It is funny, most places where people travel, they tend to say how nice the people are. In Canada, the people are so nice! In Costa Rica, the people are so nice! It makes you wonder, what is so un-nice about your neighbors back home? Or maybe it is somehow surprising when we put our screens down and find that people are really quite nice IRL…
Well, in Ireland, really, the people are so nice! On every walk, on passing other walkers, they all ask “How are you?” It’s not entirely clear if you are supposed to say, “Fine thanks!” every time or just respond with “Heya!”. We were not there long enough to figure this out. If you know, feel free to enlighten us.
Another fun tidbit we found while cruising in Ireland: with the American flag flying on our stern, we often overheard passersby whispering to one another, “That boat crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the States!” Many people asked us, “Hey did you come across?” to which we replied, “Yes, all the way from France!” Because people were curious, they were always fun to talk to.
All in all it was great to truly be on our own, cruising, for the first time in our boat. We were finally able to relax a little bit, exhale, and enjoy the whole experience.
Crosshaven and Cork:
We started the trip randomly in the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the first place we could think of to tuck in when the Irish Coast Guard asked us where we planned to stay as we radioed in our arrival. As it turns out, it is the oldest yacht club in the world (who knew?). We rested there for several days as we waited for a strong blow to pass and explored the area. The RCYC provided some much needed respite, a quaint restaurant, helpful members, and friendly slip neighbors. One club member even offered to drive us well out of town to a chandlery to search for some needed parts. Now we might be wrong about this, but it’s hard to imagine a Seattle Yacht Club member driving random visitors more than 30 minutes to a store, and back, just because. (Side note: why are the chandleries 30+ minutes away from marinas?). Anyway, it was a great example of the famous Irish Hospitality.
Our next port of call, fifteen minutes to the west by car, which translates into half a day by sailboat, was Kinsale. This is where the dramatic coastline began to present itself to us with rocky cliffs dropping dramatically to the waves topped with rolling pasture land. Many prominatory heights are topped with the ruins of some sort of small castle structure.
Kinsale is apparently known as a foodie destination, having an extensive variety of restaurants, pubs, and fancy dining. We didn’t do the fancy places so much but I (Randy) do remember a really tasty lunch from the guys in an East Asian food truck at the weekly outdoor farmer’s market. We also found a delicious chocolate shop, walked to the nearby Charles Fort, and cycled to Kinsale Park which boasted a white sand beach.
We also went on a quest for equipment at various chandleries, to no avail, but in so doing managed to explore a less touristy side of Cork. This included a notably epic day where we attempted to bus and bike to another one out-of-the-way shop (again, WHY are Irish chandleries so far inland?). Moments after disembarking from the bus in an industrial part of town, Diana discovered her rear tire was completely flat. The objective quickly moved from chandlery to bicycle shop. We rolled on with a limp for an hour or more toward the city of Cork and the nearest bike shop, with helpful people pointing out all along the way that we had a flat tire.
Once we finally arrived at the bike shop, a nonplussed employee with only half his teeth informed us that he could fix it; we could collect the bike the following day. On seeing our expressions of panicked desperation (next day?! no no no, that won’t do), this turned into “repaired in ten minutes.” Needless to say we bought a repair kit as well.
This turned out to be a fun outing despite everything. We were in search of some random hardware to fasten our life sling emergency equipment to the rear stanchions of the boat. The really funny part came after spending most of the day with the biking and the flat tire, when we realized that the store that sold the essential bits we sought was closed on Monday. <Facepalm> By this point we were in downtown Cork so we rode the bikes around there for awhile, just appreciating having properly inflated tires, before finally getting on another bus (blessedly) to take us back to Kinsale.