Mid August 2006 – Derrynane crunch - Kenmare River and Bearhaven
We started our visit to the Kenmare river with a stop at Derrynane Harbour. This is a very popular spot with sandy beaches and a handy pub 100m from the old quay. It would be idyllic if it weren't for the water skiers and associated noise and wakes that disturb the peace. Tides were at springs so with the 3.5m range there was some interesting dinghy manoeuvres to find the water again at times! We stayed for two nights, and from what followed wished it had only been one. During the second night the wind got up to force 5 gusting 6, and though the harbour is quite sheltered there has still some slight chop. We were just finishing off the bottle of wine from dinner when crunch and a mast was spotted extremely close out just outside the cabin windows. The small yacht Quistar previously anchored up wind of us dragged its anchor and drifted down onto our bows. We rushed on deck, and found their rudder entangled in our anchor chain. We had a frantic five minutes making sure that we did not drag as well with the extra weight and windage; getting out fenders to prevent more scrapes to our top sides; trying to save their rudder from more damage; and tying them on securely so they didn't continue their path onto the nearby rocks. As no one had appeared from the yacht we clambered across to make sure all was well and found a poor spaniel looking very sorry for himself. This cheered us immensely - not that the dog was frightened, but that it implied that the owners would be back that evening. We put out more scope on our anchor chain, and also attached an angel, then settled down on anchor watch. It was around 11.00 p.m. when the owners returned, they were very shocked but greatly relieved, the spaniel was over joyed! It turned out that they had recently changed their anchor chain to a smaller size because they had difficulty hauling in the original one. The result was that they nearly lost their yacht, and we have some deep scratches in our gel coat to repair. But one positive out of it is that we now have greater confidence in our ground tackle. (We have a 10kg CQR and had out 25m of 8m chain in 5-6m of water. At the end we had out 35m of chain and an angel - an old railway fishplate - which did the necessary in holding both yachts)
We had a lie in the following morning as neither of us slept well after the nights excitements. The next few days were glorious sailing weather with force 3-4 north westerly winds. The Kenmare river is a beautifully wild spot with very few boats. In Dunkerron there were only two visiting yachts, but we were given another shock. Again it was just as we were finishing dinner, when we heard voices outside the boat - unlikely as we were anchored in the middle of the bay. On investigation we found a group of around eight swimmers who had just paused in the lee of us for a rest - as they said, you don't normally find 'seals that can talk'.
From Dunkerron we did a short hop to Sneem. Here there are visitors moorings all of which were occupied, but there was still plenty of room to anchor. The town of Sneem is about 2 miles from the harbour, and made a very pleasant walk along the "Kerry Way" footpath. The town is pretty, but crowded with coach parties as it is a tea stop on the "Ring of Kerry" tour. We found internet access in the community centre, and plenty of shops for re-provisioning. There is a tap on the quay so we took the opportunity to fill up our solar shower. This is a tough black sack with a tap in the bottom. It is left in the sun to warm the water, and then a tube with shower rose attached to the tap - rather primitive but effective and much easier than the sink for washing hair. We should have filled this before our walk as there was not enough time to do more than take the chill off the water so there were many sharp intakes of breath as we both showered in the cockpit dressed in swim suits.
From Sneem it was another short hop, to another beautiful, empty anchorage at Ballycrovane. We are the small dot in the pool of water to the left of the photo above. The pilot book suggested that the anchorage had poor holding, but we had no difficulties. The village of Eyerie is a brisk 40 minute walk from the new quay. It should win the prize for the most colourful village (according to the Rough Guide, locally Sneem has this distinction). Each house on the main street is a different bright colour with contrasting coloured window surrounds, not a white house amongst them.
After a couple of nights at Ballycrovane, we had an early start to catch the favorable south flowing tidal streams through the narrow sound between Dursey Island and the mainland. It was another glorious days sailing with force 4 north westerlies, and an early afternoon arrival at Lawrence Cove Marina on Bear Island in Bantry Bay. This is a lovely little marina and was much less crowded than we were expecting. The approach was rather shallow, and we only had 1.8m of water on the pontoon at low water. We were lucky, another yacht with 1.5m draft grounded when approaching the berth next to us. The marina has excellent facilities, and the showers are first class. Unfortunately their tumble driers were out of order, but it was a lovely sunny breezy afternoon so after 'dressing Innisfree' all was soon dried - though I'm not sure what the rest of the marina thought!
Bear Island is a great place to explore and has stunning views of Bearhaven and Bantry Bay from the top of the hills in the centre of the island. It took us about an hour to walk to this spot from the marina which can be seen in corner of Lawrence Cove just to the left of the cairn in the photo below.
'We also caught the ferry over the Castletown for a visit to the internet cafe to see what the weather is expected to do over the next week and more provisions. We found MacCarthy's Bar as pictured on cover Pete McCarthy's book of the same name, and were amused to note that the picture had been edited for the cover of the book changing the pub's name from 'MacCarthy's' to 'McCarthy's Bar'.
From here we are intending to explore more of Bantry Bay, with Glengarriff and Bantry on the itinerary, but the weather forecast is for rain today (15 August) so we plan to spend an extra day at Lawrence Cove relaxing with a good book before moving on.