Celtic Mist Blog, 15th - 21st May

26th May 2017

Marine Mammal Surveyors, Stephanie Levesque and Stephanie Linehan report on the Celtic Mist's Cruise from Baltimore to Crosshaven last week.  

To follow the track of the Celtic Mist's journey at: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/oldshipid:290781/oldmmsi:250002411/olddate:lastknown

Sunday, 14th May

The new crew arrived in Baltimore - marine biologists Stephanie and Stephanie, and IWDG members Annette, Niamh, Gerry and Paul were greeted by skipper Paul and first mate Seamus who briefed us all on safety protocols and basic functions of the boat. Despite the two Stephanies and two Pauls, we managed just fine!

 

 

                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

Celtic Mist tied up in Baltimore.

 

Monday, 15th May

Due to poor weather conditions, Celtic Mist was unable to set sail until Wednesday morning. However, this didn’t stop us from keeping busy! The two resident marine surveyors, Stephanie Levesque and Stephanie Linehan visited Rath National School in Baltimore and Abbeystrewry  National School in Skibbereen to talk to the children about the Celtic Mist cruise, the cetaceans they could see in their area, general cetacean ecology and answered a long list of questions concerning whales, dolphins, porpoises and even sharks! The rest of the day was spent settling into life on Celtic Mist, exploring Baltimore, and most importantly rearranging the fenders on the Mist with the rising and falling tides ensuring its beautiful paint work was not damaged - big thanks to Paul and Seamus for doing this never ending work. 

Stephanie and Stephanie teaching the students about cetaceans in Ireland.

Tuesday, 16th May

The stubborn poor weather conditions persist, but yet again, we were by no means idle. Paul and Seamus taught the rest of the crew how to use the charts onboard, how to understand the forecast and tides in order to plan our passage to Castletownsend the following day, as well as how to deploy the dinghy on board the Celtic Mist to ensure we could explore the villages and towns while out on anchor.  We took the ferry over to the nearby Sherkin Island where we enjoyed a beautiful walk across the island. Although sea conditions were less than ideal, the sun was out and the sky was blue! The team ended up sitting outside The Islander’s Rest where we enjoyed a nice cold pint and some ice cream while taking in the rays of the day with a view of the Baltimore Beacon and beautiful cliffs.

 Paul showing us how to use the navigational charts.   The gang outside The Islander’s Rest.

Wednesday, 17th May

With the sea state settled from the passing storm, the crew set sail from Baltimore in the morning, destination Crookhaven.  On route to Crookhaven, the crew sailed around Cape Clear Island and the Fast Net Rock.  Due to sea conditions still being quite rough, suitability for spotting cetaceans was not ideal and sadly we had no sightings. However, we decided to keep busy and learn about the wildlife we could see – the birds! Armed with a bird identification guide book, we began identifying all of the birds around us.  The final species list consisted of guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, Manx shearwaters, great shearwaters, shags, great black-backed gulls, lesser black-backed gulls, herring gulls, great skuas, a rare sight of a pomarine skua, one unidentified goose species, greenfinches, house sparrows, chuffs, ravens, rooks, hooded crows, robins, and house sparrows! The crew then anchored in Crookhaven and took the rib over to the town to explore. 

Deploying the dingy and heading to shore in Crookhaven.  

 Paul, Annette, Paul, Gerry and Niamh heading off to explore Crookhaven.

 The crew in front of the Fast Net Rock.

Thursday, 18th May

With sea conditions looking a bit calmer, the crew departed Crookhaven and sailed towards Castletownshend. Sailing around Cape Clear Island, there was a brief sighting of two dolphins (unfortunately so brief it was not possible to identify the species) and a minke whale quite close to Cape Clear, which were lucky to have been sighted in such unfavourable spotting conditions.  Upon arrival in Castletownshend, the crew took the rib across to the town to go see the beautiful stain glass windows by Harry Clarke at the church, followed by a well-deserved pint at Mary-Anne’s pub. 

Celtic Mist anchored in Castletownshend.

 

Biologists Stephanie L. and Stephanie L. keeping a sharp eye out for cetaceans. Red Stephanie was dubbed Stephie G for the week (‘G’ for glasses) to avoid confusion!

 

Just spotted minke whale off Cape Clear!

Friday, 19th May

There were flat calm conditions forecasted for early Friday morning and so the crew departed Castetownshed at 8.00 a.m. in hopes of sighting some larger cetaceans. On this day the group saw three harbour porpoises, one minke whale and a group of five common dolphins which came over to bow ride. The group sailed by some beautiful coastline and structures including the Stags, the Kedges and the Old Head of Kinsale. The Celtic Mist was greeted in Kinsale by dark clouds and rain, as well as a sea otter in the harbour. With all hands on deck, we docked the boat and headed off to explore Kinsale.

Paul admiring the common dolphin in the water.

Skipper Paul instructing Stephanie as we arrive into Kinsale.

Saturday, 20th May

The Celtic Mist departed Kinsale early Saturday morning with hopes high for more sightings of cetaceans. The group sailed out by the Old Head of Kinsale once more where a harbour porpoise was spotted in the early morning calm. As the Mist sailed closer to its final destination of Cross Haven, a possible basking shark was briefly spotted. While the boat sailed into the mouth of Cork Harbour, the group were once again welcomed with dark clouds and misty rainfall.

Left: Putting the sails down before entering Cork Harbour. Below: Some future marine biologists coming to visit us on the Celtic Mist in Crosshaven!

 

Left: Some dinners were better than others...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, the weather for the third leg of the Celtic Mist cruise was not ideal for spotting cetaceans, although we did finish the trip with a total of eight sightings – two minke whales, one sighting of five common dolphins, three harbour porpoises, one sighting of two unidentified dolphin species, and one probable basking shark. We were still able to explore the charming little coastal towns of Cork, admire the beautiful scenery, and meet many great people along the way with no shortage of stories to tell!  The craic was mighty, and a massive thank you to such a great team all of whom contributed to everyday life on board, from the singsongs to the cooking, to the endless flow of tea, coffee and cakes, and the raising of the sails! A big thank you to Paul and Seamus for keeping us afloat and turning this trip into a great learning experience for all, and to Seamus for being the official photographer on board!

The crew departing Baltimore: Paul, Annette, Paul, Stephanie, Stephanie, Niamh, Gerry, Seamus.

Time to say goodbye to Celtic Mist: Seamus and Paul.