Some­times you gotta stop

Yachting Monthly - - COLUMN - LIBBY PURVES

We were in Lawrence Cove, Bere Is­land, when a great truth came to us – that in ev­ery cruise there comes a point when it needs to stop, take a deep breath, and deal with ac­cu­mu­lated hu­man and phys­i­cal de­tri­tus, de­te­ri­o­ra­tion and (frankly) mu­tual ir­ri­tabil­ity. In short, we must re­boot like an over­laden com­puter. This anal­ogy felt right when, sweaty un­der the un­ac­cus­tomed sun and tired from up­wind sail­ing and then mo­tor­ing through con­fused seas in short, sharp stages from Din­gle, we slid into Bere­haven and rowed ashore in Castle­town­bere for cof­fee and shops.

It’s a busy, smelly fish­ing har­bour now and, de­spite the gro­ceries, it didn’t have that re­boot feel­ing. We still needed to press restart. So we left, a bit sweaty, a bit sweary get­ting the an­chor up, not quite know­ing what we wanted but know­ing it wasn’t to go to sea again. Yet.

Hence Lawrence Cove. Here, a tiny, un­pre­ten­tious ma­rina has sprung up in re­cent years to ful­fil ev­ery de­sire of the weary yachtie heart. It has wash­ing ma­chines and a drier, and clean showers, fuel, and a hose for wa­ter and deck­wash­ing (pru­dently min­i­mal, this is an is­land). And there was a kindly wel­come. We felt cher­ished. We both had a re­ally good hair wash and thus, within 24 hours, we were re­booted. Good as new, clothes clean and back in their lock­ers, boat all spruce, quick layer of Wood­skin on the cock­pit teak. Noth­ing smelt weird. Stress-re­lated gal­ley stains were wiped up. Lines were coiled. The main­sail was ly­ing tidy in its cover, not rear­ing up in peaks like an ag­grieved phan­tom. A sense of con­trol was re­stored. So we slept, hatches open, clean and peace­ful as new ba­bies. The ob­vi­ous thing was to stay one more day. We had long walks up to the Bat­tery and across to a lonely beach slip­way for a swim, an­other swim off the ma­rina slip at High Wa­ter, and an­other shower (a brief one). But we knew it was time to move on be­cause the re­boot can oth­er­wise turn into har­bour-rot. The Mizen beck­oned.

It re­minded me of many other mid-cruise re­boots. There was a time on Belle-ile when we were so freaked by Brit­tany tides and so charmed by the lo­cal gaufre stand that it didn’t seem to mat­ter when it took an ex­tra day for a lo­cal diver to re­trieve our an­chor from a snag. When the chil­dren were small, re­peated re­boots met their stri­dent opin­ion that a beach, pi­rate cas­tle or fun­fair re­quired 48 hours min­i­mum stopover, or else. An af­ter­noon in a hot smelly cir­cus tent with peo­ple pok­ing can­dyfloss in your ear can make you re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate go­ing back to sea.

Or there was Paul’s de­par­ture for Cape Horn, first leg to Lisbon, when it was nec­es­sary to re­boot up a deso­late but beau­ti­ful ria in north­ern Spain and spend a whole day get­ting diesel spill out of the sa­loon cush­ions af­ter a stove mis-in­stal­la­tion. I am avail­able for con­sul­ta­tion in this skill: it in­volves a hosepipe, a whole bot­tle of Bil­gex and a great deal of stamp­ing, as if tread­ing-out-the­grapes. But af­ter that we washed the sweaty de­spair off our clothes and had some frites and got over the fear that this whole mad project was doomed (it wasn’t. It was a tri­umph. See Paul’s book, One Wild Song).

Some­times you gotta stop. There is no skip­per more en­er­vat­ing than the kind who wants to keep go­ing at all costs and thinks it ac­cept­able to get into har­bour at dusk af­ter a three-day pas­sage and an­nounce an 0500 start...

There comes a point when ev­ery cruise needs to stop and take a breath

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