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ISA Cruising Conference: Sailing Information & Entertainment for Kindred Spirits

23rd February 2017
Capacity crowd – the gathering at last weekend’s ISA Cruising Conference in Cork, with Gail McAllister at the lectern and renowned chef Rachel Allen busy with her demonstration Capacity crowd – the gathering at last weekend’s ISA Cruising Conference in Cork, with Gail McAllister at the lectern and renowned chef Rachel Allen busy with her demonstration

The Irish Sailing Association Cruising Conference headed south this year with the original venue set at the historic Port of Cork meeting room. But when demand went beyond the capacity of the Port HQ, the venue was moved over the road to the Clayton Hotel Cork City to accommodate the gathering of upwards of 80 sailors from all parts of the country last Saturday (February 18th).

Once again the sponsorship from Union Chandlery and support from Cruising Association of Ireland made the day possible, and kept the delegate fee as low as €10 for ISA members, making this informative, entertaining and sociable event accessible to a wide audience.

After a welcome from Harry Hermon, CEO of the Irish Sailing Association, Paul O’Regan, Harbour Master for the Port of Cork, presented the development plans for Bantry Marina and enticed many of the sailors to head for Bantry Bay this summer to avail of the choice of marinas, moorings and anchorages.

Bantry harbourBantry as it has been until this year – the harbour is now being transformed to make it much more user-friendly for recreational sailors

Celebrity Chef Rachel Allen cooked up a storm and had everyone eager for an early lunch as she elegantly and efficiently filleted a fresh plaice while entertaining the room with talks of the foods available along the coast and how to prepare them. Butter sizzled and the plaice was seared, dressed with fresh lemon and parsley and tasters were served around the room. Followed by some good tips on the preparation of fresh mussels as she cooked them off with cream and wild garlic pesto – delicious. Rachel then gave personal message book signings as the sailors queued up to buy themselves her cookbook “Coast” all about the foods of south and west coast.

rachel allen sailingCelebrity chef Rachel Allen’s demonstration was of double interest, as she’s from a sailing family
Myra Reid had the audience inspired by her story of her sail round the world with husband Pairaic O’Maolriada on their Amel Super Maramu Saol Eile, an achievement which made them Afloat.ie “Sailors of the Month” for July 2016 when they returned successfully to Kinsale.

“Around the world in 80 Days (+1,724)” was the title on the presentation slide. Pairaic and Myra were introduced to boating in 2003, started learning in 2004 and in 2005 Pairaic announced he would rather like to sail round the world, and so their project began.

Myra Reid and Pairaic OMaolriadaMyra Reid and Pairaic O’Maolriada on their return to Kinsale in July 2016. Their six year global circuit cruise “under the radar” is deservedly becoming the stuff of legend. Photo Robert Bateman

saol eile 5“We were here” – Horta in the Azores was Saol Eile’s last major port of call before returning to Ireland
As novice sailors, training was their priority and they both embarked on 5 years of knowledge building and training, from skippering to sea survival. Myra entertained the enthralled audience with their tales of deep sea fishing, Panama Canal adventures, Pacific island life and much more.

After all that talk of adventure, Sean O’Farrell of Courtmacsherry RNLI shared some good sound advice on how to avoid a call out. Did you know the main causes of distress are mechanical or structural, fuel, weather, injury or illness and lack of experience or training? Training and the correct equipment on board can help all sailors be prepared for the unexpected.

Evie Conway of Union Chandlery shared her personal experience of falling overboard in Cork Harbour in the winter and left us all in no doubt that without her fully serviced life jacket she might not be with us today. The advice from the RNLI on whether or not to call is “If in doubt, call them out”. Respects were paid to Caitriona Lucas, mother of two and volunteer for Doolin Coast Guard, who during the past year lost her life in service of saving others.

Evie Conway Union ChanderyEvie Conway of Union Chandery providing informed insight
Deirdre Lane of the Commissioners of Irish Lights took us on a tour of the lighthouses and navigational aids round Ireland, sharing her broad knowledge of how the network of weather buoys, synchronised buoys, virtual buoys and beacons all combine to give cruising sailors safe passage, and gave us a tip to keep a close eye on e-Navigation as the future for navigation communications.

John Leahy, airline pilot, yachtmaster and secretary for the Cruising Association of Ireland, gave an in-depth explanation of Ireland’s weather systems and how to work out your own forecast from some basic understanding of weather fronts and how they progress.

The day closed with the knowledgeable Norman Kean of Irish Cruising Club Publications and Fellow of the Royal Institute for Navigation explaining the “Strange Tides of Ireland” or for those more in the know, the “Amphidromes”, the points where the range of the tide is zero, and the effect that has on the sea. For those who mightn’t believe such places exist, there’s one near Courtown on the Wexford coast, and another between Rathlin Island and Islay in the Western Approaches to the North Channel.

Sailing Directions for the South and West Coasts of IrelandThe goodies….the Irish Cruising Club’s Guide to Paradise (aka The Sailing Directions for the South and West Coasts of Ireland) is edited by Norman Kean.

Throughout the conference Evie Conway was at hand to give expert advice on safety equipment, ICC publications were available to purchase and the team from Clean Coasts gave guidance on the impact of different types of refuse that may find itself overboard on to our beautiful coasts.

Clifford Brown Sue Parker Charlie Kavanagh Simon ParkerCruising Association of Ireland Commodore Clifford Brown (left) with fellow members Sue Parker, Charlie Kavanagh, and Simon Parket

The incredible energy and passion for their subjects from each of the volunteer speakers, and the genuine interest from the sailors, truly brought this conference to life. Roll on the 2018 Cruising Conference, it’s provisionally scheduled for February in Dublin, while 2019’s is penciled in as February in Galway.

Rosemary Roy Jack Roy Paddy McGlade Gearoid ORiain Rosemary Roy with Jack Roy & Paddy McGlade of the ISA Board of Directors, and Gearoid O’Riain of Scouting Ireland, at last weekend’s Cruising Conference in Cork

Purchase the ICC Cruising directions here

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