05 26 00 - 52 32.7N 009 54.08W 1600 UTC
Locked out of Kilrush 1330 UTC. Motored down Shannon R in stiff head wind. Saw two bottlenose dolphin in river mouth. Looking to overnight fine reach towards Slyne and then Achill Heads. So that we can start to survey the area where right whales were taken by the two whaling stations around Blacksod Bay from 1908 to 1910. These whales were mainly taken in the first two weeks of June, close to the coast, so we are at least headed to the right place at the right time. Time will tell if we find the right whale....
Crew for this leg is Michael Moore, New England Aquarium folks Amy Knowlton, Philip Hamilton, and Lisa Conger and Natasha Aguilar from Univ. Coll. Cork. Our stay in Kilrush was great. Kilrush Marina (John and Anne), Kilrush Marine Services (Adrian O'Connel) and the Internet Bureau (Charles Glynn) all made it happen for us. Michael
O5 28 00- 54 15N 10 11W. 1300 UTC.
Yesterday completed a passage along the 100m isobath from the Shannon up to Erris Head, the north west corner of County Mayo. Saw some unidentified dolphins at dusk. Spent last night anchored at Ballyglass in Broad Haven Bay. Now surveying a strip along the coast headed for Blacksod Bay tonight. More running repairs on the boat - 4/12 vang base fasteners sheared (for those interested in such things). Larger bolts and holes tapped to suit seem to have done the trick. No right whales yet. Weather changeable, but pretty good sighting conditions today. Michael
05 30 00 1730 UTC 54 53N 009 54W
Yesterday we surveyed west from Blacksod Bay and then up the 200m line and back in to Ballyglass. Saw nothing but a few birds. Today we went NW to the drop off at 55N 10.1W and saw 3 whitesided dolphins and a harbor seal on the way. Remarkable lack of larger air-breathing sea mammals, in spite of help from Emer Rogan at U Coll Cork to track down where the thermal fronts might be. Highlight of today was participation in an Irish S.A.R. helo. training exercise. Rosita had a visit from a human on the end of a winch cable.
A graceful landing on the life raft pod. Good to get the experience. Now headed in to Killybegs for bread, milk and shelter from a rather windier forecast than we've had recently. There was a right whale taken around the corner in Inver Bay in the 1780's. This Quixotic project keeps tilting. Michael
06 02 00 54 36.8N 009 30.0W 1054UTC
Surveying: somewhat marginal conditions - NE 25-30kts - lumpy swells from past two days semi-gale. Boat bubbles along 9-11 kts: 2 reefs and stysl. Nothing much to see or hear except the ever curious fulmars. Spent past two days in port at Killybegs on the N shore of Donegal Bay.
Arrived K'begs in wee hrs of Weds morning. Tues eve. had company of c.70 common dolphins for an hour @ mouth of Donegal Bay. The 1st significant amount of marine mammal biomass we have seen since arriving in Irish waters. Killybegs a bustling fish port. Major bonus being acquisition of a, now ravaged, stock of McVities plain chocolate digestive biscuits...... Pelagic trawlers, fish farm tenders, fish and oil rig supplies coming and going. Managed to extract crew without too many bar room brawls. Headed for Ballyglass again tonight, then on down the coast as weather permits. Michael 1700 UTC - alongside pier in Ballyglass. Wind still honking out of NE.
06 04 00 53 48N 10 12W 1550 UTC.
Wind continued to honk yesterday so walked to Belmullet (well some of us cheated with our thumbs half way)- skylarks, donkeys, peat diggings and wide wide open views - then we all got a ride to Ceide Fields (Ballycastle) a 5000 BC farm works buried under peat bog. Left Ballyglass this am. Surveyed S to S Inniskea: old whaling station site. Site now policed by greater blackback gulls well practiced in low altitude strafing runs. Now surveying down to Inishbofin. Plan on checking out a little knoll NW of Inishbofin tomorrow. For those of you who haven't figgered it out yet, Inish is Gaelic for Island. Michael.
06 05 00 53 45.3N 010 33.3W
Sadly we left Natasha Aguilar on the ferry dock in Inishbofin this am to catch a ferry, to catch a bus, to catch a plane to her next ship. A good shipmate. Monday we surveyed a small bank where Amy had heard some mid level clicks during our passage north. Found surface fronts and 3 small groups of Risso's dolphins (Grampus). Made some recordings, 35mm photos and video.
06 06 00 52 40.8N 10 13.0W 0615 UTC
Forecast ugly after Tues, so decided to catch a front with a NW push down to the Shannon. Fast broad reach to Loop Head. Currently 10 miles NW of the Shannon. Will be in Kilrush for next two weeks fixing things up before Hannah and the guys arrive on June 18th. Many, many thanks to Amy, Phil, Lisa and Eric (till he jumped ship...) for their companionship and hard work over the past month. Suffice it to say, if right whales were here, we missed 'em - and we looked pretty darned hard. Michael.
O6 15 00
Nearing the end of a productive maintenance in the Kilrush Marina and catching up on issues that have developed since leaving home. Chafing gear on the spreaders, repairing chafe on the mainsail clew, fixed most promptly by UK McWilliam in Crosshaven, outside of Cork , rengineering the mainsheet traveller, a multi-step process it seems with multiple conversations with Harken, fueling up, encouraging the anchor windlass to not run out unless asked (a functional pawl spring helped a lot), stocking up on food etc etc.
Hannah, Oliver, Sam, Chris and Tom arrive Sunday, with an ever increasing pile of sundry bits and pieces for the boat, shrouds, oil pressure sender, a spring for the self steerer, new main halyard, gizmos for the mainsheet etc etc. Established a collaboration with Peter Miller at the Remote Sensing Group at the Plymouth Marine Lab., in the UK. Peter has an algorithm to detect surface fronts from satellite images. Looking at a recent plot of his for the waters up to the Hebrides gives us an obvious track to follow on our passage up there in the next couple of weeks. And where the fronts are to the west of the Outer Hebrides. Peter's work can be viewed at www.npm.ac.uk . Cruise plan for the next leg is to acclimate the new crew with a few day hops up the western Irish coast before a passage to Castlebay on the island of Barra. Folks here in Kilrush always welcoming. Michael
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