30 September 2015, 13:10 hours, we passed the track off of Dunmore East that we had made leaving Ireland 4 months and 5 days earlier on the 25th of May.
As I motored slowly up the River Suir, it is impossible to describe my feelings. Much like crossing the Atlantic, this was another 4,000 nm, 7,200 km trip milestone completed.
Spread out over four months instead of one, was both a blessing and a curse:
A blessing in that time is spread out, so schedules are more flexible and the scenery is constantly changing, as is the places visited and the foods eaten.
A curse in that it’s almost exclusively coastal travelling and the stress that entails, rocks, narrow channels, and worst of all, expensive marinas.
And much like the Atlantic Passage, coming full circle was a culmination of years of dreaming and planning. As soon as the Atlantic was planned, still years before we actually had a boat, I had moved on to phase two, the first full spring and summer in northern Europe. So of course that meant the Baltic and those lands of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia that were almost totally new to me.
For the most part, if the plan has been well thought out, events unfold as planned. As I look at the Dauntless Cruise Plan that was finalized in April, I pretty much stuck to the plan into September.
Sadly, as I cruised up the Suir, I was occupied with trying to get my cell phone on. It had gone to sleep and never woke up. No sign of life, even when being charged or when I changed its battery.
Today, 48 hours later, I have accepted that its demise is permanent. And sadly today, I just realized that I had not downloaded any pictures since the end of August.
Still of the 600 that were on the phone, I had uploaded a few pictures and videos to WordPress and I have the hundreds of pictures I took with the Samsung K-30, but I like the Note for its ability to take good panorama shots. All of the pictures I post with these blogs came from the Note. That’ll change now.
Now the previous week, I had talked to Johnny, the Waterford City Council guy in charge of the marina and I think a bunch of other things too, to find out where to tie up as the docks were almost full. We had planned that I would call again coming up the river. But now I couldn’t., which always adds to the stress since knowing the spot I was going to is one less thing to worry about.
Spotting an empty spot at the end of one of the three floating docks (pontoons in British English) there was a sign saying it was a private spot, but any port in a storm, is a lesson I have learned the hard way. Also, there are a number of these marked spots on the dock, but they are not necessarily up to date and the owners had moved on long ago. I was in such a spot all last winter.
Thus I took it, got tied up, changed to my street clothes and then the owner of the spot motored on up, with his wife and two daughters.
I went out and apologizing profusely, asked him what I should do, telling him that I had not been able to call Johnny and dreading the response, to move to who knows where?
Instead he was really nice and said no problem at all; he would just raft outside of Dauntless until I found my place. I thought that was particularly gracious since it meant he had to hang around until I got things sorted out.
Just then, I look down the pontoon, and who do I see walking towards us was Johnny, himself. Now, I was surprised, knowing how busy Johnny is, as well as the fact that the marina (dock really) is just a small part of his job, very small.
Turns out while he had not heard from he, he had spotted Dauntless coming up the river on AIS.
What a relief. I did not want to inconvenient my new found friend Danny any more than I already had. Johnny did have a tight spot for me on the inside of the pontoon, one that I had not considered knowing the water was very shallow on the inside, but in this case it was deep enough.
So 15 minutes later, we were retied to the spot we are currently in. Johnny also called the boat owner in my previous spot to confirm they were pulling their boat this coming Saturday, so I could move back there then.
A wonderful welcome back to Waterford. There are simply no more friendly people than the Irish. Virtually every encounter over the last 13 months had been of this sort. Always willing to help, always friendly to all boaters.
Stopping over in Arklow, the evening before illustrates the point:
It’s a small fishing town. Everyone is so nice. We just stopped in Arklow for a few hours to wait on the tide to turn in about 5 hours.
There was a big sailboat tied to the wharf wall, a commercial dock, with large rubber tires and old timber. I told the sailboat skipper I just needed to stop for 5 or 6 hours. So he suggested I raft (tie up to his boat) next to him. As we were tossing lines, a guy came by on Kayak to tell me the hammerhead on the dock in the small inner harbor with fishing boats was open.
So realizing that was better I moved the boat there and after getting tied up, two different guys, working guys, came by to tell me the access code for the gate and we had a discussion about the tides and currents and the best time to leave.
And of course, this dock was free.
One thing you see in Ireland is that they really like everyone on a boat.
You don’t see the class warfare you see in many places. Fisherman always wave and talk with you. When I spent last September rafted to fishing boats in Castletownbere, Dauntless fit right in, in both size and the lines of the boat. (I wrote about this in the post, “Now It’s Miller Time” sometimes we were rafted 4 or 5 deep.
Link to that post: https://dauntlessatsea.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/now-its-miller-time/
So my welcome home was better than I could have even hoped.
The Krogen Cruisers have their annual rendezvous next week, so of course I am going to that. I like talking to other owners about our boats and its amazing prowess.
So Tomorrow I fly to my real home, but I’ll be back in a couple weeks to sort out what needs to be done this winter.
In the next weeks and months, I will backfill these posts with the events of the summer that I never had time to write about such as: Cruising with Another Krogen in Holland, Estonia, Finland and Sweden and single handing thru Denmark, Norway and Scotland, the Caledonian Canal and of course, Crossing the North Sea.