Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

5 th to 20 th of September 2016 - Back to Cork Harbour

Crew : Helen and Andy
Destinations : Behind the Island, East Ferry Marina, Port of Cork, Drake's Pool, Owenabue River and Crosshaven Boatyard Marina.
Distance : 41 miles

Our alarm was set for 6am and we were off our anchor by 7am. It is now not getting light until nearly 7am so it was a grey and wet start. The harbour was quiet and we didn't see any boats all day. This was in part, due to the fog which enveloped us for the whole journey. We were able to sail quite well under mizen and genoa initially. There was a swell which was on our aft beam, but enabled us to do some surfing down the waves. We were accompanied by dolphins and the occasional gannet. We had a way to go and wanted to be in Cork before dark, so when we started to lose speed we decided to motor sail. As we got to Galley Head the seas became a bit more confused so it was quite a bumpy ride. We got our first sight of land just as we arrived at the entrance to Cork Harbour. Out to sea remained in fog but the harbour looked quite clear. We were welcomed by two Bottlenose Dolphins briefly, before motoring around to the east and up past East Ferry. The channel was quite narrow and surrounded by trees so it was like being back in a river. The tide was in our favour and pushed us out into the wide bay around the back of Great Island. We found a nice peaceful place to anchor, near an egret tree. (Egretry?) In the evening we were disturbed by massive flocks of rooks coming home to roost.

The following day, after ringing George at East Ferry Marina, we weighed anchor and motored back down the channel to an alongside berth on a pontoon. People were very friendly and came to say hello. However, sadly the marina has had it's peak and suffered badly in the recession. The pub has closed down and George told us that there are very few people sailing over from the UK, especially Wales, as they used to. However, he still had water and electricity on the pontoons. Cobh was a 15 minute drive away and there was a car hire company who came to pick us up from the marina.

Time to explore ashore!

East Ferry Marina 

After a couple of days alongside visiting Cobh and the surrounding area with the car the forecasts were for south to south easterly gales. We were warned that the marina can be quite uncomfortable, especially when the tide is ebbing giving wind against tide. We were on the visitors pontoon with a Swiss chap in a steel boat, and we weren't sure whether we would need to move. We decided we should stay on the boat so that we could move quickly if needed. As the morning wore on the winds became stronger. The boat was bouncing and fenders creaking. However, we put extra fenders out and Andy put a few more warps on to secure us. Occasionally George popped down to check on the empty boats and make sure the pontoons were secure. However, the tide changed shortly after lunch and the boat started to feel like a bucking bronco. Once the fenders popped out from between us and the pontoon, we decided the time had come to move quickly. Sorting out the ropes at the bow felt quite precarious as the bow was rising and falling. However, when we came to spring off on a stern spring we did't have too much problem and we headed up the channel in wind and rain, finding a nice place to anchor. The winds were strong, but the sea state was flat so we settled down to an afternoon on the boat with our books.

The following day we were able to go alongside in the marina to pick up the car and collect our laundry from Cobh. We visited Tipperary as we had always wanted to know how far away it was. It wasn't a long way at all, but there wasn't much there. We did have a lovely walk around the Galty Mountains. There are a selection of Loop Walks to follow so we found one of these. Unfortunately the map by the road wasn't orientated with up being north, so we ended up heading in completely the wrong direction and, unsurprisingly not finding any signs to follow. However, we did find another circular walk which, apart from a lot of road walking, was still very pretty. Next time I will navigate.

On return to the marina we were told by George that the Swiss chap, Emilio, had already just headed up to anchor as the forecast was again for south east to southerly winds. He had stayed on the pontoon previously, so was planning ahead. We decided not to hang around either. We had our provisions and, as George had pointed out, Sunday is the day for prayer, so there would be no reason to go ashore.

After another couple of nights, we were able to get back to the marina to do some more exploring before taking the car back and anchoring for one last night before our weekend city break. We had rung the Cork harbour master first to make sure there was space. He warned us to get there early as there was a boat race on the Saturday from Cobh to Black Rock. We also found out it was the end of year BBQ for RCYC and many of them were coming up to Cork for the night. We were going to be on the inside of some big rafts. We were up for that.

Cork City Marina

On Thursday we left the anchorage at the end of the ebb (where we were). We said goodbye to the marina as we motored by. We then headed out into a bank of fog hanging over Cork Harbour. We didn't see much of Cobh as we passed. However, as we got around the corner into the river, the fog lifted.


On arrival in the Port of Cork we found ourselves next to a big cargo ship loading grain, It the first time we had had quite such a close view of the whole process. Fortunately they packed up for the day by 5pm. We made contact with someone I knew from Cambridge, Christina and she very kindly bought breakfast for us on the Friday. She was also able to point us in the right direction for the art gallery and helped us decide what to do for Culture night, which just happened to be today. We went to hear a poetry reading at Elizabeth Fort and, after supper ended up at the English Market where we had a front row view of a fab band playing in the butchers.

The yachts from around Cork Harbour did all start to arrive during Saturday afternoon, so we were happy to sit on deck and watch them come in and a couple of chaps try to organise them. Sadly, the following morning there wasn't anyone there organising people. All the boats on our outside apart from one had left by the time we came back from our swim. Unfortunately there was no-one on board to move and let us out. However, we found a couple of hung over men who moved it back on to another boat so that we could get out and head down to Crosshaven that morning.

Owenabue River

This time it was raining as we headed past Cobh. When we got to the entrance to the river Owenabue, I was very glad that Andy was on the helm. We arrived just as the dinghies were going back to the marina. It was also low water and a spring tide, so we had very little water and space to manoeuvre. We were well pass the various marinas before we ran aground for the first time. We waited for a short time, however, with a little bit of tide and engine welly we managed to reverse off and headed into slightly deeper water. We got to the anchorage and it was clear there was no space anywhere to anchor as it was full of moorings. We decided to pick one up as they looked in good condition. As I headed toward my favourite looking one we ran aground for a second time. Fortunately we got free immediately and headed back to the first one.

We had a peaceful day in the river. Andy did a few more deck plugs and I renewed some of the old sealant around the windscreen. In the evenings we were again entertained by huge murmurations of jackdaws and rooks. The sky above us was completely filled with the birds as they came in to roost for the night on the surrounding trees.

Crosshaven Boatyard Marina

After ringing Matt at Crosshaven Boatyard, we headed to our final stop of the trip on the Tuesday morning ready with our list of jobs before Speedwell is lifted on 3rd October. till time for more exploring before we fly home.

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