22 June 2008
Sometimes the weather just gets in the way! We have been waiting out a nasty bout of strong winds and torrential rain for a few days, along with an American yacht and a French yacht, a 30 footer with either five or six people aboard! Each day, whatever the weather, it seems, a sea-angling charter boat goes out from our pontoon - that was it pictured behind the heron - carrying up to twelve happy chappies with rods, reels and assorted fishing gear. They go out around nine, and always return by six. As yet we haven't seen any women sea anglers. I wonder if there are any, or is this an exclusively male sport, here anyway? We sometimes dangle fishing gear off the back of the boat when we are sailing, and catch the odd mackerel, but I now have a book which might just enlighten me as to how to try to catch something else, maybe the odd cod!
Yesterday was dreich, low cloud forming mist in the vast Cork harbour, which we can normally just glimpse from here. During the night in my wakeful moments I had wondered what a distant hooting sound was. In the morning we checked the almanac, and found that the Roches Point lighthouse hoots once every 30 seconds. Out with the stopwatch, yep, that's what it was! As the morning went on we heard ships' horns as well as they entered and left the harbour. Later on I fired up the AIS software on the PC, and it showed two large ships moving in the harbour. Automatic Identification is a great invention, I think, certainly for detecting ships bigger than 300 tonnes. It doesn't help with fishing boats, but radar can help there.
So after a morning of sitting in the cockpit under the totally waterproof canopy (thank goodness), reading or doing sudoku, I suggested a walk. So we got on the waterproof trousers and jackets and headed off along a former railway track upriver towards Carrigaline, the next town to Crosshaven. The track was decorated from time to time with small signals, benches, and two actual pieces of track. Apparently it only ran from 1904 to 1932, only, from Cork to Crosshaven. The rain held off for a bit, and we walked all 10 kilometres in reasonable time. The only mistake we made was to do the walk in our sailing boots, not our walking boots, and feet got a bit tired. So we piled into the Gaelic Bar in Carrigaline and ordered fish and chips for lunch. My glasses chose that moment to fall apart, and Ju coped wonderfully by taking all the bits up the street to an optician's to get them fixed, while I stayed in the pub, myopically waiting for the food, and sipping a pint of Beamish. Ju returned triumphant just in time for the plaice and chips to arrive, and I could see to eat them!
We got the next bus back, and listened to endless securite, small craft warnings and gale warnings, as a low passes over Ireland and the UK. Then there was a brief rescue incident as the coastguard reported a boat in difficulties off Crosshaven, and the local RIB lifeboat went out and towed them safely back to the fish pier.
I have been reading two books by Tim Severin, The Ulysses Voyage and The Brendan Voyage. These are both a good read, interesting on an academic and on an adventure level at the same time. As I was reading the second of these, I discovered to my amazement that the leather-covered curragh 'Brendan' had been built in the boatyard here, in Crosshaven, in the 70s. There was even a photo in the book of launch day, featuring a white house in the background, on the opposite shore to the boatyard. I climbed out into the cockpit to show the photo to Ju, and there was that house, on the shore nearby. What a coincidence that I should be reading that book here! If you could see our onboard library you would see what I mean. We have about thirty to forty books aboard at any one time, regularly swapping them in charity shops for others, or buying new.
So. no sailing to report, yet this is all part of living on a boat, staying put for a while. Just as well we enjoy our enforced leisure! Looks like we'll be here for a few days yet.
Yesterday was a very wet cold rainy day, so we popped off in the bus to Kinsale, to have a look at this famous yacht haven and gourmet centre. Advertised on RTE1 as '58 places to eat in Kinsale - so you can't try them all in a weekend!'
The bus journey was long and in two stages, into Cork and out again. No direct bus. I'm glad I'm not driving a car in Ireland, all the roads and streets are incredibly narrow, fringed with buildings or trees, hedges right to the edge of the tarmac. A pedestrian just has nowhere to walk, and a cyclist would have problems too.
The Triangle Race boats were in Kinsale after their 240 mile first leg from Torquay. They were rafted up three deep on the pontoon, with many large colourful banners flying in the rainy breeze. We paid a short visit to Kinsale Yacht Club, cased the harbour for possible later arrival on our further travels, and repaired to a pub for a nice if overpriced pub lunch.
Somewhat underwhelmed by Kinsale, which fair dos probably wasn't at its best in stair-rod downpour, full of multinational tourists in polythene waterproofs and expressions of disgust! We spent a little time in an internet ccafe then caught the bus(es) back to the boat. I had got the call from the Volvo agent, however, and the part would be in my hands tomorrow!
Today dawned fair, but there were soon clouds again in the sky, and showers punctuating the otherwise sunny day. I stripped the boat of dirty clothes, towels, bedding etc, and headed for the laundry we had spotted up the street. Some marinas have commercial-sized washing machines and driers, this isn't one of them. It's only flaw, I may add, as it does have broadband.
Imagine my delight when the part arrived. I shot down to the boat, got out the screwdriver, and popped it into place. With bated breath we started the engine. Vera was in good voice, unfortunately so was the water alarm whistle and now the damn red light was not only on, it was flashing on and off in an alarming manner. *@@£**$!, we both said, several times. Our new part was just reflecting the existing fault more accurately! I headed for the cavalry, and a little while later an engineer called Ron came down and worked on the engine for a while, including running it hard in gear against the mooring ropes for about twenty minutes. But he had finally tracked down the fault, fixed it, and spotted something else that needed fixing, and fixed that. All within half an hour. Not only that, but on request he explained to me what had caused the fault, a dodgy multiplug attached to the engine, which sends all the sensor and gauge information to the alarm system. Two pins within the connection had been touching each other, shorting out and causing this wheen of grief to us!
Vera is again in perfect health, and not crying wolf any more!
One of the effects of being on the boat now for five weeks, is that my waistbands are somehow roomier! Recommended dietary plan, go sailing and lose weight! Combine that with our pet theory of 'Doctor Boat', how being on the boat can get rid of sore backs, stiff necks, bumps and bruises, because you get fit just keeping balance and moving around, and just don't notice things that would make you feel proper poorly or sorry for yourself at home!
Now we have a clean bill of health on the engine, we can think about our next moves, further west we think. Watch this space - but if nothing appears, it's because internet access is difficult or impossible. Keep the comments coming!
Who was it who defined cruising in a yacht as 'repairing your boat in exotic places'? The saga of our wonky engine alarms took an exciting twist yesterday, when the guy from Salve Marine here in Crosshaven replaced the water sensor in the engine, and we sat for a while tied safely to the pontoon with the engine roaring along in gear at 2000 revs, only to see the same three symptoms exhibited again - no temperature gauge reading, dim red water warning light, and small insistent piping of the whistle alarm! So back he came and did some tests, only to announce that the water red warning light was now monitoring the alternator! So we decided it was the black box in the warning panel, took it out and found it had a nasty crack in the casing, which has probably fried the electronics in there. So a new part has now been ordered from Volvo, and will arrive in another two to three days, we hope. Pauline, the lady at the Volvo agent's in Kilmore Quay, is probably fed up hearing from me now, I've phoned her so often lately!
Crosshaven is a nice place to be, thank goodness, as tomorrow we will have been here a week already. We have done some local walks, and watched the considerable yacht and dinghy traffic here with interest. The guy who runs the place is really helpful, and there is a terrific restaurant on site serving Fusion cuisine. Turns out it is run by his two daughters.
A large French boat was here for a few days over the weekend, and skipped off without paying, so we were told. This is not a rare occurrence among French boats here, apparently, and I confess I was rather shocked by this.
Later on yesterday a fisherman came by and asked if we would like some mackerel, which were so fresh they were still twitching! We gratefully accepted, got out our smoker, set it up on the dock and hot-smoked the four fish, once Ju had gutted them.
Today we got up early and got out the Wonderwash for the first time, as the marina doesn't have laundry facilities. It's a strange little egg-shaped device on a stand, with a handle you turn to tumble it and the washing over and over in a vacuum, and that magically cleans the clothes! We also use three funny plastic balls full of granuly-stuff instead of washing liquid or powder. It works really well, and makes rinsing a doddle. We set it up on the pontoon, and did a great job of washing our smalls and socks, and a couple of teatowels. Hanging them up in the wind got them dry reasonably quickly, although we did have to move fast when the rain came on!
After all those exertions, Ju made smoked mackerel pate which we had for lunch with toast and pitta bread. Truly the life of Riley continues. Watch this space for the next episode of Vera's revenge.
By the way, the search for Mrs Doyle continues, although we may have found a clone for Bishop Brennan. We were standing at the bus stop waiting for the bus to Cork last week, when a woman came along and we got on the chat. Just then I noticed a priest drive by very slowly and deliberately, much to the annoyance of following traffic. I made some comment about him driving along in contemplative mood, and the woman suddenly launched into a tirade about him. 'He's a bore,' she announced,' always on about how he's been to America - who cares? - and about his brother. Our parish priest is away in Lourdes at the moment and we're stuck with this one, well me, I'm not going back to mass, until he comes back!' Wow!
Today the weather is a little different, more wind and some rain. We have led a charmed life on our trip so far with great weather, although not much wind except on a couple of trips so far.
Here's a nice photo of a tame heron, who scavenges from fishing boats, and fishes off the pontoon.