Castletownbere, 17th July 2011

I had two days in Falmouth mainly sanding and varnishing the interior of the boat, but I had time to visit the maritime museum which is very impressive. It has a great collection of different boats from different places in the world and a really interesting exhibit on lighthouses, how they work and were manned. I also had to do my laundry and provision for the next crew, Ronnie and Glenis Kingston. But I had time to catch up with Gordon and Anne who I hadn't seen since Bilbao, so many years ago. Since they have been liveaboards for so many years, they had plenty of stories to tell and advice to pass on to a novice like me.

Ronnie and Glenis had a chance to meet Gordon and Anne at dinner on sunday, the night they arrived. But the next day, with a forecast for light winds, we headed to the Scillies, 10 hours away. We motored on calm seas but managed to sail the second half of the trip. We aimed to anchor in Tean Sound off St Martin's Island, one I hadn't visited before. But on arriving, the anchorage wasn't great as a slight swell was making it rolly. The forecast was for more wind on tuesday evening and into wednesday. We anchored in St Helen's Pool, a deep water pool surrounded by rocky islets but it too became rolly at high water so the next morning we motored the short distance around to New Grimsby Sound, where Derrick and I had ridden out a blow last time I was in the Scillies. The swell was already getting up by then but the weather was sunny as we went ashore for a stroll around Bryher and a pleasant dinner on board.

When I awoke in the morning I found out that Ronnie had had an awful night, with vomiting and serious dizziness since midnight. I suggested getting him ashore for a bit of fresh air. We dinghied across to Tresco and he seemed to improve, though he was not very comfortable in the dinghy on the way over. We came back for lunch but it became apparent that he was very poorly. With the forecast winds up to gale force, the boat was not where he should be so we called and got rooms in the pub for the night and I mentioned to them that we might need medical help. Now, being an Island, I wasn't sure if there was a doctor. But the hotel phoned the hospital on the main island of St Mary's who got the nurse and later a doctor to talk to him. The doctor sent a care assistant who lives on the island over with medication for vertigo. By morning he still wasn't well so Ronnie went by ferry to St Mary's, the main island the see the doctor. After treatment, he returned and we agreed that he would stay in the pub for a few nights until he felt well enough to decide if he would continue on to Ireland.

So I stayed alone on board that night and was awoken at 4am to find a nearby boat hitting the back of Suckin' Diesel. A combination of a light boat, strong tidal currents and gusting winds caused the problem. My dinghy rope had got caught over their mooring line and the boats banged until the dinghy was released. In the morning I found the top of the Hydrovane wind steering system broken and a navigation light broken off. The light was easily sorted but I had to email Hydrovane for new parts. Suffice to say, I wouldn't have the Hydrovane back in action in the near future. The other boat was a French light boat which suffered more damage, with bent railings and broken bow roller and navigation lights. Again, I was lucky that SD is such a solid well built lump.

By now Ronnie was feeling better bit by bit and after a few days of relaxation and walks around Tresco and Bryher, he felt steady enough on his feet to come back to the boat for the night. We had dinner with a French crew of another boat and he pronounced himself fit to sail with us to Ireland. Monday morning was windless as we did final shopping and got organised to head off. The forecast was for light winds until the early hours, but more importantly for Ronnie, little swell. So we prepared to burn fuel to get to Ireland as comfortably as possible. When we got out, we found glassy seas and a slight swell on the nose which meant that sleeping wasn't easy but the motion of the boat wasn't too bad. We motored on in sunshine and had very little traffic to contend with. 12 hours in, the seas became more comfortable and we were able to sail the last 5 hours until making landfall on Clear Island near Baltimore in West Cork.

After a snooze we went ashore and found the warm settled weather had brought the crowds to the island. After an ice cream, we had a long stroll and none were worse for wear after the long trip. The anchorage was very peaceful and quiet as we had dinner in the cockpit watching the sun go down over the cliffs. In the morning we motored on glassy seas and bright sunshine to Schull, a new destination for me. The anchorage was full of mooring buoys but still had room for us to anchor off not too far from the peir. We found a village with a definite French influence, including a patisserie/chocolaterie and a creperie. Naturally we did some sampling !!

The following morning was a little overcast, heralding the arrival of a change in the weather. After a brief spin ashore, we sailed out into a light breeze. We tacked our way slowly down Long Island Sound and out between the islands before dropping anchor in Crookhaven. Once ashore, we were able to find showers and go for a long walk before a well deserved pint of Murphys. It had been years since I had been in Crook and the place was buzzing. Lots of little people doing dinghy sailing and mammies there in their trendy cars to pick up their kids. Anyway, we sat overlooking the water enjoying our drink and all was good with the world.

The next morning with a forecast for a little more wind, we left Crookhaven and found force 4 outside and uncomfortable wind against tide conditions for the first 4 miles to Mizen Head. On rounding the headland, the wind died a bit so we motored on rolly seas towards Castletownbere, before tying up alongside Carmona, the large trawler owned by Donal's family. It was the end to a long trip for Ronnie and Glenis. Packed full of events, some real gems in the Scillies, and some pleasant West cork days following landfall. Now all we had to do was tidy up the boat before Anne arrived for the weekend.