Antipole cruises

The North Western Headlands

We did manage to visit Clare Island and enjoyed a walk over its stunning scenery.

Back in the sixteenth century this whole area was run by the O’Malley clan and the chief forbade his daughter from sailing offshore.  She must have been a spirited lass, for she responded by cutting off her hair – earning herself the nickname of Gráinne Mhaol [Bald Grace] and she turned pirate, leading raids as far afloat as Waterford and Scotland.  She effectively ran this whole area and Clare Island was a base for her, guarded by Granuaile’s  Castle.  In 1593 she met Queen Elizabeth I of England.  The two had to converse in Latin as neither spoke each others’ language.  Apparently Granuaile treated Elizabeth as an equal and they hit it off rather well together.  Perhaps they had much in common, both being women chiefs surrounded by men.

We visited the beautiful Clare Abbey, reputedly with Granuaile’s tomb.  The medieval wall paintings are the finest in Ireland and depict everyday activities of the time – farming, fishing and hunting.
On Sunday we positioned ourselves ready to round Achill Headland.  This headland is a thin mountainous projection out into the sea, with cliffs of 661m (2,168′) – the highest in Ireland and the British Islands.  We anchored the night before in Keem Bay, an amphitheatre-like cleft in the mountains with a beach below and the surrounding mountains in mist and clouds.


Then on Monday we rounded Achill and Erris headlands during a long spinnaker run.  It was tricky keeping the spinnaker set in very choppy water caused by the confusion of the Atlantic swell being reflected back off the cliffs.  We anchored overnight in a cove called Portacloy and then on Tuesday made a 68nm passage right across Donegal Bay, again mostly with the spinnaker set, and on to an anchorage in Cruit Bay just inside Owey island.  On Wednesday we had an easy sail around Bloody Foreland and hence onto the north coast.  We have had to skip some lovely islands and stopping places, as we wanted to make good use of the moderate southwest winds before easterlies set in.

We are now anchored in the river at the head of Sheeps Haven, which is a lovely deep inlet with sandy coves on both sides, and clearly a favoured holiday area.  It is quite a change for us.  For weeks we have gone whole days without seeing another yacht – only the odd inshore lobster boat.  Suddenly, here there are people on the beaches (well, a few) and there has even been waterskiing.

more news when there is some
Ynskje & Tony

One thought on “The North Western Headlands

  1. David Voss

    Amazing to see that you have reached the north, just seven weeks after I left you in Waterford! The cliffs and ocean sound amazing. D x

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