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Blog posts tagged in Atlantic

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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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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Tagged in: Atlantic Sunset
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Posted by on in Latest News
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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Posted by on in Latest News
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.
 
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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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Posted by on in Latest News

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.

 

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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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Posted by on in Latest News

 

 

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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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
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