Log of Calypso

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
23 April 2017 | Dundee, Scotland
21 April 2017 | Dundee, Scotland

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


Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Wendy & Jeff


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

Final Look

17 May 2017 | Doolin, Ireland
The weather system that passed through early Sunday with high winds and sporadic rain hasn't "dampened" our exploration, too much. Putting on an extra layer of clothes includeing a light waterproof windbreaker we continued on.

We've retraced some of our steps on the Cliffs of Moher Trail, mindful of the danger in these wet conditions. In the past two days we've seen two coast guard ground units and a helicopter in action along the cliffs. The ground, fine glacial till, has turned to a slick mud paste. Add winds, gusting in excess of 40 knots, and tourists anxious for a selfie, and you can't help but have a recipe for disaster.

We passed this Tower Castle on the hill overlooking Doolin and after some research we found it to be Doonagore Castle. Built in around 1500 this privately owned castle is still used as a holiday retreat for the family and friends of a wealthy Irish American.

Walking by, this 500+ year old building, it looks to be in remarkably good shape. Renovated in the 1800's and again after an electrical fire in 2011, there are no outward signs to identify it's name, age, or history.

Online, however, we found that in in the 1580's, a Spanish Armada was shipwrecked off the coast. All 170 Spanish survivors were captured and hung at Doonagore Castle. It would be a great place for a ghost tour!

Castles or no, we always seem to turn our attention back to the sea. The pot-marked appearance of The Burren, worn by tide & time, seems almost volcanic, but it's not. It has, however a very familiar look and reminds us of the rocky beach at Hawksbill Cay (Key) in the Bahamas.

With a very large tidal range here, we spent a large chunk of the afternoon exploring, finding several small tidal pools.

Thankfully, Crab Island at the entrance to the very small Doolin Harbor, was protecting us from the wind driven waves breaking 100 meters away.

This vantage point and with the Cliffs in the background, was a real treat.

Poking through these giant aquariums we discovered, periwinkle snails and several, abalone like, limpets. They are also a snail. There were several different types of seaweed, small anemones, and even some shrimp. Where's our net & bucket.....;)

This time of year the four local ferry companies work at a fevered pace. Competition between them is stiff and all we needed to do was to appear as if we were approaching a competitors ticket booth and they sprang into their "hard sell" routine. All in good Irish fun but they would be happy to take a customer from a competitor.

These boats make several round trips to the Aran Islands daily. In between those one hour runs, they take bus loads (literally-bus loads) of tourists, mainly Americans, to see the Cliffs from sea-level. A favorable "Must Do" write-up by Rick Steve's, in his Best of Ireland Tour Guide didn't hurt their business at all.

Tour boat captains make the majority of their money between late spring and early fall. It would need to be blowing really hard for these boats not to run. Thankfully, for us, the weather for our Wednesday trip to the Aran Island of Inis Oirr (In-is-shear) looks great!

Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Wendy and Jeff

Pot of Gold

15 May 2017 | Doolin, Ireland
The geologic history of this region goes back to when Ireland was underwater, in a tropical sea, over 350 million years ago. Jumping ahead a few million years, porous limestone, mainly calcium carbonate (CaCO3) formed between a denser rock. Caverns were created as the limestone was eroded away by rain fed streams. This particular area in Western Ireland is known as, The Burren.

In 1952, 12 spelunkers (cave explorers) from the Craven Hill Potholing Club, of Yorkshire Dales Great Britain, set off on an adventure to explore the underworld of, The Burren.

One Sunday morning, two of the 12, Brian Varley and J.M. Dickenson, decided to explore near a cliff they saw the previous day. These young men followed a small stream that disappeared into the ground, under some rocks.

Hot on the trail, they dug through the rocky soil finally coming to a small opening. Armed with nothing more then oil head lamps they entered the hole head first. Crawling about 500 meters in a narrow passageway they described as "a knee wrecking and miserable crawl”, when they tried to turn around they couldn't. They discussed their options, either keep going or crawl backwards.

Then, ahead, in the darkness, they heard their voices echoing. Thinking it was a chamber where they could stand up, stretch, spin around, and return to the daylight, they pressed on. It was a chamber and when they stood up, shined their lamps around, they saw this huge Stalactite, which became the centerpiece of Doolin Cave.

Saturday morning, we set off on our own exploration, the goal to find a cave! In this remote part of Ireland, taxis are invisible and busses run on an every two-ish hour schedule. Facing an 8 mile round trip walk, we decided on renting bikes. It was the perfect solution!

Our challenge, however, was navigating the cars, tour busses, & caravans (RV's) traveling these one-lane country roads. The rain held off as we went on our mostly, up-hill journey to Doolin Cave.

After a brief history our guide, Owen-no similarities, took us into the cave. Today, instead of crawling face first into the darkness, we climbed down a long staircase to the cave floor, nearly 200 feet down.

Here we put on hard hats and followed a tunnel,

dug using a method of drilling holes and shooting pressurized air into them, limiting vibration and possible damage to the treasures inside the cave.

We followed the same stream those two explorers followed 65 years ago,

The Doolin Cave Stalactite is one of the biggest in the world. Formed as water deposited minerals along its 23 foot, 10+ ton body, the Stalactite grows at a rate of 1 inch per 1000 years.

When water stops flowing over a certain part of the Stalactite growth stops, the color changes from pure white to a gray, and that part of the formation is considered dead.

Evidence that this cave existed, underwater is found in the fossils along the walls, like this piece of coral.

Returning topside, liquid sunshine awaited us. Our ride back in the chilly mist was at least, downhill all the way. After returning our bikes we thought a bowl of soup at a local pub would warm things up. As we entered O'Connors Pub ten local Trad Musicians strolled in behind us, set up, and started an afternoon jam session.

We later found out that these guys only get together twice a year! What an afternoon and how lucky could we be! As we listened to hours of traditional Irish music we realized that there really is a Pot of Gold, in Doolin!

Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy
Vessel Name: Calypso
Vessel Make/Model: Westsail 32
Hailing Port: Clearwater, Fla
Calypso's Photos - Main
Repair to Calypso's foredeck, mast step, rudder, & Seacock replacement
7 Photos
Created 3 November 2016