Monthly Archives: June 2012

St Ives to La Corunna – Worce things hapen at sea, as do better things

We waited for favourable tides floating around St. Ives bay for a few hours pulling up mackerel by the fistful and rolling on the fringes of the Atlantic. Eventually the moment arrived and we began to make our way down the last few beautiful miles of the Cornish coast, wistful of leaving such wondrous pasties and cream behind. As we passed Lands End Vic cooked an incredible meal of potatoes and fresh mackerel, who until moments before were swimming in the sea. The captain radioed the coastguard to inform them of our intensions and we were committed and away, facing 530 nautical miles of open seas, open space, waves and weather. With the wind almost to our nose the engine was stoked and we motored outwards.

Our first evening on the Bay was beautiful. The sunset cast colours out across the sky. All through that night we were blessed; a blanket of stars appeared above and phosphorescence (the stars of the sea) glowed beneath us. On Oshan and Garry’s watch, they sighted squid that lit up in the sea stars and beheld Mars rise out of the ocean. Nigel saw a 5foot Turtle raise its periscopic head as it swam past the ship, the sun flashed past the horizon in an orange glow then was gone.

That was the last we saw of the sun for a few days. Rain set in hard and the boat was rocked about by 4-meter high waves. Oshan and the intrepid Sabena began to feel the endless rocking in their stomachs, even Nigel who had been at sea many times weakened slightly. Sabena spent much time in bed feeling fully sick interspersed with her time on watch where she would joke and laugh and sing. In the afternoon Vic managed to balance the sail and lashed the wheel, this meant that the boat began to steer its self. Despite not having to steer, we were bashed about continuously by big waves in the rain. A testing experience.

We were making good speed and the boat was heeling over in the wind so much that the gunwales (top side of the boat) were continuously submerged. It became apparent that we were taking on a lot of water, it sloshed around in the bilges and when we were blown to great angles would wash out over the bunks in the main saloon. Garry bailed it out but it was soon established that the water was coming in as fast as we were bailing out. The consensus was that the water must have been coming in through gaps between the deck and the hull, because we were leaned over so heavily the sea was gently letting its self in. However, it was decided that because of the speed we were making and the distance we had to travel that we would hold course and keep up sail meaning that we would just have to deal with the water coming in. For about 2 hours the krew sustained continuous bailing in the fanatical rocking wet boat before we cracked and decided to change course and bring in sail to ease the baling effort (when Captain Scott sailed on his last voyage to the Antarctic they were hit by such a bad gale that the ship needed to be hand bailed continuously for 4 days). A spare hand pump was rigged up which further eased the situation.

It might have been rough, wet and uncomfortable but the krew were determined to maintain a high level of culinary experience. Paddy used some of the mackerel we had caught the day before to cook up a Goan coconut and fish curry with rice. It was delicious.

That night the fog set in proper and we realised that we were in a busy shipping lane. Onboard we have an incredible machine called Lowrance that tells us where boats are around us, where they are going, how fast they are moving, where they have come from and how big they are. It is a glorious machine and we love it. Through the night, despite the low visibility, we were able to evade all of the tankers and cargo ships trying to run us down. However the sea maintained its lumps and we were thrown about and out of bed, by morning it mellowed a little giving great relief. That day visibility improved and the damp fog and ran abated some. We were visited by many dolphins who would arrive then play around for a while before jumping away. In the afternoon the wind changed around and we were able to turn off our engines for the first time. Mellow gentle joy. We played music and read books and moved along at a steady speed.

We sailed through the night visited again by dolphins who where illuminated under the water by phosphoretic trails, making good speed. Fog came in and the sea got up and all found it hard to sleep, a tension seemed to fill the sailors. On dawn watch Vic and Paddy urged the boat onwards to Spain helped by a gentle wind when; BANG! In less than a moment the mast seemed to half in size and fall with great speed into the water and over the side of the boat held on only by bits of rigging. The mast had snapped! For the krew this was incredibly shocking and disturbing, but there was no time to dwell on emotion, the jagged point of the fallen mast was hanging by the hull of the boat, if we were to be hit by a big wave this could have caused further damage. Within a flash all hands were on deck. The Captain was aware that the safety of his krew was of highest importance so he decided that we needed to get rid of the mast and ordered all to sever the rigging stays, sheets and halliards. We set about disconnecting the mast in the foggy twilight with the big rolling waves. Steadily we separated ourselves until all connection that remained was the forestay at the end of the bowsprit (the pole that sticks out of the front of the boat). Vic shimmied along it undid the last tie and we watched as the mast sank out of view to be lost for ever on the floor of the ocean.

Now the mast stands mightily on the sea bed, 4500 meters below sea level, with prayer flags made in a Tibetan monastery 4500 meters above sea level fluttering out the wondrous names of god in the sub-oceanic currents.

The situation was shit. In other ways we were blessed. All were safe, the boat was safe, we had managed to get rid of the mast without it causing further damage and there hadn’t been too much wind, or too high waves and we had enough fuel to get us to the north coast of Spain. The motor was started and we gathered in the cockpit and sang songs. Back on our way dolphins were sighted jumping out of the water towards us, before long we were surrounded by more dolphins than we had ever seen, all around us they gathered and gathered.

What was needed was porridge. Gazza started making a special batch and realised that the boat was missing a spirtle (a wooden pole/thing used to stir porridge. The winner of Scotland’s porridge competition claims that the key to successful porridge is a quality spirtle). Nigel found a shard of Winnys mast on the deck, fashioned a beauty and the captain made a delicious breakfast.

Some went to bed, others took watch and we motored onwards. La Corunna lay 140 nautical miles away and we expected to reach it in around 24 hours, at around 3 am the next morning. Whilst Vic was on the helm a small plane began to circle overhead. Suddenly the radio erupted with the call “Yacht, Are you in Le trouble?” The plane was communicating us. It was the French coastguard. They checked if we were all right and if we needed anything. All we wanted was to know whether England had beaten Italy in the quarterfinals. Vic thought it unprofessional to ask.

Later we moved through easy seas, sleeping and steering and chatting. An incredible dinner of potato dauphinoise was made in order to soak up some of our vast cheese supply. Sabena relentlessly thrashed paddy at dice. Night drew in.

As we came closer to Spain all were awake on watch eager to experience the last moments of open sea on the Winny. Sharp mean waves began to hit the boat on the beam (side), we were thrown around with vicious intensity and the fog reduced visibility to about 20 meters. Through the murky damp we smelt and then sighted Spain, negotiated past wrecks and into the marina at 3am. Landfall. As we stumbled onto the pontoon and embraced and congratulated each other two beautiful women appeared and embraced and congratulated us. They took us to a madly plush motor pleasure yacht/ gin palace, where we were plied with drinks and given incredibly comfy seats. Surreal. When we had told them our story they ordered us to play them some music. We happily complied and offered a song of safety and relief, played a song of joy, played a jig, until dawn we sat about until one by one the krew left for a well-needed steady bed.

Awake the next morning we began to dry out the ship in the Spanish sunlight, met the lovely marina community, went for glorious showers, and contacted a boat builder. We began to think about what our next steps would be but real answers were hard to find as there was no surety as to when the boat was going to be ready again. Oshan, Sabena and Nigel booked flights back to their respective homes, Vic had vague ideas about trying to find a way back to Iona and Paddy and Garry considered their options; a definite walk to Santiago and to cycle to the holy land maybe…

In the evening the krew took their instruments and went to find a place to watch the Italy Germany game. We found beautiful thin winding streets and an incredible tea house/bar where some people were watching the game on the street on a TV linked up by a wire to the apartment above. Inside the Casa De Té was incredible clutter from around the world and fantastic music from Senegal. We assembled on the street with the locals and drank African chai made with condensed milk and sweet mint tea. The young exuberant proprietor cooked us Chorizo on a metal tray with some sort of liquid fire. All was joyful. After the game we took out our instruments and began to play. A Galician choir was attracted by the commotion and we exchanged songs, the street became full of people, merriment, dancing, with full-hearted voices, rhythms and laughter. Deep into the night we played. After the music we were absorbed lovingly by the locals, new friends were met and plans for further singing and playing conceived. We returned late to the boat for food and rest.

Yesterday, with sadness and fond recollection we said good by to sweet, mighty, gentle, humble, glorious Nigel, who began the long journey home to the wild western tip of Mull. Vic has been enlisted onto the krew of our neighbours incredible gaff rigged ship which will sail to Brest in France on Monday, he just cant get enough of the mighty Bay, this will get him allot closer to home. The mast man came to look at the situation. He took measurements, asked questions and we explored options. According to this man it seems that at the quickest the mast will be ready in a month, the carpenter will have to create a new set up and new rigging. Some of the krew went to explore La Corunna, the city we are moored in. it feels like the first unfamiliar place we have touched down in. Until now our landfall has been British and Irish ports, cities and towns. In Spain people have a different attitude to swimming in the sea to that of the British, whilst in the north we strip off and run howling into the icy water, all frantic and manic, the Spanish saunter down the beach in their swimwear and inflatables maintaining all dignity. The Galician coastline has a similarity to the west coast of Britain; lumpy and ragged volcanic rock formation. However, it is clothed in a gentler shroud of grass and wild flowers.

In the evening wonderful people from the boats around us came for a great dinner; a family from the north of Norway, deep into the arctic circle, who have taken a year out to sail the seas, a loan sailor embarking on a circumnavigation of the globe, a young man with the incredible gin palace that he has called Never Again which he yearns to sell in order to buy a proper sailing boat. We were also joined by two glorious local Spanish girls, met the night before who sing and dance with beautiful Galician passion. We ate and ate, and then took out our guitars, flutes, harmonicas, clavés, whistles, ukuleles and voices and played songs for hours, songs from Ireland, songs from Spain, from England, Scotland, Cuba, songs of joy and wildness. It began to rain so we filled the main saloon with candles, wondrous souls, music and rocked the boat until we were filled with happy weariness.

Today we draw plans of the rigging, rest, explore, and drink coffee. Two local Spanish men came by and told us of the last wooden boat builder in the area and arranged a meeting and offered to come back to translate for us when he comes around. They are pure angels

So, what now? Where will we go? What will happen? How will this pilgrimage continue? What troubles, what joys await us? It is hard to say. We will let you know when we know…

Boundless love

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find us in the sea

if you go to http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/ and search for winifida of green island or something simmilar you might be able to find where we are in the ociean-if any one is sucsessfull please comment on this post to enlighten others about the best technique.

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Bristol to St Ives – Problem, solution, joy

Greetings. We are not in Spain or Portugal but storm bound in exotic St Ives. This is because of the untold difficulties and problems, solutions and blessings. It is as if Winny is showing all her weaknesses so that we are able to strengthen her before heading out over the Bay of Biscay.

Last words came when we were waiting for some mechanics to get some bits so that they could fix our problems. This delay meant that we would not be able to sail down to Penzance in time to go to play music and visit some Cornish schools. The krew decided that it would be best to fulfil our commitments so we borrowed Poppy and Pablo’s car and Steve drove at breakneck speeds through the night to the home of the incredible musicians; Jeff and Michaela. The next day Jeff took us to the beautiful Lugdvig Primary School, full of creative clutter and fantastic children. We played them our sounds and they loved it but we spoke for too long and they fidgeted so we played more music and gained control. The lovely Northern Irish head teacher then fed us cakes and cheese on toast and told us of her son who runs an anarchist café in Bristol. The next school was head mastered by Jeff. He has managed to infuse the whole place with a deep musical vibe. There are guitars hanging in his office and a quarter of the main hall is filled with instruments from all around the world. After we had done our presentation, all the different classes sang us their favourite songs and as this was going on the oldest kids got out electric guitars, amps and a drum kit then played us “rocking all over the world”. Steve commandeered a guitar and thwapped it manically and gloriously. That evening we had a wonderful devotional at Jeff and Michaela’s, which was our last devotional with Steve Day and was attended by many sweeties including Jeff’s mum and her 102-year-old boyfriend.

The next day saw the separation of Steve from the krew. He had filled a big loving happy rock and roll hole in our hearts but had to leave us when the summer came along. We left Jeff and Michaela’s to drive back home and en route picked up some famously tasty Cornish pasties and one of the sturdy men who were joining us to cross the Bay of Biscay; Nigel Burgess: Engineer, Salty Man of the Sea, mighty and gentle, sweet songs from the western isles. We flew back to Bristol with a vision of buying provisions for the big passage, getting to the boat (to be freshly fixed by the mechanics), and hoping to sail off on the evening tide. We got back to the boat and met up with the other salty seaman Victor: handy and direct, knowledgeable, stout Viking lineage. The mechanics had just finished fixing our exhaust system, however after they had left and we started our engine Vic and Nigel noticed a leak in the new work. The mechanic came back and tweaked some bits, but alas, as we tried to restart the engine the starter motor failed. Peter the mechanic took the starter motor and told us that he would fix it by Monday (2 days later). Though disappointed that we would not be leaving the krew found ways to be happy.

 

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The next morning was filled with fixing bits and pieces on a boat. With a vessel as old as Winny something is always broken. Around us by the docks there was a festival, so Oshan and Paddy went to explore. We found an incredibly soulful, deep and mellow band playing called Creation Sounds. They were fantastic. At the same time another festival was happening close by so some of the krew went to check it out. It was to celebrate refugee week and there was a wonderfully diverse crowd there. An incredible samba band played and we were taught how to dance by a small and feisty Brazilian woman, followed by proppa banging Kurdish Dance music and Greek dancing, and then by ecstatic dancing in the pouring rain to a Congolese/Zimbabwean soukous band led by a mighty Zimbabwean Mama.

Monday was filled with furious activity as all tried to fix bits, buy bits, find bits, make bits in order to be ready so that we could leave on the evening tidal window (there are only 2 hours in which a boat can leave Bristol harbour and move down the Avon which raises and falls 14.5 meters on the tide). The closer we got to the tidal window the higher the tension rose. In the afternoon Peter the engineer came back with our fixed starter motor. It was fitted, we turned the key, and it exploded, slightly. This was frustrating. He rushed off to try to find out what had happened (there had been a short between a new soldered point and an old connection) and we became resigned to further setbacks. No worries, some visited Ishmael to sing and discuss being a rock in a wavy place, some watched the football.

Tuesday began like Monday. All set to various tasks; Vic and Nigel sorted out the ships pluming, Oshan re-hinged the after cabin hatchway after being locked out in the night and having to break in, Gary re-tuned the rigging and Paddy frantically rode around Bristol getting bits and pieces. Again tensions rose as we approached our window of leaving possibility, this pressure was intensified by the absence of our engineer and the re-fixed re-fixed starter motor. He eventually arrived around 4 o’clock, installed, the motor…teeth were gritted, palms sweaty, again we turned the key… chug…….chug…nothing. shit.

Further investigation revealed our engine was full of water. This is not its ideal state, and explained the reason why our engine was not starting. The injectors were then removed from the top of the engine and the engine was turned over firing a rainbow spray of water and oil, which burst forth into the air, thus removing the water. Now Peter looked over the engine under the glare of the highly competent and knowledgeable Vic and Nigel and the passionate Garry. It emerged that the new exhaust that had been put in was not designed to take in the fact that the engine rests under the water line. Peter frantically searched for a solution, suggestions were shot at him by V and N and consensus was reached with a plan of putting in an above waterline anti-siphon valve. However, despite every ones best efforts, the possibility of leaving that day disappeared.

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V and N ingeniously used the cockpit drain seacock to provide a cooling water feed to the engine. The key again was turned…ALIVE ALIVE OH… She roared into life to rapturous applause of those on the boat and from the people relaxing in the evening sunlight on the pier side. Winny came alive again and a possibility of leaving came into reality. We still needed parts and they were in Portishead. A plan was developed that we would leave early on the next morning tide and sail into Portishead marina. That night Oshan went to a xenophobic hippy pub (they hated the English people too) to watch the match…later on that night the cockpit was filled for the last time in Bristol by sweet singing people.

 

We were joined just after sunrise by sweet Pablo and Richie and set off through the floating docks, past the swinging bridges, the harbour lock, under Isambard Kingdom Brunels incredible Clifton suspension bridge and down the Avon, into the Bristol Channel, and then into the Portishead harbour sea lock. We then went straight onto the harbour crane that would lift the Winny out of the water so that we could fix a potential hole in the hull. Bits of Winnys bottom were anti-fowled (paint that stops barnacles), V and N fixed the hole, Gary got a beautiful hem rope and Paddy got ginger and coffee (only a fool goes to sea with an inadequate supply of coffee and ginger). In no time we were back in the water and racing back towards the sea lock to try to get out before the tide went too low for us to be able to get back out to sea. We got a last fill up with diesel and water and then slipped into the sea lock with only moments to spare. As the lock gate closed the krew were thrown into pure salty sea bliss as we realised that after a week and a half’s delay we would be back out to sea. As we were lowered down into the sea lock a song tumbled out, no resistance. Nigel danced a jig on the cabin roof, we wailed and sang our song of love for the sea, our song of relief, our song of victory over all problems that we had faced.

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Out at sea, everything was stowed away and made ship shape, sails were raised and we floated gracefully down the Bristol Channel in full sail. We were arranged into watches and set out through the night. The wind freshened, the sea grew lumpy, and all found it hard to sleep as we were thrown around in our bunks. We developed various ways of lodging ourselves in, Paddy developed the Jethro Tull sleeping position, Oshan learned to sleep whilst griping a shelf, and Nigel didn’t sleep at all.

The next morning’s progress was halted when Vic motored into some fishing tackle that promptly wound its self around the propeller. We tried everything to untangle the rope without someone having to go swimming. However nothing worked and we had to sail into a cove so that we could find shelter so that Vic could cut the rope free without being bashed against the boat by waves. Vic made ready. In order to try to create an insulating layer he borrowed thermals and spare waterproofs from Paddy. He lowered himself in and dived down to begin to chop the rope away. As the rest of the krew watched a small red book appeared in the water and started floating away from the boat. Paddy realised that this book was his Passport, which had been in the pocket of the coat he had lent to Vic. The only solution was for Paddy to strip off and dive in to collect his document that was being whisked along the surface of the water by the wind. The rope was cleared and the passport retrieved and there was much laughter and merriment. Three walkers had watched the whole scene from a hilltop. As we left the cove a boatload of divers motored past us.

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Back en route we pounded into rough seas and a wind right on our head. Garry made a surprisingly delicious lunch, which combined the stew from the night before and leftover porridge from that morning. The coast guard began forecasting gales and we realised that it would be foolish to strike out into the Bay of Biscay, instead we made a b-line to the twee harbour of St Ives. Winny pitched about in the lumpy ocean with the gathering storms and we beat down the coast. Waves crashed over the deck, we were thrown this way and that way, everything got damp, Oshan spewed. The exhaust outlet, which comes out just above Paddys head when he is in bed, put in by the Bristol engineers had begun to leek streams of water. This was particularly problematic because  it comes out just above the water line and is often under the waterline in high seas. In St Ives we were able to tie up next to the peer, so that when the tide was out in the middle of the night V and N could re-fix the skin fitting on the exhaust, which had been put in by Peter and his engineers. They found that the exhaust had been put in incredibly poorly and had left the krew in a potentially life threatening situation; should the inadequate fixings have come out the boat would have filled very quickly with water. The exhaust had been cut in order to fit it in a smallish hole, rather than enlarging the hole, which had possibly been leaking a small amount of exhaust fuel in to Paddy and Oshans cabin “the bachelor pad”, Garry attributed this to Oshans sickness. V and N did a great job of sorting out the mess and all slept soundly in the St Ives Harbour.

Yesterday was filed with general repairs, fixing the seat, and ting, the Winny is like the forth road bridge, they paint it from one end to the other, by the time they get to the other end they have to start again. In the afternoon the krew went to explore St Ives, Paddy and Oshan spotted that it was cracking busking territory so motored the dingy back to the boat (which was now on a mooring) to get some instruments. When they had loaded the dingy they cast off. The motor spluttered out and the dingy began to be blown away from the boat at an alarming speed. As they rowed with all their might, inching back towards the boat everything got wet, a self inflating life-jacket in the bottom of the dingy self inflated.

Back on dry land Oshan, Victor and Paddy did a little busking in one of St Ives’s little winding streets and scored bigish. Garry and Nigel went to the St Ives Tate, Nigel charmed the staff by singing Gallic songs in their beautiful acoustical foyer and won free admittance. The krew were reunited with a Cornish cream tea (cream then jam) on the beautiful St Ives cove. We sang a few choons before some went to watch football whilst other made stuff shipshape and others played music on the pier.

Today (now also yesterday) started gently with sweet slumber, as so many days do, and ended in moderate drama tension and discomfort for some. We fixed some bits of the boat and tried to repair electrical machines destroyed by the salty seas. In the afternoon we went back to the Tate and played some sweet music in their acoustically beautiful amphitheater, we played sweet mellow ones, Irish jigs, deep soulful ones and some glorious howlers.

 

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oshan arrives at tate on a bike

When our musical desire was a bit quenched, we went to the life guard post to inform them that we were planning to leave. We found a wonderful woman in a wonderful look out post which had fine views all across St Ives bay. As we were chatting and looking through her binoculars and telescopes we spotted a big krew of dolphins who rushed up past us jumping wildly out of the water.

It rained, we bought chips and fish as good as we had ever eaten before going to watch some football and to wait for our new member of krew who, because of our delayed departure had decided to meet us in Cornwall instead of Lisbon. Garry disappeared just as we were leaving the football pub and then appeared 2 minutes later bleeding and freshly shaved for our impending passe across Biscay. So, later on some of the krew, a lot of shopping and the fold up bike piled into the dingy and was motored back to the boat. Once unloaded Vic tried to set off back to shore but got in a pickle when the out board motor failed again. Vic got on the oars and managed with great effort to get back to the Winny. It was decided that the Winny should be brought into the harbour to pick people up because the winds were to strong to attempt to row the dingy in and out in the absence of the out board motor.

Winny was brought into the harbour where everyone assembled and our new krew member Sebina: intrepid, Competent and buoyant, arrived. Paddy and Oshan went to try and gather chips for Sebina, Nigel, inspired by Gazza went for a shave. As he walked out of the pub he heard an old salty man remark (in a Cornish accent) “Shes going on the sand bank”. At the end of the pier something was happening.

Garry, Vic and Sebina were on board when the capaiin felt a bump…and then another bump. He jumped out of the boat to untie the Winny from the pier and shouted an order to Vic to take the boat out. The Winny was cast off and Vic drove her with all might available into a sub merged sand bank. Shit. After attempts to drive her forwards and backwards under groaning engine, and a desprate endevor to get her out under sail,  shouts from the stranded captain who had been left on shore in the rush and much confusssion, the VHF radio erupted into life “this if Falmouth Coastguard, Falmouth Coastguard, Falmouth Coastguard. Is there a yacht in difficulty in St Ives Harbour?” Vick explained the situation and within 3 minutes a lifeboat was whisked down the harbour slip way, into the sea and drove full speed to the beached boat. Many considerations were considered and many people in highly visible water proofs appeared. It was ordered by the Captain that the Winny was to be let to go aground rather than trying to pull her to deeper water. The Highly Visible people began to disappear and the stranded krew rowed themselves to the angular Winny. We were askew. Tea was made and things were investigated and everyone tried to find comfortable positions in a boat that was 60 degrees further to the left than usual. We fell back into slumber.

All awoke achy to water lapping against the side and a gentle lifting. Vic and Nigel awoke, spooning having slid into a heap in the corner of their cabin. Eventually the boat rose to her full height and we took her back to a mooring for tea and porridge and reflection.

Now the weather window we have been waiting for has arrived, the gales have passed over. The ships veg baskets are full, as are the lentil and rice and coffee supplies. All that remains is to wait for the tide to turn and then to set off for a victorious passage over the Bay of Biscay.

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Dumore East to Bristol – lumps, bildge, and mammels // ship shape and bristol fassion

We moved out of Dunmore east harbour waved off by the Waterford Bahai’s on the harbour wall and by Phillipineese fishermen from the fishing boat we had been tied alongside, and set sail for Wales and for Bristol.

The journey started gently, cruising through the sunshine. Off the southeast point of Ireland we sighted dolphins again (our man at the Science and Marine life HQ has identified them as Bottle nosed dolphins) the pod was ”200 strong”. This time some of them briefly graced us with their presence and played in our bow wave. We arranged ourselves into shifts (one hour on 4 hours off), as we did not expect to reach our destination until the next day. Through the night a breeze began to pick up so at around 2pm Paddy and Steve hoisted the sails. The boat began to keel over as it took the strain of the wind and Natasha fell out of her bed.

In the bottom of the boat there is often water, it is called the bilge water. In the Winny it comes from leaks in the engine water-cooling system, from leeks in the deck and from oil and grime and ming that accumulates at the bottom. Paddy was awoken by the bilge water washing up the side of the keel to where his shoulder rested and climbed up on into the cockpit to find Oshan grinning wildly at the wheel, a wet wind, Wales in sight and Winny pounding and dancing through a rough sea. We worked our way passed the beautiful cliffs of Pembroke peninsula, South Wales and found sanctuary from the wind and the waves in a little anchorage just off Caldey Island, Tenby at about 8am. The anchor was dropped and the krew longed from some porridge and some sleep. However, there was a problem. There was a large amount water washing around in the bilge and all 4 of our bilge pumps had stopped working. We set to work trying to find the sources of the problems. It seemed that both our electric pumps had burned out and both hand pumps had lost their seals. Garry and Steve set to work trying to get to the bottom of the electric pump problem whilst Oshan, Natasha and Paddy used there bicycle repair knowledge to patch a ruptured suction pump. We all failed, gloriously! So we formed a chain from bilges, up the companionway ladder though the cockpit to the deck and bailed the ship manually using all the ships basins. As we bailed the tide was rapidly going out and the ship became closer and closer to grounding. We bailed franticly and managed to empty her just before we hit bottom, pulled up the anchor and set off down the Bristol Channel.

However out from our sanctuary we began to thump in to nasty waves and a strong wet head wind. Oshan sat in the cabin grasping on to a bowl of Tahini whilst everything else, all the jars, pans, plates, carrots, books swirled frantically around him. The captain made a decision that it was not worth battling such a sea so we turned back to Caldey and the sanctuary it offered.

Back in the anchorage everyone and everything was wet so we lit up the stove, buttoned down the hatches and began to get warm and dry again over a delicious Middle Eastern lunch constructed by Oshan. We ate and then we sat in the gentle warmth, removed from all the chaos of the ocean and chatted until we all fell asleep around the table.

The wind swung around to the southwest, we awoke and set off again. The Bristol Channel is massively tidal, huge quantities of water wash up and down it twice a day everyday, the tide, yah. So it is best in a boat to wash up with the tide and to time the journey so one doesn’t have to push against it. We aimed to work our way up the channel as far as we could get before the tide changed and then to find some place to hide from the wind and the waves. With a good wind to help us, Winny surged onwards. Again passed dramatic cliffs and again blessed by bottlenose dolphins who stayed with us for about an hour and jumped and played about the bow of the ship. Sweet glory.

That night we put the anchor down in a fairly exposed bay. Loads of water had gotten into the bilges and had been sloshing about. All was wet again. We checked for leeks, bailed out the bilge water, ate a stodgy lentil and potato mush and went to bed. This time it was paddy’s turn to worry about the anchor slipping as we bounced around on waves and as the boat produced its symphony of bangs and clatters and scrapes and rumbles.

Awake the next morning we bailed some more water, ate some oats, wheyed the anchor and then set off for Swansea to try to buy some gas for the cooker and some bits of bilge pump. We were slightly worried that there might be a problem with the engine so we went slowly by sail through the lumpy sea. We floated into Swansea, which was our first real sanctuary from the roughness we had been experiencing since Ireland. Everyone got busy; Captain Gazza went to buy bilge related things, Oshan set off on the bike to get some gas, Paddy and Natasha filled the boats fresh water tanks, checked the engine and Steve got ready to install a new electric bilge pump. Progress was made. We were never so happy to hear the sound of an electric pump. However, we didn’t manage to get everything sorted before Swansea harbour closed its sea lock for a few hours due to the spring (big) tide. Whilst waiting for it to open again, the shipping forecast began to give gale warnings for the Bristol Channel (where we were planning to be sailing). Parts of the channel have the second most vigorous tides in the world along with its maze of sandbanks. A gale would have made our journey incredibly difficult. We decided that we would shoot out through the night to get to the mouth of the river Avon in order to catch the early 2 hour window where in a boat is able to sail upriver to the Bristol docks (this window appears only twice a day). Because of the looming gale if we did not get in for this first window we may have faced serious problems.

listen hear for the gale warnings ->http://soundcloud.com/big-ocean-music/gale-force-warning-in-undi

The sea lock opened and we shot out like an eager hippo, into a beautiful sea, a sunny sky, and a fair breeze. There was no sign of the Gale but there was a tension, if we didn’t make it we would be mice meat. The first part of our voyage was with the tide. We made fantastic progress under steam and sail, getting up to speeds of 13.1 knots, the fastest recorded on the good ship Winny, and spirits were up. As the sun set we began to punch the tide, progress fell to round 2-3 knots. However we were blessed with a supportive wind and with gentle seas, (2 meter waves had been forecast), and due to the initial speedy progress we kept with our intended schedule. Through the night all the krew kept watches and slept in turns apart from the skipper who stayed up as we negotiated the sandbanks, the open seaways and big container ships. Despite all that could have thwarted our progress, we were showered with blessings and a fair wind and put down our anchor at Portishead in the early dawn.

During our short 2 hour slumber all were awoken by an interesting and alarming noise. Gazza jumped out of bed realising that the tide up the Bristol Channel was so strong our anchor had lost its grip. We began to move with increasing speed towards a great harbour wall whilst the captain decided on a plan of action. Just then we moved from a hard clay seabed to a rocky seabed and the anchor caught hold and disaster was averted.

We awoke at 7 and pulled up anchor in the drizzling dawn and watched an incredibly huge ship appear around a headland to be met by 3 tugboats. Once it was out of the way we moved up to the mouth of the Avon and negotiated the thin sailable channel in its big dirty mouth. Sailing up the Avon seemed like a miracle. The tension of the days before slipped away as we passed luscious tree lined banks, old boats and buildings, and floated under the great Clifton Suspension Bridge and sailed into Bristol’s floating harbours lock.

Once in we had to wait around for the tide to do its thing. In time we were tied up right in the centre of Bristol in the rain with a fire alight. We sang a guttural song and stamped like Vikings and praised our incredible nautical satnav device that had been a much-needed aid whilst negotiating all the complexities of the previous days. We fell in to weary slumber and we furiously tried to make all shipshape and Bristol fashion, in equal measure. In the afternoon the krew was gathered from the boat and taken to the residents of the wonderful Poppy and Pablo where we arrived dirty, damp and tired, where lovers were reunited after a month in separation and where old friends were met. We removed our damp layers, scrubbed down and then were fed an scrumptious meal. And fell into deep slumber within strong walls and foundations safely removed from the gale that had arrived.

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Bristol was explored by the krew; by bike in the early morning blown around by the wild winds, orally with mouth-watering Masala Dosa’s and visually in the Arnolfini with insights into the Super Power within Africa. That evening was marked with Paddy and Olive’s engagement party where the respective families all met each other for the first time. It was a joyous and harmonious affair.

The next day was Saturday. We had a schedule. Lunch was conducted on the boat, food was provided by Oshans wonderful mother, Farahnaz. The boat was awash with friends from near and far. The magnificent gathering flowed over the gunnels and onto the pontoon. Everyone was then packed into cars and moved in convoy across town to the home of the lovely Ruth for a devo. From here Pablo, Oshan and Paddy sped off to Hobgoblin, Bristol’s most incredible music shop filled with instruments from all over the world. They dribbled but refrained from smashing all there cash on obscure instruments.

Diddley Squat a band Paddy plays in and the vanguard of the Northumberland Reggae movement had been booked in to play in Bristol in the amazing Caribbean restaurant/venue; the Plantation, that evening. Everything was set up and then a multitude of incredible people began to arrive; friends and family from all over England. We ate marvellous Caribbean goat stews and jerk chicken and then Diddley Squat began to play. The extremely loving audience, the delicious food, the sweet venue, the incredible spirit that has become wound up with our voyage, all combined to create an outrageously blissful gig. People passing on the street were attracted by the buzzing vibes and came in to dance, the venue filled up so much that people were dancing back out onto the street. In the middle, all the krew came on stage and we played our sea shanty “oh we’re sailing across the sea, the Winny’s in full sail // all the people in the world are going to learn to live together”. The gig finished with the entire crowd chanting “give up your sorrow, give up your pain”. It was a highly powerful moment.

The next day started with a mighty meaty brunch then all made their way to the Baha’i centre for a devotional. Lots of people came and we reached glorious heights. listen hear=> http://soundcloud.com/big-ocean-music/devo-in-the-bahai-centre

After the devo the krew rushed back to the boat to receive a group of Somali youths who came down to check out the boat and hear about our adventure. They explored the vessel and gave us gifts, rocked the boat and tried to push each other off then we told them our story. They were a sweet bunch of youth. After all the weekends activity the krew were weary and went to bed.

On the itinerary, Monday was set for our day of departure but before we went anywhere it was decided that some issues in the engine room needed to be sorted out. Wonderful engineers; Peter and Andy from Motion Marine, came to inspect the engine and discovered problems. The Fuel injector pump tubes were cracked and needed replacing and our exhaust water swan neck was irreparably damaged. This meant that we are not able to leave until Saturday at the earliest. This set back enabled the krew to embark on a number of issues. We made connections with Pablo’s band member who drives lorries, Tony. He found us some thick inner tubes that Oshan used to fix a bilge pump. Steve conquered the electric bilge pump issues. Paddy attached the lea boards onto the bunks. These are not boards, but rather bits of material that are fixed to the bunks that can then be strung up so that people do not fall out of bed when sleeping on rough seas. Oshan whipped all the ropes (made the ends tidy). Our delayed departure enabled us to play lots of music with the good people of Bristol, and let us catch up on well-needed rest.

Love to all         Image

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Dunleary to Dunmore East- fish pie, bagdaddian kebab and spelt bread

So, paddy Oshan luke and daragh went off to Dublin to check the scene and to busk. Whilst Garry went to an aristocrats for tea and chats. The boys used the reminants of oshans euros for the train, Oshan managed to get  a discount discount so that his euros where enough. we made an oath to Oshan that we would pay him back with all the money that was going to be made busking. In Dublin we stalked around town looking for a god busking place and found Grafton St., the same place that van Morrison started out on, and struck up some merry choons. Silly loud ones where well received, but though we got many smiles we got few euros, Oshan got most of his money back. Whist singing a song about racism and capitalism we attracted an investment banker and a sweet girl called orla who promiced to come to play muic with us that evening.

 

The evenings proceedings took place in the lovely house of newlyweds; Saba and Sam. Orla came with some sweet friends and we had a great Devonal, after which every one took it in turns to play tunes and many deeply beautiful voices where raised. Garry gave a rare solo guitar performance. The krew ran through the late night Dublin streets to get the last train back to the Winny.

We motored out in to a rainy irish sea and moved down the coast to Arklow, to wate for the next good tide. Some of the krew took this stop as  chance to visit arklows maritime museem. It turns out that arklow was famos for building beautifull scooners. A wize and salty man showed us, with great enthusiasm, around the exebition of all things nautical, joy for those who care. we where joined by Arran: Natural sea legs, Glorious realist, who would be our stow away until our next stop at Dunmore East, Waterford. Garry bought pencils, luke bought a plain ticket and we where off down the coast to a small ancraoge to rest the night. All slept well apart from Darragh who worried all night about the anchor slipping.

 

The next day took us around Carnshaw Point, the south east point of island, to sightings of dolphins and our first atlantic rolers. By the afternoon we got in to Dunmore East harbour and tied up to an big, old, broken, dirty, but Beautiful fishing boat. souper wonderfull Bahai’s from warterford began to arrive and had to be assisted down a long ladder across a plank on to the old fishing boat, through old frames and bits of riging and crain and then down in to the winny. The folk from watrerford brought an incredible feast with with them. We sang gentel songs and ate and all where merry. the bahai’s left, all where in happy anticipation of the weekend we would spend together. an Amish Menonite family appeard nd had a look round the boat. another big fishing boat tide up alongside us and Oshan forced some fish out of them.

 

The next day we where picked up and taken to the home of Tina and Mat who would be our hosts for the weekend. we met the next intrepid winny krew member Natasha: Queen of the Bilge, salty sea lady, most beautifull and most brainy. Tina cooked all an incredible lunch which was consumed with great relish. The krew and its joyus entourage where then taken to a community centre to tell our story to a big group of fisty youths. They weren’t sure of us at first but then paddy realised that the irish love potatoes and played them the potato song (oh, mash it up with butter, always tastes good with  little bit of butter, butte on my potter make my heart flutter, but if you offer me the flora I would probably chunder). They loved it. We sang songs and told them about the boat and they asked questions and we played more songs ad video and all where satisfied.

Next port of call was Sara Pikket’s house to do a similar session with her children’s class. As soon as we entered her sitting room we were set upon by wild children flinging them selves at us. They where restrained and we did another presentation, singing, talking, questions..after the children left we where fed an incredible bagdaddian feast, kibbab and a dhal with dill that sent some in to higher realitys, loveingly cooked up by Ala. Some more Waterford locals arrived and we embarked on a deep and long and mellow devo.

 

We met the next day with sweet slow cooked rice and stawberrys and bluberrys and freshly baked spelt loaf which had been created by the evre giving Tina, who hd started preparing at 4am. Luke realised that he was in a nother country and that he had boked a flight and that he didn’t have a passport and spent much of the rest of the day trying to find out how he was going to get back to his home befor he had to start work. the rest of the krew met with the Baha’i community in the ceter of Waterford for a wet picnic and some music, and then ended up back at mat and Tina’s for another feast (Fish and butter pie, with the fish from the fishermen) and a final Irish devo. Joy.

 

Breakfast the next morning was omlet with chorizo, white pudding, baykan and more fresh spelt bread. luke left a dawn to get a buss so that he could get a train so that he could get a ferry so that he could get an other train(with an overnight stay in Crewe) so that he could get his car so that he could drive home so that he was ready for work the next day. Trouper, intrepid, gentel and mighty, good by Luke. it was also time to say good by to Darragh, who had been a fantastic part of the krew, perceptive and enthusiastic and willing and joyus aad visible. And it was time to say good by to the Waterford community who had been so loving, generos and glorious, an wo lef us with fond memorys, with new friends, with armfuls of scrumptious provisions.

 

We moved out of Dunmore east harbour waved off by the Waterford Bahai’s on the harbour wall and by Phillipineese fishermen from the fishing boat we had been tied alongside, and set sail Wails and for Bristol.

 

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