Day 143, Thurs 25 May.
The final day of the final phase. Or should it be phinal fase?
But before the celebrations, the small matter of another 57 miles and three more Lifeboat Stations to visit, starting with Courtown Inshore Rescue Boat at the entrance to the small but beautiful and popular harbour. The first of two D Class Inshore rescue boats to be visited today. What a debt of gratitude we owe to the designers and operating crews of this amazing wee boat.
Thanks Sam (LOM), Finton (DLA), Peter(Helm, with family/future crew Deirdre, Clodagh & Síofra), Fergus (Helm), Andrew (crew) for hanging on to meet me, re-energising me with fine tea and Jammy Dodgers and helping me with route advice (KTSOYL&JP*) on my way to the next Lifeboat.
Wexford, at the mouth of the River Slaney, is another obviously significant Irish port, with a great industrial history. Wexford ILB Station is the last one to visit before returning to the close flanking ALB Station at Rosslare. A complimentary pair of neighbouring Lifeboats. The largest of the ocean-going ALB Fleet and the most successful of the Inshore Lifeboats. A Severn and a D-Class. Thanks David (Snr.Helm) and Jack (Boathouse Manager) at Wexford and Peter (DLA) & Art (Cox’n) at Rosslare for the final round of hand-shakes, kind words and the last couple of signatures on the now complete chart. The moment of realisation that this is suddenly all over has for once, left me lost for words.
I still can’t get over the number of important harbours around this Emerald Isle. Their importance and function has shifted over the last century, mostly away from fishing, imports & exports and towards leisure boating. But this Island Nation, as much or perhaps even more so than the UK, remains dependant upon these great gateways for so much of the country’s income and identity. For as long as this continues, then so shall the need for Lifeboat cover. And for as long as the RNLI continues, then so shall the need for a regular drip feed of voluntary contributions. And for as long as the 100% charitable status and voluntary nature of each local Lifeboat community continues, with support from us via the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, free from Irish and British Government agenda and control, then so shall lives at sea continue to be saved. We shall never completely eliminate all risks, but the RNLI certainly continues to minimise those risks around our amazing coastline and on our inland waterways.
So … go on. Help me reach my fundraising target. If you agree with any of the above, and you’ve enjoyed following my little Odyssey, please turn out your pockets. Or more usefully these days, dust off your debit cards and click here to make another small** donation to the RNLI.
Thank you so much to all of you for your interest, support and encouragement over the many months. Time to re-acquaint myself with family, friends and all things on the home front.
*KTSOYL&JP? If you can’t figure out this acronym by now, you clearly haven’t been following this travelogue for long.
Keep the sea on your left, and just pedal… I did just that. For most of the 7,500 miles now cycled, it worked.
** I have of course, no objections to large donations to the RNLI! There are many stations that would love the funds for a down payment on a new Shannon All-weather Lifeboat. But many modest contributions are what help keep the Lifeboats afloat. So please spread the word. Thanks. Steven.