Archive for the ‘Ellis Island to Cobh’ Category

An Amazing Day

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Time has just flown since the last blog… The days have been hectic after the relative simplicity of life at sea!

On that last night out there we first saw the light from Fastnet Rock, and soon afterwards also Galley Head. For hours we could see the sweeping lights of those major South Coast lighthouses, but still no sign of the Emerald Isle itself. It was well after dawn before Kinsale Head appeared over the horizon. We had made such good time from Horta we decided to stop off in Kinsale for showers and a rest before continuing on to Cobh.

At 13.00, just outside Cork Harbour, I received a phone call from an old friend, Anthony, who as well as running an online chandlery (providing me with all my charts for the trip), is also a Cork Harbour Pilot. “We’ll be there in two minutes”, he said. I turned around to see both Cork Harbour Pilot boats powering out through the waves, side by side doing 25knts, directly for us. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. I got the feeling this was going to be bigger than I had expected… We began our sail into the harbour towards Cobh.

As we cleared between the forts, we were flanked by a Pilot Boat on each quarter, led by a Navy rib and followed by yachts, powerboats, dinghies, launches, ribs, a Marine Transport ferry carrying lots of friends and family, representatives of each of the clubs in Cork Harbour. We rounded #18 bouy, and ballasted up for a nice reach up in front of the town. Dinah lifted her skirts and powered up along the shore of the Holy Ground getting up to 9knts over the water, probably touching 11knts over the land with tide. It was great to get the conditions to let people see a sample of what Dinah can do in open water, although it did mean we left the other yachts behind somewhat. Aileen passed a bottle of champagne from a local RIB, and we did the honours just off Dinah’s spiritual home.

Cove Sailing Club fired cannons as we passed in front of the town itself, and the Commodore Male Voice Choir sang Dinah’s battle song, “The Holy Ground”. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought growing up and spending so much time sailing these waters, that one day I would sail in to such a welcome. It was the proudest moment of my life, and I will never be able to thank those who came out in support enough.

We were met on the dock by the Mayor, who hosted a Civic Reception and presentation in the Town Hall, which was full of family, friends, and dignitaries. Cobh and Harbour Chamber of Commerce also made a presentation, and the Commodore Male Voice Choir entertained all on the seafront outside the Quays Bar who kindly provided our berthing and refreshments.

You will remember when we went to Ellis Island I was keen to find the statue of Annie Moore, the first immigrant processed there. After leaving the town hall, we headed back down to the waterfront and visited the statue of Annie that sits on this side of the old emigrant route. Seeing the statue really brought home the fact that we had done it. We were home.

That evening we motored down to East Ferry Marina where Cove Sailing Club hosted a great evening. They presented me with a beautiful bronze statue, a replica of the statue of Annie Moore in the photo above, as well as making me an Honourary Member of the Club.

Dinah will lie in Cobh for a few weeks now, before I bring her back up the East Coast to Dun Laoghaire where she’ll live for the winter while we get her ready for next years adventures, whatever they may be. Currently the plan is to sail into Dun Laoghaire on the afternoon of Sunday 23rd of August.

I’ll let you know how it goes…



Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

arriving at Cobh

At 1400 hours today, escorted by two Cork Harbour pilot boats, a Naval Service RIB, yachts and powerboats Dinah arrived in Cobh.  A welcome drink at the Quays Bar and Restaurant pontoon, followed by a Civic Reception hosted by Cobh Town Council and an evening of drinks with Cove Sailing Club at the Marlogue Inn adjacent to East Ferry Marina.

The Home Stretch

Friday, July 31st, 2009

2015 UTC

We have 75 nm to go to the Old Head of Kinsale. The plan is to pull in to Kinsale for some sleep, showers, and a good meal. Then on Sunday morning we’ll sail the last 20nm or so to Cobh, to pass the Holy Ground and continue up in front of the town at about 15.00.

But first things first… When I last posted we were approaching the continental shelf, with a nasty forecast for the night ahead. The shelf brought the expected nasty seas, with mountainous seas rumbling past, but thankfully we got onto the area with less than 1,000m depth before the conditions really deteriorated. I don’t know whether it was related to the rapid reduction in depth or not, but the phosphorescence last night was the best we have seen to date. I know I must sound like a broken record with new tales each day of strange lights of varying origin visible by night, but last night we had a new one to top the lot! Phosphorescent dolphins!

Pod after pod of dolphins came to play around the bow of the boat after dark, and amazingly as they swam they disturbed the plankton causing it to glow. The result was that despite the night being pitch black you could perfectly make out the shape of each dolphin glowing under the water, and they left a glowing neon type trail for about 20ft behind them marking their tracks as they weaved through the waves. It reminded me of the movie “Tron”. Both myself and Andy sacrificed a lot of sleep to watch them in awe for hours, neither of us having seen such an amazing sight before. That’s the last of the nighttime illuminations stories I promise!

Later in the night the promised gale hit us as expected. It was a tough night given the windy conditions on top of the already huge swell. We got thrown around a lot, took a lot of waves into the cockpit, and the incessant rain made it very cold. Such conditions are much more bearable though when they are helping you reach your goal, and the fact that we were averaging over 10 kts towards Kinsale for the night meant that neither of us really complained. It was this afternoon before the gale blew itself out. One big last squall in torrential rain, and suddenly we could see blue sky! The breeze dropped back to a pedestrian 15knts, and we hung our oilskins out to dry in the welcome warmth of the sun just in time to enjoy our “100nm to go” beer!

That 15knts Westerly breeze is perfect for us to make easy fast progress tonight, and we’re due to reach Kinsale in time for breakfast. 1180nm from Horta to Kinsale in 7.5 days is no easy feat, and I’m looking forward to celebrating Andy’s first transat with him in the early hours of the morning. Of course it will mean the second full transat for myself and Dinah, but I think like any of these achievements it’s the first time that’s really important.

If any of you are around Cobh on Sunday then please come say hello on the seafront at 15.00. I honestly can’t wait for the big homecoming. It’s been a long time coming. For now, we are heading into the last evening on the water, coastal sailing with a clear sky and a good forecast, so it’s time to go on deck and enjoy one last sunset.

The Continental Shelf

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

30 July, 2100 hours…

Tonight we are 250nm SW of the Old Head of Kinsale. Overnight we will cross over the continental shelf, marking the edge of geographic Europe. Over the space of just a few hours the depth under our keel will go from over 4,500m to less than 500m. This can make for very confused seas in a SouthWesterly wind, as the action of the waves gets confused by the huge cliff face underwater. And what’s the forecast for tonight? A SouthWesterly gale of course!


Yesterday after the last significant weather system we had a good day. A little grey and cold, but easy sailing, and we took the opportunity to make sure everything was ship shape. Overnight the breeze died to just 10knts and we enjoyed one last night of clear skies and flat water. I was conscious that it would probably be the last pleasant night offshore of the trip, and I enjoyed sitting on deck alone with my thoughts in the dark under the stars. Sunrise was one of the best yet.


Today turned into another grey day, with low visibility. It’s also getting quite cold. A thermal base layer and boots are now mandatory to keep the cold at bay. We both found it very strange to put on boots for the first time, after having been barefoot for weeks!

We had a visit from some dolphins. Not the grumpy green brown ones we had seen further south, but the friendly jumpy playful grey and white dolphins we’re more used to in the British Isles. I really must read up on recognising different dolphin species before I do another trip like this. I’ve seen so many different types over the last three months, it’s a shame not to know more about them.

Tonight conditions will build steadily through the night from the 22knts of wind and 15ft waves we’re enjoying at the moment. But again, at least the inclement conditions expected will slingshot us towards home. This time tomorrow we will be back in coastal sailing mode for the first time since New York! At least the forecast is for slightly better conditions as we actually approach the shore.

Until then…

—31 July, 0100 UTC

49 deg06.974N   12 deg06.383W

COG 042 SOG 7.9 DTG206  28knts breeze from 180.

Just crossed into Irish National waters according to my charts. Hurrah!