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#trailersailer – Ireland's coastline is one of the world's finest cruising grounds. Yet there are long lengths of the coast that rarely see a visiting cruiser. It is not that the area is inhospitable, although the weather can be challenging. Safe anchorages and sheltered harbours are numerous, the welcome on shore is legendary. The plain fact is that, for many of us the west coast of Ireland is very much the Far West.

A circumnavigation of the island is over 700 miles, roughly the same distance as the Fastnet Race, longer than the Sydney-Hobart, or the Newport-Bermuda. For the East Coast cruising sailor with a fortnight to spare Wales, Cornwall or Scotland are nearer, and, in the prevailing westerlies, easier to reach. Cork sailors can explore West Cork or South Kerry, but a trip to Galway is a serious voyage, with a long stretch of coast offering little or no shelter.

Any plan to develop cruising from Cork to Donegal must take account of the distances involved. One solution would be to develop marinas and encourage boat owners to keep their boat there for all or part of the year. However, maintaining a boat that is several hours drive from home is never easy. Those who are fortunate to keep boats in France, Portugal or elsewhere can depend on a well developed network of professionals, with workshops in the harbour area, to carry out necessary work. Unfortunately, marinas in Ireland are conceived more as a pretext to develop shore-side housing, rather than as essential industrial infrastructure. Boatyards and luxury apartments do not make good neighbours!

Basing the boat on the west coast for a month or two is no less problematic. Finding a window of opportunity, and the crew, for the delivery trip there and back, is never easy. A 300 mile cruise is, for many, already a summer holiday in itself! Furthermore, sailors can be reluctant to abandon the short but intense racing season, especially on the East Coast.

There is an alternative: the trailer-sailer, or, as well known nautical author Sam Llewelyn prefers – the "Minimum Boat". For an owner wishing to explore the nooks and crannies of the Irish coast such boats have huge advantages. The ability to tow a boat to a suitable area greatly extends the range of possible cruising grounds. The flexibility of such a mobile boat means that plans can be changed easily. You may have planned a weekend trip to the Aran Islands, but if the forecast is for squalls, rain and a huge swell it is no great problem to divert to Lough Derg, or even to "go foreign" and explore Lough Erne. How often is it set to rain in Kerry while Donegal basks in sunshine (or vice versa). Until you choose which exit to take off the motorway, the "Minimum Boat" owner is not committed to any one destination.

In addition, a ferry trip to Cherbourg or Roscoff opens up the whole of Europe. Personally I quite fancy exploring the Venice Lagoon or the Skerries of the northern Baltic.

In choosing a "Minimum Boat" compromises have to be made, between the boats nautical capacities, convenience when rigging, launching and recovering and the trappings of modern comforts. Many commonly used boats are no longer than 21-22 foot, and no more than 2 tons. Increasingly water ballast is used, reducing the towing weight, making it possible to tow and launch somewhat larger boats.

Obviously, a boat this size will not have standing headroom throughout. Farewell the power shower, the microwave and the master cabin. However, there is great pleasure in rediscovering the little luxuries – making that first tea or coffee whilst still in your sleeping bag, stepping ashore from the bow of the boat on a sheltered beach or settling down for the night in an anchorage known only to those that go to sea in kayaks or RIBs. Not forgetting that keeping the boat in the garden is a great convenience when maintenance is required.

Cruising on boats this size is more about exploring the coast and the islands, rather than passage making. In fact the whole point of the trailer-sailer is that long passages are made by road. The most difficult moments of any holiday will be launching and recovery. Many cars can cope with towing a fairly substantial boat. However, slipways are often narrow and steep. Alexander Nimmo and his fellow engineers of the 19th Century singularly failed to take account of the constraints of launching a small yacht from a road trailer when engaged in building so many harbours, piers and slips that are still the backbone of our nautical infrastructure. If a Minimum Boater has to rely on launching only at well-equipped boatyards or clubs then the range of accessible cruising areas is limited.

A major contribution to the development of trailer sailing could be made at little cost:

⁃ by publishing a comprehensive list of slipways, including details such as the angle of the slip (preferably between 7° and 12°), launching conditions and information on safe parking;

⁃ identifying a local tractor owner who would, for a small charge, tow the trailer down the slip. Ideally, they would also be able to offer safe parking for for car and trailer. Trailer-sailors would be happy to pay for such a service. Obviously, there will be considerations of liability and insurance, but in a period when small farmers, building contractors and other small businesses are facing difficulties, launching and recovering could provide a small but useful revenue stream.

To conclude by an (apocryphal) example:

Sitting in the bar of a well-known yacht club club in Greater Dublin two boat owners are discussing the possibility of viewing from the comfort of their own cockpit the in-port race in Galway Bay when the VOR fleet is in town. One owns a well-found 35 ft yacht that competes in local races. His owner reckons that in order to be sure of getting to Galway in time, and get the boat back, he will take a fortnight's holiday. He already organising a delivery crew, one for each trip, there and back, with the family driving down for the weekend. It is proving difficult to find a berth in Galway and he may have to anchor off somewhere.

His friend has a French-built 21 foot trailer-sailer that has proved competitive in club racing, and did well when he towed the boat to the UK to compete in Cowes Week. His plan is to lift out on Thursday evening after racing and drive down early Friday morning. He intends to launch in Kinvara, having checked the slip on Google Earth, and sail across to Galway. When he called the organisers they told him they would have no problem finding a berth for such a tiny yacht! The in-port race is on Saturday. The plan is to party in Galway on Saturday and sail back to Kinvara on Sunday. With HW just after 2130 there will be no problem getting back to Dublin sometime (possibly late) on Sunday night.

Small is beautiful. More to the point a small trailer friendly yacht is the passport to spending more time in some of the world's most spectacular seascapesMagheramore

Published in Cruising
23rd May 2012

Philip Scully

#CRUISING – Long term captain and Cork harbour yachtsman Philip Scully (55) of Crosshaven has died while on passage from Antigua in the West Indies to the UK it was reported earlier today.

The Owner of Starry Night, the well travelled Oyster 82, has advised of the sudden death on board of the long term captain Philip Scully.

According to reports, the yacht was on its way to the UK from Antigua when Philip started feeling unwell. He and the crew had full time support from Dr Spike Briggs of Medical Support Offshore Limited (MSOS) and advanced medical supplies and equipment on board. Despite this and great efforts from the crew he died in the early hours of 22nd May.

As the sad news broke at Royal Cork Yacht Club senior member Donal McClement (who is cruising in Spain) led tributes to the professional sailor. "He was a consummate professional, always careful and fastidious. Any owner who had him as a skipper had the most reliable and trustworthy guy you could possibly have".

Former Admiral Hugh Mockler spoke about Philip's love of Cork Harbour and Crosshaven in particular. "Philip always took the opportunity to sail back into Crosshaven whenever he got the chance".

The rest of the crew onboard Starry Night are well and the weather conditions are good.

The yacht is now on its way to Bermuda and relevant authorities have been informed.

Philip had connections with Irish sailing as far back as the One Ton Cup in the 1980s. He was also previously skipper of the late Bernie Cahill's Oyster yachts that were based in Schull, West Cork.

philipscully

Philip Scully. Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in Cruising
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#RESCUE - The Irish Times reports that two people were rescued from a cruiser that ran aground in an "enraged" Lough Derg on Sunday afternoon.

Eyewitnesses on the shore at Terryglass in Co Tipperary raised the alarm after spotting the duo in distress when their boat lost power amid force 8 gales.

The Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat was dispatched but stood down on news that both persons on board the cruiser had been taken to shore by another boat in the area responding to a radio alert by the Irish Coast Guard.

Published in Rescue
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#DINGHY SAILING – It is a common complaint that dinghy sailing is in decline. Veteran keel-boat sailors wax nostalgic about those long-gone days when huge fleets turned out for the major dinghy class championships writes our correspondent Magheramore.

Yet there were 292 entries for the recent Mitsubishi Youth National Championships, the winter Laser racing in Howth is flourishing as are the DMYC Frostbites.

However, a closer look at the dinghy park at the Youth Nationals did indicate where a problem may lie. All the boats were recent, the sails were new, many competitors were professionally coached or accompanied by their parents in a comfortable RIB. One would expect this, the young sailors (and their parents) want to do well. The impression given is that dinghy sailing is an expensive pastime requiring dedication, athletic prowess and intensive training. This perception may erect a psychological barrier to entry to the sport. Apprentice sailors, young in years or young of heart, may decide that other forms of messing about in boats are more accessible: crewing on big boats, angling, kayaking or rowing.

Racing is only one aspect of dinghy sailing. If racing is compared to track athletics, how about a nautical stroll in the park or some nautical hill walking! Dinghy cruising has been defined as sailing a dinghy for any other reason than racing. That may be too sweeping a generalisation. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be that dinghy cruising is all about going somewhere in a small boat.

There is an extreme branch of the sport: the late Frank Dye's Wayfarer crossings to Norway and to Iceland; Webb Chiles circumnavigation in a Drascombe Lugger or the two Royal Marine officer's expedition through the North West Passage 17.5ft Norseboat. Oceanic openboat sailing has it's founding fathers: Shackleton and Crean, Captain Bligh and our own St. Brendan.

But just as not all hill walkers attempt to scale Everest, or even Carrantuohill, there are many who enjoy a more gentle sail. I have often admired a venerable Mirror, usually sailing without a jib, cruising round Dun Laoghaire harbour. If you look carefully there are Wayfarers, Drascombes and others tucked away at the top of many a sheltered beach or creek, waiting a family picnic, an evening sail or a trip out to catch a mackerel or two for breakfast. In parts of Donegal, and possibly elsewhere, the humble Mirror seems to have replaced the more traditional curragh. Used as a tender, a fishing boat, a swimming platform or for short sail the Mirror can be bought cheaply, launched and recovered single-handed and can be sailed (with one or two sails), rowed, paddled, sculled or even (shudder) motored.

dinghycruise2

A UK dinghy visitor Jady Lane moored in Athlone. Photo: Aidan de la Mare

Successful dinghy cruising does not depend on a new boat. Indeed one might be happier when beaching on a stony beach if the gel coat already has a scratch or two. Boats for such sailing are a personal and often somewhat idiosyncratic choice. Who would have thought that a Finn could be converted into practical cruising yawl? Or that a Mirror dinghy could cruise from the Severn to the Black Sea, with the skipper sleeping "comfortably" aboard. Stability is the one essential design feature, indeed some dinghy cruisers maintain that the Wayfarer is far too tippy a boat.

Many dinghy cruising sailors never progress beyond pottering or day sailing. A lifetime is too short to explore the nooks and crannies of the Irish coast line, not too mention the many loughs. When camping or self-catering beside the water, having a dinghy ready to launch greatly enriches the holiday. Yet, inevitably, there comes a day when the the skipper wants to sail out to that distant island, or around the point, too far to return the same day. At this point the huge advantage of exploring in a dinghy rather than on foot becomes obvious. Even in the smallest dinghy room can be found for a tent, foam mattress, sleeping bag, stove, provisions and, luxury, a bottle of wine and a corkscrew! The boat does the carrying rather than your back. There are many places round the coast where a tent can be pitched discreetly. The sea-kayaking fraternity have been doing this for years.

Most cruising sailors then realise that it is in fact more convenient to sleep on board. This is no less comfortable than sleeping in the kind of bivouac tents used by back-packers and cyclists. There is also one great advantage, by choosing an appropriate anchorage one can escape the midges!

Dinghy cruising is not a structured activity. Most cruising sailors are fiercely independent, and most stay well away from yacht clubs. Yet the Dinghy Cruising Association in the UK has 468 paying members (some of them in Ireland), with a further 29 joining in the last 3 months. Races are not part of their programme. Rallies can be low key – meet for lunch, or an overnight stay at specified spot (often conveniently situated within strolling distance of a welcoming pub). There is a developing trend to organise Raids – cruises in company, sometimes with an element of competition. An annual Raid is organised through the Great Glen in Scotland. Others are held in the Baltic. Above all, the traditional boat revival in France has been accompanied by explosion in events for "voile-aviron" (sail and oar). Especially if you have a wooden boat, you will be welcome at the big traditional boat festivals such as those held in Brest and Douarnenez. Perhaps one day there will be a Raid Ireland?

In short, pottering or cruising in small open boats is an exciting adventure open to all. The seamanship skills learnt taking a boat from Bray up to Dalkey Island, or from Dromineer to Mountshannon can be of much use to a budding sailor as learning to roll tack a Laser. In fact, dinghy cruising, probably renamed "adventure sailing", opens a whole new world for sailing schools and club training. Transition year groups or the local Scout troop would certainly be interested. As more extreme outdoor pursuits, from fell-running to bog-snorkelling, gain new participants, there is surely room for dinghy cruising – Magheramore

 Wtih thanks to the Dinghy Cruising Association for photography in this article

Published in Your Say

#Irish Cruising Club Annual Awards – A home-made steel cutter well on the way to completing a three year global circumnavigation has been awarded the Irish Cruising Club's top trophy, the Faulkner Cup, for the second year in a row. Fergus and Kay Quinlan built their 38ft van de Stadt-designed Caribbean 12 Pylades themselves, launching her in 1997, and after some impressive cruises, departed their home port of Kinvara on a world voyage two years ago.

Fergus is an architect. As he remarked before leaving, things were looking rather quiet on work the work front in the architectural area as the financial crisis and economic recession bit deep in Ireland. So it seemed a good idea to go sailing. He brings an architect's sharp eye and social curiosity to his accounts of the cruise, and the first stage to Tahiti from Kinvara garnered them the Faulkner Cup for 2010.

Now the second stage from French Polynesia across wide ocean and among many islands to Darwin in northern Australia has secured the award for 2011. That part of the cruise was completed last Autumn, and their boat Pylades has long since sailed on to fetch up in South Africa, celebrating Christmas in Cape Town, so it's not all tough seafaring.

They departed Cape Town late January and are now well in to the Atlantic, headed for Brazil via St Helena. Quite soon they will have completed the circumnavigation north of Brazil, and by summer's end Pylades should be home in Kinvara, and well in contention for the Faulkner Cup three years in a row.

Such an achievement is not without precedent – back in the 1920s, before the Irish Cruising Club existed, Conor O'Brien of Foynes won the Royal Cruising Club's Challenge Cup three years in a row for his pioneering voyage round the world south of the great capes in the 40ft ketch Saoirse, which he'd designed himself - she was built in Baltimore in 1921-22.

Like Fergus Quinlan, Conor O'Brien was an architect - you can see his work in St Mary's Cathedral in Limerick. Perhaps it's not beyond coincidence that the Irish Cruising Club's Strangford Cup for an alternative best cruise has also gone to an architect, Stephen Hyde of Cork, who has already completed his circumnavigation with his Oyster 56 A Lady. But has been enjoying the sailing so much that he has prolonged the venture with a detailed cruise up the east coast of America to Maine where, with 36,395 miles already logged, their cruising in 2011 was completed.

The awards were adjudicated by former ICC Commodore Peter Ronaldson of Belfast Lough, and the other trophies found new homes as follows:

Round Ireland Cup: The awarded cruise is expected to add to the knowledge of Ireland's coast for the Irish Cruising Club's published Sailing Directions, and the 27-day circuit by Donal Walsh of Dungarvan with his Moody 31 Lady Kate did this very successfully, with stopovers in some seldom-visited places.

Rockabill Trophy for Seamanship: To Norman Kean of Courtmacsherry, who is Honorary Editor of the ICC Directions. In his cruise he visited more than 125 anchorages on Ireland's west coast, clarifying the reality or otherwise of information. Among other things, he and his shipmates discovered a dangerously low power line at Ballyshannon in Donegal by sizzling into it, and they also showed that the Joyce Sound Pass through the tangle of rocks which tumble out towards Slyne Head in Connemara is mislocated on the charts by quite a few metres – if you relied totally on GPS, you'd be on the bricks.

Wybrants Cup, for best cruise in Scottish waters: To Dick Lovegrove of Dun Laoghaire for his lively jaunt with the Sigma 33 Rupert through some very Scottish weather.

Fingal Cup, for log the adjudicator most enjoyed: Maire Breathnach of Dungarvan and Lymington for her account of the gaff ketch Young Larry's cruise through the islands of Alaska and western Canada.

Glengarriff Trophy, best cruise in Irish waters, and Wild Goose Cup for log of literary merit: Mick Delap for his often poetic account of the 24ft gaff cutter North Star's cruise from Valentia Island to the Clyde in Scotland, visiting as many Irish islands as possible en route.

Perry Greer Bowl, best cruise by first time contributor to ICC Annual: David Jones of Howth for informative account of detailed venture in several stages from Howth towards the Mediterranean in the Oceanis 43 Tidal Dancer, going via Isles of Scilly, southwest England, Channel Islands, all of Brittany, Ile de Re , northwest Spain, and northern Portugal with winter layup ashore at Povoa de Varzim, a useful new marina/boatyard 20 miles north of Porto.

Marie Trophy, for best cruise in boat less than 30ft LOA: Sean McCormick of Howth (for third year in a row), extensive cruise in south Brittany with First 30 Marie Clair II.

The John B Kearney Cup, an open award for outstanding contribution to Irish sailing, went to Jerry Smith of Baltimore, skipper of the dive-boat Wave Chieftain which completed the remarkable rescue of all the crew of the capsized Rambler 100 at the Fastnet Rock by finding the five crew members in the sea who had become detached from the rest of the group, and were drifting lost as night came on.

Gull Salver, open award for best-placed Irish boat in Fastnet Race: to Bruce Douglas of Carrickergus, skipper of the J/133 Spirit of Jacana.

Commodore David Tucker of Kinsale reviewed a remarkable year at the crowded AGM of the Irish Cruising Club, a year in which the members' boats were seen in locations seldom if at all visited before. One of these was very near home. In August 2011, one of the club's more entertaining gatherings was a rally by the East Coast Members in the Grand Canal Basin in the heart of Dublin, where they berthed beside the avant garde Liebeskind-designed Grand Canal Theatre. The sense of achievement of the re-vamped location was matched by several of the ICC boats in port, which included Pat and Olivia Murphy's world-girdling Aldebaran, and Brian and Anne Craig's Concerto, which has voyaged to Iceland.

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

#DEVELOPMENT - The International Sailing Federation's (ISAF) inaugural Development Symposium at Howth Yacht Club recently "promised much in the way of passionate discussion", according to its review of the two-day event.

Presentations were given by Tony Wright, training manager of the Irish Sailing Association, who outlined the ISA's national programme that keeps the focus of the sailor "at the centre of all that they do"; and Simon Jinks who walked through his new Guide to Offshore Personal Safety for Cruising and Racing.

Meanwhile, World Youth Sailing Trust coach Hugh Styles spoke on the subject of cohesive training programmes adding value to international events and leaving a legacy for host nations and teams alike.

Participants from the federation's member nations kept an 'ideas bank' which listed development ideas for future consideration, including a proposal for a development forum for sailing coaches, and using the model of the European Qualifications Framework as a reference for coaching competencies.

New Zealand, South Africa, Iceland and Turkey were also suggested as locations for future symposiums.

For more see the full review of the Development Symposium at the ISAF website HERE.

Published in News Update

#CRUISING – If you plan to cruise to, along, or around, the Irish Coast the essential pilotage publications are the Irish Cruising Club's acclaimed Sailing Directions (SDs), published in two volumes.

As well as comprehensive and accurate coverage these SDs offer the best update and corrections service in the business, downloadable free from the ICC website, and always up to date. This is a great boost to a skipper's confidence – good information means safe navigation!

This summer the club will be pioneering digital SDs in both web format and as downloadable PDF pages, perfect for PC or iPad. The test area will be Galway Bay and the Aran Islands and these directions will be available free to competitors, visitors and all interested sailors before and during the Volvo Race finish from the ICC website – www.irishcruisingclub.com – where full details of the Sailing Directions to East & North Coasts, and South & West Coasts, can also be found.

ICC SDs are available from chandlers and booksellers, are distributed in Great Britain and the rest of the world by Imray, and in Ireland by Todd Chart Services.

East and North Coasts Directions ISBN 978 0 9558 199 1 9; South and West Coasts Directions ISBN 978 0 9558 199 2 6.

ICCdigital

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

#INLAND WATERWAYS - A new study on the River Barrow and its environs recommends the development of "activity hubs, tourist trails and new angling and boat facilities", The Irish Times reports.

Waterways Ireland and Fáilte Ireland commissioned the Barrow Corridor Recreational, Tourism and Commercial Identification Survey to find ways to exploit the area's "undeveloped potential" for tourism.

The survey covered the river itself as well as its estuary and the Barrow branch of the Grand Canal. Its findings pointed to a number of areas where development is already being actioned, such as in boating and cruising, nature and wildlife, and angling.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan, who launched the study in Carlow yesterday, hailed the co-operation of the agencies and county councils involved.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

#CRUISINGCruising enthusiasts throughout Ireland, Britain, Europe and even further afield are being invited by Howth Yacht Club to participate in the inaugural Fingal International Family Cruising Festival between July 7th and 15th for what is the first event of its kind ever staged.

The Festival – Family Cruising Week, for short – has been designed to encourage sailors from far and wide to sail to Howth, berth in the marina for the week (up to 100% discounts will apply depending on distance travelled to get to Howth) and engage in a varied programme of activities, tours, talks and entertainment in the Howth area as well as tourist attractions in Dublin city and surrounding counties.

Unlike other cruising weeks (which entail participants sailing from location to location), the objective of the FIFCF is to attract boat-owners to sail to Howth while non-sailing family members can join them (travelling by road, ferry or air) to stay on their boats or in local accommodation.

howth

Howth harbour is the venue for a new cruising event this Summer

The programme for the week will include scenic and heritage tours of the area, golf/tennis/hillwalking, competitions, dinners and entertainment, and activities for children. The event, which has the support of Failte Ireland and Fingal Tourism, is expected to generate in the region of 4,000 bed nights as well as benefiting local businesses. Visitors will sample local restaurants and pubs and will also require groceries, general supplies, marine services, etc.

The unique event will conclude on Sunday 15th July when participants will be invited to take part in the second 'Boat of Hope Day' organised by Howth YC in conjunction with the Variety Club of Ireland. In 2010, boat-owners in Howth and neighbouring clubs took 100 disadvantaged children, their parents, siblings and carers on the water and then entertained them with onshore activities.

An organising committee, headed by noted cruising expert Pat Murphy, is currently working on the various elements of the Festival and, in particular, marketing it overseas.

See www.hyc.ie/familycruisingweek

Further information from: Pat Murphy, Event Chairman – 087-253 1341 or [email protected]

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

#INLAND WATERWAYS - A new mobile app that guides visitors around the trails of Lough Derg has gone live, the Clare Champion reports.

More than 20 trails are included in the app, from walking to cycling, driving, cruising and canoeing.

The app - developed in partnership between Shannon Development and US firm EveryTrail - uses Google Maps and the GPS system in smartphones to pinpoint trails near the user's location.

Users can download route descriptions, images and notes, get directions to the starting point and follow the the pre-plotted course.

The Lough Derg Trails app is available for iPhone and Android devices.

The Clare Champion has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
Page 12 of 20

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