We move on to the diesel pontoon which seems an extraordinary distance from the pump. I ask the duty manager how it works? Just reel out the hose and he guarantees it will reach. Nigel is dispatched to do just that and indeed after a considerable effort, it does just that. The pump at the tank end is given a couple of hammer blows by the duty manager and the fuel starts to flow.
How much is white diesel in Ireland? One Euro per litre!! Yes, that’s One Euro per litre, the second least expensive diesel on the trip, even at €1.12 to the £.
I was wondering how they manage to do this with all the trouble we have with red diesel and the EU?
We phone Kilmore Quay to book a berth for when we arrive at this small but very popular transit marina on the southern Irish coast. The approach to the marina is navigationally challenging with multiple offshore rocks to be avoided and a couple of small islands (The Saltee Islands with the bigger island Great Saltee being Ireland’s most famous bird sanctuary) in the way, however so long as it is well planned and executed with care it presented no real problems. The marina manager asks what time we are arriving and what was our draft? According to Reeds and the various pilot guides, it was for Start Me Up (800mm draft) a 24 hour access marina. The manager confirms that this was the case but recommends that we arrive an hour before low tide for comfort’s sake. This was an 86 mile leg with slight but occasionally moderate seas forecast at the end of our passage. However, I was expecting to arrive at half tide i.e. three hours before low tide so a comfortable margin allowing for some slower speeds if needs must. Equally the tides were neaps and favourable i.e. deeper low water depths with slower tidal speeds.
What is obvious to me with respect to the Reeds Almanac and pilot guides used for this trip is that the advice given is entirely based on the performance of low powered sailing boats that are likely to spend a lot of their cruise in very uncomfortable situations either in arriving at the wrong time re sea states or finding themselves going backwards or running aground if they make some poor tidal calculations or the weather is against the forecast. It also seems that every tidal race is to be avoided at all costs irrespective of favourable conditions or even with what you see with your own eyes. Nigel is a ‘rags and sticks’ man to his very core and although he has great experience of such tidal situations and or races in his home cruising area i.e. Chichester harbour entrance, Portsmouth harbour entrance, the Needles channel and numerous tidal races and eddies throughout the Solent, on this trip he has wanted to go the long way round on every occasion. Usually, on the approach to such tidal races, our first sight of them was invariably an angry flattish sea that the twin 220hp Volvos powered through with barely any loss of speed. However, I agreed with this general approach, better to be safe than sorry.
The first 55 miles of this leg went without incident but approximately 20 miles off of Rosslare, the ferry port at the bottom of the east coast of Ireland and where after passing we turn right for the last 10 miles or so to Kilmore Quay, the wind and sea states picked up and visibility became poor necessitating in us slowing down to less than 10 knots. This resulted in us arriving later than planned in the approaches to Kilmore Quay, the passage plan was to take us the very long way round thus avoiding some tidal races and charted rocks to the marina entrance but taking an hour longer than a slightly more challenging but perfectly safe course between the Saltee Islands into Kilmore Quay. Taking the long way round would result in us now arriving at low tide, taking the short cut would still get us there one hour before low tide, which is what we did. The final approach in a comfortable depth of water required a sharp turn left through a narrow harbour entrance where thankfully nothing was coming out, a call via VHF to the marina manager and our berth was allocated. We came alongside, the boat was hosed down, the electricity connected and the coldest beers found to celebrate our arrival.
Nigel was keen to try out his new replacement scooter and Kilmore Quay seemed to be an ideal place to have a bit of an adventure with them. There were two pubs, one shop and two restaurants, one of which was allegedly the best fish and chip shop/restaurant in the whole of Ireland. You had to book but they managed to find us a table anyway which we could only have for 30 minutes, what did we want? Two lots of Cod and Chips and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc please…… but we had 30 minutes?……we didn’t think we could drink two…….they then kindly showed us to a recently vacated table where we could relax and have as many bottles as we liked.
Kilmore Quay is a very attractive village with a couple of lovely pubs and the fish and chips were very good indeed. The locals had a very attractive and laid back demeanour and it would have been a lovely place to have been trapped for a few days but the weather Gods were with us as the winds were turning westerly to give us a potentially very comfortable passage across the St.Georges Channel to Milford Haven in south west Wales the following day.