Whilst this blog is quite obviously about the trip to wherever life, fair wind and weather take us, it would not be right to exclude mention of our wedding. Many of you reading this will have been there and will agree, I hope, that it was a brilliant day. Certainly Mike and I think so and know that it was the company of great friends and family which made it so wonderful. Special mention has to go to James who made the best “Best Man” speech ever, to Caroline for her poem, to Chris for “giving me away”, and to Dave for taking photos. The fact that his camera and equipment is so fancy that we can’t actually access the photos on our computer is another story – but Dave and Mag are joining us in Spain soon and will probably show us what we are doing wrong. It was also lovely to see other friends attend the ceremony and also thanks to those who joined us later in the evening. It was a day to remember.
And so to the following day when we set sail from Liverpool and again, our friends supported us – through a huge breakfast at the marina and lunchtime in the pub for Wapping Ale, pies and scouse. We really do take some supporting!
James and John had opted to sail on our honeymoon as far as our first stop in Arklow and we left the Marina lock at about 5pm hankies all waving from the lockside. It was great to be able to see Liverpool as we sailed down the Mersey, unlike our earlier reported sail up the Mersey a month before. The Three Graces certainly look better in the sunshine.
Into the channel, we looked for friends who had said they were visiting the Iron Men – but it took us about two hours to get there so, unsurprisingly, they had gone home. However, waiting at the Lifeboat station at Crosby were Sue, Frank and Peter and it was lovely to speak over the phone as we sailed by. The channel doesn’t allow us near enough to see each other but because Sue had had the foresight to think pillowcases rather than hankies I could see them waving and because they had binoculars they saw us.
The sail across to Ireland was pretty good except that, in true Siga Siga fashion, the wind was, for the most part straight on our bow – so it was a case of motoring. Mike was quite happy about this because the forecast was good until Sunday morning (after which time winds and rain were due) and we therefore wanted to make it by Saturday night if possible, which we did, berthing on the outer marina pontoon on the river at Arklow at 3.30pm. James and John seemed to enjoy the voyage and managed to record their “I’m on a boat” rap which we are waiting to see in edited version. John also found an excellent way of taking photographs by attaching the camera to the tripod, extending its legs and holding it above his head.
We received a fantastic Irish welcome from Brian and Ann [great meal at Egans – used to be Kitty’s] and from various other members of the Byrne clan when we visited the Byrne homestead on a very wet and windy Sunday. We said goodbye to James and John as they stayed to visit with family for a couple of days
Monday dawned clear and Mike and I set sail for Kilmore Quay – a days run of 10.5 hours – a remarkable 6.5 actually sailed – hurray! Kilmore Quay is a nice little place but unfortunately its pub closed at Xmas. As Mike discussed with the harbourmaster, its very hard for small pubs in small villages to survive. What has survived though is the excellent “Fishy Business Fish Shop” and, if the small cabin is closed then the attached all purpose shop sells you the freshly caught local fish.
The next two nights were spent on the River Suir near Waterford which was a 5.5 hour sail – yes Sail – from Kilmore. It was great sailing up the river (which took 3 hours), past lovely small villages and scenic surroundings. We passed a lone seal – and he was still there, in approx the same place, on our return journey 2 days later.
Anchoring in a tidal river was a new experience. OK we had been berthed in one at Arklow – which was not the most pleasant given the weather, but there we had been attached. This was the first use of our new anchor and it lived up to its reputation and stuck firm first time. What we were not ready for was as the tide turned to end up approximately horizontal to our anchor much nearer to the bank than we expected to be. So we have learnt something about the combination of wind and tide on a river – i.e. don’t immediately panic about the unexpected and seemingly concerning position you find yourself in. As long as your anchor is in then its OK.
We took a day out to visit Waterford and, having seen the full pontoons along the waterfront there, we were glad we had made the decision to anchor where we did – even if it was a 2-3 mile walk each way to the town. Unfortunately Waterford wasn’t as pretty as I had expected but we had a good pint of Guiness at Doolans Bar [so good that we had to have another at the Waterfront Bar on our return journey!] so all was well with the world.
From Waterford we headed to Youghal [pronounced Yawl] and we found weather. Oh yes, we found weather. The forecast had been 4-5 occasional bursts of 6 – but Oh no – it was a constant Force 6 from about 12.00 onwards [having sailed pleasantly down the river and along the coast for about 5 hours in the expected Force 4]. The “small craft warning” came over the radio at 11.30 when we were well into the journey and they were right. We got a trouncing, but we battled on and anchored just off Market Quay in Youghal in relatively still water. Well by then just about anything would have felt relatively still! We celebrated our safe anchorage by eating Tapas in a local establishment – having supped a pint of Murphy’s to calm the nerves first.
At this point I have to mention “Tiddles”. Tiddles is a snap shackle, named after someone dear to us, and it was purchased by them as part of our wedding/leaving present. Tiddles is the means by which we now secure the anchor to prevent it from escaping as per the incident in the Irish Sea. Well, Tiddles has well earned her place on board – without it we would have again lost the anchor – and probably the plot! Buying the Rocna was the right thing to do – but any would be purchasers beware – make sure it fits the mounting and/or is well secured. Even with the fixing the anchor still tried to make its escape and jumped off the bow roller – so once again it was Mike to the rescue in rolling seas – this time to prevent it making holes in the bow as it swung happily to one side. So – we are now working on “Tiddles 2” which will probably be some sort of bolt fixing to compliment Tiddles 1.
The anchor is certainly making a name for itself and, as we have a habit of naming various bits of boat, we are trying to think of a suitable title. Any ideas welcome. I had thought of “The Prisoner” or “The Cooler King” as names taken from other would be escapees. So far Mike has called it “Eff….” several times and “The Wee Bugger”. I rather like the latter – but as yet it remains unnamed.
We did a biggish shop in Youghal because we weren’t sure of the food purchase possibilities at Crosshaven [our next stop]. Crosshaven is the main anchorage/marina option for Cork, and in itself is a smashing place to visit. This was our opportunity to fill the fuel and water tanks and having crabbed sideways into the fuel berth [it was the only way and remarkably carried out by Mike – thank goodness for bow thrusters] we received brilliant service from the guy left in charge of fuelling at weekends. He first of all informed us that as the tide was going out we were about to get stuck/have difficulty getting out of the berth. Ah! Not good. However, he then told us that as the fuel berth had officially closed he wouldn’t be serving anyone else so we could stay there for a few hours to let the tide turn and to visit the town. Result!
I didn’t actually count, but my recollection is that there were approximately six pubs in about a quarter of a mile. We didn’t visit them all, but obviously couldn’t leave without sampling some of the local hospitality and we chose the “Moonduster”. It turned out that it was the Traditional Boat weekend and there was also a weekend of yacht racing organised by the Royal Cork Yacht Club [we had sailed through a race on arrival – yes, literally through it].The Moonduster, named after a Trad boat itself, was the party pub of choice for the folk on these boats. The party was starting early – we were there at 2.30pm to 4.00pm – and I am thinking that there were probably some sore heads the following morning from the rate of sinkage those crews were managing to achieve. It even put one of our parties to shame and that’s saying something.
But, staying there was not an option as we had to move off the fuel berth and we moved up the Owenboy River to an anchorage about 2 miles up. Well, it was supposed to be an anchorage in Drake’s pool but there are so many mooring buoys laid now – and so many seemingly not used – that we ended up choosing one and using it. So, thanks to whomever, if anyone, it belonged.
Having managed to link to the Grib [weather] we determined that we probably had a five day window of opportunity – recognising that on the third day there was going to be some roughish weather but which we should probably have passed by then. If we stayed it meant waiting for that second low to pass by. Although we hadn’t seen all we wanted to in Ireland, having originally planned to visit Kinsale and possibly Baltimore, we thought we couldn’t let the opportunity pass – and after all, Ireland will still be here at a later date. We therefore planned for a 9.00 start to take the tide down river and have it with us for the early part of the journey. To celebrate all that Ireland had offered us we finished our evening with a drop of Whiskey [thanks Sue – a glass, or two! of the Bushmills was a treat].
All was well as we sailed away on Sunday morning. We partly sailed and motored through the day and into the night. When I got up at 1.30am to take over from Mike who had taken first watch I did not particularly want to be greeted with “We’ve got a problem”. Oh S…. thinks I – what have we lost? Has a sail ripped? Has the engine failed [as we were slamming around a bit as the wind had dropped and Mike hadn’t started the motor]? Has something gone overboard? Fortunately it was none of these things. It was that Mike had forgotten to contact our Boat Insurer before we left Ireland. Now this may seem nothing as we had spoken to them and told them what we were doing – but we were supposed to contact them the day we left and we also needed the piece of paper to prove to the Spanish Harbourmasters that we have the full European Coverage. So, it was a case of left turn – lets divert to the Scilly Isles. I had originally wanted to visit the Scilly Islands but Mike had said it wasn’t best to divert from what should have been a straight line sail down from SW Ireland to the tip of N. Spain – but now here we are. Its probably going to add about 150 miles to our journey – but what’s that between friends at an average of 5 miles an hour!
Having made the decision – it may fortuitously have actually been a good one because the aforementioned low seems to have come in rather early! We ended up with Force 5 beating across to Scilly, made worse by the rain and bad visibility. It was poor all day and certainly made the approach to the Islands a very interesting experience.
The Almanac says that the Scillies should not be approached with a poorly equipped boat or an inexperienced crew and now I know why. Mike had to navigate by Chart plotter as I peered through the deepening gloom for cardinal buoys and, worse, the many hundreds of small, jagged rocks and followed his instructions for the autopilot. However, we made Hugh Town [St.Mary’s] safely and after a rolling night on a mooring buoy, have opted for a second night to see the low pass – we hope.
So, its off to visit Hugh Town itself and, hopefully post this on our blog. It looks pretty from here.