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Cruising Association Brings Sea Spirit Into The Heart of Dublin City

19th September 2016
“Whither O splendid ship….?” The tall ship Jeanie Johnston in Dublin may be going nowhere for a while as repairs are being completed, but the fleet of the Cruising Association of Ireland coming up-river past her in Saturday’s sunshine included several boats which have completed long voyages. “Whither O splendid ship….?” The tall ship Jeanie Johnston in Dublin may be going nowhere for a while as repairs are being completed, but the fleet of the Cruising Association of Ireland coming up-river past her in Saturday’s sunshine included several boats which have completed long voyages. Photo: W M Nixon

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.

Cruise Liner Nautica in DublinThe Cruise Liner Nautica in Dublin at the weekend will probably have voyaged round the world, as her home port of Majuro is in the Marshall Islands in mid-Pacific. And the CAI’s Pat Murphy’s Aldebaran (extreme right) has certainly sailed round the world. Photo: W M Nixon

Cruising fleet eastlink  bridgeIt’s a Boat Show afloat…..the CAI fleet waiting for the eastlink to open. Photo: W M Nixon
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.

Nauticat 33 ketch own-built steel 40-foot Swallow How’s this for two very different styles in cruising boats? Dave Hopkin’s recently-acquired Nauticat 33 ketch is in the foreground, while Wally McGuirk’s own-built steel 40-footer Swallow – O’Brien Kennedy’s last design – is beyond in close formation as they transit the Eastlink. Photo: W M Nixon

sailing yachts on river liffey“A bonny fleet comes into town” Photo: W M Nixon
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.

cruis ass6The figurehead on the Jeanie Johnston provides an evocative frame for the boats of the CAI. Photo: W M Nixon

Samuel Beckett bridge opens for yachtsAny excuse to get the fascinating Samuel Beckett bridge to swing open is welcome, and a visit by the CAI is a better reason than most. Photo: W M Nixon

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.

Dublin Port’s pontoon pleasure craftEven with the full length of Dublin Port’s pontoon in use, fleet numbers were such that there still had to be some rafting up. Photo: W M Nixon

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