Friday, October 20, 2017

Isles of Scilly

We woke up the next morning to a beautiful day.  It was quite unusual for this time of year in the Isles of Scilly.  It was warm, the sun was shining and we were secure on our mooring.

We took Kala to the beach for a swim then for a long hike and explored St Mary's.  Since it was Sunday, quite a few shops were closed but there was a pub, a bakery and wifi available.  A charming little island which seems very busy in the summer but since we were approaching the fall, it was quieter than usual, much to our delight.

It was interesting to switch gears from Ireland to the UK.  Money was in Pounds, not Euros, the beers were different (except Guiness - everyone has Guiness on tap - everywhere), the accents were different and the vocabulary changed, a wee bit.  We were super excited to experience the UK.
Terrapin has arrived in the United Kingdom
This is my dinghy.  Have you seen my dinghy?  I love my dinghy - a -lot!!
The village of St Mary's
Such a variety of boats in the anchorage.  Terrapin in the back (center of photo with tallest mast)
All's well when there's a beach
Beautiful ketch careening on low tide.
Let's go this way!
Enjoying the sunshine!
Salty ol' pub
RNLI Lifeboat - I imagine the Celtic Sea can be nasty and these are the guys who come rescue boats - all volunteers
"Take me to my boat - faster, please"
Cool jellies washed ashore

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cork To Scilly

Usually when we are cruising, we stop in a place, meet the locals, get the lay of the land, have an adventure or two, work on boat projects and then we're ready to go on to the next location.  Both Canada and Ireland left us wanting to explore where we were instead of moving on.  It was sad to start looking for a weather window for the 200nm passage to the UK.  Unfortunately, Ireland only allows US citizens to stay for 90 days, which would put us in the middle of winter.  We unsuccessfully tried to convince the Irish government to give us a long stay visa but our efforts were futile, so we were off to England.

We left Crosshaven on a beautiful Friday morning, against superstition (sailors believe it is bad luck to leave on a Friday).  Our plan was to see how timing played out when we were near the Isles of Scilly, about 40 miles south of Lands End, the southernmost tip of England.  If we could arrive in Falmouth in daylight, we would keep going past the Scilly's but if timing was off and we needed to either slow down or speed up to arrive during the day, and get the tide timed correctly, we would stop overnight at Hugh Town on St. Mary's, one of the Scilly Islands.

The wind was directly behind us which meant the two of us would need to pole out the jib and go wing-on-wing.  With the current behind us as well, and the wind over 25 knots, we were cruising.  At one point I saw 11.5 kts SOG (speed over ground).  Considering we usually average about 6kts, that was really fast for Terrapin!

By sunrise, we reached the traffic separation zones around the Isles of Scilly.  These are areas on the chart designated where there is so much traffic that cargo ships going in opposite directions are "spaced" - comparable to highway lanes on an interstate.  However, small, private boats, are only allowed to cross these zones at 90 degrees - images of the Atari game "Frogger" come to mind.  These lanes are very strict and managed closely.  Nevertheless, as we crossed the traffic separation zone it was clear we had gone too fast that in order to arrive at Falmouth in daylight, considering tides, we would have to slow the boat down quite a bit - or stop.  So, why not stop?

We emailed the harbor master in St Mary's who advised us that we were welcome to pick up a green mooring ball.  We navigated our way into the harbor, found the green buoy and realized that the shackle we would moor to was ON the ball.  With 7' of freeboard, it would be hard for me to reach - and don't ye know it was blowing 25 kts (o'carse it was).  No problem, I picked up a nylon line to temporarily secure the boat and then together Baxter and I moored the line properly once the dinghy was in the water.

Since this was our first arrival in the UK on the boat, we contacted Customs to report our entry and declare that "yes, we have a dog on board".  We answered the appropriate questions, provided the requested information and three phone calls later, we were cleared in to the UK.  We took the dinghy down and we were off to shore for a celebratory pint!
Quick pit stop for diesel before heading out
Goodbye Ireland - we will be back soon!
Beautiful day for a sail
These oil rigs in the middle of the Celtic Sea kinda look like the Tivo Guy.
Sunrises never get old.  The wonder of what the day will bring is captivating
Wing-on-Wing.  We take the Spinnaker pole (the big metal pole that is horizontal on the left) and lower the top of it down the mast and then attach the bottom of it to the clew (end of the sail).  That keeps the headsail from slamming as the wind is behind the boat.  Then we move the boom (the white metal horizontal piece on the right that holds the mainsail) and move it to the opposite side of the headsail so as not to block the wind from the headsail.  That way, both sails are filled by the wind from behind.  The hard part with two people is attaching the spinnaker pole to the headsail, but it's manageable.

Traffic Separation Scheme
Geographical orientation of Isles of Scilly to Cork and Falmouth
Kala doesn't care what else happens in the world except that she goes for a dinghy ride, and the faster the better.  First time dinghy has been off the deck since we left Newfoundland in July.
Securely attached to the mooring in St Mary's, Isles of Scilly

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Euro Driving

It has been an interesting experience driving in Europe and the UK.  Beyond the obvious of Baxter in the right seat and driving on the left with the stick shift on the left.  Other mentionable considerations include the fact there are very few lights - most intersections are managed with round-a-bouts, the signs are not always easy to figure out as you drive past at 60kph, lane marks are different, and everyone else understands except you.  It took us about 6 hours to manage the most important aspects and then we were ready to go.  By time we had driven around Ireland, I dare say we blended in with the masses.
The adventure begins
Different view than we're used to in the states
One should really pay attention here, apparently
Such a nice way to say "Yield"
Do not pass...which is on the right, not left
Calm traffic
Our little Clio was lots of fun!



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Irish Weather

We have lived many places and sailed many others and just about everywhere we go, the locals claim they have the strangest weather.  The typical saying is "You now what they say in (fill in location)...if you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change".  A typical response is subtle laugh and remembering they said that in the last place we visited.

However, Ireland can claim that as their own and there is no humor in it and you can believe they may have even originated the saying.  On any given day, it can start as dry and sunny and 18 degrees (58 F) but within 20 minutes, it will be a downpour and the temp will have dropped to 11 degrees (50 F) and the wind blowing 20 kts.  You can hardly believe it is the same day as it started out to be.  Within 20 minutes, there will be a rainbow and the sun is shining again.

It is never a good idea to 1) Leave hatches on the boat open - like ever 2) Leave the boat without a coat that has a hood and is waterproof 3) Leave the boat without something that can be taken off when it gets too hot 4) Not own a dehumidifier (humidity is 85%) 4) Never - again, ever- wear slippery flip flops.

Rain
Rain and fog
Rain brings rainbows
Sunshine
Half and half - luck of the draw what you'll get that hour

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Drake's Pool

While we waited for a weather window, we started to get into a routine of going for a run in the morning and trying to fend off the pounds we had gained eating Irish breakfasts and drinking lots of pints.

On Baxter’s run, he came across Drake’s pool.  This is the very site where Sir Francis Drake hid from the Spanish in 1589.  The bend in the river would allow him to remain hidden as the enemies sailed past into Cork.  When the Spanish left, Drake could wait until they were gone before sailing back down the river.  

Very little has changed on this river except the manmade things around it.  Sailing Terrapin in these places that have thousands of years of history builds perspective and we feel attached to both the stories and the places.
Drake's Pool
Peaceful anchorage

Low tide

Looking towards Crosshaven

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Cronin's Shackles

At Cronin's Pub in Crosshaven, they have a visitor's book where sailors are encouraged to sign and record memories from a passage.  The signing is assigned a number and the sailor provides a shackle which is hung from the rafters with your assigned number.  Guests in Cronin's can look at the shackles and compare to the visitor's book to see the associated adventure.  I would call it something like pages in history.

Flipping through the visitor's book
Some of the previous visitors
Terrapin's contribution
Our shackle - #99

Monday, October 2, 2017

Back To The Real World

Now that our land-cation was over, it was back to focusing on sailing.  Our wind instrument had been having issues off and on and Baxter had nursed it along as far as he could.  At this point, it would just need to be replaced.  It is not a critical piece of equipment, but it is nice to know the windspeed on the mast so you can see trends in increases and decreases.  We had ordered a new one before we had left on our trip around Ireland and picked it up on our way back.  Now for the install.  Unfortunately, the winds had picked up so we waited for a calmish day and I winched Baxter up the mast.  Fortunately, it was plug and play so he unplugged the old and plugged in the new and seemed to be doing a great job.  It’s very nice when the easy fix is the answer.

We also had a couple days to enjoy some of our Crosshaven fave’s like the pints at Cronin’s and the breakfast at Grumpy and Wise.  It would be sad to leave this little town and this wonderful country.  We were hoping the UK would be just as nice.
RCYC from 70ft
View of Crosshaven and our windex (the arrow on the mast on the right)
New wind instrument installed - these cups spin in the wind and translate it to our instrument in the cockpit, including speed and direction. 
View of Baxter from the deck (hiding under the dodger so nothing falls on my head and kills me - but don't worry, he is locked off so the line won't slip)
New instrument working well
Best breakfast in Crosshaven, actually in all of Ireland!
The Velvetones at Cronin's

Friday, September 29, 2017

Cliffs of Moher and Back Again

Bright and early, we meandered our way to the Cliffs of Moher.  We were doing our best to avoid the buses that we knew would be arriving so we skipped breakfast to get an early start - we can always eat later.  

The light at dawn was beautiful as it reflected off the top of the cliffs and the wind blew the spray from the ocean against the rocks for the perfect setting.  The views and the colors were indescribable and we can’t help but hope that every person alive has the opportunity to experience such natural beauty on earth and appreciate it as a gift that we should cherish.  I avoid embellishment, and if you were to stand in these places, you too might agree with my choice of words.  Our pictures are only cropped, there are no color filters and very few adjustments - this is how we saw these landscapes and we are so grateful for the opportunity to do so.  

As we steered the Clio (our rental) back towards Crosshaven, we took a detour through the Cannemara National Park.  We stopped in Clifden to pick up a picnic and then found a boggy marsh for our lunchtime setting.  That is what is so nice about Ireland, you can stop just about anywhere and there is a great view - whether it’s endless fields of green clovers or a seaside landscape or an ancient abbey, your eyes won’t be bored.

Our trip around Ireland encompassed about 2300 KM and almost two weeks total.  We found Ireland to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  Every single person we met was amazingly nice and outgoing, offering advice or just a friendly chat.  We always felt welcomed to the point we didn’t want to leave.

But now that we were back on Terrapin, we were planning our trip across the Celtic Sea to the UK as soon as the next weather window.

Lunch time
Islands in the lake
Just another castle by the side of the road
The Burren
More of the Burren

Always following in Baxter's footsteps
A windy day in Western Ireland
The Master
Cliffs of Moher
Beautiful light at sunrise

Sheer cliffs
Bonratty castle - history includes the DeClaire's (my Grandfather's ancestors) - Unfortunately, we couldn't go inside because we had a dog with us.
Our 2,300 km route around Ireland.  The black line on the top right is Northern Ireland border.  We loved every single minute and would do it all again in a heartbeat!