The long way home
After a long, wet slog we finally arrived in Fenit, a small but well protected harbour with all the trappings provided with our EU money! Rob and Tim were there to greet us and it wasn’t long before we were all beating ourselves up over our retirement over a few pints of the ‘black stuff’ in the local pub, the word ‘if’ got a mention in every breath but it was over and although we never stopped questioning our retirement, we just had to live with it.
Our stay in Fenit, which is the home of a huge bronze, paying tribute to a local monk, namely, Brendon the navigator, was very pleasant, the marina staff were most helpful, once we had broken through the Yorkshire/Irish accent barrier! The land lady from the local pub could not have been more hospitable, even offering us the keys to her 4×4 during the day when not in use and the receptionist at the marina kept us fed with weather reports (although we weren’t sure if that was in the hope we would leave!)
Tim had left and Rob’s wife Jen had joined us and during the day we did a little sight seeing and took it in turns to entertain each evening with imaginative dinner parties!
Our feelings of despair and failure slowly started to subside as we accepted the fact that we were storm bound for next few days.
Our first attempt to escape ended in failure, accompanied by Star Dancer, we headed for Valentia and after 3 hours of beating into biggish seas and 30 knots of wind, making very little progress, we both turned back. The complex weather system seems as if it may last for ever (Emma thought we were in a Stephen King novel, where we had sailed into a welcoming harbour only to be unable ever to leave!!)
We finally left Fenit on a slightly less windy morning than usual, only to have to motor sail in a very lumpy sea, head to wind, to Valentia, about 50 miles downs the coast. Once again on this rocky coast line, the approach was a little nerve racking but once past the waves breaking over the lighthouse and picking up the transits the natural harbour offered good shelter, not only to us but to the pod of dolphins, feeding on the abundant supply of fish. A little further up river we tied up in Cahersiveen marina and made for the nearest pub to celebrate our new found freedom!
Our cruising in this area was quite by accident but provided us with some challenging navigation and the most stunning, rugged scenery imaginable.
Our passage the following day was no exception taking us past the rocky out crops of the Skelligs, the Bull, Cow and Calf and onto, our final destination in Ireland, snugly nestled behind the Fastnet Rock, the picturesque, natural harbour of Baltimore.
Once again our departure was to be delayed, as the wind howled through the rigging, awaiting for a favourable weather window to give us a comfortable passage across the Irish Sea to Falmouth.Our last few days were spent anchored next to Star Dancer and our frequent trips ashore in the inflatable, always provided the amusement which accompanies a good soaking!
It was also the first time we had witnessed, first hand, the rigours of the triathlon as the swimmers went around Ruffian, swept side ways by the strong currants, often grabbing onto the anchor rope for a brief rest. If only they had done the Day Skipper course, and worked out a course to swim!
After checking all the weather information available and on the say so, of the software program (Maxsea) which Rob uses, we decided to make a dash for it and waved farewell to Ireland, a brief but experience enhancing encounter! Our passage across the Irish Sea was anything but favourable as we ran with another gale for the next two days spending the nights hurtling, headlong into total darkness, vowing never to trust Maxsea again!
We eventually made Falmouth after another fast but wet passage and as all the slamming had stirred up some ‘muck’ in the diesel tanks, the engine refused to start until we had changed the fuel filters, with this done we were soon tied up safely at the town quay and on our way to a favourite haunt and the warmth of the Chain Locker public house!
After a day off, we set off once again, to make our way back to Scarborough, the next 600 miles have become a bit of a tedious slog and we try to split it into long day sails and centre our passage plans around carrying the strong currants which flow around the headlands, Plymouth and the river Yealm is the first stop, past start point and onto Brixham, the next, across Lyme bay and round Portland Bill to Weymouth, before we move onto Cowes on the Isle of Wight, followed by Brighton or Newhaven and then Dover, with one more stop at Lowestoft before we finally arrive back in Scarborough.
Since leaving home, we have sailed over 1700 miles and once again have just about circumnavigated the British Isles, our BMW race may have been a bit of a disaster but we are richer for the experience, our resolve is stronger than ever, the two handed section was billed ‘for extreme sailors only’, this race will not defeat us, we will be back in four years time.