Sometimes you gotta stop
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