Ciara Morrin, a marine scientist from Galway, Ireland joined us onboard Celtic Mist for the first cruise of the 2023. Here she tells us about her experience onboard:
I arrived in Poolbeg early on Sunday, 12th May and was greeted by Lucia, the first mate, who had walked out to meet me. Together, we boarded the boat and I was introduced to Pat, the skipper and the rest of the crew – Patricia, Kate, Valentina and Daniel. By twelve noon, after all introductions, settling in, and safety precautions had been addressed (and two pots of coffee had been brewed and enjoyed!), we embarked on the first leg of our voyage.
As we sailed out of Poolbeg, the sun got the better of the clouds and the cormorants lined up on the seawall to see us off. Gulls, gannets and terns flew overhead and plunge-dived into the water around us, showing off their excellent fishing skills. We docked in Wicklow that evening, and although there were no mammal sightings that day, everyone was in high spirits! We were all delighted with the day’s progress, to have witnessed the wonderful seabirds, and with full bellies after a delicious home-cooked curry (courtesy of Valentina and Kate).
The following day, we were scheduled to sail in the early hours of the morning. However, the weather was so bad we were delayed for two hours – but at least we got a small lie in. When we eventually got going, the waters were choppy and visibility was poor, but we could just make out Brittas Bay in the distance. We made the decision not to continue to Rosslare, but to instead dock in Arklow in the early afternoon. We availed of the showers in a nearby leisure centre and picked up some garlic bread and basil for our authentic Italian dinner that evening (courtesy of Patricia and Lucia).
The next morning, we woke to the best weather we encountered for the entirety of the voyage. The water was still like a mirror and finally, as we sailed out past the south beach of Arklow, we had our very first dolphin sighting. Excitement filled the air and the tone was set for our longest passage yet – to Dunmore East in County Waterford. That day we sailed for from nine to nine. Pat the skipper had advised us that we weren’t going to rush (there was a very nice German yacht docked right beside our reserved parking spot in Dunmore East and it would be better to avoid entering the harbour as the tide was coming in to reduce 1) speed and 2) risk of collision with aforementioned yacht). So, we took our time and the good weather proved to make all the difference. There were many common dolphin sightings that day, and even a possible humpback sighting as we approached the Saltee Islands in County Wexford.
After a long but successful day, with arguably the most beautiful scenery we had seen so far on the trip, we sailed past Hook Lighthouse (one of the oldest lighthouses in Europe, or so I was told) and into Dunmore East.
Well, if we thought that was a full day’s work, the following day proved us wrong. An even earlier start had us heading for Crosshaven not long after sunrise. It was just after a bit of lunch and I had gone into my cabin to put on an extra layer when I heard gleeful cheering from the mast. I quickly put on my life jacket and rushed out to the deck to find a group of common dolphins, adults and juveniles, breaching both sides of the boat. They stayed with us for some ten minutes, bow-riding and swimming alongside. Pat explained to me that when encountering dolphins, it is best not to stop the boat suddenly or make any sudden course changes so we kept sailing at a speed of between 5-7 Knotts. Many more dolphins were sighted that day, but this was for sure the highlight of the whole trip!
When we finally sailed into Crosshaven that night, it was already dark, which made it slightly harder to navigate into the marina. However, it was beautiful to see the harbour lit up and some friends of the crew kindly met us there to take our ropes and welcome us to Cork. The following morning, we made our final passage to Kinsale harbour, detouring to some of the whale and dolphin hotspots along the way. Unfortunately, due to some bad weather, there were no sightings that day. But, the overriding sense of accomplishment when we finally stepped foot in Kinsale, paired with the beautiful scenery and wildlife we had encountered for the past 6 days was enough to keep everyone in great form. We ate well that night and it seemed like all of a sudden, the morning had arrived and it was time to part ways.