Cork 300 Wild Atlantic Way Cruise in Company 10 – 17 July 2021. In all 44 boats had registered for the event with more than half coming from clubs outside of Ireland and ICC members. Unfortunately, Covid 19 restrictions prohibited the boats from outside Ireland taking part and the ICC members decided that the risks and uncertainty of restrictions in place outweighed the benefits of them attending. This and some unfortunate circumstances reduced the fleet to 12 RCYC boats in total. A fantastic number considering the challenges we have all faced leading up to the event and it was again great to see new faces and new members joining the fun.
The Cork 300 Wild Atlantic Way Cruise in Company route was designed to be flexible to give participants the freedom to leave when they wanted or stay longer in places they liked or explore other locations that may not be on the route. After arriving in Bantry on 17 July 21 there was the option to cruise more extensively in the Bantry Bay area and/or go on to Dingle. Simon and Anne Brewitt on Calisto acted as the advance party departing Crosshaven on 8 July 21 and passing back great information on the availability of moorings and hospitality on the planned route. Valery Murphy and Guatam on L’Enfant Sauvage departed early for Kinsale on the 10 July 21 with the rest of the fleet bring up the rear guard. Sunshine and a tail wind help us along, but the sea state introduced a rock and roll to the passage which was an early test of the sea legs for many.
Kinsale Yacht Club did us proud by making sure we were welcomed to assisted into our prearranged berths for the night and a big thank you to Tony Scannell Rear Commadore Marina, Richard McKinaly Marina Manager. The evening was spent with Batt and Helen O’Leary and Con and Claire O’Callahan on Sweet Dreams christening their BBQ in celebration of Batt’s birthday and others eating on board or enjoying the food and beverages in the Vista Restaurant nearby with a pre birthday celebration for the Admirals good lady Irene.
Unfortunately, work and other commitments meant that Valery Murphy and Guatam on L’Enfant Sauvage, Shane Cashell on Eastern Star and Liam, Maggs and Scooner Drennan on Maggie having to return to Crosshaven with plans for some to rejoin the cruise later. John, Marrianne, Mathew, Isabell and Christine Molloy on Lady Ann decided to spend more time in Kinsale and catch up with us further down the route. A mixed forecast of rain and headwinds made a night anchorage in Blind Strand, Courtmacsherry Bay, our next stop. There was an early crew change on Giggles for the Admiral with Irene and Katie jumping off to return once we had got to Bantry and the Cork Harbourmaster, Capt. Paul O’Regan, and Nicola Kiely stepping onboard. With the wind on the nose, the trip to Blind Strand was a motor sail but pleasant enough and we all found good holding for the night. Capt Bradley, the Labrador, on Sea Dog with his crew and Eddie and Maria Fitzgibbon we first ashore in the dinghy to give Bradly a much needed comfort break. The night was spent exchanging pictures of cocktails and glorious spreads of food on What’s App and a divided audience watching or listening to the marathon European Cup football final between England and Italy. There was only one disappointed person among us with the result but the best team on the night lifted the trophy.
The next morning, greeted us with sunshine and the promise of fair winds,
so, we set off for Glandore. After rounding Seven Heads and into Clonakilty Bay, full sails were unfurled, and we were trucking along on a beam reach in 10 – 12 knts of wind with the sun splitting the stones. It was then I made the fatal mistake of commenting “this is the life, champagne sailing all the way” within minutes the wind dropped and what there was left of it went on the nose. Back to motor sailing and little did we know that this was to be a constant theme for the rest of our trip west.
A big thank you to Glandore Harbour Yacht Club staff who met us when we arrived and guided us to moorings an anchorages as well as running crew ashore. Also, on the way in a pre-arranged brace of lobsters was delivered to Giggles by a local fisherman. Prior planning and preparation and all that, fair play to them. It was a glorious evening with no Glandore Slop, the only downside being the lack of open hostelries ashore due to the dreaded Covid 19. This resulted in William Healy on Passing Wind and Aileen and yours truly on Freya being turned away as there was no room at the only open Inn. However, miracle upon miracles, the Admiral and Cork Harbourmaster were able to get a table just after we returned to our boats, it’s not what you known is it lads? The irony being us sat on our boats sipping chilled wine looking up at the customers in the pub and whishing we were sipping beer alongside them, socially distanced of course, and them most likely looking down upon us wishing they were on a boat sipping wine. Go figure. Later that night Derry and Hilda Good on Exhale joined us. Exhale being the boat that had traveled furthest to come on the cruise. All be it via boat transporter from the Caribbean.
Not a breath of wind greeted us in the morning and the sun shone and shone and shone. The plan was to go to Barloge Creek for lunch and then onto anchor off Sherkin Island in Baltimore Harbour. As we motored out of Glandore, dolphins greeted us by Adams Island and a very pleasant trip to Barloge was had. What a glorious spot it is. Anchors dropped, we all settle down to swimming and lunching. Unfortunately, the available depth did not suit Exhale so Derry and Hilda skillfully departed for Sherkin ahead of us. As we left Barloge the wind freshened but was on the nose, so we motored again to a safe anchorage off Sherkin.
The next day the fleet split with Derry and Hilda on Exhale Colin Paul and Nicola on Giggles heading for Schull to allow for crew to depart and a road trip back to Cork. Capt. Bradley, Maria and Eddie on Snow Dog and Batt, Helen, Con and Claire on Sweet Dreams headed for South Harbour for lunch and then onto Crookhaven for the night and John and Marianne and family on Lady Ann staying local with plans to catch up in Bantry Bay. William on Passing Wind, our only single handed sailor with not auto pilot or other fancy gizmos to help, and Aileen and myself on Freya elected to head to Lawrence Cove where the delights of hot showers cold beers and local seafood awaited as well as the opportunity to carry out a few running repairs. This was Williams first trip around the Mizzen and we were able to pass it close by and carry on safely to Bere Island, all bet under motor and a few patches of sea fog making things interesting. On arrival in Lawrence Cove Marina, we were greeted by the ever helpful Rachel who helped settle us in quickly. Unfortunately, the night in Crookhaven for Sweet Dreams and Snow Dog was not as pleasant with strong winds making it difficult to get ashore. Thankfully the moorings had been recently serviced so they were all safe on board.
The next three nights saw the fleet come back together again. With Snow Dog and Sweet Dreams arriving in Lawrence Cove on the Thursday afternoon after a fantastic encounter with Dolphins off the Sheeps Head. Their arrival regrettably led to savage competition over the delicious deserts available at the local Bakehouse Restaurant with Con, Helen, Claire and Batt coming out on tops on the first night but William and Aileen getting in first on the second night. Meanwhile Colin and Paul on Giggles were taking the roundabout route via Paul’s sisters’ idyllic private pontoon in Droum Creek. This is where Colin and Paul unfortunately suffered a bout of Gin poisoning courtesy of Pauls sister. We never learn do we lads. Anyway, the next day local drums were sending out messages of Giggles allegedly going gently aground in Castletownbere, which are yet to be substantiated. A slightly subdued Colin and Paul arrived in Lawrence Cove on the Friday, and we all pilled down to the Bake House Restaurant for more local seafood, Banoffee Pie and a cure for Colin and Paul from the pub, how bad.
Our stay in Lawrence Cove was idyllic and we all wondered why we had not been there in such a long time. The people are so hospitable, the scenery is breathtaking, the swimming and walking terrific and the food on the island is superb. However, all good things and that and it was time to move on to Bantry via Glerngarriff for lunch. This is where the heatwave truly kicked in. I never thought I would see the day in Ireland when it was too hot to walk on the deck in bear feet after 10am. We were set for sunshine all the way for the next week. Again, what wind there was, was on the nose, so the fleet motored all the way to Glengarriff. The only excitement on the way was Aileen unwittingly, switching off the Auto Pilot on Freya causing much constatation and 360’s on board as well as confusion with the rest of the fleet. Exciting to say the least. Glengarriff is such a special spot and the weather we were enjoying made it extra special and Caribbean like. The fleet anchored or picked up buoys and we set to swimming and lunching. Jack and Rosemary Roy on Tangaroa temporarily joining the fleet and hoisted the Cork 300 Flag to bolster the RCYC armada in the bay.
Our trip into Bantry from Glengarriff after lunch saw a hat overboard exercise being conducted with the crew on Sweet Dreams skillfully picking up Aileen’s prized hat before entering the marina. A big thank to Michael Murphy, the Bantry Harbourmaster, who had emsured space for us in a very busy marina. Already arrived were Simon and Ann on Calisto and new joiners Eugene and Ann Loughlin on Kerensa. We were all able to get safely berthed alongside for the evening in preparation for the celebratory end of cruise cocktail party and prize giving. For this crews were challenged to create a signature cocktail from each boat and prizes would be awarded for the best cocktail and other feats of note during the cruise. Extra points were also to be awarded for colorful attire. Off everyone went on a supermarket chase to gather cocktail ingrediencies and party nibbles. The heat in Bantry was unreal and Super Values air-conditioning was a welcome relief for many as the gathered the ingredients for their cocktails.
All be it fashionably later than planned, the cocktail party on the ponton commenced with great merriment, colour and everyone sharing stories of their trip. It was a difficult task to identify the winning drink and therefore may repeat tastings had to take place. Simon and Ann’s Calisto White Lady received an honorary mention, after the judges where able to regain their power of speech, Colins Giggles Manhattan’s were rather tasty, Helens Sweet Dreams concoctions took peoples breath away, especially after the story of the hoist, Freya’s Caribbean Rum Punch had everyone limboing, Williams Passing Wind Whisky Cocktail was very passible, however, Snow Dog’s Captain Bradly came out tops and Eddie and Marie graciously accepted their prize on behalf of Bradley who made short order of his own lamb treats prize. Special prizes were awarded to Simon and Ann on Claisto for their stalwart advance party reconnaissance, Hellen and her helpers Batt, Con and Claire on Sweet Dreams took the best on board catering prize, thank God that the cruise has a special calory free status, William on Passing Wind was awarded the single handed cruiser prize commemorating his first trip around the mizzen and longest single handed voyage, Con picked up the Cheesecake prize for rescuing Aileen’s hat and to compensate for missing out on desert the night before, Mathew, Isabell, Christine on Lady Anny received special penny whistles to entertain the parents and everyone in the audience received a Cork 300 pin as a memento of the trip. Our thirsts extremely well quenched by the cocktails, everyone safely retired for a peaceful all be it balmy night aboard.
Sunday was yet another scorcher with no wind and most people sought out shade and hydration to prepare for the evenings planned ferry trip to Whiddy Island for sundowners and supper. With Colin saying goodbye to his crew and master chef Paul O’Regan the day before, his new crew and family Irene, Katie and Rob jumped on board. At 7pm on the dot, Tim was waiting to ferry us out to Whiddy where we all settled outside the Bank Inn admiring the spectacular evening view of Bantry. Dinner was taken alfresco accompanied by much needed cool pints. Then, much to the merriment of onlookers, Colin, Katie and Rob decided to take a quick post dinner lie down after Irene and Aileen left their picnic bench. This seems to be quite a normal occurrence on the island, with Kathleen, the land lady of the Bank House, commenting that she was surprised that it took so long for the bench to tip after the girls left. Thankfully no serious injuries were incurred and Kattie and Robs gift of youth saw them quickly bouncing around and Colin recovered well after the administration of a few libations. The return trip gave us spectacular views of Bantry and the surrounds and after a few nightcaps we all retired to our bunks.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and Monday saw members of the fleet going their own separate ways. With Simon and Ann on Calisto heading further west with Dingle in their sights and the rest of us planning to cruise the local area for the week. What a fantastic week which was and made even more special by the people who came along. It was great to see everyone getting into the spirit of things, sharing stories and experience, and helping each other out when needed. It firmly brought to the front the comradery of club members and spirit of the cruising sailor, thank you all to everyone who came along.