Port Ellen, Islay to Sheep Haven, Ireland: Across the North Channel
Saturday, July 23. Back to watching tides, currents, sea state, and weather. We needed to set out from Port Ellen at 5 AM to catch a favorable push across the North Channel to Ireland. Our intended destination was Lough Swilley, which is in the Republic of Ireland and 50 odd miles from Port Ellen. We were up at 4 AM to get ourselves ready to get underway. We were rewarded by the most magnificent sunrise over Islay. There was a Force 5 wind coming out of the northwest and a smooth sea state (just the way Pumpkin likes it). We set out on what turned out to be our best sail of the trip. The sun was shining, the winds were steady and from the right direction, there were no swells and we booked it across the channel. When we got to Malin Head it was still early in the day, conditions were still perfect, and we were still having a great time. We decided to pass Lough Swilly and head towards Sheep Haven which aside from a great name got us in a good position to round Bloody Foreland the next day. We travelled 62 nautical miles in 9 hours.
Sheep Haven has beautiful beaches and there were a lot of people out enjoying them. The anchorage there has visitor moorings so we picked up a mooring and enjoyed the show on the beach. We spent a relaxed and quite evening but early to bed as we had to be off again about 5 AM the next morning.
Sheep Haven to Aranmore Island: Diesel and The Lobster Pot
Sunday, July 24. Light wind between Force 2 and 3 would usually have us motor sailing but today we have only a third of a tank of fuel left so we are sailing. It is very slow going, eventually the wind dies, and the current turn against us so we are forced to motor. We decide to make for a town called Burtonport for fuel. Being a Sunday we were worried that the fuel dock would be closed. Burtonport has a ferry service every 10 minutes to the nearby island of Aranmore so it is all diesel al the time there. We got the tank filled, just as a Customs boat came into the harbor. Are they looking for us? We went off to have a seafood lunch at the Lobster Pot where an enormous lobster decorates the façade. By the time we got back to the boat Customs had decided to go ashore and get their own lunch perhaps. So we motored off to look for an anchorage for the evening. We went around to the south side of Aranmore and anchored in a protected cove.
Monday, July 25. Aranmore to Killybegs: We are boarded. We left Aranmore to sail along some of the most beautiful coastline in Europe. Spectacular rugged cliffs and waterfalls and white beaches were our views for the whole trip to Killybegs where we were planning on spending a few days. Just outside of Killybegs, the Customs ship is coming up to coast towards us. Yes they were looking for us yesterday and they found us today. They stopped the ship, launched a dingy and before we knew it they were politely asking if they could come aboard. Papers in order, pets imported legally, all in order we can go on our merry way. We arrived in Killybegs which is very much a fishing town. There was a mooring that we picked up for the night.
These are the voyages of the sailing vessel Pétillant. Her original eight-month mission: to sail from Baltimore to France via Florida and the Bahamas, to successfully navigate the shoals of the French douane, to boldly go where few Maine Coon cats have gone before was completed in 2008. Now she is berthed in Port Medoc and sails costal Spain, France, and the UK during the summer months.