Stowed away the canopy to enjoy the sun.

Costa Del “Shannon Estuary” as evening falls, I’ve been under way now for 8 hours. Just about to pass Shannon airport on the final run up the estuary with the tide. The clock and the tide are on my side for a change, it looks like I’ll make it all the way home.

Approaching Limerick City – Clarion hotel designed to look like a ships funnel http://www.clarionlimerick.com  Looks like I’ll arrive an 1h30m after HW so should just squeeze under the city’s Abbey river bridges – 5 in all but on a falling tide. Just beyond this bridge is Sarsfield sea lock. I had the canopy down for the past few hours, so it was easy to drop the radar arch for the passage through Limericks low bridges and the power station.

Limerick’s Historic City – In the fore ground you can just see the buoys that mark the weir where the Abbey river joins the Shannon.

Limerick City - Georges Quay on the Abbey River. This stretch of water is tidal but maintains a minimum depth thanks to the weir built in 2001. The abbey river is quite tame in summer months, but can be a raging monster of white water if the hydro electric power station upstream on the Shannon is running all four of its turbines. During summer months they rarely run more than one turbine, and so the flow is manageable. I have though seen this particular stretch of narrow water with a flow of 12kt, and at that speed its too late to turn back if you don’t think you will have enough air draft – your going through those bridges one way or another! Last year a good pal of mine brought his Birchwood 40 down when 4 turbines were running generating 12kt flow here, realised there was no way he would fit under the next bridged, but used his 700hp to turn her in this stretch and moor up at this jetty. She remained on the plane even when tied up. He is a very lucky sailor. Don’t worry it’s not that bad 90% of the time during summer and anyway the lock keeper wont let you in if the flow is dangerous. Nice pub grub at the “Lock Bar” beside the quay. If staying over night in Limerick, stay at the Hunt Museum Jetty just around the corner, its secure and quieter in the early hours.

Map of Limerick Navigation

Upstream where the Abbey rejoins the River Shannon. You may just be able to make out a large 3ft dia water pipe entering the river above and to the left of the little boat! It covers at HW and another good pal of mine hit it hard last year (went wrong side of buoy during a thunder storm). What’s a bit of stern gear between friends. There is a very good cruising guide available from Waterways Ireland for this stretch of the navigation and it’s free. http://www.waterwaysireland.org

Ardnacrusha Dam - I headed up to the power station, lock keeper was expecting me and he had the lock gates raised, so straight in. Being single handed, I couldn’t lock through in the normal manner using ropes on hooks as the boat lifted, so instead I kept the engines running and hovered as she ascended the 102 feet up to the non tidal head race canal.

Entering the lower chamber – 102 up to the top.

Parteen Weir as the moon rises. This is where the mighty Shannon is diverted to the Ardnacrusha hydro electric power station.

Arrived in our marina berth in Killaloe at 2230 after 152 miles and an 13hr passage in glorious weather. Thus ended our 1000nm cruise for 2006. It had been the trip of a life time and one we will never forget. Looking forward to next year already. The Channel Islands have already been mentioned on more than a few occasions.

Lawrence Cove to Killaloe

Ocean Froggie’s 2006 Cruise

Lough Derg – Back home enjoying the giant Lough.

Until 2007 – Cheers Epilogue

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(C) 2006 - Crew of Ocean Froggie