Skellig Islands

Yesterday afternoon Peter, our boat neigboor, told us that the next day the tours to land on the Great Skellig Island finally would start. Due to bad weather they were delayed for more than a week. After reading about this mystical place we decided to try getting tickets - not an easy thing. The woman from the tourist office told us, that the tours usually are booked weeks in advance, especially since sequences of the Star wars films „The Force Awakens“ and „The Last Jedi“ were filmed on this island. There were just too many people wanting to go there.

Still, we tried our luck by phoning a boat company and luckily, as of five minutes ago, they had  received a cancellation from a couple. Therefore, the next morning we got up early to catch a ride to the other side of Valentia Island, where the main port is located. After only a short walk we saw an old man getting ready to drive off with his car. As it happened, he was a captain on one of the tourboats and after only five minutes we already arrived at the pier in Portmagee.

Angain, luck was on our side and we left with one of the first boats and arrived in a small group on Great Skellig Island. We were the only two people who stayed inside the wheelhouse with the captain. It was too cold and wet outside for us - and too shacky inside for the others. He had to tell many intersting stories from his youth and his time on fishing boats. Even the swell wasn‘t bad today, the small boat was bouncing up and down / back and forth on the concrete pier and we had to take a good jump to reach the land.

After a short safety instruction we started to climb the steep stairs. 618 stone steps up to the monastry, which is located 180m above sea level. The climb takes you through nesting colonies of the funny puffins and all around you, hundreds of other birds are circling above your head - it took only two minutes until Danielle was hit by the first gull-poops. Fortunatey the higher one climbs, the lesser the pooping birds are there. After ten minutes, long before all the other visitors, we reached the fantastic monastry, which was built around the 6th century and had it all for our own. It‘s amazing, how the monks arrived more than a thousand years ago and built this place out of nothing. In the beginning they had neither water nor food.

On the way down we took our time to observe the little comical puffins. One of the couple waits before their burrow (nest) until the other comes back with its beak full of small fishes. But you have to watch out because from time to time they turn around and poop in a long spurt down the hill.

After stepping back on the boat the captian took ous around the Island and also around the Little Skellig, where thousands of Northern Gannets (wingspan almost 2 meters) are nesting.

On the way back we again sat inside the wheelhouse and after speaking with the captain about his boat, on which he did a lot of work himself last winter, he left the steering wheel to Danielle for the rest of the trip, sat down in a corner and told us more stories from the olden days. It was an utterly new experience to steer a boat at this speed and without a keel. You have to steer a lot more than we are used to on our sailing boat. But all went well and we guess the other tourists who where dozing out the back didn‘t even notice that the captain wasn‘t on the wheel.