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#CorkWeek – With a fleet of just over 100 boats, yesterday's official opening of Volvo Cork Week at Royal Cork Yacht Club was a proper parade of sail as the competitors readied their vessels for the days of racing ahead.

Members of the public turned out in droves to see the boats and enjoy the festivities of Sunday's open day, including fun fair rides and an open-top bus shuttle between the Royal Cork and Camden Fort Meagher taking in the breathtaking vistas of Cork Harbour.

Later came the official opening of Volvo Cork Week by Marine Minister Simon Coveney, together with VCW chair and club vice admiral John Roche and admiral Pat Lyons.

But Cork Week is about the action on the water, and it got off to a rapid start yesterday morning with the PYR Race Dash for Cash, which boasted a prize fund of €1,000.

The tightly fought battle saw Peter McCann with crew Arran Walsh, sailing a 420, emerge victorious to take the first prize of €500.00.

They were followed in second and third place respectively by John Downey and Sandy Remmington, and Alex Barry and Richard Leonard, both sailing RS400s.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, it's set to be a challenging yet rewarding week ahead across the fleets, and particularly so in the big boat class as several Ker 40s will be gunning for new British IRC Nationals champion Antix.

Published in Cork Week

#rnil – As Afloat.ie reported earlier Crosshaven Lifeboat were paged at 6.08pm (14 June) to a Dive Boat near Roches Point with an unresponsive diver on Board. The lifeboat met with the Dive Boat off Fort Camden and transferred volunteer Ian Venner, who immediately took over first Aid. The lifeboat was met ashore by Dr John Murphy and Crosshaven Coast Guard. First Aid continued until the patient was handed over to the ambulance service. Helicopter Rescue 117 from Waterford was also tasked.

Sadly, the diver later died in Cork University Hospital. Our Sympathies go to his Family and Friends.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#rnli – Crosshaven RNLI lifeboat was requested to launch to a 6m Rib (Rigid Rib) that had run aground last evening in Lough Mahon in Cork Harbour.

Crosshaven lifeboat launched shortly after 10pm last evening after receiving reports that the RIB with four people on board was aground North of Hop Island. The lifeboat with volunteers Alan Venner, Con Crowley and Alan Barton on board quickly made their way to the Lough Mahon Area.

The Rib was eventually located on mud banks between the main shipping channel and the Douglas river channel after the casualty fired distress flares and turned on navigation lights. The lifeboat crew had to slowly work their way up the unlit channel until they were within a hundred metres of the casualty.

Crew member, Con Crowley successfully attempted to swim on his back across the mud with a tow line to the casualty vessel where he medically assessed all the casualties. One casualty was cold and wet after initially entering the mud to push the vessel off.

As the tide was turning and beginning to fill, the crew had to wait until enough water was under the casualty boat to haul it off the mud. Two of the casualties were then transferred to the lifeboat and Con Crowley helmed the casualty vessel back to Crosshaven.

The casualty vessel and the lifeboat arrived back at Station at 1.45am, was cleaned down and refuelled and readied for service at 2.30am

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#cruising – Cruising is the hidden side of sailing, yet it's the choice for the majority of those going afloat. Whether it's day cruising, a longer venture in the annual holidays, or the dream cruise of a lifetime across oceans, this is our sport. Unlike racing, which generates its own narrative even if only through the recorded results, much of cruising would slip under the radar completely were it not for cruising awards. W M Nixon considers the latest annual batch from the Irish Cruising Club.

Cruising under sail seems to be the secret of eternal youth. Last night's Annual General Meeting of the Irish Cruising Club in Dun Laoghaire saw a distribution of awards to voyagers from all parts of Ireland who sailed successfully in many areas of the globe in boats mostly of modest size. Yet any outside analyst would soon have made the point that many of the achievers were of mature – sometimes very mature - years, and fulfilling a retirement dream.

But despite any ICC membership gathering these days being a sea of silver heads, age is the last thing they think about. This club of 550 members has become the mixture of an Active Retirement Association – very active indeed, as it happens – and a sort of seagoing extension of the Men's Shed movement.

If you were looking for an illustration of Ireland's changing demographics, and our very rapidly changing attitude as to what constitutes old age, you need look no further than the ICC. Time was when it was thought quite something when one of the club achieved the Golden Jubilee of their membership. But these days, it's no big deal to have been on the strength for fifty years, as the senior member is Joe FitzGerald of Crosshaven, who this year marks 70 years in the club, and he is closely followed by Douglas Mellon who joined in 1947 from Howth - he now lives on the Scottish Riviera in Kircudbright.

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Joe FitzGerald of Cork is the ICC's most senior member, having joined in 1944. He served as Commodore from 1984 to 1987.

All those years ago when they took up their membership, it was thought perfectly normal for young men – married or otherwise - to take off for at least a fortnight's cruising every year, regardless of family demands which these days would be regarded as the prior commitment. In fact, nowadays so much emphasis is placed on family life and families doing just about every last recreational thing together, that younger married sailing people either do extremely short-hop cruising of the type necessitated by catering for the needs of all the members of the family, or else they don't cruise at all in the traditional sense - "Fun For All The Family" effectively rules out proper cruising.

Then too, modern life has so many other distractions - not least of them work demands which involve 24/7 attention - that the old-style easygoing simply-wandering-along holiday cruising is very much a minority activity. This means that at first it seems young people are not taking up traditional cruising at all. But with its deep experience garnered since its foundation in 1929, the Irish Cruising Club has learned to take the long view. It is not unduly concerned by the steadily rising age profile of its membership, and certainly every year there is a significant group of sometimes quite senior yet nevertheless increasingly active cruising enthusiasts joining the club.

They're the embodiment of the slogan that Sailing is a Sport for Life, and it's only politeness which prevents them saying that the subtle pleasures of cruising are wasted on the young. So when you look at the lineup of achievement represented by last night's awards, it's natural to wonder what these people did in earlier life, that they can nowadays afford the time, resources and dedication necessary to complete voyages of this quality.

The adjudication was done by Dave Whitehead of Kinvara on Galway Bay, himself no stranger to the ways of the sea while making long voyages in small craft. He breaks new ground by awarding three trophies at once to Sam Davis of Strangford Lough, whose Cape Horn and Pacific ventures with his Rival 41 Suvretta have been quietly bubbling away in the background of ICC activity for the past three years.

Sam Davis first featured in Afloat magazine in March and April 1981 when we ran his two-part account of his first ocean voyage, an Atlantic circuit from Strangford Lough between 1976 and 1979 with the 34.5ft West Solent Class Suvretta, a former racing boat he'd found in a derelict state and restored to ocean-going condition.

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The 34ft West Solent class Suvretta in her offshore racing days in the 1950s when she was based in Belfast Lough. When Sam Davis did the Atlantic Circuit cruise with her in 1976-79, she carried a less loft mainmast, with masthead rig.

But even with Sam's improvements, she was still no more than a slip of a boat, so it says much for his grit and skill that he brought her through the Fastnet storm of 1979 as he sailed the final hundred miles back to Ireland. There was damage aloft, and he'd to get into Dunmore East unaided with jury rigging, but the job was done.

While in the Caribbean, he'd worked in charter yachts between times to make a shilling or two. But after he'd spent time back in Northern Ireland, he went abroad into serious seafaring in offshore service industries, working in places like The Gulf, the North Sea, the Amazon, the Red Sea and Malaysia, becoming a fully accredited Marine Consultant.

Yet if you ask him nowadays what he is and what he was, he'll say he's a farmer and former seaman, as his purchase some years ago of Conly Island in Strangford Lough (you can drive out to it when the tide is down) gives him the little bit of land, and an anchorage too, while "seaman" covers his many experiences in offshore work.

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Sam Davis with his newly-acquired Rival 41, re-named Suvretta, in 2009. Photo: W M Nixon

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Suvretta in the Beagle Channel in southern Chile. Photo: Sam Davis

Back in 2009 he bought a Rival 41, a hefty and able vessel, a sister-ship of Waxwing in which fellow ICC members Peter and Susan Gray of Dun Laoghaire went round the world 14 years ago. Sam re-named his new boat Suvretta, spent the winter sorting her out, and in 2010 he was gone, sailing south single-handed to eventually round Cape Horn and then spend a long time on the coast of Chile. He was delayed there as a ship broke drift and damaged the boat, but it was well fixed, and he voyaged on into the Pacific to many islands, including Pitcairn and the Tahiti group.

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Restless anchorage. Suvretta in Bounty Bay on Pitcairn Island. Photo: Sam Davis

Eventually he fetched up for some time in Tonga, where he became enthused about the 73ft Vakas, the Pacific islanders' contemporary take on the classic Polynesian inter-island vessels (see Sailing on Saturday 11th January 2014). But by November 2012 it was time to head for home, so Suvretta sailed southeast for Cape Horn non-stop, and having rounded it, shaped her course for Port Stanley in the Falklands.

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Suvretta rounding Cape Horn for the second time, 21st January 2013. It was only when the Horn was well astern that the weather deteriorated rapidly to make for a challenging approach to Port Stanley. Photo: Sam Davis

However, while rounding the Horn had been simple enough, the passage onwards to Stanley became increasingly fraught, running before rising storm force winds. Conditions were such that it looked for a while as though the lone sailor was going to be swept right past the islands, but he made the cut into shelter to such a nicety that he is awarded the ICC's Rockabill Trophy for Seamanship.

And then when Port Stanley was reached, a very fine passage had been completed from Tonga, so last night for that he was additionally awarded the ICC's Atlantic Trophy for the best voyage with a non-stop leg of more than a thousand miles. And then finally, after they'd spent the mid part of 2013 working their way up the Atlantic with the lone skipper particularly enjoying himself at ports on the Irish coast, Suvretta and Sam returned after three years to Conly Island. And they'd now done more than enough to also be awarded a third trophy - the ICC's premier honour, the Faulkner Cup.

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Home again. Sam Davis back in Ireland, August 2013. Photo: W M Nixon

With such a high level of activity by many members, ICC adjudicators always find some final choices to be a very close call, so some years ago the Strangford Cup was inaugurated for the cruise which almost won the Faulkner Cup. This year it has gone to a fine cruise from Portugal to Madeira and through the Azores in detail before returning to Portugal.

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John Duggan with his MG CS40 Hecuba in Horta in the Azores

John Duggan originally hailed from Malahide where he sailed, and he also sailed with the college teams while at Trinity College in Dublin. He cruised and raced offshore mostly in the Irish Sea, but having qualified as an accountant he decided to spread his wings internationally, and he became one of those key people who turn up as partners in one of the big four accountancy firms worldwide.

Eventually his career brought him to the company's offices in Lisbon. Living in Portugal suited him fine, so he put down roots and in time bought himself an interesting cruiser. Hecuba is a 1989 Canadian-built Tony Castro-designed MG CS40, a handsome 12m craft with good performance enhanced by an effective wing keel.

During his final years in the day job he gradually improved the boat with a mind to some proper cruising once he retired at 60, something which he planned with all a high-powered accountant's meticulous attention to detail. He remembers the final day at the office, when a friend on the other side of the world sent him an email: "Even the worst day of your retirement will be better than the best day at work".

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Azorean whaleboat with Pico beyond seen during one of Hecuba's cruises from Portugal to the Azores. Photo: John Duggan

Maybe so, yet not everyone makes the changeover smoothly, but in John Duggan's case the challenge of planning and executing remarkably civilised yet challenging cruises has proven to be a complete new job in itself, but much more fun than number crunching. He goes to enormous trouble to make sure that his crews have as enjoyable and varied an experience as possible, yet all the time he is quietly keeping the project moving along while noting details and features of ports visited which might be of interest to fellow skippers, a habit which is the hallmark of the true cruising man.

When you live in Cascais with your boat based in the marina nearby, the Azores are the western isles which call you each summer. But unlike Scotland's Western Isles which are just a day's sail away across the Sea of the Hebrides, the Azores involve an immediate ocean voyage from Portugal of at least 500 miles. However, for 2013's cruise west, Hecuba made it a triangle, going first to Madeira before going on nor'west to the Azores which were cruised in detail before returning to Cascais after six weeks away, having logged 2390 miles, with the final tabulation being:
Hours spent close hauled: Zero.
Cross words exchanged: Zero.

Inevitably the two big awards dominate the scoresheet, but the ICC also has a host of trophies which reflect every level of club sailing activity. The Round Ireland Cup, for instance, is for the circuit which produces most information for the club's sailing directions, and in a year in which a goodly number went round, it was Donal Walsh of Dungarvan with his Moody 31 Lady Kate who best filled the bill.

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Donal Walsh's Lady Kate anchored at Inishmurray off the Sligo coast during his detailed round Ireland cruise. Photo: Donal Walsh

As the Faulkner Cup was first won in 1931 by the 28ft cutter Marie, the Marie Trophy is for the best cruise by a boat under 30ft, and Mick Delap from Valentia Island with his Tamarisk 24 gaff cutter North Star fits into the size requirement with six feet to spare. He made a fine job of completing a two-summer circuit of Ireland by returning from western Scotland via the Irish Sea and Ireland's south and southwest coasts.

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Mick Delap's Tamarisk 24 North Star from Valentia in Lowlandman's Bay in Jura in the Hebrides. Photo: Mick Delap

In all, the ICC has a dozen cruising trophies. But even so not everyone gets one in a typically busy year, so to encourage the newcomers they've the Perry Greer Trophy for first time log-writers, and it goes to Peter Mullan from the Quoile in Strangford Lough for his insightful account of a round Ireland cruise with the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey Sancerre.

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Peter Mullan's Sun Odyssey Sancerre in the little harbour at Tory Island with the Donegal highlands beyond. Photo: Peter Mullan

All the logs, including the winning ones, were featured in the ICC's 180-page Annual 2013, which Honorary Editor Ed Wheeler managed to get to the members in time for Christmas. All this is done by voluntary effort, yet the Annual would stand up to professional comparisons, as it includes informative accounts of cruises in just about every part of the world, plus a report on the ICC Cruise-in-Company to the Isles of Scilly which was an outstanding success despite coinciding with some uneven weather in June.

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The Irish Cruising Club flotilla in the Isles of Scilly during their successful Cruise-in-Company in June 2013.

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Everyone to his taste. ICC member Brian Black went to Greenland for the sixth time, crewing on Aurora. This is Kangertitiatsivaq Fjord in high summer. Photo: Brian Black

There's more to the Club than the Annual, as the ICC's programme of producing constantly up-dated Sailing Directions for the entire Irish coast in two volumes is a continuous progression, with the latest 12th Edition of the North & East Coast Book due next month from Honorary Editor Norman Kean, whose home port is Courtmacsherry.

Thus it's clear that Ireland's cruising club is a truly all-Ireland organisation, and this year it will be celebrating its 85th birthday with a Cruise-in-Company to Glengarriff where it was founded on July 13th 1929. Yet despite its obvious significance, this is a club without premises. In the final analysis, it's a club of the mind, made up of kindred spirits. Heading such a body is a mighty challenge, and the changing of the watch is always a charged moment.

Last night David Tucker of Kinsale stood down after serving his three years as Commodore, and he was succeeded by Peter Killen of Malahide. His experience in club administration is long-lived – he was Commodore of Malahide YC when it became "Club of the Year" in 1980. But it was his cruising CV which next went into overdrive, as in 1993 he voyaged north to Iceland, circled it, and then sailed back in near-record time in an S&S 30. He then moved up to a Sigma 36 which he cruised to Greenland among other places, following which he cruised even further with a Sweden 38, and then in 2004 he took on his dreamship, the Amel Maramu 54 Pure Magic.

Peter Killen seems to have cruised this very special boat just about everywhere. Not least was deep into Antarctica, where he made a memorable arrival in zero visibility with icy conditions into the natural harbour in the extinct volcanic crater on Deception Island. It was all a long way in time and distance from five boats gathered in Glengarrif in the hope of forming a little cruising organisation back in 1929. But that's the way it is with the Irish Cruising Club.

Published in W M Nixon

#RNLI - The Cork City-based Cantabile Vocal Ensemble visited Crosshaven lifeboat station recently to present a cheque for €775 to the RNLI.

The institution is one of three charities that received donations from funds raised at an open-air concert held at Fort Meagher in Crosshaven during the summer.

Crosshaven RNLI chairman Barry Woods received the cheque on behalf of the RNLI  and at a short presentation outlined the work of the volunteer crew and the value of donations to the charity.

"We would like to thank the Cantible Vocal Ensemble for thinking and including the RNLI in their fundraising," he said.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - Red Bay RNLI was involved in the recovery of a man’s body off the Antrim coast yesterday (Friday 11 October).

The volunteer lifeboat crew was requested to launch its inshore lifeboat at 4pm, and they recovered the body from the water south of Glenarm.

Red Bay RNLI lifeboat operations manager Andrew McAlister said: "We can confirm that the lifeboat crew recovered a body this afternoon. Red Bay RNLI would like to extend its sympathy with the family of the deceased."

In more positive news, members of the Hegarty family - who lost two brothers to the sea in separate incidents over the years - raised €315 for Crosshaven RNLI at the Cork Evening Echo Mini Marathon recently.

Cousins Anna Hegarty and Abbey O'Brien received a tour of the lifeboat station and took away gifts presented to them by the crew.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#rcyc – Cork photographer Suzanne Ravenhill captured this amazing incident from Cobh waterfront yesterday when CH Marine Autumn League competitors Manzantina (IRL 2076) with blue and white spinnaker and Chancer (IRL 1583) met in the first race of the Royal Cork league in Cork Harbour. No one was hurt in the incident, according to Suzanne. We understand only a spreader was broken but a thorough rig inspection on both boats is to be carried out.

Amy McCarthy, crew member on Chancer, adds:

The incident occurred when Manzanita was on a run towards Chancer who was on a beat.

Both boats were on port. As Manzanita was closest to the wind she had to give way to Chancer.

Manzanita came up to avoid us but as they passed us they may have heeled over more than expected for the room given; we are unsure. Resulting from this the top of their rigging got caught in the starboard sidestay above the upper spreaders on Chancer.

This resulted in the two boats rotating together in which Manzanita's bow raised up significantly (see photo)and their transom was buried in the water. At this point there was silence as both boats spun together. Manzanita's bow then went across our transom at which Brian Carroll, skipper, had to push it off.

We de-powered our sails and at that point the rigging sprung clear, ripping the sidestay from our spreader. Manzanita's pit was completely immersed in water at which
point the skipper was quickly bailing.

All crew were safe and unharmed.

Both boats retired from the race. Chancer has had to withdraw from part or all of the league depending on the level of damage done to the rigging. I am unaware of any damage done to Manzanita.

Published in Royal Cork YC

#rcyc – Scroll down for more photos from the lens of Bob Bateman from yesterday's first race of the CH Marine sponsored Autumn league at Royal Cork Yacht Club in Cork Harbour.

Published in Royal Cork YC

#RNLI - There was another call-out for the Kilrush lifeboat to retrieve a boat broken free of its moorings on Tuesday 17 September, following Sunday's assist of a boat on the rocks at Mount Trenchard in the Shannon Estuary.

The volunteer crew of Kilrush RNLI launched quickly on Tuesday afternoon after a report that the boat was adrift off Glin in Co Limerick. Conditions on the day were very unfavourable with winds blowing south-westerly and gusting to Force 8.

The helm dropped one of the lifeboat crew at Glin Pier, where a number of locals brought him to the area where the boat was gone aground. Another crew member waded out to catch a tow line from the lifeboat, then proceeded to set up a long tow and was pulled to safer waters. 

The lifeboat then made its way to Glin pier were the owner was located and the vessel was tied up securely.

But the Kilrush lifeboat wasn't finished its duties yet, as around 4.45pm the coastguard relayed a message reporting another small vessel gone aground at Hog Island, near Cappa Pier at Kilrush.

The crew quickly turned westwards toward this area where they found a sailing boat up on the rocks on the spit at Hog Island.

Again the speed of the crew proved invaluable as they transferred one of their crew onto the shore, where he quickly established a towline. The Kilrush crewman stayed on the vessel, communicating all the time with the lifeboat and the coastguard. Within five minutes the boat was tied up at Cappa Pier and safely secured.

Kilrush RNLI lifeboat press officer Pauline Dunleavy said: “It is at times like these that constant training pays off. The lifeboat crew braved the elements and brought a satisfactory outcome to the owners of these vessels. 

"I would advise people to check that their mooring lines are strong and stable.”

Elsewhere, Crosshaven RNLI brought a troubled fishing boat with one person onboard to safety yesterday evening (18 September).

A mobile phone call to one of the Crosshaven RNLI crew members alerted them to a disabled fishing vessel seven miles south of Roches Point.

The pagers were activated and the volunteer crew of Kieran Coniry, Ian O'Keefe and Vincent Fleming launched to the aid of the stricken vessel at 4.45pm. 

With a north westerly Force Four wind and good conditions, the lifeboat made good progress and arrived a short time later.

The casualty vessel with one person on board had failed to restart its engine and was taken in tow by the lifeboat.

The 37ft vessel was towed to Crosshaven Pier, arriving back at 7.30pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - The Crosshaven RNLI volunteer crew were paged in the early hours of Saturday 3 August to reports of a missing person separated from friends at Salve Marina near Cork Harbour.

The lifeboat, with Alan Venner, Kieran Coniry and Denis Cronin on board, was launched along with Crosshaven coastguard and the Irish Coast Guard's Rescue 115 helicopter, to made multiple searches of all the marinas and the Owenboy River, until reports were received from Gardaí that the missing person had been located at his home address.

The lifeboat was then stood down and returned to station, refuelled, washed, and ready for service at 5am.

Commenting on the service, lifeboat station manager Alan Barton said: "Thankfully, this did not end in a tragedy. The friends of the missing person took the correct course of action by calling us – a false alarm with good intent."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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