With the RNLI Castletownbere crew (Credit Niall Duffy/West Cork Photo)
A few days after Happy Socks was spotted just half a mile offshore in SW Ireland and picked up by the RNLI crew of Castletownbere, we launched a pick up mission to bring her home. A 30 hour round trip of driving and ferrying, cleaning and sorting, and shaking hands of the RNLI crew who picked her up, it was a great and happy adventure. Beautiful, too, for that part of the world is a gem. All the more so when the sun came out and bathed the hills in warmth, sending sparkles across the sea and curving a bright rainbow down to our little white boat.
Seeing the spot on the map where Happy Socks was spotted by a walker on the cliff top. Credit Niall Duffy/West Cork Photo
It was an emotional day. The anticipation of seeing her again, my tummy turning all the way there; the way in which it was already making our Atlantic voyage so much more real in my head and bringing back lots of memories, some wonderful and some painful, a rush of past and present at once. Listening to the story of how the RNLI crew managed to get a line secured just 50 metres from the rocky shore on their third and final attempt to do so, realising just how close she was to being smashed. Seeing her for the first time since I had left at the start of October, leaping up towards the metal hulk of the Federal Oshima in the dark of the pre dawn. Watching her drift and rock on the waves as we steamed ahead, bawling with pain at having to leave her behind to a grey Atlantic fate. Stepping aboard her greened and holed deck for the first time, watched by the RNLI crew, talking gently to her and checking her out. So familiar and yet so unfamiliar, flooded as she was, algae everwhere, bits missing and holes chucked out. It was so real and yet so surreal. My mind quickly clicked into practical mode and we hauled out as much kit as we could and pumped out the icy water to make her ready for trailering home.
Kit and barnacles everywhere
I have spent the best part of the last four days emptying, scrubbing, sorting and cleaning Happy Socks and the ocean kit at home, returning her to something more like the little white boat I left behind. She looks great, all things considered. There is work to be done to patch her up here and there, but otherwise she is in fine form. Kudos to Jamie Fabrizio for yet another brilliant boat, though I knew that already after nearly 300 days on the Pacific and Atlantic…
The Atlantic Lady herself.
Happy Socks is now for sale. I am looking for a new owner for her to continue her ocean voyaging. I would love to keep her but cannot afford to do so and would hate for her to be sitting unused. Boats are made to be on the water. Potential buyers please email via firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and an inventory of kit to be sold with her.
Thanks to Father Anthony and Lucy for the epic driving, Coxswain Brian O’Driscoll and his crew for showing us around and helping get Happy Socks on to the trailer, Nuula from the RNLI for handling the PR and Carol for the washing machine marathon of cleaning my stinky ocean clothes. Thank you also to the HMCG Falmouth and the ships who reported sightings as she made her way eastwards, and Valentia CG in Ireland for coordinating the pick up.
It feels like we have come full circle. The post-expedition whirl pooling is calmer for having my team mate home again.
Sarah and Happy Socks
* Tune in to BBC2 this Thursday at 10pm to watch Sarah alongside comedienne Jo Brand and super gymnast Max Whitlock on the Clare Balding Show.
* Come along to Bristol on 10th Feb to hear Sarah give the ‘Going Beyond’ lecture for the Youth Adventure Trust. Tickets £10. Info here.