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The planned cruise was delayed this year, after adverse weather conditions, 80km gusts or force 10 were expected in Baltimore on weekend of our trip, so for everyone’s safety, it was rescheduled for  the following weekend, which unfortunately resulted in less numbers than normal being able to attend. On Thursday evening Jim and I headed to Baltimore to pick up the 43ft "Inishleigh" from Con Minihan of Baltimore Yacht Charters.


After going thru the check-list and packing away some goodies for the trip, we went to the pub to support the local economy. Shortly after closing time we made it back to the boat to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for 3 days of sailing. Friday morning we went aboard the restored vessel “Ilen” and had a look around prior to it setting off sailing to Limerick, it is magnificent. After the arrival of  Billy O’ Mahoney, George Fitzgerald, Brendan Glynn and Kevin Donlon, and were on our way out of Baltimore before 11 heading towards Castletown Bere to make the most of the fine weather and breeze.  We were accompanied on some of the journey by a school of dolphins and as the sun shone, skipper Jim decided a man overboard drill was worth having so fender one ended up in the water, to be duly rescued. We continued on to Castletown Bere, passing picturesque Barleycove around Mizen Head and learning about beacons, cardinal buoys and how to read them, (I failed as could not get the Dinish Island beacon to stay white).


After docking we headed to get some essentials (dessert for after dinner etc), then back on the boat and off to our final destination of Lawrence's cove for the night. After getting securely docked a lovely meal of spaghetti Bolognese (cooked by Jim) followed by ice cream and wafers with chocolate cake was devoured by the ravenous crew. A few scoops in the local were enjoyed before turning in for the night.  Saturday we rose to a calm day, not a puff of wind around so under power we left Bear island and headed for Crookhaven where we had to launch the dingy and after rowing back and forth to bring all ashore it was discovered that to get the best use out of the outboard motor one needs to disengage the fuel safety switch.  After some tea and biscuits in O'Sullivans we left for north harbour on Clear Island, this leg of the trip was carried out with no sat nav as it decided to stop working. Billy was downstairs with all the maps and compasses and plotting our location, as darkness fell we neared north harbour and I was sent up front with a torch to advise when we were 25 meters from Minnaun Rock, all that was missing was the music from Titanic, we have rechristened it now “Jim's Island” as I was not looking for a rock that big. I am still unsure, if this was not a "will you get some elbow grease" prank on the novice. It did show how skilled the crew are in sailing and navigated without the onboard navigation system. The chicken curry & rice (now finally thawed out) was enjoyed (thanks to Chef Kevin).


Only place in Ireland where there are 2 pubs and both were closed on a Saturday night, thankfully the Clubhouse was open and we settled in and watched the Munster V Ulster match. Sunday saw many rise early and take in the beauty of the island and the fantastic scenery walking to south harbour, after a quick breakfast and the day ahead of good wind we plotted the course for Fasnet Rock. With speeds of around 7 knots we were enjoying the wind blowing us along, rounding Fasnet the weather allowed many photo shoots and some drying of the tea towels. Sailing was great and we headed on to the beautiful Lough Hyne. Here we dropped the anchor and were shown how to check that you are secure and not moving while anchored. While a few went for a swim, the others prepared the food.  Brunch was devoured as we sat out on deck soaking in the glorious sunshine. Leaving for the final leg we sailed along and made our way back to Baltimore rounding off a most memorable few days. Thanks to all who organised and to the crew for the great weekend, I have already signed up for next year when hopefully the return of the coveted Jolly Roger Trophy will be up for grabs.


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