Going out to sea has always had a certain level of risk attached to it. When a boat breaks down and starts to drift out towards America or worse towards a rocky shore, help has not always been close to hand writes Alex Blackwell. It used to be up to the local community to mount a rescue or recovery – if, that is, news got through to them and if there happened to be a boat available. Two-way radios were scarce and mobile phones had not even been dreamt up yet.
So it was in the mid-seventies when the Mulloy Brothers went out fishing only to be shipwrecked on one of the islands in Clew Bay when their engine failed. Word went out about the incident, but it was ‘spring’ low tide and most boats were high and dry. Two local boats did make it out, a punt and a larger motorboat. The brothers were ferried out to the larger boat and disaster was fortunately averted.
Efforts were made right after this incident to get a lifeboat for Clew Bay, where there were numerous part-time fishermen and the Clew Bay Oyster Co-operative had just been formed. Mayo Sailing Club had also just been formed, heralding the advent of an ever-increasing fleet of sail and power boats on the bay. It wasn’t however until twenty years later, in 1995, that the RNLI station at Kildavnet, Achill Island was established.
Mayo Sailing Club has been going strong ever since it was founded. With over 300 members and more than 60 boats in the harbour, MSC members love to get out on beautiful Clew Bay and beyond. Along with the fishermen in and around Clew Bay, MSC members very much appreciate knowing that the RNLI and Coast Guard have their backs. At a recent event, they gladly reached into their pockets and €1,000 was raised for the RNLI.
"Mayo Sailing Club is delighted to be associated with and support the RNLI Achill lifeboat. It is a tremendous asset and reassurance to have them here on possibly Europe's most isolated, rugged, but beautiful coastline. Well done and thank you all those who voluntarily give their time to this," Duncan Sclare, MSC Commodore
“As leisure users of the great seas that surround us it is important that we support a safe and responsible use of this fantastic resource. The RNLI are the agency of first response to boats in distress. We plan to never need to use the maritime rescue services, however, we have the security of knowing that the RNLI will react to requests for assistance and our donation is a small recognition of the great service provided by this voluntary organisation,” Conn Lavelle, MSC Sailing Secretary.
Was it luck or destiny that the weather finally, finally provided a break and the sun shone on the Mayo Sailing Club’s recent Open Day at Rosmoney near Westport? Members arrived early to mount flags and banners, stoke up the barbie, and rig the boats for demonstrations. McHale Marine set up a chandlery on site and offered discounts on marine supplies. The RNLI arrived in the Achill lifeboat, and the Coast Guard came by land, towing their rescue RIB.
Several yachts were berthed at the pontoon with owners offering a chance to come aboard for a tour, while the MSC Junior Sailing Instructors and Committee members greeted guests are they arrived throughout the afternoon. Starting at 1 pm, the Chefs of the Day began grilling hamburgers and sausages which guests scooped up for a €1 donation to the RNLI.
MSC Commodore Duncan Sclare welcomed all the visitors to the Club and explained how Mayo Sailing Club works and what activities are on offer. He explained that getting involved doesn’t require owning a boat. The Club has a fleet of dinghies that are available for Adult and Junior members to use.
Commodore Sclare noted: “The junior training programme is one of the best in the country. It is a great way to get into sailing. The Try Sailing introductory course for adults is a great way to test the waters. In includes full membership at a reduced cost. Thursday night club racing provides an opportunity to sail on club members’ yachts, and the owners are always on the look-out for enthusiastic crew.”
Writing Competition Awards Announcement and Prize Giving
This year, the MSC Open Day was not just about sailing. Together with [email protected], an independent Community Bookshop located far to the west in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, and co-ordinating with the Mayo News, the Sailing Club had initiated a Children’s Writing Competition, for kids aged 9-12.
The theme was Clew Bay, and whether it was prose, poetry or a picture story was up to the author, with the prize giving scheduled to coincide with the Open Day. When a large group had assembled in the clubhouse, the award ceremony was introduced by Alex Blackwell:
“Clew Bay is so much a part of our lives here. It inspires creativity wherever we look. We thought that getting the children to express some of that creativity would be a great way to get them interested in water-borne activities, something that they might not have otherwise considered.”
Tricia Hudson of [email protected] provided details of the judging process. Adjudication was independently organized by staff, volunteers and local authors involved with the bookshop, whose primary focus is children in the community. Tricia explained, “More than 200 entries were received from all around Mayo. It was so difficult to select winners from among so many very creative and well written or graphic stories and poems.”
Tricia explained that all judges read all the entries. Over the course of three weeks, they selected their top choices. These were then read by all the judges. In a session in which they all met, ten were identified as stand-outs. Of those, the top five were then voted to receive prizes.
The winners were announced by MSC member Daria Blackwell, a blue water sailor and author, who encouraged the children to dream and write. “The Imagination is a wonderful place. Thank you to everyone who submitted their brilliant stories, and congratulations to all on your inspiring creativity,” said Daria as she proceeded to read out the names and hand out their well-deserved certificates.
The top ten stories and the names of the authors are being published in The Mayo News, a partner in the Competition. The top 50 will be published in an anthology in book form which will be printed at [email protected] in Louisburgh, one at a time on their Espresso Book Machine, for anyone who wishes to have a copy which will be available later this summer.
The Michael Davitt Bridge that connects Achill Island to the mainland was officially opened by leading Irish land reformer Michael Davitt on 31st August 1887, making 2017 its 130th anniversary. Construction began on a replacement Michael Davitt Bridge in 1948, and was completed a year later writes Daria Blackwell
The third Michael Davitt Bridge, which was commissioned in 2008, was a design based on a Spanish Calatrava architectural model. This swing bridge weighs 390 tons, yet it is operated manually. It’s illuminated by LED lighting integrated into the bridge design, and in the long winter nights of West Mayo, this adds to its sense of permanence.
And the fact is, the 2008 bridge has been rarely opened since it was built. It had been too difficult to close, so it was decided that it would be better not to open it in the first place. The sheltered theoretically-available through-transit by boats with a high air-draft via narrow and tidal Achill Sound, while not actively discouraged, was certainly not promoted as a passage-making option.
This caused a dilemma for the islanders, for when it comes to Government grant aid, an island is not an “island” if connected by a fixed bridge. A long battle with the State has been ongoing since, with the Achill islanders demanding that the bridge be shown to be openable again, and this finally happened this past weekend.
To mark the connection choices that Achill maintains with the mainland, a Maritime and Heritage Festival celebrating the past and present of the Achill Parish was held on Sunday the 3rd of September. As part of the festival, the bridge was scheduled to open at 5:00 pm to allow a parade of ships to pass through at high water.
Mayo Sailing Club was invited to take part. Members of the Club accepted the invitation and seized the opportunity to go one step further and circumnavigate Achill Island. Wallace Clark had written about it in Sailing Round Ireland and several members of MSC were inspired to attempt the challenge, as it had not been done in recent memory.
The currents in Achill Sound run strong and swift, and shoaling is common. Mayo Sailing Club Vice Commodore Duncan Sclare organized yachts to sail from Rosmoney in a clockwise manner so they’d have a rising tide coming south through Achill Sound and still have enough water to exit the Sound beyond Corraun back into Clew Bay to return to their moorings in Rosmoney.
Navigational calculations were meticulously plotted, tides accounted for, fishermen consulted, and charts checked, as the fleet prepared to set off on the Saturday from Rosmoney. Five yachts set off on the circumnavigation. This was no small feat, as conditions on Saturday were demanding. A rough, wet and boisterous rounding of notorious Achill Head was in store for the fleet, which was subjected to 40+ knots of gusts of wind tearing down Slievemor, the second highest peak on Achill Island at 671 metres. They sought shelter for the night and holed up securely at anchor in Blacksod Bay, where good company and cold beer went down well in the pub.
They set off in the morning to arrive at the bridge just before its scheduled opening, but a thick fog enveloped Achill and Achilbeg. Yet the project continued, even though two deeper draft vessels ran aground on the way in and had to await the incoming tide to continue on. When the time came, all five of the Achill circumnavigators succeeded in passing though the bridge, dressed for the occasion. A sixth member joined the fleet, passing under the bridge from the south and returning with the fleet, accompanied by Coast Guard vessels, rowers, and ribs, and a flotilla of the famous traditional Achill yawls making spectacular transits under sail.
The crowd cheered from the bridge as each vessel passed through, and the Achill yawls then had a race in the Sound close south of the bridge in front of Alice’s Restaurant, complete with loudspeaker commentary as the evening weather finally improved for the fog to lift, and let sunshine illuminate the spectacular landscape. The day’s events were recorded by Henry McGlade for the TV show “The Irish at Home and Abroad” for an episode due to be shown on Sky TV in early October.
But by the time the weather improved, Mayo SC fleet were well on their way, their movements dictated by the now rapidly falling tide, and it wasn’t until they were out on Clew Bay itself that the visibility began to clear properly for them, and the familiar sight of the peak of Croagh Patrick showed above the fog’s grey blanket.
Back in Mayo SC’s hospitable clubhouse at Rosmoney, Former MSC Commodore Rory Casey of the First 31.7 As Lathair commented: "One of the best sailing weekends I've ever had - we had a bit of everything. Why do we have to travel to the ends of the world, when we have this adventure sailing here on our doorstep?"
Vice Commodore Duncan Sclare, who made the circuit on one of the smaller boats, the Achilles 30 Freebird, summed it up: "On this circumnavigation of Ireland’s largest island, we experienced it all: Flat calm, Atlantic seas, howling winds, rain, sunshine, fog, tricky navigation, an unopenable bridge that opened, and great company. A voyage that will be remembered a lifetime."
The Mayo Sailing Club boats whose crews now cherish very special memories of the first weekend of September 2017 in proving that Achill is indisputably an island were: Freebird, As Lathair, Xena, Misty, Enya, and Eabha Marie.
#wiora – The 2014 West of Ireland (WIORA) champion is Tribal, Liam Burke's Galway Bay Sailing Club based Corby 25 that produced four wins from seven races in last week's WIORA championships at Mayo Sailing Club. Burke's scoreline was good enough to win class 2 IRC ahead of top Foynes contender Dis–A–Ray, a Dehler 34, and take the overall award too, in a series that had everything from flat calms, forked lightning plus some very good Clew Bay breezes to boot.
IT was a "WIORA West Coast Championship to remember..."
That is how Simon McGibney, Commodore of the association described the 2014 West Coast Championship event hosted by Mayo Sailing Club in the waters of Clew Bay.
While Team Ireland was taking honours at the Commodores Cup in the UK, the Irish domestic sailing community on the west coast was battling it out for the 2014 WIORA title under the stunning backdrop of Croagh Patrick leaving everyone wowed by the experience.
And that is certainly how the 200 or so competitors felt leaving the event after Tribal, sailing out of Galway Bay Sailing Club, lifted the coveted trophy as overall winner of WIORA 2014. A worthy title holder in an event where everyone was victorious in some way shape or form.
But it was Liam Burke's Corby 25 that won four of the seven races in Class two and was always staying in the mix by adding a 2nd and 3rd on Day 3 and 4 of the event that was enough for the Galway boat to take the honours in what was a hotly contested division.
Tribal and its crew now take the title back to Galway Docks where the 2015 event will be hosted by their home club of GBSC.
Race Officer Alan Crosbie, on receiving a small presentation from the Eoghan Cunningham, Commodore of Mayo Sailing Club, said it is an event he loves to see coming around every year, "and one I will not miss, because when I get the call I just say yes straight away." WIORA he said, "is a great event close to my heart".
On hosting the event, the ever popular MSC Commodore Eoghan Cunningham said that in the lead up to WIORA, "I was dreading it, but now I just don't want the week to end".
Receiving a huge round of applause, the WIORA sub committee at Mayo SC, together with Eoghan at its head were praised for their hosting of the event – even the little things like all the race competitors being delivered choc ices on Friday while drifting on the waters of Clew Bay under the summer sun as the crews waited for the breeze to fill in – to a care package of cold beers delivered to every boat as they completed the long coastal race at the conclusion of the event – will go a long way to indeed making WIORA 2014 one to remember.
Congrats to all at Mayo Sailing Club, to the helpers, to the race officers and flag boat crew, to the rib drivers, to the staff at the club house, to the WIORA committee, to the competitors that raced in every possible weather condition including thunder and lightening, to those ashore that waited and supported and to those that we forgot – we thank you and we look forward to meeting on the water again soon and if not, certainly back at Galway Docks in 2015 when the battle will commence to see who can take the West Coast Championship title off the crew of Tribal.
WIORA West Coast Championship 2014 Winners
Overall WIORA West Coast Championship Winner Tribal (GBSC)
Class 1 IRC Winner Now What (GBSC)
Runner Up TK Lean Machine (GBSC)
Class 2 IRC Winner Tribal (GBSC)
Runner Up Dis-A-Ray (TIMC)
Class 3 IRC Winner Boojum (TBSC)
Runner Up Django (RWYCI – LRYC)
Class 1 ECHO Winner TK Lean Machine (GBSC)
Runner Up X-Rated (MSC)
Class 2 ECHO Winner Dis-A-Ray (TIMC)
Runner Up Elixir (MSC)
Class 3 ECHO Winner Subadar (MSC)
Runner Up Privateer (MSC)
White Sails Winner As Lathair (MSC)
Runner Up Xstatic (MSC)
BJ Marine cup Genie
X-Yachts cup X-rated,
Tommy OKeeffe trophy Dis-A-Ray,
Next year's WIORA moves to Galway and in 2016 the event is heading back to Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary.
Full WIORA results are on the Mayo Sailing Club site HERE
As reported last October on Afloat.ie, Mayo Sailing Club in Rosmoney will play host to the fleet of up to 30 boats from around the country that will vie for the coveted titled of 'Champion of the West'.
The main attraction will be preceded by a week of events starting with the O’Sullivan's Marine 100 Mile Race the weekend before the West Coast Championships, on a course set from the Aran Islands in Galway Bay to Mayo Sailing Club.
Meanwhile, charter boats are available all around Clew Bay to get the best views of the action while doing some fishing, having a picnic on board or just enjoying being out on the water and taking in the sights.
You can also meet the skippers and crew at the daily after-race party at Mayo Sailing Club, where there will be food, teas and coffees, entertainment and an open bar.
Live music will be provided by the Hip Pocket Trio and their jazz soul stylings on Wednesday 23, singer-songwriter Dennis McCalmont on Thursday 24 and pop-rocking three-piece Old Tricks on Friday 25 July.
#mayosailingclub – For two weeks in a row, Mayo Sailing Club has exposed loads of new people to sailing and fun on the water in the west of Ireland. If the smiles and peals of laughter are any gauge, the effort has been quite the success.
At the May Bank Holiday weekend, a number of the club's boats sailed off to Inishturk to visit this very special island for the weekend. They brought with them a fleet of sailing dinghies and a rescue rib, along with life jackets, and instructors – everything needed to get the islanders safely out on the water.
Despite dire forecasts, the weather cooperated with the winds decreasing and rain holding off through the afternoon on Saturday. As the sailboats anchored and moored in the harbour, the dinghies were brought over on a trailer by ferry. The dinghies were rigged around noon and Inishturk resident children and adults were given the opportunity to try sailing under the supervision of experienced sailors in the magnificent harbour.
Mayo Sailing Club Commodore Eoghan Cunningham ran a tight programme and operated the rib, which facilitated crew changes out on the water and allowed him to keep a close eye on the sailors and assist when needed. The buzz in the Community Club house afterwards was electric. Exuberant young sailors told their stories to parents and friends while the cruisers listened in and rejoiced over the new passion instilled.
The success of this inaugural venture means that the dinghies will be brought out to other islands scheduled as stopovers for the Mayo Sailing Club fleet during the course of the summer. The next cruise in company is to Clare Island and takes place June Bank Holiday weekend. As always, non-members are very welcome to join in.
On Sunday 11 May, Mayo Sailing Club opened its doors in Rosmoney to welcome non-members for a day of family fun out on the water. The dinghy fleet was once again brought out and rigged allowing guests to try sailing for the first time with experienced sailors at the helm. This time, the larger cruising sailboats were also at the ready on the pontoon and took anyone interested in sailing on a 'big' boat out onto Clew Bay. Fast ribs were also available to take visitors on a thrilling spin. Adventure Islands provided lessons in their new archery offering on club grounds. A free barbeque meal and hot showers ended the day on a high note. Once again the weather gods cooperated with (mostly) sunshine and (mostly) gentle breezes after a week of high winds and heavy rains.
Liam Mac Réamoinn, Junior Organiser, expressed his thanks to all those who helped make the sailing initiative such a success. The exciting day prompted the Committee to decide to open the sailing club to its members every Sunday afternoon at 3 pm for dinghy sailing. The fleet of dinghies will be available for rental to club members at nominal hourly rates to cover the cost of repairs. Mayo Sailing Club now have more ways you can join and get out on the water without even owning a boat.
Mayo Sailing Club members have been very active and successful on the racing and cruising circuit and have been attracting attention on a nationwide and global scale. This year, the Western Sailing Championships are coming to MSC and will be sailed on magnificent Clew Bay the last week of July.
This is a big event and will provide quite a spectacle on the Bay. Mayo Sailing Club is honoured to be the host of such a prestigious event. Visit the Mayo Sailing Club website
WIORA's 'West Coast Championships' will take place from Wednesday, 23rd July to Saturday, 26th 2014, and will be hosted by Mayo Sailing Club at Rosmoney, on Clew Bay. A fleet of up to 30 boats will take advantage of the new pontoon facilities near the club house.
Rosmoney near Westport is the base for the Sailing Club whose members enjoy the excellent sailing grounds that exists among the archipelago of islands in the east of Clew Bay.
The important new pontoon facility is located approximately 30 metres from the edge of the permanent pier and has been in constant use by Mayo Sailing Club, islanders, boatmen since it opened in April 2013.
Alcock is racing manager of the Irish Sailing Association (ISA), and his lecture will outline the laws that govern racing by windpower on the water in Ireland, covering classes from yachts and dinghies to windsurfing, kitesurfing and more.
Topics to be covered include rights and obligations on the water, giving way, keeping clear, red flags and protest forms.
Sailors of all craft are invited to attend the evening, and anyone wanting to get involved in racing is also welcome, especially with the 2012 racing season only eight weeks away.
Alcock's talk takes place this Thursday at 7.30pm in GMIT Castlebar. The Galway Advertiser has more HERE.
Established in 1976 to promote sailing in Clew Bay and the West of Ireland, Mayo Sailing Club (MSC) has earned a solid reputation in both cruising and racing. There are currently more than 250 members taking part in various on- the-water activities during the season. Activities include a youth sail training programme, dinghy racing, cruising boat racing, and cruising. On the competitive racing front, members have taken part and performed at the top of class in open events along the west coast and beyond, including the Round Ireland Race and the World Student Yachting Championships. On the cruising front, many members actively cruise the challenging waters of the West coast, while more adventurous souls venture to Europe, across the Atlantic, around the world, and even to the remote regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. Training on these local waters of the wild Atlantic prepares intrepid MSC sailors to sail anywhere.
With a beautiful clubhouse that has stunning views on the shores of Westport Bay, MSC offers sheltered moorings, a pontoon laid on with water and electricity, a slipway and hardstand, boat shed for storing outboards and other equipment, a secure area for stowing dinghies, bar and social room open on race days, comfortable changing rooms with toilets and showers, as well as three rescue boats and one race committee boat. Located just 10 minutes from Westport town.
Since its establishment Mayo Sailing Club has earned a good reputation in both cruising and racing.
There are currently 250+ members, with 33 cruiser/racers, five adult dinghies and 25 junior dinghies all taking part in activities during the season.
From regular summer cruising along the west coast and its islands, to wilderness expeditions to the Antarctic and Artic, members have demonstrated their enthusiasm for sailing. On the racing front members have been to the fore in open events along the west coast arising from the very competitive club racing which has evolved at home at MSC
MSC moved to Rosmoney in 1983, and from 2008 can offer its members during the season (April to September, except for adult dinghies which starts in January):
– A beautiful new Clubhouse
– Junior sail training and racing each summer
– Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 cruiser racing Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons (Five Race Series)
– White Sail Fun Races
– Pursuit Races
– Introduction to sailing courses Tuesdays in May
–Flotilla cruise to Boffin August Bank Holiday, and various cruises and rallies during season,
– Annual club regatta August with Commodores Mid-Summer Ball [Black Tie]
Club facilities at Rosmoney
– Comfortable changing rooms, toilets and showers
– Bar and social room
– Boat shed for storing outboards, etc. (strictly controlled)
– Club slipway and hard stand berthage
– Access to moorings
– Three rescue boats and one race committee boat
– A fleet of junior sailing dinghies for use on the very popular junior sailing courses include four Mirror sailing dinghies and two Optimist sailing dinghies
Damien Cashin, Commodore – 087 245 0123 – [email protected]
Paul Murphy, Vice Commodore – 086 839 0581 – [email protected]
Donagh Waldron, Hon. Secretary – 087 2474811 – [email protected]
Mary Walsh, Hon. Treasurer – 086 837 1669 – [email protected]
Cathal Geoghan, Hon. Sailing Sec – 087 797 5627 – [email protected]
Peter Quigley, Junior Organiser – 087 638 9010 – [email protected]
Gerry Daly, Rear Commodore – 085 174 1942 – [email protected]
Paddy Alyward – 087 236 4833
David Baird – 087 236 2124
Boyd Gale – 086 226 3319
Hugh O'Donnell – 086 069 6159
Una Quigley – 087 245 2921
Declan Ruddy – 087 272 6616
James Fitzsimons – 087 230 4331
John O’Brien – 087 241 5664
(The above details and images courtesy of Mayo Sailing Club)
Mayo Sailing Club, Rosmoney, Co. Mayo
Have we got your club details? Click here to get involved