FROM 2-10. Falmouth-Crosshaven-Fastnet

A gale in the Celtic sea

Sounds romantic doesn't it? Robert Louis Stephenson or Joseph Conrad. Let me tell you, it ain't!
This should have been sent from Berri somewhere in the Celtic Sea but I realised that I did not have the direct addresses for the blog with me. Senility marches on…
So it is coming to you from the Crosshaven Lifeboat station. We arrived yesterday morning at about 0600 after a bit of a headbang from half way – 30+ knots, slap diggety bang on the nose and a nasty short steep sea that even berri could not bash into any better than about 60 degrees off the wind. Having a furler instead of a real sail up the front doesn't help either – as soon as it is rolled in a few turns it loses its shape completely and becomes a potato sack so it won't point and you know the rest.
Back under the stars at night – I was having a crisis of confidence based on weeks of inertia and thinking about Russia and the options for getting back to Oz – the dreads of lethargy corroding the innards. But back in harness and under the stars and it all washes away. One needs that buzz of incipient fear all the time just to stay alert and avoid the dreaded complacency, but it doesn't have to be an obsession. And the clouds – classic low pressure system and I think we were quite close to the centre – coming into the Irish coast, there were ceramic knifeblades, hard edged frisbees, dolphins and whales (really, for the imaginitive! Just like a Rorschacht – Douglas Adams would have approved), knotted twisted umbilicals, herrinbone patterned snakes and the usual high altitude mares tails in glowing gold and white under and through the woolly haze that seemed to be incandescent through it all. Wonderful!
But a great workout for Berri. We gave the engine and gearbox lots of work to do and, except from some unusual noises from, we think, the gearbox, it worked really well. I think that the extra horses in the engine will allow me to add a degree or so of pitch to the prop too, so on the Falmouth to-do list. The mast stayed up, the new radar reflector stayed attached to the mast, the radios and Sailmail worked, some glitches with the power to the GPS and – real doozy this one – I'd forgotten that the wonderful LED masthead lights we have interfere with the VHF radio. The light fitting is inches away from the VHF stub antenna – anyone got any suggestions? Our work around is to use the emergency nav lights if we need to use the VHF at night and to keep a hand held wasterproof VHF in the cockpit. Kevvo worked as expected – poor old geriatric didn't like the Celtic slop though and we used the electric autopilot as well. And alongside, we met the Irish Navy's training yacht with a crew of young professional navy people and some young trainees. The skipper gave us their spare (and for them, too small) Irish ensign for our courtesy flag, so Berri is once again properly dressed and in a new outfit.
But it took us an extra day to get here. I'm told the Lifeboat was going to meet us at the harbour entrance but without the VHF masthead antenna, we could not hear Valencia so they could not ask us for our position. Pity – would have been huge fun to be escorted into town! As it is, we are alongside the Lifeboat Station being looked after right royally. I think the crews were tickled to hear about the general Berri madness.
I have to sing for my supper at the Royal Cork YC and the Lifeboat people next Thursday – another stoush with powerpoint and microsoft to get it all to work – and we intend to leave the following day.
Pete has gone to Dublin to catch up with family and friends and I'm doing the necessary sort after a messy trip and meeting some lovely people. Photos to follow if i can download the camera.
There will be a new blog address soon unless we can get access to the old passwords for the Down Under Mars site. If it all works, you should be able to email us indirectly and have your email forwarded but there will not be a website as in the earlier voyages.

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