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.
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....
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!
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....
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...
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....
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.
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.
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....
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!