Inverness Saturday 3rd September
Business at Gael Force is full on and I have been working hard all week at "streamlining" the organisation structure to ensure I can have a job when I return. I think I may just have pulled it off.
On the one hand I feel that I have not really spent enough time planning and preparing for my attempted single hand long haul home. That is not that I am complacent, far from it. As I wake each morning the foremost thought in my mind is the scale of the task ahead of me and the neccessary respectful doubt about whether I have now bitten of more than I can chew this time. However after a few minutes these thoughts are overwhelmed by the mind absorbing task in hand which is to maximise the time at home to try and make a possitive contribution to the Gael Force, having been a bit of a passenger for the past couple of years.
On the other hand the past two years of the circumnavigation have been preparation for this challenge and the previous forty five years have also made a contibution my preparation. I consider the main risks to be that of physical and mental challenge and then ensuring that I don't break the boat.
There are however still the practicalities and I can let you into a wee secret. I have to smuggle and have couriers smuggle for me a substance that provides sustinence and energy when you are flagging.
When we think of smuggling we mostly think of a white substance and the Golden Triangle in Thailand or the Columbian drug cartels and the frontline drug war battle zones of Central America and Mexico. No. I can exclusively reveal that the real action is around the Hebrides and the West coast of Scotland.
Yesterday I got nervous when I heard that customs and coastguard were mounting a campaign throughout Argyll on the west of Scotland. I got nervous for a moment thinking the authorities were closing in, but then the newscaster said they were only looking for Cocaine and Heroine. Phew!
You see my preparations for these long ocean sails include getting some illicit substances aboard. While back at the office this week I noticed discreet parcels being handed between people without a word being spoken. Brown paper parcels buried deep in pallets full of creels and ropes. Plain boxes handed from one person having crossed the minch by boat to a lorry driver heading south. Into a suburban house where a cut piece is handed to me from the fridge. It all made me nervous. Then a box was handed too me in the plain sight of everyone ......
Closing the office door I opened the box and here was my fix. Not white though, black. Black Gold. Stornoway Black Pudding. Yes ready to be transhipped internationally and hidden deep in a suitcase awaiting a mid ocean feast of moral lifting energy giving pleasure. Stornoway Black Pudding moves around the Highlands and Islands, across Scotland and the wider UK and indeed across the world to it's far flung corners in clandestine channels moving silently and unseen through day and night.
Now aboard Rhiann Marie we have consumed this delicacy in many a remote spot. Sometimes when at a deserted tropical island, sometimes to celebrate a special occasion and sometimes as a thanksgiving breakfast for a safe landfall. Brave souls have smuggled Black Pudding into many a country on our circumnavigation though I am not prepared to disclose my wifes name lest the Australian authorities extradite her ....... aw damn it - did I actuall say that?
Anyway it was sent to me with good intentions but unfortunately with my chief courier staying at home this time and only I travelling, the Black Pudding (made mostly from oatmeal, sheeps offal and blood) will have to stay at home as the South African authorities don't allow it. NBL.
So with almost everything in place food parcels received of Hebridean Tablet, Oatcakes,Wild Waters Shetland smoked salmon (agus Maireagan Dubh - Eisd!) it only remains now to get a solid couple of days work done on Monday and Tuesday and hopefully in Capetown have the boat prepared to leave by next weekend.
Thanks to date for those that have sent good wishes etc.