So I (Mark) have been busy editing pics and have finally found some bandwidth to upload them all - there are now LOADS - all the way back to Plymouth so go back and have a look. I will let Tamsyn update all the text shortly but here are a couple of piccies of the trip across from Bryher to Kinsale.
One is the sunrise as we approach the Irish coast, another of Tamsyn raising the Irish Courtesy flag and finally I have one of what was (honest) a Dolphin - we saw a couple of pods on the way over and had a great view but they are very difficult to photograph.
Another long haul - 27 hours this time - and our plans to pick a decent weather window half worked. We set off with a reasonable amount of wind, but somewhat rough seas and although we managed to sail for the first 10 hours, a lot of our progress seemed to be up and down waves rather than forwards! Unfortunately, the wind eventually dropped off enough that by 8pm we were forced to start the engine and plod onwards motor-sailing. We always do better under sail (assuming there is enough wind) so our anticipated 20 hours suddenly started to stretch. We never got enough wind to put the genny back out but at least the seas flattened out and the rain stayed away.
We saw dolphins several times, this time common dolphins which are smaller than bottlenose dolphins and have darker backs and light bellies. One of the best sightings was at 9am on the second morning when we had an escort of two dolphins, then suddenly a whole pod of about 30 dolphins was leaping through the water coming to greet us from about half a mile away. It was an amazing sight and even though they didn't stay for long, it was definitely a special highlight of the trip so far.
When we eventually saw land again, it was another defining moment. We had been out of sight of land for about 20 hours and as we got closer, we could actually smell land. It was something we'd read about but had never been at sea long enough to experience - the scent of salt and sea gives way to something akin to a cross between cut grass and rotting vegetation. It isn't as bad as it sounds, just incredibly difficult to describe accurately.
Kinsale is lovely and as soon as we'd anchored, we couldn't wait to get in the dinghy to go and explore. In the end, we stayed for several days, just to chill out after the crossing and to stock up on supplies again before heading out to quieter spots further west along the coast.