Newfoundland to Ireland
Our nine day North Atlantic passage from St. John's, Newfoundland to Crookhaven, Ireland was a dream come true! We departed in good weather and shortly began to cross "ice alley". This alley, also known as the Labrador sea is the ocean water chute between Newfoundland/Labrador and Greenland that floats big icebergs to the south. We posted a Titanic watch and fortunately did not see/hit any ice for the several days we were in the alley. We did experience lots of fog and by the time we made it to the half way mark (the point of no return) the weather became better. Aside from a few bumpy days we enjoyed mostly light westerly winds and calm seas the entire voyagea real treat and very unusual for the North Atlantic Ocean.
~ Halfway from Newfoundland to Ireland in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. This is a "course up" chart. Greenland is on the left.
The little green boat is our position~
~ Sunset at sea at the wheel. The monitors left to right are Radar 1, Chart Plotter, Radar 2, and the Engine Room camera (the white light is the photo flash) ~
As we made landfall at the SW tip of Ireland the fog was thick. We could not see land until early morning when we turned into Crookhaven harbor and then there it was - green, green, green! We were giddy with excitement at our first glimpse of the stunning cliffs, rolling fields and small villages that dot the landscape. Suffice to say, it's this landscape that inspires Ireland's nickname, the Emerald Islesee for yourself.
~ The HAPPY Captain & Crew waving upon arrival ~
Watching our approach and taking these arrival pictures were our friends, Chris Samuelson and Sonaia Hermida who have a home nearby in Skibbereen. Chris and Sonaia crossed the Atlantic on the NAR in 2004 on their own Nordhavn 57, 'Goleen'. At 9am on July 11th, 2013 after our single MTU engine ran continuously for nine days our anchor was down in the quite harbor. The dinghy was quickly launched and by 10am our first pints of Murphy's (favored by Corkornians ) were being quaffed at O'Sullivan's PubOHit's GOOD to be in Ireland!!
~ Murphy's stout for breakfast! ~
~ An hour after our arrival into Ireland...all smiles! ~
~ Engineer Davis & Captain Jones ~
~ Crew member Doug...Okay...More celebrating! ~
~ Chris & Sonaia with the gang ~
~ The serene Crookhaven harbor ~
In the center of the above picture is Billy O'Sullivan owner of the famous (and only) pub in Crookhaven. He became fast friends with Doug and Braun because although we had arrived before the legal opening time at noon, he served us pints of Murphy's (this is County Cork and it's Murphy's stout here, NOT Guinness). When the boys asked him how he avoided the legal complication he explained that his pub was officially closed in compliance with the law. But weren't we drinking? "Oh that", he said, and went on to explain that he had the brew sent out through the kitchen which was legally open for breakfast. Okey dokeythen when Doug mentioned it was nice to have sunshine rather than the typical rain and wet, Billy remarked that rain or sun didn't matter it was always dry in his pub!
After resting a bit in Crookhaven we moved to nearby Schull and spent a few days catching up on sleep, enjoying the sights and doing what they do best hereyep, the pub crawl!
~ The OP is anchored in the center in the distance...in Schull ~ by the way, this panoramic shot was taken with my point n' shoot, Sony cyber-shot camera!~
~ Some Black Sheep... ~ Customs in Ireland
- "Clearing" into a country means the first thing you do when you arrive by boat is to report to their authorities and obtain permission to have your boat and crew admitted. This process varies greatly by country. We found entering Russia to be extremely formal, took hours and many fees were charged. Our ship's papers and passports were meticulously examined. We filled out and signed multiple forms with attendant stamps and seals for each of the concerned officials - Customs, Immigration, Agriculture, Health, Harbor Master, and the Police. This is a picture of the six Russian officials involved.
~Photo of Russian Customs officials in Petroplavlosk, July 2009 ~
Now Ireland. We landed in Crookhaven, not a port of entry. We phoned the customs agent and she said someone would catch up with us along the way. Five days later, in our third Irish port, the two friendly chaps in the photo below came on board, asked a few questions, made a note, and left after ten minutes. No paperwork, stamps, passports, or fees - just a "we hope ya enjoy yerselves"!
~ The picture says it all! What a joy it is to be in Ireland ~
Presently, we're in Kinsale, a picturesque fishing village and summer resort. Think Irish St. Tropez, with loads of pubs and tiny front parlor type restaurants offering fine dining. This region is called West Cork and it's known for its rocky coastline and fjord like harbors. Sailing is big here. We've chatted it up with some of the sailorsfriendly folk always quick to offer a drinkor two :-).
Braun & I found ourselves on board an Irishman's sailboat the other evening for a nightcap. We were just returning down the docks to our boat and these sailors insisted we join them for "a touch". They wanted to know if we were planning to see "The Boss". Bruce Springsteen? Yep, Bruce is playing in nearby Cork City this weekend to a sold out stadium of 50,000. They told us that Kenny Rodgers was in town earlier this month. Go figure?
Then there is the Boston connection. I've seen countless menold & young wearing some version of t-shirts that have BOSTON written on them; Boston Bruins; Boston Celtics, Kiss Me I'm an Irish Bostonian, etc. We have been told that the college football match of our Notre Dame's "fighting Irish" vs Navy football is at the Aviva stadium in Dublin is very popular here and some 30,000 American guests attend. A real mixup! Bottom line, we feel connected to and warmly received by the Irish people.
~ View of Kinsale harbor, can you find Ocean Pearl? ~
~ View from the bow of our boat early one morning in Kinsale ~
~ Fishing still goes on in and around Kinsale harbor ~ Collision
- Regardless of care and precautions a collision at sea is always a hazard. But tied up at the dock? So what happens when a 40 foot sailboat collides with a 64 foot 100 ton Nordhavn? Check this picture out.
Yes, this severe damage to the sailboat was caused when we were tied to the dock! The orange sailboat was on an adjacent dock and slipped their lines upwind of us. They blew back into our overhanging anchor. When the shroud that they snagged on our anchor parted it caused the entire mast to come crashing down. It narrowly missed several crew members that were on deck. No injuries, but the boat suffered extensive damage. The Pearl? A slight scratch on the anchor was all.
We bid Doug goodbye after he rested several days in Kinsale. He was a big help on boardand, amused us plenty!
Also, a shout out to a very helpful Irish boat broker, John McDonald. He helped us with locating boat parts and marina arrangements near Dublin. If you wish to buy or sell a boat in West Cork John's your man. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
In closing, here are some comments by Braun on the importance of weather and excerpts from our ship's log.
--------------------------------------------------------- Preparation and Weather
Preparation to cross an ocean involves many factors and takes time it took us a year to prepare our newly acquired Ocean Pearl. In addition to extensive refitting this prep included five separate day and night offshore shakedown passages. After making sure the boat and crew are ready we picked a target date for departure. Why "target" date? Because if the weather ain't right we ain't going.
Weather conditions are of upmost concern for any boat trip and become even more critical when leaving a coast and crossing an ocean. Weather can mean life or death. So several days before our target departure date we begin to closely monitor the weather. How do we do this?
1. We use the internet connectivity we have in port to browse and study the NOAA, US Navy, Passage Weather, Ocens and other weather sites. These are rich in data pertaining to the atmospheric pressure, fronts, troughs, wind, and waves, both current and predicted.
2. We hire a professional weather router, in our case Bob Jones, Omni Inc., Delaware. These routers have available to them proprietary data such as real time reports from ships at sea along the route we are intending. They combine their data and apply a professional interpretation to forecast conditions along our route. If they perceive a better way they will reroute us to take advantage of superior conditions.
3. We were lucky to have Andy Lund a Seattle based experienced yachtsman volunteer to help us with weather forecasting and routing. He communicated every day his sources, interpretation and weather forecasts. He even sent us a daily news summary - our only touch to the outside world. his sourcesweather forecast and, interpretation and routing tips were invaluable. He even sent us a daily world news briefing!
4. When under way and beyond internet connectivity we use a low speed satellite connection to receive weather reports and the information from our weather sources.
The overall strategy is to look for a favorable "weather window" of several days so that when we depart we will be somewhat assured of decent weather for 2-3 days. Then the focus is beyond the window to make sure there are no approaching storms or other unfavorable atmospheric factors. This "near and far" approach normally produces 5-6 days of acceptable weather that we can count on. After these first 5-6 days we are committed and take what comes. Regardless of careful preparation the window does not always hold. The North Atlantic due to its stormy nature and fast moving systems is one of the worst places in the world to find acceptable weather or predict it. Therefore we expected the worst - sea conditions that were similar to the passage we made from Seattle to Japan through the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, i. e. nasty.
We did wait an extra day in St. John's for a good prospective window (not bad at all, sometimes you can wait weeks) and did the Mel Fisher "today's the day!" and shoved off bound for Ireland.
Here is an excerpt from our weather router's first report on July 1, 2013. As you can see we took the rhumbline (direct) course as the rerouting alternatives (great circle route or a southern deviation) did not provide any significant advantage.
To: Captain Braun - M/Y OCEAN PEARL
1950UTC 01 JULY 2013
The overall pattern
continues to favor a departure on Tue/am July 3rd, as you plan. It also seems the development of low pressure later in the week should remain further north/east where it won't have the same impact as we had discussed in our last update. Extended outlooks
indicate the front will continue to weaken through Tue/09th as a new area of high pressure moves across southern Newfoundland on Sun/07 then eastward through Tue/09. This new high and high over the British Isls will attempt to merge in the 50N-55N/20W-30W area during Tue/09-pm and Wed/10th. Overall,
we do not see the need for you to head southward toward 45N to/about 30W. You could take on the GC route from St. Johns as the overall wind/pattern should be aft of the beam to following, but conditions mid ocean could get on the rougher side (combined 8-12ft and maybe periods of 30kt). Conditions will tend to ease closer to 50N during the forecast period versus along a more northern GC/route.
Therefore, basis a departure Tue/02nd am, we suggest from St. John's the rhumbline route to Crookhaven versus a more northern GC route or a more southern toward 45N. You could take on a more southern route if you would like as the conditions will be a bit lighter, but since we expect the prevailing wind/sea direction to be mostly aft of the beam to following, you might as well take advantage of the favorable wind/sea pattern while keeping distance to a minimum. Expect:
AND THE REPORT CONTINUED WITH A DAY BY DAY FORECAST FOR 10 DAYS --------------------------------------------------------Excerpts from the Log
Here are some entries that were excerpted from the ship's log, noon report. This report has other entries that are not reproduced here, including fuel and water remaining, distance traveled, distance to go, crew conditions, mechanical electrical propulsion problems, etc.
070213/1800UTC depart St. John's
070313/1200UTC sunny beautiful day
070413/1200UTC - just left the last of the Grand Banks to our west, birds everywhere, no fish yet, weather is excellent but cold, Azores are ~880nm to SE, Ireland ~1364 E.
070513/1200 UTC - Tina had a good birthday yesterday, Doug looks ugly in his new beard, weather continues to hold favorably. Passed the "ice free" line last night so we do not expect to encounter any ice ahead of us. Although it has been foggy we have not seen or bumped any ice yet. Guinness waits.
070613/1200UTC - weather has been good, wind generally less than forecasted, but overcast, little sunshine, seas lumpy. Pressure has been rising last 24 hrs. Mostly favorable aft current, but occasionally pushed back. Lots of whale sightings. Right, Humpback, and Minke we think.
070713/1200UTC - wind has been 18-25 SSE since our last report, with confused seas as swells are finally subsiding from NW and moving to SSE. dreary, rainy, foggy must be the N. Atl. Ocean? Wayne says we should have gone 30nm south for a better ride?? We must be on the bottom of a high pressure system. Passed half way point last night, spirits high.
070813/1200UTC - our pressure has risen sharply from 1018 to 1027 in last 12 hrs. The forecast from Omni and Andy are accurate so far and we are hoping the "better conditions as we approach Ireland" part holds true. Wind is tending more to the south and east than we expected from the pilot charts (both conventional sailing versions and Cornell's latest 20 year satellite data). These call for primarily westerly winds on our route. These abnormal conditions must be due to the rare stationary high pressure currently located over the UK.
070913/1022UTC - wind has come from the ESE, ~105 degrees for 24 hrs., and the pitching is pronounced. Weather gloomy. Drinking games for Dublin being planned.
071013/1200UTC - Beautiful, Beautiful!! The sun has finally appeared after six days and we are definitely in the warm embrace of the high pressure system that blankets Ireland and the UK. The sea is calm with a slight undulation - by far the best conditions we have experienced this voyage. We're even riding with one Dutch door open in the pilot house, previously prevented by cold and wet. The shipping traffic has increased. We have on AIS at least one ship, many times several every 2 hrs. or so and a lone bird just swept by. We had not seen anything for 5 days prior. Land must be near! Omni and Andy call for these conditions to continue to arrival in Crookhaven and we are lovin' it.
~ Last sunset at sea ~
Arrive Crookhaven, Ireland. Clear, calm morning. Some fog earlier. Land is very green. Birds everywhere.
Tonight we ride! O'Sullivan's Pub it is!!
MANY thanks again to Chris & Sonaia for making our Irish arrival SO memorable!!
~ Early morning, Chris with vhf radio & binoculars in hand waiting for the 'Ocean Pearl' to arrive ~
~ The lovely Sonaia...a wonderful hostess! ~
Next it's on to Dublin.
~ Over & Out! ~
Tina & Braun