“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.
|File size:||4 MB|
About the Author
"Travels with my Rant" Most of my writing is about my travels. Mostly very slow travels. For some years now I've been plodding round the seas of northern Europe aboard a small sailing boat. To date I've published three accounts of these trips. For years I poked around in some of the more obscure parts of some developing countries, hitch-hiking and travelling by boat, train and bus. Some of the buses were slower than my boat. The record was 12 hours to go 11 miles in the Shan State in northern Burma. I'll soon be publishing two volumes entitled "Travels with my Rant" and "The Front of Beyond". These will include tales about hopping across dodgy borders in places like East Timor and Nicaragua. Whilst travel may broaden some minds and narrow others, travelling slowly and alone changes your perspective on the world around you. I like to think it hones the senses and heightens the critical faculties. Others have agreed that yes, it does make me rant on and on about everything. My travel writings are not gripping tales of derring-do and one man's survival in a savage wilderness against all the odds. I am, in fact, something of a wimp. Neither do they consciously seek to maintain the mythology and exoticism of travel to far flung parts. The fact is that more or less everywhere on earth people wear jeans and ride scooters. The documentary makers must have a hell of a job editing the world so that it's full of tribal head-dresses and loin cloths. Culture shock isn't all it's cracked up to be and nowhere on the planet is as alien as it appears to be from a distance. Except Manchester of course. I've tried to give a flavour of the places I've visited and to discuss those aspects of their landscape, environment, people, culture, economy and politics which make them interesting. In 2014 I published a sort of pilot book entitled "105 Rocks and Other Stuff to Tie your Boat to in Eastern Sweden and Finland". It's full of photos, maps, descriptions and waypoints for, as the name suggests, 105 Scandinavian rocks and other harbours. It's available FREE of charge at my website (www.edge.me.uk) as a web file and as a pdf. There's yet more stuff on my web page at http://www.edge.me.uk/index.htm. This includes a pile of more academic papers written while I was Head of Research of the Architecture School in Aberdeen.