I was looking for a definite improvement following my frustrating trip from Solva to Arklow and once again the forecast assured me that I would have it for my trip up to Dublin. I left Arklow at 5 am and within the shelter of the harbour everything was completely still. I got the main up in the harbour and headed out of the shelter and into the sea where there was more nothingness! Where is the wind?????? I motored for an hour and then the breeze came. I turned the engine off but half an hour later it was on again. I thought it best not to get annoyed and instead I sat up on the foredeck where I couldn’t hear the engine as much. As I sat there and went passed Brittas Bay I could see a dark colour on the water about a mile ahead and on looking through the binoculars I could see it was wind! To my joy the breeze kept coming and I was able to count it down as it moved towards me and engulfed Fiesta in a warm force three from the West. I love it when the rig creeks as it loads up and Fiesta digs her leeward hull in and she’s away! The engine was switched off and stayed off for five hours of perfect sailing. With a fairly strong tide flowing up to Dublin we were making a lovely 8 knots or so and as the wind was coming off the land, the sea was flat. It was perfect and I loved it!
Although nothing to rival Dover, Dublin Port is very busy and the almanac provides instructions for entry. Dublin VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) operate on VHF channel 12 and once you are in the Bay area you need to call them to let them know your intentions. By this time undoubtably you have already been seen on their radar and AIS and from this point onwards you are the potential fly in the soup that could ruin their perfectly choreographed performance of ship traffic management. The sooner you make contact and let them know of your intentions the more likely they are to work with you and allow you to slip in the back door. Announcing your intentions at the last moment or worse, making an unannounced attempt to enter having been loitering in the safe haven for a while rarely gets the desired result in my experience. Some people never learn this and you will hear them in the yacht club or pub saying things like ‘I was right there, so close, they must have known that’s what I wanted to do so why not just let me in’? Simply because, like it or not gentlemen, that’s not the way……
Anyway, once you get the green light it usually comes with lots of caveats, do’s and don’ts and I always have a pen and paper to jot down the instructions that I have been given!
I pressed the button on the VHF and said ‘Dublin VTS, Dublin VTS, this is yacht Fiesta, Fiesta, Fiesta, over’………
The conversation over the next minute was something akin to broking to Conor Murphy in Lloyds. I was left wide eyed, blinking and thinking ‘What the f*ck was that’? However, now I was self conscious because anyone else in the vicinity listening on this channel would be hearing this exchange and unlike broking to Conor, I wouldn’t be able to take the p*ss because I was now the minority Brit who needed to understand what was going on or face either getting fined for infringing traffic or worse, end up floating in the entrance of the harbour amongst a million pieces of fibreglass that used to be Fiesta! Fortunately, the VTS guy had been here before and from my voice I think he could tell that my head movement was now resembling that of Stevie Wonder in concert so he repeated syllable by syllable until I worked out that what I was being told was ‘Yes Fiesta, you are clear to proceed but keep clear of ALL traffic you eejit’.
Fine, I’ll take that!
Poolbeg Marina is the closest marina to the City of Dublin. It’s not pretty here, its completely commercial. That’s not a criticism because I do like the contrast between quiet and beautiful to busy, commercial and vibrant. I really do have a ringside seat view here of the ships coming and going and when they turn around here they are extremely close. The marina man told me that there have been 5 collisions between ships and the pontoon over the last 10 years. Ok, so that’s not exactly a daily occurrence but it did make my eyebrows raise a bit. However, the last one happened because the wind was blowing 60 knots from the North and a ship that was manoeuvring slowly got caught by this wind and used the pontoon as a brake. On the basis that no such wind is forecast and there must be eight or so ships manoeuvring in the part where I am per day, I will go with the odds. Truth be told, there is much more chance of me f*cking it up and getting in their way at sea than them coming at me here I would think.
It’s true what they say that men can’t ask for directions. I don’t know what it is in our make up but we all think that we know where we are going and how to get anywhere. I too was born with this self belief but over the years I have had to be a bit more truthful with myself about my sense of direction, or total and utter lack of it. Motorbikes taught me this first. Obviously you can’t read a map whilst riding and three people immediately spring to mind being Conners, my friend Geoff (Amy’s Dad) and my friend Richard. On motorbikes all of these people can ‘follow their noses’. At the age of 34 when I started riding a motorbike I realised that I had no such ability and since then I have had to admit that my sense of direction is non existent. I will explain but first I need to back track a bit.
After three months Max needs a haircut. When I arrived here I googled ‘local dog groomers’ and called the two closest to me to book an appointment but got the same response from both of them. Whilst the two ladies I spoke to were extremely pleasant, it was more like trying to book into a spa.
‘Your doggie will have a lovely time, he will be pampered and spoiled in luxury surroundings with a soft play area. We have a very calm salon and we like to get to know you and bond with your dog to ensure they have a wonderful experience on the day’.
Err no! He’s a miserable little scrotum, there is nothing you can do to ensure that he has a good day, he will hate it from start to finish, probably growl at you the whole way through and please can we remember, he’s just a fecking dog!
Honestly! I don’t blame them, I blame the other hopelessly pathetic dog owners who overly pamper their pooches and create demand for such a ‘Doggie Pampering Parlour’. It ain’t rocket science. Max gets a fair square pat on the head if he meets expectations, a fair square size ten up the arse if he doesn’t and if he exceeds all expectations we get the marmite out. Simple.
So, I needed to buy some clippers to do the job myself and googled ‘pet store near me’. Success! There is one four miles away. I looked on the map app, it looked more or less a straight line so I got the bike out and set off. Nine and a half miles later I arrived and bought the clippers! Having told myself what a complete idiot I was for being able to double the distance of a straight line I was determined to prove that I could improve on this total and utter incompetence. To be fair to me I did. The journey home was an ever so slightly improved eight miles! Honestly, what a complete and utter penis and this is being typed by me, the bloke trying to navigate around Great Britain…….
Two new videos under ‘Other bits’…..
Beautiful but too calm for sailing although it did redeem itself. Muligans small lighthouse at the start of Dublin Bay, the lighthouse at the port entrance and keeping clear of the big fockers….
My ringside seat at Poolbeg Marina
The eerie memorial to ‘The Great Famine’.
Dublin Port by night