I have sailed Coral from a base in Plymouth, Devon, for twenty years, visiting France, Spain, and Ireland. This year I gave up my mooring on the Cattewater to undertake a more ambitious voyage up the west coast of the British Isles.
Leg 1: Plymouth to Schull
I left Plymouth in mid-May 2013 with my friend Steve as crew. Our departure was delayed as we waited for Steve’s first grandchild to arrive, and then for stormy weather to pass. It remained windy and so was hard work heading down the Channel to Fowey, Falmouth, and the Scilly Isles, but we had a good overnight crossing from the Scillies to Baltimore in County Cork. For the rest of the month the weather was dominated by an anticyclone that brought fresh and bitterly cold north winds (probably brought about by changes in the jet stream). I abandoned my plans of sailing on to Galway Bay. After exploring the Cork coast with Steve, then with my son Ben and his children Otto and Liberty, I left Coral on a mooring in Schull Harbour.
Leg 2 Schull to Clifden
I returned to Ireland in June, meeting up with two students from the Outdoor Education Department at Edinburgh University – Suzy from Germany and Gib from Thailand. We were now into the summer heatwave. With often poor visibility and little wind we continued north, mainly under power. We stopped at Derrynane, Valencia, Dingle and Ventry, and took advantage of the quiet weather to visit the Skellig Rocks in fog and explore the Blasket Islands. I left Suzi and Gib at Dingle and carried on to Galway Bay on my own, visiting the Inishmore on the way and enjoying the challenges of piloting along the rock-strewn Connemara coast. After spending a week with my wife Elizabeth and my younger son Matthew and his family in Ardmore, I sailed Coral round Slyne Head to Clifden Bay, leaving her on a mooring near the boat club there.
Leg 3: Clifden to Oban
Late August I returned to Clifden, meeting up with Susi and Dave, two more students from the Outdoor Education Department at Edinburgh University. We continued north via Inishboffin, Blacksod Bay, Broad Haven, Aranmore and Burtonport, where my crew left to return direct to the UK. I continued round Bloody Foreland to Lough Swilly, crossed from there to Islay in Scotland and continued on to Oban and Dunstaffanage marina where Coral will spend the winter ashore. For the whole leg the weather was difficult, good sailing days alternating with strong winds where we had to hole up in sheltered bays.