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

The three Cork Harbour yacht clubs – the Royal Cork at Crosshaven, Monkstown Bay and Great Island Sailing Clubs – have decided that the format of a combined clubs racing league, first held this Summer – has been successful enough to continue it next year, but there will be changes.

The newly-formed Great Island Club, based in Cobh and emanating from Cove Sailing Club, following issues which arose there over that club’s planned marina, was the driving force in creating the league. It brought around 30 cruisers from the three clubs racing together in Whitesail starting last June, though numbers later decreased during the Summer in the weekly Friday night racing. This was put down to other events, such as Cork Week and the annual trek to West Cork waters during the Summer months. The three clubs shared race administration.

There was also, however, some feeling in clubs, such as Monkstown and at the RCYC, that the combined league had taken over from individual club events. Monkstown’s Cruiser Class, which had gathered on Thursday nights, had no club racing apart from its ‘At Home’ Day and at Crosshaven the combined league replaced the club’s own popular weekly whitesail racing. Both clubs incorporated results for their members within the combined league, to award their own club prizes.

A review meeting by the three clubs has agreed on changes for next year to accommodate those views.

Beginning on Friday May 31, there will be a “June League” which will be run by the Great Island Club and on three further June Fridays, 7th, 14th and 21st. There will be no race on June 28, because of the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale.

In July the combined league will be raced on Saturdays, July 6, 13, 20, 27 and incorporate club events such as the Monkstown Bay ‘At Home’. It is hoped that this will increase participation in such events. MBSC will run the racing in July.

There will be no combined harbour league racing in August, when many boats head west such as to Calves Week.

In September the league will resume on Saturdays, under RCYC administration, on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th.

This approach provides individual clubs with the opportunity to resume holding their own weekly evening racing, such as the RCYC Friday nights and Monkstown Bay events.

Representatives from the three clubs met at Monkstown Bay SC and agreed also that the combined league should include spinnaker racing, additional to white sail. A single set of Race Instructions will be agreed for the league and racing starts will again be in the vicinity of No.9 buoy off Whitegate Refinery jetty which was the location this year.

The proposals will come before club annual meetings. There may be some adjustments, but the outline schedule has been agreed.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

The recent totally carbon-free delivery of six tons of Irish craft beer from Cork to France makes for a positive response to those who are concerned by the adverse effects of industrially-induced climate change, and the possible interruptions to trade along the coasts of Europe brought about by Brexit writes W M Nixon.

Brehon Brewhouse was founded in 2013 by Seamus McMahon at his family’s farm in the Patrick Kavanagh neighbourhood of County Monaghan, midway between Inniskeen and Carrickmacross, and it has expanded steadily ever since with a growing range of connoisseur beers.

Far indeed from the stony hills of Monaghan, the classical “three-storey-rig” 64ft Cornish lugger Grayhound is a re-creation of a famous ship of 1796, and today the re-born Grayhound is a familiar sight at Festivals of Sail on both sides of the English Channel and further afield.

cornish lugger grayhound2Grayhound piling on the cloth. In a more lawless age, it was assumed that any vessel setting so much canvas would be up to no good with smuggling or piracy, and if caught they were invariably arrested
Grayhound has in recent years carved an addition niche for herself in transporting small cargoes of vintage wine, craft beers and special spirits along ancient sailing ship routes, so it was only a question of time before the rapidly-expanding Irish craft beer industry availed of the ship’s services to make an impact in the discerning French market.

The route chosen was the well-worn one from Cork to Cherbourg, except that at the conclusion of the voyage, Grayhound went to the picturesque port of Granville nearby, instead of Cherbourg itself. The cargo was six tons of beer, made up of Brehon’s noted Blonde Lager and a dark stout, and they travelled well. The word is that this novel promotional ploy has been very effective, proving that the old trading routes still work for quality products, while there is a way of moving goods that is totally carbon-free.

With November and the promise of winter almost upon us, here’s a soothing video by Nicolas le Du which well captures the mood aboard Grayhound as fair winds speed her and her special cargo from Munster to Normandy.

Published in Ports & Shipping

SeaFest, Ireland’s largest and most spectacular maritime festival, will set sail again for Cork Harbour next year. The festival will dock in Cork for the next three years, from 2019 – 2021.

Ireland’s national maritime festival has been held in Galway for the past three years, and has quickly become one of the most popular events in the country. SeaFest has grown in attendance each year, with the festival attracting more than 100,000 visitors in 2017 and again in 2018.

The inaugural Seafest was staged in Cork Harbour in 2014. Back then, the initial concept then was that the national festival would tour around the country, in a rotation around the four coasts, but given today's announcement, it now looks like the east and north coast harbours will have to wait for at least three years for their next chance to stage it.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., said: “SeaFest is all about raising awareness about the value and economic opportunities provided by our marine sector, it has been particularly successful in increasing awareness of maritime issues which impact on all of us, through a host of engaging and educational activities for people of every age.”

“As a national festival, it is important that the event reaches across Ireland, enabling more people to increase their knowledge about the value of our oceans. I’m delighted to announce that Cork will host the festival for the next three years, and look forward to the fantastic line-up of free events and activities on offer at SeaFest 2019, which I expect to be the largest SeaFest yet.”

SeaFest is a key initiative of ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth’ Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan which aims not just to develop the marine economy but also to increasing participation and engagement by the Citizens of Ireland with the sea. The national festival celebrates Ireland’s proud maritime heritage and the many ways our seas and oceans impact on and enrich our lives.

The Our Ocean Wealth Summit will be taking place in Cork in June of next year as part of the national festival. In 2019, SeaFest takes on an international aspect as the Our Ocean Wealth Summit will play host to representatives of island states from around the world.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., said: “Ireland has a hugely positive story to tell in relation to its engagement with the marine. We have travelled far in recent years in realising the potential of our marine resources. In 2019, the Our Ocean Wealth Summit will bring together representatives from island states across the globe, to share knowledge and culture. 

SeaFest is a celebration of all that our ocean represents. I look forward to joining the festival and Summit in Cork next year”.

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn said: “There is no better fit for Seafest than Cork, given the depth and reach of its maritime history and the significance of activities at the Port of Cork in terms of business, tourism and recreation. Even our city motto and crest, providing a Safe Harbour for Ships, shows that the sea is in our DNA. When you consider the importance of our maritime assets in Cork, it is crucial that the city and county councils co-operate to maximise events like Seafest and European Maritime Day to attract further interest and investment in what we have”.

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute said: “It is with thanks to the support of Galway city, from businesses, volunteers and visitors, that SeaFest is now regarded as one of the most successful events of its in kind in Europe. The festival has been instrumental in highlighting the marine research taking place in Galway, as well as the importance of our seas and the contribution to our local and national economy. We look forward to working with the city of Cork, as well as our national and regional partners, to deliver another spectacular event.”

SeaFest will take place in Cork City the weekend of the 7th - 9th June 2019. In addition, as part of the national festival, the Our Ocean Wealth Summit Conference will be held in Cork on Thursday, 6th and Friday 7th June.

Published in Maritime Festivals

Hello and welcome to my weekly Podcast …

Sailing the 27-foot yacht he has owned for 20 years, Jim Doyle helmed Green Sleeves to win the ‘Alta to Starboard Trophy’ in Monkstown Bay.

It’s an unusual trophy, made by the club to replicate a racing navigational mark close to the club’s finish line which was used by a lady who was their Race Officer to test the ability of sailors.

Goldie Cronin insisted that they must get inside the yellow wooden Alta mark, mounted on a tyre to keep it afloat and pass it to starboard to finish a race. That, with varying conditions such as strong tides, often caused the Vagabond dinghy sailors a fair bit of difficulty, which Goldie watched with interest…

The “Goldie Cronin Alta to Starboard to Finish Trophy” must have one of the longest names for any trophy. The replica was made, a small wooden yellow race mark, mounted on a black trolley wheel on top of a wooden base, to mark her many years of race duties, first with the then 12-foot Vagabond dinghies and later with the club’s Cruiser Class when those sailors became older, more mature and moved into the bigger boats. Goldie moved with them and her Alta to Starboard to finish instruction ….… That made even more demands on the sailors!

The trophy is proof that sailing can be a sport for life. Though Goldie has now passed away, it is still a desired win for the cruisers.

Jim Doyle’s crew were Denis Long and John Creagh and they won it on the day of a Cork Harbour Combined Clubs League race, when the other boats in the fleet also passed Alta to finish in Monkstown, honouring the memory of Goldie and her special race instruction. The trophy isn’t awarded just for winning a race, ability and commitment to the sport are taken into consideration and the Cronin family decides the winner.

He had dispatched them back to sea with “a kick up the transom"

It isn’t the only unusual trophy in Monkstown Bay’s collection… There is also the ‘Kick Up the Transom Trophy’, made by the Vagabonds after the arrest of the gun-running ship, Claudia, which in 1973 was detained in the Naval Base at Haulbowline, across Monkstown Bay from the MBSC clubhouse. It had a huge collection of weaponry, guns, ammunition, anti-tank weapons from the Libyan leader Gaddafi aboard, all of which was unloaded at the Base. IRA members aboard were later jailed, but the ship was, amazingly, released on the orders of then Minister for Defence Paddy Donegan and its crew was not charged. The Minister said he had dispatched them back to sea with “a kick up the transom".

"Any club got other unique trophies like these?"

KICK UP THE TRANSOM TROPHY MONKSTOWN BAY SCMonkstown Bay Sailing Club's Kick Up The Transom Trophy

That didn’t impress the Navy or security forces who had detained it off Helvick in a major security operation which was the first of its kind for the Irish Government and it was a rather inept comment. Monkstown Bay sailors had another thought - for a trophy – a wooden one, showing a boot kicking a ship up the transom… and that too is now competed for by the grown-up dinghy sailors, now in cruisers….

Any club got other unique trophies like these?

Listen to the podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Cove Sailing Clubs Cobh to Blackrock Race was a huge success with the 45–boat fleet enjoying a fast and breezy race to Cork. While the forecast and conditions of 20 to 25 knots might have deterred some competitors form taking part, those that ventured out enjoyed a great sail with plenty of excitement along the way. 

The standard white sail class started at 14:00 followed by the main fleet at 14:30. The Cobh start line with a large visiting liner made for a spectacular start with the 40 boats lined up in front of Cobh for the Safetrx sponsored race.

The fleet was joined by the KYC fleet following on from the Mary P race that left from Kinsale on with a very fast sail up Saturday morning, the fleet taking a nice break in the Quays bar Cobh before getting ready for the sprint to Cork.

The short sprint to Monkstown saw Denis Murphy's Nieulargo powering up past Whitepoint and revelling in the breezy conditions with Altair (Dorgan and Losty) and Jelly Baby (Brian Jones) close behind.

Boats then quickly hoisted kites for the run down to Marino Point which made for a spectacular sight as the fleet passed up the narrow river. Altair managed to get ahead of Nieulargo and Jelly Baby to lead into Lough Mahon closely followed by Conor Doyle's Freya which powered by and stretched her legs up through Lough Mahon quickly reaching Blackrock castle.

Altair held off Nieulargo to cross the line in 2nd place with Jelly Baby close behind in third. The corrected times results in Class 1 for both IRC and Echo were the same with Altair (Dorgan and Losty) first, Nieulargo 2nd and Jelly Baby 3rd.

Class 2 saw George Radley's half tonner Cortegada flying home to take victory in both IRC and Echo with Cavatina, Ian Hickey and Artful Dodger Finbarr O'Regan finishing tied 2nd on IRC.

Class 3 saw Leonard Donnery No Gnomes retain the trophy again this year.

For the overall Moonduster Trophy George Radleys Cortegada was the winner taking a well-earned victory to lift the beautiful Mooonduster replica trophy.
The newly presented Safetrx trophy for the fastest boat from Cobh to Blackrock was won by Conor Doyles beautiful new XP50 with an Elapsed time of just 43 minutes.

White sail which had a very large entry saw John and Fiona Murphys Esme take first in IRC from Derry Goods Exhale with Batt O'Learys Sweet Dreams third. In Echo, Esme was again first with Sweet Dreams second and Exhale third.

White sail Standard class saw Rory Allen's Mystic take the win from Ian Scandrett's Kernow in 2nd with Donal O'Driscoll's Re Orga in third place.

The Prize Giving took place in the Sextant bar where the huge crowd enjoyed a great barbeque with some well-earned refreshments. Prizes were presented by John Wallace from Union Chandlery and also Paul Ryan from Safetrx.

Many of the fleet stayed overnight at the Port of Cork pontoon before the return trips to Crosshaven, Kinsale and East Ferry yesterday.

Bob Bateman photographed a breezy edition of Cove Sailing Club's Saturday's Cobh to Blackrock race in Cork Harbour.

View his photo gallery below

cobh Blackrock yacht race3Kieran Dorgan's Atari (winner class 1) and Miss Whiplash (Ronan and John Downing)

cobh Blackrock yacht race3Frank Doyle sailing the J122 "Cara"

cobh Blackrock yacht race3Denis Murphy's Nieulargo on starboard with Atari on port

cobh Blackrock yacht race3Above and below Brian Jones in the J109 Jellybaby

cobh Blackrock yacht race3

cobh Blackrock yacht race3Overall winner – George Radley's Cortegada

cobh Blackrock yacht race3Freya Conor Doyle ahead of Carroll Bros Chancer

cobh Blackrock yacht race3Freya leads Frank Doyle sailing Cara

cobh Blackrock yacht race3John and Fiona Murphy in the Elan 295 "Esme"

cobh Blackrock yacht race3

cobh Blackrock yacht race3Anthony Mulcahy's Nicholson passes the finish line
cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3cobh Blackrock yacht race3

Published in Cork Harbour
7th September 2018

Dirty Boats & Dirty Ports

Hello and welcome to the weekly MacSweeney Podcast ….

It’s been a week with interesting topics, from dirty boats to dirty ports, the pleasant sight of island-racing dinghies but the nastier tale of what submarines might be doing off the West Coast…

The dirty bottom of Scribbler, my Sigma 33, wasn’t pleasant. The amount of underwater hull growth this year has been heavier than in previous Summers, despite two coats of anti-foul and monthly scrubbing since she was launched in late April… A green weed adhered to the bow and the rudder and other boat owners in Cork Harbour told me that they had the same problem and, as we all know, hull growth slows down speed through the water. Now, I know that some of the most dedicated racers haul regularly or dry-sail …. But that’s not really feasible for ordinary folk who race weekly club events …Higher water temperatures during this Summer have been blamed by some owners….. I’d like to know if the same “dirty hull” problem has been encountered in other areas of the coast…. Or could it be the quality of anti-foul?

Another problem, identified to me by some visitors from national and foreign climes this Summer, is the lack of rubbish disposal for visiting cruising boats in small harbours and anchorages around Ireland. Mostly, visitors have told me, marinas have this sorted but I’ve heard stories of visiting crews wandering around smaller harbours or little ports off which they’ve anchored, with a rubbish bag looking for a place to dispose of it …And, in a plane on the way back from Norway during the week, I read a missive from one British cruising sailor: “Dear Ireland, why do you make cruising sailors suffer. This matter is much talked about among visiting yachts,” he said and suggested there would be some who wouldn’t bother to visit Ireland because of it. Paul Heiney was writing in the UK magazine Sailing Today, where he said he had a “stunning trip amongst the rugged beauty of Ireland” – but was highly critical of the lack of rubbish disposal facilities.

Listen to the Podcast about another disposal problem, along the coastline from Donegal to Galway and why the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group wants to know what submarines are doing off our West Coast …and also how one Cork Harbour club made a clean sweep of all the trophies at another club….

Published in Tom MacSweeney

An army bomb disposal team made this World War Two device (pictured above) safe after it was trawled up by a fishing boat near the Daunt Rock off Cork Harbour.

It was landed onto Kinsale Pier which was cordoned off while the device was made safe.

Published in Cork Harbour

The annual Cobh to Blackrock Sailing race was once, traditionally, the closing race of the sailing season in Cork Harbour. That no longer prevails as the sailing season has extended over the years into December for cruiser classes and practically all-year-round for dinghy sailors. However, it is still a major event in the harbour, writes Tom MacSweeney and, while this is a race, it is also a social event, with non-regular racing boats taking part and motor cruisers also going up the river to the centre of the city for the post-race gathering.

Cobh SailingCruisers in a light air edition of the 2016 Cobh to Blackrock Sailing Race Photo: Bob Bateman

While finishing remains near Blackrock, where the village was previously the after-race centre, that was changed a few years ago to the Port of Cork Marina in the city. The Port is a race supporter, with Union Chandlery and the sponsor this year, SafeTrx.

Cork Harbour SailingMixed Dinghy Racing in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

This year’s race has been set for Saturday, September 8, organised by Cobh Sailing Club. Competitors are being told to register to use the ISA SafeTrx Mariner tracking system for the event and must enter for the race using the Cove SC online entry form before Friday, September 7. The start line will be between a flagpole in the vicinity of the Quays Bar on the Cobh foreshore and an outer distance mark. The finish line will be between a finishing vessel, identified by a blue flag and a navigational channel marker.

Traditional/Standard Class will start at 1400, followed by Cruiser Classes 1/2/3/4 and White Sail at 1425.

Kinsale Yacht Club’s Mary P Race

The annual Kinsale Yacht Club’s Mary P Race and ‘Cruise-to-Cork’ is scheduled for the same day and its finish is intended to get boats to Cobh in time for the race to Blackrock. The KYC race has a scheduled start time of 9.25 a.m., for All-In IRC, ECHO and White Sail, with finishing line between No.18 (red) and No.13 (green) buoys near the Spit Light.

The finish vessel will be Mary P. There is a time limit of 1400 which is the scheduled start for the Traditional/Standard Class from Cobh and also gives the Kinsale crews a 25-minute window to prepare to race again, in Classes 1/2/3/4/Whitesail.

That should make for quite a gathering at Cobh and Cork City Marina!

Naval Race Hosted by RCYC

Also scheduled for September Saturdays in Cork are the annual Naval Race on September 15, hosted by the RCYC and the following, Saturday, September 22, the Ballinacurra Race/Marlogue Race/East Ferry Cup, to be hosted by MBSC. These three races will include the combined harbour league for September with the last race to be on September 29 hosted by GISC for the Marlogue/East Ferry Cup. That has been on Friday evenings and for whitesail only, so will presumably be adjusted to incorporate the use of spinnakers. If the weather allows, on the Blackrock Race, these have been a colourful sight in the river channel, but such conditions have not been present too many times in recent years. The Combined League drew over 30 boats when it started back in June but numbers have fallen off since, with a lot of other sailing events and the holiday period on the South Coast. It is hoped that numbers will increase again for September.

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club Dinghy League

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club has announced a September Dinghy League, starting this Saturday (Sept 1) with FG for Classes 1 and 2 at 1400.

Published in Cork Harbour

Great Island Sailing Club in Cobh is running a 'GATHERING OF THE BOATS' event in Cork Harbour this Sunday to highlight safety on the water.

Boats from all over the harbour are invited to meet at Foxes Cover at 2pm, under Fort Carlisle and close to Whitegate Refinery.

GISC Commodore, Johanna Murphy, says that the aim of this event is "to highlight water safety on the water and to encourage everyone that has either a boat, dinghy, Rankin, kayak, canoe, rib to get out and support. We are hoping to have a kayak safety demo , the RNLI will be there ( if not called out), MOB recovery demo. It will also be an opportunity for people to try kayaking, dinghy sailing and also to board a cruiser, just as a taster."

The event will be preceded by a GISC dinghy race around Spike Island, First Gun at 11.30.

Published in Cork Harbour

A magnificent firework's display was the centrepiece of the annual Cobh Peoples Regatta 2018 in Cork Harbour at the weekend. 

As well as the shoreside festivities, there was racing for keelboats in class one, two, three and four in both IRC and ECHO divisions. 

Saturday racing for dinghies included racing for Cork Harbour's own Rankin fleet as Afloat.ie reported earlier.

Cobh peoples regattaA competitor at Cobh peoples regatta navigates a visiting cruise liner in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in Cork Harbour
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