From Zero to Hero in 3 years! - by Dave Hunter
- On 19 11 2010
The story of Dave and Vince getting into sailing as told by Dave Hunter
The best way to learn sailing is hit it at 90mph, whether it be learning to sail, crewing, start racing or buying a boat. We know its easy to say now after doing all of this and it does appear daunting at first, but absolutely worth every second of it. Believe us it is.
Our interest started years before, both being on the water at a young age, but never progressed at that stage unfortunately. It was only years later we started going out on friends boats as Cork harbour was at our doorstep.
As our enthusiasm started to grow we looked for sailing courses. Everyone said Eddie English, looking at us as if we should know this guy, and as we found out we were probably the only two in Cork who didn't, as we were not in the loop at the time. Turns out both of our families know him very well.
With the excitement of being on the water we jumped at the chance of buying a boat ("Ben Lui" Shipman28 - A Ollie Endersin design, built in 1974), us with no experience and the help of friends and family we got her from Scotland to Ireland. Of course as boat owners we now know to expect the unexpected. The trip back cost us an engine, forcing us to tack into Howth Harbour at 1 in the morning. This is where she lay for a few weeks, which made a great weekend watering-hole in the middle of Howth Marina. This didn't dampen our spirits, it was an adrenalin rush to sail into a harbour and moor, we needed more!!!
After that we decided to do a sailing course with SailCork and learn as much as we could. We realised the more we know the easier it gets. So we knuckled down and did the Day Skipper Navigation Course, the Competent Crew practical course afloat, the VHF Radio course, Night Navigation (sailing in Cork Harbour at night!) and the daddy of them all the Yachtmaster navigation course. Between these courses we did amazing milage builders to the beautiful Isles of Scilly, around the unique Canary Islands and in the crystal clear waters of Croatia. To see the islands from land is lovely, it's when you sail around them first you see the real beauty of the islands.
With more confidence and experience behind us and just having completed our Day Skipper we decided to venture further a field. Hearing of great stories, fantastic racing and lovely sailing ground in West Cork, Baltimore we set off.
After watching the racing at Calves Week and enjoying some beautiful sailing around the West coast for the summer months, we set out on our journey back to Cork, full sails, 14knts of wind, a beautiful clear day, admiring the Islands what could go wrong? Crack!! We were dismasted. We had little time but to grab the bolt cutters and try to cut away our rigging which is not easy with blunt bolt cutters(now we carry two). The sails under water carrying us ashore on a Lee shore, the Mayday went out. Yachts, ferries and fishermen came, the Coastguard on their way. With persistent hacking at the shrouds and stays and we were finally free, only to watch on sadly as the sea swallowed our mast, rigging and sails to 42 meters below.
It was a shocking experience to endure, but we were quick off the mark and did not panic. We thank Cape Clear Ferry, passing yacht, fishermen and especially the Coastguard for standing by that day even though they were radioed to stand down before they reached us. It was an interesting journey back. This put Ben Lui out of action for a whole season. Made up for during the winter months, cold but beautiful.
After watching all the racing in West Cork and around Cork harbour we literally jumped at the chance to race. So we joined Cobh Sailing Club and also raced in many of the Club races at East Ferry. Everyone we met along the way had stories to tell and experiences to share. We didn't know if we were ready or not and did not expect much, but found out we were well able and have a great crew that worked together nicely, showing good results for it too.
Next our sights were set on the Isles of Scilly, UK, France and then Spain. Unfortunately this was side-lined due to a great job offer from Gap Adventures sailing around the Greek Islands for 6 months. A job that does not fall in your lap everyday, so we grabbed it with both hands.
Each getting our own 50' yacht to sail from Athens to Mykonos to Santorini to Kos and back, seeing many of the Islands in between. No trip being the same, weather or passengers, we got to see so many different islands in all weather conditions. Not to mention the obstacles along the way.
Motoring over a discarded fishing line with a steel cable attached, proping the boat, caused water to flood in the stern gland. This cable blew the gearbox, putting the engine out of action. Sailing in to Mykonos marina is difficult enough when the wind is blowing, ferries coming and going, not to mention when you add on all of these other issues on top. This is one of the problems Vince had to deal with during the season, not fun!
When weather was bad, it was bad, but great fun, when manageable! You have a schedule to keep and you know it's going to be a rough ride but you keep on sailing and smiling. A phone call from the boss on a particularly windy day, wondering what port each of us decided to stay in. When informed we were both sailing his reply was "of course it's only the two crazy Irish lads out in it" 40knot gusts and 4-5 meter swells for a 7 hour trip for both of us. It was truly amazing.
At present we have just finished the end of the season here in Greece. At our end of season meeting Vince received the honour of 'Skipper of the Year'. With the last delivery of one of the boats to Khalkis North of Athens accomplished, our duties are done. Now the journey home, by land! After living for six months on a boat, it's going to be weird to be back on land.
Next step, Ocean Masters. We believe the more knowledge you have, the more confident you feel.
You never stop learning.
In a word, our sailing experiences and enjoyment through out the years have been epic!
Who knows - we might see them skippering in the Caribbean next!