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West Cork Sailing Dreamtime – Some Day, Summer will Come Again

8th April 2020
Good times in West Cork – Leo McDermott’s former fishing boat Sile a Do, converted to a cruising ketch by Liam Hegarty, with one of the Ilen School’s Limerick gandelows in the foreground at the annual Baltimore Woodenboat Festival Good times in West Cork – Leo McDermott’s former fishing boat Sile a Do, converted to a cruising ketch by Liam Hegarty, with one of the Ilen School’s Limerick gandelows in the foreground at the annual Baltimore Woodenboat Festival Photo: Gary Mac Mahon

In locked-down Baltimore in West Cork, the word is that in current circumstances, the most exciting thing that happens during the day is when a dog walks past, taking its sniff-busy morning walk up the empty street. Everybody goes to their window to watch this major event until the canine inspector has disappeared from view, and then they return to the task in which they’d been engrossed.

Those who are making some semblance of working from home for the first time are learning that for most folk, it ceases to be home once you have to do some supposedly income-generating task within its walls. Those social commentators who are predicting that our ways of working will see a marked change once the current situation has got back to something approaching normality seem to be unaware of this inescapable fact. Completely separate work-places are necessary for most people to work. That’s all there is to it.

bustling baltimore2Baltimore in more normal times on a sunny summer evening. Currently, the height of the locked-in day’s excitement is when a solitary dog walks up the road
For sure, there are those of us who have always worked from home, but as one of them, I can assure you that it’s not a way of life for everyone. And the basic reason we earn a meagre crust in this way is that we probably lack the social skills to function in an interpersonal situation at some sort of work-station with anyone within anything remotely approaching today’s mandatory two-metre social distancing.

"the most exciting thing that happens during the day is when a dog walks past"

In fact, we don’t want anyone in the same room, and one other inhabitant within the same building is all that is required to hope that from time to time, a cup of coffee or tea might appear, or a clever light lunch gets effortlessly rustled together with a chance that it might be enjoyed in the suntrap down the garden.

That said, we’re lost in admiration for those techno-whizzes who have invented ways of making the whole business of being house-bound more entertaining, and it’s said that in Baltimore they’ve now got an online sweepstake running as to when certain dogs will take their daily dander up the street. I’ve no idea if it’s true that some rogue elements have taken to releasing cats into the empty streetscape in order to upset some gamblers’ carefully made observations and closely-calculated predictions. But in times like this, all’s fair for a spot of entertainment and distraction.

Because with Easter plumb in the middle of April where it should be on a permanent basis, and with good weather a real possibility, people are going up the walls in holiday sailing places which would normally be springing to fresh life this Friday. So just to sharpen the exquisite torture, at the end of this piece there’s a link to a Sailing on Saturday blog from 2014 which seemed to succeed in capturing the flavour of Baltimore on a sunny sailing weekend, for it received a gratifying global response.

start round ireland3Typical start for the biennial Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. With nearly everything else announcing early cancellations for major events because of COVID-19, Wicklow SC are quite right to stay on track until the end of April, for it’s not as if anyone else will have an alternative programme in mind for June 20th
But before we go to it, let me just say that I think Wicklow Sailing Club is absolutely right in postponing until the end of April any decision on cancelling their 20th June Round Ireland Race. With every other major event falling over itself to cancel early, what alternative programme would potential Round Ireland Racers have in mind?

But enough of that – here’s Baltimore and West Cork in the summer of 2014, and though some things have changed, others are eternal in their charm.

Published in Coastal Notes
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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