Which way round?
Changeable weather, currents and sea conditions are the greatest threat throughout, so by sailing the route clockwise, the prevailing southwesterly winds should make sailing conditions safer all round; in the bigger seas off the west coast and later, when longer stretches of headwind are expected on the more sheltered east coast. No different to cycling – a tailwind increases the boat’s speed, while a headwind has the opposite effect.
From start to finish
The Wild Atlantic Way, with its exposed coastline, provides the biggest logistical challenge, so a start point in Schull, Co. Cork ensures it is tackled early, when fitness and team organization will be key.
From Schull, the route takes in the breath-taking Wild Atlantic Way – from the Skelligs, Valentia and the Blasket Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, and on up Connemara’s beautiful and remote coastline.
Turning toward Inishshark and Inisbofin, on towards Achill Island, past the Mullet Peninsula and round Erris Head into the expanse of Donegal Bay – these landmarks present their own unique challenges before the northern rounding point by Malin Head is reached. My own private Cape Horn to some degree, Malin Head will be a wild and windy half-way point of sorts.
Safely past, it’s then onward across the northern coast, past the tidal gates near Rathlin Island and down beyond Strangford Lough into the Irish Sea. The east coast will offer some shelter but less favourable winds and added tidal challenges. No time for a celebratory stop in Dublin as it’s on to Carnsore Point, past the safe haven of Kilmore Quay. Hook Head, Ballycotton, Cork Harbour, Kinsale and Baltimore will be the final checkmarks on the map back toward Schull, where the finish beckons.
If karma is kind and the weather gods permit we may even manage a fly-by the formidable Fastnet Rock.