I sat on my pizza whilst unloading the dinghy in a stiff breeze, as one does and whilst it cooked I was privileged to witness real seamanship. A 30 foot engineless twin masted junk rigged Sharpie, probably home built, short tacked up the harbour lee gunwhale awash to drop her anchor sweetly, without drama, sails furled in seconds. Nationality? French of course. Doris, I salute you for that is her name, two little Bretons her crew.
The pizza, flattened to within an inch of life was just fine, as was the humble pie.
It rained fit to drown a duck in the night and Lot’s wife was hiding from me as Spam and eggs fried in the pan and espresso bubbled on the stove. Then ashore to meet Pete the Electric. “It helps if you turn the fuel on” he said kindly as we drifted in front of the busy yacht club, the skipper frantically pulling the starter cord. As ever its the people you meet and the craique that ensues, and so it was as he fixed the engine starter and told me how not to trigger the winch’s trip switch. Thanks Pete the Electric – see you in Guernsey.
As I write this in Bush’s pub, Doris is unfurling her wings unhurriedly like a butterfly in the mizzle, before her crew raised the anchor by hand and sailed gently off into the murk. I doubt they had a forecast, without which most would not set sail. I raised my pint of Murphy’s in silent salute to members of the senior dorm, to which one day I may achieve promotion.
15 minutes here might or might not be so, I have discovered, just like a mile may or may not be so, so best not to rush to a rendezvous. Go with the flow. So I’ll think about the next move, but I’ll make no shore based decision in less than 15 minutes …. or so.
It was a very wet and windy drive back to the boat and I smugly noted a light weight Frenchie had dragged its anchor, as I hailed Nigel cheerily. “You’re anchors dragging!” he yelled and he meant Pippin’s not mine. Well I barely touched the sides as I hurdled Pippin’s transom, gunned the engine and soon order was restored, all was well with the World, though not for some idiot whose little dinghy was whizzing shore wards, no one aboard I thought.
The Harbour master was very kind and brought the dinghy straight back to me …. I will need to improve to achieve promotion to the senior dorm I reflected, chastened not stirred.
I realized Mr Rocna had been hanging out with the weeds, most insalubrious company and had clearly been led astray astray so I hoped this time he had chosen a better companion. As I sipped tea, I noticed Doris now tucked in the lee to windward for she had clearly decided not to leave and my neighbor, a trim little craft spent an hour trying to reset the anchor, his little dinghy flipping over and over in the rising wind.
A semi sleepless night on anchor watch and an early wet start to the next day as I refitted Hercule’s rudder blade, before motoring with sail aloft over to wake Nigel and say farewell, watched by Lot’s dumpy wife perched high on the headland. Nigel is a fully be-medalled member of the senior dorm and I was proud to make his acquaintance.
Hercule, iron man though he is, has a sensitive side, which requires compromise with this clumsy skipper but we reached one this breezy morning and were soon barreling downhill with espresso on the stove, Guillemots, bobbers, white horses and me. There were some big daddies out there this grumpy morning and they often stole the land, as Pippin sank into their fat bellies before clambering back to the crests. Rain cloud later took away the land too and delivered a white capped pewter sea, as a succession of fronts entertained us, not great but Pippin was having a cracking sail.
We landed early evening in pretty Kinsale, crowded with yachts seeking shelter from the advancing gale and haggis and potatoes were soon simmering on Pippin’s stove.
An Australian friend of a friend who met me briefly, described me to said friend as the “quintessential English sailor”, a phrase which, knowing the Aussies, probably doesn’t contain a compliment but I don’t care – I rather like it so good night from QES in rain soaked Kinsale.