Arklow to Glandore on the Celtic Mist

28th Jul 2016

 

Leg 6 of the Celtic Mist’s journey around Ireland took off from Arklow on July the 18th in some light southerly winds and fairly heavy fog. Once we were fuelled up and ready to go we left the garden of Ireland in the mid morning with high hopes for the week ahead.  Only a couple of hours into the journey and we had our first sighting of a harbour porpoise off the starboard side. Nice to see that the old porpoise tradition of surfacing a few times and disappearing, never to be seen again, is alive and well in Wexford waters. Patches of fog would regularly blow in making sighting conditions difficult down the east coast.  Sea conditions had improved to sea state 2 by the time we reached the Tuskar lighthouse, and this allowed us to spot the slow roll of the risso’s dolphin swimming past and a second about 20 minutes later.  Once we were on the south coast, sea conditions were near perfect and with a few more sightings of harbour porpoises before we reached Kilmore Quay, the crew finished the first day in good spirits!

 We left Kilmore Quay marina on the second morning to head out around the Saltee Islands and decided that conditions were right to put up the sails. The wind was a little higher so the pair of common dolphins were less than 50m away before we saw them leaping off the starboard side. They circled the boat a few times allowing for a couple of photos to be taken before leaving again. As we were making good time the decision was made to aim for Crosshaven and the engine was started for the journey in. The south easterly winds increased, hampering sighting conditions and the fading light was just bright enough to show a group of common dolphins between Ballycotton head and Roche’s Point. Getting into Crosshaven marina in the dark was a team effort with skipper Padraic de Bhaldraithe and Tony O’Callaghan doing a tremendous job.


Photo credit to Ronan Hickey

After the long trip the pervious day it was agreed upon to have a light day’s sailing to Kinsale and enjoy all that the waters of Cork had to offer. It turns out that Cork had a force 5 to 6 southerly wind to offer so there were no sightings. That being said a day spent sailing off the coast was enjoyed by all and we did see an otter in the Kinsale marina. With the forecast poor for the next 24 hours we decided to stay ashore on the Thursday but a visit from some beautiful crystal jellyfish (Aequorea sp) in the marina itself was a nice break from the drizzle.
 


Photo credit to Ronan Hickey

Weather conditions improved again on the Friday and we were on our way to Baltimore for the second last day on board.  Not long into the day a mother and calf common dolphin were leaping beside the boat. Shortly after lunchtime three fins were seen floating past the boat and we decided to investigate, and after a few circles it was revealed that we were looking at three sunfish (Mola mola).


Photo credit to Ronan Hickey

Common dolphins were the order of the day with groups, no larger than 5 at a time, coming to investigate and often bow riding. On our final sailing day we made the picturesque journey from Baltimore harbour around Sherkin and Cape Clear islands and back east towards Glandore. Currents made the sea a little rough around the back of the islands but once the water calmed down the common dolphin sightings came thick and fast. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any whales, as West Cork has always been such a good place to see large cetaceans in the past.


Photo credit to Ronan Hickey

 On the bright side this gives me a good reason to return to this wonderful part of Ireland an experience the wonder the Irish coastline has to offer. The Celtic Mist remains in Glandore until the final leg to Fenit, Co. Kerry next week. Many thanks to Skipper Padraic de Bhaldraithe and the other crew on-board the Celtic Mist for making this an unforgettable experience. Thanks also to the Glandore Yacht club who were very gracious and welcoming to six sunburnt and scruffy members of the IWDG!

 - Blog by Ronan Hickey