Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sail at Sunset

Rowed out to Briongloid last night, for a evening wander, pursued for a while by a lone seal. We had an easy time of it, sailing close-hauled into a steady breeze from due west, and making about 8kph over the ground towards towards the light on the Old Head. With full main and working jib hoisted, she barely heeled at all; would have carried a genoa easily, I think.

Sun declining over the Old Head peninsula

As the sun eased down to the western horizon, we tacked for home, bore off onto a broad reach, and trimmed our sheets to make the best of the easing wind, riding a feather-light breeze for the last mile home. By the time we stepped into our dinghy again to row back to the slipway, the sun was down and the moon had risen above the woods framing our harbour. The light of it struck warm silver-cream highlights from the dew glistening on Briongloid's hull and deck - dings, scrapes and weathering all hidden in the dark, only her outline remained to the eye, sleek curves gleaming against the blackness.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Briongloid Sails In

Briongloid left Kilmacsimon at high water, carrying myself, C, and our teenage pilot (on loan from the yard). Mast lashed to the deck to clear the bridge just above Kinsale, motoring was our only option; the Bandon river looks broad enough at this point, but the part of the channel deep enough for a fin-keeled yacht is narrow enough to make for tricky sailing, even for a bilge-keeled boat (which Briongloid is not).

We putted steadily down river, passing herons every hundred metres or so - I noticed that birds even thirty metres from shore were barely knee-deep, and was very glad of our pilot's help. Green fields sloping into trees along the shoreline slipped past; we passed a beautiful riverside tower-house (mini-castle), and dodged the submerged pontoons of a ruined bridge.

Just above the road bridge at Kinsale, our old engine faded, then expired altogether. We hung for a while on our main anchor while the ebb surged past; then a skiff from the yard towed us into the marina at Kinsale, before snatching our pilot and racing the sunset back up the river. After a false start or two locating sufficient bottleneck screws, we rigged our main sheet to raise the mast, assisted by David of Four Bells. And so to bed...


On a Saturday afternoon, around low water, we slipping our moorings in Kinsale, main and genoa already set, and ghosted out into the middle harbour on a breeze almost too light to feel. Lots of boats about, including a rather larger visitor, the enormous white ketch Parlay. The gentlest of north winds carried us down the channel, beneath the empty gun ports of the old fortresses. In the outer harbour, we gybed our way past a little armada of kids in Optimists, then a small flotilla of Lasers.

Clearing the approaches at last, a low swell announced our arrival in open water. A few miles to the south, the light at the Old Head blink slowly against the gunmetal-grey of the overcast. As we drew away from the shore, the wind picked up a little at last - Beaufort 3? - and we turned east, sailing on a beam reach for Big Sovereign, the rock which marks the entrance to Oysterhaven. Coming abreast of the entrance, we began to tack in, but the wind fell till we barely had steerage way; with a little cajoling, our rickety old engine carried us the final kilometre. Cut the throttle, dipped the boat hook, and Briongloid was home at last, hanging for the first time on our own mooring.

Adventure awaits...

Monday, June 11, 2007


We didn’t see a thing until it was nearly over; the assassin had pinned him on the grass, and from the mess around the pair, we thought at first that she had killed him already. Kicks and curses sent her running for cover, and we turned our attention to the victim, who lay blinking silently at us; pulse running like a jackhammer.

We knew he must be dying. No need to extend his suffering further; I fetched a slash-hook, and brought the blade down beside his neck, measuring my distance for the coup de grace. Then, lifted the shaft for the fatal blow, but stopped my swing at a shout – “not there!”.

I slid the flat of that wicked old blade beneath the body of the little thrush, the better to carry him where a little bird-blood would make no mind – but just as the cold of the metal reach him, he erupted into a flurry of beating wings - and to our utter amazement, cleared the hedge at the end of the garden in fair imitation of a pheasant.

The cat gave us a look of utter disgust, then stalked off.