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The Wild West Coast of Ireland

They do call it the “Wild Atlantic Way”… but we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into!

When the locals said “Oh, you must sail the West Coast, it’s beautiful,” we should have done a bit more research about the sailing conditions. Yes, it’s a truly beautiful place, but I thought it would be more popular with other cruisers.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It is a stunningly, desolate place. We were often very much alone out there. Additionally, the Northern Atlantic Ocean produces huge rolling waves we call a swell. We should have noted that there is no protection between that swell, the wind-driven waves on top of that swell, and the beautiful rocks and sheer cliffs onto which those waves smash themselves and everything they carry with them. Oh, and on top of that, the swell and waves bounce back off of the beautiful, sheer cliffs and produce another set of waves that make the boat bounce up and down twice as fast.

But wait, there is more. There is a phenomenon called an “overfall,” where the tidal stream rips around a picturesque, jagged point and creates a whitewater rafting experience. We were very careful to make sure the stream was running WITH us. We don’t think we would have been able to motor AGAINST one of those overfalls without nose-diving the boat into steep, stacked up waves.

We, well at least I, expected to see other cruising sailboats each day as we sailed down the coastline. Nope… almost none. We saw some near the towns, but no cruisers moving from one peninsula to another, until we were more than halfway down the coastline to Donnegal, and that was just one or two, until we were officially in Southwestern Ireland.

Happily we weren’t the only sailors out there with a desire to explore remote waters of the western Ireland, and we welcomed aboard Kathy and Carlos for a week exploring the heads and bays of Donegal and Galway.

We picked them up in the town of Donegal, County Donegal, and enjoyed an evening on land amid the wonderful restaurants and pubs filled with colorful locals.

The Singing Barman

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We enjoyed some beautiful Irish summer days, with loads of low clouds, some rain and lots of wind, and a selection of pods of fun-loving Common dolphins. Beautiful cliffs, big seas and some mysterious sea creatures visited us.

So after two weeks making new friends, and with some rough and tumble sailing, we made it back to the beloved Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven, county Cork!