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ISORA Logo VectorISORA 2015 Race 6 – D2D (Dun Laoghaire to Dingle) – a sort of preview

The biannual D2D (Dun Laoghaire to Dingle) race is upon us. I can’t go. I’m raging so I am. Family commitments. Talked at the Minister (not with) about it. Biggest race of the season, says I. A Round Ireland lite. The Big Kahuna of offshore racing in the odd years. Honestly it’s half a Round Ireland. Really important to me that I go. The crew need me (a lie). I actually can’t miss this one (another lie). Peter and Stephen will go spare if I don’t have a blog for the website (a three card trick of lies). Nothing. Nada. Niet. “Picture but no sound.” I feel Coventry beckoning. I’ve been to Coventry so many times I have my own parking space there. Hate Coventry. Horrible place. She plays her trump card - “the look.” Those of you that are married will know “the look.” When you get “the look” you know it’s all over mate. Pack up your speech, your well thought out and reasoned argument and call it a day. “The look” is undefeated, the world champion in any domestic difference of opinion. I’ve tried to practice “the look” myself in the quiet of my own bathroom. Just me and the mirror. Useless at it. End up counting the wrinkles and crevices in my sea dog, weather beaten, wind scorched visage. “The look.” It’s a woman thing. They must teach it to them in school along with stuff about periods and sex ed. because they sure as hell have it perfected. Can’t beat “the look.” So the wisdom of old age teaches me to pick my battles. When you get “picture but no sound”, accompanied by a one way ticket to Coventry lingering on the hall table with your name on it and then, in a sort of coup de grace, she unveils “the look”, well you know it’s time to fold. Throw the cards into the middle and ruefully declare “well actually I was thinking I’d sit this one out and spend some quality time with you.” I’m a bad liar. I know it, she knows it but we both know she doesn’t care. She wins this one. I’m not doing the D2D. It’s like Christmas in my little simple man world has just been cancelled. FML. I’m off to iron my face.

The 2013 D2D? Now I did that one. Yahtzee was cruising in France so I jumped ship, teamed up with Peter Hall on Adelie, a First 34.7, and had a blast. Wrote a fairly reasonable blog on that one - called it “In Offshore finishing is winning”. It’s on the website. If you have a spare five minutes you should take a look in a weird kind of #TBT kind of way. Some craic that weekend. Got becalmed just after crossing the start line and in a foul tide ended up anchoring within literally touching distance of Bulloch Harbour along with Spindrift and Ocean Tango. By the time we hauled anchor and started moving again (slowly) Anthony O Leary and the boys on Antix were off Greystones and steaming south. Game over there and then for us. Shortly afterwards we suffered the ignominy of a cargo ship nearly running straight through us. She was doing nineteen knots and we were doing one. Ensemble she was called. Left no more than twenty metres between us and her as she stormed through. Scary.

Spent exactly sixty hours racing to Dingle that weekend. Very light and frustrating until we reached the Rock and then all changed, changed utterly. Mad sail from there to Dingle. Best of my life. Huge wind filled in. Wild, dangerous and verging on the out of control. Here’s a copy and paste of a small part of that original blog that really sums it up for me:

Conor loses her but gets her back just a millisecond before disaster. And it would be disaster. Our field of vision is down to a radius of at most ten metres. Any mishap, any MOB and it’s all over folks – no way to slow down never mind stop and go back to attempt a retrieval. Lights out, go home. Elvis has left the building. Good luck and thanks for the dance. He calls for us to take the kite down and peel to the No.2. Just as we rouse ourselves we get another wave, another surge, another adrenaline rush and that plan is shelved. This happens three times and three times we shelve that plan. Peter now sticks his head up from the GPS and roars that we only have another eight miles to the Washerwoman and to “Jaysus leave the kite up”. And this from the owner/senior member on board, the cheque writer supremo? Ah here, leave it out! All the sailing clichés are coursing through my brain. If you’re not breaking things you’re not pushing hard enough. Drive her like you stole her. Peter’s bravado pays off. Another violent gust. Much stronger than any previous. No wave to surf. No wave synchronising with this gust. No matter, we don’t need it. She shudders violently once more as she surges forward. Faster, further, freer than she has ever been. All eyes on the log. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen. Holy shit it keeps rising. We scream and roar like schoolkids in the playground. Screams of excitement, terror, awe even as she tops out at an incredible sixteen point seven knots. Incredible but true. Robi shakes his head in disbelief muttering “it’s not possible, in a boat this size, it’s not built for this”. Magic moment – never to be forgotten.

Finally we cave. It’s too much, too dangerous, too irresponsible. She’s given us the ride of our lives but we can’t push her any more. Everybody in position, everybody knows what to do. We drop the kite in text book fashion while peeling to the No.2. Very shortly afterwards we round the Washerwoman and harden up for the final push to the line. We subconsciously think the madness is all over, that we’re safe now, past the worst. Not a bit of it. The real thing is just beginning. After trimming the jib I move back to the transom and stare out over the stern. The sea behind us is not the biggest I’ve seen but certainly the angriest. And I mean angry. It’s covered in white horses and the wake flowing behind her is like something from the HSS – I kid you not. So when you’re nearly fifty, when you are hanging on for dear life on a pitch black roller coaster ride in the North Atlantic, surrounded by amazingly talented young kids, adrenaline surging through your veins like molten hot lava, you do what all middle aged has beens do. You sit back, hold on tight, light a Hamlet cigar and burst out laughing at the absurdity of this manic, surreal situation. And then it happens.

A sudden violent gust, she rounds up automatically and before we know it we’ve been knocked down. Yep, a knockdown. Good old boom in the water, main getting a wash, knockdown. Spectacular. Bloody good fun too. I should be scared, freaked out, afraid of the consequences too. I’m not though. I’m exhilarated. I feel more alive than I have ever felt. I feel humbled to have been here on this mad, crazy, exhilarating experience. My first big boat knockdown and I don’t lose my cheroot – class.

So you’re probably thinking that was a mad trip to Dingle? Yep you are right but come here to me, anyone who has done the D2D knows that the real adventure begins only after arriving. The apres sail in Dingle is legendary. Legendary I tell you. The race really should be called the D2DickMacks because well that’s where the real end of the racing occurs (in Dick Macks) but also the dawn of another parallel adventure rises up. We ourselves had spent the Monday afternoon matinee having lunch and a few warmer uppers in John Benny Moriarty’s down by the sea front, just to spread the love in a help out the local hostelries touristy sort of vibe before marching up the hill to the famous Dick Macks to settle in for the main event. What a night. A smorgasbord of crew members from various competing boats all mingling together and trying our damndest to drink the place dry whilst pretending we were still of a late teenage vintage. Which clearly we weren’t. Although we did have one lad on our crew who was that rare contradiction – he was allegedly nineteen but genuinely looked about twelve and a half. Gave it his absolute best shot at sticking with the grownups pint for pint but unsurprisingly he failed miserably just like one would expect from a twelve and a half year old. Got so messy that he had to be escorted back to the boat at sunset and left to spew and sleep off his excess. To preserve this lads anonymity and because I’m about to hang him out to dry with one of my favourite tales, I’m going to give him a pseudonym. Ok so, let’s call him say Bevin, Bevin Krazel.

So Tuesday morning and the kids, including a very delicate Bevin Krazel, disappear like rats deserting a sinking ship leaving me all on my lonesome. Some are scabbing a lift back to the big smoke from a couple of foreign touristy quare wans they tried with limited success to shift last night up in Dick Macks, whilst others, myself included, are going to pursue the delights of using Irelands notoriously dodgy public transport system to navigate an overland route back to Dublin. Brave or what? Adelie is in a mess so I hang back to tidy her up taking about forty five minutes to do a good job. Can’t leave a dirty boat behind especially as I have CDO. CDO? Well CDO is like OCD only with the letters in alphabetical order like they bloody well should be! Anyway, eventually I haul ass up to the bus station and am just in the nick of time to grab one of the last seats available, up front opposite the driver, as the bus pulls out of Dingle. It’s the usual mixture of tourists, students and ladies of a certain vintage.

Well now, maybe twenty five minutes out of Dingle, between Annascaul and Camp, with the stunning vista of a sun drenched Castlegregory just becoming visible to our left, the tranquillity is shattered by a commotion coming from down the back of the bus. This randomer comes sprinting up the aisle shouting, albeit in a kind of muffled squawk, at the driver to "STOP THE BUS, JESUS MISTER STOP THE EFFIN BUS". The driver, ever obliging, pulls over quick smart as if he intuitively understood what was about to transpire and this guy swiftly but spectacularly dives out the door (I’d give it a 5.8 for both artistic impression and degree of difficulty) and violently barfs his guts up for about 3 minutes while all the tourists and the smattering of auld wans, clutching their tartan clad wheelie shopping trollies, heading to Tralee for the "big shop" watch on in horror. It's Bevin!

I'm killing myself laughing so much I forget to whip out my phone to video it. Amateur - the smartphone hip young social media savvy generation would never have missed that opportunity. Facebook, Instagram and the Twitter machine would have been melting with the plethora of uploads before this show of unique youthful Irishness would have concluded. The auld wans are all muttering "poor young fella, shure isn't the travel sickness an awful affliction". They not unreasonably assume that he’s 12 and is probably returning home to his Mammy from the Gaelteacht in Colaiste Chorca Dhuibhne in Ballyferriter and have no idea what he was actually up to last night. An emerald green clad Yank (is there any other colour clothing in America?) sitting opposite me hands him a Kleenex as he passes by on his way back in. He is ashen faced, absolutely hanging, but THE best thing is he doesn't even know I'm on this bus - he was too preoccupied with holding the puke in and not spraying the driver to even notice me. I say nowt.

It gets better. Obviously I am first off the bus in Tralee station, grab my bag from the hold, saunter over to a wall, lean up against it like any gouger worth his salt would do in a community spirit type attempt to assist Kerry County Council by stopping said wall from falling down and light up a Hamlet - this is going be good. Last off the bus is the bould Bevin, as white faced as a crispy linen tablecloth that only gets an airing when visitors call for dinner, and as he alights from the bottom step his morning gets even worse when he spots me. "Oh sweet Jesus no, not you, oh shit you saw everything." “Indeed I did young man, funniest thing I have had the pleasure of witnessing in years. Only pity is I didn’t get my camera out in time but no matter. While David Gates sang about a picture paints a thousand words, I reckon I’ll get more than a thousand words out of this sceal my friend. Thanks Bevin, you’re a legend and I'm going to save this one up and regurgitate it, with my own personal embellishment clearly, and you will be infamous as a D2DickMacks legend for ever more!”

So this year? This year I get the frustration of watching the adventure unfold on Yellow Brick. Great to have it and all that but to be honest Yellow Brick will only fill me in on the story of the first adventure – the race. The real story, that of what transpires afterwards will be beyond me and most surely will never be disclosed. Probably best too – if you’re a Bevin Krazel. Enjoy it folks.

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