Two years of careful planning paid off as we sailed over the start line in the good boat Incisor of Wight with spinnaker billowing in front of us. Nature still has a habit of throwing a few googlies in your direction as the eagerly anticipated winds disappeared in a patch of windless Solent water. Still, it gives Gerard the opportunity to display the “Deliver Quality Data” banner and give the crew a riveting insight into the many benefits of designing quality into their Business Intelligence Solutions.
The fleet headed south leaving us behind and it seemed to take forever to reach Portland bill. Still the crew are in good spirits, finally the breeze kicks in and away we go.
We cleared Lands End early Tue and the Celtic Sea threw in its usual veering westerly’s giving us all a hard night on watch with the occasional wave sweeping the deck. Boot rustlers struck in the dark of night culminating in that seasoned sea dog Crampsie attempting to push his size 10s into Eileen’s petite boots.
The crew’s spirit never wavered. We know that pain is temporary, it may last a minute, an hour, a day, a month even a year however it is eventually replaced by something else. If we quit it lasts for ever.
A pod of 15 dolphins played around our bow as we passed the Seven Heads gas fields, and they guided us toward the Old Head of Kinsale, with the green fields of Cork being illuminated by a ray off sunshine. Our recently press ganged veterans, able seamen Long and McAleavy, provided invaluable local knowledge on Baltimore, Sherkin and Cape Clear.
In the 1600s, Moroccan pirates captured the population of Baltimore and sold them into slavery accounting for sightings of red haired locals in North Africa.
Our naked chef McAleavy, whose baggage was lost by Aer Lingus who subsequently redeemed themselves by couriering the bag to Cowes just in time for the start, whipped up a Spanish Omelette to sustain the crew. This was fitting as the Spanish fought at the battle of Kinsale in preparation for invading England. O’Neil brought reinforcements from the north - much as our present day crew brought in bos’n Nugent whose mum’s name is O’Neil.
We past the Stag rock to starboard where the Kowloon Bridge sank in the early 80s and was subsequently sold for scrap for a £1. This was a sister ship to the Derbyshire which later broke up in the South China Seas.
We rounded the Fastnet which emerged from the Celtic mists, acknowledging the sailors who have raced past this point in the past then toasted our efforts with champagne.
Our local crew provided an update on the sinking of the Lusitania off the Old Head of Kinsale.
Further up the coast, on Valencia Island, slates are again being quarried for the roof of the houses of parliament, hopefully being paid for this time!
Our navigator Landi, brought us directly to the Fastnet to the sound of the fog-horn. Skipper “Cap’n Jack” Sutton went weak at the knees at the prospect of rescuing a damsel in distress. Chief project manager Burnie brought out the Heron Corp luminescent jackets in a belated attempt to appease GMR back on the Marylebone Road. GMR has a tower to build and poncing around on the Celtic Sea is not high on his priorities.
Our Belgian Pierre “Jean Claude van Damme” begins to dream of the lassies awaiting him with a very, very warm welcome back in Plymouth. Rob, “the mariner” beat the previous all time decibel record with his nightime symphonies whilst keeping us regaled with an endless stream of entertaining stories during the day.
We are still trying to get to the bottom of his acquaintance with Ms C Gull and stories of “gunnell bum”.
Eileen is keeping up with the never ending task of keeping the cockpit tidy and keeping our spinnaker halyards running nice and free.
First mate O’Connell keeps the crew on their toes and is only mildly disappointed that his hard won record of 9.5 knots is eventually overtaken by “Pugwash” Crampsie on 10 followed by Damians 11. The crew persuade Damian that it is traditional for the record holder to buy-the-beers in a similar fashion to making a hole-in-one. Hopefully his trusting nature will last as long as the first pub in Plymouth.
A good wind angle has us making good time back down the Celtic Sea on our way back down to Bishops Rock.
Mary’s food has sustained us over many weekends and the Madeira cake goes down very well. There is some more sailing to be done before the crew will taste the finest fish, chips and mushy peas that Plymouth has too offer,
Crew’s spirits are soaring, dreaming of loved ones, a nice pint, not having to listen to crews snoring and wind breaking or listen to the herd of elephants that have lived on the coach roof.
Nothing can stop us now, were on our way home.
Funny thing isn’t it! No matter how much planning, how many sleepless nights go into the perfect campaign, how many bottles of wine were drunk while compiling the perfect passage plan, mother nature calls. Well, to be more exact, nature calls! No matter how hard you try you just cant prevent someone putting way too much toilet paper down the heads – just as well we have the builder’s contingent on board to sort it out.
More later ….