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With last night’s Irish Cruising Club Annual General Meeting & Prize-Giving hosted at Howth Yacht Club, and this morning’s day-long ISA Cruising Conference at the same venue, centre stage has been taken by the silent majority – the large but distinctly reticent segment of the sailing population which emphatically does not have racing as its primary interest afloat. W M Nixon takes us on a guided tour.

The great Leif Eriksson would approve of some of the more adventurous members of the Irish Cruising Club. They seem to be obsessed with sailing to Greenland and cruising along its coast. And it was the doughty Viking’s father Erik Thorvaldsson (aka Erik the Red) who first told his fellow Icelanders that he’d given the name of Greenland to the enormous island he’d discovered far to the west of Iceland. He did so because he claimed much of it was so lush and fertile, with huge potential for rural and coastal development, that no other name would do.

Leif then followed in the family tradition of going completely over the top in naming newly-discovered real estate. He went even further west and discovered a foggy cold part of the American mainland which he promptly named Vinland, as he claimed the area was just one potential classic wine chateau after another, and hadn’t he brought back the vines to prove it?

In time, Erik’s enthusiasm for Greenland was seen as an early property scam. For no sooner had the Icelanders established a little settlement there around 1000 AD than a period of Arctic cooling began to set in, and by the mid-1300s there’d been a serious deterioration of the climate. What had been a Scandinavian population of maybe five thousands at its peak faded away, and gradually the Inuit people – originally from the American mainland – moved south from their first beachheads established to the northwest around 1200 AD. They proved more successful at adapting to what had become a Little Ice Age, while no Vikings were left.

Now we’re in the era of global warming, and there’s no doubt that Greenland is more accessible. But for those of us who think that cruising should be a matter of making yourself as comfortable as possible while your boats sails briskly across the sea in a temperate climate or perhaps even warmer for preference, the notion of devoting a summer to sailing to Greenland and taking on the challenge of its rugged iron coast, with ice everywhere, still takes a bit of getting used to.

Yet in recent years the Irish boats seem to have been tripping over each other up there. And for some true aficionados, the lure of the icy regions was in place long before the effects of global warming were visibly making it more accessible.

Peter Killen of Malahide, Commodore of the Irish Cruising Club, is a flag officer who leads by example. It was all of twenty years ago that he was first in Greenland with his Sigma 36 Black Pepper, and truly there was a lot of ice about. The weather was also dreadful, while Ireland was enjoying the best summer in years.

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Peter Killen’s Sigma 36 Black Pepper in local ice at the quay inside Cape Farewell in Greenland, August 1995

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ICC Commodore Peter Killen’s current boat is Pure Magic, an Amel Super Maramu seen here providing the backdrop for a fine penguin in Antarctica, December 2004.

More recently, he and his crew of longterm shipmates have been covering thousands of sea miles in the Amel Super Maramu 54 Pure Magic, among other ventures having a look at lots more ice down Antarctic way to see how it compares with the Arctic. With all their wanderings, by the end of the 2014 season Pure Magic was laid up for the winter in eastern Canada in Nova Scotia. So of course in order to get back to Ireland through 2015, the only way was with a long diversion up the west coast of Greenland. And the weather was grand, while Ireland definitely wasn’t enjoying the best summer in years.

The Pure Magic team certainly believe in enjoying their cruising, however rugged the terrain. If the Greenland Tourist Board are looking for a marketing manager, they could do no better than sign up the skipper of Pure Magic for the job. His entertaining log about cruising the region – featured in the usual impressive ICC Annual edited for the fourth time by Ed Wheeler – makes West Greenland seem a fun place with heaps of hospitality and friendly folk from one end to the other.

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If ice is your thing, then this is the place to be – Peter Killen’s Pure Magic off the west Greenland coast, summer 2015.

But then Peter Killen is not as other men. I don’t mean he is some sort of alien being from the planet Zog. Or at least he isn’t so far as I know. But the fact is, he just doesn’t seem to feel the cold. I sailed with him on a raw Autumn day some years ago, and while the rest of us were piling on the layers, our skipper was as happy as Larry in a short-sleeved shirt.

I’d been thinking my memory had exaggerated this immunity to cold. But there sure enough in the latest ICC Annual is a photo of the crew of Pure Magic enjoying a visit to the little Katersugaasivik Museum in Nuuk, and the bould skipper is in what could well be the same skimpy outfit he was wearing when we sailed together all those years ago. As for the rest of the group, only tough nut Hugh Barry isn’t wearing a jacket of some sort – even Aqqala the Museum curator is wearing one.

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Some folk feel the cold more than others – Pure Magic’s crew absorbing local culture in Greenland are (left to right) Mike Alexander, Peter Killen, Hugh Barry, Aqqalu the museum curator, Robert Barker, and Joe Phelan

Having a skipper with this immunity to cold proved to be a Godsend before they left Greenland waters, when Pure Magic picked up a fishing net in her prop while motoring in a calm. Peter Killen has carried a wetsuit for emergencies for years, and finally it was used. He hauled it on, plunged in with breathing gear in action, and had the foul-up cleared in twenty minutes. Other skipper and Commodores please note……

The adjudicator for the 2015 logs was Hilary Keatinge, who has one of those choice-of-gender names which might confuse, so it’s good news to reveal that after 85 years, the ICC has had its first woman adjudicator. No better one for the job, man or woman. Before marrying the late Bill Keatinge, she was Hilary Roche, daughter of Terry Roche of Dun Laoghaire who cruised the entire coastline of Europe in a twenty year odyssey of successive summers, and his daughter has proven herself a formidable cruising person, a noted narrator of cruising experiences, and a successful writer of cruising guides and histories.

Nevertheless even she admitted last night that once all the material has arrived on the adjudicator’s screen, she finally appreciated the enormity of the task at hand, for the Irish Cruising Club just seems to go from strength to strength. Yet although it’s a club which limits itself to 550 members as anything beyond that would result in administrative overload and the lowering of standards, it ensures that the experience of its members benefit the entire sailing community through its regularly up-dated sailing directions for the entire coast of Ireland. And there’s overlap with the wider membership of the Cruising Association of Ireland, which will add extra talent to the expert lineup providing a host of information and guidance at today’s ISA Cruising Conference.

But that’s this morning’s work. Meanwhile last night’s dispensation of the silverware – some of which dates back to 1931 – revealed an extraordinarily active membership. And while they did have those hardy souls who ventured into icy regions, there were many others who went to places where the only ice within thousands of miles was in the nearest fridge, and instead of bare rocky mountains they cruised lush green coasts.

Nevertheless the ice men have it in terms of some of the top awards, as Hilary Keatinge has given the Atlantic Trophy for the best cruise with a passage of more than a thousand miles to the 4194 mile cruise of Peter Killen’s Pure Magic from Halifax to Nova Scotia to Howth, with those many diversions on the way, while the Strangford Cup for an alternative best cruise goes to Paddy Barry, who set forth from Poolbeg in the heart of Dublin Port, and by the time he’d returned he’d completed his “North Atlantic Crescent”, first to the Faeroes, then Iceland to port, then across the Denmark Strait to southeast Greenland for detailed cruising and mountaineering, then eventually towards Ireland but leaving Iceland to port, so they circumnavigated it in the midst of greater enterprises.

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You collect very few courtesy ensigns in the frozen north. Back at Poolbeg in Dublin after her “North Atlantic Crescent” round Iceland and on to Greenland, Paddy Barry’s Ar Seachran sports the flags of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland. Ar Seachran is a 1979 alloy-built Frers 45. Photo: Tony Brown

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“Definitely the Arctic”. A polar bear spotted from Ar Seachran. Photo: Ronan O Caoimh

Paddy Barry started his epic ocean voyaging many years ago with the Galway Hooker St Patrick, but his cruising boat these days is very different, a classic Frers 45 offshore racer of 1979 vintage. Probably the last thing the Frers team were thinking when they turned out a whole range of these gorgeous performance boats thirty-five years ago was that their aluminium hulls would prove ideal for getting quickly to icy regions, and then coping with sea ice of all shapes and ices once they got there. But not only does Paddy Barry’s Ar Seacrhran do it with aplomb, so too does Jamie Young’s slightly larger sister, the Frers 49 Killary Flyer (ex Hesperia ex Noryema XI) from Connacht, whose later adventures in West Greenland featured recently in a TG4 documentary.

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“A grand soft day in Iceland”. Harry Connolly and Paddy Barry setting out to take on mountains in Iceland during their award-winning cruise to Greenland. Photo: Harry Connolly

Pure Magic and Ar Seachran are hefty big boats, but the other ICC voyager rewarded last night by Hilary Keatinge for getting to Arctic waters did his cruise in the Lady Kate, a boat so ordinary you’d scarcely notice her were it not for the fact that she’s kept in exceptionally good trim.

Drive along in summer past the inner harbour at Dungarvan in West Waterford at low water, and you’ll inevitably be distracted by the number of locally-based bilge-keelers sitting serenely upright (more or less) on that famous Dungarvan mud. There amongst them might be the Moody 31 Lady Kate, for Dungarvan is her home port.

But she was away for quite a while last year, as Donal Walsh took her on an extraordinary cruise to the Arctic, going west of the British mainland then on via Orkney and Shetland to Norway whose coast goes on for ever until you reach the Artic Circle where the doughty Donal had a swim, as one does, and looked at a glacier or too, and then sailed home but this this time leaving the British mainland to starboard. A fabulous 3,500 mile eleven week cruise, he very deservedly was awarded the Fingal Cup for a venture the adjudicator reckons to be extra special – as she puts it, “you feel you’re part of the crew, though I don’t think I’d have done the Arctic Circle swim.”

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A long way from Dungarvan. Lady Kate with Donal Walsh off the Svartsen Glacier in northern Norway

Indeed, in taking an overview of the placings of the awards, you can reasonable conclude that the adjudicator reckons any civilized person can have enough of ice cruising, as she gives the ICC’s premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, to a classic Atlantic triangle cruise to the Azores made from Dun Laoghaire by Alan Rountree with his van de Sadt-designed Legend 34 Tallulah, a boat of 1987 vintage which he completed himself (to a very high standard) from a hull made in Dublin by BJ Marine.

Tallulah looks as immaculate as ever, as we all saw at the Cruising Association of Ireland rally in Dublin’s River Liffey in September. And this is something of a special year for Alan Rountree, as completely independently of the Faulkner Cup award, the East Coast ICC members awarded their own area trophy, the Donegan Cup for longterm achievement, to Tallulah’s skipper. As one of those involved in the decision put it, basically he got the Donegan Trophy “for being Alan Rountree – what more can be said?”

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The essence of the Azores. Red roofs maybe, but not an iceberg in sight, and the green is even greener than Ireland. Alan Rountree’s succesful return cruise to the Azores has been awarded the ICC’s premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup.

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Tallulah at the CAI Rally in the Liffey last Setpember. She looks as good today as when Alan Rountree completed her from a bare hull nearly thirty years ago. Photo: W M Nixon

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A boat to get you there – and back again. Tallulah takes her departure from the CAI Rally in Dublin. Photo: Aidan Coughlan

Well, it can be said that his Azores cruise was quietly courageous, for although the weather was fine in the islands, the nearer he got to Ireland the more unsettled it became, and he sailed with the recollection of Tallulah being rolled through 360 degrees as she crossed the Continental Shelf in a storm in 1991. But he simply plodded on through calm and storm, the job was done, and Tallulah is the latest recipient of a trophy which embodies the history of modern Irish cruising.

There were many other awards distributed last night, and for those who think that the ICC is all about enormous expensively-equipped boats, let it be recorded that the Marie Trophy for a best cruise in a boat under 30ft long went to Conor O’Byrne of Galway who sailed to the Hebrides with his Sadler 26 Calico Jack, while the Fortnight Cup was taken by a 32-footer, Harry Whelehan’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 32 for a fascinating cruise in detail round the Irish Sea, an area in which, the further east you get to coastlines known to very few Irish cruising men, then the bigger the tides become with very demanding challenges in the pilotage stales.

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The smallest boat to be awarded a trophy at last night's Irish Cruising Club prize-giving was Conor O’Byrne’s Sadler 26 Calico Jack, seen here in Tobermory during her cruise from Connacht to the Hebrides

As for “expensively equipped”, the Rockabill Trophy for seamanship went to Paul Cooper, former Commodore of Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club and an ICC member for 32 years, who solved a series of very threatening problems with guts and ingenuity aboard someone else’s Spray replica during a 1500 mile voyage in the Caribbean, with very major problems being skillfully solved, as the judge observed, “without a cross word being spoken”.

Not surprisingly in view of the weather Ireland experienced for much of the season, there were no contenders for the Round Ireland cruise trophy, though I suppose you could argue that the return of Pure Magic meant the completion of a round Ireland venture, even if in this case the Emerald Isle becomes no more than a mark of the course.

In fact, with the unsettled weather conditions of recent summers in Ireland , there’s now quite a substantial group of ICC boats based out in Galicia in northwest Spain, where the mood of the coast and the weather “is like Ireland only better”. The ICC Annual gives us a glimpse of the activities of these exiles, and one of the most interesting photos in it is provided by Peter Haden of Ballyvaughan in County Clare, whose 36ft Westerly Seahawk Papageno has been based among the Galician rias for many years now.

Down there, the Irish cruising colony can even do a spot of racing provided it’s against interesting local tradtional boats, and Peter’s photo is of Dermod Lovett of Cork going flat out in his classic Salar 40 Lonehort against one of the local Dorna Xeiteras, which we’re told is the Galician equivalent of a Galway Bay gleoiteog. Whatever, neither boat in the photo is giving an inch.

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So who never races? Dermod Lovett ICC in competition with his Salar 40 Lonehort against a local traditional Dorna Xeiteira among the rias of northwest Spain. Photo: Peter Haden

Hilary Keatinge’s adjudication is a delight to read in itself, and last night after just about every sailing centre in Ireland was honoured with an ICC award for one of its locally-based members, naturally the crews leapt to the mainbrace and great was the splicing thereof.

But it’s back to porridge this morning in HYC and the serious work of the ISA Cruising Conference, where the range of topics is clearly of great interest, for the Conference was booked out within a very short time of being highlighted on the Afloat.ie website.

It’s during it that we’ll hear more about that intriguing little anchorage which provides our header photo, for although it could well be somewhere on the Algarve in Portugal, or even in the Ionian islands in Greece were it not for the evidence of tide, it is in fact on the Copper Coast of south Waterford, between Dungarvan and Dunmore East, and it’s known as Blind Harbour.

It’s a charming place if you’ve very settled weather, but it’s so small that you’d probably need to moor bow and stern if you were thinking to overnight, but that’s not really recommended anyway. Norman Kean, Editor of the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions, had heard about this intriguing little spot from Donal Walsh of Dungarvan (he who has just been awarded the Fingal Cup), and being Norman Kean, he and Geraldine just had to go and experience it for themselves. But it has taken three attempts to have the right conditions as they were sailing by, and it happened in 2015 in a very brief period of settled weather as they headed past in their recently-acquired Warrior 40 Coire Uisge, which has become the new flagship of the ICC’s informal survey flotilla.

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The secret cove is to be found on Waterford’s Copper Coast, midway between Dungarvan and Dunmore East. Courtesy ICC

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The newly-surveyed Blind Harbour on the Waterford coast as it appears in the latest edition of the ICC’s South & West Coasts Sailing Directions published this month. Courtesy ICC.

They found they’d to eye-ball their way in to this particular Blind Harbour (there are others so-named around the Irish coast) using the echo sounder, as any reliance on electronic chart assistance would have had them on the nearest part of County Waterford, albeit by only a matter of feet. With a similar exercise a couple of years ago, they found that the same thing was the case at the Joyce Sound Pass inside Slyne head in Connemara – rely in the chart plotter, and you’re making the pilotage into “impactive navigation”.

The message is that some parts of charts are still relying on surveys from a very long time ago, and locations of hyper-narrow channels may be a few metres away from where they actually are. On the other hand, electronic anomalies may arise. Whatever the reason, I know that a couple of years ago, in testing the ship’s gallant little chart plotter we headed for the tricky-enough Gillet passage inside the South Briggs at the south side of the entrance to Belfast Lough, and found that it indicated the rocks as shown were a tiny bit further north than we were seeing, which could have caused a but of a bump if we’d continued on our electronic way.

Electronic charts are only one of many topics which will be covered today. We hope to bring a full report next Saturday, for the participants will in turn require a day or two to digest their findings.

Published in W M Nixon

#HowthYC - Ocean adventurer Paddy Barry will give a talk at Howth Yacht Club this Friday (22 January) on the North Atlantic Crescent, a voyage he undertook with friends from Ireland to Greenland via the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

All are welcome to the clubhouse for the evening of adventurous cruising tales hosted by the HYC Cruising Group. For more information contact the club via the website HERE.

As climber Gerry Galligan explains in his blog, Paddy Barry and his regular crew were planning a sailing-climbing trip to Iceland, East Greenland, then back to Iceland again on his boat Ar Seachrán. 

Paddy’s trip was part of a wider journey of island-hopping from Ireland to Greenland and back by way of the Hebrides, Faroes and Iceland; re-tracing the likely voyages Irish monks such as St. Brendan made, centuries ago. This overall project was given a name, The North Atlantic Crescent Adventure 2015; our scope, one leg of it, was to sail to Greenland, attempt some climbs, ideally first ascents, of the coastal peaks of the Lemon mountain range, before sailing 240 miles down the coast to the village of Tasiilaq.

The seven were skipper Paddy, blacksmith and rifle-man Ronán Ó Caoimh, myself, and four old IMC hands: Frank Nugent, Harry Connolly, Peter Gargan and Paddy O’Brien. More from Galligan here.

Published in Cruising

The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced the recipients of the organisation's five major awards for 2015:

The Blue Water Medal "Without Date" is awarded to Australian native Jon Sanders in recognition of a lifetime of sailing achievements, including nine circumnavigations

The Blue Water Medal, awarded to British sailors Tom and Vicky Jackson, recognises their extensive racing and cruising over more than 34 years

The Far Horizons Award, awarded to Canadian sailors Kaspar and Trisha Schibli, recognises a meritorious series of cruises aboard their yacht Starfire

The Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship is awarded to Canadian cruisers George Juri and Grit Chiu for their lifesaving rescue in critical conditions

The Richard S. Nye Trophy is awarded to John E. Sanford of Tiburon, Calif., for meritorious service to the CCA.

The award recipients will be celebrated at the CCA's annual Awards Dinner at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan on March 4, 2016.

Published in Cruising
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Circumnavigate round Ireland on a cruising yacht and you will experience an abundance of spectacular coastal scenery, uninhabited islands, ancient settlements, incredible sea birds and endless marine mammal wildlife. Cruising Ireland’s coastline will have you exploring sheltered harbours, sailing past exposed headlands and anchoring up in friendly ports. No wonder around 50% of Ireland’s sailors are cruising and leisure sailors and no wonder Ireland has so many incredibly adventurous cruising sailors.

To celebrate the cruising sailors of Ireland and our coastline the ISA are organising the 'inaugural ISA Cruising Conference' at Howth Yacht Club on February 20th 2016, with inspiring speakers and interactive talks that will benefit experienced sailors and new comers alike. Adventure sailors Eddie Nicholson and his crew will be the key note speakers, opening up the talks for the day with tales and a picture show of their adventures in Greenland and back to Kinsale on a Najad 440, Mollihawk’s Shadow.

There will be talks on weather charts and grib files with Met Eireann and experienced Yachtmaster Instructor and pilot John Leahy. Inspiration for “Women on the Helm” comes from adventure sailor and writer Daria Blackwell and an insight in to the activities of the Coastguard, Marine Institute and CAI and what they do for Irish cruising sailors. ICC Publications editor and experienced navigator Norman Kean will share is knowledge to help us see the potential pit falls of electronic navigation, while Zoologist and Yachtmaster Instructor Niall MacAllister give us some tips on whales and wildlife hotspots and protocols. Ever needed crew to help with long and short journeys, or just wanted to head out for a short spin? Round the world sailor Pat Murphy will give us a few tips on finding and looking after new crew.

A break out session of groups is scheduled to discuss personal cruising experiences, problems and discoveries and a summary of the sessions will be presented with an open discussion. Every delegate will be entered in to a draw for a full set of Offshore Gear courtesy of Union Chandlery, plus copies of ICC Publications thanks to the Irish Cruising Club and every delegate will head home with a goodie bag. The generous time given by these experienced speakers, sponsorship by Union Chandlery, support from Cruising Association of Ireland and the Irish Sailing Association have made all this possible.

ISA Members are €10 (Non Members €15) and a Club buffet lunch will be available for €15 (plus Eventbrite booking fee) you can book directly here 

Contact Gail MacAllister, ISA Cruising Development Officer directly with any queries 086 2214724 [email protected]

 

Published in Cruising

#Cruising - The Royal Cork Yacht Club is among those partnering a new project to develop and market cruising grounds across Europe's North Western Seaboard from Ireland to Norway.

The Cool Route Project, funded by the Interreg VB Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, has the involvement of all national sailing organisations in Ireland and the UK, as well as strategic partnerships in Norway and the Faroe Islands.

Wide-ranging research is now being conducted on a transnational collaborative basis by Cool Route on the cruising preferences of sailors along the North Western Seaboard.

"This research, which is incorporating the expert views and priorities of cruising skippers, will be an important input to the future development and marketing of cruising in these waters," say the project organisers, who invite relevant sailors to complete an online survey HERE.

Published in Cruising
22nd November 2015

ARC Rally Sets Sail

Years and months of intense planning and preparation finally paid off today as three Irish yachts were among the fleet taking part in ARC 2015 made their way out of Muelle Deportivo in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria this morning. There was an air of excitement throughout the marina as the ocean adventure truly begins for 1125 sailors and even a few rain squalls throughout the morning could not dampen the spirits of the eager crews.

Friends and families of the sailors as well as local well wishers and staff from the businesses around the marina lined the dock, cheering and dancing to the loud music blaring out in celebration of the start. Traditional folk band La parranda Café-Tin and brass band Banda Canarias marched around the marina serenading every pontoon to add to the festival feel. It was an incredible farewell atmosphere as the harbour gradually emptied leaving bare pontoons for another year. The Tourist Board of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas and the city government of Las Palmas, have been wonderful hosts to ARC participants for the past two weeks and it is their continued support that makes the atmosphere in the lead up to start day so spectacular.

Boats had to identify themselves as they left the marina and headed through a 'gate' before making their way to the start line. To the delight of the spectators, several crews dressed up for their departure, danced on the foredeck as the gathered their fenders and lines and waved their nations flags to bid farewell to the Canarian hosts.

While the ARC is a cruising rally, there is a start and finish line, and the boats are split into divisions according to size, type and competition. A total of 195 yachts sailing under the flags of 27 nations crossed today's start lines. A strong north-north easterly breeze of 25-30 knots and moderate seas made for a lively welcome to being at sea again.

At 12:30 UTC the gun on the Spanish naval ship Tornado fired for the start of the multihull and open divisions. The first catamaran across the line was the only Mexican flagged boat in the fleet, a Lagoon 450 El Viajero skippered by Eduardo Torres. 20 other multihulls with reefed white sails followed them over the offshore start line. Neel 45 trimaran La Caravelle was thriving in the strong breeze and was soon leading the way to Saint Lucia's shores.

29 boats in this year's Racing Division were led across the start line by Ross Applebey's Oyster Lightwave 48 Scarlet Oyster followed by fellow British flagged charter boat Quokka 8. Both are regular ocean crossers with the ARC, sailing with crews of mixed abilities led by a professional skipper. Third across the line was One & Only, a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 from Poland.

It was an impressive scene as the majority of the fleet, over 140 yachts, sailed across the start line for the Cruising Division. Many were heavily reefed following a brief squall that came through as the start sequence began, rocking and rolling over the line. James Agace's Jua Kali, a Grand Soleil 43, was off to a terrific start leading the fleet.

Today's start provided a breezy beginning to the ARC 2015 ocean adventure as the fleet heads out to sea. The forecast is looking good for at least the first part of the crossing with moderate to strong trade winds, and with the established Azores high, a route close to the great circle or a little to the south looks favourable for a quick and comfortable sail. Chris Tibbs poignantly mentioned at Saturday's Skippers Briefing that since the rally began in 1986, "The boats are bigger, the boats are faster, and communications have changed and so has navigation. But the wind and the waves are still the same."

The departure of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia today means a combined total of 254 yachts are sailing the Atlantic under the ARC banner in 2015 - a record number in the 30 year history of the rally. 59 boats in the ARC+ fleet departed Mindelo, Cape Verde for their second leg of their crossing last Wednesday and are enjoying great downwind sailing and fishing triumphs reported in their logs sent in to the World Cruising Club website.

All ARC boats are fitted with YB Tracking satellite trackers, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of home. As well as position, the online Fleet Viewer displays heading, speed and boat information. Wind direction and speed is also shown. Friends, family and fans can follow the fleet online at http://bit.ly/1QClnDr 

The majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2700 nautical mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia. Whatever time they make landfall, every boat will be met at the dock by Saint Lucia Tourist Board and World Cruising Club staff bearing a welcome rum punch and cold drinks. There is a full schedule of events in Rodney Bay for all ARC crews and their friends and families, culminating in the ARC prize giving on 19 December.

Published in Cruising
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#Cruising - Westwood's latest A405 cruiser was recently put through her paces by Motorboat & Yachting on a recent two-day visit to Lough Erne.

It's been all change for the cruising marque in recent times, keen to shake off its "somewhat stuffy image" since the yard moved to Enniskillen in 2013.

And Jack Haines' video feature on the company's flagship makes those efforts abundantly clear – taking in the idyllic surrounds of Lough Erne between Carrybridge and Enniskillen along the way.

Published in Cruising

Many Afloat.ie readers will go into Dublin as a matter of course five days a week as commuters. But that only gives a street-bound and narrow view of the city. It’s a different and fascinating place when you come in up the river. And when the bridges have been specially opened so that you can go all the way into the heart of town on the Liffey right up to the historic Customs House, it’s like a journey through the past with exciting glimpses of what the future may bring as the building industry starts to come back to life. W M Nixon reports on the weekend’s Cruising Association of Ireland Rally, which brought around three dozen boats of all shapes and sizes from many ports together to celebrate friendship, seafaring and the city.

They certainly kept themselves busy with this year’s annual Liffey Cruise of the CAI. With support from the City Council and Dublin Port, Rally Organiser John Leahy had put together a programme which maximised their time in the river, while providing enough opportunities to demonstrate manoeuvring skills in a variety of situations where breakdowns or misjudgements could easily have caused the expensive sound of breaking fibreglass.

It was a wonderful time to be in the city, for although the gentle Autumn day provided only the most occasional little flashes of sunshine, a gentle easterly breeze enabled the more enthusiastic to set gennakers or even spinnakers as they ran along a waterfront which is a bewildering mixture of the new and the half-built and the derelict, while the river itself was alive with kayaks and other small craft, suggesting that at last Dubliners are beginning to appreciate that there’s much more to the Liffey than simply being the separation zone between the civilized northsiders and the barbarous hordes lurking to the south of the watery divide.

On top of all this, the handsome German Tall Ship Gorch Fock was in port for an extended stay, and it had been arranged for the CAI to have their own dedicated and extended visit on board, arranged by Michael Byrne of Sail Training Ireland. As a bonus, close ahead of the Gorch Fock along the South Quays was the large expedition yacht Turmoil, a vessel of fascination in many ways. For she’s perfectly proportioned in the classic style of a trawler yacht, yet when you look at her for a minute it suddenly strikes you that she is actually all of four storeys high - as Jehan Ashmore of this parish pointed out recently, she is in fact as big as the new ships of the Irish Naval Service.

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Contrasting styles – the unmistakable Gorch Fock, and ahead of her the workmanlike expedition yacht Turmoil. Photo: W M Nixon

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Getting into the spirit of it all – Hair Raiser under downwind sail past the Dublin Conference Centre. Photo: W M Nixon

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It takes quite a bit of arranging to ensure that a fleet of boats can get this far up the river to the Customs House, where all tastes in architecture are catered for, and there’s the opened Sean O’Casey bridge to negotiate too. Photo: W M Nixon

As it happens, there just wouldn’t have been time to have a proper visit to the Turmoil even if it could have been arranged, as the plan was through the East-Link at 3.0pm and then on past the opened Sam Beckett bridge and the opened Sean O’Casey pedestrian bridge beyond it for a grand circle and salute at the Customs House with an encouraging number of spectators, and then back downriver for rafting up at the pontoon at the Point Depot. It sounds simple enough, but numbers berthing were such that everyone was at least doubled up, and there were many trios.
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All comfortably and sociably berthed up with never a bother. Photo: W M Nixon

cax6Floating on air? Opening and closing the Sam Beckett Bridge proved to be a real tourist attraction. Photo: W M Nixon

However, it was high water, so the old city was looking its best, while for those watching from the shore, the ultimate attraction was in the closing of the two rotating bridges, the Calatrava-designed Sam Beckett being a particular marvel. It’s a big boy’s toy and then some, and a very international group of visitors to Dublin watched fascinated as this wonderful piece of moving sculpture slipped neatly back into place with great precision.
Meanwhile the fleet had slipped into its places with equal precision, but there was little enough time to relax with inter-boat visits and the usual boat banter, as the programme on the Gorch Fock was to get under way at 5.0pm, so suddenly John Leahy and CAI Commodore Clifford Brown were making themselves scarce with the announcement that they had to get across the river to finalise details with the Captain of the Gorch Foch, which is certainly a fine and important thing to be doing of a Saturday afternoon when half the country is no more than couch potatoes watching a rugby match.

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Rally Organiser John Leahy (left) with CAI Commodore Clifford Brown, Denis Woods, and CAI Webmaster Simon Parker. Photo: W M Nixon

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Advance guard. The CAI’s reconnaissance group take a quick lift across the Liffey to finalise arrangements with the Captain of the Gorch Fock. Photo: W M Nixon

Yet as anyone who has walked the quays of Dublin will know, suddenly it will seem a very long and footsore distance to get from the Point Depot round to the Tall Ships’ preferred berth. But the CAI are crazy like foxes - they’d secured the use of a big RIB waterbus, other RIBs were available, and getting across to breathe in the atmosphere of the great age of sail aboard Germany’s finest was an easy and convenient business.
The trouble is when you’re enjoying yourself time flies, and before anyone knew it, time had come to get on the party frocks and get along to the culminating assembly, complete with hog roast, on board the restaurant boat Cill Airne, where Captain Nils Brandt of the Gorch Foch and several of his crew and trainees were their guests.

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Presentation of CAI flags and ensigns to Captain Nils Brandt and crew of the Gorch Foch by CAI Commodore Cifford Brown with (on left) John Leahy, Rally Organiser, and Charlie Murphy of Dublin Port who organised the many successful river arrangements. Photo: Aidan Coughlan

In all, a busy day, but the weather held up. However, when they took their departure back to sea out through the Eastlink at noon on Sunday, there was rain on the way if it hadn’t already arrived, but there never was any difficult wind, so everyone got neatly home.
And if all this seems like no more than lightly-structured wandering by a group of boats looking for something to do, nothing could be further from the truth. It was a diverse fleet with hundreds of thousands of far-ranging miles under their many keels.
Pat Murphy with his son Shane was there with the much-travelled Aldebaran, and though Pat’s much-loved shipmate Olivia has passed on since the last rally in September 2014, Aldebaran’s gallant presence was an eloquent reminder of the tremendous 9-year voyage round the world they made together. And at the other end of the offshore sailing spectrum, a Rolex Fastnet Race 2015 flag flew proudly from a forestay in the middle of the fleet.

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The world-girdling Aldebaran heads up-river past the Cill Airne. Photo: W M Nixon

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Still looking as good as new. Alan Rountree’s 20-year-old Tallulah, which he completed himself from a bare hull, heads downriver past the Jeanie Johnston. Photo: W M Nixon

Then during the parade in the river, there was the opportunity to admire again the wonderful job Alan Rountree completed twenty years ago when, up at his workshop in the Wicklow Hills, he finished the job of building his Legend 34 Tallulah from a bare hull. He did it so well she still looks like new, despite the fact that he has cruised tens of thousands of miles with her, some to distinctly northern latitudes and remote places, and many single-handed.
So it may have looked like nothing more than a gathering of like-minded yachties in search of a bit of fun. But they’ve certainly earned it, and their celebration of cruising matched their achievements.

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Admittedly this one's done the rounds but watching this Danish yacht navigate such a treacherous sea is always worth another goo. Union Chandlery in Cork posted the video on Facebook this morning with the caption: 'What an entrance!' We agree!

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