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23rd April, 2019


What a delightful day we had yesterday, cruising off the Aaran Islands. Mike Gibson, the Destination speaker was on the Bridge giving his narrative of the Islands. We approached the Islands from the south, how else, when on the starboard bow we had the sight of Doolin, a promontory on the west shore of Ireland.

Turning to the NNW at 1230, we set passage along the southern shores of the three Island’s; Inisheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore. The eastern island, Inisheer and the middle island, Inishmaan, were not of particular scenic glory, although, to an element spectacular. However, Inishmore had a lot to offer, so much so that once at the extreme northern-west end of the island, I turned around and ran close-in on a SE’ly heading for a better view. The advantage of the return-leg was that it was with the weather and so the open deck conditions being more favourable for scenic cruising.

By 1530 we had seen enough of the Aaran Islands and it was time to get-on with navigating toward Killybegs. I drove in this morning, well, I do have to do some work from time to time and embarked the Pilot at 0700. It’s a tight spot in Killybegs harbour, just enough room to swing a cat. Fortunately it was flat calm, glassy waters and quite beautiful.

Having swung and berthed shortly after 0800, the ship was cleared and ready for our first tours due away at 0830. I had been expecting some rain, but the day evolved into a warm and calm day with a mixture of cloud and blue skies, another positive. It was an earlier than planned departure from Killybegs because of an operational change at Belfast, our next port. A recent bottom-survey had indicated a shallowing of the approach channel. This required us to be earlier at Belfast Pilot than originally scheduled to ensure we had enough under keel clearance to safely navigate in.

So, all tours back by 1430 - we were off. My young 2nd Officer, James, drove out this afternoon. Whilst we were pointing the right way we still needed the use of the ‘compulsory’ Tug in order to lift the ship bodily off the berth before proceeding out. The Pilot disembarked 15 minutes after embarking and we set course off the Slieve League cliffs, the tallest sea-cliffs in Europe and then on around the north shores of Northern Ireland.

It’s my Britannia Club Cocktail party evening, plus Maria Lynn performing, so it’s time to get social.

Captain Stuart Horne

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