When you cast your mind back at the end of a season, what do you remember from it? Memory being selective as time passes, the bad stuff tends to get filed under futile, and the good just keeps coming into focus.
For us 2009 was a great year, with only a few bad moments—busting our prop in Cork, dragging a mooring in Strangford Lough, days stuck in Carlingford as the wind howled by—are all that spring to mind on the downside. But they pale into insignificance compared to the good times.
Great times with family and friends, although not too much (!) as Lou and I love sailing with just the two of us. Wonderful wildlife encounters, too; always a vital part of our cruising enjoyment.
South-west Ireland was lovely and the people great, and we only wished we’d had more time to explore, but Scotland called. And from the moment we arrived north of the border to the day we left, the weather treated us as well as it ever can up there. Long northern days in beautiful sunshine, and always with enough wind—the sailing conditions were as near perfect as possible. Lovely quiet anchorages, too, with only the birds and seals for company.
And beautiful nights of astonishing clarity, made night sailing a pleasure. After a lumpy passage down the Irish Sea, the wind picked up as we approached Lands End in the early hours, with both of us on watch just in case of the need to avoid fishing vessels or shipping. As we altered course for Lizard Point, Lou was able to head for bed, leaving me to settle down and enjoy the night. In the lee of the land the wind dropped light, then began to gently fill in over the smooth, sheltered water. And it gradually increased to a sailable strength and shifted around to the north, allowing us to harden up and lay the course—perfectly—and how often does that happen?
With the Windpilot in charge, we were able to sail inside the shipping, and enjoy a spectacular display of stars in a night sky as clear as gin, with Pèlerin charging on, absolutely in the groove. As day broke we ghosted past the Lizard in a dying breeze, but the warmth of the sun made up for the lack of speed, as the new flood tide lifted us up to Falmouth. What a great sail.
2009 really allowed us to get to know our boat well, and we’re grateful for that. This winter is allowing us to work on a few changes we think will make her even better, and which we’ll hopefully share with you as they happen. We feel we have the right boat for us, and that’s the main thing.
If there was a slight tinge of regret for us, it was that Scotland has for many years been our stamping ground, and this may well have been the last time we’ll see it from the deck of our boat for a while. But we left having seen it at its best, and that’s how we’ll remember it. And the highlands and islands will still be there when we return.
We hope that 2010 is just as good, not only for us, but for you too, and we’ll look forward to posting more regularly as our plans unfold, and maybe even seeing you out there. Happy New Year!