#3. In Ireland – Ballydehob & Roaringwater Bay

On the other side of Roaringwater Bay is Ballydehob, a tiny village at the top of a tidal creek, which hosts a small but perfectly formed wooden boat festival every year. I sailed there on the flood tide with a pair of Swiss hitch-hikers that I had picked up from the Jolly Roger. There was a good stiff Northerly breeze, and it was exciting to tack through the oyster farms and up the river with a whole fleet of wooden boats of all shapes and sizes. Many of the boats managed to carry sail right up the narrow river to the quay, but the larger vessels were only able to stay for the top of the tide and left an hour or so later. I dried Lorema out on a wall with a few others, and we were all off to the pub. I didn’t have my guitar this time, but was impressed when the entire crowded pub became silent when the landlord shouted ‘ciúin’ (‘quiet’ in Gaelic) because a local woman had a song to sing. When she finished, another voice started a song from the other side of the pub, and another, and still people stood and listened quietly, proudly. Sad to reflect that this magical scene is so unusual and remarkable, when only a few decades ago, before SkySports1, this was how people entertained themselves in public houses. Still, the tradition lives on, if only in remote Irish villages, and I felt privileged to be part of it.

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Theres no hangover cure like a challenging sail on a cold sunny morning, so I caught the early tide and raced some of my new friends back to Baltimore. The air was fresh and sweet, the wind was f5 and favourable, the pilotage was challenging, the tides were racing, and I was exhilarated and happy. That evening, I hove-to in the entrance to the harbour and caught some mackerel, before picking up an old fiddle-playing friend who lives nearby. We fried the mackerel in butter on the way back to Sherkin, and a more delicious fish I have yet to meet!

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A couple of weeks rolled by and I explored Roaringwater Bay more fully, laying anchor in secluded bays and walking some of the Islands. Then,it was time to find a safe mooring and leave my boat for a while – I had a delivery skippering job coming up which I had to fly to Spain for. Sails were replaced by covers, and I gave Lorema a fond pat on the transom.

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