22/09/2015: The Maiden Voyage
At the risk of spoiling the end of this story, we are safe and sound in Lawrence Cove
on Bere Island, enjoying the excellent surrounds of all that the south west of Ireland
has to offer. Water so clear, that while standing on the deck we could count more
than a dozen star fish on the sea bed beneath us. As relaxing as this is, I’ve still not
come down fully from the high of Faoin Spéir’s first passage, Fenit to Bere Island.

After the launch and test sail around Tralee bay, we spent 4 nights on board, then
popped home for a couple of nights before returning to the boat on a Sunday night.
Sitting in the quiet of the saloon, the passage was planned, waypoints listed, tides
examined and weather checked. All we had to do was ‘join the dots’. We had a
perfect weather window, until 6pm Tuesday, when a force 6 was to move in off the
Atlantic. After hardly sleeping a wink with excitement, we were up at 6:30am Monday
morning, and slipped the lines at 7am to begin the 90 nautical mile passage south to
Bere Island. The passage was broken into 2 legs with an overnight in Valentia
harbour. We still don't have the nav. lights wired so we thought it best to limit the
sailing to daylight hours.
The sail to Valentia was in very light air to start with, sailing passed Fenit lighthouse at
about 2knots. We were soon overtaken by the Irish Navy heading north out of Tralee
bay, as we kept a westerly heading. After motorsailing for a couple of hours, we found
some wind as we rounded Brandon head. Shutting off the engine, the boat sprang into
life and within minutes we were surrounded by dolphins. A pod of common dolphin had
decided to join us for an hour, riding on the bow wave and generally playing about the
boat. We could clearly hear the clicks and whistles as they surfaced. With all of the
excitement, we almost overlooked the 2 minke whales going about their business
about 50metres abeam of us, heading north.
The Blaskets off our starboard bow as we entered the sound.
A rainbow welcome at Valentia Island
Turning south, the infamous Blasket sound lay ahead, although the sea was calm, the
confused roll in the sound created areas of white foam, and slick patches. The stories
from school of the Blaskets came flooding back, and even though the sun was shining,
and the breeze was gentle, the sound certainly had my full attention. It was only after
crossing into Dingle bay, mug of tea in hand, that I mused about the pilot whale we had
encountered on entering the sound.
Crossing Dingle bay, we got an opportunity to witness just how beautifully balanced
the boat is. Flying the hanked on jib and main sail, Faoin Spéir stretched her legs. On
a close reach in a reasonable chop she sailed herself across the bay with hardly a
hand on the helm. I don't think I've ever experienced a boat so well behaved. As if the
whales and dolphins were not poetic enough for our first passage, about 3 miles out
from Valentia Island, a rainbow appeared. Never mind the leading lights, a rainbow
rose right out of the mouth of the harbour (which we caught on camera for our next
video). We tied up in Valentia for the night where we met Peter on Spingo, and
celebrated a successful first day with a seafood chowder. By 10pm we were all sound
asleep before my alarm call at 5:30am.
We cast off the final line at exactly 6:02am and motored out of the harbour before the
sun made an appearance. The weather was stunning, although completely windless
until mid-day. We motored for 6 hours straight; again the engine did not miss a beat.
Only from the ocean can you appreciate the stunning formations of the Skelligs and
huge stone elephant shape of the rock known as ‘The Bull”. Once we rounded Dursey
Island, the wind came up, and with a weather warning on the radio suggesting we
make port by 6pm, the wind was much appreciated. At 5:05pm the fenders went out and
we arrived in good time and good shape at our new berth in Lawrence Cove on Bere
Island.
The Lawrence Cove Marina, a welcome sight at the end of day 2.
This could only be one island, The Cow.