Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 28 Jun 2009 13:30
Position:: 51 38.28 N 009 49.29 W
At anchor Lawrence Cove, Bearhaven, Bantry Bay
Wind: East sou'east, fresh
Weather: overcast, passing showers

Yesterday afternoon we got in behind the lee of Dursey Head, the peninsular forming the southern arm of the entrance to Kanmare River and the northern arm of Bantry Bay. We tacked when I looked at my chart and realized that Dursey Head is actually the western tip of Dursey Island. I wondered whether the gap between Dursey Island and the mainland was navigable. I looked at a larger scale chart and sure enough it was, just. This would save quite a bit of time, reduce our exposure to the lumpy seas beyond the headland and add a bit of extra interest in getting to the other side. I checked the tides, it was going on slack high water, this meant the current should be negligible, perfect. We tacked up to the entrance, furled the jib, put a reef in the mainsail started the engine and cautiously approached. The gap is a mere cable wide, that's 200 yards, and at the southern end of the tiny strait is a rock slap bang in the middle of the channel, making it the gap about 90 yards at this point. Overhead a power cable and a cable car wire loomed 24 meters high, plenty of clearance but it always looks so close as the mast passes underneath such obstacles, I just don't look and trust to the math. The rock was just beyond the cables, we hugged the island shoreline as we passed under them and a few minutes later we were clear into the small bay on the other side. This afforded some shelter as we reset the jib and prepared ourselves to meet the lumpy seas beyond. Crow Head marked the transition and with a strong tidal stream now running against the fresh south-easterly breeze the seas were short, steep and boisterous, we pitched heavily as Sylph tried to make headway into the forces working against us. A headwind according to Charles Dickens:

"Imagine a human face upon a vessel's prow, with fifteen thousand Samsons in one bent upon driving her back and hitting her exactly between the eyes whenever she attempts to advance an inch. Imagine the ship herself, with every pulse and artery of her huge body swoln and bursting under this maltreatment, sworn to go on or die."

Very dramatic as novelists tend to be, and oft times sailing against s light headwind can be very pleasant, but not this one, and I was relieved when I judged us sufficiently clear to tack and head in towards the shelter of Bantry Bay. By now it was starting to get late, fortunately the days are long as is the twilight lengthening the useable day even further. Checking charts and publications I determined that Lawrence Cove in behind Bear Island looked a good place to make for to seek shelter for the next day, until the wind abates or changes to a more favourable direction. The entrance once again was narrow, fortunately not as narrow as Dursey Sound, and it was marked by a very clear lead in light so I felt confident to continue after dark. Once behind Bear Island the wind died, down sails and on engine, then an hour long transit to the anchorage. At 11.50 pm I gratefully let go the anchor and, once satisfied that all was secure, turned in.

This morning the first mate roused all hands to breakfast then had us turn to the day's chores. Will I ever get ashore I wonder? Yesterday the solar panels once more ceased charging - I think I have found the fault but it is overcast and rainy so will not know for sure until the sun shines again. Also I inadvertently left the lazarette hatch un-dogged and some water got into the lazarette in the rough seas, so that needed cleaning out. A broken batten has been patiently awaiting my attention, each time I hoist the mainsail I look up and see its fractured angle distorting the sail's shape and think, I must get around to that. I need to get a new batten but until I find suitable supplier I repair, this is my third attempt. Then this afternoon there is a galley shelf behind the stove that I want to fix. So back to it.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

Somebody has to do it, keep this boat ship shape and habitable so I can sleep in peace, and that body is obviously skipper Bob. So back to it. ... Zzzzzzz.