The Cruising Association of Ireland’s annual rally in Dublin’s River Liffey over the weekend brought a whiff of the open sea and a fleet of 32 boats into the heart of the busy city past the visiting “ten storey” cruise liner Nautica writes W M Nixon. And as one of the themes of the rally is the fleet’s negotiation of all the opening bridges upriver as far as the Customs House before returning eastward again in formation to berth at Dublin Port’s long pontoon immediately west of the Eastlink Bridge, inevitably there was interruption to shoreside traffic.
It’s astonishing how quickly the long vehicle queues can build up, and reactions to this brief stopping of the city’s bustling traffic were predictable. Tourists and locals just out for the day and ambling along the quays were delighted by it all. It isn’t until it happens that you realise just how rare are boat displays in the river with which people can identify, for they see themselves in the crews on the many boats which as ever – boats and people alike – were remarkable in their variety.
But people on errands in cars or vans tended towards irritation until they saw the span on the Eastlink rising sky-wards, or the always fascinating Calatrava-designed Samuel Beckett bridge rotating to let the vessels through. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, but I though that the realisation of the co-ordinated project which was taking place had a soothing effect even on courier van drivers, while being a timely reminder that Dublin is Ireland’s largest port.
And as far as the welfare of our city port is concerned, even in the short year since the CAI was last in the river, the tower cranes have proliferated. Whatever about the future, there’s a building boom at present along the Liffey, and a sense of optimism.
Of course, for the main event on Saturday, the weather was benign. We’ll blot out Sunday’s rain, and instead simply recall that on Saturday CAI Commodore Clifford Brown presided over a full house of boats and people in sunshine, with the usual conviviality at the capacity crowd for the dinner on the restaurant ship Cill Airne.
This included a reception for the people working in Dublin Port and with the City Council who facilitated the co-ordinated opening of the bridges. So there was enthusiastic support when world circumnavigation veteran Pat Murphy of Aldebaran suggested that in future it simply be called The Three Bridges Rally. In fact, they should copyright the name immediately, for it’s a great way to bring the cruising season gently towards its close.