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The North

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Fairwinds Round Ireland - The North
Aranmore to Burtonport to Aranmore


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Monday 2nd August

Aranmore - Burtonport - Aranmore

We went into Burtonport to get diesel, food, coffee, money and all the other things we had run out of. The entrance to Burtonport was relatively straightforward as it was nearly high water, but I wouldn't do it beyond two hours before and after LWS. The narrow channels with well-kept houses on the banks were reminiscent of parts of Southern Norway.

We tied up alongside a Colvic Watson 30 and managed to find the diesel man straight away. He told me that as it was the Irish August bank holiday no boats would be going out apart from yachts. We had to wait for the Colvic and the Etap 22 inside them to leave before we could leave Fairwinds and look for a ride into Dungloe, the local metropolis. In the meantime Kathy had taken the rubbish ashore, and came back saying she had been about to put it in a bin outside a shop when a woman had emerged from said shop and said she would have to buy a green bag for E3.50. She bought the rubbish back to the boat, and then we both went back into the village to look for anywhere to dump it. Seeing nowhere I said we had better buy the bag and we went back into the shop. We were now told it would be E4.50, so I said that I thought that was ridiculous and we would take our rubbish back to Scotland with us. We took it back to the boat and put it back in the port locker.

Burtonport - North Channel
House on the Burtonport channel
The skipper cooling his heels at Aranmore

Shortly afterwards the harbourmaster arrived to say he had had a complaint that I had been abusive to the woman in the shop. He didn't seem to be taking her complaint too seriously, but said that we should perhaps have seem him rather than 'some lassie in a shop'. I apologised, and he pointed out a skip away in the distance which we could use. Rubbish disposal in Ireland is all contracted out to private companies, who have special bags which are all they will collect. The system appears to work to an extent; there are plenty of recycling facilities for glass, tions and paper and the amount of rubbish thrown out by the average household for removal has apparently dropped dramatically. There are side effects a marked shortage of public litter bins has resulted in random piles of rubbish in many places.

The Colvic and the Etap were now ready to leave, so we cast off and motored around, coming back alongside when they had gone. We were now outside two largish fishing boats and a smaller green one.

We eventually got a minibus (taxi) into Dungloe at 13:30, and arranged to be picked up at 16:40 to go back. We had thought that would give us plenty of time to explore, but in reality it was at least two hours too much. Dungloe has nothing to attract the discerning visitor no attractive shops, no beach, dingy pubs, worse cafes . . . Donegal seems to go for low rent tourists from Ulster and Scotland, and does not do itself justice in the process.

When we got back to Burtonport we discovered that the small green fishing boat we had been alongside had left. While he had at least retied the yacht, he had scored and scuffed the topsides in the process. By now we had had enough, and decided to head back to Aran Roads. After waiting for a huge squall to pass through we managed to get away from the fishing boat we were pressed against by the wind and headed back out via the North Channel. With two hours of the flood still to run we had a stiff tide against us, and in the narrows going into the sound we were only making about a knot against a very turbulent flow full of eddies. At this point three lunatics in RIBs came hurtling down the channel and passed either side of us within ten metres, still doing at least 20 knots. Their combined wakes were the last straw we lost our grip on the water, and had to do a swift pirhouette and retreat. On the second attempt, with the genoa giving us an extra half a knot in the now light wind (where are the squalls when you need them?) we crept through in spite of meeting the ferry on the way in.

We anchored in Aran Roads in almost the same position as the previous night and waited for a spectacular lightning storm with very heavy rain to pass though. We then went ashore in the dinghy and decided to walk the two miles or so the the Atlantic Hotel, which apparently took credit cards, for a meal out to cheer ourselves up. When we got there the star offering was haddock, chips and coleslaw hardly a gourmet feast, but apparently the best that is available on Aranmore.

Filthy weather in Aran Roads

We walked back via Neilys pub, where we had a couple of pints of Smithwicks with a very pleasant couple she Irish he English, living in England who had also been in the Atlantic Hotel earlier.

On getting back to the pier just before midnight I saw someone apparently using one of our dinghy paddles to chuck our lifejackets about. Running down to the pier I found our dinghy very wet and up on the pier, eight feet or so above the water. A guy in a local currach-type boat with a big outboard was fishing the last paddle out of the water. Apperently he had found our dinghy floating upside down with the engine underwater. He seemed to be of the opinion that teenagers had done it. He offered to take us back to our boat, and I asked him if he would tow the dinghy out. He went off to get his brother, and they towed us plus the dingy back out to Fairwinds, promising that they would be 'having a word' with the perpetrators and asking us not to go away with too bad an impression of the place. A strange end to an unedifying day, but it could definitely have been worse many thanks guys for the tow out, sorry we didn't get your names.

During the night the wind swung us over a relatively shallow patch, so Kathy offered to stay up on anchor watch until low water.

Teelin Aranmore Burtonport Tory Island Portsalon Portrush Home to Scotland