I slipped out of Ilfracombe at 07:00, looking to catch some of the tide towards Weston and the final leg of the voyage. Jeff Adams from Weston Yacht Club had popped a head over the wall to say hello and wish me luck. A real case of ‘until we meet again’! The weather was as forecast and Howard had messaged me from Watchet asking if he could pop up to welcome me back when I arrived. It was quite clear, with the Bristol Channel tidal stream rates, that I’d be best to pause at some point. Throwing all this into the pot I asked if he could meet me at Porlock Weir with the view of us completing the voyage together. He agreed and so I planned to pick him up around 11:30. We sailed well, the Wild Goose and I, and soon I was a mere mile out from Porlock enjoying almost perfect conditions. With no stress of weather it was a pleasure to sail into the bay and drop anchor under sail. Such a shame there was no-one there to take a photograph as our vessel must have looked great, with our sponsor’s logo (Trinity College Bristol) in full view.
I had some time to kill so a fish platter was consumed whilst I contemplated the silence. Porlock Weir is very quiet and it struck me powerfully how things must have been quite similar fifteen hundred years ago. I had struggled on the weed covered rocks with our RIB. The swell threatened to damage the bottom. I could sense, in the silence, coming ashore in a leather bound craft, breaking the silence. My companions helping lift her ashore as we slipped and fell and then the contemplation regarding the next step, contact with the natives. I wonder how many times those monks were met with food and a welcome. What of the bones of those who died trying, forgotten upon a seaweed shore? We think of the Saints but from my reading we only revere or record those who made it ashore and contributed. How many more died on their journey or in the first contact with the local inhabitants? Is Bardsey’s 20,000 a mere tip of an iceberg or did trade smooth the introductions? All questions to be followed wherever our answers lead us.
Howard and I weighed anchor and with four to five knots of tide under our keel we quickly covered the last twenty three miles. The Axe is a narrow entrance and we timed it perfectly. We managed to reach the mooring before we went aground and so the two of us sat there, laughing, discussing and washing the mud off whilst we waited for the tide to rise. This took forever and it was some two hours before we finally dropped into the RIB and motored back to meet our wives.
Our voyage was complete, our journey though, is just beginning.