The last mail was optimistic about catching up lost time and getting back on track. Although we have experienced some of that emotion, it has been balanced by disappointment as the days have slipped by and our targets have drawn in.
Bob and Stephen arrived in Milford Haven proudly bearing the replacement Windlass which we fitted, Dave and Terry staying on to kindly assist. As usual, the process was not as straightforward as one hopes but the point of trying it out arrived and……………..it tripped ! It has turned out that the fault was in the trip itself, not the windlass. So, having bought a £2K windlass, the fault turns out to be in a £50 trip ! In actual fact, I am not unhappy with the outcome as, the windlass is such an important part of the yachts equipment, I am pleased with the peace of mind that I have a new unit.
An early start from Milford Haven meant us passing through the compromised lock at 0530 and motoring into a headwind around the tip of Pembrokeshire. Having committed to the shortcuts inside Skomer and Ramsey Island in order to carry a favourable tide, we had to endure the overfalls in Jack Sound and Ramsey Sound. This was quite a baptism of fire for the new crew who would have given anything to have taken the longer route ! I hope Stephen will forgive me for mentioning that he holds the record for the loudest, most violent and debilitated retcher in my experience !
Thankfully, he bounced back after making landfall in Aberystwyth which happened to be his home for much of his childhood. The passage did however expose a continuing problem with the VHF after an encounter with yet another firing range.
Aberystwyth was a super stop and one we could not have contemplated with a fin keel yacht due to the limited harbour depths. We managed to catch the Lions game in the snooker club at the end of the pier and cast off for Ireland later that same day after fuelling.
Our passage over night was very quiet and with little wind, we motored most of the way. We moored up in Kilmore Quay which I had visited to shelter from a gale about 18 years before. Our arrival co-incided with the attempted departure of a 30ft.yacht which promptly went aground and stuck fast right in front of us in the narrow entrance. Full astern prevented a collision and they looked bewildered as our 45ft breezed past them into the security of the harbour. We enjoyed some excellent Irish hospitality in Kilmore Quay and the visit was notable for the excellent meal in the unpromisingly named ‘Crazy Crab’. The small village was also welcome for the excellence of its Chandler where I purchased yet another aerial, having bought and subsequently returned one, thinking it was not required, in Milford Haven.
An early start saw us off on our 75 mile passage to Cork harbour. After a mixed passage with some sailing and some motoring, we moored at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven. The RCYC is the oldest Club in the World having been founded in 1720 ! The Irish welcome was undiminished and we enjoyed a superb meal in the Clubhouse with Stephen giving an impromptu intimate consultation in the restaurant to the manager’s medical afflictions !
Another early start took us up the River Lee, past Cobh to Cork where we moored on the City centre pontoon adjacent to one of the many bridges.
We intended to take the opportunity to fit the new aerial and run the cable down the mast to the junction of the new cable we had already installed in Milford Haven. This proved to be something of an epic as, there being so many cables exiting the mast, the plastic coatings gripped each other and meant that, with pulling backwards and forwards, we were winning about an inch at a time. The situation was massively improved by running PTFE liquid down the cable from the top of the mast and, with great relief, having been up and down the mast 4 or 5 times, we connected up the new aerial and the impedance readings were as expected……………………….. Unfortunately, the intermittent reception continued so it was clear that the initial analysis of the specialists was correct and there was a problem with the radio itself. Experience suggests that problems that appear as one offs are easily sorted but they seem to inevitably occur as multiples and this is far more difficult to ‘fault find’.
Stephen dashed for the Station after the final whistle of the disappointing second Lions Test to join Mary near Dublin. I would like to mention that, after a horrendous introduction through a very lumpy ‘Jack Sound’ inside Skomer and producing the most colourful vomit I have ever seen, he ‘bounced back’ to be the most enthusiastic crew – great stuff!
The mission was now to find a replacement VHF radio in Cork but, as a contingency, ‘shore based’ efforts were mobilised, just in case and thanks to Tim Julnes and Dave Wright for stepping up and then stepping down as I located a replacement on the outskirts of Cork. Bob thankfully persuaded me to put the bicycle away and we took a taxi as the route involved some pretty unforgiving dual carriageways.
With the new VHF radio fitted and working perfectly, we made our way on the ebb towards Kinsale. Unfortunately, after a pleasant start, the passage was a lumpy affair directly into the wind and it was with some relief that we rafted up to a survey vessel on the Kinsale Yacht Club visitor pontoon. We managed later to ‘get alongside’ the pontoon and reviewed the weather forecast which promised more westerly winds of 30mph over the next few days. Checking again after a very necessary trip to the laundry, we decided that, with Hejira secure, we would hire a car and explore the west of Ireland from the shore.
Kinsale is supposed to be the Gourmet Capital of Ireland and, certainly tonight, we experienced one of my most memorable meals, a real delight. On the recommendation of a very helpful member of the KYC staff, we had earlier experienced a really earthy, authentic Irish pub. Not the ubiquitous, plastic, regurgitated, formula Irish pub experienced around the World, but one consisting of a single room and run by a little old lady with the most ebullient Irish welcome. The tiny pub had pictures of the local hurling teams through the ages and even on the 2nd of July, had a fire in the grate !
So, tomorrow morning we are off by car to explore the ‘hinterland’ and our sailing reports will have to be put on hold.