Over the Celtic Deep

24/07/17 from the Dolphin Tavern, Penzance

I was down with Gollum deep in the slimy caves and something was bothering me high above on the surface. I did not want to wake up but practice kicked in and Pippin left the Kinsale pontoon with wind and tide in harmony, no throttle out into a diamond blue morning.  For once the autopilot was back from unauthorised leave and by the time bacon and potatoes were frying, Pippin was on her way to England. She stole every whisper of the phantom wind and slipped silently into the sun. Meanwhile Hercule was doing all and more than I could do, so I left him to it.

Pippin ghosts in 3 knots of wind, stirs in 6 and takes off in 9 and I harnessed every scrap of mental wile to persuade the wind guage beyond 6, to no avail. Hercule looked on and sighed, tough imperturbable like a good soldier should be. At 9 or 10 knots the sea and hull chatter to each other, but for now Boreas had left us for the day, leaving an infant son and so on with the engine as dolphins fed half a cable abeam.

With the repaired autopilot now in charge I wondered how he would do.  If well, I would officially name him as a reward and with Hercule in charge of the wind, there could only be one name – Poirot, so Poirot it will be if …. .  Astern Eire slipped slowly into the haze, and invisible Milford Haven beckoned 105 miles ESE, Kinsale oil and gas rigs captured on radar 20 miles ahead. Common dolphins came and went in the evening, causing the usual mad flurry aboard and acres of film of empty seas. There were 4, 2 adults and 2 young, all swimming very slowly though Pippin surged South under sail  at 6 knots.

Trust your kit, I told myself hours later for Pippin was set up for the night, radar alarm on and it was time to rest in the quiet empty space of the Celtic Deep.  In the fragile early daylight I saw we had slipped a little too far West in the night and a tedious motor sail back across the shipping lanes was the price, whilst plans were reshaped. Rain joined us as a big fat red one out from Milford Haven wallowed past 2 miles off.  I was pleasantly tangled in John Stubbs epic biography of Johnathon Swift at the time and fully emphasised with the description of Swift “being a prisoner of the Irish Sea”, as I had felt in 2015. I don’t feel the same about the Celtic Sea for it has been kind to me so far and dolphins always come to say hello.

Cornish mizzle stole the Longships and kept us near blind deep into Penzance Bay, quieter than the open sea and its charging white horses off the NW Cornish coast. It was very dark, but for the shore lights and a line of trawlers strung across the bay, festooned with flashing lights and driving us like fish shorewards. Amazingly, lights spewed from the pinnacle of Michael’s Mount for all the World like a fiery volcano. But, most fabulous of all was what was all around me.

“Phew!!” “Phew!!!”  Dolphins breathing, scores of them under and all around Pippin. A ring side seat for an incredible scene, as the dolphins fed lazily on fish fleeing from the trawlers and neither the rain nor 39 hours at sea could spoil the moment. In the morning, busy on the foredeck in dreary Cornish mizzle I watched a large dark grey back arch regally out of the water, “Phew”!! and good morning to you too.

Tomorrow I plan to continue West in the direction of the Tamar – I never say “to” a destination for you never know……plans are but intentions of the moment.

 

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By ajay290

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