Reading comments about the boat to the Skellig Rock, re-ignited the horror of my trip in 1969/70. Arriving in Valentia on a cold n wet September evening I headed for the old coastguard station which served as the An Oige hostel.
The following morning a motley crew of 2 Germen women,a yankee couple (F&M) a Dublin civil servant & self, set off from the pier in a small outboard powered boat, skippered by an ancient local, assisted by his red haired and red cheeked nephew from Dublin. Going out the narrow channel the morning cleared and we had glorious sunshine with a glentle swell to lull us on our way.
Not too long after hitting the open seas things got a bit rough and soon we were in a bad way as the swell put the boat into one eighty degree rolls. One second you're staring straight down at one of the Germem women and the next she is screaming and heading straight down for you, only for her two hands locked onto the gunwale The power of prayer quickly takes over and I rattled off the Hail Marys with the odd Salve Regina rasped out for good measure.
Landing on Skellig was the usual 8 to 12 foot swell and a judicious jump as the boat breasts the pier. Sad to relate, I was only able to creep up the path to the lighthouse and spend the afternoon listening to tales of disasters befalling tourists to the island, from the two keepers.
After an uneventual embarking from Skellig we recommenced our prayers and chanting and surviving. It wasdifficult to judge whether the salt water was the cause of the staining on passengers trousers or not. It certainly was'nt the cause of mine.
Anyway skipper seemed to steer the boat inside a big rock, attempting to escape the worst of the weather and suddenly there was a bang as the boat gave a shudder and the outboard cut. I was up with the oar which was beneath me, when the skipper glared at me and told me to sit the fXXX down. The nephew was tearing away at the starter chord without effect and boat was tossing allover the place. Boy was I fXXXed.
Looking back, I think I just increased the rate of Hail Marys and the outboard restarted. After maneuvering and steadying the boat through the swell we recomenced out trip from hell. Suddenly we were in the channel and landing at the pier. I you tell no lie, but when pipey rose the outboard from the water, he showed us where only two blades were left on the prop.
Our trip to the hostel was broken by four large whiskeys in the Hotel bar and a crawl off to bed. I hitched away the following day and when passing the church on the crossroads outside Waterville I aked the driver to leave me off and I went in payed my dues for my salvation.
I have never had the courage to return even in this age of fast ferrys with all their modern safety aids.
And all that happened in the autum when I first climbed Ben Lettery, Lug, Errigal and the hill over Rossbeigh on the strenght of my tumb. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/1031/comment/3358/