Sunseeker Chapter 8
Venturing, the following afternoon, around the Ben of Howth, Sunseeker encountered the same lumpy seas as previously. Though with not enough wind to fill the sails, we now had a strong, fair, south-going tide to speed us along our way. Within five hours she had covered the thirty miles to Wicklow, passing through the outer harbour with a rising northeasterly wind behind us. Local yachts, on their moorings in the west of the harbour were bouncing in the lively swell. Bright, late-afternoon sunshine made the spray sparkle like diamonds as the waves tumbled onto the yellow sandy beach within the confines of the harbour walls. Continuing through the outer harbour we entered the Leitrim River and lost the wind and swell completely. In the still, warm evening sunshine we cautiously approached a large, steel ketch moored alongside on the north quay. We were about to hail her for directions when a charming couple emerged from below to take our lines and make us fast. As, on too many occasions, we failed to make a note of their or their craft’s name they have become lost to us.
Sunseeker had, we think, decided not to stay too long in Wicklow. During the night my knot on the stern slipped. Around five the next morning, with the flood tide, she turned herself around. We were woken by a gentle tapping as she nudged against the next boat upriver. All was not lost, however. The lady on the ketch was also woken and emerged on deck to investigate and to help us once more. Her nightie, very pretty and very skimpy left little to my imagination!
Our planned departure later that afternoon was delayed because of a strong northeasterly wind and a high swell in the outer harbour. A new neighbour tied up alongside during the early evening. The yacht Romari is based at Sunderland Point on the River Lune. It seems she was heading back there following an Irish cruise.
To catch the strong, south-going tide for our next port of call, Arklow, Sunseeker left the river at six-thirty the following morning. Once again there was no wind but the skies were brightened by the early morning sunshine. Mizzen Head, passed close by to starboard as we were carried along in the current. It was only nine o’clock and we had covered the fifteen miles as Sunseeker slipped between the sea walls to enter the Avoca River, seeking the dock entrance in the south bank. We tied up alongside a local fishing boat, helped by a friendly fisherman. He told us this boat would not be leaving harbour for a week as the crew was enjoying a holiday. When we learnt that a Maritime Festival would be in full swing over the Bank Holiday weekend we decided to stay awhile too.
The Harbour Master kindly agreed to accept mail on our behalf so that evening we telephoned home to ask Mum to send on any mail. We also phoned Misty’s new keepers. They assured us that she was fine and settled into her new home.
Meanwhile, back on Sunseeker, a light over the steering compass was fitted and wired up. Rene’s pedestal (a box to stand on to let her see over the new doghouse fittings) was firmly screwed to the floor. We patched the dinghy and Rene made a courtesy flag for Spain, our planned next country. Weren’t we busy?
By Friday our mail had arrived and the Maritime Festival had long since wound up. I had no further excuse to stay. We had both enjoyed the carnival and the calm, warm sunshine, so we were ready to go. We were psyched up ready to go “round the corner” from the east to the south coast. Tomorrow the strong, south-going tide should start running at about eight o’clock.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early for the weather forecast. A depression is crossing Ireland bringing moderate to strong southwesterly winds. Ah well, back to bed.
Sunday morning gave a better forecast with light to moderate west or northwesterlies. A walk out to the beach told us not a lot. The sun was shining and it didn’t look too wild. Should we go, or should we stay?
Back on board everything was ready and our course was plotted. We untied our lines from our friendly fishing boat and as we motored across the dock into the river Rene stowed the lines and fenders. Out through the two breakwaters and into a slight sea with no wind. At least the gearbox is being well run-in.
By all accounts it was going to be a fast passage, at least to the corner, Carnsore Point. We had listened to many peoples’ advice, mostly conflicting. No way should we stay inshore. There are too many dangerous, shifting sandbanks! No point going offshore, it’s perfectly safe inshore. Like all advice we could only listen to it, digest it, and then make up our own minds. As it was a calm day we had decided on the inshore passage which would, after sixty five to seventy miles bring us to Dunmore East in the Waterford Harbour. We should hold the tide at least as far as the Saltee Sound and then, once through the sound the foul tide should be only about half a knot.
Once into the stream we flew down the East Coast, ticking off the buoys on the chart. Outside of the Glasgorman Bank, avoiding The Sluice and through the Rusk Channel inshore of Money Weights Bank. Stay inshore of the Blackwater Bank, between the Lucifer Bank and the North Shear with Wexford over to starboard.
Away to port, outside of the Lucifer, we could see a massive vessel steaming south on a parallel course. As she overhauled us she turned to pass in front of us, heading for Rosslare. She was a gigantic floating crane, possibly the Mersey Mammoth whom we had seen entering Douglas Harbour in the Isle of Man. Considering her size, it seemed only good manners for us to slow down a little to give way!
After passing Rosslare and Greenore Point the sea changed quite remarkably. The westerly breeze was sneaking around the corner and whipping up the south-going stream into short, steep seas. Across Ballytrent Bay and St. Margaret’s Bay with the Tuskar Rock’s massive lighthouse and The Bailleys outside of us, we bounced and pounded our way towards the east cardinal Barrels light buoy, past Carnsore Point.
End of Sunseeker Chapter 8