Four weeks on board!
Today (Friday 27 June) we’re chalking up a milestone and celebrating with champagne! Pipistrelle has been our home now for four whole weeks, and has taken us to some lovely destinations so far. The Isles of Scilly have to come top of the list for weather, scenery and tranquillity.
Crosshaven was great craich at Johnny’s Bar.
Dublin was bright, vibrant and cultured, we were both impressed by the Book of Kells at Trinity College. At the moment we wish it were dry and about 20 degrees warmer so that we can enjoy the wonderful scenery of the Western Isles, but we can’t complain because we knew the weather in Ireland and Scotland would be cooler and damper than in the South.
So for the record, we’ve clocked up 920 nautical miles in that time, done four overnight passages from Falmouth to St Mary’s, from Tresco to Kinsale, from Waterford to Dublin and from Dublin to Campbeltown. We’ve experienced anything from sailing in winds of Force 6 – 7, to dead flat calm and motoring.
So far we haven’t been caught out by the weather, yet! That’s thanks to using a variety of media to make sure we have the best possible forecast information. We listen to the BBC shipping forecast on the LW radio, the local area forecasts on VHF; we track the surface pressure and synoptic charts by logging onto the Met Office site and monitor the current and forecast wind conditions for local areas by using www.xcweather.co.uk which is invaluable.
At this point it’s probably necessary to mention we have all the technology on board we could imagine needing – electronic charts with integrated AIS (Automatic Identification System) computers, a Vodafone USB stick for email communications and using the web. And now we also have Bob’s new dish on board! This is a Hi Gain Wireless dish to ensure we can get a wifi signal on board where available and not have to go ashore to be within range. We also use the radar, and need to get to grips with single side band radio.
Sea life has been scarce up till now. En route we’ve seen the occasional dolphin – but not in their usual pods. Seals have poked their heads above water to take a look at us and then disappeared again – one off Tresco in the Scillies, and several in the Campbeltown area. Birdlife we’ve seen is varied – from herons and egrets in the south to razorbills and black guillemots from around Dublin northwards. In addition to shags and seagulls we have seen gannets, cormorants, terns and many more divers and seabirds that we don’t readily recognise. Oh, and I nearly forgot the racing pigeon that joined us as our first unexpected visitor on our trip to Dartmouth! He stayed with us for an evening drink and then after a couple of hours on board flew off – did he rejoin the race?
An unsung hero of the trip is George our autopilot. So a word about him is deserved in the blog. He keeps very quiet but when set a task fulfils it until someone else takes over. We do allow him a siesta now and again and he generally shares our watch system with us, and he performs well even downwind and is extraordinarily reliable.
Here’s to the next four weeks on Pipistrelle, the Classic Malts Cruise, welcoming more friends on board, and then reaching Brittany in early August.