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“I’m not enjoying this!” I cry, clutching a plastic bowl, shaking with fear and fatigue. Time and time again I throw up, my head pounding, my legs weak. The noise surrounds me as I lie curled up in my bunk which has been transformed into a black hole spinning, lurching, thumping, banging. I brace myself as I feel the rise and await the inevitable bang down. Why did I agree to this, I’m scared. I hear the shouts from the cockpit, the urgency, the gravity. It goes on and on, my 3am watch time comes up but gratefully one of the crew is happy to stay on with John and let me stay below. Hours pass, all night I lie, not able to sleep. I can’t do this. I’ll book a flight from Cork to Vigo. I cry softly, what was I thinking, I so want to be strong but I’m not, I’m weak, stupid, a failure. This amazing trip is doomed, my game is over.

The constant noise of the engine gradually sounds louder as it overtakes the howling of the winds and the crashing of the seas, things seem to quieten, the cabin levels off. I hear the rattle of the anchor chain going down, relief washes over me as John’s face peeps into the gloom of the cabin.

“We’re pulling in here to ride out this storm darling”

After making sure everything is secure he climbs in beside me and I snuggle against his strong warm body and feel safe. Within minutes I am deeply asleep fully clothes, seaboots still on, hair damp with sweat and sea salt.

“Good morning!” I’m greeted by one of the crew as I pop my head out the forward hatch into the morning light. Smiling I scan this sheltered bay, rocky shores, sea birds nesting on a cliffy headland, smart houses with the normality of life evident in washing hanging out and newly mowed lawns.

“You alright?” enquires a cheerful Karl.

“I am now” I reply

We tidy the boat, though there is not really anything out of place, a couple of pots that spewed across the galley from the pot cupboard and dishes needing cleaned in the sink from the nights watches of hot chocolate and Ginger Nuts.

I clean myself up, change into fresh clothes and make breakfast for everyone. I clean off the stern, oops.

The stormy afternoon passes as we watch films and I make cream of mushroom and spinach soup with soda bread. The hell of the night long behind me, I set about making a veggie chilli for dinner and the plan is to set off in the evening once we’ve rested and gained our energies back for Kinsale – again.

It’s getting dark as we head out once more and everything is stowed away as we push out the sheltered bay and point south. The seas start rising again, the wind heels Stravaigin and she starts the pounding again. The crew take turns to helm and try to keep her from banging but its difficult. After an hour of making no progress in the dark seas, I question why we are out here now? John agrees and he decides to turn back to the bay, we’re going nowhere fast and wasting fuel plus stressing the boat – and me. I know we have to go through some grief to attain our objective but we are not in a real rush to make Kinsale, yes it will be good to get there and hope the weather is favourable for the big crossing soon but a day doesn’t really matter. We turn around, lay the anchor down again and everyone goes to bed to sleep sound.

Morning brings bright weather, better winds and spirits are high. I chatter away with the guys up on deck, we play who am I and work it out games while we munch on healthy energy bars and sip Cup a Soups. A nice wee group of Common Dolphins join us, dancing in the bow wave as we edge forward, beating in. Everything seems so much better in the day light though it still takes 10 hours to finally reach Kinsale and it is such a welcome sight as we round the headland and calmly motor into the bay. We tie up alongside other boats and decide we have earned dinner out.

Fishy Fish serves us up a lovely meal of chowder and mussels, sitting in the convivial atmosphere of the restaurant, sipping Irish Gin, this sailing lark seems just fine! We stroll back to the boat and settle down to marina life for a few days before contemplating the ocean crossing to Spain .

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