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Old 28 July 2013, 19:00   #31
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Day 2 ?
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Old 28 July 2013, 19:47   #32
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Blimey Pottsy you are a hard taskmaster!!

What had been initially predicted as a dodgy day weatherwise actually proved to be a great day – except for the final few miles.

The day started though with the introduction of a chap called Andy to me at the briefing. Hi Andy etc etc. Initially I was a bit dense - then I realized – that Andy! Welcome and well done for the effort needed to join the challenge after your initial issues.

Better weather than expected allowed a 9am departure from Dun Laoughaire and a wonderful run across Dublin bay and a cut to the east to pass between Howth and Ireland’s Eye. North up past Lamby Island and towards Rockabill Lighthouse for a photo opportunity with the smaller boats.

From Rockabill a 50 passage taking us about 14 miles offshore towards Strangford Lough where we had planned to stop for lunch. We entered the entrance to the Lough about ½ mile to find a spot to raft up but instead just drifted with the very fierce flood tide. There is a large tidal energy structure and the speed of tide past it was just incredible.

Back out of the Lough and the run up to Bangor. Rather a shame I didn’t have the RIB.net app on my phone as 14 miles offshore I had 3G access and was checking emails, the news etc – bizarre!

The wind/tide picked up and slowed the boats and a fierce rainstorm was just outrun. A brief discussion also ensued on the benefits (or not) of an aluminum RIB in a thunderstorm – opinions varied so we just agreed that they would keep clear of Top Hat and sacrifice themselves for the greater good! ☺

Into Bangor and another long fuel stop. I will never complain about Cobbs Quay again where we can get 3 – 4 boats on the fuel berth and fill diesel and petrol at the same time. The staff at Bangor were wonderful though and also agreed to waive mooring charges – thank you!

Apple Attaque had a challenging day and spent much of it being towed by the Redbay towards the Redbay factory to resolve engine issues – fingers crossed for Paul Lemmer and John Aldis.

The evening meeting agreed that the smaller RIB s (8 in number) will depart at 5am as Monday is a very long 180 mile (or so) day with the need for a mid run fuel top up. We have a plan that takes us between many islands on the later stages of the trip which should be interesting.

So given my 4.15am alarm call you will excuse me if I pop off to bed. Photos (some of which are fabulous) to follow

Regards, Paul

Willk – could I ask a favour? You mention that you are meeting us in Killibegs? If you happen to have the time would you be able to pick me up one of those multicard readers than can read a CF card? I have all the relevant cables but need a reader and am struggling to get one as I am never anywhere useful when the relevant shops are open – thanks. Of course I will pay you handsomely!!

Paul

PS: The 'Girls' in pink are Mo Montgomery-Swan and Hannah Glatzel. They are 17 and 18 respectively and are (predictably if they are up for this sort of challenge) pretty feisty/tough characters - yes I am scared!!

Hannah is raising money for the Leonard Cheshire Home in Poole where she volunteers as part of the trip (all monies raised to the charity). The pink is just about standing out - not that they really need to as there has been a real interest in them wherever they have stopped - girl power! They are working/running alongside the other Highfield RIB run by Steve/Dave


Current leg

Distance travelled: 96 miles (ish)
Fuel used: 300 litres

Cumulative

Distance travelled: 536 miles
Fuel used: 1727 litres
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Old 28 July 2013, 20:14   #33
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Thanks paul for update. Im an armchair ribster. Your updates are good fix.
What is eta in killybegs.
Im up in that neck of the woods.
Spent sunday kayaking coast north of killybegs. You will pass great scenery tomorrow coming down west coast. Cliffs of sleive league on the run in to killybegs. You should stop of on inish murray on passage on tuesday. Old monastic beehive ruins and a deserted village.
Safe passage - pottsy
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Old 29 July 2013, 03:11   #34
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Paul, I am about to join the 950 in Redbay but will have a cardreader for you on the condition you take Paul Lemmer too ;-)
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Old 30 July 2013, 03:39   #35
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As you may be able to tell from the lack of a late night post we got a bit spanked yesterday and had a 14 hour transit. Will aim to double post later.

Thanks to Willk for the card reader - hugely appreciated support from RIBnet

Paul
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Old 30 July 2013, 19:33   #36
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Day 3: Bangor to Killibegs

About 180 miles in a day was never likely to be easy and with poor weather for the latter stages of the transit it proved a really really hard passage.

We are shadowing the whole fleet as necessary but with specific responsibility for the 6 – 7 smaller craft. We have now established a pattern of working and it works really really well with Top Hat staying behind them and the group working in twos but very close to each other.

The run from Bangor through to Rathlin is easy and fast with flat seas and favourable tide and we reach Greatcastle to refuel about 8.30 am – refreshed with bacon butties from Baby Blue and the Coastguard we are off.

The wind picks up and we become exposed on the west coast and the boats take a relentless battering – 120 miles in this will be a real killer. We try to gain shelter from various islands such as Gola, Owey and then Arran but sadly the channel at Arran is too shallow to transit.

It is only once we turn the corner at Malin Head that we get any respite. Everyone is tired and we are careful not to make silly mistakes at this stage – Killybegs and showers and food awaits. But first the fuel. Donegal Fuel are exceptionally competent and we refuel quickly. We cant get showers though so refuel again – this time with fish and chips – and head to bed exhausted.

Paul



Current leg

Distance travelled: 180 miles (ish)
Fuel used: 320 litres

Cumulative

Distance travelled: 716miles
Fuel used: 2087 litres
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Old 30 July 2013, 19:39   #37
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Day 4: Killibegs to Clew Bay/Mayo Sailing Club

The day started with a much deserved lie in – 7am! As you have read from the previous post Day 3 was a real killer so the less distance to cover on Day 4 allowed a slightly later start. Up and off Top Hat (which was on a mooring buoy in the harbour) and a trip to the Tara Hotel which had kindly allowed us to use the showers in their gym (which we had missed by getting in too late the day before) and become human again. A very nice hotel and staff if you are passing.

The weather forecast was 4 – 5 with 6 at times starting SW then going W – not great for a trip down the west coast of Ireland. At the safety brief at the Suzuki tent we discussed the route and the possible chance of the smaller boats passing down an area called the Achill Sound – a fabulous tidal ‘canal’ that would avoid them needing to transit around the Achill headland.

Leaving Killibegs we would transit SW towards Sligo on the southern side of Donegal Bay then hug the coast to get shelter up until we turned SW then S at Erris Head, some islands would allow us to gain some shelter and then pop us out either for the smaller boats to head towards the entrance to the Achill Sound whilst those with greater draft go outside. From there the run in would take us towards Westport and the archipelago of islands that Mayo Sailing Club sits amongst.

We congregated in the harbour and gave a brief to the small boats that we would be shadowing again. Briefing over and we get going, Top Hat gets up over 2000 revs and is starting to fly but I notice a whining sound from the engines, down to tickover, hatches up and there is definitely an issue so we turn and return to Killibegs.

Obviously this was not ideal as we were cover for a percentage of the fleet so this role was divided between the other larger craft.

We return to Killibegs and moor at Mooneys Boats and fall on our feet! We are met by Willk who has heard our comms and is here to help. Eventually with the help of my engineer from Poole (Mike Wills Marine) we diagnose a split air pipe leading to the turbo on the starboard side, Mooney’s has every part for fishing boats you could ever wish for and thankfully the right diameter hose so I get it fixed. In all it takes 2 hours but we are off again – thanks to Willk for the lifts and general support.

We crack on into Donegal Bay and it is very very lumpy with wave of about 20+ ft at times – if the rest of the fleet had this it would have been tough!

The run to Erris Head is about 60 miles and takes til about 6pm. We come round the headland, the seas ease and we can take it on the beam and manage to make good pace. For the first time we start to pick up comms from other fleet members.

The run to Achill and through Clew Sound takes only about another two hours and we make the run into the yacht club as the last boat but not by much. The run to Mayo SC through the islands is incredible – check out Westport on Google!

I am shutting down Top Hat after we have ticked all the boats back in and the phone goes – it’s the Coastguard. They are responding to an EPIRB activation in the Westport area – are all our boats accounted for? Not again!!!

I get the Hex ID number and a rough lat long – it seems very likely to be us. Everyone is eating in the yacht club by now so I turf them back to the boats to check EPIRBs and PLBs. They call again with the vessel ID and country and it is definitely one of ours. Thankfully it is a false alarm but a new EPIRB has set itself off and was about to get a helicopter response – we get the EPIRB out and can only stop it by removing the batteries

Mayo SC have done us proud – and what a wonderful club it is. Food, drink, a great sunset – magical – a very long day again but a stunning Irish coastline makes it worthwhile.

Paul



Current leg

Distance travelled: 120 miles (ish)
Fuel used: 320 litres

Cumulative

Distance travelled: 836 miles
Fuel used: 2407 litres
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Old 31 July 2013, 21:33   #38
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Day 5: Clew Bay/Mayo Sailing Club to Fenit


Not quite sure how to start this report – a very very full on day culminating in arrival into Fenit about 10.15pm in pitch black into a strangely lit harbour. We’re met by various harbour officials and an ambulance is on route – more of which in a minute.

The day starts with the usual morning briefing to discuss groupings, the route etc. We then head off to refuel so get out about 11/11.30.

The run from Clew Bay meant a run down past Clare Island towards Inishbofin. We had been recommended to pop into the harbour and check it out – it was well worth it as it was beautiful – so bleak and remote.

We leave Inishbofin behind and head due south to Slyne Head with the wind on the beam so we make fair speed. The forecast is E to SE 4 - 6 so we hope to get good shelter inshore and within the islands. We pass Slyne Head with a view to heading down to the Aran Islands which are home to the largest/highest cliffs in the British Isles/RoI. They may be high but we cant see more than a mile or two and often only a few hundred yards as heavy rain comes in. The wind comes round to the S then SW and we loose the lee that Aran would have afforded us so we change course to head due south towards Fenit.

The change in wind direction creates a secondary wave train and therefore huge and hugely confused seas sometimes the waves are small other times they are very very big and breaking.

We are doing 8 – 14 knots and have about 50 miles to punch through to get to the next headland. We are with the small boats but it is just not us suffering and the big boats (Hot Lemon VI included) are down to 12 – 15 knots too.

About 5 miles on we get a call from Andy P on Merlin that he has hurt his back. It got a bit hurt the day before and obviously is still an issue. Stuart (Rogue Wave) transfers to Melin and then he skillfully paces Merlin alongside Top Hat as we come to port to give him some lee. Viv drives into big seas and Sammy and I position ourselves to get him through the rails of Top Hat. We drag him in and get him into the cabin. We discuss seeking a helo/RNLI extraction but Andy wants to travel with us and feels he can make it.

Soon after we get a call from the Coastguard requesting details of our trip as they know nothing and have just found out as Blue J is under tow into harbour. We have logged passages every day with the CG and called in the names/POB. Indeed for the last two days we have emailed it in. It is surprising how it hasn’t been referenced between sectors but we are grateful for their interest.

We started at about 10.30 and it is now 6 ish with many many difficult miles to run. Sometimes we get a flatter period and speed increases but I am now driving to limit the impacts on Andy. Thankfully the speed the 5 small boats can make is about the same so it is easy to stay together. We round tow headlands towards Fenit and complete the run in to Fenit in the pitch black amongst the rocks with Top Hat leading.

At Fenit an ambulance takes Andy for a check up – he will be fine but RB13 is over afloat I suspect for Andy – he spent 6+ hours in Top Hat today – what a lovely chap – very stoic when in a lot of pain

Someone commented elsewhere that the 4.8s are the story of the event and indeed perhaps they are. There is a real bravado amongst the guys we are shadowing and to see the waves they are dealing with is hugely impressive. The smaller boats are:

Pink Panther – the girls Hannah and Mo and incredible and are battling hard against really tough conditions. Their driving is amazing.

Black Panther – the other Highfield helmed by Steve & Dave is also a really good boat and handles the conditions well

Rascal – Richard and Cathy is a twin Ribtec – going really well – we have their food stash on board which is handy!! ☺

Searider – Jurgen’s amazing 5.4m searider – set up really well

Merlin – Andy’s RIB which Stuart has driven over the last two days

Baby Blue – Treveor & Richard’s lovely little RIB which is sadly poorly

Apple Attaque – Paul Lemmer and John Aldis – a very experienced combination

The scores on the doors:

Fenit – 14 boats including Blue Jay with broken mounts
Aran Islands – Blue J under tow from Oban with fuel issues
Top Cat, Option 4 and Black Hawk in a harbour on Inish***** Island (there are lots of Inishs) near the Aran islands after Black Hawk tows in Top Cat with engine failure

Ribquest (Hugo), Linley Swan and Kalish in Galway after seeking an alternate port due to conditions near the Aran Islands

Mash II – retired due to injury
Cetus – retired
Taw – damage to boat


That’s

Paul


Current leg

Distance travelled: 120 miles (ish)
Fuel used: 320 litres

Cumulative

Distance travelled: 956 miles
Fuel used: 2727 litres
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Old 01 August 2013, 02:35   #39
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That Paul, is some report ! Thank you so much for filing. Especially with regards to the time of posting.

A vivid tale of the day. I am sure appreciated by many.

So did those into Galway stop over to shelter ?

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Old 01 August 2013, 03:13   #40
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Yes, well done to Paul for keeping us all up to speed on what is happening. A clear and concise account from a thorough professional.

Inish Bofin is nice isn't it?
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