Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

18 th to 22 nd of August 2016 - Valentia Harbour

Crew : Andy, Helen, Anita and Gerry
Destinations : Glenleam Bay and Valentia Harbour.
Distance : 12 miles

After Anita and Gerry's long drive, we had planned a fairly easy day sail. We left our berth around 10am. Unfortunately, despite milling around outside the harbour with the trip boats, there was little evidence of Fungie the dolphin, though Gerry glimpsed a fin. We got all the sails up and sailed south west toward Valentia at around 2-3 knots. About half way the wind died completely so we motor sailed the rest of the way. The weather forecast was for gales on Friday and Saturday. However, things were still fairly settled and I had promised everyone a swim, so we took the tender across to the beach. Anita and Andy opted to for the drier version and left Gerry and I to get wet. We didn't have wetsuits and it was very cold so we got out pretty quickly. It was also getting a little grey, so we returned to the boat for a hot shower, supper and wine.

Around 10.30pm I went to bed. When Andy didn't join me I assumed he was still up chatting. However, around 11.30 he came in with waterproofs on saying he was going to take in some anchor chain. The wind seemed to be coming around from the east/north east, probably bending around the coast. As a result we were on a lee shore and had swung into shallower water than expected. Given the increasing gusts this wasn't a great situation to be in as our anchor chain was being pulled straight. Our depth was reading 0.3 metres and we still had a few centimetres to drop to low water. It was also pitch dark! I got my oilskins on and went up front with the torch for Andy whilst Gerry stayed below for moral support. Andy took in about 10 meters of anchor chain and we stayed up until low water had passed. We then returned to bed setting the alarm for 2am when we got up again to put out more anchor chain. By then we had 1.5metres of water and were finally able to sleep for the rest of the night.

The following morning the weather was pretty grey and windy. As we had to move anyway, we decided to take a look at the pontoons around the corner. We headed out of Glenleam Bay into the main harbour and had gusts of 35 knots. When we got around the corner, it was obvious that the pontoons were very exposed to the south and that was where the wind was coming from.

The expected wind direction was fairly uncertain as the centre of a fairly deep low pressure system was due to pass over the west of Ireland during the next 48 hours. However, it looked like it would be south or south westerly for the rest of the day, so we were happy that we would be safe with our large anchor, lots of chain and little swell in Glenleam Bay. It was also reassuring to have the lifeboat at anchor within sight of where we were.

We went back and anchored further off the shore, raising the reefed Mizen in an attempt to reduce the amount we would swing in the gusts. We then donned our oil skins and went ashore for a walk to Kinght's Town. It was raining on and off and pretty miserable.However, Anita and Gerry were still able to smile


During the evening and overnight, we watched as the wind picked up and gradually veered north west. We could see the swell as it tried it's best to enter Valentia Harbour through it's north west entrance. Unfortunately, overnight, it managed to get round the corner into our anchorage. Needless to say, we had one of the longest and most unpleasant nights we have ever had at anchor. The mizen sail seemed to increase the sound of the wind in the aft cabin which was terrifying.

Unsurprisingly, Andy and I were up very early and agreed we needed to move to the other side of the bay in the bite on the south of Beginish Island. We had the anchor up before Anita and Gerry knew what had happened. Setting the anchor in Force 8 winds was a fairly quick affair. We were able to settle down for a while. Although there was no reduction in the wind, which was still consistently more than 35 knots, there was less swell. It was also forecast that the winds would slowly reduce during the day. We were all concerned about how Anita and Gerry would get to their car in Dingle as we couldn't be certain the weather would be good enough to make the 10 mile trip before they needed to leave. However, it did look like we would be able to move to the pontoons later in the day and there was a good space which would provide us with shelter. Andy and I then started to plan how we would manage to to berth alongside when being blown off in a Force 8 Gale. This eventually involved a nose gay of fenders being secured on the bow, Andy then drove up wind directly onto the pontoon, I lassoed a line from the bow onto a cleat on the pontoon, I then climbed over the bow on to the pontoon so that Gerry could pass me a rope attached to a winch in the centre of the boat so that Andy could winch us in. Apart from a few minor mishaps (and a little bit of shouting by me!), it went well and we were all able to catch up on some sleep and think about how to get to Dingle.

In the end, after checking online, it seemed the ferry across to Dingle was no longer running and the buses were limited. The best option to get to Dingle on a Sunday was to get a taxi. We contacted Mr Kennedy of Kennedy's bus and taxi hire and he was free to take us to Dingle the next day for €120. Initially we thought this was a bit steep until we realised it was 76 Km and took 2 hours (not 20miles as I had estimated).We all decided to go on the trip to Dingle. We had agreed to be at the clock tower in Valentia for 10am, not quite sure what to expect of My Kennedy. It was raining hard as we walked the 500m along the pontoon so we were all pretty wet when he arrived promptly. He had a lovely red transit bus and included in the price was a commentary about the area we were driving through and information about his time working as a lighthouse keeper. He had spent 30 years in the lighthouse service before retiring back to Valentia and setting up his taxi business. He offered to take us on a free tour of Valentia if we were there for longer.

It rained on and off all day and there was heavy mist and few views. However, once we had picked up Gerry and Anita's truck we had a leisurely drive back the way we had come. We stopped at Inch Beach for lunch which was where "Ryan's daughter" was filmed. It was pretty bleak, however, it didn't stop people surfing and even swimming, but we decided that it wasn't for us.


Rather than using the ferry at Knight's Town, we drove to Port Magee and crossed the bridge before driving around Valentia Island whilst Andy and I tried to remember some of the history we had picked up. We took them down to the lighthouse. Unfortunately bad weather meant it was closed. However, things had started to calm down by the time we got back to the boat.


The following day the sun was shining and Anita and Gerry made plans to leave. They very kindly took all of our plastic recycling back to Cambridge and some of our glass. Unfortunately we couldn't find any plastic recycling at all anywhere and hadn't liked to put it in the normal bins. In fact there were very few places to dispose of rubbish anywhere, despite our willingness to pay for this service. We put our bikes in their truck so that they could drop us in Caherciveen where we said goodbye. Andy and I then visited the museum in the restored Royal Constabulary Barracks which was burned down in 1922.This was all about Daniel O'Connell who was born in Caherciveen. After lunch we then cycled back to the ferry with groceries and got a ferry ride back to the boat in the sunshine.


We had a lovely time with our  guests. I finally had people to play cards with even though the rules kept changing and I still don't understand how the betting works in poker. I think Anita and Gerry will have to come again so I can learn how to play poker properly. Perhaps when we head south and can have G&T rather than hot coffee and tea.

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