Friday, June 26, 2009

Nevermind, change of plan

[Kyle]We’d originally intended to “leave Ireland” to go to Sherkin Island for a look around, but by the time we raised the anchor and made the short trip across the harbour, the wind was in the upper 20’s and the anchorage on an exposed lee shore. The anchorage was also very small, and very deep, full of mooring balls and with a high tidal range (3.5m). Try as we might, we could not find anywhere that was shallow enough to anchor (and close enough for the row to land) that we’d consider comfortably distant from the gnashing rocks at low tide. I tried to find a spot behind a little finger of a breakwater amidst some moorings, but again, was unable to assure enough swinging room. Maryanne finally said what we were both thinking – “let’s just skip here and move on to our next planned stop”.

So off we motored directly into the wind, out of Baltimore Harbour, and into the short steep chop of the Celtic Sea for the 12 nm bash to Castletownshend. The ride was horrible, we hadn’t been prepared for sailing as we’d expected s a short 1nm hop across the bay, and in any event I doubt we’d have made much progress under sail. So we motored directly into the wind and seas, where we were only able to make about 2-3kt with spray flying everywhere. The weather had also turned decidedly dreary, and although it never did, it looked and felt as though it were going to start raining any minute, all day long.

Castletownshend - what a beautiful village

When we finally got inside Castletownshend Harbour, away from the swell, we were rewarded with picturesque views of a beautiful, quaint stone village tumbling down into the harbour.

The town consists of basically one road down a very steep hill, ending in a castle (now used as a hotel/b&b and with a clear KEEP OUT signs for non-guests) and then the harbour with a small fishing fleet and green hills on either side.

After getting settled in (anchor secure, anchor ball up) we went ashore for a look around. The guidebooks pretty much say there is a castle and then you’re done. Probably about right, EXCEPT that the castle itself is surrounded by signs making it quite clear non-residents are not welcome. There is a beautiful Church of Ireland (Anglican) church perched on a hill behind the castle and lots of picturesque stone houses.

[Maryanne]We arrived ashore at Castletownshend at the rowing club, an ancient looking boat shed, clearly well cared for, and well used, but at the time closed up. Leaving here, we climbed the narrow road and eventually made it to the main road of town. There is no through road, Castletown is a dead end, not on the way to anywhere. We fully explored the street and found pubs closed down, restaurants not open, and were unsure if this was a sign of an abandoned village, or just too early in the season to be viable businesses. The highlight of the town for me was the shop. Marked outside with a lit sign that simply says “Shop”. It provides the bottled butane for the village, has a petrol pump in the street, and supplies newspapers and basic provisions in a cramped hodgepodge of a room – just perfect village stuff.

Castletownshend's Shop

[Kyle]The one open pub/restaurant in town is called Mary Ann’s, where we naturally decided to stop for a bite to eat and a pint. To our surprise as we entered the pub in this otherwise sleepy hamlet, we found standing room only and a waiting list to eat (on a Thursday evening!). Our walk around town had been very quiet so we could only assume that this one pub is renowned, and the whole town (and surrounding residents) used it. Places like this always amaze me. The town otherwise looks like it is clinging on for dear life, and yet we find these occasional businesses that no matter what have all the business they could want. The rumor about Mary Ann’s was its great food, and seafood in particular. We waited patiently our turn for a tiny table and eventually were rewarded with a delicious meal. Maryanne had Thai Fish cakes with a chili jam/sauce and I had a salmon with pesto mash and several sides of vegetables that appeared with that (chips, potatoes-au-gratin, carrots, cauliflower and beans). We’d intended to only stop by for an appetizer (budget cuts), and therefore ended up spending more than we’d intended, it was well worth the cost. One of the things I found most amusing was on the wall: A plaque awarding them the James Joyce award for an authentic Irish pub. It seems to me that in an ancient village like Castletownshend, just about as far from the tourist source of Dublin Airport as you can get, and not even on the beaten path, that a pub, in Ireland, at least 169 years old, would naturally be an “authentic Irish pub”, and no plaque would be necessary. Technically, it seems to me that anyplace in Ireland where someone with a name such as Fergus, who hands out a beer from their garage window, would be an authentic Irish pub, but I digress.

Mary Ann's pub/restaurant in Castletownshend

Feeling all satisfied from a delicious meal and a lovely walk around a beautiful village, we returned to the dingy for the row back to Footprint. As I reached down to pull in the painter (line that connects the dinghy to shore), our camera slipped out of my pocket, bounced on the gunwale of the dinghy, and landed on a mat of seaweed floating beside the dingy. I screamed at Maryanne to grab it but she was not quite fast enough (nor keen enough to get wet) and we had to watch as it slowly sunk into the harbour depths. I felt just terrible. Maryanne, however was very understanding and although upset at losing the camera, she was not upset with me. “Accidents happen”, she says. After I dropped her off at Footprint, I returned to the scene with a fish net to try an recover the camera (maybe we could salvage the memory chip?). No such luck. Even when I returned the next morning, all I pulled up was nets full of seaweed. That made for an extra expensive dinner out. Oh well, at least we have a spare camera.

[Maryanne]It had taken me a full year of whinging to get that little camera (eventually I justified it as a birthday present to me, from Kyle), with a great zoom and a small pocket size. We had a 10gig chip in there too… Grrr how frustrating to lose something that we use and value so much, and worse still to see it lost in such slow motion. I daren’t be mad with Kyle, as I’m just as likely to do something equally silly tomorrow and have certainly done so in the past. We’ll just have to suck it up and purchase a new camera. In the meantime we are at least not without a camera, but the one we have is a big bulky tourist/”look at me” type camera, not the kind you slip in your pocket “just in case”, but the kind you take out to a photo shoot. We’ve also discovered our back up GPS that also acts as our road route finder is broken, and we need to send that away for repairs, we seem to have a growing to do list that hits the bank account – grrrr indeed.

[Kyle]The following morning, just before we left, I retraced my steps with the camera while Maryanne scrubbed the bottom of the dinghy and gathered a few supplies from her current favorite shop. At least the light was better 2nd time around.

Maryanne cleans the Dinghy bottom


Mommy Dearest said...

What a wonderful, comfy-looking little village. In spite of it all, your photos are fabulous. It took me quite a long time to realize I could click on them to enlarge to my screen size. Breathtaking. Kyle, your halo is crooked after that last Oopsie. Do you two keep count of who drops the most items (or perhaps the most expensive items) in the water?

Split Decision said...

I lost my glasses last weekend while raising the jib. I imagine some crab wearing them while crawling around on the bottom of the Chesapeake.

Haven't lost any anchors recently though!

Glad you guys finally had some delicious fish to eat.

kate said...

What a perfect day in an authentic Irish coastal town! (no plaque necessary, haha) Sorry for the mishap with the camera. Maryanne, a little help: what does "winging" mean?

SV-Footprint said...

Oops Kate, No wonder you are confused. I should have said "whinging" which is a British(?) form of whining. :-) I'm very good at it until I eventually get what I want. Poor Kyle

SV-Footprint said...

Scott. This is at least the 3rd Pair Kyle has lost to Neptune, I figure he is waiting for just the right prescription.

kate said...

thanks, maryanne. now - how do you pronounce "whinging"? hard "g" or soft? this is important stuff.

SV-Footprint said...

Whinge - rhymes with Hinge - for definition see dictionary