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The Firth of Clyde

I think I have already learnt what constitutes a ‘beautiful day’ in Scotland. It’s not necessarily the sunshine. It’s being dry and anything above 15 degrees. Sunshine is, oh but an unexpected bonus. Albeit very early on for me to make this statement but the scenery is so stunning that you look at it more than the sky so you don’t seem to notice the clouds very much. Therefore, as long as it doesn’t rain, it’s a beautiful day. I think this is how it works. When the sun does come out, well, that’s just a frenzy of bagpipe blowing, Iron Brew drinking, haggis catching and celebrations of everything ginger or anything else equally peculiar to Scotland. It’s great.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I have been harbouring a vision of breaking waves, howling wind with Fiesta, Max and I desperately seeking shelter. So far this vision hasn’t proved in any way to be a reflection of reality. I left Loch Ryan on Thursday morning in a very light southwesterly breeze that was not forecast to be more than about 5 knots. I left at the turn of the tide to help me up the Firth of Clyde as much as possible. Slow progress ensured for six hours doing under 4 knots but it was great not to hear the engine. When the tide turned progress was even slower but by this time I was only about an hour from the Isle of Arran where I had decided to anchor for the night in Lamlash harbour. Anchoring was tricky because the seabed shelves very steeply close to the shore. The trick is to anchor in water that’s not so deep that it makes for a total nightmare pulling the anchor up but not find yourself in water that is too shallow when you have drifted back the full length of your anchor chain and in that anchorage I had 160 feet out. I failed twice and found myself in only 4 feet of water with four hours of outgoing tide remaining. No good. I had to pull the anchor up and reset it, and then again. This is an absolute ball ache of a workout on the arms and for some reason one of mine is much stronger than the other. I can keep going for as long as it takes with the good one but the other never quite feels right and it’s never long before the strong one is doing all the heavy work again in order to get the job done…
Anyway, third time lucky I anchored in 35 feet of water and had plenty left underneath me at the end of the scope. Like my previous two nights in Loch Ryan, it was a perfectly still night at anchor, not even the sound of water could be heard, it was that calm.
In the morning there was a very light breeze which once again dissipated after a few hours and once again it was the engine that got us the rest of the way to Largs.

We got into Largs Marina at around midday and after a visit to the diesel dock I was shown to my berth. It was pretty much as far away from the marina office as possible and right at the end of a row where no one was on their boats. What a perfect spot for me. I love to be out of the thick of it and in the quiet. Default setting = unsociable.
Largs Marina is a lovely little spot. The marina was created by building two breakwaters on a sandbank and dredging the middle. It’s now one of Scotland’s premier marinas.
My arrival in Largs was timely as later that evening my friend Adrian arrived having caught a combination of trains from Essex. However, there were problems with the overhead lines which meant the last train line was shut down so having brought his bike with him he was able to give the train line the finger and cycle the rest of the way to Fiesta.
The last time I saw Adrian was three months ago in very different waters when he sailed to Dover with me on the first leg of this trip. This kind of thought process is what makes me keep pinching myself that this trip is actually happening. I have seen a lot of places since Dover and although the last three months have gone really quickly, Dover seems an absolute age ago.
I have known Adrian for almost all my life and having rarely lived more than 5 minutes away we had weekly bike rides / catch ups so after three months there was much reflecting on the happenings of the world over the last three months to be done. Actually, we didn’t cover any of that choosing instead to talk complete and utter bollocks from the word go.
During the next few days there was much eating, drinking, laughing, getting lost (Adrian’s sense of direction being only slightly better than mine) and also about 55 miles of cycling which oddly enough and with only a couple of exceptions was on mostly flat roads. A lovely way to take in the stunning landscapes of Scotland.

Saturday was beautiful but on Sunday the rain came and with the exception of a break for lunch it stayed all day but cleared in time for a beautiful sunset. On Monday we went with our bikes by ferry over to The Isle of Cumbrae. The sun shone all day and we rode round the island on the coast road, over the top and back again. It’s a lovely place to cycle and people flock there for the opportunity to circumnavigate the small island and take in it’s fantastic views of the Firth.
We ventured off road in search of some rough stuff but despite the roads being fantastic for cycling, as soon as we ventured off the path it was thick sticky mud and someone wasn’t very keen on getting his new bike muddy so we decided it was best to stick to the roads!
I haven’t ridden nearly as much as I had hoped I would on this trip so it was great to get some time on the bike. Adrian and I have ridden together weekly for over 20 years so it was great to be able to see a bit of Scotland by bike with him.
Largs boasts a massive ice cream parlour and this was absolutely heaven sent for Adrian who is the biggest ice cream queen I know so every ride had to finish at the parlour in time for a massive cornet.
Good to see you mate and thanks for coming all the way up here. As per normal form, the days flew passed and soon Adrian was on the train home and I was forming a plan to leave Largs.

Fiesta, Max and I departed Largs yesterday morning in some early hot sunshine and headed northwest up the Firth towards the Isle of Bute. Not a breath of wind but totally and utterly beautiful. It felt like a treat to only have a very short hop of ten miles across the Firth to Rothesay Bay where I am now anchored. Rothesay is a lovely Victorian sea side town which served me well for restocking supplies because if possible I will have the next four or five nights at anchor living off the boat supplies as I make my way through East Kyle and onwards towards Loch Fyne.

There is definitely something about Scotland. I feel like this is a brand new trip. The first one being the previous three months and this, a brand new adventure. I think it also has to do with the fact that in my own mind I have always thought about this part as the tougher part from a weather and navigation perspective. Ok, so the weather has been unbelievably calm for the last week but there is no doubt that that will change. Navigation wise, when I set out on this trip I was aware that my navigation would need some work in time for Scotland but I reasoned that having three months constant practice would do the job. Well, here I am in Scotland. Am I ready? I hope so but I don’t really feel any different from when I left Burnham if I’m being honest. Still, it’s happening and its happening now so there’s only one thing for it. I’m just going to have to pull it off….. I can always concentrate better after that.

Anchored off the Isle of Arron

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Sunset in Largs Marina

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Riding around the Isle of Cumbrae

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Sunrise at Largs Marina and there’s no accounting for taste!

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On route to Rothesay Bay

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The Waverley doing it’s annual Scottish tour

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Rothesay Castle and my anchorage. It’s a massive anchorage but this fella obviously gets lonely so anchored in my cockpit!

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Dublin, visitors and Bonnie Scotland!

I need to apologise for the immediate impact my head shaving has had on the economy. Sales of the hair product that I have used for years to tame a wild and generally uncontrollable barnet have ceased without warning. On the up side I love the fact that following a shower all my hair requires is a twitch of the head and it’s dry and styled! Well, it’s dry.

I feel like I did the marinas of Dublin justice. After three nights in Poolbeg Marina I left in search of some quiet and less commercial scenery. I find pretty much anything good or at least tolerable for a couple of days but I was quite ready to leave the rough and ready feel of Poolbeg and it’s interesting albeit noisy surroundings. Occasionally you get an insight as to how the most simple things in life make a huge difference and for Poolbeg Marina I would suggest one thing. Bins! I looked, looked some more and looked again but there weren’t any. The only one I did see belonged to the marina bar and it was locked away around the back inaccessible to anyone else. Inevitably this meant that there was a lot of rubbish just lying around making the place look shabby when it really isn’t a bad place at all. I took all of my rubbish away with me to dispose of at the next marina which I have never had to do before. However, I didn’t take Max’s sh*t with me. I hate to admit this but I left it pretty much where he parked it unless it was right in the middle of the path. There was no other option other than picking it up in a bag and emptying it in the river and then being left with a shitty bag to put on Fiesta which wouldn’t have made for a pleasant aroma! Other than the lack of bins and resulting eyesore of rubbish lying around, the Marina staff were very helpful, very friendly and all round good people but they should definitely get a few bins!

One thing that Poolbeg Marina does have in abundance is shelter. I only have myself to blame for being woefully underprepared but I pushed off the pontoon in bright sunshine wearing shorts and T’s in no wind only to be confronted in the outer harbour by 25 knots of wind, big waves, a good soaking from all the water coming over the bows, over the roof and into the cockpit where I was waiting to receive it dressed completely inappropriately. Things were crashing, banging and falling over inside and Max looked seriously f*cked off with his captain! I had intended to anchor for a night off the ‘Eye of Ireland’ to the North of Howth which is around the headland to the North of Dublin Bay. However, it soon became clear that I couldn’t get away from the wind and big swell so I decided to head into the Howth Yacht Club Marina. What a lovely establishment. Cracking Yacht Club, great facilities, lovely little fishing town feel and lots of peace and quiet.
I had planned on getting some kite surfing lessons whilst there but the wind which really hasn’t been my friend whilst sailing up the Irish Coast didn’t blow so this was a non starter.
After two nights there was a decision to be made. My Old Dear and Queen of all the Beavers were due to arrive in two days. Having spent two nights in Howth already what I really wanted to do was go to the other marina on the South side of Dublin Bay to a place called Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leery) where there was a bigger town and also good tram links into Dublin itself. The only issue was that a gale force 8 had been forecast as imminent and the wind was already whistling in the rigging. Honestly, the wind has been an all or nothing deal lately. As the journey from Howth round to Dun Laoghaire was only 10 miles and the gale was forecast to be from the Northwest, I decided to go for it and set off out of the marina just as the wind had stopped whistling through the rigging in favour howling! To me this is always a heart in the mouth moment as you imagine that everyone else who is safely tied up is watching you leave and saying ‘Is he right in the head? Hasn’t he seen the forecast’?
As it turned out, it was the best sail of my Irish Coast sailing experience. I absolutely barrelled round the headland and into Dublin Bay with big waves up my arse! I got to the shipping lane and called Dublin VTS to announce my intention to cross. You might have noticed here that my call to VTS was to give my intentions to cross rather than to seek permission as I had done before. This was because with 32 knots piling in Fiesta’s back door I really didn’t want to have to turn round and go into that whilst waiting to be given permission to cross the shipping lane. Fortunately I was told that there was no immediate in or outbound traffic and your man confirmed I could go straight across.
In no time at all I was through the gap in the breakwater which is the entrance to Dun Laoghaire Marina, the sails were down, Fiesta was tied up, my hair was shaken dry and I sat in the cockpit whisky in hand happily sheltering behind the massive harbour wall as the wind continued to build into the gale 8 that had been forecast. What a cracking little blast across.

At 2pm on Friday Mum and Queen of the Beavers arrived. They had had an early start but thanks to Ryan Air, a late arrival. Sarah had managed to fool my Mum for the last few hours but not me! She was pretty hungover and soon went to bed for a two hour power nap! I was well prepared for her state of arrival having had a conversation with her the night before. You know how these things go. Within the first 5 seconds you realise that your bird is pretty much totally bolloxed and that you have two options but you need to decide quickly. Do I go along with this (unusually for Sarah) overly girly conversation and accept that she has temporarily forgotten that she is talking to someone who owns a penis or immediately (which is what I decided to do) say ‘Honestly love, don’t waste time talking to me, it sounds like you are having a whole lot of fun so go back to everyone and enjoy yourself’. The deal is only cemented if the immediate follow up is ‘Well have a great time, enjoy yourself and look forward to seeing you tomorrow, Ok then, bye’…..All without allowing a gap in your own words or any time whatsoever for any sort of reply because one thing you can be absolutely sure of in this situation is that any reply won’t be a short one….
This works really well with Sarah and the following day there is one more necessary follow up. ‘No, it was really good to talk to you. You sounded pretty tipsy but we had a long, fairly deep and meaningful conversation that has given me lots to think about’. The guilt of having no recollection together with her fear of what was said usually means nothing is ever mentioned again! Everyone’s a winner.

Anyway, so my guests had arrived. It wasn’t a very nice day, the wind was still howling and the early start and late arrival meant that we were all happy to shelter on Fiesta, chat and have dinner onboard. The next day we went into Dublin and Sarah had a list of ‘Things to do / see in Dublin’. Unsurprisingly for a person who’s homeland is only about 30 seconds old, the first on the list was Dublin Castle. Once that was ticked off we went to the Temple Bar area and after a good look around ended up in a pub drinking Guinness and whisky. Straight Jameson’s to a 74 year old was seen as no problem at all, positively welcomed and swiftly dispatched. Well done Mum, I knew I could rely on you but it took about 15 minutes of goading, one regurgitation and then some bribery to get Sarah to do the same. In the end I had to settle for half a shot but at least she gave it a go. Funny though because I’m not sure there was any reticence when necking everything in sight the previous night!
We had a great time in Dublin and after some more sight seeing we had lunch and then headed back to Fiesta to relieve Max of his watch.
On Sunday we had a Dun Leery day. The sun was out and we had a lovely walk around the harbour before having an al fresco lunch in what felt like a truly Mediterranean climate. Fickle stuff this Irish weather.
As usual the visit flew by and after a lovely day and dinner out it was time for bed in leu of getting up at 3.30am to get Mum and Sarah on a bus to the airport. Mum was off home but, most unfortunately, poor Sarah was heading straight to work. Hahaha!
Once I returned from making sure they actually got on the bus, Fiesta was made ready and we left the marina at 4.45am.
I sailed out into a glorious sunrise and headed North. This was the start of my journey to Scotland!

I can’t believe that it’s been three months since I left Burnham-on-Crouch but it has and my plan was always to be in Scotland at the beginning or as near as possible to the beginning of July and the plan so far is working.
One thing I mentioned earlier is that the wind hasn’t really been on my side in the Irish Sea. My plan was always to slog it along the South Coast into the prevailing wind at the start of my trip and once up and into the Irish Sea, enjoy the Southwesterly wind as it pushed me effortlessly North. Err, no! There has either been no wind at all or wind from the North.
To be honest I had my fair share of luck going along the South Coast so this is an observation rather than a complaint although it might not sound like that at times!
After six hours of sailing North in a dying breeze, at 11am it died completely. There was absolutely nothing. I had no choice but to turn the engine on and spend the next 8 hours listening to the hateful drone that shatters the utter peace and tranquility of sailing.
Jesus, I hate motoring! Is what I said but no one answered and the wind didn’t come.

I made it to an anchorage near Kirkstown Castle which is about 30 miles south of Belfast. The anchorage was in a massive featureless bay and I couldn’t get close enough to the shore to take Max for a walk as the edges are too shallow and rocky. I felt absolutely beaten so decided to turn in for the night. There was meant to be a light breeze building from the Southwest overnight so I was looking forward to a good nights sleep in this bay protected from such a wind direction before setting off in the morning bound for Scotland following a nice Southwesterly!

At about 4am I was shaken awake by the motion of the boat and noise of the water. WTF! The wind, totally unforecasted, had built from the East and was pushing an uncomfortable swell into the anchorage and sleeping was no longer an option. I got myself sorted and decided that instead of being annoyed, I would embrace this good stiff Easterly and get underway. To be honest there was no choice. The anchorage was just a pitching and rolling bay of frustration and despite the heavy rain, I had to go. I got the sails up and things were going nicely for an hour or so at which time the wind completely died again although the rain remained.

Right, let me save you from falling asleep! I know this blog entry has already gone on long enough so I will just say this.
It pissed down, I motored for 7 hours in the worst confused washing machine like sea state I have ever been in, the wind did come back but it came from the North, directly where I was trying to go, it was rough, wet, cold and truly miserable!
I finally turned the corner to go into Loch Ryan and with the wind now behind me, after what seemed like an eternity of noise, I turned the engine off. I sailed for about three minutes before the wind died and I put the engine on AGAIN! Welcome to Scotland!!!!!!! I was cold, tired and totally frazzled.

Sorry, that’s enough of me being miserable. I anchored at a place called ‘The Wig’ where I am nicely sheltered and was able to take Max for a well deserved walk. Back on Fiesta I had dinner and a rather large measure of one of Scotland’s finest. Suddenly all was well again in my world and I went to bed feeling, in the words of Pink Floyd, comfortably numb.
After an incredibly peaceful and deep sleep I woke up. There wasn’t a sound to be heard nor a ripple to be felt in this perfectly still, calm anchorage in Scotland.
Hang on a minute……..I couldn’t quite believe what I had just thought to myself and immediately bounced out of bed to look outside.
Bloody hell!!!!! It’s happened. I’m here. I’ve only gone and sailed to Scotland!!!!!!!! This calls for a celebration. Umm, what to do. I know! Time to toss the caber…..

Windy blast from Howth to Dun Laoghaire

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Mum & Sarah and the old fog horn (bell). No offence Mum or Sarah….

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Temple Bar, the good stuff and in the Castle

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Lunch at Dun Laoghaire and Sarah now proving that she can definitely coil, at last..

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Sunrise on leaving Dun Laoghaire

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And…..Bonnie Scotland!!!!!! Anchored at ‘The Wig’ in Loch Ryan

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Dublin

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….

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My ringside seat at Poolbeg Marina

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The eerie memorial to ‘The Great Famine’.

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Dublin Port by night

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Raj 4 and Solva to Arklow

 

Bearing in mind that I have become quite accomplished at disappearing up my own arse over the last few months I wasn’t worried about silence falling upon Max and I after everyone left Solva. In any case I didn’t have the chance to gather my thoughts or think about the sins committed on my body over the previous four days because prior to Joycey, Russ and Conners leaving my friend Raj 4 arrived (well, the city has Raj I, II and III and I’m acquainted with all of them so it works). In retrospect I think she turned up just to have a chauffeur for a couple of days whilst touring this part of Wales because she flatly refused from the outset to get in the driving seat of her own car! To be fair that might well have been in both of our best interests so I didn’t mind driving to and fro between Solva and St Davids where Raj was staying. I did tell her that she was welcome to stay on Fiesta but she insisted on lording it up in a nice hotel rather than slum it on a boat….
I also think Raj is trying to fatten me up because I’ve now got enough chocolate onboard to sink a, err no, don’t say that. Well, I’ve got loads! I showed her around Fiesta and then we went into St Davids for a pub dinner.
On Monday we managed a walk along the stunning Newgale Beach and I was surprised at how many work shy individuals were surfing. I thought I had the work shy t-shirt rights….

We went back to the boat and because the tide was out we walked there across the hard and completely flat sand. Well, I say completely flat but Raj managed to find the only hole in a 200m radius. Poor girl, she went from four feet tall to three and a wet foot in an instant but just managed to stay on her feet. It took a lot of control but I didn’t laugh and promised not to mention it again.
It seems like there is pretty much a swimming club in Solva and swimmers are all around the Harbour. It was so lovely and hot and feeling ever so slightly wimpish for wearing a wet suit when I went swimming in the Isles of Scilly I decided to brave it and jumped right in. Jesus, it was freezing but I didn’t let on to Raj who half slid, half fell into the drink judging by the splash although unfortunately I didn’t actually see it happen.
That evening we went for a beer in The Bishop Pub in St Davids. The back garden faces west and there was an awesome sunset. Talk about lucking out with the Welsh weather. It really could not have been better and I found myself showing Raj around as if it was my place when in fact all I was doing was hijacking a Russ tour! After a whistle stop tour of Solva, Newgale and St David’s Raj left for home and at this point it really was just Fiesta, Max and me again. Thank you Raj for coming down and for being a thoroughly modern women and buying dinner in St. Davids on Monday. Lovely.

When I left Solva early on Wednesday morning I decided not to take any photos or videos of my trip out but changed my mind as soon as I looked behind at the stunning sunrise. Unfortunately this was the one and only highlight of the sail that day. I decided to make a bit of progress north and headed for Arklow which is 35 miles south of Dublin. The forecast said it would be a force 3 to 4 from the east which would have been perfect. In the end it turned into the most frustrating sail of my journey so far. The wind didn’t really get going and in fact it went all around the compass three times and didn’t settle in the right direction until I had been motoring for 10 hours. I hate motoring on a sailing trip but there really wasn’t any choice. When the wind did pick up from the right direction switching the engine off was an utter joy albeit very short lived as ten minutes later a sea fog blew in and I couldn’t see a thing! I was less worried about it this time because I knew where I was going and had AIS and Radar to keep an eye on any potential collision hazards. I decided to sail past a navigation mark just to confirm my position. The radar was telling me it was there and also telling me that it was 100 meters away but I slipped past it without seeing it at all. The fog was thick! I sailed on radar and chart plotter and was relieved to see the big concrete piers marking the entrance to Arklow loom out of the fog. Just when I was feeling smug about finding the place a nasty vibration started through the boat making everything rattle and shake. When I put the engine in neutral the vibration stopped but when I put it in reverse, the engine stopped completely. Right, now I was sh*tting myself. Thankfully the engine started again and would go in forward gear but as soon as I tried it in reverse it stopped again. That’s when I realised that I must have a rope around the propeller. I wasn’t about to try and muck about with it there and as I had forward gear I decided to head in between the piers in a slightly uncomfortable cross swell literally praying that it would keep going, which it did. My next challenge appeared in front of me when I realised how small the harbour is. I needed to turn around in order to get on to the pontoon but as I had no reverse I would have to make the turn in one go so I headed across to one side only to be whistled and shouted at by a fisherman telling me that it was too shallow on that side. Sure enough, the depth went down to three and a half feet and I go aground at 2ft 8 inches. However I had no choice but to push my luck and lady luck did indeed come to my assistance. I managed to make the turn with the engine shaking and clonking and just managed to get my bow up to the pontoon, jump off and stop it with the lines.
I’m under no illusion how lucky this was because I have never known a rope to get tangled round a propeller and yet still let it turn one way and if it hadn’t been for that I would have been without power in a strong tide near concrete piers in thick fog and the only option I would have had left would be to throw the anchor out, hope it would hold and call the lifeboat for a tow!
Every now and again I get a reminder that with sailing, as with so many other things in life, there are a million ways to f*ck it up!
Once I was settled I got the dinghy down and managed to cut the short but stubborn bit of rope into pieces and pull it out where it had jammed under the back plate of the propeller. To be fair I have seen a thousand bits of flotsam and jetsam go past the boat on my travels so sooner or later the law of averages says that one had to go under the middle and find the propeller and I’d be naive to think that it couldn’t happen again…

So I’m in Arklow but I’m not going to stay here long. There was rumour of a gale coming through here but if it doesn’t appear I will set off for Dublin asap. Arklow isn’t bad other than two things. Firstly, as soon as I was tied up an Irish gentleman who I suspect comes from caravan stock jumped uninvited on the boat and said (I think) ‘Can I have a look on your boat mate’ and made straight for the door. Fortunately I got there before he did, stood in his way and suggested that if he had approached the situation a little differently he might have got somewhere but now the only option was to feck off (or words to that effect). Thankfully he did so willingly which can only be down to my huge bulk and aggressive demeanour! Maybe he was well meaning but now whenever I walk away from the boat I put my security bar over the door and I lock myself in at night.  I now fully appreciate how good Brad Pitt’s accent was in Snatch!
The second thing is that whilst I don’t think its sewage, something unpleasant is being pumped out in this river. There is a film of white stuff and some big white clumps floating around. Judging from the smell I think its congealed cooking fat and grease and there is lots of it. So, not a good advert for this place but despite the smell, my visitor and the drama of the journey here I’m glad I made the effort because now I only have a 35 mile trip to Dublin.
There is lots I want to do in Dublin and whilst there I will also be receiving two visitors. Head Office and my old dear! Once in Dublin I should have a few days grace to prepare for their arrival. I seem to have a lot of ingrained dirt and yellow stains around my waterline which will probably take a full day of scrubbing. Once that’s done I will set about cleaning Fiesta.

Oh Max loved his swim on Newgale Beach!

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Dinner with Raj 4

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Sunrise leaving Solva

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Hang on, it was sunny ten minutes ago!

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Sunset and twilight in Arklow

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I name this rope ‘Thrush’, you irritating little c***

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Solva conference

 

I left Solva at just after five yesterday morning. For about an hour during the night the wind was howling. It wasn’t forecast to do that and as I lay there I tried to put it out of my mind whilst thinking that perhaps I wouldn’t be leaving Solva after all. However, the wind stopped and when I took Max ashore at 4.30am there was evidence of the unforecasted blow through with things lying all over the place. I left as planned in a gentle breeze and a beautiful sunrise. Other than needing to make progress northwards I had no inclination to leave. Solva is simply lovely. A little unspoilt pocket of delight where I had a great little mooring that dried to hard sand three hours either side of high water which meant I was able to either walk ashore or take the dinghy depending on the state of the tide. The pace of life is, well I’m not sure how to put it really, let’s say civilised!

Ok, rewind.

I am pleased to say that Millwall FC didn’t bulk buy all the unleaded but there certainly was a bit of revelry! Owing to very sporadic mobile phone signal Russ and I communicated our plan by text and I left Stillaventgotacluemate anchorage at about 7pm last Wednesday evening. Russ was busy trying to single handedly launch Iris (formally Billybob) into a slowly rising tide that was as laid back as the locals.
Russ and I formed a plan across a desk in EC3 well over 6 months ago that he would meet me outside Solva Harbour, flags, banners and bunting flying and guide me in. As I approached Solva, in keeping with what I have now become used to, I couldn’t make out the entrance at all. I knew it was there and I could see the massive rock outside the entrance and I was willing the tide to allow Russ to get Iris in the water and appear before me. Just as I was thinking that I would have to find my own way in I saw a boat that looked like it had been shot out of a cannon emerge from the line of steep cliffs and rocks! It was one of those moments when you think about all the talking, planning, hoping and dreaming that has gone on for this little moment in time and all of a sudden it’s happening right in front of you!
So, in we went and as we did I thought of all the boats that would have headed in there seeking refuge from a storm. The relief of getting to the harbour entrance would have been dampened by the last act of squeezing in past the monstrous rocks on either side with white water at their base. I say ‘squeezed’ but it’s not really a squeeze it’s just that there is something known as ‘sea room’. Sea room in itself is an undefined amount wriggle room but an amount that just feels comfortable. Coming in somewhere with rocks towering above you doesn’t equate to this feeling of comfort, not when as a cruiser, you spend you life trying to keep well clear of such things. Our entrance wasn’t dramatic at all as it was nice and calm but nevertheless, the feeling and challenge of entering a harbour like this in rough weather was not lost on me. We tied up and salvation lay within the Ship Inn. We grasped the opportunity to talk absolute bollocks over a few pints until closing time. We then checked in to chateau Alexander after making the long and arduous 20 yard journey from the Ship!
Sorry Russ, you are going to have to remind me why you chose this place!!
At about 1am there was a knock at the door and I thought ‘Russ you are a star!!! You obviously appreciate how it feels to have been at sea for a while and have sorted me right out’. I was about to take all my clothes off but thankfully I wasn’t quick enough. It wasn’t Solva’s answer to Creampie Cathy, it was Graeme Ivory and Will Chapman! I tried to get Cathy out of my mind and I don’t think I poked anyone during the man hugs. By way of an intro for anyone who doesn’t know them, Will and Graeme didn’t get caught googling Creampie Cathy on their work computers and still have their jobs in the City skilfully transacting insurance. (Please – no one google her). Both Will and Graeme are incredibly laid back true gents and it was great to see them.

The next day we were all up quite early despite only a few hours sleep. We got both boats ready and headed out of Solva and into a beautiful anchorage about a mile East where I chucked my anchor over the front and Russ moored up alongside me.
We had lunch and spoke more bollocks before heading back into Solva before the tide left it dry. We returned to the Ship for a debrief, sat in the glorious sunshine and awaited the arrival of a certain individual who I have had the pleasure of knowing for about 10 years now. Daren Joyce is also a disciple of insurance and is to be found plying his trade in and (more likely) around Lloyds. By way of an intro for anyone who doesn’t know Joycey, he is a tall ginger prick who can’t actually do anything worthy of mention yet is loved by all who meet him! It remains a mystery how this is so but maybe it’s because whenever he is around you are either laughing at him or with him. Whichever way it is Joycey, it’s always an absolute pleasure.
We spent the rest of the day supporting local businesses and enjoying the sunshine. Max came to the pub with us, made friends with everyone and made me proud for not having a turn out in Russ’s new cottage when we went out to dinner. Well done Max, first time for everything..

It was now Saturday and at about 10am the final member of the party arrived having driven pretty much coast to coast from Ipswich. Hello Mr Conway! By way of an intro, Iain is another one of insurance’s finest. A very intelligent man who knows his languages and after a couple of beers becomes fluent in Jellyfish, Dolphin, C3p0, Yoda and Pigeon. He is also the man that I spent my 40th birthday with dressed in leather. I know that sounds strange but it’s also true.
By the time Iain arrived we had lost Will and Graeme who had made the journey back home on Friday. We carried on the tried and tested formula of eating, drinking, boating and talking bollocks. Just how much of that can you do in one weekend? Quite a lot actually.
Oh, did I mention the weather? Solva delivered perfect hot sunshine throughout our entire stay. My over exposure to the elements this year means that I’m pretty good at putting sunscreen on but I would describe all the others as typical English men who don’t really feel the need to slap it on. Personally I was worried about the consequences of this on the basis that Iain possibly has slightly less on top than he used to have, as far as I know Russ was born bald and stayed bald and the tall ginger prick would get burnt by the moon if he ever stayed up late enough to see it. Despite a little pinkness all round (ok, a lot Will) we survived but in the blink of an eye after a fantastic four days it was time for everyone to go home. Some people have work to do!
We retrieved Iris from her temporary berth in the harbour, cleaned and exorcised the cottage, packed our bags and then it was time to say goodbye. I don’t miss insurance and I don’t miss the city but I do miss the people so thank you all for coming for a visit and reminding me that insurance isn’t really about insurance, it’s about the people.
Finally, thank you very much Russ for putting us all up in your lovely new place.

p.s – I’m sure Max left a present somewhere. Maybe the first holiday let people will find it…..……

My escort in 

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Chilling out at anchor, who’s that in the boat and f*ck me Will, how did you get in or out of there???

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Gone fishing on IrisIMG_4202

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Pink Will’s new best mateIMG_4163

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Back to mainland Britain

I can’t think of a nicer place to write a blog than right here with the view below….Didn’t catch a thing though!

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This beautiful little anchorage is called Porthlysgi which is pronounced ‘Aventgotacluemate’. So, I made it across from Ireland.
I had dinner with Amy and Maria in a place called The Munster preceded by a drink in a cracker of a bar called Geoff’s bar in Waterford. I was due to leave with the tide at about 9pm but before that happened I met my kite surf instructor in the car park to do a dodgy little deal and in exchange for some Euros I walked away with some kitesurfing gear. Oh yes, ‘All the gear and no idea’ is alive and well in my life.

After a fantastic 10 nights in Waterford I left the marina and anchored at Creadan Head which is about four miles from the entrance of the River Suir. It isn’t a designated anchorage and usually I only go for those that are but it was pretty windy and the anchorage at Ballyhack where Sarah and I had stayed for our first night in Ireland was pretty exposed and as I motored passed it in the dark I was getting spray over the deck. That would not be a comfortable place to be. I pushed on to Creadan Head and hid behind the headland where it was much calmer and shallow enough to chuck the anchor over the front. This spot was about 10 miles from Waterford so it was now quite late. As soon as the anchor was down I went to bed. My alarm woke me at 4.30am and I was on my way at 5am bound for Wales. Having agreed to meet Russ in Solva on Thursday I was a bit early but after a prolonged period of high wind the forecast was now telling me that the wind was dropping and it looked like Wednesday would be very calm. There is no way I wanted to motor all the way over so I decided to go on Tuesday while there was still a bit of breeze forecast.
It wasn’t very windy and I had hoped not to use the spinnaker as it takes 25 minutes to get the thing up and I felt like I had played with it enough for a while. However, as soon as I was out of the River Suir it became clear that I needed it if I was going to get across before dark. The spinnaker went up and so did my speed but then as Mr Sod’s Law dictates the wind went round to the South from Southwest and you can’t go as close to the wind with the spinnaker up but if I took it down again and went in the direction that I needed to my speed would be, very approximately, f*ck all. Instead I elected to let the wind and tide push me further North and I decided to worry about making up lost ground when I got to the middle. Just when I was worrying that I had made it tough on myself by getting this far off course the wind switched on again and went back to Southwest so I took the spinnaker down, rolled the jib out and pointed straight at St Davids Head which was where I wanted to be heading! This little helping hand from the wind god was accompanied by a visit from Flipper and his mates. In fact they visited three times as I closed in on the Welsh coast. Have I seen it and done it now as far as dolphins are concerned? No way!!! I’m still as excited to see them now as I was when they first appeared when I was going to Salcombe. For me it’s just pure magic when they show up. They are awesome creatures. Sometimes they stay for a while and other times I feel like they a have arrived and then thought ‘Boring mate. You’re far too slow’ before disappearing into the blue.

I am used to strong tides and a few areas of disturbed water from my previous sailing experiences but nothing prepared me for the tides and overfalls here. I aimed to pass to the left of South Bishop Lighthouse but once I was within about four miles it was clear that the tide was going to sweep me straight passed so instead I aimed a long way left of it and passed about half a mile right of it! There was so much swirling, boiling, angry looking water all around the boat. It’s scary because you end up sailing through patches of water that look like they are breaking over rocks but in fact it’s over 100 feet deep. It’s also like being in a washing machine (I imagine) as the boat gets thrown around all over the place. It’s time to hold your nerve, trust the chart and be sure you know where you are.
I was extremely happy when Aventgotacluemate anchorage appeared in sight and as soon as I was within it, all was calm and still. I anchored in a nice big spot well clear of any shallows surrounded by dramatic rocky cliffs. I feel like this a taster of what lies ahead of me in Scotland. It’s beautiful.
The anchor was down at 6pm making it a thirteen hour trip across and it was nice to be back to mainland Britain. I got Max into the dinghy and we went ashore. The boy did well! Last wee stop was in Waterford about 21 hours before. I used to support him and share his pain by trying not to go to the toilet on long trips but heavy wee soaked jeans are really uncomfortable and they chafe after a while so I don’t do that anymore.

I felt beaten so at 9.30pm I set the anchor alarm, went to bed and slept for 10 hours. Bliss.
In the morning the ship got a tidy up and Max got a long walk which was going very well for him until he found a dead sheep on the beach to roll in. Why, why, why do dogs wish to smell precisely opposite to how we want them to? I told him to enjoy it while it lasted and about 10 minutes later his fun was over. He got dunked in the sea before we got back in the dinghy, a lynx bath on deck (cold water – serves him right) and then I lowered him over the side of the dinghy for a swim to rinse off. I thought this was fair. We’d now both had equal feelings of joy and anger but I laughed last as he shivered!

So this is Russ Alexander’s hood. I am about four miles west of Solva where Russ has had a presence pretty much all of his life although just recently he has given up parking his caravan on the local village green once and for all. Over recent years councils have put so many concrete blocks across entrances to fields and parks that even the oldest and most experienced pikey I know has had to admit defeat and has bought something made of stone. I’m meeting up with him later and I’m looking forward to seeing his new place. I’ve bought a can of spray paint and will be painting some wheels on his house so the transition will be easier for him.
Over the next few days there are a few other reprobates coming to Solva for the weekend all staying at Russ’s so it should be fun. Russ grew up in Sarf London and is a staunch Millwall FC fan so if we get this right, by the end of the weekend Russ’s new neighbours will have left town with the few possessions that they have managed to keep hold of, there won’t be a car sitting on anything but it’s roof and the local Texaco will have a ‘Sold out’ sign silhouetted against the smouldering backdrop of Solva.
Roll out the barrel.

Porthlysgi anchorage

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Waterford

Our anchorage at Ballyhack was perfectly calm and quiet but force of habit made me get up for a look at 2am just to make sure that we were sitting nicely at anchor, and we were. Back to bed again and then I was up at 7.30am and sneaked out to let Sarah have a well deserved lay in. We got to Ireland for my birthday so once Sarah was up and about we had breakfast and then a present opening session!

We motored up the River Suir slowly owing to being against the tide which runs very hard in the river. It’s a lovely river with greenery right down to the waters edge and a few small groups of houses along the way as well as some lovely grand places up on the hills. Bejesus, Ireland is so green.

I was itching to put the Irish courtesy flag up but had to resist and fly the yellow Q flag (Q for quarantine) which signalled that we had a foreign animal onboard that needed to be checked over for any nasties that it might be carrying and of course, Max also needed to be cleared in.
Referring to the almanac gave us the number for the harbour master. We spoke to him and he located us on AIS and said he would be down on the pontoon to meet and direct us in and that he would also let customs know that we required clearance. We hugged the right side of the river once we were in sight of the marina at Waterford and this was to wave to Amy and Maria who’s house overlooks the marina from the other side of the river. As we got close the harbour master called and said we were to go on pontoon C and that the customs men were already there waiting for us! We abandoned the plan of waving at the girls and feeling that we were about to undergo some scrutiny we made for the pontoon.
To be perfectly honest and I know I shouldn’t say this but I had read somewhere that dogs needed to be checked in via Cork and we were some considerable distance East of Cork so I was contemplating forgetting to tell anyone about Max. He has a passport and is totally up to date with his vaccinations and hasn’t been anywhere near a rabies country but I feared that bureaucracy would dictate us having to get him in a quarantine van to Cork or something like that. As it turned out this dubious train of thought was taken care of for me when it became clear that the customs guys needed to come onboard to check us out and on opening the door, there was the little scrotum sitting there right in front of them. Fortunately they didn’t bat an eyelid and once they were aware that we had not been to a country associated with rabies, they looked at his passport and he was clear to defecate on Irish soil. Now it was Sarah’s turn but they took it easy on her, the knee pads were not required and they cleared her in too…
So, we were in! I took the yellow flag down and hoisted the Irish flag. This really made us feel like we had arrived. We certainly had, we were moored up right along the front of Waterford City. Last time Sarah and I were here we were visiting Amy and Maria and I remembered saying to Amy ’Next time I am here, hopefully Fiesta will be too’. And now it was so!

I don’t know why but I always tend to hide my excitement about pretty much everything but Sarah is not afflicted with this condition, quite the contrary and I had already had to persuade her to turn her iPhone off and stop playing diddly diddly music on the way up river and now she was excitedly talking about having a Guinness! Good girl, I could get behind that and soon Amy and Maria had driven over to pick us up and off we went to Dunmore East to an awesome pub overlooking the entrance that we had come in to the day before. Guinness and lunch in the Irish sunshine at a beautiful pub. Max was happy to stretch his legs and have things to wee on and the only thing he was nonplussed about was having to meet Amy & Maria’s new puppy Lilly. Max really is a miserable shite sometimes and he never got bored of growling at her whenever she dared to come within a 5 meter radius!
Lunch turned into dinner back at Amy & Maria’s house and we gave up somewhere around 2 am I think. What a great birthday.
What happened next felt very odd! I went to bed for the first time in over 60 nights in a bed that wasn’t afloat! The bed didn’t feel odd but being away from Fiesta did. Fortunately Fiesta was in view from the house so I was at least able to check on her from a distance!

The next day we went on a little tour stopping at several places including Tramore which has a beautiful beach and is perfect for surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing and then we went to look at a waterfall. After full day we went back to the girls’ house and Maria cooked an awesome roast dinner. She is a first class cook and I have benefitted from her culinary skills quite a few times. One of the most memorable was when I visited them when they were living in Bangkok and after a few late nights back at home and a long journey to Bangkok, Maria had a full Irish breakfast ready and waiting for me when I arrived. She’s a cracker!

We loved looking around this part of Ireland but unfortunately the end of Sarah’s holiday was looming. On Sunday we went back to Fiesta for a cosy last night onboard and I have to say, it was great to be back in my happy place!
The next day Sarah and I went out for breakfast and then at midday Sarah had to board the coach bound for Cork. Her ten day holiday had shot past but remembering a blog I wrote a few blog posts back I had said that a fair few stars needed to align to make the trip to the Isles of Scilly, the Isles of Scilly themselves and then the trip to Ireland sync with Sarah’s previously booked flight out of Cork. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and we had had our fair share.
It was a fantastic ten days and I waited faithfully in the rain as Sarah sorted her ticket out with the driver. It took quite some time and Sarah and I raised our eyebrows at each other at the Irish inefficiency being demonstrated so ably as a massive queue of passengers waited outside the bus in the rain while this song and dance happened with each passenger. Still, I waited faithfully in the rain and waited and waited some more for the inevitable emotional wave off. With me now soaked it was finally done and the driver gave Sarah the nod. I raised my arm to wave but Sarah simply turned on her heel and walked straight toward the back of the bus without even glancing at me all forlorn in the rain!!!! Ok, bye then!
Actually I love this about Sarah. For every girlie gesture she misses such as (and I’m not bitter) our first valentines day, no Easter egg and the best one, no Christmas present – I have another ‘I f*cked up token’ stored in my back pocket to use at my discretion. Some might say that Sarah being so supportive of me doing this trip should in fact ensure that my back pocket is empty of such indiscretion tokens but this isn’t so. I’m doing this trip for us!

For the first time since being in Chichester Harbour I am somewhere that I have stayed for more than a few nights. I have now been in Waterford for just over a week. I have roughly 60 places that I want to visit and that means keeping moving or miss some out. However, since arriving here I have just wanted stay a while and take the place in. Plus its been blowing its cock off so being tied up to the pontoon has been lovely, safe and secure.
Since being here I have managed to fully embrace my midlife crisis and have had two kitesurfing lessons. I’ve been faithful to windsurfing for years arguing that kite surfing is kite flying and not sailing. Now I feel stupid about that because what little boy didn’t like flying a kite? I know I loved it and this little prick also loves to be on the water so I should have put the two together a long time ago! However, better late than never and I think I’m already hooked!

Along with catching up with Amy and Maria most days I have also got to know my neighbour on the pontoon. The guy behind me is 70 and he started sailing at the age of 62 and promptly set off with his wife returning 6 years later having circumnavigated the world! Just when you think you are untying the lines, someone else shows you how it’s really done! He is now preparing his boat to sail off again at the end of the year bound for South America. His boat is called Saol Elle which apparently means ‘Another life’. I like that.
He’s got a sh*t load of work to do on his lovely big boat and when I asked if he would be ready in time, ‘Oh to be sure, to be sure’ came the reply. This was one of those embarrassing situations where you uncontrollably crack up and can’t stop because it just reminded me of what Paddy said when the prostitute asked him why he was wearing two condoms ‘To be sure, to be sure’.
I do like the Irish….

Next stop Wales! I aim to leave here tomorrow and head back across to the mainland. It’s 80 miles so that means an early start to make sure I get there in daylight. So far it looks like it will be a force 4 or so from the west, southwest. Spot f*cking bollock – that would be great.

New video in the ‘other bits’ section

River Suir

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Visiting the waterfall

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Visiting a haunted house (apparently)

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Dunmore East

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The seed is sown

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In and around Waterford

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My neighbour, to be sure.

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Isles of Scilly and on to Ireland

After a blissfully peaceful night at anchor we went ashore on St Agnes and went on a long hike right around the island taking an entire 40 minutes! There is one pathway that circumnavigates the island and along the route there is much to look and marvel at. There are no cars so everyone is either on foot, on bike or hitching a ride in the trailer of a farmer’s tractor. Everyone wants to say hello and have a chat, even the joggers. It seems that by getting on a bike or putting your trainers on in this place you take on a very positive demeanour which is totally opposed to empty zombie look and ‘Get in my way and I will dismember your entire family’ attitude that you get with cyclists and joggers on the streets of London.
The route took us past the pub again and despite being 9.30 in the morning it took all my powers of persuasion, a couple of heavy set locals and a long heavy stick to stop Sarah’s habitual ordering of a glass of Prosecco in favour of a coffee and my promise to free pour Prosecco from the top of the mast as soon as the sun was at least above the yardarm.

We left our beautiful little anchorage at midday and headed for Tresco. I wanted to navigate across the Tresco Flats which is an area between St Mary’s and Tresco that completely dries at every low tide and is a winding route over white sand and past several islets but as the tide was going out and to avoid any embarrassment we chose the outside route which is marginally longer but all deep water. The entrance to New Grimsby sound is very well hidden and it was only when a fishing boat shot out ahead of us that I was sure that turning in towards the steep rocky shore was the right thing to do and despite going close to the sides, the water is very deep. You immediately get a lovely view of Oliver Cromwell’s castle on your left and Hangman’s Island on your right and then straight ahead is a small bay where once again we crept into the shallows and dropped the anchor in 5 feet of clear water. Following our ‘bump in the night’ experience in the anchorage at St Mary’s, I got the dinghy out to have a look round the surrounding area to make sure that any dark patches were not rocks that we might sit on at low tide. After 30 minutes of looking like a proper tool sticking my head over the side of the dingy with my mask on I was happy that we were in a good spot.
We had a walk ashore with Max that ended in a peace keeping visit to the New Inn for Sarah and we took advantage of their wifi to check the weather forecast for the next few days. What this told us immediately dictated our imminent departure.
Originally we had hoped for at least two more nights in the Isles of Scilly but the forecast was showing gale warnings for the areas of Shannon and Rockall which are the shipping forecast areas to the West of Ireland. It looked like this low pressure area could move eastwards into our area of Fastnet in 24 to 48 hours and once that had blown through the forecast was for light and variable wind so neither option was looking good for a 140 mile sail to Ireland.
What I wanted was the perfect settled forecast that I had fantasised about for the last 6 months but what we had was ‘Wind – Southerly Force 3 to 4 veering South West 4 to 5, maybe 6 later and sea state moderate to rough later’. This was ok other than a ‘moderate to rough’ sea state but there was also the possibility of mist and sea fog not to mention the gale 8 forecast for the West of Ireland albeit that should stay clear for long enough. I’ve got to be honest, I was nervous.

Having a penis is a wonderful thing but I am all too aware that he’s not a friend you can trust implicitly. He will never say ‘Take it easy son, you might want to think twice about that’. Instead he will say ’YOU DA MAN, YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU’RE THE BEST, DON’T BE A PUSSY, DO IT, DO IT, DO IT’ and it’s all too easy to listen to and believe your little self. You don’t want to go against advice from your most loyal friend but on the other hand, if he gets it wrong and you find yourself in the sh*t you will look down to find him now hiding with his two other little mates looking at you like you are now the penis and saying things like ‘You idiot, I suppose you’d jump off a bridge if I told you to wouldn’t you.’ It’s a very complicated relationship but after many years of trying I now feel like I have a good grip on it…
So, after about 5 minutes deliberation and going with my gut feel which, on this occasion was in agreement with my smaller self, I said ‘Right Sarah, we’re going tomorrow afternoon at 3pm’. This should allow us to get through ahead of the gales, enable us to settle in to our sail before it gets dark and be confident of arriving in Ireland the following day before dark. That was it, the plan had been made.

On Thursday morning we went ashore, visited Tresco Abbey, looked at some truly strange botanical species, had lunch overlooking a beautiful bay on the east side of Tresco, got some supplies from the Island’s only shop and headed back to Fiesta.
We left at 3pm and pointed Fiesta out of New Grimsby Sound. At this point I would like to outline what an expert navigator you need to be even to contemplate this trip but that would be a lie. You get clear of the entrance, dial in as near as damn it north into the completely unbelievably awesome auto pilot, press the button and leave it alone for 20 or more hours. The tide will influence your course one way and then when it turns, take you back the other way more or less the same distance and you only need to adjust course when you are ten or so miles off Ireland to fine tune the final approach. The depth is rarely under 200 feet so it’s easy.
The wind was dead out of the south so right up our arse and at this point whilst in the lee of the Isles of Scilly it was only about a force 3. There isn’t much point in putting two sails up in this situation as the main will always shadow the jib or spinnaker causing the jib or spinnaker to flop around and be totally fecking annoying (I’m getting into the spirit of Ireland already). We decided to put the spinnaker up on it’s own for the remaining hours of daylight to give us the best possible start and this time the hoist was a dream. I always calculate a voyage on the basis of a least speed of 5 knots and the spinnaker on it’s own was giving us just over this. We settled into the sail and watched as the Isles of Scilly slipped away out of sight behind us. We left the auto pilot to do its magic and sat down for chilli con carne and a glass of wine in the evening sun. It takes a while to settle down to a longish trip but much like a long drive, the first hour or so seems to take an age but then a strange time warp ensues and the hours just tick by.
Out of the lee of the islands we were making just over 6 knots and we decided that I would go for the first sleep at 10pm leaving Sarah in charge for the first part of the night sail until 1am. I was happy that Sarah was happy and after repeating myself a million times about keeping a good watch, checking the AIS and waking me if there were any problems, I reluctantly turned in. This was the first time ever that I had not been in control of Fiesta’s destiny. Just before going to bed we checked the AIS and there were several fishing boats and ships around and one in particular caught my attention. It was a cruise liner heading to Fowey. It was 27 miles away and heading more or less straight towards us doing 17 knots. Although 27miles away I could see from the chart that it was headed towards a Traffic Separation System that goes past Lands End (a system of two one way streets running parallel to each other for big ships to pass each other at a safe distance) so that course would inevitably bring it right our way. I said to Sarah to keep a good eye out and give me a shout if she needed to. After about an hour Sarah spotted it on the horizon and woke me up which was the right thing to do. In the dark of the night a big cruise liner lighting up the horizon coming your way looks pretty ominous. Although I was sure that the crew on the bridge would be aware of our presence from their radar and our AIS signal, we turned on Fiesta’s other navigation lights and maintained our course. The human element in these situations dictates that despite all the navigational devices available, a ship relies on the Officer of the Watch keeping a good look out rather than scrolling through the sort of WhatsApp videos that make you miss your place in a Lloyds queue albeit with far less severe consequences.
As it turned out, the ship came within a couple of miles and passed to the west of us and all was well. I went back to bed and then relieved Sarah of her watch at 1am. There had been a few other cargo vessels around but none had come close enough to bother Captain Yuile!
During my shift there were no ships around at all and after the first busy ish hours of the night we didn’t have any other traffic giving us any cause for concern. Sarah emerged on deck at 4am and as we swapped over the black sky had given way to an inky blueness and there is something incredibly beautiful along with a sense of relief as you emerge from the night. The other thing that I was relieved about was that I had changed my mind before darkness fell the previous evening because the wind had been very steady and I elected to keep the spinnaker up overnight. The only reason why you don’t normally do this is simply because of the size of the sail and the innumerable ways to f*ck it up and you really don’t want to be having the kind of struggle during the night that we had with it when it dropped into the water on the way to the Isles of Scilly or if the wind increases unexpectedly and you have to clamber around the deck in the dark to get it down. Fortunately it was a good decision and it only required adjustment of the sheets about three times throughout the entire night.

When Sarah started her shift at 4am the wind was increasing and our speed was up to around 8 or 9 knots. Sarah didn’t need me during her time on the helm and when I emerged at 7am having slept pretty well for a couple of hours we were creaming along with a couple of double figure surfs here and there. The wind increased to a force 5 and brought with it a swell of about 4 meters. Fiesta was in her element, nothing was falling over in the cabin and despite the size of the waves there was no water over the deck so all was good. When the sun came up Sarah was treated to a visit from the dolphins and I can’t speak for Sarah but I had a feeling of total calm and gratitude for being in this very special place. Sarah went to bed again at 7.30am and her timing was spot on because when she returned on deck two hours later I had just had the feeling that the spinnaker needed to come down! It was now touching the forecasted force 6 and the wind had swung round to the South West. The spinnaker came down after over 17 hours and the jib went in it’s place, we had breakfast and then the rain came! We got a good soaking and the waves increased but were never a problem. We caught sight of the Irish Coast at about lunch time and cruised in past Dunmore East into the River Suir. After 6 miles motoring up river we put the anchor down at a place called Ballyhack, showered, chilled out, had dinner and went to bed at about 9pm. Total time from upping anchor in Tresco to dropping the anchor at Ballyhack was just over 24 hours.
What a f*cking blinder of a trip. I was feeling proud of Fiesta but more than that, completely and utterly proud of Sarah. I quite like taking the p*ss out of the almost constantly cold, non rufty tufty Prosecco swilling, sweet, charming, always smiling and once incapable rope coiling Canadian but at this point all I can say to you Sarah is a huge well done! I have no wish to sound condescending (that means to talk down to) but you were fantastic! You trusted in me and Fiesta, remained completely calm and totally capable. Well done you! A**

There’s a new video under the ‘Other bits’ page showing our trip from Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly……
Fiesta out.

Tresco, Tresco, Tresco, lunch at Tresco and more Tresco

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Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly!

For the first time on this trip I have struggled with phone service. That’s not bad really is it and whilst the Isles of Scilly do have 3 / 4g you need to be above sea level but as soon as you walk up on to the shore, it seems to connect. There you go – excuse for lateness of this blog delivery…

I left St Mawes and made my way across to Falmouth Yacht Haven. Falmouth Harbour is massive but the choice for marinas close to the train station is limited. It’s really important that I keep things as convenient as possible for my meal ticket so I wanted to make it work. Falmouth Yacht Haven operates on a first come first served basis for their visitors berths and as there are not many of them, you generally have to raft up alongside someone else. I called them up and was told that someone was just leaving so if I got a move on, I would have the last spot! Five minutes later when it came in to view, there was a boat there! Jesus, you do have to be fast here. While I was trying to decide who I would annoy by going alongside, I got a call from the marina and they wanted to know what my draft was. On telling them that it was less than a metre they said I could go round on the inside in a tight but well protected spot near the harbour’s pilot boat so that’s what I did. I could see the bottom as I carefully crept round near the shore line and owing to the shelter afforded by being right on the inside, turning the boat in the small space available was no problem. My little spot was great! Whereas all the other visiting boats were heaving up and down on their mooring lines on the outside berths and feeling the full force of the choppy harbour, I was in a calm sheltered sun trap on the inside! Excellent, Canada will like this!

Me and my big mouth! I walked to the station and was relieved but disappointed to see Sarah with a navy blue case. Relieved because I didn’t have to relive the embarrassment of walking alongside the fuchsia pink case that arrived at Poole but disappointed because now I had no choice but to be a gentleman and do the donkey work!
When we got back to Fiesta Sarah put her case in the spare stern cabin, lit the fuse and ran for cover. I didn’t hear the explosion but when I glanced into the cabin a few minutes later, a bomb had definitely gone off. How do you do that?

Whilst the plan was to make for the Isles of Scilly as soon as possible, the wind on Saturday was from the one direction that would make it a complete nightmare so instead we spent the day in beautiful sunshine in Falmouth. We visited Pendennis Castle which is a fantastic place and I revelled in the endless amusement from watching a North American coo over anything that has a whiff of history about it or is more than five minutes old.
On checking the forecast when we were back at the boat, it appeared that a weather window was showing itself and it was looking like Sunday would bring wind from the East before swinging back to the West for the next few days. We’ll have some of that I thought and so at 9am on Sunday we left Falmouth in a moderate Easterly breeze, got out of the harbour, hoisted sails and switched the engine off. We made good speeds of about six to seven knots all the way down the coast passed Lizard Point and when we got to Lands End we turned and aimed fairly and squarely at the Isles of Scilly. The wind was now blowing out of the South East and the gentle breeze had given way to a force 4 to 5. I simply couldn’t resist it so we got the spinnaker out. I think I have said this before but I love that sail. I told Sarah that it was like a lady of the night in that you are guaranteed a great ride but it comes with some increased risk and dangers. This produced the closest I have ever seen to a dirty look from Sarah which in itself is a remarkable achievement. I chuckled to myself, had a scratch and moved on.

There was a point where everything was attached and we were ready for the hoist. I said to Sarah ‘Right, at this point it either goes really well or we have a total effing nightmare’. It was the the latter! Spinnaker up, it filled and then the halyard brake which is what holds the rope that you hoist the spinnaker up with came undone and the whole thing dropped from the top of the mast into the water! This is a NIGHTMARE! Quite often this will result in a spinnaker ripped to shreds or even having to be cut free because once it fills with water it is simply impossible to manhandle back onboard. We were lucky, it was only the bottom half that went in the water but unfortunately it went under the boat so I had to untie the ropes that attach to the bottom of the sail and and let it go right under and trail out the back. Only being attached to the boat by the halyard at the top of the sail, I managed to haul it back onboard.
The last two sentences simplify what was 45 minutes of scrambling around all over the boat in reasonably big waves, getting exhausted, hot, bothered and swearing like a tourettes sufferer on death row.
Drama over and once bitten, not twice shy we got that f*cking **** of a ******* ******* thing up where it instantly redeemed itself but providing an exciting ride of between 9 and 12 knots for the next couple of hours. As I said, I love that mother f*cker of a sail!
The best thing about this part is that I pushed Sarah into staying on the helm while this thing was up. I did this for two reasons. Firstly, she needs the confidence boost to show her that she is no longer a beginner and in fact is a pretty bloody competent person on the helm and secondly, I was too scared.
Our sleigh ride continued until the wind increased as did the waves and as always happens, a thought comes in to your head that says ‘Should we take this thing down’? As any sailor will tell you, the second you think about taking in a reef or getting a sail down is THE time to do it so I went on the foredeck and got the thing down without any further drama and with much relief at a successful mission despite the fractious start!
I’ve got some good video footage of Sarah on the helm achieving some great speeds and I will post this at some point because she did well!

The rest of the sail was good but uneventful and eventually the wind died and we motored the last two hours into a bay behind Hugh Town on St Mary’s. Total trip time was 10 hours. Tired, emotional and extremely happy to be anchored up we went ashore for celebratory beer to the Mermaid pub. It was Sunday night of the bank holiday weekend and the locals were enjoying themselves! I’m not sure if it’s because I come from Burnham on Crouch where we are not exactly blessed with the largest or most diverse gene pool in the word that makes me appreciate this but small gene pool pubs prove to be a lot of fun and the Mermaid was rocking! We had a couple of beers and both suffering from the feeling of being at sea all day, we swayed back and forth with Max to Fiesta for a late dinner and bed.

I knew the anchorage was going to be shallow and whilst the chart said it was a sandy bottom, I already had my doubts because the water was very clear and there were big black patches of weed and I wondered if these weeds were attached to rocks. We pulled up the anchor and moved into the biggest patch of sand we could find but at 3am we awoke to a fairly horrible deep bumping sound. I rushed outside and we were floating in less that three feet of water. It was low tide so I wasn’t worried about us drying out but I was worried when the bump and shudder happened again. On inspection with the torch, the stern of the boat had swung at the full length of the anchor line over a black patch and sure enough, under the weed I could see rock! It was only an isolated patch and as the boat swung over it and a small wave came in at the right moment, we dipped down and the bottom of the skeg to which one of the rudders is mounted bounced down on this lump again. No, no, no, I don’t like that at all so I pulled about twenty feet of anchor line in to move us clear and into the sandy patch again and went back to bed, slightly worried, slightly tense and happy knowing the tide was coming in again. In fact there was a lot of rock in that anchorage that wasn’t marked on the chart so after a quick explore of Hugh town the next morning, we did one.

I know, I know, this blog is a marathon and my apologies for that but no blog would be complete without this next bit.
We turned up at ‘The Cove’ on the island of St. Agnes, moved close in to the beach and being about an hour before low water it was only 5 feet deep. We dropped the anchor in beautiful crystal clear water with nothing but white sand all around the boat, totally sheltered from the wind and scenery to die for! What a stunning little spot!
We spent a lazy day in the sun (and in the water) before walking round this small unspoilt island with its tropical plants, no cars and Caribbean looking water. Predictably we wandered in the directing the Island’s only pub and enjoyed a drink overlooking the bay of this unbelievably beautiful spot. I already love the Isles of Scilly so you can only imagine how Canada feels about this place. Oh my god, OH MY GOD…….. etc etc etc

Fiesta at anchor in St Mawes, St Mawes from the shore, an evening race and Fraggle Rock Lighthouse

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My view whilst moored up in Falmouth Yacht Haven 

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Pendennis Castle

P1020801P1020800P1020818P1020802On the way to the to St Mary’s (Sarah dressed for winter), North Cressa Anchorage and the black patches of weed that hide the rocks!

P1020858P1020872P1020869P1020870P1020868The Cove anchorage at St Agnes 

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The view from the Turk’s Head Pub

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Back in the game!!

The sail back to Plymouth from Fowey was absolutely perfect. It was over two hours quicker than my journey going the other way. It didn’t start like that though. I left Fowey slightly ahead of a lovely wooden yacht and uncannily, exactly the same thing happened as it did when I had all the boys onboard. The rain came, the wind stopped and then there was nothing (and I do mean FA) for about twenty minutes. The wooden yacht was drifting down and closing on me as I was faffing about achieving absolutely nothing with sails that were just hanging. When he was about 100 yards away, his sails filled and all around him I could see white crests on the waves. The wind was back! All of a sudden we were 100 yards apart, both with full sail in 20 knots of wind and lovely sunshine.
‘There is only one thing to do here mate isn’t there’…. The race is ON! I don’t care if this is called cruising and I can’t speak for the girls but if your prefrontal cortex is to be found stuffed down the front of your trousers, this is the only possible outcome of a chance encounter like this. He knew and I knew it! We raced all the way to Plymouth and I have to say it was close. Would I be talking about this if I had followed him into Plymouth? Probably not but I can’t help that, I’m only a man. The race kept us both fully entertained for three hours and in the end, over 20 or so miles, my AIS was telling me that I was 0.7 of a mile in front. Close, fun and an absolute cracker of a sail.

Something felt very strange as I approached Sutton Marina in Plymouth. I felt a bit sad and it suddenly dawned on me that for the last 7 weeks all I have done is go to new places that I haven’t sailed to before but I knew this place and I think subconsciously it felt like I had turned around and was starting to work my way back. Once I had fathomed (like what I did there?) this out I felt better and in fact this return journey marked the picking up point of my new crew member. Oh, may she be pretty, competent, quiet (no offence Sarah), low maintenance (again, no offence) and respond well to my finger (errr no Mark, don’t even think about it).

Monday the 22nd May.
Good morning Dominic (from Marine Electronics Plymouth and my new personal hero). Laden with boxes and a tool bag, work commenced. My contribution had been to remove some of the old stuff, make sure the cable runs were all ready and to be of any assistance wherever and whenever needed along with many questions.
My Dad was an engineer and one of those old school utterly capable sorts who could just do things. I was the utterly annoying little boy hanging around in the garage or in the boat that he was building saying ‘Why, what, how, where’ on an almost constant loop! My Dad never once got impatient with this continuous line of enquiry (other than the time I was hiding under Mum and Dad’s bed but there is neither the time nor the space here to summarise the psychological effect this had on both father and son). Hang on, where was I going with this? Oh yes, Dominic was now getting all the what’s, why’s, where’s and how’s.
I try to do as much as I can on my boat – you have to be as self sufficient as possible if you own a boat but whenever something is beyond me I aways want to be involved in the process. However, not many of the people that you pay to work on your boat want this. Instead, they are difficult to tie down and say things like ‘Just leave the keys in a safe place for me and I will been there on, well I don’t know yet, but it will be done at some point’! They just don’t want someone over their shoulder but hang on, this is my toy and I want to see what goes on and exactly what you do to it. Dominic, as I explained in a previous blog, is not like this. He was happy to explain and walk me through everything and we went through the installation together which went remarkably smoothly. The preparation work that I put in paid off and Dominic had the ‘Its not a problem, its an opportunity to think of another way round it’ kind of attitude that you simply have to have with boats.
Credit where credit is due and I would recommend Dominic to anyone. He did exactly what he said he would do, exactly when he said he would do it and believe me, it is very difficult to find people like that in the marine industry. He is a rare twinkle in a rather large pile of shite. People like him deserve all the success they get and its a real shame that in my experience he is indeed a rare find. Funny isn’t it that he was recommended to me by another diamond in the rough that I have met along the way, Andy of Yachting Solutions in Burnham. A long distance recommendation but a great one. Cheers.

So. On Tuesday morning I was up early and out of Sutton Marina at 07.00. The new autopilot started doing its own sea trial configuration as soon as it detected that we were on the move and once a couple of ‘Task complete’ messages flashed up I tentatively fingered the button!
If anyone was to compare my track on the Vessel Traffic app for my journey to the Helford River with any of my journeys over the last 6 weeks or so, this would tell you all you need to know. My new crew member can steer a better course than me. Perfect, YES!!!!!! We’re back in business and my journey to Helford included a leisurely lunch, some comfortable comfort breaks and even a bit of reading (autopilot instruction manual of course). What a difference.

So, Helford River; absolutely bloody beautiful. Totally unspoilt with a feeling of heavenly isolation. I anchored for two nights just inside the entrance and had my own little beach to land on or alternatively, a mile along the shore is the Helford River Sailing club where you can get ashore using their pontoon and then visit the Shipright Arms which is a stunning little pub overlooking the little inlet there.
This place is another good example of why it is so important to have a pilot book. I don’t know why exactly but there is no legal requirement for this river to be marked so the navigation marks are all privately funded by a committee of local sailors. This is great but whilst all marked, the buoys are not lit so a first time entry after dark would be difficult and dangerous and the pilot book warns about this. Furthermore, whilst the entrance is deep and hazard free, just inside there is a large extension of rock that is marked but not that obviously owing to the costs associated with such navigation marks and the pilot book warns of this too. I have tried to show this hazard in the photos below. Apparently it has caught out quite a few visiting boats and that would not be a good welcome to this otherwise beautiful little sanctuary of a place. The other source of information that is proving invaluable, but depends on access to the internet, is the Visit My Harbour website. This too provides step by step instruction for entry inclusive of potential pitfalls all in layman terms.
I have already seen enough to say that whilst these pilot books / almanacs and the Visit my harbour website are very cheap resources when compared to the purchase of paper charts, are they equal in value? Put simply, you’re god damn right motherf*ker. Sorry, I think its about time I had someone here to adjust the dials and knobs (ok, so just one) to keep me in balance.

And…..as if by magic later today, probably at bout 9.30pm I will have a stowaway. United States of Canadia is coming down for, wait for it it, 10 days! Stand by your bed Max, its inspection time……No actually its not that at all. Its cuddle time, for you at least. Since I last saw Sarah she has attended (and passed) the RYA level 1 sailing course. I don’t actually know what that means but what I do know is that officially makes the score 1 – 0 to Sarah as far as sailing qualifications are concerned. I’m going to have to knock the wind out of her sails before she tries to knock me off my Captain’s perch. Right, where is that totally uncoilable rope? It worked before so it can work again…….
Sarah is getting the train down to Falmouth and having departed the Helford River yesterday I am already anchored just over a mile away from the marina in a place called St Mawes. St Mawes is predominately a retirement place and the pace of life here is good! Albeit useless information, the lighthouse at the entrance was the one used in the Fraggle Rock kids tv show.

Once I get to the marina there are a few jobs on this list to get ready for the next 10 days. We need some help from the wind gods for this next part. The plan is to leave Falmouth bound for the Isles of Scilly, stay for four or five nights and then set sail for Ireland. Sarah has a flight booked out of Cork next Monday so without taking any weather related risks, we need to try and make this happen. In preparation Fiesta needs diesel, food stores, a thorough check over and a leap of faith as this is going to be a proper field test for the new auto pilot.
Its about 60 miles from Falmouth so not too far although the sail to Ireland is 150 miles. That will be a 24 hour affair when for the first time there will be some shift work going on. Both Sarah and I will get left to our own devices when the other goes for a kip. This next part is exciting!

And another thing!
Somewhere on this blog I wrote something about being honest about any balls ups so……………..
Last night I got a rude awakening at 2.30am owing to a mathematical schoolboy error. Because of the rockiness of the sea bed in this area it is important to find a nice sandy or muddy bottom to anchor in because rocks do not make for good anchor holding. Along with the incredible amount of information given on a chart, you also get little letters dotted over the chart that abbreviate the characteristics of the seabed. Where I am now it says S.Sh which means Sand / Shingle which is good. There was quite an easterly wind funnelling down the anchorage when I went to bed last night so I set my anchor drift alarm which is linked to GPS via the chart plotter. All you do is set the amount of drift that you are happy with and go to bed. If you drift further than the distance you set, the shrill alarm goes into meltdown indicating that the anchor has lost its grip and you are on the move. However, this does assume that you set the correct length! I have 150ft of anchor line out so in my tiredness last night I set 170ft just to give a little wriggle room. What a total cock! Strangely enough, the tide did what it does fairly regularly and turned during the night so I drifted 150 ft back to where the anchor was set and then 150 ft past until the line went taught the other side and Fiesta stopped again securely. During this entirely natural process, one complete prick was on deck rocking out with his cock out in the cold easterly wind in a semi (no not that kind) awake panic shining the torch on shore to see if we were dragging and what were we going to hit or drift on to. By this time, the anchor line was tight and we had just drifted the full length (look, it was cold alright) of 300 ft that I should have set on the drift alarm. I went back to bed, got looked at with utter contempt by Max while I recited a simple equation. 2 x 150 = 300, 2 X 150 = 300.
Got that, you bellend?????

The race

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P1020387War games on the way to the Helford River

View from Helford Sailing Club

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Lovely little anchorage

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Let’s see you try and sneak up behind me here then….

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Is this normal?

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Now you see them

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now you don’t

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Simply lovely…..

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