Irish debacle - Bulletin six


Dear all,

Our Bowthruster packed up in Kinsale. This is a bloody disaster! Still, encouraged by new crew member, Sha Sha Toptani, we decide to plough on to the West, as there are few marinas there so we won't need it. Decency and sanity require that we draw a veil over the trip round Mizen Head at the South West tip of Ireland, through the miserable Castletownbeare and onwards through the mist, murk, horrible seas, avoiding nasty craggy little islands, to the awful Cahirseveen, when all that was visible was the waves breaking at the bottom of the cliffs on Valentia Island. All but the bottom 50 feet of the 2000 foot cliffs was shrouded in low cloud. (He's getting depressed, just like he was in Poland – Oh Lord! Totty)

But wait - there is a good restaurant in Cahirsiveen!

On arrival, we are ushered to our table. We look at the menus with pleasure. We order wine. We wait for our food, when suddenly a great disturbance at the door. Enter six people. Older man, dressed snappily. Older woman, dripping jewels with a sort of over-the-top ball-gown. Two younger women, overdressed even for the Dublin scene, with skirts up to their arses. They are accompanied by two young men, who are by their manner at the bottom of the food chain – boy friends of the girls, we assume. Older overdressed, bejewelled woman calls imperiously for the restaurant manager, who scurries at her command. MRS BIG (for we assume that is who she is) issues some orders and waits. The restaurant manager comes to our table; "Would you mind moving", says she, "The new arrivals would like to put your table together with another and sit there". "Who are these people?" says Don – "Obviously the local BIG MAN??" "Ssssh", whispers the manager, "I wouldn't be making remarks about them people, so I wouldn't ".........

So we witnessed another Irish phenomenon – the power of the BIG MEN.

Onwards to Dingle and the West

Dingle is a pleasant and picturesque harbour, with a marina in one corner. We had been told it would be full of yachts for some race or other, but for some reason few of them have arrived, nor given the prevailing weather will they unless their crews are barking mad......

We find from the harbourmaster that their local BIG Man was Charlie Haughy, ex-premier of Ireland and (as 'tis widely rumoured, as fine a corrupter of all about him as you will find anywhere). Said Don: "People say Charlie Haughy was a corrupt criminal!! "Ah sure, indeed he was", says the harbourmaster: "But he was OUR corrupt criminal, so he was!"

Five fruitless days waiting for a solenoid for the bowthruster. (There, bet most of you don't know a solenoid from a haemorrhoid, or a bowthruster from a spinnaker. For elucidation, try :"Don's solenoids have packed up. His bowthruster hardly works at all. He's totally buggered"). Don, under the influence of wine and maddened by the waste of the only spell of moderately decent (ie, little wind, much rain) weather in weeks decided to attempt the far West without the offending article. The lack of bowthruster increases the old boat's turning circle to about 100 yards, making it a bloody menace in marinas, but there are hardly any in the far West, so bugger it. Bartlett advised that a succession of slack low pressure areas (well named 'Depressions') would provide a few days good sailing.

Come the morning of the departure, Broontroosers having garbed himself in blue underwear and conducted other surreptitious acts of superstition, is rather gromly (grimly, but I quite like gromly) waiting in the wheelhouse to start for the Arran Isles, somewhere off the edge of the known world. Charlotte appears from below. She is ashen-faced, rather like old fashioned football managers. (You remember: 'Ashen-faced manager Ron Knee, aged 59' - or maybe you're too young).

"Let's start", she gasps. Enquiries from a concerned Broontroosers (who notices her demeanour despite his own gromness, so it must be bad) elicit the fact that her back, which had been becoming tender, is now killing her and she cannot bend or walk properly.

The following conversation ensues.

Totty: " Its OK, I can bend provided that I hold on to something and keep one leg in the air. It hurts, but I'll manage."

Broontroosers: "???!***/?"

Totty: "It will get better soon, don't worry"

Broon: "So, the headline is: 'Geriatric pair, average age 69, barking mad, set out to conquer 200 miles of the wildest and most desolate, least inhabited Atlantic-facing coast in Europe, with few harbours and many isolated anchorages, one hardly able to move and the other suffering from aggravated stress?? I'll get on to the press right away, the Journal of Lunacy and Gibbering Mania will be specially interested. Anyhow, you might do permanent damage."

This leaves us in an interesting position, viz:

The verb to be burdened with worries is to 'cark'. Don was definitely carking madly and decided to un-cark con brio. "Ah – Totty's back is a good thing – an opportunity to get out of this hellhole and return home. Bugger the pride"!

He unilaterally decides to abandon the trip, and starts making other arrangements to get the boat back to Scotland before Totty can marshal any more arguments. (He's right for once, the back is terrible, we can't go on - Charlotte). So on to the arrangements...


Its surprising what you can do with a telephone.

It only took 3 calls to put things in motion:

1. Call Small Craft Deliveries in Woodbridge, to see if a delivery crew could be arranged.

2. Call Ardfern Marina to find a transport company

3. Visit Dingle Harbourmaster to see what could be done about getting boat out of water and make all other arrangements.

From these conversations comes a flood of responses:

Don has a sheaf of helpful addresses, telephone numbers and names, including boatyard manager, Mallow O'Toole of the Cork accent so tick that it can be cut wit' a knife.

So there we are, its raining, the mountains are invisible, Charlotte is lying on a bunk somnolent with opium-based painkillers kindly prescribed by a local doctor, Don, glass in hand, is dreaming of long, calm sunlit days in the Baltic.

All together now...."Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...."

Our plot now is to get the boat back to Scotland pronto, let Totty have some rest, get the boat fixed and go visit some Hebrides for light relief.

All that remains is to get the boat back to Valentia, drive it into a sort of small harbour towed behind a tractor, helped by two Polish lads hanging off the frame of the "harbour" like monkeys, converse with Mallow O'Toole, get a taxi to the airport and leave the job to others.

We later found that a digger was hired to demolish the bank opposite the boatyard so the old boat could get out on the back of a huge low loader, and the convoy blocked roads from Valentia to Ardfern, How do we know? Because people kept approaching us for months after saying: "Is that your boat?? We followed it for miles between Stranraer and ......."

2007 Credits and the Result

As with any dramatic production, the end is signalled by a list of credits .Here is ours:

Sha Sha Toptani for putting up with Don, providing calm seamanlike support and steering for many hours.

Paul Bartlett for his almost invariably accurate weather forecasts, particularly important in the West in the worst summer since records began, when all you can do is plan little dashes in between the dire crud.

Ian Hamilton, known as Pegleg, for taking the load off the ancient crew and for learning so rapidly how to communicate with the natives.

Paul Watts, for logistical support and practical advice every time Don panicked about the state of the engineering and helping to find new solenoids.

Deneys Reitz, for fortitude and reliability, despite losing its solenoids.

Result:- Deneys Reitz and crew vs Atlantic Ocean (away fixture)

Atlantic Ocean - 3

Deneys Reitz and crew - 2

Onward and upward

Yours aye


Alexandrov sends condolences

RE: Totally Buggered: Dire weather stops play.

Ohhhh! I am really sorry to read this - I have to admit that when the gravy train of 'teaching' at THORN EMI dried up, due to lack of venues that would accept dodgy tutors, drunken participants with tales of 'Black 'orses', flying TVs etc, I turned, foolishly to a classified ad in 'Kinsale Times', offering handsome remuneration to any who would run remedial courses on map-drawing, sponsored by the Tourist Board of County Cork, they having lost too many visitors to the imaginative but wayward doodlings of well-meaning but cartographically-challenged locals. I duly developed and pioneered a whole new didactic and pedalogical regime (affectionately known as 'the Alexander Method') of drawing a deep breath before embarking on the pictographic rendition of the objects intended to be represented on the map. However, typical residents of Cork, suspicious of philosophical doctrines relating to reference theory, 'language, truth and logic' etc rebuffed the very principles upon which the normal concepts of 'maps' are based. After collecting payment in pocheen, I was sadly abandoning my task when a friendly local consoled me: "Now sure and don't be worried about this map ting at all at all - it'll be no time now, you mark me words, till they're all drawing loik Dr OR'Donance Survey himself - my good friends the O'Tooles and Mahers tell me yer a truly 'stunning' teacher, and will leave a mark on the locals for sure for sure, so ye will..."

... Now I know what he meant.

With apologies - and how the hell did you find your way all the way back to Cretingham?? - or is it just a pseudo-Cretingham, that turned out, miraculously, to be 'just three miles down the road on the left after the Calorgas suppliers in the Funeral Parlour'? - are you SURE you know WHERE YOU ARE?!)