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A little boat and a big ocean.
Living the dream!!!!!!
04/04/2012, 53’17,44N, 06’07.768W - 53’19.721N, 06’08.230W

In his life in business, when trying to sell value, Iain often used the adage 'Cheap does not mean value'. This was definitely the case with our very cheap, read free, mooring in the outer harbour in Dun Laoghaire. The mooring had many qualities but principle amongst them were not access to shore in a F9 and most importantly stability. It was a mooring that would be great to visit, for very short periods, but not to live on. We had however gratefully grabbed the offer of a free mooring with both hands and it was all was good until the breeze really picked up. The met office issued a severe gale warning situated exactly where we were sat and in transit with the centre of the gale and the harbour wall was us. Not ideal.

The mooring was so rolly that Iain was actually feeling sea sick even though we were not underway and poor Ruffian was feeling each set of waves as they were running across seas to the wind. Ruffian did find a sort of rhythm but each bar ended with a snatch of lines loading on cleats and a sharp inhalation of breath by both Fiona and Iain. Ultimately this was not fun, not part of the plan and certainly not in the brochure. We also had our home to consider and an expensive marina for a couple of nights is cheaper than picking bits of you home off a breakwater after she's broken loose. It was just a pity that we only really realised this after a night of no sleep, massive stress and having to endure sleeping in the saloon as the forepeak was too noisy and bouncy to even get into.

We were supposed to be on 'holiday' after all and living on a boat is not supposed to be some sort of endurance test. We therefore succumbed to the sheltered accommodation of the marina, even after all the disparaging remarks that were made in the blog previously. So we went to slip lines in 40knots+ of wind. This is not an easy task when the wire mooring line is welded around the windless and sets of waves are coming crashing in through the harbour wall. Once off the mooring things didn't get any more fun or easier. Fiona had to manoeuvre Ruffian across the breeze and waves, put in 2 gybes and park downwind, whilst Iain clambered around the deck getting fenders and warps ready for the impending parking. Fiona excelled and Ruffian came to a happy halt alongside a finger pontoon where the waves and swell are abated but the breeze is still howling at gale force at the top of the mast.

The wind is set to be at gale force strength, and in the north for the next few days and the waves seen from both Ruffian and the harbour wall are enormous and scary. We will therefore not be going anywhere by boat in the short term.

That'll be quite windy then.
That'll be quite windy then.

and scarily wavey.
and scarily wavey.

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04/06/2012 | john bolt
well done to get alongside in that wind shades of ebba at hly island when fiona was slightly younger
Musical Chairs.
04/02/2012, 52’47.739N, 06’08.774W - 53’17,44N, 06’07.768W

Arklow, although not the centre of yachting for the east coast of Ireland, proved to be full of really friendly people and most importantly a really, really friendly assistant harbour master. The assistant harbour master was so friendly in fact that after chewing the fat with him and telling him our story, he let us stay for free for the weekend on his pontoon and we even managed to plug into shore power for the first time in nearly a month.

Just imagine life without things with 3 pin plugs and where every piece of electricity that you use is monitored and needs to be replaced by some means. This really makes you think about what you use and if you really need to use it, we have therefore, for the past month been very green and have had a very low carbon footprint. That was all to change when we had free run of the magic of electricity. We charged batteries, laptops, camera's, phones, created hot water and plugged in the most luxurious appliance, a heater. Wow what a difference having a dry warm boat makes.

Arklow also provided us with a pontoon to help get the leaks fixed that we had in the calorfier, the diesel leak and holding tank and also sort the steering. All the jobs were pretty easy but every job requires lockers to be emptied and the boat being taken to bits. We seem to spend our lives filling and emptying lockers. Whilst on the pontoon we also found and fettled a barge board so we are now able to go alongside remote harbour walls in Scotland. Somewhat of a relief.

We have found, as we go north that the architecture of the towns is reflected in their showering facilities. In the south coast it's all glass frontages and clean lines, ditto the showers; in Dartmouth the buildings are twee and sweet, ditto the showers; so what happens when the town seems to be covered in pebbledash? Yep you guessed it, peddledash inside the showers. This is one place you don't want to have a shower and lean against the wall by accident. Imagine explaining those graze marks to the doctor?

The comfort of Arklow had to end at some point and ended abruptly at midnight on Sunday when we had to get up when lots of people were still up and partying. We seem to be driven not by the clock anymore, like those at work or play, but by the ever relenting tide and weather that we either need to catch or miss. And so it was that we rose at midnight out of our warm and comfy bed to make it to Dun Laoghaire before the big north east winds set in tomorrow afternoon. We motored throughout the night in flat seas with no breeze and arrived happily in a very sheltered and welcoming harbour.

What then followed was a day of moving the boat. We tied up at some pontoons in a corner of the harbour and within minutes were told by marina staff to move into marina; we were also informed that they would charge €40 per day for the privilege of sitting in this soulless haven of unfulfilled dreams. Instead we moved to the National Irish Yacht Club, which had more convivial surrounding but was still really expensive. This is when lady luck struck. As is our way now, we started chatting to a chap who owned a Nicholson 32 called Zuben'ubi. After talking about our friends within the Nicholson Association, ie Jason Poole the class secretary and our experience sailing them, he invited us to stay on a mooring behind his boat. After a couple of phone calls we were confirmed as Honorary Yacht Club Members for the duration and dispatched to a free sheltered mooring in the harbour.

Ireland's people again never cease to amaze us with the friendly manner and their willingness to help with no recompense requested. We are both big believers in good Karma and think we must start giving back soon.

There are some pretty big winds forecasted for the next couple of days so we'll hold out here and be amused by the entertainments found in southern Ireland's capital, Dublin until it's time again to push north.

Its not all play
Its not all play.

Its not all play.

Fishing boatrs at sunset.
Fishing boatrs at sunset.

Racheal, the autopilot, doing her business.
Racheal, the autopilot, doing her business.

Thanks for Raphe on Zuben'ubi.
Thanks for Raphe on Zuben'ubi.

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Whose idea was it to go north?
03/30/2012, 52’09.054N, 06’59.402W - 52’47.739N, 06’08.774W

If you have to choose a famous person to name a sail after, the trip from Templeton would be named after John Major. It was John Major in every way, grey, boring, cold, lots of (u)turns and went on rather too long. So this blog doesn't find us in the industrial surroundings of Holyhead or the entertainment centre of Dublin, we are in what was the centre of Irish shipping, the well known (not) town of Arklow.

We decided to put into Arklow for a number of reasons, not only, what wind there was, was truly on the nose to anywhere in north wales, but we also had a couple of fears. It's funny that when you sail other peoples boats if there is a problem you say something like 'Hmm. Bit of diesel in the bilges.' or 'Tiller's got some play in it.' and you don't think about it again. When it's your own home and the centre of your world, these things play on your mind and you start playing the 'What If' scenario game. What if that 'funny feeling' stops us being able to steer? What if the little diesel leak develops into a deluge? Primarily it was because we wanted to get these problems sorted that we stopped short.

Having said that we stopped short, we still clocked some 80 miles at sea and saw some remarkable sights and had some new experiences. When in the Solent the Coast Guard reports navigational dangers you think of tanker collisions in the English Channel or maybe a light not working on a mark. Today we heard about the usual sort of lost fishing gear but there were also reports of a dead whale directly in our path. To make matters more eerie as we started to get close to it's reported position the pod of dolphins that had been playing and frolicking with us all morning disappeared. Would we see the horrible sight? I am pleased to report that we didn't and we sailed west and north in what breeze we had.

The day was also cold, cold, cold. We have turned into fanatic weather watchers. In Templeton Bay there was not a cloud in the sky, this meant that all the heat disappeared in the night. Come morning all that coldness was sealed in by more cloud and it was freezing out on the water. To make matters worse we could see in the afternoon that again the cloud was clearing meaning we would have a very, very cold night at sea. By 4 pm Fiona had on all the kit she owned, thermal pants, thermal tights, thermal leggings, 2 pairs of socks, musto salopettes, a vest, 2 thermal tops, a gillet, 2 thick fleeces, offshore trousers, a hat and a scarf. We are after all supposed to be having fun and this is not a delivery.

So Arklow and a warm bed beckoned and after making entry into the port at night which is only 30 meters wide we happily stopped in 0.4 meters of water (under the keel) in the harbour. We did our secondary port calculations and reckoned the depth would drop by 0.1. Then a fisherman put fear into us and said there was another meter of drop. This would mean we would be fully aground and on our side. What followed was an hour of frantic maths to confirm we were right and the fisherman was wrong. Now it's time for a warm and stress free sleep.

More dolphins.
More dolphins.

Just how cold is it.
Just how cold is it.

Fiona gives an overview of the days sail via youtube here.

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04/02/2012 | David Phillips
I am following your adventuring usng Sailblogs and Google Earth. The use of technology like this fascinates me - John is acting as my adviser as my sailing experience is limited to competent crew on yacht deliveries in the Med!
04/02/2012 | Isobel
Love the video! Eat your heart out Kate Humble our intrepid reporter Mrs Lewis is on the case! LOL I xx
04/04/2012 | Rosie
We fly into Dublin on Friday morning and back out Sunday afternoon - any chance you will be back? Darcy just turned 1 yesterday - your photos make me jealous xx
Is this the Caribbean?
03/29/2012, 52’15.442N, 07’05.982N - 52’10.432N, 06’54.382W

"You can turn if you want to, this lady is not for turning." were once said by Margret Thatcher at a Tory conference when she refused to make a u-turn policy. On Ruffian today we u-turned like there was no tomorrow.

The plan was that we would say goodbye to all the lovely people at Granny Boat Club in Waterford, catch the ebb down river and finish the day at Kilmore Quay ready for a 'hop' across to Wales tomorrow. As we were coming out of the river we passed deserted sandy beach after deserted sandy beach and we thought that we couldn't miss the opportunity to sit at anchor, in the sun and then run ashore to walk in the sand. What followed was a most triumphant day.

After the anchor had been set it really felt like the Caribbean with the sun shining and waves lapping against the hull. So the question is what do you do in the Caribbean? You dive off the bow and swim around the boat. This is exactly what Iain decided to do. Within about a nano second of diving in he realised that we are not yet in the Caribbean. Still the jumping was fun and as soon as he was out he warmed up, so in he went again and again and again. We think that this is Iain's form of canine circle work.

The run ashore was nothing short of a voyage of discovery. The beach we are anchored off is very much in 2 halves, separated by a volcanic spit. We pumped up Thug and motored across to the closest point. As we walked onto the second half we were greeted by the ruins of a castle on a hill. This needed exploring. Up the hill we went and were greeted not by a ruined castle but a church with some really serious history from both ancient and modern times. It was built in 12th century by, and was the HQ of, the Knights Templar who came into the limelight in 'The Da Vinci Code.' Remarkably, although the church was clearly ruined the graveyard was still very much in operation. We wondered what you had to do to qualify for burial here as the graves dated from as far ago as 1600 and the latest one was 2011. We found no pots of gold or even the holy grail but did have a sense of wonder at this discovery.

So tomorrow we'll be putting to sea again and hope that the next blog will be posted from another country, the alarm clocks are set for 4.45 and we will be making for Holyhead or Pwllheli in North Wales. There are heaps of tidal gates we need to get through so we may end up either just down the coast or even in Dublin.

Iain thinks it time for a swim around the boat.
Iain thinks it time for a swim around the boat.

and quickly climbing back onboard.
and quickly climbing back onboard.

The beaches were deserted.
The beaches were deserted.

Caves galore.
Caves galore.

Iain, Fiona, Thug and Ruffian.
Iain, Fiona, Thug and Ruffian.

The Knights Templar.
The nights Templar.

The nights Templar.

Ruffian at anchor.
Ruffian at anchor.

Yet another sunset.
Yet another sunset.

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