Antipole cruises

The coast and islands of Connemara

With an anticyclone settled over Ireland we have been enjoying remarkable warm weather (hot even) with clear bluer skies and very little wind.  A sea breeze seems to develop during the afternoon until sunset.  So we have mornings lazing or exploring, followed by a gentle afternoon sail into the evening.  The coast of Connemara is a maze of rocky inlets and offshore islands set against the spectacular backdrop of the Connemara mountains, which form a series of peaks known as The Twelve Pins.  It is a sailing delight.

On St Macdara Island - 04On Monday after we re-floated at Kilronan harbour we sailed to MacDara Sound and on Tuesday morning we visited St MacDara’s Island.  This island is now uninhabited, but in the six century St MacDara founded a hermitage there.  He is regarded as the patron saint of Connemara’s sea-farers, so a visit was in order.  Sometime in the 8th or 9th centuries the wooden oratory was replaced with a stone one, built with a steep roof and gable ends, and which survives to this day.  Services are still held several times a year and there is a boat blessing each summer, followed by races.  In the photo you can see the oratory, with Antipole anchored off in the sound.

After visiting the island we swam and dozed until the breeze appeared in the afternoon.  Welcome as it was, it was from the north west and so we had a beat against it until we eventually rounded Slyne Head.  The sailing guide warned us to stay two miles off this difficult headland, but conditions were so benign that we passed less than a quarter of a mile off.  We made Clifden, which lies on a rather lovely estuary with a steep-to hill, just as the sun set  and the wind died away.

The next day we sailed through the very light winds and eventually reached Inishbofin, which has a fine and very sheltered harbour.  This island has only basic facilities – the shop is just a large portacabin.  Today many of the houses are presumably summer holiday homes.  We walked ashore and Ynskje enjoyed a shower at the community centre.

On Friday afternoon we set sail northwards for Clare Island.  The wind was light but fair and we set the cruising ‘chute.  We enjoyed s lovely supper at the cockpit table while sailing with the ‘chute up – a first.  Unfortunately, the wind has swung to the north overnight and we are rather exposed in Clare Island harbour, so it may be untenable to leave the boat to explore the island.

Don’t forget you can see our track to date here.

That’s the news for now
love from Ynskje & Tony

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