Cork, via Crosshaven to St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly 146.8 nm Sailing around Britain 2014

Date posted: 2 September 2014

We sailed up to Cork and spent three nights in Cork City; it was a fabulous central location for exploring Cork. We paid 20 Euros per night with an additional fee of 5 Euros per night for electric. There is water and electric available, but you use the Clarion hotel nearby for showers, this is an arrangement the council have sorted for visiting boat owners. You pay 5 Eros to use the swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi which was top notch leisure facility, and something we all used. Marian even tried the breakfast deal, unlimited tea or coffee and a buffet style eat as much as you can breakfast for 10 Euros, exceptional value. There is meant to be Wifi on the pontoon, and although we were given the password, none of us could access it, and neither could anyone else we spoke to!

Cork jail is full of atmosphere

Cork Jail is well worth a visit

As per usual we two couples split up and went off to visit different attractions, Sean and I got a two day Cork sightseeing tour bus, which enabled us to hop on and off at the various attractions. The first day we were there the weather was atrocious, it rained all day without a break. Whilst in Cork Sean and I visited the Gaol, taking the audio tour, I would recommend this, the gaol once house 19c prisoners, we got a fascinating insight into the day to day lives of prisoners, and saw the ghost! We also visited the Cork Butter museum, which explores the history and development of the Irish butter export business. To be honest I wouldn’t recommend this attraction, the videos are from the seventies and there is no current information linking the last forty years.

We took lunch in the English market, which dates from 1868 and still retains the feel of the period. We enjoyed the market with its elegant 19th century fountain, and multitude of stalls selling fish, and all manner of meat, including Cork delicacies such as tripe and drisheen. It was good to see a vibrant and obviously flourishing market, with such a wide range of mostly organic produce, well worth an hour of your time.

The food is delicious at the British Market Cork

The British Market Cork, delicious food locally sourced

The streets in the centre of the city give so much information about the history of Cork, if you look above the façades of the modern shops; you can see architecture dating back to the 14th century.  Cork was founded in the 7th century, and initially set amongst a great marsh; the Vikings attacked in the 9th century and took over, creating a city of trade. Originally Cork was built on two large Islands and in the 16th century the trading boats came right into the heart of the city, but over the next two centuries the rivers dividing the islands were filled in. So when you look carefully about you as you walk, you can see old pubs with steps up to them, a quay street sign and a castle frontage, cannons buried in the sidewalk, the city of Cork is swathed in obvious history.

On another day Sean and I decided to take the twenty minute bus ride out to Balarney castle for a couple of hours. A few hours turned into the whole day, the castle is a ten minute walk from the entrance, and is surrounded by parkland which includes gardens, avenues, arboretums and waterways. We came to kiss the world famous Balarney stone, no one had warned us that there were serious queues of people waiting to kiss the stone, so we stood in line and slowly progressed along paths and up into the castle, climbing over a hundred steps in a tight circular stone staircase, and eventually popped out in the parapets of the castle. The moment was over in a couple of minutes and we were sent off down the stairs again. I asked Sean if he felt he would now have the gift of balarney, to which he replied in an Irish accent ‘you are beautiful darling’, I think that counts as baloney not balarney! We then headed off round the grounds and discovered the poison garden hidden in the battlements, which is certainly an educational collection of poisonous plants, with information beside each plant on its toxicity, tradition and modern day use. Enough about Balarney Castle, let’s just say it’s worth a visit.

Balarney Castle, home of the Balarney stone

Balarney Castle, home of the Balarney stone









At lunchtime yesterday we moved the boat to the Quay bar and restaurant pontoon in Cobh, the idea being that we would have dinner in the pub restaurant, which meant we could stay the night. Sadly for us they had a private function, but the landlord informed us we were welcome to use the pontoon, sadly this didn’t prove the case and we were asked to move as the wedding party had organised to take their guests out and about on a number of speed boats that wanted to use the pontoon.  There was quite a swell and in the event we think they did us a favour as we moved the boat back to Crosshaven for the night.

Once at Crosshaven we walked into town and had dinner at the Cronin Pub, which serves excellent grub! This morning we headed off towards the Isles of Scilly some 135nm away, we anticipate it taking approximately thirty hours.  We are now three hours into our journey, we have been sailing for almost all of that period, the wind is south westerly, and a variable  3-5 knots, we are fluctuating our speed between 2.9 to 6.3 nm an hour.

Simon has done the passage plan and has decided that we will put the auto helm on 151’ as a set course. As we travel through two complete 12 hour changes of the tide, we plan to drift in one direction  and then back again in the next twelve hours, so not to worry what we are tracking, we just update the chart every hour from our GPS, and plot as we go.

We managed six hours with all our sails out, but by three o’clock we were over sailed for the wind and sea state. I was on duty as we approached the Ballycotton Gas field, and decided to turn into the wind and reef the foresail, which I thought was the main contributor to the cork screw effect of the boat through the water. The Gas field has a ‘stand on’ boat which moves between the rigs and as we approached they strategically moved towards us, as if we would pose a threat – well not intentionally!

Stay well clear of the Ballycotton Gas field

Ballycotton Gas field, which is patrolled !

After about another ten minutes I decided to reef in the main, so again we turned into the wind and the lads pulled the sail in, watched very carefully by the rig ‘stand on’ boat. Then within two minutes we received a radio call up asking us if we had remembered the arbitrary 500m exclusion zone around rigs. Sean informed them that we weren’t planning on coming any closer and I altered course by twenty degrees, subtly moving us further away as we draw level.

The sea state changed out dramatically over the next couple of hours, going from slight at the beginning of our journey to rough, it was not pleasant with the wind and waves on our starboard quarter. This continued for the next seven hours and as the sun went down and the darkness covered us, the sea state reduced slightly, less wind and smaller waves, but still very uncomfortable.

The engine was turned on for the second time at 3am, because the instruments failed as the auxiliary battery was so low, plus we were only obtaining an average speed of 3 knots, I thought it might help us along.

Marian and I made a massive bean casserole whilst we were in harbour this morning and we have all been dipping into that as and when we can manage it. Marian has worked out the safest method of moving around the boat is on her hands and knees, Marian made me some toast to go with my dinner bean casserole, and she looked very amusing crawling about the place. I think Marians reduction in the centre of gravity was decided after I went flying and gave myself a really nasty bang on the head.

Other than the highlight of filling in the log and eating we spent most of our time reading, sleeping and just gazing out over the great blue yonder.

Crew at rest

Simon Cole at rest – alternatively checking the back of his eyelids


The perfect sunrise

A cup of coffee and a pod of Dolphins at sunrise

Sean pointed out all the birds on the passage, which today were Manx Shearwaters, Fulmars, Gannets, Swallows, and seagulls.

This morning I was on duty just as the sun rose, I was sat inside in the captain’s chair with a cup of coffee gazing out and saw two dolphins, which then played in the bow for about forty minutes.  Thankfully they returned briefly when Marian surfaced about eight; we have a saying on the boat that any sightings have to be verified by a second person to count.

The sea state has calmed  and would have describe it as moderate,  at 11am the shout went up ‘land ahoy’, we could see on the horizon the a flat grey outline, the Isles of Scilly at last.

The last couple of hours flew by, as we all became more alert, and all appeared on deck, working out our safe passage through the islands to St Mary’s, we have chosen St Mary’s because there is a heavy swell to the sea coming from the north west, and Porthcresso Bay on St Mary’s is sheltered from everything but a southerly, which isn’t forecast for a few days.

It was a long 28 hour slog, the sea state was dismal the whole way and I reckon we were all equally exhausted, I got back into the galley as we came through the islands and revamped the bean casserole with pork chops and spices, which I served hot as soon as the anchor was laid. None of us could believe the temperature, the sun was shining and the sea in the bay was flat calm….fabulous. Welcome to the Isles of Scilly

We elected to go ashore on the Isles of Scilly for three hours just to get off the boat and stretch our legs, so we are now ashore in the pub, pubs are a good source of internet, obviously it has nothing to do with the liquid refreshments, and the earnest sense of relief and celebration at having arrived safely.

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