Wherin I Step into the Unknown

I took walking vacations because I wanted to travel after I retired, but no one would travel with me and I didn`twant to go on a bus holiday or a package holiday.  I loved my first two, in Ireland and Wales, but then I started walking with a friend and I found that what I especially enjoyed was meeting new people. It was fun waalking with her and I saw many new places, but it is limiting-only walking with one ote person. So two years ago, when my friend started walking with her new boyfriend I wasn`tsad at all!  This meant I was free to try things other than walking, to meet new people and have different adventures.  I was thrilled!

Last year I planned a trip to Ireland with an old friend from my childhood, but that fell through so this year, instead of relying on someone I resolved to find my own way first, then meet with my friends in the UK for lunch.  I thought about all the things I could do…walk(no!)canoe the Great Glen, take a canal boat trip, take a train trough Norway, cruise to the Faeroes, find an archeological expedition….you get the point..and I settled on a trip sailing from Falmouth to Mallaig on an old wooden gaff rigged cutter. I really must think of al the ramifications of my choices from now on, but more on that later.  I signed on, I used my plane ticket from last year and I posted on FB about what I was planning.  By the way, I`m writing this on a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard so if there are typos…so be it.

I planned my lunches, bought my train pass and travel insurance and set out.  Then a friend I`d sailed with five years ago saw my post on FB and invited me to staywith her and her husband for a few days, since they live near Falmouth so I changed the date of my flight.

Did I consider what sailing on sucha boat would involve?  Um, no.  I must learn todo that.

Here is what I`ve done so far since the middle of Apri: driven 400 miles to NYC, taken the train to Newark Airport, flown through Iceland to Gatwick, taken the train to Falmouth, golfed, walked, eaten in Falmouth....sailed from Falmouth to Mallaig...and ...let's look at that last bit, shall we?

“Sailed from Falmouh to Mallaig.”  It was cold!  It was hard! It was anadventure! It was dangerous!  It was exhilirating!  It was exhausting!  Ill never forget it.  I'll never do it again.  I’m more pleased than I canever express that I did it.  It was an achievement.

There were 7 passengers and 4 crew.  There was James thee skipper, young man in is thirties(owned the Eda Frandsen), his wife Chloe the wonderful cook, Gabrielthee younger mate and Spider the 6 foot 7 inch older mate.  They are all experienced .

The passengers?  Mixed lot, all lovely  and interesting.  There was a couple frrom around Chatsworth.  He owns motorbikes and does someting in Dubai, she works at Chatsworth.  Another couple had sailed on theEda before, two retired men, one a mountaneer.

First surprise; the berths are tiny and skinny.  Second surprise; they never close he hatch on deck…wind blows down into the saloon constantly.  It was going to be cold!  Damn!

My lovlely friends dropped me off at the Eda and after safety information(how to put on your lifejacket)we raised the sails and set out!

It’s hard work raising the sails but he passengers(new crew)pulled together and we did it!  Our first sail was the 12 hours to the Scillies-overnight.  When you comeon board at nght you must wear a life jacket and you must clip on to he straps rininge fore and aft…so that if you fall overboard(yes…)you’ll still be attached to the boat.

Night sailing is sublime until it gets to be freezing, then..not so sublime…

I loved it!  I love sailing.  We spent the day in the Scillies while Chloe made pasties for us all.  Then we decided to make it to the Isle of Man-48 hours straight of day and night sailing,4 hour watches.  Um, I didn’t expect that.  See mynote abut doing a more through investigation of conditions on my trips…   My berth was right next to the engine.  I wil let yu think about that for a bit..48 hours…

The dolphins!!!!  Third night(2/4 hour shifts because it was so frikkin cold)…3 in the morning…we were surrounded by dolphis..in the moonlight!!!!  That made the trip for me…cold or no cold.

We spent a day in Poole, on the Isle of Man, had fresh kipper baps for lunch, sat in the sun(Ivisited the A&E for meds for my cough and set out the next day.

That next night, along the coast of Ireland(North)we saw the bonfires lit for the Queen’s birthday…which was pretty damn medieval…and we made our way to Oban.  Cockles fr lunch, rest overnight then on to Tobermory…did I menton the pubs in every port?  We sailed around the islands around Skye for a day, had a last night at a pub and disembarked in Mallaig.

I’d wrn the sameclothes for 10 days..and I mean every bit of clothing i had-night and day…becauseit was cold…I’d washed my face and showered in Poole and Oban..showerson the docks….and took a bus tomy hotel in FortWilliam.  I looked a sight!  I’d worn the same old wool hat all that time.  I reeked.  No ne sat next to meon th busfrom Malaig to Fort William!

I showered, I showered, I dug out the last clean outfit I oowned and had a lovely dinner in the dining room, then walked unsteadily up to my room bcausee I’d developed sea legs!  The floor kept moving!

I’m at my friend’s in Sheffield for a few days to rest.

No, I won’t do this kind of trip again.  OK, I might sail with me friends from Falouth, but I won’t do 9 days on the Irish Sea again.  It was so much harderand cloder and cramped than I expected, but the people I sailed with made t all fabulous…and the sailing…and the dolphins.

I stoped taking pictures after the Isle of Man because I just wanted to keep it to myslf.

So, perhaps a beach vacation next year?????  Nah…I’ll find a new adventure….there is that train in Norway  to the Arctic Circle….or exploring Iceland…and St. Kilda still calls me….



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