2017.2. Pippin to Cork – Eventually (link to Google Maps included)

I don’t like Land’s End – from the sea at least.  OK, the tides weren’t right though it wasn’t Springs, it was dark, I was tired and the wind was not a friend, but I DO NOT LIKE Land’s End I thought very grumpily, as we crawled laboriously round the deadly dark shape inch by inch.

I was North of the Longships, 23 hours out and many, many more to go.  So you close your eyes and imagine a series of little disasters, enough to test character and temper, if not sink the ship, and then there they are: 0300, a trailing sheet round the propeller, an errant topping lift heading for the clouds, an AWOL autopilot and an engine that wouldn’t start.  I am not proud of all this but it was thus.

Time for Willis Saga Mode.  STOP.  Think, prioritise and then get on with it, one by one.  One thing was for sure, I was not calling for help – sure I was knackered, sure we were in trouble with Land’s End looming to starboard, but I was not going to die or the boat sink.  Time for Plan B – or was it C? -, get sailing, gently, head for Penzance and ask for assistance to enter the harbour.  So began our slow retreat, getting down and dirty with Land’s End yet again after so little  ground had been won with so much effort – all part of growing up and being British, I thought grumpily.

Later I was amused to  note that Churchill was showing in the Penzance flee-pit, as we finally got towed through Penzance Lock by the laid back harbour crew.  Bulldog spirit.  Anyway, I like Penzance and know now that the water hoses and electricity points are all too far away to be of use to most, but that’s part of its charm.  You can still turn the showers up as hot as you like too, for those dull twins Elf & Safety remain slow to arrive in these parts.

Penrith Engineering Works were too  busy to assist with Pippin’s woes, but I managed to get the engine start switch to work – most times – and the autopilot responded to a good bleed of its hydraulics so I would go at midnight.  And so we did, again slogging round that hated headland in absolute inky blackness, lights for company, inching North.

The autopilot – he doesn’t yet deserve a name – was an unreliable trooper, so desperate measures were required and to the rescue galloped Hercule.  A couple of hours playing with sails and engine, for the wind barely ruffled the ensign, and we reached a compromise.  He would steer, bossily as ever, with sails pulling and the engine running at 1,650 rpm.  This was just as well, as I had 30 hours to go, the wind barely topped 5 m.p.h and I had to rest at some point.  Tackling the autopilot, I brought him back from leave as dolphins played yonder, with a double hydraulic bleed and some choice language and then managed to rest.

Lest I hear the first tuts tuts of criticism and references to COLREGS, I should explain that I had set the radar to warn me of anything entering my 360 degree guard zone, so in theory I would be at the helm in time to avert disaster, or salute as I went down with the ship.

Pitch black, disorientated, fuzzy with sleep and aware that I had lost a midnight hour for the autopilot was AWOL again.  With the light wind now heading us and Cork beckoning many hours away, I reached a compromise with the autopilot, like a Cpl with a bolshy squaddie.  I also discovered the cross track error alarm, which added to the radar’s guard zone, doubled security, just as well for visibility in the grey dawn was less than a mile.


Kinsale Oil & Gas Installation

As the sun burned off the fog, the Kinsale oil and gas installation with its attendant guard ship hove into view and the wind increased to 12 m.p.h from ENE, allowing Pippin to stretch her creamy wings and fly to Cork at an easy 6.5 knots.  Perhaps she too was keen for journey’s end.


Lovely Rocna


Hercule Heads us for Cork


And so we came into Cork, where I headed for the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest in the World and one of the most famous, but very delightfully laid back and under stated, so Irish.   It amused me that the Club attendant beckoned me in to tie up alongside a very trim, large Guernsey yacht, and I know that my lack of posh jacket and tie will pass without comment or criticism.

Further episodes can be found in the Archives.

You can see the approximate route by pasting the following link into your browser: