A little update on things past.  It took me a miserable 19 hours to clear the Lizard and Lands End wasn’t abeam for another 6 an average speed of 3 knots at best.  By the time I reached Bishop’s Rock, I had been battling for over 30 sleepless hours, not 20 as reported.  That alone says all there is to say about how hard it is to bash to windward – Horatio Hornblower in his bluff bowed square rigged ship, would quite likely still be off the Lizard – its slow work.

As far as for that gallant band of fellow Jesters, thus far it seems there were 15 known finishers, with 9 retirements and a number of  non starters.  I said to my Royal Marine nephew Ed when he came to lunch in Plymouth, who is planning to go for Special Boat Service (RN equivalent of the SAS) selection soon; “remember Ed, not to complete selection is not to fail.  Simply to be there is success and the result is what is meant to be”.  I see the Jester Challenge in the same way and there is no shame to anyone who plans, prepares for and tries to set out on any Jester Challenge.

A Rocna is one of the World’s best anchors kilo for kilo and one graces Pippin’s bow.   A Rocna will grip the sand like a limpet, particularly if it has settled for days, so much so that it will not always want to go when you do.  That morning it grudgingly released its grip and swung up into its rest on the bow, full of Baltimore sand.   It was 0215 and Lot’s wife slept atop her dark headland as I pointed Pippin’s bows for the moon, which hung conveniently over the Baltimore entrance.  Essential cuppa in hand, I set course for Cork 54 nautical miles to the East; it was a limp sort of morning.  The ensign hung limp, the Jolly Roger and Irish flags hung limp, the wind hung limp and I hung limp.  Only the sea was alive, rolling lazily in from the Atlantic.

Lot's Wife Early Morning

Lot’s Wife Baltimore

Curious, I revised my recall of the story of Lot’s wife, with the help of Wikipedia, which tells us:

“The story of Lot’s wife begins in Genesis 19 after two angels arrived in Sodom at eventide and were invited to spend the night at Lot’s home.  The Men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and prompted Lot to offer up these Men/Angels; instead, Lot offered up his two daughters but they refused.  As dawn was breaking, Lot’s visiting angels urged him to get his family and flee, so as to avoid being caught in the impending disaster for the iniquity of the city.  The command was given, “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.”  While fleeing, Lot’s wife turned to look back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.”

Well I can confirm that she’s here, still in one piece though far from her original location.

It was mid summer’s day, and a couple of hours later I grabbed the camera as the sun began to ascend majestically above the nearby land still shrouded in darkness, in the hope of a picture to mark this day.

Eire Midsummer Dawn

Midsummer Morning in Eire

Apart from undersea rocks, tidal rips, headlands, wrecks, tides, lee shores et al the other very real danger to coastal navigation is the lobster pot, inevitably marked by a barely visible bobber tethered to the sea bed.  I love lobsters (which if left alone might live 100 years and regrow limbs) but not their bobbers, which are all but invisible at night.  Run over one with a bit of bad luck and its rope will wrap round the propeller and tether the boat to the sea bed.  I am too cowardly and frail to strip to my undies and, knife between my teeth, dive deep beneath Pippin and hack at the offending polypropylene watched by a curious lobster.  I’d either have a coronary trying, or simply find myself unable to submerge my flabby buoyant little body.  Off to port near a shoal I spotted two bobbers close ahead in the pre-dawn, which moved with Pippin and turned into a pair of seals.

You should remember that fishermen don’t lay their pots just anywhere; they cost money.  They put them where the lobsters are, over the sort of undersea dangers I have mentioned; check out where those are near your course and avoid them and you’ll probably miss 75% of them.  Bobbers do have their uses though – watch one and you’ll know what the tide is doing.

I have discovered the cause of the nausea and vomiting that attacked me.  I had felt nauseous occasionally for some months and checked out the side effects of a drug I was taking, used to counter potential effects from maximum dose Iboprufen; amongst the list of common side effects is nausea and vomiting.  Yey! So I’ve binned those and so far, no more nauseous feelings.

Anyway, I recommissioned the galley that morning, as the sun rose lazily above Galley Head (yes really!) close to port.  I couldn’t decide on Gentleman’s Relish or Angie’s marmalade so decided on both to go on my week old toasted bread.

Even the Jester Achilles clan couldn’t have sailed that morning, so Pippin puttered on at her solid 5 knots, heaving gently in rhythm to the lazy swell.  The journey lacked excitement, which suited me just fine, and the hours passed pleasantly until the entrance to Cork Harbour came in view.   This harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the World, yet its entrance is a tight venturi of water, which I had all to myself as Pippin pushed against the dying ebb of the tide.

Cork Entrance

Entrance to Cork

You need to be careful with your route if you choose the Royal Cork Yacht Club as I had, or you’ll be stuck on a mud bank for 12 hours, waving at passing yachts and eating toast and Gentleman’s Relish.  In such situations, of course, you pretend it is deliberate, fishing ostentatiously from the poop deck, or slopping around in the  mud scrubbing the bottom of the hull.

I had been in internet communications with some other Francis Pilothouse skippers since buying Pippin and knew that Shaun was based here, but what happened next was wholly unexpected.  Sweeping round the final bend against the dying ebb I saw the unmistakable stern of Shaun’s lovely red Francis Pilothouse.  Even more incredible he was aboard between trips to the Middle East that afternoon!  I hailed him as I held Pippin just abeam, before docking.  Later, I met him and his wife and he promised to send a man to fix my mainsail before showing me his F34PH and I him mine.  Boats like the Francis, essentially hand built, low volume, all have idiosyncrasies and mine also has the idiosyncratic set up of the solo sailor – like the cockpit bucket strung up in the cockpit ready for instant use.  They say a dog takes after its owner, or is it the other way round? Francis’ are much the same.

I had picked a busy night to arrive at the Royal Cork Yacht Club (the oldest in the World)for a Club party for 600, it was said, was soon to start.  It was an easy decision to snug down in Pippin for the night, sipping daughter Sarah’s champagne with asparagus followed by chicken curry.  It was an easy trip later down into the cavern to join Gollum.  Unsurprisingly it was strangely quiet here next morning, where I suspect some of the biggest hangovers in Eire were throbbing in various bunks, or being relieved in diverse toilets.

Talking of caverns reminded me of a story in a book by Les Powles I am reading.  I should point out that Les did 3 solo circumnavigations in a boat the size of Pippin, so not your average guy.  Anyway, in distant parts he found himself invited to join a skipper onboard his yacht moored alongside another.  Harbour boat crossing etiquette dictates that you cross another’s boat via the foredeck, not the cockpit with its open door into the cabin.  Thinking no one was aboard and encumbered with gifts of hair restorer, Les staggered across the cockpit to be met by an enormous fat Australian lady who ripped into him.

Returning several hours later, much the worse for wear, Les remembered to cross the foredeck, not noticing that the lady’s fore deck hatch was open, it being a warm night.  Down through that hatch he went like a floppy rag doll straight into the vast naked bosoms of the enormous Australian lady.  Seconds later he erupted from the hatch like a Poseidon missile from a nuclear submarine!  I do wonder what her blog might have made of the situation, but will leave that to your imagination.

Angie and I were here in Crosshaven at the RCYC in 2017 and had some lovely adventures – I remember particularly Kevin the taxi and the World’s best lemon meringue pie.  I shan’t repeat the stories – they’re on the blog.  This morning I woke knowing precisely where to find the town, a good café with delicious homemade cake and a supermarket; after all, I am practically a local.  So absorbed was I in coffee and cake and so elated at finding this month’s yachting magazines, that I returned like an excited squirrel with my swag bag over my shoulder – minus the principle item for which I had headed to town; milk.  B…….s!  But hey this is Ireland, where people smile and actually open their mouths to say hello, even if I can’t understand what comes out.  In the Club bar, I regaled the lady with my plight, she the sort whom I would happily have in my platoon as chief logistics officer.   I reckon she could have sorted the Duke of Wellington’s Army out, never mind a litre of milk for me.

Back aboard (with 2 litres of milk at no charge) it was time to tackle the fridge, which was oozing strange coloured liquids and stranger smells.  Whilst so doing, I watched a large light weight Frenchie (yacht not a person) broadside the sterns of 6 others, remaining pinned there for 30 minutes by the tide, before escaping thanks to the efforts of ½ a dozen people and miles of warps.  All down the shiny grey side of the yacht were 3 metre gauges and scratches and, no doubt, massive dents in several egos.

This set off my rant, for the incident had been nothing really to do with seamanship.  It was about being aware of your environment, noting what the tide is doing, understanding what effect it will have on your boat and countering that with a sensible plan.  And, of course, you won’t do it if you faff and tickle the throttle as that skipper had done – no; you go for it and boot that damn throttle and if that doesn’t work, you’ll make new friends as you swap insurance details and regale others later in the bar.

Talking of meeting people, whilst sorting the milk situation, I met David from the US of A, a solo sailor in from Guernsey via wherever.  I immediately forgot his name and he mine, so we repeated details and I suggested that he wouldn’t forget mine, as everyone has an uncle John and I would not forget his as I have a cousin David.  If I do I’ll check this blog.

Meanwhile I am surprised to note several dark marks on various parts of my torso, odd because I don’t bruise easily.  I am getting rather fond of them now, and no doubt they will turn from black into nice multicoloured marks.  The Willis master plan ebbs and flows at the moment in tune with my mood, which if truth be told  is a little flaky and prone to variations.  So I’ve decided no decisions on future plans for a few days, until things including my back settle down.  Then it will be anything from Plans  A-Z no doubt.

By ajay290

One comment on “Cork

  1. Great log, John. Good to hear you’ve found a safe berth for a few days to recover from bruises and back. Take care, Cap’n.

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