Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Beautiful Baltimore was quite a hit with all hands, apart from Chibley the cat who did not go ashore. But she did not seem to care much. After four days I was hoping to sail on Saturday but strong gale warnings were being broadcast. If we were at sea they would have made for strong fair winds and we would simply go fast and have a roller coaster ride, but it made little sense to stick our nose out into them. So in the preceding calm we repositioned the Picton Castle in the bay and set the second anchor. Soon we had a 1,200 pound anchor out to starboard with three and half shots of 1-1/4″ chain and the port anchor of 1,500 pounds with three shots of chain out, the whole rig weighing in at almost seven tons securing us to the ground which was good holding anyway. For good holding in strong winds the weight and length (scope) of the chain is more important than the weight of the anchors themselves.
We hoisted the boats up and lashed them, braced the yards as sharp as they could go, looked after a few other things then stood by and waited for the wind. It came to blow hard but the ship didn’t budge an inch. The long heavy chain acted as a shock absorber keeping the anchors happily in place. The next day the rain and clouds were gone and we had a pretty blue sky day again but we still had a dry gale leaving the bay a smother of white caps. Quite beautiful as long as the ship is snug. Over Sunday night the wind laid down and it looked liked it was going to be a good “chance along” tomorrow before the next low rolled on through. Here at 50 North and with the jet stream sitting over us the weather systems race along.
It was a 60 mile coastwise passage to Cobh, pronounced “Cove”. For a period it was called “Queenstown” for Queen Victoria. We wanted to sail to and visit Cobh as this port was often the destination for the last four-masted barques of the 1920’s and 30’s bringing grain from South Australia on annual voyages around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. The Picton Castle is a smaller version of these types of ships.
Wake up calls were for 0530 Monday to get underway. A bit groggy as we got the starboard anchor up (having gotten the port anchor up and catted the previous evening after supper when the wind had laid down) and steamed out through the narrow entrance to Baltimore Bay. As we made our way down the shoreline a nice breeze made up and we set all sail, they needed drying anyway after the rainy gales. Water spilled out of t’gallants and royals when they were loosed. With Bill at the wheel we sailed in the channel between the high bluffs and past old stone castles or abbeys in ruins, then through the jutting headlands at the entrance to Cobh Bay which make this a particularly good big ship harbour. Sailing dead downwind with a southerly breeze we then braced sharp around a channel buoy and steered for the western end of the harbour where a berth was waiting for us. We had to go around a big tug on a pontoon and slip in sideways to an old looking stone bulkhead and soon we were snugly moored in Cobh, our second and last port in Ireland.