The annual snorkel around Dalkey Island is not for the faint hearted. Well that’s probably an attempt to seem tough, it is definitely for those who have prepared and trained. Then there are people in our category, out for the Paddy’s Day craic and sure its only around the island! A double check of the forecast in the hope for high winds and rough seas left us disappointed to find a slight westerly with sunny spells. With our bags packed with all types of neoprene, including neoprene socks which I have never worn, it was a short spin to Coliemore harbour for the sign in.
The challenging event is organised by CFT (Diving Ireland) to help raise funds for the RNLI. The RNLI has saved more than 140,000 lives since its foundation in 1824. They even continued to save lives through the two world wars so it seems they are a decent bunch to support especially considering our past time is spent at sea. They have a fleet of 340 lifeboats and 236 stations so the fund raising is vital to their ongoing success in rescuing people.
Safety was top of the agenda from the organisers with everyone getting a number attached to their wetsuit to keep track of who was in the water. Some of the local clubs volunteered their boats for safety cover and they were in sight all through the day. There is even a bit of rivalry injected into proceedings with the perpetual Ann Burrows trophy being awarded to the club with the most participants.
We had hardly left the comfort of the harbour when the first curious Grey seal popped up in front of us to see what all the splashing was about. It was Rachel and Dans first snorkel with seals so we were off to a flying start on the promise of seeing some wildlife. The general public always ask how dangerous they are. There have been one or two reports over the years of swimmers getting a nip (google it and the first hit is about a sex starved seal) but in all fairness now people should be either scuba diving or snorkelling and give up that silly nonsense! The seals we come across are just curious, playful and to be anthropomorphic they just seem a bit lonely.
We had an easy start to the day with the tide ripping us across the sound with only few flicks of our fins. It’s times like these that you feel like the sea is your friendly neighbour offering you a lift. Dalkey Island comes equipped with a Martello tower which is one of about fifty in Ireland. They were built all across the British empire in the 19th century to protect coastlines from the pesky French, thankfully they never arrived here. The beautiful island to some surprising wildlife, which we spotted plenty of rabbits but there was none of the resident and goats to be seen. which we none of. We hugged the shoreline to keepout of the current as much as possible which helped me faff around to take photos.
There are some crazy folk that include a longer route around the Mugglins light house which can be seen here. This is not a detour I would be too keen to take considering the effort I put into the normal one. Sirrius the friendly seal followed us closely for most of the way back but this is the only decent photo I managed to get.
A big thanks must go out to all the boat crews that stood watch, literally. It provided that extra security and confidence to know they could be waved down for a ride home. The morning was a huge success with a big turn out so congrats to all the volunteers that made it happen. CFT even put on a great spread, tea, biscuits, mars bars, fudge, chomps and most importantly steaming hot coffee!
Happy Paddy’s day from everyone at Green Divers!