Saturday, December 13, 2008


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pat was the first one to spot it, after Sam pointed out the land clouds. He was standing naked in the cockpit, drying off in the sun from his teakettle shower. He bellowed it multiple times to the astonishment of the crew. Everyone scrambled out of the farthest corners of the ship to see if indeed El Capitan was telling the truth (he was wearing a towel by the time we made it up). It was only 3:15; we weren’t expecting to see land until dinner. We forgot to take into account that Ireland has mountains. Sure enough, we could see the faint outline of a hill through the haze on the horizon. A few minutes later there was another one, and soon the horizon was scattered with what would show itself to be the very green Irish coast. It would be a few hours before we neared Fastnet Rock so we started the boat cleanup effort. First came the gathering of personal effects, followed by vacuuming everywhere and cleaning the head.

As the sun got low enough to give everything a yellow glow, we came up on the long awaited lighthouse at Fastnet Rock. Watching it grow bigger we all sat in the cockpit grinning. Rob drove by hand. Sam, who will turn 60 in less than a month, has waited his whole life for this sight, and it’s the first time for all but Pat. We took lots of photos. Photos of the rock. Photos of our crewmates. Photos of our crewmates in front of the rock. Not to worry, it is the best-documented half-hour of the last 16 days.

Now, as a giant full moon has just risen off our starboard side and we continue on to Kinsale, we have fallen into familiar roles. Sam is bent over the salon table double checking the navigation and taking bearings off lights on the coast. Rob is cooking dinner, monitoring the casserole in the oven while chopping and cooking carrots, of which we have a seemingly endless supply. Stuart and Pat, having finished smoking their celebratory cigars, have raised the spinnaker and are playing it in 10 to 12 knots of wind instead of turning on the motor. I, El, am sitting at the nav station (with a little technical help from Rob) recapping the day’s events to send out to all of you. It’s warm down in the cabin. The bowls are ready for dinner. We’re heeling at 15 degrees to starboard. Bob Marley is playing. I just realized it’s past 10:00... this scene usually takes place at around 6 or 7. The excitement must have set us back. We don’t have many hours of darkness this far north. The sun rose this morning spectacularly just before 0400, the first real sunrise we’ve had since... when did the grey begin? It all runs together. At daylight we expect to be coming around into the Kinsale harbor, where we will be greeted by the entire MacNeil family. It has been a wonderful passage, and a pleasure to share with all of you.

Thanks for reading!

The Barra Crew

“I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife,
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.”
- John Masefield

Post by El

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