“A Gigantic Whinge on the Celtic Fringe” is the story of a circumnavigation of Ireland aboard my 27ft yacht in 2011.
From the Firth of Forth I went through the Caledonian Canal and round Ireland anti-clockwise, which many people consider to be the ’wrong way round’. Most, but by no means all of the journey, was sailed solo.
On the way I skirted a lot of the bits of what is sometimes called the ‘Celtic Fringe’. If you are used to travelling in Britain by road and rail it’s easy to think of the Gaelic bits as being on the ‘fringe’ - beyond the main lines of communication. But by sea it’s very different.
Cruising at four or five knots you can appreciate this ‘fringe’ from the point of view of the people who lived around and travelled across these waters in the past. From this perspective the Celtic lands are at the centre of a watery motorway network. The land of the Angles, to the east and south, is an uninviting ‘fringe’ of flat, featureless swamp and undergrowth.
This is not, as I’m sure is apparent, the gripping story of one man’s struggle for survival on a cruel and savage ocean. Neither does it aim to be a pilot book or a set of sailing directions. It’s just the story of a wimp’s summer holiday.
I like to think that sailing solo hones the senses and heightens critical awareness. Others have agreed that yes, it does make me moan a lot about things. The world is a fantastically annoying place and I haven’t tried to resist the temptation to rant about it.
This is not the sort of sailing log that seeks to record every tack and bowel movement of a voyage. As well as a sailing tale it’s a series of observations on the environment, culture, people, economy and boats of the places I visited.
This is the third in a series of cruising 'logs' about Zophiel’s voyages. "Skagerrak and Back" is the story of a North Sea circuit, “Floating Low to Lofoten” is about my trip to the Norwegian Arctic and "Bobbing to the Baltic" describes a trip from Edinburgh to the Russian border.
Recently some of the people who have been slandered in these tales have suggested that they should be used for kindling. I’ve taken these kind words to heart and published them first for Kindle and now for other e-readers.
Soon I'll be publishing two volumes about some land-based travels, entitled "Travels with my Rant" and "The Front of Beyond". These are gripping tales about nipping over dodgy borders in places like Nicaragua and Burma and being kidnapped, after a fashion, in East Timor.
This volume contains a lot of colour photographs. If you’re struggling with grainy black and white on an e-reader, there’s more sailing tales and the full set of colour photos from this volume on my website at edge dot me dot uk.