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Lifeboat crew with Larne RNLI launched their all-weather lifeboat this afternoon (Saturday 5 September) at 3.05pm following a report that a 24 ft yacht with three people onboard was in difficulty south of Muck Island. The request to launch was received from Belfast coastguard.

The all-weather lifeboat, Dr. John McSparran, under Coxswain Robert Rice was immediately launched and underway. The yacht with three people onboard was experiencing engine difficulty in challenging conditions.

Once on scene a lifeboat crew member was transferred onboard the yacht and a tow line was set up. Conditions were challenging with winds registering force 6 and a rough sea. The yacht was then towed to safety into Larne lough and secured to a mooring.

Commenting on the callout Larne RNLI Coxswain Robert Rice said, ‘While the yacht was suffering engine difficulties, the weather made the callout extremely challenging. Thankfully an experienced lifeboat crew were on scene to ensure that a tow could be safely established and the vessel brought to safety quickly and with no casualties.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Kinsale Yacht Club has won a blue flag for its coastal marina for the first time in today's An Taisce announcement of the International Blue Flag Awards for 2015. 

A total of 144 awards were presented by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Alan Kelly, T.D, at an awards ceremony held on Ballinskelligs Beach in Kerry. Ireland's diverse coastline with long sandy beaches, bustling promenades and rocky shores have something for everyone.

Kinsale Yacht Club marina is located in a natural, virtually land-locked harbour on the estuary of the Bandon River, approximately 12 miles south west of Cork harbour entrance. It is home to a thriving fishing fleet as well as frequented by commercial shipping, it boats two fully serviced marinas, with the Kinsale Yacht Club & Marina being the closest to the town.Visitors to this marina automatically become temporary members of the club and are therefore entitled to make full use of the facilities.

Speaking at the awards ceremony Minister Kelly said, "Blue Flags represent excellence. They are a clear signal of quality and are something to be cherished. I am delighted to announce that today we will be awarding a total of 86 Blue Flags; 81 for beaches and five for marinas. A blue flag flying at a particular location means that it has achieved excellent water quality to standards set by European and national Regulations, and a very high grade across a wide range of other criteria"

He added that, "This is testament to the sterling efforts of local authorities, An Taisce and of local communities in ensuring that their beaches meet the standards of excellence required for a Blue Flag or Green Coast Award',

81 beaches and 5 marinas were awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award representing an increase in 6 Blue Flag awards since 2014.

Ms Annabel FitzGerald, Coastal Programmes Manager said that, "The Blue Flag is an award of excellence, the beaches and marinas that have achieved this accolade today have complied with strict criteria relating to water quality, safety, facilities for visitors, beach management, environmental education and the provision of information."

In Cork, Redbarn and Garretstown have regained the Blue Flag status and in Wexford, Ballinesker is being awarded the Blue Flag for the first time. 5 beaches that failed to comply with the requirements of Blue Flag in 2014 because of storm damage have regained their Blue Flag status, they are Bertra and Mulranny in Mayo, Rossbeigh in Kerry and Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point in Clare.

Brittas Bay North in Wicklow, Enniscrone in Sligo and Skerries in Fingal have lost their Blue Flags due to failure to comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.

58 beaches in Ireland were awarded the Green Coast Award representing an increase in 4 awards since 2014. Bishopsquarter and Seafield in Clare and Inchydoney East in Cork are being awarded for the Green Coast Award for the first time. In Wexford, Ballyhealy, Ballymoney, Booley Bay, Grange and St Helens Bay have also achieved the accolade.
Having not met the excellent standard required, Skerries in Fingal, Rathmullan in Donegal, Enniscrone in Sligo and Ballycastle in Mayo did not regain the Green Coast Award for 2015.

"The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. These beaches may not have the necessary built infrastructure required to meet the criteria set for Blue Flag status however they are exceptional places to visit and enjoy our rich coastal heritage and diversity."

An important aspect of the Green Coast Awards is the involvement of Clean Coasts groups of which there are now 440 comprised of thousands of volunteers throughout the island. Ms FitzGerald, paid tribute to these groups stating that, "Clean Coasts groups contribute significantly to the protection of Irelands coast, in 2014 over 800 beach cleans took place and these groups removed over 500,000 items of marine litter from the marine environment."

"Local Authorities, Marina Operators and local communities should be commended for their efforts in achieving Blue Flag and Green Coast award status today" Ms FitzGerald concluded.

SUMMARY OF AWARDS

o 144 awards presented today, an increase of 10 on last year's number.

o 86 Blue Flags are being awarded today in the Republic of Ireland, 81 to beaches and 5 to marinas.

o This is an increase of 6 Blue Flags since 2014, representing an increase of 5 Blue Flag beaches and 1 Blue Flag marina.

o 58 Green Coast Awards are being presented today representing an increase of 4 Green Coast Awards since 2014.

o 6 beaches will be presented with both the Blue Flag & Green Coast Award achieving dual award status. These are Portmarnock, Portrane and Donabate in Fingal County Council; Salthill and Silver Strand in Galway and Rosses Point in Sligo.

BLUE FLAGS GAINED

Beaches (+8)
o Wexford: A Blue Flag is being awarded to Ballinesker for the first time.

o Cork: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Redbarn and Garretstown.

o Kerry: A Blue Flag was regained in Rossbeigh.

o Clare: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point.

o Mayo: 2 Blue Flags were regained in Mulranny and Bertra.

Marinas (+1)
o Kinsale Yacht Club has been awarded the Blue Flag for the first time.

BLUE FLAGS NOT AWARDED

Beaches (-3)
Blue Flag applications were received for the following beaches but we were unable to award the Blue Flag.
o Wicklow: Brittas Bay North did not comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.

o Sligo: Enniscrone did not comply with water quality requirements for the Blue Flag.

Blue Flag applications were not received for the following beaches which did have the Blue Flag in 2014.
o Fingal: Skerries South Beach did not meet the excellent standard required for Blue Flag status.

GREEN COAST AWARDS GAINED (+9)

o Clare: Bishops Quarter and Seafield are being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.

o Wexford: Ballyhealy, Ballymoney, Booley Bay, Grange and St Helen's Bay are being awarded the Green Coast Award.

o Fingal: The Burrow is being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.

o Cork: Inchydoney East is being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time.

GREEN COAST AWARDS NOT AWARDED (-5)

o Donegal: Rathmullan failed to comply with the water quality standards required for the Green Coast Award.

o Sligo: Enniscrone failed to comply with the water quality standards required for the Green Coast Award.

Green Coast Award applications were not received for the following beaches which did have the Green Coast Award in 2014.
o Mayo: Ballycastle in Mayo did not comply with water quality standards for the Green Coast Award.

o Fingal: Skerries did not comply with water quality standards for the Green Coast Award.

o Wexford: Ballinesker did not apply for the Green Coast Award but is in receipt of the Blue Flag in 2015.

 

Published in Kinsale

#offshore – Skippering a yacht on an ocean going passage is a serious undertaking requiring significant skills and experience. Getting those skills and experience has always been tricky and every year the rescue services are called out to assist yachts and skippers that have gone beyond their means.

Previously, a skipper looking to build ocean-going experience has had few options other than to join a delivery yacht or maybe crew on the ARC. This gave mileage and some experience, but was no substitute for expert tuition from ocean-going instructors.

To fill this skills gap, a UK sailing school operator, Rubicon 3 has launched a series of three Ocean Crossing Masterclasses, running between October and December 2015.

Based on Rubicon 3's specialised 60' expedition sailing yacht, each masterclass comprises an intensive two weeks of tuition at sea, taught by two instructors. The syllabus has been developed from their skippers' huge experience of expedition and ocean sailing and is a mix of practical and theoretical lessons on how to skipper a boat across an ocean. Every day sees a structured lesson plan, with all critical skills covered. These include route planning; weather routing; yacht preparation; fixes of common problems at sea; celestial navigation and heavy weather techniques, including practical demonstrations of storm sails, tri-sails, drogues and storm boards.

These masterclasses are open to everyone, with ten places on board each one. There are watch leader positions on each masterclass ideally suited for those looking to gain their RYA Ocean Yachtmaster qualifying passage.

Bruce Jacobs, director of the company said, "It's critically important that before skippering a yacht far offshore, you have the practical skills and experience to match your theory. Whether it's how and when to deploy a tri-sail, or conditions are getting nasty and it's time to launch a drogue - the first time you do it should not be the time you really need it. These masterclasses are the very best way to prepare yourself to skipper offshore and to vastly widen your cruising range."

Masterclass dates, routes & prices

Bristol, UK - Baiona, Portugal: October 18 - November 1, 2015. £1,395
Baiona - Madeira - Azores: November 7 - 22, 2015. £1,495
Azores - Madeira - Gibraltar: November 28 - December 13, 2015. £1,495

Published in Sailing Schools

#isa – Two years after a heave against the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) a new five year strategic plan has been published writes David O'Brien in this morning's Irish Times sailing column HERE.

The Plan is for the period 2015 - 2020 and is based on the views that were put to a 'Strategic Review Group'. The SRG was asked by the Board in 2013 to assess where the Association stood and how it needed to adjust to better serve the sport of Sailing. The Board accepted its Report and tasked a group to prepare a new Strategic Plan for the ISA based on its contents.

This blueprint (downoad the draft plan below as a 2mb pdf file) looks like a positive step forward not least because it makes an attempt to implement measurable targets for the good of grass–roots sailors. That rule was something lacking on a now scrapped 2020 vision document sub–titled 'grow the sport, grow the membership, grow the organisation'. This discredited plan turned out to be boom time folly and like so many other projects around the country at that time, poorly thought out and only half–built.

On foot of it, in 2013 a band of dissenting sailors held the ISA to account for its lack of performance. Back then, association efforts were more focussed on getting the ISA genie back in the bottle than the sport back on track. In a push for change at the National Yacht Club (NYC) in April 2013, the embattled body heard over 300 suggestions for change.

Not least was the fact sailing had lost a quarter of its members in recession and key yacht clubs are still in choppy financial waters. A massive fall off of junior sailors also presented an inconvenient truth that problems lay not with the children but with the paucity of guidance for newcomers.

Sailors like Norman Lee and Bryan Armstrong were joined by former president Roger Bannon (now its Treasurer) in calling for fundamental reform.

'The ISA has lost its way over the last few years," Bannon wrote in March 2013, giving his view of a bureaucracy 'detached from the reality of what is going on in the front line'.

Around the same time, County Wicklow dinghy sailor Lee said he wanted 'the ISA focus off elite sailing and the emphasis instead to be on enjoying sailing for fun as per the association's own articles of association'.

Two years on, an independent group of sailors has charted a new course but does this revised game plan satisfy these demands? Will it be a boost for clubs and classes, particularly smaller ones, or is the only comfort for them the fact that the process took place?

The underlying principle of the Plan is moving from a 'governance approach' to one of the principal stakeholders in the Sport working together with goal of encouraging and developing participation. The Association, Clubs, Training Centres, Classes and associated groups working in union to achieve those objectives underlies all of the strategies. There will be a renewed emphasis on utilising the input of volunteers to harness the skills and knowledge of active sailors so that the ISA can evolve and develop and respond to issues that arise.

The approach is in a logically presented format but there is very little that suggests the ISA will support ageing, less popular class associations, preferring rather to put faith in the bricks and mortar of clubs and training centres to strengthen access and participation avenues for current and potential sailors.

While many of the strategies are laudable, there will be difficulties in operating them, particularly where they are dependent on the vigour, enthusiasm and skills of volunteers at club level.

Indeed, there may be some instances where ISA aspirations are in direct conflict with local trends and activities. For example, what will the Optimist and Laser classes say to the strategy of 'encouraging participation of younger sailors in two person boats' or the dinghy classes about the strategy of encouraging crewing in keelboats.

The scenario will create debate about the professional structure required to deliver on its aspirations particularly in the training area. Suitably qualified personnel are necessary to negotiate the tricky waters disturbed by the demands of the multiple agencies with a stake in the sport and its delivery – HSA, Department of Transport, Department of Education.

At the same time it would appear that the working plan appears to validate the ISA's High Performance department as many of the strategies suggested are actually currently operational.

There are a number of curious omissions:
·No mention of Paralympic sailing in the High Performance section
·No mention of Youth Worlds, a fertile ground for ISA recently
·No mention of financing the association, strangely in light of the discussion around its joint membership scheme.

Where does the balance lies when gauging the benefit of an organisation producing a strategic plan – is it the outcome or the process that is the more valuable exercise? Or worse still, is it the creation of a stick to be beaten with further down the road if targets are not achieved.

The ISA has been fortunate in being able to rely on some excellent volunteer directors for the overhaul process. The combination of effectiveness and commitment of the new board has brought the association a long way in a short time but how sustainable is this voluntary effort over time?

One doer maybe better than forty talkers but effective volunteers are hard to find. Finding an ISA President a year ago was not without difficulty in itself. In the absence of such voluntary effort, and with the benefit of experience, can the professional staff see this new plan through or is more help needed?

As a draft, this document will no doubt undergo some change in the process that now follows. And while there have been some changes at the ISA's Park Road HQ, the evolution of the ISA from the Ursula Maguire administered one-person organisation of 20 years ago continues with a relatively minor correction of the set and drift that had crept in in recent years. Are more changes still to come? Will there be a replacement for the recently departed training director? Perhaps too someone is also needed to support the club racing side – maybe in conjunction with the Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA)?

The appointment of Regional Development Officers to assist Clubs and Training Centres has been seen as one of the ISA success stories in recent years and it is proposed to increase their availability to Clubs and Training Centres. The Board has already decided to add a further RDO to the two existing appointments to ensure the local availability of expertise and advice and facilitate greater co-operation and coordination between local Clubs and with Training Centres.

The primary role of the Clubs in growing the sport locally, attracting newcomers and maintaining the interest of both existing and new members is acknowledged. Better linkages between Clubs and Training Centres for their mutual benefit are proposed. This is in the knowledge that most newcomers interested in taking up Sailing feel more comfortable in approaching a Training Centre than a Club but the long term involvement of sailors in the sport is best ensured by them joining Clubs, participating in Club activities and enjoying the benefits - both practical and social - that membership provides.

The over elaborate structure of ISA training courses and the difficulties of qualifying, retaining and upskilling instructors was a widespread complaint when the Review Group conducted their research. Strategies to resolve those problems are proposed.

An often expressed view about the Club Training schemes for Junior sailors is the amount of effort committed to running courses by Clubs and the relatively poor transfer rate from the courses to Club involvement and activity afloat. It is planned to refocus the training courses away from a 'certificate chase' to an emphasis on developing the skills learned. An online sailing passport scheme to supplement the paper based certificate system is proposed. It will be trialled in the coming season and will allow the recording of both course attendance and other time afloat, whether racing or leisure sailing.

A strategy of encouraging the training of young sailors in two person boats, as opposed to single handed craft, is proposed, with a view to improving both their technical and social skills. A renewed emphasis on sailing being a sport for life and avoidance of the risk of sailor burnout by compressing skills acquisition into young sailors' early teens, are envisaged.

The redressing of the perceived imbalance between the support structures for those competing in the non-Olympic area and those involved with the High Performance area - essentially the Olympic arena - is proposed. This will not affect the support for the High Performance sector, which is funded through the good offices of the Irish Sports Council, but will instead propose that the support available to other areas of competition will be enhanced. Better access for Clubs and Classes to coaching at local level is one of the principal strategies envisaged and it is hoped that Clubs and Classes will be able to access both coaches with a High Performance background and those with experience of specific Classes.

It is proposed that the ISA should re-commence the co-ordination of a racing event calendar to facilitate the avoidance of clashes between events and re-establish the balance between local, regional and national events.

Now the process of re-evaluation has begun, the ISA is urging all sailors to play a role to win back participation in sailing. A green light from clubs and classes is key to this plan's success.

The following regional meetings are taking place:

Wed 21 Jan 15 7pm-9pm Dublin, Royal St George Yacht Club
Tue 17 Feb 15 7pm-9pm Cork, Rochestown Park Hotel
Tue 24 Feb 15 7pm-9pm Galway, Galway Bay Sailing Club
 

Published in ISA

#hyc – Howth Yacht Club's (HYC) leaderboard showed some small changes to the leaderboards yesterday within the nine classes, but no change to the idyllic conditions after week five of the MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz sponsored event that has enjoyed for every day of the event so far. With one last race to go, some of the divisions show clear winners, but most will see the overall results decided next Saturday when the series is completed.

In the one-design keelboat fleet, John Phelan and his team on their J80 lead that class after their second win in a row, but only by 2 points from the Flynn-Buckley team. A first place in the Puppeteer Class for Alan Pearson and team on his Trick or Treat won't be enough to threaten the lead of the Walls-Browne partnership and crew on Gold Dust. Their 3 wins earlier in the scratch series will prove to be unassailable when the results emerge even after next week's race. Cyprian Feeley's Cloud 9 will have to be struck by very bad luck if Ibis manages to catch up in the Puppeteer handicap division, as Susan Sheridan's team will have to win next week and hope that Cloud 9 finishes in worse than 8th position if they are to sneak ahead.

With the class competing in next week's Freshwater Keelboat Regatta in Lough Derg, the Squib Class result is final with Fergus O'Kelly's Selik winning the scratch prize and Ronan MacDonell's Fantome victorious on handicap.

Brian and Conor Turvey's Isobel's won this week's Howth 17's race, positioning their classic one-design within 2 points of the leading boat - Marcus Lynch and John Curley's Rita. Deilginis sits one point behind in third, but the maths mean that they are now unable to win the overall next week. In their handicap division, Tom Houlihan's Zaida will surely have to give its all next week if they are to pass out the consistent Sheila, who's skipper Mary Faherty has put the youngest 17-Footer seven points ahead.

In Class 1 IRC, Norbert Reilly and Alan Chamber's win on Crazy Horse halted the seemingly unstoppable J109 Storm (Pat Kelly) who had to be content with a 3rd place following Ross McDonald's Equinox finishing 2nd. The Equinox crew will also have to settle for second in the ECHO division, as Storm's domination of Class 1 will now see its crew collect both IRC and ECHO overall prizes next week.

Despite a late charge by the Colwell-Cobbe owned Fusion, Anthony Gore-Grimes and his crew on Dux will certainly win the Class 2 ECHO prize at the end of the series, but they are being pushed all the way in the IRC division by Mike and Ritchie Evans' The Big Picture, followed one point behind by Jonny Swan and Peter Freyne's Harmony.

The closest leaderboard would appear to be in Class 3, with both IRC and ECHO divisions split by only a few points. Vince Gaffney's Alliance II is being pushed all the way by the J24s Scandal (Brian McDowell) and Kilcullen (HYC's Under 25 team) in IRC, while Scandal and Lionel McMurtry's Hellyhunter sit closely behind Kilcullen going into the last race.

Colm Bermingham and crew on Bite the Bullet won their race in Class 4 IRC, but Tiger (Stephen Harris and Frank Hughes) still lead by a slender margin of 2 points while David Sargent's Indulgence will win the ECHO prize next week. In Class 5 ECHO, Harry Byrne's Alphida and Gordon Knaggs's Jokers Wild are neck-and-neck going into the final race, but Kevin O'Byrne's Mary Ellen5(mathematically) could still manage to win. The Class 5 IRC division also sees Alphida in the running, but needs to catch leaders Jebus (Emmet Dalton) following their win this week.

In the Mini Series event, many of the existing leaders in the various classes remain on top of the results list, however Paul Colton's Cri-Cri has managed to make an impression in Class 3 and contends the lead in IRC while leading on ECHO. A 3-way tie in the Class 1 ECHO mini series between Crazy Horse, Dear Prudence (Patrick Cruise O'Brien) and Equinox will make for an exciting end to their racing next week.

This week's prizes were presented by MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz Business Development Executive Patrick Manning, who also clearly enjoyed taking part in the racing on board Declan Gray's Sapphire.

Published in Howth YC

#windsurf – The five-mast Wind Surf cruise yacht will dock at Dun Laoghaire Harbour at 7am on Saturday, 12th July. It will remain docked at the south Dubllin Bay port until 6.30pm when it will depart to the Isle of Man. It also visited Dublin Bay on Wednesday emerging from Dublin Port under sail.

The Wind Surf is the largest ship in the Windstar Cruises fleet and is known for its luxurious amenities carrying 312 guests and 191 international staff. The Wind Surf, one part sailing yacht and one part upscale cruise ship, has seven triangular, self-furling, computer operated sails.

Published in Dublin Bay

#capsize – A Bavaria 38 yacht, with seven crew on board, enters the narrow channel leading to the port of Zumaia on the Basque coast of Spain this month with dramatic consequences. 'The swell is of medium size, the operation is dangerous, but passable' according to local photographer Gabi Aymat who shot this dramatic capsize video.

A huge wave sweeps on to the boat and rolls it over knocking some of its untethered crew over board. The good news is that the crew survived and the boat is also safe, surviving its roll without any serious damage, according to Aymat.

 

Published in Cruising

#oldestyacht – Serenely she sits, with all the heightened elegance of a still beautiful grand dame who, despite a hectic youth, has lived long and well to take her place in a position of respect, verging on reverence, within the community. But then anyone, whatever the life they may have led, would be deserving of some sort of special appreciation if they'd managed to reach the age of 224 still in reasonably good order, still looking much as they did more than two centuries ago. Yet that is the case with the 26ft schooner yacht Peggy. When you attend upon her in her home in Castletown in the Isle of Man, it's as if time has stood still since the 1790s.

We sailed over to the Isle of Man recently for the Peel Traditional Boat Weekend. As it had been expanded to include the final Irish Sea gathering for the Old Gaffers Association Golden Jubilee, it was felt that the least we could do, before the revels began, was to pay our respects to the ultimate old gaffer of them all, across at her home port on the south coast of the island. And if the Peggy of Castletown isn't the oldest yacht in the world in more or less intact order, then we'll be fascinated to hear of any vessel having a better claim. For by any standards, the Peggy is extraordinary.

Thus we'll leave an account of the fantastic party in Peel for another day. It will be ideal for the depths of winter when such memories of enjoyment deserve to be savoured at leisure. But the Peggy deserves to be highlighted right now. For the fact is that if you're into boats and those who sailed them and their history, then the Peggy blows your mind. The story of her origins, of her adventures in sailing, and of how she has survived for more than 200 years, would the stuff of legend if it didn't happen to be completely true.

The story of the Quayle family of Bridge House right on the harbour in the ancient Manx capital of Castletown is long and distinguished. In the 18th Century, John Quayle was a leading figure in the administration of the Isle of Man. But though his son George Quayle (1751-1835) was a member of the Manx parliament, the House of Keys, for 51 years, he was also something of a Renaissance man, his interests as a successful merchant and ship owner including the co-founding of the Isle of Man's first bank, while his inventive talents were such that he won a gold medal of the Society of Arts.

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George Quayle (1751-1835)

Despite the challenging nature of the waters around the Isle of Man, he was also an enthusiastic amateur sailor. So when the impressive Bridge House was being completed in 1789, he saw to it that its eastern end included a private dock accessed through an arch from Castletown Harbour, the dock in its turn giving access to a "boat cellar" in which he planned to have slipping facilities for a 26ft sailing boat he was having built nearby.

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Bridge House, Castletown, IOM. George Quayle's quarters were on the right hand side of photo, and the blocked-off entrance to the Peggy's dock is at lower right. Photo: W M Nixon

It may well be that, like the J/24 some 174 years later, the size of the new boat Peggy was dictated by the size of the garage available. Whatever, there's no doubt she's a very neat fit in the boat cellar. George Quayle then provided a complete maritime unit around his new boat's berth, as he created his own personal quarters around it independent of the family home, the main feature directly above the Peggy's cellar being a fine living room replicating the Great Cabin of a sailing ship.

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The first sight of the Peggy when you descend to the boat cellar is memorable, though it takes some time to grasp that this is a boat built 224 years ago. Photo: W M Nixon

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The stern is completely typical of its era Photo: W M Nixon

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The sections reveal a hull with real speed potential. Note the original spars stowed on wall on right. Photo: W M Nixon

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The interior reveals how the topsides were raised to increase sail carrying power. Photo: W M Nixon

With his new boat comfortably housed, and his own quarters cleverly created to shelter him from the demands of busy family life, most folk would have taken things easy for a while. But George Quayle was a bundle of energy. Although the boat was built in 1789, with the demands of completing the big new house, he doesn't seem to have started sailing the Peggy – named after his mother – until 1791. But once she was in action there was no stopping him, both in spirited sailing, and in re-configuring the boat to improve performance. So although the lower part of the hull of the Peggy is probably much as it as when she was built in 1789, as he increased the sail area of the already massive schooner rig he also raised the topsides in order to carry the extra cloth without having her fill. Even then, he still had extra canvas "boards" to keep the sea at bay.

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The construction details and hull lines were taken off in the 1930s after Peggy had been released following a century of entombment

peggy09

The sail plan is arguably a primitive version of that set by the schooner America 55 years later

The Peggy – complete with miniature yet very real armaments, as French privateers were active in the Irish Sea – was always considered a yacht, and Quayle was keen to race her and further improve performance. Thus he was soon experimenting with "sliding keels" to combat leeway, and the reputation of the Peggy became such that a challenge was set up to sail in a regatta against the only flotilla of other racing yachts within reach, across at Windermere in the English Lake District.

George Quayle was related to a leading figure in Windermere sailing, John Christian Curwen, who had a couple of sailing pleasure boats imported from the Baltic. Also on the lake was a supposedly hot sailing machine owned by one Captain Heywood. So in 1796, Peggy sailed across to Cumbria, and was carted up the half dozen or so miles from the inner reaches of Morecambe Bay to the lake, which is 128ft above sea level.

It was quite an effort, and as yacht racing organisation was only in its infancy in 1796, the results weren't totally clearcut, though it seems that the Peggy outsailed everything else by several country miles. Intriguingly, two other boats from this pioneering regatta have also survived, though not so well as Peggy. These were the two Baltic boats owned by John Christian Curwen. They were still intact until the 20th Century, but then were fire-damaged while in store. The sad remains of both were on display in a corner of the Windermere Steamboat Museum when I was there around twenty years ago, but largely ignored. Much more interesting was the discovery that George Quayle's relation John Christian Curwen was in turn related to Fletcher Christian of Bounty notoriety, who was of course a Cumberland man. Up among the lakes, they were happy to tell us that there's no way Fletcher Christian stayed on Pitcairn until the end of his days – he got home to the lakes some way or other, so it's said.

But meanwhile the Peggy only just made it home to the Isle of Man after her successful foray to Windermere. She'd a real pasting in the Irish Sea beating back to Castletown, but in typical style George Quayle turned this to best advantage, cheerfully reporting in a letter that the "sliding keels" so improved windward performance that they safely made it back to port.

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The sailplan on the model is one interpretation of the abundance of spars available in the boat cellar Photo: W M Nixon

Today, in the boat cellar at Bridge House, you can see the Peggy and all the features which made her such an able flyer. She still has the slots through which George Quayle lowered his primitive centreboards, and on racks on the wall are the original spars she carried when in her racing prime. This indeed was and is a formidable racing machine, and it's no exaggeration to assert that, in her miniature style, she was an early example of the type which reached its supreme development with the schooner America.

And she has survived through a fortuitous miracle of preservation. The exact timing and circumstances in which it all happened are not precisely clear, but we know that after George Quayle died in 1835, the Peggy was entombed in her boat cellar, with the seaward entrance walled up. In time, the little dock was filled in, and the archway through to Castletown harbour closed off. Yet with the pervading salty air, this provided an ideal environment for boat preservation. When it was all opened up again in the 1930s, there was the Peggy, still in remarkably good order, still the same little ship which had successfully completed such a gallant expedition to Windermere in 1796.

Today, George Quayle's quarters in Bridge House accommodate the Manx Nautical Museum, with the Peggy – now formally owned by the Manx nation - the prime exhibit. But with every passing year, she becomes ever more important, so much so that 2014 will see a comprehensive project to conserve her, and in time - let us hope - put her on more accessible display with her full racing rig in place.

With imaginative design, it could possibly be done by putting a clear roof over the little dock. I didn't pace it out when we were there a couple of weeks ago, but guessing from the photos, it should be just about feasible to accommodate her there with all sail set.

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The former dock, now filled in, where Peggy was berthed before hauling into the boat cellar - note her stern just visible in doorway, while the windows in the room above reflect sailing ship Great Cabin style. This former dock could be re-configured for use as a covered display area where the newly conserved Peggy could be put on show fully rigged. Photo: W M Nixon

And after 224 years, she surely deserves a proper display. But for now, there are the intriguing challenges of conservation. Most of the timber is in remarkably good order, but the fastenings need replacing, as apparently they are "mineralising". That sounds remarkably like good old-fashioned rust to you and me, but "mineralising" is a word to cherish. So it won't surprise you to learn that, after the earnest piety of our visit to the Peggy, my shipmates then threw themselves into the festivities and fabulous hospitality of the Peel Traditional Boat Weekend with such enthusiasm that we were undoubtedly in a mineralised condition as we slugged our way back home across the Irish Sea.

Published in W M Nixon

#Rescue - RTÉ News reports that a Norwegian couple have been rescued after their yacht suffered damage off the south coast.

The vessel sailed by the couple in their late 60s apparently dismasted some 160 miles off the Cork coast en route from the Azores to the Shetland Islands.

They were discovered by a passing fishing trawler early yesterday (21 May) and assisted last night by the Naval Service vessel LE Aoife, which is currently towing the stricken yacht to Castletownbere.

Lt Captain Erica Downing of the LE Aoife told RTÉ that the couple were "extremely lucky" to be spotted by the French fishing boat, having not seen any other sea traffic the previous fortnight.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

#dinghydecline – The current debate regarding dinghy racing is fascinating (See original article and reader comments here). At present the discussion is centred around the role of the national authority. However, I believe that as the debate develops we will be asking as many questions of the clubs as of the ISA.

What is a sailing club for? The question is not often asked, because for most people the answer is obvious... until they realise that other members are giving very different answers. For some a club is a place where they can socialise with like-minded people, while also providing some facilities to assist them in maintaining and using their boat (the bar and the boatman being the heart of the club). At the other extreme, many Continental and American clubs believe that they exist to provide sailing, which includes boats, for the local and visiting populations. As such they run large fleets of dinghies and keel boats.

The current debate questions whether the ISA does enough to keep the numerous apprentice sailors within the sport of sailing, and in particular orientating them towards racing in dinghies. Unfortunately, whilst many statistics have been bandied about (and I note that Bryan Armstrong's estimate of a core of some 300 young racing sailors corresponds with my estimate given in a previous article, based on the number of students team racing) I have yet to see the essential figure: how many sailors move from beginner to being able to sail a boat round a triangular course in, say, a Force 3. These are the teenagers and adults that could be attracted to club racing in dinghies or small keel-boats.

In an ISA approved training centre these beginners will have reached this level using the boats, and often wetsuits, life-jackets and other gear provided (this may not be true in some club-run training programmes). Beginners will be in a group led by a qualified instructor who structures activities in light of his student's progress. They are only committed to a course lasting a few days and proceed to the next level only if they wish to do so.

What are clubs asking of these same beginners who arrive waving their still new ISA certificates? If the answer is:

take out annual membership;

buy a boat, and all the gear;

pay the club for boat storage;

be expected to sail most weekends in the club;

commit to"volunteering" to run racing and other club activities;

just like all the more experienced members, then it is little wonder that very few beginners take up this offer. These should be objectives not expectations.

Managing this transition from sailing school pupil to active club sailor is increasingly complicated, and should be a major preoccupation for all clubs. "Sailing families" will have already adjusted their life-style and family budget. The group disparagingly known as "Oppie parents" (a group not limited to that particular class) will make great sacrifices, in both time and money, to take their children sailing. But a teenager who may be the only family member interested in sailing will face multiple obstacles. For the new-comer a sailing club can be an off-putting place.

Not the least of these obstacles is the change in the way we allow our children to interact with other adults. Imagine, for instance, the child protection issues raised by any development of dinghy sailing based on young people crewing for adults. This was the traditional method for gaining experience and learning the game, many of us learned this way. Times have changed – I am not sure that many parents today would be happy about their child spending long hours with an un-vetted adult on a small boat, let alone spending a weekend away for an open meeting or championship.

Assisting apprentice sailors in this passage from learner to participant is a process that may take as much time and effort as teaching sailing. Up to now we have assumed that if someone learns to sail they will become a full participant in an existing model of sailing club. Regrettably, there is considerable evidence that this is not happening. New sailors, young and old, need to be brought at their own pace in to our clubs. Doing this successfully will ensure the future of clubs, but will inevitably induce changes in the way clubs function.

Take a model common in France, and elsewhere in Europe: after completing a cursus in the club sailing school, sailors join the club "sport school". Here, with a combination of training and appropriate competition, sailors learn not only the techniques and the tactics, but also the discipline required to succeed. They are assisted as they discover the commitment required to race regularly, they develop the habit of competing, of travelling to events, and so much more. As they are competing with other sailors of the same age and experience there is no arms race. Indeed, as the teenagers will soon move on to another boat, as they grow and improve, logically the boats belong to the clubs.

Only when sailors have reached a suitable level do they join the regatta circuit. One feature of racing in Europe, that may seem strange to Irish club members, is that club racing is not a central activity. Dinghy and keel-boat sailors either train with a club coach or sail at open meetings. The idea of racing once a week in your local club is not part of the culture. Is it possible that one problem in Ireland is that there is too much racing? If every weekend confirmed sailors are competing for club trophies when do they train, and, more importantly, when do they spend time assisting new sailors.

Running a transition programme may be a complicated exercise for clubs. Financing the acquisition and the maintenance of a fleet of suitable boats is a challenge. The ISA could contribute by setting up a training programme in basic boat maintenance, that should be compulsory for instructors and coaches. But clubs have taken up this challenge. For instance, two very different organisations have long maintained fleets of dinghies for team racing – the FMOEC in Schull and the Royal St George YC. This year the Sailfleet J80s will be managed by a single club. The Dun Laoghaire waterside clubs are gradually acquiring a fleet of keel-boats. These initiatives should lead other clubs to reflect and develop their own projects. The emergence of such projects will inevitably lead to new demands on our national authority, who, as always, should play a major role in facilitating new developments - Magheramore

For more dinghy sailing articles from Magheramore see:

Casting a fly over sailing club memberships

Is 'Adventure Sailing' a New Tack for Dinghy Sailors?

More articles on the same subject:

Irish Sailing Needs this Favourable Wind

Is Irish sailing too focused on the Olympics?

Published in Your Say
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