When your rooster crows at the break of dawn…

Dublin -> Milford Haven -> Bristol -> Padstow -> Isles of Scilly

Our course turned to south and our pace increased. Instead of 25nm day sails between the Scottish Isles, with leisurely group breakfasts and long sundowners, suddenly we had more than 100nm to cover every day. Watch plans sprung into action as we continued to sail through the night, and our time together as a crew shortened as we each took it in turns to nap between shifts.

After a rough ride from the Scottish west coast to Dublin, luck was in our favour for our Irish sea crossing, and we made the hop over with the sun shining above us, favourable winds and small waves.

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Photo thanks to Tina Sullivan

We couldn’t have sailed south however without squeezing in a visit to Bristol, my home for 10 years, and home still to so many close friends. Bristol is also home to the second biggest tides in the world, and it was spring tides when we arrived, producing tidal ranges of 13metres and with them tidal streams running at up to 6kts! This added another dimension to our passage planing for the trips in and out of the Bristol channel, as we tried to time our stopovers to match these currents… it doesn’t do much for moral to sail at full speed but not make any progress forward…

We arrived at the entrance to the river Avon 2 hours after low water and struggled to find enough deep water between the muddy banks as we motored our way up river beneath Bristol’s iconic suspension bridge.

We locked into Bristol’s floating harbour, had 3 bridges swung for us and finally docked in Bathurst Basin, right in the heart of Bristol. This was where I’d lived on another sailing boat Dankidau for a few years enjoying being a member of Cabot Cruising Club. It felt great to be able to bring Panta to my favourite city and be moored up next to the old red light ship the John Sebastian, our club house, where Cabot Cruising Club threw us a wild leaving party.

But it was a fleeting visit and goodbyes were said through bleary eyes after only 36hours in this great city, as we locked out of Bristol’s floating harbour with the morning high tide and back into the brown muddy Bristol Channel waters.

We’d shanghaied the instrumental polyrhythmic folk world band Solana from our leaving party and taken them with us. This meant the following days were filled with live performances both above and below deck, creating a magical atmosphere – thanks guys!!!

The weather played ball for the next couple of days and the brown water turned blue as we skimmed down the Cornish coast, with our last 24hr stop (until we reached Lisbon!) in Padstow.

Here I was lucky enough to be able to spend the day with more family members and enjoyed helping the littlest members clamber over the rigging.

I’m really glad to have had this opportunity to invite so many friends and family to come onboard the boat and share in the sailing, the adventure and the leaving festivities. Especially as most only know the boat through the many stories told over the last few years. Even though we’d said one lot of goodbyes in Germany back in May, it finally felt like we were really leaving, and it was great to have so many people waving us goodbye at every corner. “Good riddance!” they shouted 😉

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The final stop in the UK was the Scillies, where we tried to recharge our batteries ready for the challenge of the Biscay crossing. The weather dictated we should start as soon as possible, so after spending a few hours being battered by wind and rain we weighed anchor and plotted a course to Cape Finisterre…

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