Monday 21 July 2014

Union Hall to Schull

We headed off Tuesday morning with reaching Crookhaven in mind. We had a couple of hours of ebbing tide to help us along and we needed it as the wind started off very light. We sailed with the genoa and topsail until we were through the Stag sound but it was starting to freshen up by then.
We still don't have a sheet to set the topsail properly so we had to lower the main to untie it from the gaff and at the same time swap the genoa for the jib. No sooner had with started changing sails when we were hit by squally showers and mist which made it more of a challenge than it needed to be.
By now we were nearing the Kedge islands in a force 5 Southerly, into a 6 in squalls but we were now going against the tide so our speed over ground was only about 4kts.
We considered the sensible option of heading into Baltimore and continuing on inside roaring water bay but although it was raining the sailing was very pleasant and we were surrounded by dolphins so we carried on with the plan of sailing West round the bill of Cape. More rain and mist came in as we headed West so we made a change and decided to head in through Gascanane sound.
Now we had a fair idea it could be a horrible place in the wrong weather but we didn't consider the day to be that bad and although the tides were still reasonably big we were coming off springs and nearing the top of the tide as well. We could see the overfalls to our West as we approached but it seemed as if we would miss the worst of them and we made a final call to carry on through.
Pretty quickly we were deeply regretting it in a confused breaking sea. We were running under full sail but when we checked our speed we were only making 1kt, We quickly started the engine and under sail and engine we were making 2.5kts. For the next 15 minutes or so we got beat to hell, I went from worrying about crash gybing to not giving a dam if we lost the whole rig as long as the boat stayed together to get us out the other side. Ken sat on the bridge deck looking back at what was coming and I held the tiller with white knuckles trying to keep her going straight. I assumed the dinghy had been lost at that stage until we resumed speaking as we eased out the other side and Ken muttered that it was still there and that it had been hit right on the beam by 3 or 4 breaking waves.
I had just been reading about Andy Rankin surfing Teal in the breakers on his way into Limfjord the night before and had been thinking he was mad but this matched his description very well although thankfully for us she didn't broach.
Plenty of people seem to have made the mistake of ending up there at the wrong time and although I've seen the sea state pick up badly in comparison to the weather in other places I was very surprised how bad it was there. Thats what I get for not composing the mandatory Gascanane poem the first time I went through.
Following that we had had enough for the day and decided to head into Schull for the night, We dropped the anchor around 9pm and following a few pints retired for the night only to be woke up at 2am by the tiller banging around which meant going on deck in the pouring rain to lash it over (twice because I rushed the first time) . So it had been an eventful first day but cruising wouldn't be cruising without a little hardship and a few frightening moments I guess. For the record Teal didn't take a drop for the beating she got and the dinghy shipped no water whatsoever.

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