The Continental Shelf

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!