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Dunmore East is a charmingly located and picturesque coastal village, whose enormous potential as a holiday and maritime centre is blighted by having an outdated and rather drab industrial zone at its core. For it has the misfortune to be trapped in its historical position as a long-established fisheries port. This means that the administration of the harbour – which should be the pleasant heart of the village – has been rigidly strait-jacketed into serving and promoting the demands of the fishing industry, often to the exclusion and certainly the detriment of the possible needs of any other potential harbour users, both afloat and ashore.

Were Dunmore East located on another part of Ireland's coastline, this might not matter too much. But the village is a popular holiday resort, and the harbour is in an absolutely key strategic location at local, regional, national and international levels in recreational boating. It is at the heart of a fine sailing area which – if there were proper berthing facilities available – would be ideal for hosting major events. An immediate example is the ICRA Nationals. Dunmore East would be a perfect location for this national annual cruiser-racer championship, yet there's no way it will be considered until the harbour is more welcoming to recreational boating.

But not only is Dunmore a potential venue port, it is the gateway to the largely untapped cruising potential of Waterford Estuary, and the Suir, Barrow and Nore rivers. In any other country in the world, this beautiful cruising land of the Three Sisters would be perceived as a national treasure. But in Ireland it is still receiving only minimal attention because the key to the whole place, the gateway port of Dunmore East, has not been welcoming.

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Dunmore East is both the heart of the coast, and the gateway to the magic cruising area of the Three Sisters - the estuaries of the Rivers Suir, Barrow and Nore. Photo: Google maps

Looking at the broader picture, Dunmore East's inhospitality affects the movement of cruising boats sailing along the coast. The large boat populations of the Irish Sea are discouraged from making the lengthy passage to the prime cruising areas of West Cork and Kerry because they're put off by knowing that if the urgent need arises, a visit to Dunmore East might not be a pleasant experience. Were the opposite the case, there would be an increase in the number of boats cruising the Irish coast generally. And a good experience in Dunmore East would also encourage them to sample the unexpected delights of cruising up to Waterford City or the port of New Ross, and visiting places little known to cruising men such as Duncannon, Arthurstown, Ballyhack and Cheek Point, not to mention the quiet anchorage behind Little Island in King's Channel.

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One of the Waterford Estuary's little known anchorages is in Kings Channel behind Little Island immediately east of Waterford City. Photo: W M Nixon

But you get only one chance to make a favourable first impression, and in recent years Dunmore East has been failing to do that. One of the saddest things about the place is the Visitors Book in the hospitable Waterford Harbour Sailing Club. Time was when each summer would produce a long list of the crews of visiting boats from near and far, and their enthusiastic comments. But these days the list has reduced to a trickle as the increasingly hostile demands of the harassed fishing industry have made the harbour bad-tempered, a place to be avoided.

Yet just along the coast, 15 miles to the eastward beyond Hook Point, there's a smaller port which manages to be both a thriving fishing port, and a welcoming marina. Kilmore Quay misses almost all the natural advantages of Dunmore East, as it's on an exposed and rocky coast. But it has just about everything else that Dunmore East lacks – it has enthusiasm, visible hospitality, and a can-do approach for boats of all sorts. So though it has the disadvantage that once berthed there, there is little you can do except stay put if the weather deteriorates, in every other way Kilmore Quay is streets ahead.

This is surely because Kilmore Quay is owned and run by Wexford County Council. With a vigorous council, enthusiastic county managers, and an energetic harbour master whose brief extends well beyond the stultifying limitations of the Department of Fisheries, Kilmore Quay is very much alive, while Dunmore East is moribund.

This would be fine if Dunmore East continued to be a major fishing port, but that's now a moot point. Fishing is becoming more truly industrialized by the day, and big boats with highly automated equipment and smaller crews are taking over the most profitable parts of the business. A port like Dunmore East, with its small size and draft limitations, is increasingly by-passed by the major operators. For sure, there'll always be fishing out of Dunmore East, but with an inbuilt boat size limitation it will increasingly be towards the artisan end of the fishing industry.

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Dunmore East looking south, with Gull Rock lower right hand corner. In a southwesterly breeze, the anchorage is well sheltered, but it can become uncomfortable and even dangerous in southeast to east winds. Photo: Kevin Dwyer

Currently, Dunmore East has probably now slipped beyond fourth place in the Republic of Ireland in terms of fish landings by weight. You get the picture from the 2010 figures by realising that at 163,447 tonnes, Killybegs outstrips all other significant Irish ports combined. Next in line is Castletownbere with 19,030 tonnes, while Dingle is third at 12,761. Although in 2010 Dunmore East was fourth at 8,387 tonnes, in terms of value it was outstripped by Kilmore Quay – Dunmore's landings were worth €13.6m, but Kilmore went for quality, and they got €13.7m for their 3,260 tonnes.

And as Kilmore Quay has more in the way of fish processing plants, the value-added element to their smaller but higher quality catch is also greater than Dunmore East's. In Dunmore East, the continuing encroachment by the needs and expectations of the modern shore-based holiday market means that property is more profitably utilised if it's catering for the personalised needs of the hospitality industry, rather than as an impersonal industrial unit, particularly one with the anti-social aromas of fish processing.

This decline in the fishing industry status of the long-established smaller ports is a European-wide problem, and a new inititative from Brussels seems to offer an opportunity for Dunmore East to be a suitable case for treatment, as interestingly revealed HERE.

Although it all still requires confirmation from the European parliament, many of the EU's maritime nations such as Portugal are quite far down the line in planning projects which will take full advantage of this "post-fishing" scheme, which will involve some quite serious money to be available between 2014 and 2020.

But however obvious the benefits which could accrue to Dunmore East, the rejection by the locals of a major harbour improvement project some years ago (it was to include a marina) has muddied the waters for future projects. The older generation in Dunmore East probably reckon they've accommodated enough change. Though the present layout will seem to today's generations to be a permanent feature of the environment, there are still many around who can well remember the massive re-vamp of the harbour when it was being undertaken by the OPW during the 1960s. It was meant to take about five years, but it took eleven. And at the end of it, the pleasant little cove of Dunmore, sheltered by an elegant pier designed in 1814 by the harbour genius Alexander Nimmo, had been changed greatly, with a breakwater extension going out beyond the pier, while within there was an enormous new concrete apron quay on a site brutally blasted out of pretty cliffs. Despite which, the kittiwake, most unusually nesting on cliffs which had become a central part of the village, had stayed on despite a decade of dynamite.

The kittiwakes may have stayed on, but big fishing is going from Dunmore East. So how best to change the harbour for continuing viability, without destroying the much-loved character of the place, while at the same time profitably accomodating all possible harbour users?

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Dunmore East as it will be in the summer of 2013, with the new 40–metre pontoon indicated under the lighthouse on he outer pier. The anchor (top) indicates the anchorage in offshore winds off the Strand Hotel. Plan courtesy Irish Cruising Club

This year will see a small step towards providing berths for visiting cruisers. It's indicated on this latest ICC plan, and will be a 40 metre (120 feet) pontoon running lengthwise along the quay down towards the end of the pier, near the old lighthouse. Access ashore will be via steps that are let into the quay, and it's reckoned that up to twelve boats of average size can be accommodated. Every journey starts with a first step, but this particular first step by its location will require a lot of steps - in fact, route march is more like it - as it's about as far as you can be from the Sailing Club and the village without actually starting to depart from the harbour again.

Welcome as this pontoon is, there's a risk that it might serve as a distraction from more imaginative action, and already there is another quayside pontoon in the southwest corner of the harbour for Dunmore East's many half-deckers. But here at Sailing on Saturdays, we'd suggest that to be of any real value, Dunmore East harbour needs more radical action, and our harbour design department has been busy.

Any modification of Dunmore East harbour for use by craft of all sizes, and mostly smaller than today's average fishing boat, must take account of the fact that, in severe southeasterly gales, the outer parts of the harbour are extremely exposed. Up in the sandy cove off the Strand Hotel, where the ICC sailing directions quite rightly suggest anchoring if the wind is pleasantly between southwest and northwest, it is well known to YouTube viewers that a southeasterly gale (such as occurred on 15th August 2012) can produce impressive onshore breakers going clean over the inn. It's bad enough in a summer storm, and as for winter... in winter – when the traditional fishing season used to be at its height – Dunmore East could fill up with visiting Dutch boats, and after a period of severe southeasters the hotelier at The Strand went up to check his roof, and in the middle of it found a traditional Dutch wooden clog, swept in from the sea and popped up there by a mighty breaking wave.

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Dunmore East as seen from the southeast, with the Strand Hotel at top of photo. Photo: Rex Roberts

When the Strand Hotel is building up its clog collection in sou'east storms, there's quite a scend which can snake its war round the corner and into the harbour. And of course any yachts lying on the WHSC mooring immediately northwest of the harbour are having a very rugged time indeed. So the suggestion here is that we modify the harbour entrance to keep that scend at bay, and at the same time extend the Gull Rock through the current moorings to provide well sheltered space immediately northwest of the WHSC clubhouse.

The first step in this project would be lengthening the extension to the Outer Pier. Every time you see the place in rough weather, you can't help but think that the engineer in the 1960s would probably have liked to make it twice as long in the first place. But if we're going to have our new breakwater coming along the line of the Gull Rock, in order for it to be long enough to be effective without closing the harbour mouth too much, we have to angle the new outer breakwater extension in a slightly more northerly direction. Not much, but enough to make all the difference to the channel room in the harbour entrance.

The Gull Rock Breakwater is envisaged as being just that – a breakwater. It will have to be about a metre above High Water Springs, otherwise people will try to go over it as they do with the North Bull Wall in Dublin Bay. But the concept is that it's a breakwater and nothing more – no promenade along the top, and preferably made of rock armour to chime with the Gull Rock, though cost may make it necessary to build in tetrapods.

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Thinking outside the box – Sailing on Saturday's line of thought for Dunmore East. The new breakwater suggested along the Gull Rock would simply be a breakwater, without a walkway along the top. Drawing by Afloat Studios.

With the extended outer pier and the new Gull Rock breakwater, a well-sheltered area is created for the installation of a marina. That's the beauty of a marina. All it needs is an area of sheltered water with the required depth, and just one single point of shoreside access. There's no need for expensively finished quay walls - a marina is a minimalist installation, and extremely good value once the space has been created.

We appreciate that there will be those who'll be horrified by the thought of any part of that pretty little coastline between the harbour and the Strand Hotel being enclosed behind a breakwater. But we'd emphasise that, as far as possible, the breakwater will be made to seem like a natural extension of the Gull Rock. And while Stony Cove and Badger's Cove will be within the new sheltered space, important locations like Men's Cove (Poul na Leenta) and Lady's Cove will be kept nice and fresh outside.

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This newer marina for smaller local craft in Dingle suggests a welcome level of co-existence between all types. Photo: W M Nixon

With the marina in place, the entire dock area can revert to being exclusively for fishing boats. But with the industry being rationalized into a more compact shape these days, in time there could well be space for hauling out all boats and other manner of marine work taking place in there. Who knows, but maybe those pontoons running along the quays in the northeast and southwest corners of the harbour – a hugely wasteful use of quay space - might themselves become unofficial little marinas. I found one such in an eastern corner of Dingle Harbour last summer, and it seemed to be working in a harmonious way to accommodate boats of very different type and purpose.

Well, there you have it – it's one idea for Dunmore East, doubtless there are many others. And although Sir Boyle Roche may have quite rightly opined that we should do nothing for posterity on the grounds that posterity have done nothing for us, for the sake of future sailors let us at least take note that the clock in Brussels is ticking, and the train with these new funds will soon be leaving the station.

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Published in W M Nixon

#RNLI - Lough Derg RNLI launched twice yesterday (21 April) on consecutive callouts to a vessel grounded at the Corrakeen Islands and a sinking cruiser at the northern end of the lake.

Around 3.45pm yesterday, Valentia Coast Guard requested the launch of the Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to assist three people on board their 20ft cruiser after their engine failed and were pushed on to rocks by the Corrakeen Islands in Dromineer Bay.

Helm Eleanor Hooker with Ger Egan and Tom Dunne set out in winds blowing south westerly, force 3 and gusting 5, and the lifeboat was alongside within half an hour of launch.

The two adults and a young child on board were unharmed but extremely anxious. They had dropped anchor to prevent further grounding and breakage.

An RNLI crew member was transferred to their boat to assess for damage and, very quickly - once it was established that the vessel was not holed - set up for a tow, weighed anchor and the lifeboat took them off the rocks and out into safe water.

The lifeboat then towed the boat with her crew (and the RNLI volunteer still on board) to Dromineer Harbour, where RNLI shore crew were waiting to take lines and help.

Lough Derg RNLI crew member Ger Egan advised that said anyone taking their boat afloat after the long winter should "make sure that their engines are fully serviced and make sure to use new fresh fuel".

Later that afternoon the lifeboat launched again to assist two people who had taken to their liferaft as their cruiser was sinking.

The exact location of the 28f cruiser was not certain, but once the lifeboat crew were informed that the cruiser had set out from Terryglass at the northern end of the lake, an half hour earlier they were able to accurately estimate the liferaft’s current location.

At 5.50pm the lifeboat launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, Peter Clake and David Moore on board. Winds were south westerly, force 4, gusting 6.

The lifeboat located the cruiser and the liferaft north of Coolbawn, south of Gortmore, on the eastern shore of Lough Derg, and was alongside by 6.15pm, The two people on board were unharmed, but the skipper was greatly distressed.

He had inadvertently veered off course and had glanced off a rock and holed his boat. A passing 18ft speedboat with two people on board also came alongside and gave assistance.

Two lifeboat crew members helped the people from the liferaft and onto the speedboat, which had a canopy and offered shelter from the wind. They gathered the liferaft and its contents into the cruiser cabin and, as the cruiser was rapidly taking water, they weighed anchor so that the lifeboat could beach the vessel and reduce risk of further damage.

Once beached, the lifeboat crew dropped anchor once more, and especially as the winds were forecast to get up in the night. There was no evidence of fuel leakage and arrangements were made for the vessel to assessed and recovered this morning.

The lifeboat and the speedboat, with the two casualties on board and under cover, then made way to Garrykennedy where friends were waiting to look after them.

Eleanor Hooker thanked Cillian Boyle, the helm of the speedboat, for his kind assistance and commended her crew for their "kind consideration of the casualties and their calm professionalism in dealing with the fraught situation".

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Shipwreck - Two are reported dead after a shipwreck yesterday (Wednesday 10 April) on the Portuguese coast in what is a reminder to all cruisers of the dangers of strong winds in the region.

According to Portuguese language newspaper Publico, the deceased include one of the five crew of the German-flagged cruiser Meri Tuuli, and a member of the Portuguese maritime police attending to the incident who went into the water when his RIB overturned.

Eight people in total were admitted to hospital after the incident in which the Meri Tuuli - an X-442 yacht perated by a local sailing school - capsized on Cabedelo beach in Figueira da Foz, near Oporto.

Two are reported to be "wounded with traumatic injuries" while another two showed symptoms of hypothermia after exposure to the water.

Figueira da Foz is a popular cruising destination along the Iberian coast, but its port is vulnerable to the high swells that attract surfers to the area, sometimes closing altogether.

A source close to Afloat.ie described most harbour entrances along Portugal's west coast as "lethal during of after strong winter south or southwest winds" which are made stronger as air rushes into the valleys at river mouths as sea breezes.

Published in Cruising

#Headlands - Boaters in the British Isles beware - as Motor Boats Monthly has listed some of the most fearsome headlands around the British and Irish coastlines.

This photo gallery details some of the most challenging spots for coastal cruisers - many of which are also these islands' most scenic and picturesque.

Take the rugged beauty of Land's End, where passage in anything but fair weather could be the end of even the most experience mariner.

Or closer to home there's Mizen Head in West Cork, notorious for the more than 80 known wrecks below the surface.

Motor Boats Monthly has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#irishcruisingclub – The ICC has just published the 13th edition of its acclaimed Sailing Directions for the South and West Coasts of Ireland. The new book reflects the results of several years' work exploring and surveying the west coast in its entirety, and brings the south coast information up to date as well. The new marinas at Rossaveal, Cork City and in Cork Harbour, and new harbours at Inishmore and Inishmaan, are described, as are 19 anchorages and 13 passages not previously documented. The book is lavishly illustrated, with 156 plans (nine of them new, and the others revised) and 144 aerial and 688 sea level photographs. In his Foreword, Captain Robert McCabe, Director of Operations and Navigation Services at the Irish Lights, says "In 30 years working the coast of Ireland...I have found that the ICC Directions have never failed to deliver practical and accurate assistance. The 2013 offering is truly exceptional."

South and West Coasts of Ireland Sailing Directions, 13th edition, 352 pages A4 softback, ISBN 978 0 9558 199 4 0, price €37.50/£29.95 from booksellers and chandlers, the distributors Todd Chart Services, or direct from www.iccsailingbooks.com

Published in Cruising

#circumnavigation – A traditional global circumnavigation was celebrated in Dun Laoghaire last night with the award of the Irish Cruising Club's premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, to Fergus Quinlan of Kinvara on Galway Bay for the log of the third stage of the 40,486 mile global circumnavigation he completed last year with his wife Kay aboard the 12M steel cutter Pylades, a van de Stadt design which he built himself between 1995 and 1997.

Those of us who have stayed on in Ireland to live through the recession should maybe have taken more notice when, around four or five year ago, architects like the skipper of Pylades started finalising plans to take off for the dream cruise, round the world in easy stages until there was a chance there might be some signs of the green shoots of recovery back home. Of all trades, it was the architectural profession which would have been the first to notice that the flamboyant growth of the tiger years was starting to wilt.

A previous decade in which long distance cruising came top of the agenda was the 1930s, when the Great Depression likewise gripped the world. Then about ten year ago when New Zealand was in localised recession, people simply spent more time sailing in what is a sailing paradise. They already had the boats to do it with, now they'd the free time. But as they didn't have the money for fancy new sails and other gear, they made do with the equipment they had. So this upsurge in sailing activity was of little benefit to the marine industry, but by living frugally afloat the people could enjoy themselves, and returned to work refreshed as the economy stared to pick up.

But in any case, when you've built a boat as good as Pylades, long distance voyaging is the only way to go. She's all of a piece, and is yet another manifestation of the versatility of Dutch designer Ricus van de Stadt (1910-1999). A couple of weeks ago, we were discussing his vision in the use of plywood construction with the Black Soo type from 1956, and Zeevalk before that in 1949. But in 1955 he was also ahead of the posse in glassfibre with the appropriately named Pionier 9, one of Europe's first production boats in GRP. Though long out of production, they're still going strong – there's one of them lying to a mooring in Malahide Estuary, just across the channel from the yacht club.

And as you'd expect from a Dutchman, he was tops with steel. The Caribbean 12 design from which Pylades was built is double chine for ease of construction, yet is still a handsome boat of the ideal size – for the life of me I can't see why anyone needs a proper cruising boat to be more than 38ft long.

With Pylades, Fegus and Kay Quinlan have made the ideal circumnavigation, quietly adhering to their own rule of staying with the boat all the way – they didn't do the usual modern thing of flying home from time to time. But they maintained an informative website, and as someone in a creative profession and a traditional musician too, Fergus is a dab hand with the words and the notions, His log is filled with much entertainment and information and the sort of thoughts that come to you on the long ocean passages – did you know, for instance, that continental separation continues at about the same speed as your fingernails grow?

It's the third year running that Pylades has been awarded the Faulkner Cup, which dates back to 1931 but hasn't been taken three times on the trot before, so history was made last night at the ICC AGM. You don't of course "win" cruising trophies, you're awarded them, which quietly deals with the notion that the essence of cruising is its non-competitive nature.

But were it not for cruising awards, we'd have few enough sources of information to trace the development of this branch of sailing, and to inspire others. Yesterday evening the adjudicator Brendan O'Callaghan had to allocate a round dozen cruising achievement trophies, while there were six other special awards by the committee, including the Wright Salver which went posthumously to Mike Balmforth for his remarkable book Cruising Ireland, published last June, while Sean Flood received the Donegan Cup for his tireless work as Ambassador for Sail Training International. Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy and her parents Con Murphy and Cathy McAleavy were awarded the John B Kearney Cup for services to sailing by this very special family whose breadth of involvement in our sport is unrivalled.

Other cruising trophies included the Strangford Cup to Jarlath Cunnane of Mayo for a 4,500 miles venture north of Russia with his much-travelled Northabout, the Atlantic Trophy went to Maire Breathnach of Dungarvan for the transoceanic crossing which completed the circuit of North America by the gaff ketch Young Larry, Paul Butler of Dun Laoghaire took the Round Ireland Cup for his informative account of a classic circuit, Brian Black of Strangford got the Rockabill Trophy for his voyage to Greenland with the 35ft Seafra, and Dickie Gomes (also of Strangford Lough) received the Fingal Cup for the Centenarian 36ft Ainmara's cruise to the Outer Hebrides and Scotland's west coast.

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The John B Kearney-designed and built 36ft yawl Ainmara anchored off at Plockton in Wester Ross during her Centenary Cruise to Scotland which was awarded the ICC's Fingal Cup. The club's John B Kearney Cup for Services to Sailing, commemorating Ainmara's renowned designer-builder, was awarded last night to leading Dun Laoghgaire sailing family Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavy and their daughter, Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy. Photo: W M Nixon

In other cruises, Garry Villiers-Stuart received the Wild Goose Cup for a "pilgrimage voyage" with the 1890-vintage cutter Winifeda of Greenisland, the Marie Trophy for the best cruise by a boat less than 30ft LOA goes to Mick Delap whose gaff cutter North Star is just 24ft long, the Glengarriff Trophy goes to former Fireball champions Adrian and Maeve Bell from Strangford for a cruise in Irish waters which was good despite the weather, the Perry Greer Bowl for a first log goes to Ann Lyons for a cruise among Celts fom Cork eastward, the Wybrants Cup for the best cruise in Scotland goes to Harry Whelehan of Howth whose venture to the Hebrides with the 32ft Sea Dancer found itself providing support for a currach from Kerry delivering an Irish language Bible (the first such apparently) to the religious community at Iona, and the Fortnight Cup for the best cruise in 16 days went to David Williams of Strangford Lough who managed to take the owner-built steel cutter Reiver to southern Brittany, 600 miles in the fortnight, and they got far enough south to be clear of the baleful effects of the jetstream which was blighting the weather over Ireland.

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Awarded the Fortnight Cup. The 35ft steel cutter Reiver, to a design by Ian Nicolson of Alfred Mylne, was self-built by David and Peter Williams of Strangford Lough, and launched in 1988.

THE CARIBBEAN 600 SHOW GOES ON

Irish hopes in the RORC Caribbean 600, which starts on Monday from Antigua, received a horrible setback a week ago when Alan McGettigan of Dun Laoghaire's recently-acquired Swan 48 Wolfhound foundered just north of Bermuda. The boat was on a very challenging delivery passage from Connecticut via Bermuda to Antigua to take part in the race, and the crew of four with the owner in command were in no doubt about the scale of the task they faced. But with snowstorm Nemo developing over northeast America, the conditions in the Gulf Stream became extreme, and with multiple systems failures, a rescue by activating the EPIRB became necessary.

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Wolfhound was a Swan 48 to this 1994 Frers design.

Nevertheless the sinking of a boat of this quality is extremely unusual, but we'll have to await the word from the crew (the ship which picked them up gets to Gibraltar next Tuesday) to learn if it was impact against the ship which sank Wolfhound. She was one of the Frers designed Swan 48s of which 57 were built between 1995 and 2003. The design was developed as the natural successor to the very successful Sparkman and Stephens-designed Swan 48 which was one of the classics which established the Nautor brand, so although Wolfhound was called a Swan 48, she was in fact just a smidgin under 51ft. This gives her even more Irish interest, as it means that at the time of her building, she was a sort of up-dated production version of Denis Doyle's legendary Moonduster, built by Crosshaven Boatyard in 1981, which was last reported to be based in Norway with an offshore sailing school in Trondheim.

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The Duster sails on. Denis Doyle's famous Frers sloop steps out seven years ago near her home port of Trondheim in Norway.

Meanwhile out in Antigua Irish hopes in the Caribbean 600 now rest with Dun Laoghaire's Michael Boyd, Niall Dowling and John Cunningham with the chartered First 40 Lancelot, the Reichel Pugh 78 Whisper skippered by Mark Dicker, and Northern Ireland's Peter Metcalfe in command of the 100ft Liara, though of course American Ron O'Hanley with the highly-fancied Cookson 50 Privateer, will find he immediately reverts to the nationality of his ancestors if Privateer does the good deed.

Defending champion Ran, the JV 72, isn't taking part this year, but her newer near sister Bella Menta (Hap Fauth, USA) is probably the bookies' favourite, though Mike Slade's ubiquitous hundred footer Leopard is on a roll after setting a new record in the Transatlantic race (she was on charter to Nik Zennstrom of Ran who fancied a bit of extra comfort to cross the pond) and can never be ruled out of contention.

NAOMH BAIRBRE AND A SILE NA GIG

The addictive Turas Huiceara on TG4 at 9.30 pm on Thursdays continued this week with Donncha and his hard-working pair of shipmates on the giant Galway Hooker Naomh Bairbre managing to get their enormous mainsail back in action with the new boom made from a tree felled in Stornoway.

Their voyage in search of Gaelic links along the Celtic seaways brought them to the Orkneys where - as suggested here last week - there's little enough trace of the Gael in a Viking-dominated archipelago. But a visit to St Magnus Cathedral, the remarkably fine mediaeval church in the Orcadian capital of Kirkwall, discovered what is apparently the most northerly Sile na Gig, a piece of unsubtle Celtic statuary incorporated into a stone archway.

There is no doubting what this little stone carving is all about - it makes even the most blatant Playboy centrefold seem totally demure by comparison. If this is the image of Irish womanhood being given to the Vikings of Orkney, no wonder they came down here in their hundreds expecting rape and pillage.

Finally heading south, the Naomh Bairbe found her way into the Caledonian Canal, with the site of the Gaelic-destroying Battle of Culloden nearby providing a mournful visit. But such are the demands of a continuous cruising narrative that there wasn't time to put Culloden into perspective, relating it to 1745 and the expedition into Scotland by that world-class messer Bonny Prince Charlie. You could understand, though, why he mightn't be mentioned – it's difficult to be serious about a man named after three sheepdogs.

Going down Loch Ness, there were interesting insights into the survival or otherwise of Gaelic in Scotland, with one speaker making the point that its disappearance means that people aren't really able to properly read the maps of their homeland, as the names of the significant features are all based on Gaelic.

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The Gaelic says it all. The Scottish mainland's exposed most westerly point is Ardnamurchan. It means the Headland of the Great Seas – this photo was taken in unusually smooth conditions, with the wind off the land, a rare experience0. Photo: W M Nixon

In fact, both the Clyde Cruising Club Sailing Directions in Scotland, and the ICC books on the Irish coast, make a point of including a large glossary of Gaelic coastal terms, as it does indeed greatly aid in "reading" a coastline. It may be a help to the survival of the old tongue, but on the other hand it simply reinforces Gaelic's featherweight status as no more than a holiday language.

Next Thursday sees the final episode of the Turas Huiceara saga. Whatever about its success as a television programme, it has been a fascinating cruise on an interesting boat, and I can only hope the crew of the Naomh Bairbe start to get some quiet enjoyment as they get nearer to home in Connemara.

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Published in W M Nixon

#ARCrally – Two Irish boat preparing for a trip of a lifetime on the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) have had to delay their plans in Las Palmas but only for 48 hours as gales have postponed the start of the rally for the first time since 1989.

Dun Laoghaire sailor Hugo Karlsson-Smythe together with his family on board the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 39i the just Nuts! will most likely slip their lines on a 4,500 km passage across the Atlantic Ocean from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to St. Lucia in the Caribbean on Tuesday.

But when Hugo, Annica and children Axel, Louvisa arrive on the other side the voyage is far from over because they intend to sail a little further south to the island of Petit St. Vincent, where on the 8th of January 2013 (and after a brief sixteen year engagement according to Hugo) Annica and Hugo will tie the knot.

The ARC entry list stands at 227 boats, the majority of which are family cruisers, sailed by family and friends on the adventure of a lifetime. Multihulls are again popular, with 19 booked for the crossing.

A second Irish boat, a Dehler 36 Indulgence skippered by Aidan Heffernan is also in the cruising division.

Because of the strong winds ARC Skippers have been offered choice of departure date

It was announced at yesterday's Skippers' Briefing in Las Palmas that the start of the ARC will be delayed for the cruising divisions.

For the first time since 1989, the start of the ARC has been delayed due to predicted high winds.  A low pressure system is predicted to bring winds of 25 knots or more on Sunday night,  making uncomfortable conditions in the wind acceleration zone south of Gran Canaria.

Skippers have been offered two start dates; one as planned on Sunday 25, and one on Tuesday 27 November.

The low pressure system is predicted to bring southerly winds of 25 knots or more, with 35 knots plus in the wind acceleration zone to the south of Gran Canaria. Boats are expected to be in this area for their first night at sea on Sunday night, and whilst not unmanageable, the conditions are likely to be uncomfortable for the majority of the family cruising boats.

The announcement was met by spontaneous applause by the assembled 1250 skippers and crew at the briefing.

Skippers were offered the choice of starts; to take the original start on Sunday 25, or a rescheduled start on Tuesday 27 November.  The majority elected to wait until Tuesday 27, remaining in habour in Las Palmas while the winds blow through.

Stronger winds do provide ideal conditions for the racing fleet, and these boats are expected to take the start on Sunday, as planned.

Published in Cruising

#cruising – A 19–day event next July 2013 with 100 cruising boats and 600 crew members will form the Gathering Cruise along the east and south coasts of Ireland.

The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) and the Gathering Ireland 2013 today announced details of the Gathering Cruise 2013. The event aims to bring together a flotilla of yachts from across the UK, Europe and further afield as they sail to Irish ports as part of Gathering Ireland 2013.

The Gathering Cruise, which will commence in Dublin, is expected to continue along the Cork and Kerry coastlines and the Irish Sailing Association hope it will be an opportunity to raise awareness of Ireland's marine tourism infrastructure while profiling Ireland's stunning coastline and coastal towns as a cruising destination for both sail and power boats.

Project Director of The Gathering Ireland 2013 Jim Miley "The Gathering Ireland is delighted to announce this high seas partnership. The sailing community is such an important part of Ireland's tourism industry and this innovative partnership and Gathering Cruise will form a key part of the Gathering Ireland 2013 calendar. The Gathering Cruise also captures what the Gathering Ireland is about- bringing people who have an interest or a link to Ireland in 2013 to be part of it."

Published in Cruising

#RESCUE - RTÉ News reports that a man has died following a diving accident off the Saltee Islands at the weekend.

The 25-year-old is believed to have rapidly ascended from 25 metres below the surface while on a dive with three others on the morning of Saturday 22 September.

Irish Coast Guard operatives from Waterford and Kilmore Quay were involved in the operation to rescue the man, who was later pronounced dead at Waterford Regional Hospital.

Meanwhile, RTÉ News also reports on the rescue of a man from a burning motor cruiser off the Seven Heads Peninsula in West Cork on Saturday afternoon.

Crew aboard the Naval Service vessel LE Niamh, on patrol in the area, transferred the man from his vessel to Kinsale. The boat later sank after attempts to extinguish the fire.

Published in Rescue

#NEW MARINA – Roscoff ferryport built four decades ago and initially used to export produce of a Breton farmer's co-operative to UK markets, through B.A.I then a fledging ferry concern, otherwise known today as Brittany Ferries, is now accompanied by a new 625-berth marina, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The marina at the Port de plaisance Roscoff-Bloscon, is a development of the Chambre de Commerce etd 'Industrie de Morlaix (CCI) and has been operational since June, however the marina's service buildings will not be completed until summer 2013.

Roscoff's position on the French north-west coastline promises to be a major draw to sailors wishing to stop off for a few days on cruising grounds along the French coast, Channel Islands or en-route to somewhere more distant. The port is also an ideal place for sailors as there are numerous islands as well as hidden coves and pretty harbours to discover.

Another advantage is the ferryport's links not just to Plymouth but also to Irish ports, with Irish Ferries running from Rosslare(May-September) and Brittany Ferries as previously reported on Afloat.ie which operates on a longer seasonal service from Cork, from March to November, with this year's final sailing on Saturday 3rd.

Boat-owners across the English Channel will be tempted to moor at the marina on a morepermanent basis,as it is claimed that berthing fees compare very favourably with those available in the UK. For further details of the new marina visit: www.morlaix.cci.fr

Published in Cruising
Page 12 of 21

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