Part 1. Cork to Crookhaven
What the South West coast lacks in predictable weather and good marina facilities it makes up for with clean, safe and uncluttered harbours and boltholes. For the independent sailor these uncluttered waters offer good scenic sailing with plenty of charming hostelries along the way.
The South West coast is the best cruising ground and Cork is a good starting point. There are extensive visitor marina facilities at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven, the world’s oldest yacht club which dates back to 1720. The closest real pub to the yacht club is The Oar where former superyacht skipper JP English runs a shipshape public house.
Wander further into the village to dine at the excellent Cronins Pub where seafood and local microbrewery beers are a specialty: this is one of Ireland;s best gastropubs.
Kinsale is a half days sail to the south west and is served by two visitor marinas: the marina at the Kinsale Yacht Club is the choice one as it puts you right into the heart of the town where you can enjoy excellent food at Jim Edwards, Toddies at The Bulman, The Black Pig or Nine Market Street among others.
Back at sea and heading further west you will leave the steep cliffs of the Old Head of Kinsale then the Seven Heads and finally the Galley Head behind you. When passing the Galley take care to avoid the Doolic Rock which is poorly marked and has foul ground extending around all sides.
There is middling anchorage and plenty of visitor’s moorings in Glandore, The sailing directions into the harbor take you past two large rocks, Adam and Eve, the directions are to avoid Adam and hug Eve.
A stroll uphill from the harbor pier and you will find The Glandore Inn where chef Seamus Minihane is firing our excellent bistro classics in a beautiful settling looking over the water. A short hop west from is Castletownsend where Marys-Anns Bar and Restaurant has been pleasing crowds for over thirty years.
Heading further west towards Roaringwater Bay there are marinas at both Baltimore and Sherkin Island. While in Baltimore see if you can get a table at The Mews for fine dining or simply enjoy a pizza at the Jolie Brise just steps from the pier.
Over on Sherkin Island enjoy a pint and a bowl of chowder at the Jolly Rodger Hotel. An interesting pit stop could be a day long bread making course on Heir Island where baking tutor Patrick Ryan runs weekend courses at the Firehouse Bakery School. Advance booking is essential.
The Fastnet Rock is an iconic lighthouse at the very south west tip of Ireland and every sailor wants to go around it at least once. From the rock you could head to either Schull or Crookhaven, both offer visitor moorings.
If you choose Schull, seek out a lunch at Hacketts pub, cross the road for a drink in Newman’s and book a table at the elegant Grove House for an evening meal, all are a stroll from the pier. If you in Schull on a Sunday the Country Market is on between 10am and 1pm every weekend.
Crookhaven, once a sanctuary for piracy and smuggling is now home to O’Sullivans Bar which sits on the pier and where basket of shrimp and a toastie will be waiting for you. There is excellent cooking from Emma and Freddy in The Crookhaven Inn. Crookhaven is the last village on the Mizen peninsula but there is plenty more cruising once you go around the corner and head north towards Bantry Bay.