Windy old weather, stormy old weather……

We have been home for a week , leaving Festina in the capable hands of the Blackwells, tucked up in their gorgeous corner of Clew Bay.




In our absence the weather Gods have decided that we have been having it too easy and have sent a constant  strong Westerly airflow with frequent little unstable wave depressions that oscillate back and forth from S to NW , with rain accompanying the former and big squalls with the latter. Most of the time the base wind is 20-25 knots , with considerably more in the squalls , but as our course has been N , then NE and latterly East, it has been downwind most of the way , and FAST!

The plan has been to explore the islands of Mayo , then head North and do the same for Donegal. On previous trips we have hightailed it North into Scottish waters , but the more we get to know these N and W coasts of Ireland , the more we wonder why anyone would want to go anywhere else. Mayo has well maintained (and free!) visitors buoys in some of the most desirable places , but there is little in the way of modern alongside facilities so a close watch on the weather and care in choosing  anchorages is necessary – but that’s the way we like it!  I could spend a whole summer pottering around the islands of Inishboffin, Inishkea, Inishturk ( our absolute favourite!) and Clare , with the odd foray into Killary or back into Clew Bay for  provisions or shelter , but by all accounts it was just as nice further North so we eventually tore ourselves away.


Anchorage at Clare Island with Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay in background


On our previous visit I remember Achill point (with the highest cliffs in Britain) as being stunning, but we chose a SW wind to avoid beating , and flashed past in zero visibility .



Erris head is probably equally awesome , but we rounded it  blindfolded and screeched into the shelter of Broadhaven , rather cold and soaked to the skin. At precisely the most critical moment for pilotage there were several loud cetaceous snorts , and we were surrounded by 10 dolphin. These were not the Common dolphin we had encountered on the South coast , but Bottlenose dolphin ; Fungie’s kin.  They are big beefy animals , and the youngsters are fond of spectacular acrobatics , so all thoughts of tiredness , cold or discomfort were instantly dispelled as they cavorted around us . What’s more they followed us into our anchorage and played and presumably fed around us for an hour or two whilst we marvelled at  them- with the heater on and a hot rum in hand!  Who needs sunshine with that sort of show? Sadly next morning as we set off again they were nowhere to be seen.



One of the older animals had a distinctive set of saw tooth notches on the  trailing edge of its dorsal fin, and to our astonishment after a sporting 50 mile dash across Donegal bay , there he was alongside us as we surfed through the entrance to Teelin Hbr.  There were only 4 animals present at this time, and they stayed with us for a few minutes only , but it raises the possibility that this family of Bottlenose Dolphin move around pretty fast , and perhaps specialise in fishing in narrow entrances  to bays .

It was a great excuse to toast them with another hot rum toddy!

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