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Saturday, January 26th saw tough conditions on Monkstown Bay for day three of the Monkstown Laser Frostbite League sponsored by CH Marine.

The third day of the Monkstown Laser league was a story worth telling. The skies appeared at daybreak revealing black clouds scuttering at tremendous speed across Cork Harbour. Halyards were slapping against the masts and white horses were beginning to form in the bay. A windy day was in store for the competitors.

An ominous forecast showed winds gusting up to 37 knots. With the forecast in mind, the sailors arrived at the Sand Quay in time for a short briefing held at 9:30 am. Deciding the conditions were manageable, the toughened sailors enthusiastically rigged their lasers. The howling wind threatened to blow the boats over but this did not stop the sailors from launching into the wild conditions on Monkstown Bay.

"The howling wind threatened to blow the boats over but this did not stop the sailors from launching into the wild conditions"

Race Officer Alan Fehily called for a windward/leeward course situated at the entrance of Monkstown creek. The residents of Alta Terrace had a view of the sailors battling their way out to the course to be on time for the 10:15 start.

Some sailors stayed ashore having decided the conditions were too rough; this left eight sailors fighting for position on the start line for the first race. The competitors got off the line cleanly and began the first beat to the windward mark. It was a hard fought battle between MBSC sailors Ronan Kenneally, and series leader Charles Dwyer. Kenneally held his lead for the majority of the race all the while getting heavily contested by Dwyer. Kenneally crossed the finish line, securing first. Dwyer finished close behind. MBSC’s Chris Bateman finished third.

In the radial fleet, Robert McGarvey of Innascarra Sailing Club was the only radial sailor to brave the conditions. This saw him take first place, while still contesting the standard rig sailors.

The second race was no less difficult with the tide beginning to strengthen. The sailors had to pick their path carefully for the first upwind leg. The first to round the windward mark was MBSC’s William O’Brien. Fending off MBSC’s Brendan Dwyer and Chris Bateman, he held onto his lead for the first downwind leg. A tight battle on the final lap saw Ronan Kenneally slip through, to contest with O’Brien and Dwyer. The first to finish was Bateman and in second place was Kenneally. Brendan Dwyer took third position.

Sailing the radial rig, Robert McGarvey was mixing it in with the standard fleet.

The third and final race of the day was a race that the sailors will never forget. The race was started quickly and the sailors got off the line cleanly. It was a close fight between Charles Dwyer, Ronan Kenneally and Rob Howe. The wind began to increase and the leading sailors were the first to notice. All of a sudden the wind strengthened even more. Gusts of thirty knots were blowing across the water, lifting the spray off the tops of the waves. Masts were bent double, and the lasers were flying downwind with their sailors hanging on for their lives. Kenneally attempted a gybe, immediately capsizing and letting Howe through. Heavy weather specialist Charles Dwyer blasted away from the fleet, his boat throwing several feet of spray into the air. The leeward mark saw gusts of thirty-five knots hitting the Lasers. It was a race of survival, and the sailors were doing everything that could be done to stay upright. Charles Dwyer took first place, having held a comfortable lead. In second place was Rob Howe. In third place was Ronan Kenneally, having recovered his position well.

"The leeward mark saw gusts of thirty-five knots hitting the Lasers"

With a feeling of relief, the sailors went ashore. Sandwiches and hot drinks were waiting in the Bosun for the competitors where they could relax after a hard day's work.

Published in CH Marine Chandlery

Laser sailors gathered on Monkstown Bay for Day Two of the Monkstown Bay Sailing Club Laser Frostbite League, sponsored by CH Marine writes Chris Bateman.

The morning dawned with a thick dreary fog laying over every inch of Cork Harbour. A beautiful sunrise cheered up the scene by illuminating the fog and casting an icy golden look over Monkstown Bay. Scroll down for photo gallery by Bob Bateman.

Monkstown Bay Lasers1There was an early fog in Monkstown Bay for the Laser racing Photo: Bob Bateman

Not a breath of wind could be felt and as the fog lifted slowly, the bay was revealed to be still as a mill pond. The sailors were not put off by the conditions and onlookers could see the competitors taking ice off their boats and eagerly raising sails.

Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay was like a mill pond Photo: Bob Bateman

A cold light wind filled in from the North West, blowing the rest of the fog away just in time as the sailors launched their boats from the Sandquay.

Monkstown Bay Lasers1

Race officer Alan Fehily set a windward/leeward course at the mouth of Monkstown Creek with time to spare for the 10:15 start.

Monkstown Bay Lasers1

The start sequence began for the first race and fourteen laser sailors scrambled into position on the start line. The sailors got away cleanly and it was a drag race out to the favoured left side of the course. It was a close battle between MBSC sailors Ronan Kenneally, Alex Barry and your correspondent. The light winds made for heated racing with tacking and gybing duels occurring throughout the race. Alex Barry decided to switch from the smaller radial to the standard rig and was proving to be very fast in the light conditions. Barry held first position on the downwind leg but capsized before the leeward mark. Kenneally then took the lead and went on to win the first race. Bateman finished second, Alex Barry finishing third.

In the Radial fleet, MBSC’s Harry Pritchard revelled in the light conditions, winning the first race with a comfortable lead.

The second race proved difficult with the wind easing off to a steady five knots. The flood tide was becoming increasingly prominent on the course. Alex Barry poked out ahead of the fleet, rounding the windward mark in first. He was followed close behind in second by Inniscarra sailor James Long. Barry held on to his lead while steadily gaining distance on the fleet. All the action was behind him, with most of the fleet debating who has water at the leeward mark. In the end, Alex Barry took first position, this writer second and James Long in third.

In the Radial fleet, Harry Pritchard used local knowledge to get around the course the fastest way, and took first place.

Race three was more challenging than the rest. It was a battle between Alex Barry, Ronan Kenneally and Charles Dwyer. The wind slowly died away leaving the sailors becalmed. Pockets of breeze occasionally would hit the water. The course was shortened and the competitors finished the race at the windward mark. Alex Barry took his second win of the day. Ronan Kenneally finished second. Charles Dwyer who was on great form on the first day struggled in the lighter air but still managed to finish third, right behind Kenneally.

RCYC’s Sophie Crosbie took first place in the Radial fleet.

The Laser sailors then sailed ashore and were on dry land by 12 O’Clock. Hot drinks and sandwiches were in order, so the sailors gathered in Napoli to talk about what was another successful days racing.

Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1Monkstown Bay Lasers1

Results are downloadable below

Published in Laser

Ireland’s ocean energy test facility, Lir, was officially opened today in Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cork TD Simon Coveney.

Located in the €20 million UCC Environmental Research Institute (ERI) Beaufort building, Lir – the National Ocean Test Facility provides world-class laboratory testing for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy devices. The state of the art facilities at Lir include four wave tanks that can replicate real ocean conditions and enable testing of various marine innovations, technologies and structures at different scales. As well as the ocean test infrastructure, Lir also offers a highly experienced team of researchers and operators.

Speaking at the opening of Lir, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said, “Lir, the National Ocean Test Facility is key to the development of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy industry and marine research sector. As a key piece of infrastructure in the SFI MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy it provides an invaluable resource for industry, researchers and state institutions to facilitate testing of innovative ocean energy technologies and devices for marine systems. The ERI, MaREI and Lir are vital enablers of Ireland’s blue economy, allowing both indigenous and international companies to develop renewable energy systems that will ultimately have real impact in how we generate energy from our oceans.”

Professor Patrick G. O’Shea, President University College Cork said “When you consider the energy and environmental challenges society faces globally, research to unlock the potential of our oceans can provide future solutions. University College Cork has been an acknowledged leader in marine energy research for many years, and we have been part of the Lir journey since its designation as a National Facility in 2009. Today is a proud day to see Lir become a vital part of Ireland’s national ocean energy test infrastructure. We are looking forward to working with government departments and agencies in ensuring that the full capacity and potential of Lir to the research community and Irish economy are realised.” 

The Ministerial party toured the Lir facility, a 2,600 m2 tank hall reviewing the Deep Ocean Basin tank, Ocean Basin tank and Electrical Laboratory, and also experienced the wave and current flume capabilities of the tanks, as well as the wave watch flume and adjustable beach. 

UCC’s Dr. Jimmy Murphy and Lead at Lir said, “The diversity of activities at Lir reflect the numerous commercial opportunities that offshore renewable energy presents. We are supporting companies by de-risking their technologies through our extensive testing capability including towing, installation, performance and survivability testing. We also operate in the broader marine sector as we have the capacity to test any structure that can be fabricated at a smaller scale. As well as renewable energy devices and systems, Lir can also be used to test oil and gas platforms, aquaculture cages, vessels, breakwaters and coastal protection structures. The Lir facility will accelerate Ireland’s marine sector development, and we look forward to supporting indigenous and international companies, institutions, academia and researchers in this important sector.”

The Lir Infrastructure represents a capital investment of c.€10m, with infrastructure funded by HEA and Bord Gais (under PRTLI), DCCAE and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and support from the IDA and Port of Cork. Additional funding was received from DAFM and subsequent capital and equipment awards from Science Foundation Ireland and the Marine Institute won by, and enabled through, MaREI in the Environmental Research Institute at UCC. Lir receives ongoing support from SEAI through their Ocean Energy Programme.

Published in Marine Science

Saturday, January 12 was the kick off of the Monkstown Laser Frostbite League organised by the Laser sailors of Monkstown Bay Sailing Club in Cork Harbour writes Chris Bateman.

The morning was promising with patches of blue sky and a cool breeze blowing over DeVesci Place from the west. The threat of the ice-cold sea was not enough to put the eager laser sailors off from taking to the waters of Monkstown Bay.

It was an early start for the competitors. Sails could be seen on the Sandquay as early as nine o’clock. Race Officer Alan Fehily cast off in good time to set a windward/leeward course off Blackpoint, in perfect time for the 10:15 start.

The first day of the league attracted an excellent entry of 15 boats, 12 of which were standard rig lasers. The three radial entrants were welcome participants; inclusion of the radial rig is a new departure for the league.

The start sequence began for the first race, the sailors jostling for position on the line. It was an all-in start and the sailors got away cleanly to begin the first upwind leg. The competitors had been instructed to do three rounds of the course. Each upwind leg was a struggle against the strong ebb tide that Monkstown Bay is well known for. It was a battle between RCYC’s Johnny Durcan, and MBSC’s Charles Dwyer. Durcan held the lead until he was safely across the finish line, securing first. Dwyer finished just behind, putting pressure on the laser ace. Ronan Kenneally of MBSC finished third in hot pursuit.

In the radial fleet, MBSC’s Alex Barry was the first to cross the finish line after a tough race.

The second race proved equally challenging with winds gusting up to 15 knots and shifting through 30 degrees. Dwyer led off, keeping Kenneally and Durcan at bay. But it was not to be and on the downwind leg Durcan sailed through to take the lead at the finish. Dwyer came in second with Kenneally snapping at his heels in third.

Alex Barry proved to be quick once again, holding off RCYC’s Sophie Crosbie and MBSC’s Harry Pritchard up to the finish line.

The wind had eased by Race 3. Kenneally was first off the start line, covering the fleet out to the right-hand side of the course. Johnny Durcan played the left side of the course, battling against the tide in the deep water of the shipping channel. Dwyer overtook Kenneally and a rogue wind shift saw Kenneally slip back to fourth. Meanwhile, MBSC’s former UK Olympic Squad member Rob Howe sailed into third place. Charles Dwyer finished first in the standard fleet, holding off Durcan. Howe finished close behind in third.

Alex Barry sailed exceptionally well, as having not only come first in the radial category once again, he took line honours and finished ahead of Dwyer in the standard category. Sophie Crosbie finished second, holding off local Harry Pritchard who finished close behind in third.

All the happy competitors sailed to shore, many gathering in The Bosun to converse and reminisce over what was indeed a great day’s sailing.

Published in Cork Harbour

The Cork Harbour based Community based boatyard 'Meitheal Mara' is seeking applications for the position of Marketing, PR and Programme Coordinator plus a Maritime Event Coordinator for the 2019 Cork Harbour Festival.

These are temporary positions and full details are given on Afloat's marine market here.

Published in Cork Harbour

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club has announced that their Laser Winter Series will be run again this year, starting this Saturday, with First Gun for a boat start at 10.15 a.m. The start, according to the club, will be “as close as possible to the Sand Quay.”

“We have opened the event up to Laser Radials this year but not 4.7s. This extended entry is to increase numbers and get more kids out sailing during the Winter,” says the Series Organiser, Charles Dwyer. “It’s an open event, so all are welcome.”

It will run for six weeks until February 16. There will be three races each day, with All-In starts and, to encourage participation, the assurance that competitors will be ashore by noon. Entry fee is €20 per boat.

More information: phone 086 1703289

Published in Cork Harbour

#CruiseLiners - Cruiseliners are to set a record with 103 calls booked to visit Cork next year, reports BreakingNews.ie, including several which will dock in the port for the first time.

New ships such as Celebrity Cruises MV Celebrity Reflection and Ocean Cruises MV Scenic Eclipse, billed as a contender for the world's most luxurious cruise ship, will make their maiden visit to the deep water quay in Cobh, along with Holland American Lines MS Nieuw Statendam.

With one more cruise ship left to dock this year (Afloat identified as CMV's Marco Polo), the Port of Cork’s 2018 cruise season is drawing to a close.

In total 92 cruise ships will have visited in 2018, which represents the most significant cruise season ever for the Port of Cork.

More than 157,000 passengers and 69,000 crew will have stepped ashore, boosting the local economy by an estimated €12m.

For further reading on the cruise-sector calling to Cork Harbour, click here. 

Published in Cruise Liners

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., joined by Mayor of the County of Cork Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy and Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey, has visited Haulbowline Island to mark the substantial completion of the remediation of the former East Tip.

Haulbowline Island, in the heart of Cork Harbour, is home to the headquarters of the Irish Naval Service and was formerly the location of Ireland’s only steelworks, Irish Steel (later Ispat) from 1939 until its closure in 2001. Around 650,000 cubic metres of by-products and waste from the steel production was deposited over a 40-year period on the 9ha (22 acres) shallow sand spit, extending eastwards from the Naval dockyard.

Haulbowline East Tip Site(Above and below) The East Tip contains approximately 650,000m3 of steelworks waste that was deposited on a sand spit over a 40 year period Photo: Bob Bateman

Cork Harbour ISPAT site

The Government approved a proposal to enable the clean-up of the East Tip on Haulbowline Island in 2011. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine was appointed to lead on the project on behalf of Government and commissioned Cork County Council to act as agents for the supervision and execution of the remediation works. Over the course of the intervening period the Council and the Department have overseen a series of works, starting out with upgrades to the bridge and road infrastructure to facilitate construction traffic, and the extensive works on the former East Tip site itself commenced in October 2017. The land on the East Tip has now been remediated with 47,000 tonnes of rock armour material brought onto the site to protect the shoreline and a further 180,000 tonnes of subsoil and 37,000 tonnes of topsoil brought onto the site to bring the history of exposed waste on the site to a close. Featuring playing pitches, walkways and cycle ways, the site has also been landscaped with over 200 trees, woodland mix planting, native mix planting and wildflower areas. A number of seating areas are located at strategic points to capture the key viewing points, while bird screens offer ideal wildlife observations.

Commenting on the transformation, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD referred to the environmental benefits of the project: “The comprehensive remediation works which have taken place here at Haulbowline Island have transformed a site which previously was a blight on the environment of Cork Harbour, renewing this part of the island. The benefits of these works will resonate with the near neighbours and surrounding areas of Haulbowline Island for generations to come. I have followed the progress of the works with great interest since my site visit last December and am very pleased to be back again to see the impressive results. I would like to pay tribute to the principal contractor PJ Hegarty & Sons Ltd., the officials in my Department involved and the Cork County Council project team, for delivering such a large, complex project in such a modest timeframe.”

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy noted the significance of the project and how the result will benefits residents and visitors alike, “Haulbowline Island is hugely important from both a local and national perspective. We have come a long way with this and ultimately, the Council want to see this site fulfil its potential to become a fantastic park for the people of Cork which will also offer another jewel in the crown for Cork tourism.”

Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey highlighted how the Council have been committed to ensuring that the remedial solution and amenity development was completed in accordance with current relevant national and international best practice and guidance, “This project has been many years of waiting and a tremendous amount of work but the result is clear to see. In the future, Haulbowline Island Recreational Park will be an enormous benefit to local communities and will join the ever increasing number of amenities within Cork Harbour.”

Cork County Council is actively taking steps to secure the future of the site to operate as Haulbowline Island Recreational Park with a view to being opened in 2019, pending approval of any necessary consents and outstanding works.

The Government approved a proposal to enable the clean-up of the East Tip on Haulbowline Island in 2011. Cork County Council is acting as agent of the Minister in the remediation of the site. Key milestones of the remediation project were the planning application for works on the East Tip, lodged with An Bord Pleanála in October 2013 and the waste licence application, submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency in November 2013. The approval of both planning and waste licence applications, which involved complex and detailed preparatory work, cleared the way for the completion of the project in the East Tip. Enabling works included improving the roadway leading onto Haulbowline Island and strengthening the bridge connecting it with Ringaskiddy to allow the removal of heavy scrap metal and the hauling capping materials for the East Tip.

Haulbowline Island is located within Cork Harbour, between Cobh to the north and Ringaskiddy to the south. The East Tip contains approximately 650,000m3 of steelworks waste that was deposited on a sand spit over a 40 year period. Access to the Island by road is from Ringaskiddy via bridges which traverse Rocky Island.

Published in Cork Harbour

Maybe it’s the fact that the days start to get longer again in only a fortnight, but there’s mood of rising optimism in Irish sailing these days writes W M Nixon. There’s an almost measurable buzz in the air which is spearheaded by the pace-setting Fintan Cairns-inspired DBSC Turkey Shoot Series in Dublin Bay, and given substantial extra boosts by long-established Autumn and Winter series going full blast at other centres.

This fresh zest for our sport is supported by more traditionally-minded sailors. They may have preferred to bring their season to a close in October or November with their boats properly laid up for the winter, but the amount of work they have going on behind the scenes to get new initiatives up and running, while keeping existing programmes in good and growing health, is a remarkable reflection on the value of the voluntary effort and input which sailing inspires.

fintan cairns2The Man Who Makes It Happen – Fintan Cairns, main driver of DBSC’s Turkey Shoot series

As one leading big-boat contender in the Turkey Shoot has put it: “If it wasn’t for the continuing enthusiasm of Fintan and his team chivvying us out there every Sunday morning, and then being on station with the Committee Boat to set another excellent course, then I don’t think half of us would think of taking part in a series which takes us right up to the very threshold of Christmas. Yet here it is, week after week for seven Sundays with a splendidly varied fleet of 75 boats, and the mood is euphoric – it feels like the best racing we’ve had all year, and it probably is”.

The regular reports in Afloat.ie give some idea of the pace of the sport and the calibre of the racing, yet although there are so many relatively new contenders involved that it has been commented that the Turkey Shoot 2018 is for all the world like a live Boat Show afloat and racing, it’s somehow reassuring to note that going into this weekend’s race, the overall leader is Sean O’Regan’s vintage Dehler 31 Vespucci.

justina turkey shoot3“Making mince of the Dublin Bay chop” – John Treanor’s new Grand Soleil 34 Justitna. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

That said, if we were to choose a “Marque of the Year” in Irish sailing, the Grand Soleil brand from Italy would definitely be on the shortlist, with John Treanor’s new Grand Soleil 34 Justtina turning many heads in the Turkey Shoot as she makes mince of the Dublin Bay chop.

Through the season, Frank Whelan’s Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera from Greystones set the pace on both the east and south coasts, while on the south coast the Murphy family’s Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo rounded out a great season by being made the Royal Cork YC’s “Keelboat of the Year”.

gs40 nieulargo4Classy performer – the Murphy family’s Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo brings teak deck style to the front of the fleet. Photo: Bob Bateman

Still on the south coast, as our colleague Tom MacSweeney was reporting, the recent AGM of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association brought a breath of fresh air with the much-approved election of Johanna Murphy of Great Island SC as the first woman sailor to be Commodore. She takes up the role with a clear vision of encouraging coastal passage races, but as such races have to be fitted in with the increasing number of club At Homes, the demand on premium dates is high.

A further challenge was added to the brew at the AGM with a significant presence from Waterford Harbour SC at Dunmore East, seeking to have their historic yet expanding club included in the SCORA programme. This is quite a challenge, as it’s all of 50 nautical miles and more from Cork Harbour to Dunmore East. That’s fine and dandy if the SCORA main fleet race there from Cork Harbour with a grand following breeze, but problems of logistics arise when they face the uphill slog home.

johanna murphy5Early Christmas present for Johannna Murphy of Cork Harbour’s Great Island SC – she’s the new Commodore of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association. Photo: Bob Bateman

Nevertheless in due course there’s no doubt Dunmore East will be back in the offshore racing picture, just as in due course a fleet of J/109s has developed in Dublin Bay as everyone hoped for years would eventually happen. And not only is God in his heaven with ace MOB rescuer Tim Goodbody in the lead in White Mischief in the J/109s racing in the Turkey Shoot, but this week it has been revealed that the latest addition to the class is newly-elected ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell, back in harness with his former longtime campaigning partner Johnny Murphy with their recently-acquired J/109 Outrajeous. They’ll be keeping her at their home port of Howth, increasing the likelihood of further sister-ships there, as they’ll be joining Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles with Indian, and the daddy of them all, Pat Kelly with the all-conquering Storm.

white mischief6Tim Goodbody’s White Mischief gets the best of a J/109 start in the Turkey Shoot series. The class is extending its reach with Outrajeous (Richard Cowell & Johnny Murphy) joining the pair in Howth. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Howth, with its winter Laser Frostbites dating from 1974 and its keelboats Brass Monkey series now in its 32nd year, continues to be a hive of activity. In fact if anything the colourful sailing/fishing harbour as a whole had a problem of success, as it has become such a visitor magnet that, on a good weekend, the quaysides and waterfront roads can get distinctly crowded.

A series of fortuitous circumstances have brought about the situation whereby the place can offer such an attractive visitor experience. When the harbour was undergoing its massive re-development in the 1980s, the original plan was that all the ancient and often quaint buildings of the West Pier should be swept away to provide the maximum of space for fishing-related work and vehicle movements. But by some miracle they all were saved, and today the colourful line of buildings down the West Pier is home to more popular and varied seafood restaurants than you could count, cheek-by-jowl with marine industry workshops. And the old Mariner’s Hall, originally built as “The Prayer House” for visiting Scottish fishermen, has been saved from demolition and is currently having its roof replaced with such attention to detail that its woodwork will become a special architectural feature.

howth harbour7Howth’s complex and often very busy harbour. Its necessary dredging has now been recognised as a Major Infrastructural Project

But while everything above the water around Howth’s increasingly tidy yet ever busier harbour seems to be going fine, under the sea’s surface things aren’t so good, as bits of the harbour badly need dredging. In the Netherlands where they’re the world leaders in building and maintaining maritime structure, all harbours are automatically dredged every five years at least. But in Howth although the harbour as we know it now dates back to 1982, there has been only piecemeal dredging and channel clearance, and a major infrastructural project is on the cards.

With this in mind, leading Howth fisherman Sean Doran and local Senator Catherine Noone and others set about arranging a top level visit which would bring Howth’s problems home to Government at the highest level. They reckoned that the case would be best put if the Government could meet representatives of all the harbour stakeholders in an effort to gauge how much could be maintained and added to local economic activity by bringing the harbour depths up to the required standards.

leo and joe8Taoiseach Leo Varadker with Howth YC Commodore Joe McPeake in the clubhouse last weekend. Photo: HYC/Brian Turvey

It’s only when you set out to arrange such a gathering that you become fully aware of how many revenue-generating and employment activities a harbour as diverse as Howth can encompass. When local TD and Government Minister Richard Bruton and Senator Noone set out last Saturday afternoon with Fingal Mayor Councillor Anthony Lavin to show Taoiseach Leo Varadkar round Howth Harbour and meet the people who make it work, it was one busy day, with harbourmaster Captain Harry McLoughlin and others taking the fact-finding group on a mission which started with the many fishing enterprises and the shore facilities for the regular summer ferry route to Dublin and Dun Laoghaire, went on with a wide variety of retail and workshop outfits, seemed to take in everything possible to improve the harbour, and then concluded with a much-needed cup of tea in Howth Yacht Club where Commodore Joe McPeake and his team were able to introduce the Taoiseach to sailors at every level from absolute beginners to Olympic 49er Under 23 Gold Medallists Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, while at the same time providing information about how Howth YC’s Quest Sailing School is reaching out to people from every background.

howth group9In Howth YC are (left to right) 49er Under 23 Gold Medallist Robert Dickson, Mayor of Fingal Councillor Anthony Lavin, Taoiseach Leo Varadker, Senator Catherine Noone, Gold Medallist Sean Waddilove and HYC Commodore Joe McPeake, with Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment also in photo. Photo: HYC/Brian Turvey

It was a mutually informative yet pleasantly informal gathering, sweetened by the news that the dredging of Howth Harbour is now agreed as a Major Infrastructural Project. And for any busy yacht or sailing club to be given this opportunity to see itself as others see it, and to see particularly how well - with mutual goodwill - it fits in and interacts with the community around it, well, that was a real tonic for the membership.

But then, having been at the annual dinner of the historic Howth Seventeen Foot Class in the clubhouse the night before, your correspondent was already reassured about the basic good health of HYC. For this might well have been the 120th Annual Dinner of the Howth Seventeens, as they were founded in 1898. But with a convivially packed house with 128 present, the mood was so youthful it could have been the first Annual Dinner of all, for age shall not weary them.

howth seventeens10“Age shall not weary them….” The Howth 17s held what may well have been their 120th Annual Dinner last weekend, but as they know they were founded in 1898, nobody has been counting. Photo: W M Nixon

And even when it does, the Seventeens have a remarkable capacity for renewal, headed in the 1970s by Nick Massey, and more recently kept simmering by Ian Malcolm. Their capacity for re-birth is extraordinary, and thus the Howth Seventeen people are among the most appreciative of a small beautifully-restored yacht which quietly appeared in their marina back in September.

This is the 23ft Laurent Giles-designed L Class Iduna, originally built in 1938 and bought in 1948 by the late Roger Bourke of Limerick and Foynes. Iduna is now owned by his son Robert for whom she has been restored by Howth master-shipwright Johnny Leonard, who is indeed connected to the great County Cork boat-building clan.

Iduna dec11The restored 80-year-old Iduna, brought to new life by Johnny Leonard of Howth. Photo: W M Nixon

Iduna, as restored by those Leonard skills, simply glows – there’s no other word for it. And in time when finishing jobs have been completed, she’ll be based in Dun Laoghaire though her home port will always be Foynes, as her owner moves between bases in Limerick and Dublin. But for now, she’s an adornment in Howth marina, and anyone feeling the winter glooms only has to go and look at her to feel better.

In fact, the health benefits of seeing a good boat restoration cannot be underestimated, and down West Cork way they almost have a regional service in this feel-good factor, what with Ilen being restored at Oldcourt where Saoirse is now being re-built, while across at Ballydehob, Tiernan Roe has the fine job of restoring The Lady Min underway for the O’Keeffe family of Schull, and nearby Rui Ferreira – already well proven in classic boat restoration and new-build - has Dublin Bay Water Wag No 49 under new construction for Martin Byrne.

water wag fortynine12Rui Ferreira of Ballydehob with the new Water Wag, no 49 to a design from 1900. Photo: Ian Malcolm

This is being done to such an exquisite standard that you’d think she should be put straight into a glass case for permanent display purposes. Between all these restorations and new-build projects, together with the good news about re-vitalised sailing enthusiasm and increased government awareness of harbour needs, there’s a fresh zing to the sea air which launches Irish sailing towards 2019 with vigorous optimism.

water wag fortynine13The classic Water Wag, designed 118 years ago by Maimie Doyle, daughter of boatbuilder James Doyle. Photo: Ian Malcol

water wag fortynine14Rui Ferreira is renowned for his attention to detail in classic boat-building, and with Water Wag 49 he has excelled himself. Photo: Ian Malcolm

Published in Dublin Bay

Hello and welcome to my weekly Podcast …. Tom MacSweeney here ….

There is a great lot to be said about the pride of a family in a boat and there is nothing wrong with being old when age is appreciated, understood and revered. A man I met in West Cork, where he and his family are involved in restoring a boat that is one hundred and sixteen years old, underline that to me.

That a yacht, with close and long links to the West Cork community, is being saved for future generations. underlines the embodiment of the attraction of boats in the life of a family.

Simon O’Keeffe told me why he is restoring the boat which his great-grandfather designed and built in 1902. It was launched then at the fishing port of Schull in West Cork and is now being restored at the yard of Roe Boats, not too far away in Ballydehob.

The boat is the Lady Min which once was a “thorn in the side” of the renowned Cork Harbour yacht racing aficionados.

Listen to the podcast below as Simon tells me why he and his family decided to restore what is probably going to be the oldest racing yacht ever restored to the waters of the South Coast.

Published in Cork Harbour
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