We departed Glandore last Thursday and made the short passage along the coast to Castletownshend. It was a rough sail, with winds gusting to force 7 and high choppy waves making for an uncomfortable trip. It didn’t last long, however, as the passage from Glandore to Castletownshend is a mere six miles. The ruggedness of the Cork coast grows more spectacular as one travels west and our eyes were filled with jagged cliffs and dragon’s tooth rocks rising out of the sea.
Anchoring at Castletownshend proved a little tricky, but we managed it eventually, and then rowed ashore. We explored the lovely church on the hill and then met my aunt Liz and uncle Dave at Mary Ann’s pub for a couple of drinks and a good catch-up. I’ve spent many a pleasant holiday in and around Castletownshend and it was wonderful to be back.
The next morning we continued west to Baltimore. The waves were still big and the wind was strong but, perhaps due to a more positive frame of mind, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and thrilling roller coaster ride! The Stags rose spectacularly out of the sea, and as we passed the aspect changed to reveal a turquoise sea breaking in huge snow white waves along the ragged rocks.
Julian and I had been to Baltimore six years ago when we sailed for a day with a lovely local man, Con Minahan of Baltimore Yacht Charters. We had such fond memories and were excited to return to this beautiful part of the country. The first night we anchored but, because Lily was coming home in the company of my Mammy, we moved on to the pontoon the next morning.
It was a bank holiday weekend, and Baltimore was heaving. Yachts were rafted four deep along the pontoon, and the town itself was so busy to be almost uncomfortable. The first night we were second boat out of four, rafted on the pontoon, and the second day the inside boat moved off and we were now on the inside. This had both pros and cons. For my mother, it made the crossing on to Carina less nerve wracking than having to climb over other boats. However, it also meant we had the crews of three other boats crossing us almost continuously, some of them lacking the manners to cross on the foredeck, which was annoying. I had never appreciated this little piece of sailing etiquette until people were pounding across the cockpit of Carina while I was trying to dress or relax in what should be the privacy of my own boat. A singsong that continued until 4am and kept both Katie and I awake truly set my teeth on edge.
On Sunday morning we packed a picnic and walked to Lot’s Wife, the day marker, marking the entrance to the bay. There we enjoyed the scenery and Julian and I told the girls about how we had spent a pleasant afternoon there six years ago, watching a basking shark feeding in the water below. That night Julian and I went to the pub to watch the men’s 100m final, and I was blown away by the atmosphere. Here we were, in a little village in the south west of Ireland, the pub packed, and everyone cheering and roaring in celebration of a young man from Jamaica, as if he belonged to us all. And I thought how in homes and pubs and public places all across the world people were doing likewise, willing Usain Bolt on – a true citizen of the world.
The girls and I left Baltimore on Monday morning for a little holiday in Edenderry with Mammy. Julian has remained in Baltimore, making repairs, hanging out with my Nana and various aunts and cousins who, as I came to Edenderry, were making their way to west Cork for a holiday. The girls and I are returning home to Carina today. She’s still in Baltimore, but over the next few days we intend to continue our journey west, exploring more of this beautiful coastline, and enjoying the friendly hospitality of the people we meet along the way.