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Daragh Muldowney

Daragh Muldowney

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Posted by on in Latest News

All good things come to an end at some point I suppose and this trip is no different. We've officially handed the boat back to Des with much thanks and I am left considering how I take on the next leg of this epic adventure...

Before I go too far into that though I'll give you a brief rundown of events after we left Inis Turk.

I am sorry to report that the swell and bad weather prevailed making diving into my chosen spots contiuously difficult.

Deas came back on board and we headed north under a heavy stormy sky with the odd rainbow.

 

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We were hoping to dive the Bills (Southwest of Achill Island) but way too much wind and swell. Here's a wee pic of them....looking awesome.

Someday I'll get to dive them. Apparently The Bills are a dive site on every Irish divers bucket list....

 

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We had another night on anchor at Keem Bay in Achill hoping to dive Achill in the morning...Nope.....access denied!!

So on we went with a brief lunch in Blacksod and a very close encounter with some foul ground. We made it as far as Rinroe in Broadhaven for a safe anchorage hoping to dive around Kidd Island the next day. Despite the heavy surge the next day we managed to get into a cave but couldn't stay long as there was too much movement.

I could typically be at my camera adjusting settings and a surge could come and move me 5m from the camera. The back surge would bring me back but all this movement and working hard to stay in position means I go through my air rapid quick. I have to keep a constant eye on my air guage and my dive computer to ensure I have enough air to achieve all safety stops on my return to the surface. The art of losing myself in my surroundings and feeling the powerful energy around me is peppered with safety reminders and surges.

 

We headed back to Sligo as Des's family had planned to use the boat for a week but unfortunately for them the weather turned even worse and prevented them getting out......some summer!

 

A week later Ciaran, Joe and I were back aboard and heading towards Donegal. The week's weather promised light northerly winds, sunshine but the dreaded swell was still there. I love surfing and have spent over 20 years catching waves all over the place and this summer was a great surfing summer.....not so hot for diving!

 

Ciaran & Joe on the lookout!

 

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We had a night on a mooring in Killybegs....Ireland's enormous industrial fishing port and the next day went looking for sheltered spots. We saw this cave near Teelin from a few miles away and headed over....

 

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 A very shallow dive into pitch black with loads of life....so many prawns, plaice, congor eels and incredible light on the surface.

 Here's one not too far into the cave but still very dark...

 

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We had a night in Teelin but winds had gone to the south and we made the call to head back over to Downpatrick Head which would benefit from the southerly winds. 6am departure had us arriving at Dun Briste at about 12:30pm.

I love this perspective....

 

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No escape from the swell but managed a dive anyhow on the most sheltered side. I haven't spoken about plankton much but from the surface to about 20m plankton is all about at this time of year. It reduces visability and adds a milky mistiness to any scene. You can see their movement through the shot on a long exposure. Here is a shot of a towering pinnacle with plenty plankton at Dun Briste. A sacred standing stone in the land under the sea.

 

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A very welcome return to the surface....still in our O'Three Thermals and Joe had some delicious Hot Chocolate drinks ready for us from Skelligs Chocolates. They gave us a whole range of amazing chocolate drinks to take with us including Chilli and Cinnamon flavours. Big thanks to them.

 

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A hefty 4m swell was coming (surprise, surprise) so we picked Des, Leon his grandson and Durka his dog up from Kilcummin and made a hasty retreat to Sligo for a fantastic Fleadh weekend.

 

We made sure to breath some of our 50% oxygen first. I think Ciaran has passed out here....

 

Oxygen

 

So....that brings us to the end of our adventures aboard the 'Nanette' for this year. The project is by no means over. I plan to wait for the optimum conditions and dive these elusive locations continuing to build this incredible project. 

The blogs will continue.......stay tuned!

 

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We crept into Westport Quay and 'come in, she said 'I'll give ya....shelter from the storm''.

We waited there for 4 days until the storm had passed and then we were able to get going again. I got a great invite to eat jumbo prawns at the Idle Wall for a BBC show. Cooked to perfection by Áine.

Even though we were able to get going there was still strong winds and the swell was still knocking about. This seems to be the story of the summer. Constant wind and swell making it extremely difficult getting into the areas that I feel fit with this new project.

Caves and gullies are the choice areas but constant surge makes them very difficult. I will be setting the camera up for a shot on the quodpod and suddenly a surge comes and I am about 3 metres away....luckily the surge brings me back again but it makes it pretty difficult.

 

So we headed off from Westport with Joe our newest team member and spent the next 10 days mainly around Inis Turk with a visit to Inis Boffin trying to get dives in sheltered areas...mainly on the south and east. 

 

Here's one of Ciaran from Carraig Cos Cheim on Inis Turk...

 

Ciaran at oog 1

 

 The Idle Wall in Westport after the best feed of prawns ever!

 

Idle wall

 

Our small outboard engine for the dinghy stopped working so we headed over to Scuba Dive West to try and repair. Andy and Ciaran gave it their best and it seemed to work....for a bit!

 

SDW

 

We tried this gully on the South side of Boffin....guarded by a fair number of Shags.....

 

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 Here's a 4 second exposure just below the surface from the south side of Turk.....
 
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This one is from the same location....I managed to rest the quodpod on the rocks either side of the crack.
 
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Joe chilling on board in Boffin harbour...
 
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A big shout out to Batchelors...they sponsored all sorts of beans....baked, cannellini, kidney, chick peas.
Here's Ciaran enjoying a fine chorizo and bean casserole predive.....
 
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Talking of Ciaran....he has been an incredible support. Not just an extremely skilled diver, sailor, anchorman but general all round knowledge of the sea and fixer. I go through my air pretty quick trying to take pictures in the surge so in order to help me conserve my air he takes my quodpod until I start taking pictures.....
 
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Oog More....south Turk.....
 
surface reflection
 
And another from Oog More looking to the surface....
 
anemone on rock
 
Inis Turk morning at sunset.....
 
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And we continue our journey of weather dodging and diving!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
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A nice anchorage at Keem changed over night as the winds veered to easterlies. Uncomfortable to put it mildly so we headed off to find a dive site. We had heard tell of some epic locations near Achill head facing south west. Wind was from the East so we started looking for some interesting topside topography.
 
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We came across this spot and felt it could be interesting underneath…..A narrow gulley with tonnes of boulders wedged in.
 
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We geared up, swam across and here is one of Ciaran just before we descended.
 
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It certainly didn’t disappoint. The feeling I get by dropping into these gullies is like passing through some gateway to a sacred chamber or tomb.
A gateway to the underworld. Such a powerful emotion comes over me that it is difficult to hold onto my air. I am excited by my surroundings, I am using a tripod (Quodpod) that has 4kgs attached to it. My air goes quick!
I have to be efficient with my decisions, executions and movements. Each dive I am improving.
 
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On returning to the surface the forecasted gales had already started. This proved difficult for us getting back to the boat. A full on swim later and we were aboard and making a run for Westport to hide from the storm.
 
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Back to Westport and we have to say goodbye to Matt, who’s making the documentary, legendary crew and cameraman. You’ll be missed amigo.
 
 
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Here’s a wee one of Ciaran, Matt and I reviewing some images.
 
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Richard Thorn gave me a couple of quality suggestions not far from Erris Head….Eagle Island and Scotch Port Rock. Unfortunately, at Eagle Island the side we wanted to dive on still had plenty of swell and wind. We had a dive on the sheltered side and found this little gully in shallow water. Loads of surge so difficult to capture. This is one of the many continuing problems I encounter trying to photograph around. 
 
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A short hop and a jump and we anchored at Frenchport and had a very mellow nights sleep.
Seriously, we have our fair share of windy nights and this was a wonderful anchorage.
 
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Next day we headed to Scotch Port Rock which was way more sheltered.
 
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We geared up and got in the water and were given a warm welcome by plenty Jellyfish.
 
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As soon as we descended we found we had dropped right into a spectacular gully.
 
Here’s ciaran a ghostly diver swimming through the gully.
 
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I managed to get another pic as we safety stopped on the way up….A small pinnacle.
 
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Past Black Rock and onto Achill for anchorage at Keem Bay
 
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After our short but windy stay at Rossport we made our way out of Broadhaven Bay and a return to the Stags…...a small group of rocky islands not far from Portacloy.
 
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Winds were from the south and swell was still hitting these small islands but we found a small sheltered spot on the north east side. Plenty of the cutest puffins hanging out. Funny looking little lads but always a delight to see.
 
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We set a good anchor, geared up and headed over to the sheltered dive in our little dinghy. A small grapple anchor at the dive site and ready to roll.
 
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Nice Scubapro fins!
 
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Great visibility and a stunning location. This next shot I put a 6 stop ND filter on the lens before putting it on the Aquatica housing. This enabled me to get 2 minute exposures on F11.
I love the surreal nature of the moving seaweed contrasting to the stillness of the rock. Still not 100% happy with the workflow but experimenting as I go.
 
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We headed for Portacloy for some safe anchorage and some quality grub.
 
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Here’s a pic of Ciaran getting stuck into some amazing air dried pork and beef from McGeoughs Connemara Fine Foods.
They gave us enough of this delicious meat to do us for the entire trip. No refrigeration required!!!
Relishes by Caroline Lennon and Buillín Blasta are fast becoming a staple condiment for every meal.
 
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Next day another dive at the stags before a visit to Kid Island. Parsons Rock seen through the gap...
 
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A small piece of seaweed just below the surface.
 
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Tuesday, 7th of July, we finally got plan B on the go. Although it seems the wild Atlantic weather systems are not finished with us yet…..strong winds and heavy swells are continuing to batter us. Not ideal diving weather! I started getting a cold the day before we left. Still, we persevered, loaded the boat and set sail as far as Killala on the first night. Des. our skipper, Matt, the documentary guy, Ciaran, the dive guru and me…..photo guy! A skeleton crew from what was originally planned for Greenland but we’re up for the challenge!
We left Killala on Wednesday morning hoping for a dive at Dun Briste at Downpatrick Head but the swell was too high. Zero chance of diving. Typical…. I have chosen these epic locations that are exposed to the severe winds and swells….and this summer is a turbulent one.
 
Pic 1
 
Saw some basking sharks on route…

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We returned to Kilcummin, took up a mooring and got battered by swell for the night. We managed a quick tour of Killcummin where General Humboldt landed in 1798. 

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On Thursday we tried again for a dive at Dun Briste and this time we managed to get in.

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We did a full 360 of the stack as it was the least amount of surge.
For all you non divers out there…diving involves a lot of gear and particularly underwater photography.
I am trying to do some long exposures with my underwater quodpod from Anchor Dive Lights.
 
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My idea was that I would assess the dive first with just the camera and lights and return to the spots on a second dive with the quodpod.
I have 4 KGs attached to the tripod so it makes diving with it difficult. This is a luxury that doesn’t seem to be possible as the weather prevented us getting a second dive in. This means from now on I need to dive with the quodpod. This makes diving way more difficult and my air consumption is much higher. I also have to be careful to dump air in my drysuit before letting it go or I will shoot to the surface.
Having said all that, Dun Briste was a fantastic dive, full of life and interesting rock formations. I have ear marked a few places that hopefully I can get back to when the weather is better.
 
We headed on to Rinroe for safe anchorage although the winds were howling from the south. Another rocky nights sleep and next morning we filled our tanks with air. Not much space so careful coordination is required.

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The same goes when charging batteries for cameras, lights, phones, iPads etc etc etc!

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On Friday we managed to find a sheltered spot just east of Portacloy which was sheltered from the south winds and the SW swell.
We were able to anchor the boat and Ciaran and I got 2 dives in here.
 
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Here’s a shot a got on the second dive.

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Parsons Rock

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The Stags, hoping to dive them on this journey.

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Des, the esteemed Doctor, left us on Friday evening at Rinroe and we headed for Rossport as there was some heavy winds coming. Rossport has excellent anchorage but we were once again battered by the wind. Rossport locals (Sean from Dennys bar and Barney) were very friendly and provided us with showers, a small shop and a lift to a garage to top up on fuel. 
 
Hopefully now we are establishing a bit of a workflow. Weather reports are for more swell and winds so it’s all messing up the visability. 
We live in hope……!


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The saga of the damaged engine aboard the Killary Flyer is not done yet. It turns out that when we were sitting in the big storm with our stern to the storm (see previous blog) and swell pounding the boat, due to the continuous pressure some water went up the exhaust and into the engine. There is a yoke called a ‘baffle’ to help protect against this but unfortunately it didn’t do enough this time. This water in the engine did untold amount of damage, seizing the engine and burning the starter motor.
 
So….where does that leave us?
 
Des Moran, County Coroner in Sligo for many years and crew aboard the North of Disko trip in 2013, has a small boat that he has offered so that we can get to dive sites around the coast. 4 weeks, 4 people, living aboard this little beauty….
 
Boat 

 
Ah no…he has a gorgeous 30 foot yacht called ‘Nanette’
 
Nanette
 
 
Unbelievable generosity form Des. Ciaran is still coming along as my back up diver and Matt is going to document for the next couple of weeks.
We still have the portable compressor courtesy of Scubadive West.
 
I put a call out to the diving community through the CFT underwater photography page looking for suggestions of unusual caves, tunnels, pinnacles, rock formations and people have been brilliant. Many thanks to Richard Thorn, Martin Kiely, Nick Pfeiffer and Ciaran O’Murchu for all their wonderful suggestions. We aim to travel the West of Ireland in Des’s boat diving as many locations as possible.
I will utilise the underwater quodpod provided by Anchor Dive Lights to create long exposure images of the underwater world. 
 
Here is my first attempt from Carriage Cois cheim on Inis Turk. It is a blend of 5 images and edited quickly to give you an idea of the style of imagery I am trying to capture. Breffni from Scubadive West put me right onto this location.
I cannot describe the incredible energy I felt as I sat at the bottom of this cave on my own soaking up the incredible mood.
Shot on the new Canon 5DSr 50.6 MP camera so should be able to get a nice print from it.
 
Moody
 
 
Nice top side scenery too…great day out diving.
 
Shot from dive 1
 
 
The next 2 are from right at the slipway at Scubadive West.
 
SW slipway 1
 
 
SW slipway 2
 
 
Mweelrea in the background.
 
Sealife housing
 
 
An old Sealife Housing I came across yesterday. Cameras Underwater ever stock these?
 
We set sail tomorrow (Tuesday 7th of July) hopefully to begin this Odyssey at Dun Briste and Downpatrick Head.
 
Watch this space…..
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It is with deep regret that I must report that the 'Into the Blue' project to Greenland is over for this year.

We got caught in a large storm that caused severe damage to the boat and particularly the engine.

We were stuck in a storm for 48 hours with the 'Drogue' deployed.  Here's a small passage I wrote about it while on board:

'50 mph winds direct from the west make it a very uncomfortable experience. 
So much so that our famous 'Jordan's Drogue' which was used on North of 
Disko I was deployed last night at about 9pm. This 100m of rope with about 
150 little parachutes attached. The whole thing is tied off the aft and 
hugely stabilises the boat. As the giant swell rolls through all tension is 
taken up by the drogue lines. They creak and groan under the strain until 
the wave passes....and then the next wave arrives and so on.  Watch system 
has changed as we are going nowhere and it is now 1 hour on alone and 5 
hours off. This is a watch to make sure nothing goes wrong with the Drogue.
Now, although the Drogue steadies the boat a bit we are still being tossed 
about the place and being smashed with waves over the deck. These one hour 
watches became known as 'The Death Watch' by Claire on the last expedition. 
Basically all hatches are closed and you go out on deck on you own while 
everyone else sleeps. Appropriate name....I was on my 2am one last night, 
winds howling and shrieking through the rigging. I was sitting on the deck 
of the cockpit when a giant wave smashed over the entire cockpit soaking me 
from head to toe. This has happened to all of us at this stage.'

 

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The 'Jordan Drogue'

 

Storm chart

 

A snap of our chart plotter in the middle of the storm. We travelled 80 miles in the wrong direction...towards Iceland!

 

The starter motor ended up heating so much to create a small fire. Not ideal 500miles from land! This effectively left us with no engine and no means of steering around those beautiful but dangerous ice bergs in Greenland. We had no choice but to turn around.

 

Starter

 

The offending item....the starter motor.

 

Here are 2 very contrasting views in the middle of the Atlantic...

 

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The calm before the storm.

 

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Rolling swell in the middle of the Atlantic.

 

Storm graph

 

And this is what we had coming next!!

 

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Adam at the helm.

 

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Ciaran with Carolines (his mum) hard tack. Caroline made loads of amazing flapjacks, chutneys, jams, soft and hard tack.

 

Hard and soft tack is a very old recipe for a bread that would last many months at sea without growing mould.

 

Weevils might get at it but if you ate it in the dark you'd never know. Soft tack is a wee bit salty but easier to bite but hard tack is a tooth breaker. Think of the hardest pizza crust you have ever tried...leftover for a few days....and add a bit of cement for good measure.

 

So....we are all extremely disappointed to have had to end our mission to Greenland. I am particularly disappointed not to be giving all our wonderful sponsors what they signed up for. I have made contact with almost all of our sponsors and so far the general feeling is about our safety. I have had a few days of trying to swallow the bitter pill. Months and months of training, planning and preparation by all involved.....not easy to accept but in the general scheme of things we are very lucky. I am not about to let it all die so already I am planning an alternative expedition this summer. Once the Killary Flyer is repaired we are expedition ready and are planning an trip of diving from the Skelligs to Rockall and many islands in between. We'll have the air compressor on board ready to explore some of the least dive sites off the Irish Coast. I am also planning a return trip to Greenland in 2016.

Watch this space!!!

 

 

 

 

 


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Ok...Good news....gearbox repaired by the wonderful John Ruddy and all going well we will be on our way again this afternoon.

 

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Here's John and Andy assessing the situation.

 

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Fingers crossed that it works out this time!

 

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And we get some more of these stunning conditions!

 

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4:30pm 9th of June…..The scene was set, the crowds had gathered and we were on our way. Months of preparation and training and finally we had cast off.

 

Sendoff

 

The send off party

 

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Ciaran at the Helm

 

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Not long after clearing Killary Harbour we had some force 3 northerlies which enabled us to head West at about 7kts. Watch systems established….Andy & Ciaran, Jamie & Josie and Adam & I…..3 hours on 6 hours off.  Our first watch was 9pm to 12pm and was a stunning one….great sailing and a fiery sunset. 

 

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Perfect conditions, a fine chorizo and pasta dinner, delicious chocolate and banana cake by Ma Muldowney, a spectacular sunset……what could go wrong?

 

The winds eased throughout the night and by the time Adam & I came on watch for our 6am watch the winds had died completely. We were 100 NM from Killary. An easy decision to bring the engine into play as we had slowed right down. After a few minutes it sounded wrong so we shut it down and started looking into it. A leak in the gearbox almost all all the transmission fluid had leaked. We had spare but we had lost about 2 litres. This was critical and could leave us with out the engine. So….a hard but easy decision…..about turn and return to Killary. Initially we had slack winds meaning it could be days returning home but luckily our fortune changed and we got perfect winds. We lost wind along the Killary and Shane, Jamies son, came out and towed us in to anchor. 

 

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So, currently we are at anchor and the gearbox has to come out. Until we have this problem resolved we cannot continue on route……….Watch this space!!!

 

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At last after many, many months of preparation the Killary Flyer is finally locked and loaded and ready for departure later today.

Lots and lots of last minute jobs to be done. No more training...it's all the real deal from here on in.

You can keep an eye on our progress as we cross the Atlantic as we have a GPS tracker here.

 

 

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Our home for the next few months

 

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Brand new instruments and navigation

 

 

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Andy on deck

 

 

Forward cabin

 

Forward cabin full to the gills

 

Josies Kayaks
 
Josies kayaks are works of art...as is his mounting system
 
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It is with deep regret that I must report that the 'Into the Blue' project to Greenland is over for this year. We got caught in a large storm that ca
The saga of the damaged engine aboard the Killary Flyer is not done yet. It turns out that when we were sitting in the big storm with our stern to the
We crept into Westport Quay and 'come in, she said 'I'll give ya....shelter from the storm''. We waited there for 4 days until the storm had passed a

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  • All good things come to an end at some point I suppose and this trip is no different. We've officially handed the boat back to Des with much thanks and I am left considering how I
  • We crept into Westport Quay and 'come in, she said 'I'll give ya....shelter from the storm''. We waited there for 4 days until the storm had passed and then we were able to get go
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