My only idea of Ireland was four leaf clovers, leprechauns, Guinness and ‘top of the morning to you’. I would advise you not to mention some of these things to your Irish friends when you first meet them.
Rosslare was my first Irish experience. And it is essentially a ferry terminal. After the crossing from Wales, we spent a couple of days drinking Guinness, washing our clothes, sleeping, eating, trying to show our ID to the local police and attempting to speak in an Irish accent. We also spent an extra day hiding from tornadoes that were expected, after we attempted to get back in the water.
Unfortunately we were still 18 miles off the coast. The current was pulling us further north and so we had kept going away from land. We experienced every type of wave. With huge rollers. Small choppy waves. Side waves. Big waves. Medium waves. Small waves. And with no land marks. I was getting irritated with being away from land. But by Arklow, we were in sight of Ireland itself. And boy was I happy.
We were swimming two tides a day with phosphoresce and jellyfish all around us at night. The weather was cold. Sean was feeling tired and demotivated after days at sea. The yacht got caught on a lobster pot. We anchored out at sea and spent most of the night sleeping on the floor. We were wearing cold, damp wetsuits. We were feeling pretty tired.
And then. Sean’s friend/ professional swimmer, Kent Kirkwood arrived. And gave the ginger a real nudge up the bottom. We were on day 38 of the expedition and the next few days were idyllic. Strong currents. Beautiful weather. Perfectly flat. Calm anchorage. It was almost embarrassing. Kent is going to go back to South Africa and tell all his friends how easy it was?! But it was amazing to have a new burst of energy for Sean and we did our biggest miles on these days. All while being tourists in Ireland with Dublin and Hauth en route. Kent slept on a wee-covered floor and became part of the team. I became a mother to two children. And Kent was my favourite. Sorry Sean.
Just so we wouldn’t get post-visitor blues after Kent’s visit, Owain (PR god) had arranged for the BBC One Show to spend the morning with us. I managed to head butt the boat, get wiped out by waves and sound posher than I normally do. We were all buzzing. Little did we know the days ahead we going to be quite so tough. Obviously we didn’t know. But you’ll just have to find out from my next blog what happened next…