Log of Calypso

31 May 2017 | Bunratty Castle, Ireland
27 May 2017 | Dingle Ireland
24 May 2017 | Foynes, Ireland
21 May 2017 | Limerick, Ireland
21 May 2017 | Aran Islands, Ireland
18 May 2017 | Aran Islands, Ireland
17 May 2017 | Doolin, Ireland
15 May 2017 | Doolin, Ireland
13 May 2017 | Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
12 May 2017
09 May 2017 | Strata Florida, Wales
07 May 2017 | Middle Wales
05 May 2017 | Aberystwyth, Wales
02 May 2017 | Haltwhistle, England
01 May 2017 | Haltwhistle, England
29 April 2017 | Mallaig, Scotland
28 April 2017 | Isle of Skye, Scotland
26 April 2017 | Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland
25 April 2017 | Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland
23 April 2017 | Inverness, Scotland

Fairwell Banquet

31 May 2017 | Bunratty Castle, Ireland
Bunratty Castle sits on the site where a wooden fort built in 1250, by the Normans once stood. Today's it's one of Ireland's premiere Landmarks located in County Clair (Clear).

The current stone castle, built in 1425, is on the foundations of several previous forts & castles. That is because this location is of strategic importance protecting the tributaries of the River Shannon which lead into the Port of Limerick.


Bunratty Castle was once the seat of the powerful O'Brien Clan. In the early 1700's it was sold. Later it was re-sold, abandoned, and eventually fell into disrepair for nearly 200 years.

In 1956, the 7th Viscount Gort, a wealthy collector of fine art, antiques, and other valuable objects purchased the Castle. He and his wife travelled the world collecting 15th & 16th century furnishings,


tapestries,



And other fine decorations to restore the Castle to its 15th century grandeur.


In early 1960, the Castle was donated to "the public" and in 1963, the first medieval banquets began. They gained in popularity especially after the attendance of President Kennedy, in June 1967.

We toured the Castle early Monday morning taking in the Great Hall,


where later we would be entertained before dinner,


and Guard Quarters


where, during dinner, by candlelight,


we would drink soup from the bowl and eat meat with only our hands and a dagger, ok-it was a steak knife...;)


The views from the four towers were spectacular. On a clear day you could see
Limerick, 18 km away.


After 10 amazing weeks, this was our last big event! It was a lot of fun, with lots of laughing, & music.


Probably proportional to all the wine and Mead (wine made from honey) they were pouring for the 200 people in attendance.

This has been an absolutely fantastic trip, and a banquet fitting our grand finale'. Wednesday, we return to the US, excited to see and share our adventures with family & friends.


Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

Full Circle

27 May 2017 | Dingle Ireland
Wednesday we headed to Dingle, for four days. Traveling, County Kerry is uniquely different from the areas around Limerick or Killarney. As our bus climbed the steep green coastal hills of the Dingle Peninsula, we could smell the sea again!

Dingle is more than just a small coastal village. It's protected harbor with a "hidden" entrance has been used by seaman and smugglers, for centuries. Today fisherman in both large and small boats use the commercial docks to unload their catch, make repairs, and provision before heading back out to sea.


No longer just a working town, Dingle has an active tourist industry. With great old, Traditional Irish Music, and some of Ireland's friendliest people, tourists flock here by the bus load. Literally, on any given day we've counted 20+ busses.


As we've seen before this huge influx of, mainly American, tourists crowd the streets, shops, and pubs. This area is still several weeks from the "busy" season. Our AirBnB host commented that if you don't have a parking spot in the city center by 1100, you won't get one. Thankfully we are staying in a small residential area, within easy walking distance to everything.

Word of mouth is not the only way tourists are drawn to this beautiful location. Several movies have been filmed here, going back as far back as the 1930's. More recent films include Ryan's Daughter, Excalibur, Far & Away, and scheduled for release shortly, the latest Star Wars episode.

The ocean is still the biggest attraction here with activities such as surfing, kayaking, and diving, being very popular. Bring you wetsuit....;) Local sailing and rowing clubs are very active and there are several regattas scheduled for this summer.


Dingle's most popular resident is Fungie. His name, adapted from A Fun Guy, he is a 14 foot dolphin who left his pod years ago. Why? No one knows, but this 41 year old dolphin is a familiar sight for boats in the harbor and he seems to get some pleasure from the the ooo's and aaaa's of tourist paying €10 for a boat ride to see him.


The hour long boat ride is more than a dolphin watch trip as we popped out of the harbor to look at the dramatic Red Sandstone and Quartz cliffs,


arches,


and caves.


On one end of town is the Dingle Distillery. Starting only a few years ago it produces Gin, Vodka, and a small amount of Irish Whiskey. Although we went on Distillery tours in Dublin, we wanted to see the operation of this "Craft Distillery".


During the hour long tour, our guide Joe, walked us through the history of distillation and some Dingle history as well. The building housing the distillery was once a bakery.


It and several other buildings were owned by Lord Ventry, a wealthy landowner in the mid & late 1840's. During the time of the Great Potato Famine, Ireland lost over a million people and the area around Dingle was one of the hardest hit regions.

Lord Ventry "created" projects", like this tower known as Hussey's Folly


and Eask Tower, on top of this cliff, across the harbor, as an entrance marker.


These projects provided jobs for unemployed and starving farmers. He built a workhouse and bakery to house and feed the workers. Today, that bakery is the Dingle Distillery.



Weeks ago, while in Scotland we stayed in Dundee. One of the many wonderful things about the city was the Royal Research Ship Discovery. We learned the stories of the men who crewed her during several heroic expeditions to Antarctica.

One man in particular, an Irishman, Tom Crean stands out today. Distinguishing himself on the Discovery he was hand picked to crew on the 1914 expedition on the Endurance.

In 1915, the Endurance became trapped in the Antarctic ice and later sank. With the crew stranded on Antarctica's Elephant Island, Crean and three others set off on a rescue mission.

In an open Boat, the four headed to a Whaling station at South Georgia, 1500 km away and more than twice the distance from Dingle to Dundee, 788 km. No GPS!

Called, "one of the most extraordinary feats of seamanship and navigation in recorded history", the men sailed through gales and snow squalls. They reached the whaling station after 18 days at sea Crean then walked alone 48km on an overland track across a 10,000 foot mountain range. He succeeded and 22 survivors on Elephant Island were rescued.

Tom Crean retired and opened a pub near Dingle called the South Pole Inn. Unfortunately, in 1938, he died as a result of a ruptured appendix, but his memory lives on.


The Dingle Brewing Company has honored this local hero by naming their very successful locally made Lager after him.





As we sit in a quiet pub drinking a Crean's we find ourselves fortunate to be in this beautiful small Irish town at the edge of the Atlantic. We did not set out to follow Tom Crean's life or his sailing adventures. But, unintentionally, as we've followed his life "full circle" we are glad we had the opportunity to spend time with the hearty, resilient, friendly people of Dingle.

Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

Pan American Clippers

24 May 2017 | Foynes, Ireland
When Marty & Tiki told us about a building, in a small Irish village, with an airplane tail sticking out of it, we just had to check it out.

In 1913, the London Newspaper, The Daily Mail, sponsored a competition for the first pilot to make a continuous flight across the Atlantic. With a prize of £10,000, it got a lot of attention but was soon suspended at the outbreak of WWI.

However, the airplanes usefulness was proven during the war. The competition continued and the summer of 1919 would see several daring transatlantic attempts.

In May 1919, a Curtiss Seaplane was flown from the US to Newfound. Then on to the Azores, Portugal, and finally arriving in the UK, 31 May. This huge undertaking used 53 ships, spaced at set intervals across the ocean to act as navigational beacons.

Because it took 23 days and several crews, the journey was ineligible for the grand prize, but it showed the crossing, by air, could be accomplished. Then, in June 1919, two British pilots John Alcock & Arthur Brown flew the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight.

Although the prize was claimed and awards given the competition was far from over. Companies scrambled to see who could move mail and people across the ocean first.

Introduced in 1939, Boeing would produce several huge airboats, or Clippers, capable of carrying up to 74 passengers & 11 crew. With spacious seats, passenger sleeping quarters, seven course meals, and even a honeymoon suite in under the tail, this was 5-Star luxury.



The Pan American Airlines were formed flying this Boeing 314, said to be the largest passenger aircraft until the Jumbo Jet arrived almost 30 years later. It was over a hundred feet long and it could fly at almost 170 knots.




Back then, if you had $675, about the price of a Chevrolet, and wanted to make a Transatlantic journey, to or from Great Britain, you passed through the tiny village of Foynes. Passengers, anxious to fly across the Atlantic would ride small shuttle boats out to a waiting seaplane, tied to their moorings.

Today, sitting along the banks of Ireland's Shannon River is the Foynes Flying Boat Museum. Officially opened by the Dublin born actress, Maureen O'Hara, in 1989. The museum is housed in the original terminal building for the Boeing Clippers, its strategic location was hand picked by Charles Limburg, himself.


The award winning actress of the 1940's & 50's had a special tie to the museum and frequently visited until her death in 2015. She also donated several items now displayed in the museum, that belonged to her late husband, US Air Force Brigadier General Charles F. Blair. Among his many accomplishments, Blair was the chief training pilot for the Pan American's Boeing Clippers.

None of the original Clippers survive but with the only life sized replica of a Boeing 314 as its centerpiece, the Foynes Flying Boat Museum keeps the romantic age of Pan American Airlines, and it's Clippers, alive.


Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff and Wendy

The Locke

21 May 2017 | Limerick, Ireland
Enjoying a night of Traditional Music & Dance at The Locke.

Tomorrow we are off to Kilkenny, via Foynes Airboat Museum

Enjoy...;)


Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Wendy & Jeff

Grabbers

21 May 2017 | Aran Islands, Ireland
We arrived early at the Doolin Ferry Docks. Still several weeks from "high season", we had reserved tickets for the 1100 ferry. A mostly empty 1000 ferry was ready to go so when we were offered an early ride, we jumped on.

The 20 knot SW wind & 6-8 foot seas on a short interval made the 30 minute ride, less than calm. It's easy to see that this stretch of water could become a "nasty piece if work" in poor conditions. In fact, we had been warned about getting trapped on the island, since the ferries don't run in bad conditions.


After a calm docking in the Islands lee, we stepped off the ferry and thought we were in the Bahamas! This is an island with white sand beaches, teal blue water, abundant seafood harvests, and ultra-friendly people, did we make a wrong turn somewhere? One barefoot step into the surf, which is 40 degrees colder, will wake you from THAT dream!


There are no tour bus crowds here as back in Doolin. There, we saw tour busses stacked several deep with tourists on a time schedule. So much to see with too little time, these "guided tourists" seem always in a hurry to snap a picture and move on. We have enjoyed the slower pace.

Arriving, on the island, early in the morning has its advantages. We walked past tour guides with horse drawn traps (carts) into a quant & empty pub. No, too early for that, but we did have tea and a homemade scone. Then, on to an early check in with our host Kieran, at Creagan Bed & Breakfast

As usual, we took the rest of the first day to just walk around, talk to people, and make a sightseeing plan. We found on Inis Oirr, residents surpass the usual, ultra-friendly & helpful Irish standards. Also, if you start a conversation, don't think your going to end it quickly with a wave goodbye. These are proud people with strong ties to this island. They have a lot to tell you, if you are willing to listen.

Locals are not use to tourists, especially Americans, coming to Inis Oirr for an extended stay. Usually staying no more than the two hours between ferries, it was interesting to see their faces when we said we would be here 3-nights!

With Kieran's recommendation, we ate lots of really fresh seafood. The Hotel, which also doubles as a pub, cafe', & restaurant. Serves a great Atlantic Seafood Chowder. Somewhat like NC Down-East Chowder, but has fish, crab, shrimp, scollops, mussels, and even squid. Also, at The Sea Weed, we enjoyed fresh Dingle crab claws. They are similar to stone crab claws, excellent and served cold. We rarely take pictures of food but, in this case a picture says it all...;)


To get to the more remote locations of the island, one morning we rented bikes. Armed with a map with the points of interest, we were off. Our first stop was the rarely visited SW corner of Inis Oirr. We were told, "when you run out of trail just park your bike and walk".


On the way we passed these ruins of a fort which dates back to 1500BC.


Along the narrow coastal road we took a minute to stop to see the islands memorial to sailors lost at sea.


The water at this part of the island has quite a bit of kelp. It's also amazing to watch the huge rolling waves that started somewhere around Boston, pound the coast.


The moderate, SW prevailing winds, gave the perfect condition for a sailboat to have a wonderful day on the water.


The weather also gave us great conditions to explore.


Next, we visited a spot known as the Holy Well. When Christian missionaries came to Inis Oirr they were met by Celts who had their own beliefs. Both believed the well had holy waters which both shared for for ceremonies and rituals.


The An Plassy shipwreck is probably the most photographed landmark on the island. In 1960, after suffering engine failure it came to rest on this beach.



Before a salvage crew could remove it a storm pushed it above the high tide line, breaking it's back on the rocks.


The ruins of four stone churches going back over 1000 years, dot the island. Cill Ghobnail, built in the 11th century. Built to honor a 6th century saint who was born in this region of Ireland.



Another is St. Kevin's Church, built in the 10th century in honor of St. Chaomhain the patron saint of the island. At one time this church was built on a rock foundation but over the centuries, a sand dune had nearly buried the structure.


Every June, residents hold a festival in celebration of their saint, who is buried in the cemetery nearby. The details in the stone carvings are still visible.


Churches aren't the only old structures here. This 15th century fort and Castle gives a a wonderful view.


Most likely why another watch tower was built beside it in the 18th century.


Late one day we went to see the islands lighthouse. Located on the SE end of the island the light marks a dangerous shoal.


The Light-keepers building is in ruins and the light is now fully automated.


As the sun dipped in the west the sun passing through the fresnel lens gave us a a spectrum of light.


Why Grabbers? Well unlike the Sci-Fi movie with the same name, these islands can hold on to you with their stunning beauty, quiet surroundings, and friendly people.

Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

Inis Oirr

18 May 2017 | Aran Islands, Ireland
Wednesday we set off on the Doolin Ferry to discover Inis Oirr.
Press the "Map" Tab to check out our location.
Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy
Vessel Name: Calypso
Vessel Make/Model: Westsail 32
Hailing Port: Clearwater, Fla
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Calypso's Photos - Main
Repair to Calypso's foredeck, mast step, rudder, & Seacock replacement
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Created 3 November 2016