New member of Team Brimble

After considerable searching I am delighted to announce that we have secured Tom Parsons as Ships Doctor and Team Brimble Expedition Medical Advisor and Chief Medical Officer or TBEMACMO for short. Tom has already proved himself with his ability to make soft shackles, drink beer and run long distances with a hang-over. Whilst these skills are not immediately relevant to his role as Chief Medical Officer they do demonstrate the rounded capability that we seek in this demanding position. The three ducks were unanimously in support of Toms appointment with Chirpy Chick being overheard to say 'yes, we should have him ... he's very handsome'.  
Ships Doctor Tom Parsons alert and ready to practice his skills

Brimble undergoing some much earned TLC


So the Good Ship is in the workshop under the careful supervision of Martin Kendall of Shotley Marina. The
engine and gearbox is out, all fittings have been removed, painting and refurbishment of deck is close to completion and not long before we start putting things back. We are spot-on budget and spot-on time although in fairness there is no absolute nitty-gritty-rigidly-fixed budget ... more of a directional, 'that feels about right and vital for crew health and safety type directional budget'.

We chose Shotley and Martin in particular because he is the only boatbuilder I have ever met who does what you have agreed and he's doing a great job. Providing technical advice all the way through.

We visited this weekend and she looks lovely. Here's a few pictures

Serious conversation about just how good this all looks .. oh yeah

Shiny new. The blue is non slip and looks like a perfect match to the original gel coat

Forepeak hatch to be refitted with a better catch. Occasionally it would spring open!

Treadmaster will be replaced around the gas locker and in cockpit

Its almost Spring

Ladies and gentlemen (spoken in an announcing things voice) this is Brimble calling ... I say again ... this is Brimble calling ... we have dates for the season. But we also have this little song and video that I stumbled upon to get us ready for Spring sailing ... not that its got much to do with Spring or sailing but hey.

Dates are as follows:

Up to and including Easter we are getting the good ship ready after her refit ... she will be even more lovely ... and yes, I know what you're thinking ... but it is possible ... just.

So the dates are:

13th/14th May
27th/28th May/29th May pus maybe some leave as it's bank holiday to extend
3rd/4th June (Fully crewed JH/SH)
10th/11th June
17th June - 25th June Sail to Amsterdam
15th/16th July
22nd/23rd July (Fully crewed SH/JH)
26th/27th/28th August (Jack and a mate?)
2nd/3rd September

... and then we will see how we go.

In respect to location, the short answer is we are East Coast at the moment and will stay there until Amsterdam then we will see where we end up. We're considering nipping over to Spain next year so may well head westwards at the end of the season. But who knows. Lets not worry about such details at this stage.

The more important thing is planning weekends. Whoop whoop. So let me know whether you fancy sailing any of these weekends or the week trip to Amsterdam will be great I'm sure. It may be we could extend this to 10 days if demand is there.

I will send an email out but will update this note as weekends get filled up.

Whats going on?

Sorry all for the radio silence. Its been  rather hectic late summer autumn at work.

The last update was from Falmouth. From here we had a fun sail to Plymouth and then did an overnight hop to the Hamble (as video presentation). We stayed at Swanwick Marina for a month and then spent a few lovely weekends sailing up to our favourite boatbuilders at Shotley Marina.

The Good Ship is currently in the workshop having some much earned TLC. I will post some photos shortly.

Happy New Year

While I'm on, I must shout about the Vendee Globe and the great attempt Alex Thomson is making to be the first Britain to win it.

Check out this link and download the Vendee Globe App. It's really exciting!

Capn J

4 Years of sailing in twenty minutes

4 years ago we set off on a trip to Norway and the Arctic. We intended to break the mold of staying in the same marina year on year and always rushing to get home. The plan was simply that we would go where we wanted to go and leave the good ship where we could. Last month we made it back to Southampton so it feels like the right time to wrap it up into one story which I've done with a twenty minute video. It's intended mainly for those who sailed on the trip but I hope everyone can watch it and enjoy it. Most important is that when we are overwhelmed by the pressures of life this will serve as a reminder that there's always an option to pack up and go sailing.

Click here Brimble Heads North

A family moment (Isles of Scilly)

Oh look, there's Dad. I bet he doesn't realise we're creeping up on him .. (Dad's response - no he didnt)

Ooh, let's go really fast and try and knock him over because he still doesn't realise (Dad's response - no he didnt)

Ha ha, we've got him .. (Dad's response, yes you had, ha ha ha .. NOT)

Oooh that was very funny (Dads response, they may have won the battle but they haven't won the war)

He he he ... 

Lunchtime on the good ship

A tough sailing lunch .


A pod of dolphins swimming with us off the coast of Ireland

And a short clip that Tom made from the bow of the good ship

Royal Cork to St Mary (Isles of Scilly)

We needed to be in the Isles of Scilly for Saturday evening to meet Selma, Jack and Ella. The passage was about 135 miles so an early start was necessary if Selma and the kids weren't going to sleep on the bus station floor .. which would have been tricky because there's no buses on the Isles of Scilly or bus stations .. anyway, the point is we had to crack on. Departure from the Royal Cork was not my greatest triumph. Rob and I both managed to mess up departure by underestimating the tide; my attempt was most impressive because I managed to clonk the back stay on a passing anchor sticking out from the bow of an adjacent boat and bend the navigation station pod. Hey ho, it just goes to show that plenty of miles under the keel does not protect you from being a numpty. We were all a little down in the dumps after our less than seamanlike departure from Crosshaven but then as if they knew we needed a boost a pod of dolphins swam up and started jumping around the boat and playing in front of the bow. Absolutely lovely so I've blogged it with a dedicated post. The sail itself was a beauty. Warm, broad reach, moderate breeze, couldn't be better. Tom stood  a watch which  unlike a couple of days before was more typical lacking electric storms, mad fisherman and headwinds. The whole 135 mile passage took only 24 hours. Top stuff. We arrived in the Isles of Scilly an hour after Selma and the kids, not bad after travelling so far.  To help those of you outside the UK here's a little chartlet:
Passages over the last week
Dolphins play alongside Brim            
A lovely sun set, although I always find this bit of the   night sail the worst .. just after supper as it starts getting a  bit cooler and the long nights ahead of you .. probably a hang-over from single handed sailing            
The Isles of Scilly are pretty flat but very rocky. In fair weather they are  fine but I think you would wet your pants approaching in a gale

Youghal to Royal Cork Yacht Club

Our quest for a pint of Guinness in the worlds oldest yacht club was close to an end as we set off from Yougal bound towards Cork and the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Every sail so far had been tough but this time we were hopeful that both wind and tide would be at least a little favourable and whoop whoop they were. It was a cracking sail and having left at 0700 hrs we found ourselves moored and tidy shortly after lunch. During the night sail the day before we had lost both the port nav light and the mast light so with another night sail the next day I popped up the mast to fix a loose connection. The port nav light was also sorted and after a top up with water and fuel we were able to head to the club.
Rob, looking cool and calm as we pass a 'stealth' lighthouse on Ballycotton Island

Approach to Crosshaven and The Royal Cork Yacht Club

Brimble moored up at the Royal Cork Yacht Club Marina

Up the mast fixing the light. I must admit, in the pouring rain I'm not so sure how good a job I did
The ducks enjoy the view of Brim out of the Yacht Club

Wicklow to Youghal (19th - 20th July)

This proved to be a tough couple of days sail. The first 12 hours were fine but after midnight when I handed over night watch to Rob things turned perky. A lightning storm, suicidal fisherman, fluky winds and a strong tide against us helped keep Rob and Tom pretty busy. It was an exciting 'first watch' on the good ship for Tom who was able to enjoy a smorsbord of exciting situations over just a few hours; we don't plan these things they just happen naturally on the good ship! The next day the sea continued to be rough and again the wind was persistently on the nose. The good ship enjoyed being largely under water so it was wet and slow with a pretty violent motion in the short, steep seas. As the day moved on it became increasingly obvious we would not make it to Cork without another foul tide and so as we battled to round Knockadoon Head we decided to bear off and sneak into Yougal Harbour for a break and to give our stomachs a rest. As ever the faithful fickle finger of fate served us well. We were welcomed by a guy in a RIB supervising dinghy sailors, he proudly announced 8 new visitor moorings. We grabbed one of them and were soon comfortably laying-to in the setting sun. Not quite Cork where we were trying to get to but close and only a hop, skip and a jump the following day.

Laying off one of Wicklows excellent visitor mooring buoys

Dun Loghaire to Wicklow (Sunday 18th July)

Our original plan was to sail 30 miles south down to Arklow. But a stiff headwind and wind over tide conditions conspired to slow us down so in the end  we sneaked into Wicklow a few miles north of Arklow. We should have trusted the 'fickle finger of fate' because Wicklow was great. Kids swimming in the harbour, dinghies whizzing around, fishing boats loading up and the good ship snugged up against the harbour wall in and amongst it. Before we moored up we sneaked right up to the town quay until there was no water left. Great fun.

Creek crawling up into Wicklow. In the end we turned round because
we thought we might not be able to BBQ,

Snugged up alongside the harbour wall

Tom driving the faithful Cobb BBQ with great skill whilst the nervous
dad watches on. 

A few more pics to paint the scene

Howth to Dun Laoghaire (17th July)

What better way to start the day than a cliff top run in glorious sunshine ... not a lot me thinks and that's how Sunday kicked off for Rob and I. Fab. But it was time to move on and get the good ship across Dublin Bay to Dun Loghaire Marina. This was ostensibly so we could buy some rope to make our soft shackles with. The weather was perfect and we sailed the 10 miles or so in a couple of hours. There is a rather complicated traffic separation system that needed passing through. Absolutely no problem but worth noting if your in that neck of the woods. The bay was empty when we were there so it made little difference to us but if it was busier then passing the whole lot to the North would probably be easiest.

Dun Loghaire is big .. really big .. in fact it's the biggest Marina in Ireland, friendly staff, all mod cons and easy to get into at any state of the tide .. it is a little expensive but that provides us all with an interesting and worthy subject to talk about in the pub and so in that way provides a useful service. Thank you Dun Laoghaire.

We had many successes in Dun Loghaire which included picking Tom up, getting the equipment we needed to make our soft shackles out of and also finding an excellent Indian restaurant .. unfortunately the name of it has escaped me due to the welcoming pints we had to celebrate Toms arrival. I can tell you it was dead opposite the pub we were in but frustratingly the name of the pub escapes me too. Good luck.

Blue skies over Brimble and Dun Laoghaire

The soft shackle

Love'em or hate'em the soft shackle is here to stay, but what exactly is a soft shackle. Isn't the whole point of a shackle that it's well 'ard like Cockney Mallard after 8 pints of Special Brew? Well, yes and no. What we want is not so much a hard shackle as a strong shackle, the well known expression, a strong shackle is a good shackle didn't come from nowhere! But we digress, in essence a soft shackle is a shackle made of rope. Rob P spotted an article in Yachting Monthly and decided that we needed to make one and so we did. Combining brains, brawn and style captain and crew of the good ship worked tirelessly to make not one but three soft shackle. Two have already been deployed  at either end of the kick strap where metal on metal wear has proved to be an historic problem .. we are fairly sure at this rate there won't be a metal shackle left on the GSB.

Check out this Link

Rob and Tom proudly showing the newly made shackle

The tools of the trade

A new crew for the good ship

On Sunday we picked up our new crew member Tom 'talk to me' Parsons, son of first mate Rob Parsons but more importantly the first qualified doctor we have had on the good ship. This was a big step forward in both breadth and depth of first aid capability moving from none-whatsoever to ... well, really quite a lot. This meant that we could now suffer major injury on board, happy in the knowledge that expert advice was no more than 28ft away.

We will add Tom to the Team Brimble section in due course

Tom 'talk to me' Parsons. A pleasure to sail with. Note that even on watch
Tom wore his stethoscope so that he was ready for medical
action in the blink of an eye

Where is Helen?

We've struggled with wifi a little so my cunning plan to update in near real time hasn't quite worked, it's more like not nearly real time. Anyway, we are currently in the Royal Cork Yacht Club and we have a spot of wifi so I thought I'd do a crucial update ... by the way the Royal Cork is the oldest yacht club in the world ... more of that later when I write the trip up properly.

For the moment, cast your mind back to Howth (Dublin). Whilst we were waiting for the ships Doctor to arrive Rob and I popped out for a fish dinner and as luck would have it stumbled upon the best fish restaurant in Ireland and probably the world. We promised that we would share our discovery. It's called The Oar House.  The restaurant runs its own trawler that catches the fish they serve. Great. Well worth a visit. Ask for Eva.

Eva, Debbie, Alice and Lucia ... BUT WHERE IS HELEN?

Dublin and Howth Marina

As Rob and I sat at the bar of Howth Yacht Club last night, it felt like only yesterday that we were here last and to be honest it wasn't far off because we dropped Brim off only 3 weeks ago .. I could definitely get used to 3 weeks on 2 weeks off.

The good ship was in fine fettle when we dropped our bags into the cockpit, well satisfied after a few pints of Guinness that were essential to quenching the desperate thirst that we'd developed on the tough journey over from London. All that we needed now was a light supper to finish a perfect evening and so at half past one this morning we were frying up and enjoyed an egg, bacon and black pudding sandwich.

Since we'd last been on board both Rob and I had been working the Internet and Amazon hard. I had successfully bought a new whistle for the whistling kettle that wouldn't whistle and had also discovered and bought 4m of the most expensive reflective tape in THE WORLD. This was to stick on the radar reflector. Meanwhile Rob had not been idle having throughly investigated the methods used for making a 'soft shackle' as well as tracking down an App for our UE Boom Speakers. this allows us to use both Brimbles and Shantis at the same time ... this would not be amazing unless Rob happened to have bought his speaker with him ... which he had .. whoop whoop. More of this in due course.

So a good day .. The whistle whistles, the boom speakers boom, the repaired Genoa is on, we have filled up with water, we have bought 4 apples and we are good to go.

Tomorrow we plan to sneak across Dublin Bay to Dun Laoghaire (mysteriously pronounced Dun Leary) where we will pick up the new Ships Doctor, Tom.

Putting taped up reflector on

Howth Marina

Ardglass Notice Board (Cockney Mallard Reports)

I thought you might like to see what I spotted on the notice board in Ardglass Yacht Club. Eider said it was a no-no for the blog so I put it on anyway. Just click here for a giggle. Not for the faint hearted.

Troon to Dublin

A great week of sailing with an all-star crew of Brimble 'old-timer' Rob Parsons and Chris 'The Perk' Perkins. We set ourselves the goal of visiting as many countries as we could in a week and did well, achieving an impressive total of 4 (5 if you include final destination). Our accidental and premature departure from both the European Championship and the European Union provided great entertainment as we weaved our way backwards and forwards across the Irish Sea.

The chart below shows the passage of the good ship from Troon (Scotland) to Belfast (Northern Ireland) to Bangor (Northern Ireland) to Peel (Isle of Man) to Ardglass (Northern Ireland) to Howth (Ireland).
A lovely jaunt from Scotland to Northern Ireland to the Isle of Man to Ireland

Leaving Troon Marina bound for Belfast

Last time we were here we were racing and so sailed into the  harbour at the end of the Scottish Islands Peak Race ..
  it was nice to use the engine!

The Perk takes the helm as we set off . It soon got quite bouncy-bouncy as we headed into a F5 on the nose. The
 good ship loves this sort of weather but she operates largely under water. For the crew this feels like
being strapped to a charging elephant with hiccups whilst someone throws buckets of water over you. Still at
 least one of us was happy ... Brimble.

Ailsa Craig in the distance. The island is famous for the quarrying of blue hone granite which as
everybody knows is used to make Curling stones. Curling stones are used in the
Olympic Sport of ... well ... Curling

Curling Stones

By the way, Ailsa Craig is for sale. The price is a very reasonable £1,500,000 which since Brexit is about
27 euros and 50 cents. We sailed past as the sun set and after feasting on tinned Chilli Con Carne enjoyed
a pleasant nightsail. We arrived in Belfast Lough the following morning and had a great sail into the city
arriving just as the pubs opened. People talk about tidal gates, weather windows and such like but opening
 time must also be considered.

Rob snarling at the helmsman as we approach Belfast

Belfast Lough was a real hive of activity. This is the Borgholm Oil Installation which was in a mad
storm a few years ago. Check out this link .. The Flying Finn

I challenged Chris to sail between the hulls but he wouldn't. His rationale was that we wouldn't fit. That's
why we have Chris on board

All snugged up in the marina in the middle of Belfast city. In the background you
 can see the Titanic Exhibition Centre named after the Titanic. We didn't visit
because we thought it would be a bit depressing .. I mean it's not
the happiest of stories is it?

The next day we sailed 10 miles or so back up the Lough to Bangor. We really liked the marina. The town was great but we couldn't find the castle.

We did find this flower festival in a church ..

 ... we did find the biggest radiator in the world

We did find this hearse.We also found Castle Park Road, Castle Park, Castle Street
 and The Castle Walled Garden but we couldn't find the castle. We think it's been stolen 

The next day we scorched across the Irish Sea to Peel on the Isle of Man. It
 was a lovely sail.

We were soon moored up in the inner harbour. The marina staff at Peel were absolutely brilliant.

Cockney got chatting to a couple of mates within minutes of arrival.

A view down from the hill above Peel. There's a great castle just behind the hill on the left.

We met a pig. This is a Tamworth Pig and as everybody knows ...the Tamworth breed of pig originated in Sir Robert Peel's Drayton Manor Estate at Tamworth, Staffordshire, when in 1812 he interbred his existing herd with pigs from Ireland known as "Irish Grazers". The breed is among the least interbred with non-European breeds, and is therefore one of the closest to the original European forest swine. 

Rob and Chris came up with the staggeringly good idea of cycling the
Isle of Man TT Race. So we hired bikes and did it. Top speed for us was only 40 mph
 but we did all survive which is not the normal outcome of the race; 247 people have been
killed in its 100 year history. Now I've cycled it I can absolutely see why.

The night before the 'big cycle' the six of us thought we should 'carb up'. Mad really because Eider and
Cockney weren't even coming with us.

We hired the bikes from Simpsons Superstore. They were just the job and a bargain at £15 each for the day. If you're
in Peel on the Isle of Man this shop is well worth a visit. They sell everything.

Peel Lifeboat

As we went into the marina we came across the yacht Henry Wood. I can't for the life of me remember
where we met them last. I think the Azores

After a very pleasant stay in Peel we left bound towards Ardglass and Northern Ireland

We celebrated our third crossing of the Irish Sea with a piece of  Selma's excellent cake.

The entrance into the harbour at Ardglass is narrow but straightforward. We worried whether there would
be enough depth of water. We gave it a go and it was fine.

Ardglass marina was a great little spot.

Loads of seals

and also the only place in the world with the extraordinarily rare 'Banana Orchid'

We had supper at a local restaurant called Aldo's. It was superb.

The service could not have been better and the food was great

we set off the next day for a sneaky night sail down to Howth Marina (Dublin) where we arrived in time for breakfast

Pork and leek sausages cooked by the ever cheerful skipper

And here we are snugged up and ready for our next adventure

... coming up shortly is Dublin to the Isles of Scilly and beyond