Hey All - still fairly new to Ribnet, and other than some local weekend RibRaids to Scotland, IOM and around various bit of NI over the last number of years, the Round Ireland was by far the biggest challenge we've ever done!
It was a great experience with some fantastic people - we turned up at Kilmore Quay just over a week ago not knowing a soul, but felt very quickly adopted into the RI family. The craic and sense of comradeship amongst the fleet was something special.
We were in our 2006 bog-standard 6m Ribeye 'MadTubes' with a Yamaha 115, with very little special adaptation and were doing this on a fairly tight budget - no suspension or fancy gizmos!! The boat performed superbly in everything that the weather threw at us, and the engine never missed a beat. As always, think the boats can take a lot more pounding than we can! The only 'luxury' we decided on was the installation of hydraulic steering (post-event I don't think this was a luxury - think that one or other of our steering cables or our biceps would have shredded if we hadnt!). We also had to give serious consideration to fuel management (with a seriously under-capacity 40L inbuilt tank) - an Ebay purchase of a secondhand 70L tank, plus our usual secondary 40L and a few extra jerry cans replaced the back bench in a crude but effective DIY solution! Incredibly we had only a few minor repairs during the challenge - broken power lead on the GPS, reattachment of the fuel uptake line on the secondary tank and the replacement of a lightbulb!
Other kit - our wee Garmin 450S was just grand, ICOM VHF struggled a bit (not too bad receiving but transmitting wasn't too clear.
Think the best bit of personal kit were the Gekko helmets - really don't think we could have done it without them - the one drawback of the A600 is that you do get wet, and the helmets just make the rough stuff so much easier and reduce fatigue considerably. I spent most of the time in a Musto MPX Ocean Smock which kept me dry and warm throughout - much more so than my previous set of waterproofs). Other essential kit - duck tape and cable ties!
Big thanks to Hugo, Michaela and the team for all the organisation before and during the event. It's just something we would never have done on our own, and have enjoyed meeting so many fantastic people with a wealth of experience who share our passion for ribbing and exploring. Further thanks to Paul & Viv on Top Hat, Paul & Dai on Freya and Huw & Sarah on Seawolf - you guys did a fantastic job of keeping us safe and your presence was very reassuring throughout.
It definitely was a challenge, but that brings with it a real sense of achievement making it to the finish line! Would I do it again? Maybe not next week, but give us some time for the muscles and bank balance to recover and you never know ....