North West Passage Expedition

Progress Reports


June 18,2001


‘We’re leaving next Saturday!

Such simple words convey little of the work-intensity of the last six weeks.

Jarlath has been under particular pressure, not intentionally so by me or anyone else, but because he’s so pivotal in getting the boat ready. But ready it is, not as much as we’d like, but adequately so in all the ways that matter.

Joiner Francois has done excellent internal work, with little left to be finished, Vinny Salmon has piped the five fuel tanks to the engine. Mike Burke from Limerick is rigging, fitting, carpentering, you name it.

‘Northabout’ was hauled out from the shed in Knock on Thursday May 17th, and then the rain lashed down all the following week, soaking much of the inside through hatches and windows yet to be sealed. The Wednesday was particularly wet and brought expectations to their nadir –so much still to do, and the rain bucketing ‘cats and dogs’. 

Some internal stock taking was done, our Dublin friend Liam Canavan put in a full week on the engine and matters looked better.Mayo men rallied, Eddie Horan, and Brian Egan on Plumbing and Mechanical, Eugene O’Malley on the wiring and Paraic Harrington on the joinery.Micheal Kelly laid on his low loader, a 50 tonne crane lifted the boat, now weighing 14 tonne with her ballast, and the journey to the sea began on Friday June 1st.Taking the long road round to avoid low bridges and corners – too- tight, our convoy travelled the narrow road to Charlestown, the hull skimming the ash and the rowan first on one side then the other and sometimes both.‘Twas all downhill on the good road from Charlestown. Except passing through the town of Westport. There the Garda did a ‘Percy French’ for us stopping traffic with ‘one wave of their hands’.

The launch went smoothly, just a small leak showing round the depth-sounder, quickly remedied and then her 18 metre mast was stepped and rigged. There was minor mishap with temporary rigging, which could have been major, but wasn’t – and satisfied men, we went to Matt Molloys Pub, and stayed too long, a few of us’. 

Rigging and setting up the roller-reefing on the two headsails took the next two days. Happily we had opted to put steps on the mast or it would have taken longer. There are 15 rigging wires on the mast, mostly of different lengths, with different fittings on the end of each. The running rigging was easier. 

On Monday we engined away, doing 5½ knots on tick-over, out towards Clew Bay,Croagh Patrick, holy mountain to our south, Mulranny and Achill to our north and Clare Island ahead out in the bay.Opening the throttle she went like a scalded cat, to her mooring in Rosmoney. Next day she was moved to her fitting-out berth at ‘James Cahills Pier’.And there during the last two weeks her equipment has been put into commission.The sails were bent-on and looked good, just a little looseness in the luff of the Yankee, our mis-calculation not that of our sailmaker Phillip Watson’s. 

Phillip had been a pleasure to work with, very much a member of our boat-building team, keen and able to see that the sails were worthy of the job and the boat. With alacrity he put his sail-loft in Malahide, Dublin, to work at reducing the luff by cutting and re-building the tack. Brendan Minish joined with our man Gearoid in fitting the SSB radio and today were running the weather-fax and email system.I’m a doubter when it comes to believing that we can run email off the radio. I’ve spent too many frustrating hours trying to get straight voice/talk contact. I hope I’m wrong and that Brendan is right, that our ‘Pactor 2’ system will work. If it does, we’ll send Progress Reports every ½ week or so, less if we have nothing to say, more if we have. To be heading off, as Bill Tilman put it for ‘No Wages, little pleasure, date of-return uncertain’. Won’t it be great!  

Paddy Barry 

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