Thursday, 31 January 2008

Just after midnight. Bloomin heck, that was a nasty crossing. One of the worst ever. Very very dark, very very windy; at least a gale, from just west of south I would say, so straight up the sound.

I made the mistake of bringing a bag of coal and four bales of peat. I knew we were low but that could easily have waited till morning. I think the tide was still ebbing when I left the slipway, it was hard to tell. Almost dead low water anyway so I had to half raise the outboard to get in to the slip. Getting away, stern-on to the wind was tricky and I was well soaked, as were the two Ikea bags in the bottom of the boat (clothes and provisions).

I have no idea why it is so dark, normally there is a bit of gleam on the water even when the cloud cover is thick. I missed two buoys; didn’t clip them I just didn’t see them till they were almost passed. Got completely drenched before I was through the Ringhaddy anchorage and couldn’t open my eyes properly against the spray, which probably didn’t help. Motoring dead slow to give myself time to see, and also to ride the waves (ha ha) the crossing to Islandmore took twenty minutes – twice as long as usual.

Another big mistake – I decided to come alongside the jetty on the windward side, knowing how hard it is to come up to the lea side without someone in the bow to hold on. The boat was crashing and scraping (the sound is alarmingly like splintering fibreglass but is actually barnacles being crushed) and I managed to offload the coal and the peat and then step up with the bags. Someone drove into the boat park back on the mainland and stopped, helpfully shining their headlights directly at me across the sound, or so it seemed. I made the mistake of looking and went momentarily blind and sat down on the bag of coal to wait it out (the light). Lynn phoned from 100 yards away, inside the cabin – she had seen the lights too. Were they signalling? I didn’t think so. Eventually the headlights arc’d around and dissappeared.

I started up the jetty with the bags and wished I had finished the job yesterday and scrubbed the whole jetty. There were two nice clear sections and the rest was lethal, and it was hard enough already to keep my balance against the wind. Three trips up the jetty with all the stuff, a quick hello to Lynn and back to the boat to take it out to the mooring. Astern again to start with, and another soaking. A bit of a struggle to untie the rowing boat from the mooring and replace it with the dinghy while the two boats tried to smash each other up. I’m pleased to say I didn’t fall over, then again I stayed on my hands and knees – I’ve been lifted clean out of the boat more than once. So much worse when it’s cold, my fingers were kind of useless. I thought of my fleecy gloves on the stove back at Seaforde..

The row back was into the wind so I was almost going backwards. Very annoyingly, I hadn’t tucked down my hood which meant it kept flapping up behind my head so I couldn’t see how far I had to go, but I daren’t let go the oars. You’d think I’d learn after five years. Got to the jetty eventually – seemed like ten minutes but was probably much less – and held on for grim death.

Back in the cabin now. It’s getting a good rattling but it’s warm. The wet stuff is steaming beside the woodburner. Kettle’s on, all’s well, but I may be getting too old for this.
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