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Nick Kats of Clifden and originally America is always looking to the north for new cruises with his hefty 39ft Danish-built Bermudan ketch Teddy. And when we say “north”, we mean Arctic voyaging and a continuing fascination with Iceland and Greenland, for Nick and the Teddy every so often shape their course for high latitudes in much the same way most of the rest of us would contemplate another cruise to West Cork.

When Teddy with her international crew returned recently to Clifden without fuss or fanfare, it marked the completion of Nick’s tenth visit to Iceland, and his third detailed cruise in East Greenland. And as his voyages have included going on north to Jan Mayen, one of his crew managed to get a crystal-clear image of that remote island’s often fog-shrouded icy peak of Beerenberg, which is a rare pearl indeed.

 Seldom seen, never forgotten……as recorded on one of Teddy’s ten Arctic cruises, the rarely fully visible Beerenberg on Jan Mayen is one of the most epic sights in high latitudes cruising Seldom seen, never forgotten……as recorded on one of Teddy’s ten Arctic cruises, the rarely fully visible Beerenberg on Jan Mayen is one of the most epic sights in high latitudes cruising

In fact, thanks to his online-recruited crew inevitably including some top class photographers, the collected images of the Teddy Arctic cruises make for an impressive and informative display. You can get the flavour of it in this year’s cruise blog Teddytoarctic2022.blogspot.com. And “flavour” is the operative word , for in addition to many other interests, Nick is a nutritionist and an organic grower at his place in West Connemara, which gives added insight to the many meals – some of them decidedly experimental – consumed during the course of this well-fed venture.

MEETING DANU FROM GALWAY

Yet while the assumption is that Arctic voyaging boats will be largely on their own, and will be the only visitor when they get to some hidden little port, one point of particular interest in this tenth northern cruise was the number of other boats now regularly cruising in the region, some of which they knew already. Thus they met up with Peter Owens and his researching crew aboard Danu from Galway, and as Nick drily records: “We socialized”. Where two Irish-based boats are involved, those two words are open to any and many interpretations.

Nick Kats is very much his own manNick Kats is very much his own man

 Greenland cruising expects some isolation, as with Teddy at this abandoned Innuit village, but there was also some high-powered socialising with sailing legends Greenland cruising expects some isolation, as with Teddy at this abandoned Innuit village, but there was also some high-powered socialising with sailing legends

NORTHABOUT FROM CLEW BAY SAILS ON WITH ALL-FEMALE CREW

Then there was a real blast from the past with a get-together at Scoresbysund with Northabout, the purpose-built alloy-constructed expedition yacht put together by owner Jarlath Cunnane of Mayo and Paddy Barry and their team more than twenty years ago. The boat built, they sailed Northabout out from Westport to an astonishing career which included a global circumnavigation via the two northern routes, and two awards of the ultra-elite Blue Water Medal of the Cruising Club of America.

In this the Centenary Year of the CCA, that in itself is enough to remember with celebration. But Nick Kats was further pleased to report that they found Northabout - now under French ownership - to be “one very happy boat - eight crew on board, all women, four sailors, three mountaineers, and one photographer.”

A true sailing marathon man met up with was Trevor Robertson, going solo on his Alajuela 38 – he logged his 400,000 ocean miles quite some time ago. And then there were Jurgen and Claudia Kirchberger from Austria with the Americas-circuiting La Belle Epoque – you can find more about them through Fortgeblasen.

The successful end of a great era – Northabout returns to Clew Bay after her award-winning Arctic global circuitThe successful end of a great era – Northabout returns to Clew Bay after her award-winning Arctic global circuit

Men of the west and the Arctic – Jarlath Cunnane with Dr Mick Brogan and some of Northabout’s many crews at Westport Quay. Northabout continues Arctic voyaging, but now under French ownership.Men of the west and the Arctic – Jarlath Cunnane with Dr Mick Brogan and some of Northabout’s many crews at Westport Quay. Northabout continues Arctic voyaging, but now under French ownership 

GREENLAND CRUISING GUIDE

Another memorable gathering was with Germany’s senior Arctic voyager Arved Fuchs with his very traditional Dag Aaen. So clearly there are times when the North Water seems more like a highway than a destination. And the numbers visiting will be likely increased by John Henderson and Helen Gould from Scotland - another cruising team met by the Teddy crew - for they are sailing along through ice and clear water alike, preparing “a quality sailor’s guide” to Greenland.

Germany’s Arved Fuchs has long found his vocation in Arctic cruisingGermany’s Arved Fuchs has long found his vocation in Arctic cruising

Pedants of language will wonder whether that will be a high quality publication, or a guide aimed at high quality sailors, or indeed if sales are going to be limited to members of “the quality” who happen to go sailing. Have it as you wish. But meanwhile Ireland’s west coast now scores remarkably well for seasoned Arctic sailors, with Jarlath Cunnane up on Clew Bay, Nick Kats in Clifden Harbour, Paddy Barry (just back from Svalbard) at Mannin Bay near Ballyconneelly, and Peter Owens back home with Vera Quinlan and their family near Kinvara. It’s a formidable line-up.

“Peace after stormy seas….” – Nick Kats’ Teddy (centre) in her sheltered drying berth at Clifden Quay. Photo: W M Nixon“Peace after stormy seas….” – Nick Kats’ Teddy (centre) in her sheltered drying berth at Clifden Quay. Photo: W M Nixon

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The almost absurdly picturesque township of Westport at the head of Clew Bay has been variously acknowledged and nationally recognised as “Ireland’s Best Place to Visit”, and Ireland’s “Best Place to Live”. Even if dedicated misanthropes would argue that any self-respecting township - however lively and easy it is on the eye – simply can’t be both at once, there’s no doubting that hospitable and facilities-rich Westport has an impressive array of factors in its favour.

Yet this only adds to the frustration of cruising folk making their way along Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, when they make a diversion into island-studded Clew Bay in the hope of savouring Westport’s numerous charms. For Clew Bay’s many islands – with a host of secret anchorages among them – are simply too much of a good thing.

There are so many islands and sheltered anchorages at the head of Clew BayToo much of a good thing? There are so many islands and sheltered anchorages at the head of Clew Bay that it’s difficult deciding which is the most convenient for accessing Westport (lower right)

Thus it has ended up with the thriving Mayo Sailing Club having its well-furnished base at relatively remote Rosmoney, hidden among the islands and inlets a good 9.2 kilometres northwestward from Westport. Other anchorages conveniently reached from sea are wellnigh inaccessible by land unless you’re in the know on where certain tree-lined un-signed boreens are leading. And while the obvious and most direct seaward access point to Westport is to berth at Westport Quay, much of that ancient port dries or has shallow depths at low water.

Chartlet of Westport Quay – even with a berth here, you are still 3 kilometres from Westport town. Courtesy Irish Cruising Club

And anyway, Westport Quay is itself more than 3 kilometres from Westport itself, which can seem a challengingly long distance if you’d like to amble into town, but have walked no further than the length of a cruising boat’s deck for the past week. That said, Westport Quay is an attractively bustling and hospitable community in its own right, quite enough of a destination in its individuality for many of us. And if you want to hit the bright lights of the big city at Westport itself, it’s only a modest taxi fare to reach one of the best nights on the town Ireland has to offer, if you could only be secure in the knowledge that your boat is safely berthed back in Westport Quay.

But with its uneven depths and large tidal range, Westport Quay cannot provide that guarantee. So not surprisingly, noted Clew Bay sailor Alex Blackwell – better known for his ocean voyaging – has been spending some of his time at home in Mayo during the past decade and more in sussing out the possibilities of providing acceptable modern berthing at Westport Quay, complete with the expected facilities such as a Travelhoist.

Ocean voyagers Alex and Daria Blackwell of Clew Bay. While they keep their 57ft ketch Aleria in a secret anchorage among Clew Bay’s mny islands, Alex is well aware that visiting boats need more immediate access to shoreside facilities

Having built up a cohort of like-minded folk in favour of the idea, they have recently been presenting the idea to stakeholders including the local community, tourist interests, boating enthusiasts, the Chamber of Commerce and Mayo County Council, and they’ve been much encouraged by the favourable response.

The scheme – which could in its entirety provide 130 berths – is in two parts. The first phase depends on the installation of a proper sea lock – not a time-constricting tidal gate – at the west end of the river-like stretch of the harbour beside Westport Quay’s attractive waterfront. Provided the sea lock can offer extensive time options for access to the lower channel (which admittedly has shoal sections) and the open sea beyond, it will give significant freedom of movement for boats based in the enclosed berths, pontoon berths which can be provided without the need for extensive and expensive dredging.

Phase 1 of Westport Marina would be provided by a tidal retention barrier and a sea lock.

Phase 2 is the more ambitious project of dredging the lagoon area close to the westward, immediately south of Roman Island. This is a major concept, as it includes a multi-berth accessible-all-tides marina and 40 acres of recreational water right beside the heart of Westport Quay.

The much more ambitious Phase 2 would involved dredging, but it would provide highly-accessible recreational water space in addition to extra all-tide berths

From the wandering cruising person’s point of view, the possibility of a secure berth in the heart of civilisation will offer an attractive change from the rugged offshore islands and remote anchorages which fill much of the menu in a Connacht cruise. And from a strategic point of view, Westport is one of the most westerly points providing direct access to Ireland’s railway network. Longer term berthing in a marina at Westport Quay would offer all sorts of fresh and accessible cruising possibilities on the Atlantic seaboard from most of Ireland’s major conurbations.

Be warned, however, that if you rail your way down to Westport with a crew just let off the leash after some intensive weeks of work, it may take a will of iron to head immediately to the boat from the train, instead of pausing “just for a minute” to savour the entertainments of Westport in a place like Matt Molloy’s. For he’s a sailing man himself, and you know what it’s like when people get talking about boats.

Matt Molloy of Westport – he would as soon talk about boats as his famous music

Published in Irish Marinas
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The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced the winners of its prestigious annual awards, highlighting an extraordinary group of sailors who have demonstrated perseverance, service, heroism, and how time spent on the water can change your life.

In keeping with the CCA’s long-standing motto “Nowhere is Too Far,” nearly all the awardees have made exceptional long-distance voyages or sailed around the world.

Peter and Ginger NiemannPeter and Ginger Niemann

That includes the winners of the CCA’s Blue Water Medal, Ginger and Peter Niemann, who completed their second circumnavigation in 2021 as a means of sailing home from Turkey after the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Curtis Green Curtis Green

Curtis Green (Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy) was on the dock of his family’s marine supply business in Charlestown, Oregon, when he observed a heavily loaded fishing vessel named Darean Rose run aground on a nearby shoal. The grounding nearly became a tragedy when the boat capsized off the shoal and began to sink. If not for Green’s extraordinary act of swimming out, hammer in hand, and finally breaking open the pilothouse windows, the trapped crew most certainly would have drowned.

Matt RutherfordMatt Rutherford

Matt Rutherford (Young Voyager Award) hasn’t sailed around the world, but he has singlehandedly circumnavigated North and South America in a 27-foot boat and in the process became the skipper of the smallest boat to transit the Northwest Passage. Rutherford began sailing to move past a difficult youth of drugs, rehab, prison time and more. Over the ensuing years, he became a mission-driven sailor and adventurer, raising money and awareness for programs ranging from accessibility to ocean pollution and high-latitudes climate-change research.

Don and Sharry StabbertDon and Sharry Stabbert

Don and Sharry Stabbert, of Seattle and Honolulu, Hawaii (2021 Far Horizons Medal), were small-boat sailors who acquired a 77-foot Northern Marine Trawler in 2000 and have now put more than 100,000 miles on its single 400hp Cummins diesel engine. Aboard Starr, they have made extended circuits of the Pacific Ocean as well crossing the Atlantic Ocean and exploring the Mediterranean. While operating and maintaining Starr themselves, they have developed friendships by the dozen and applied their problem-solving skills to a wide range of challenges such as upgrading a school’s computers and teaching and equipping remote islanders to build fibreglass canoes. 

Skip Novak and daughter LaraSkip Novak and daughter Lara

Skip Novak (Royal Cruising Club Trophy) is a high-latitude sailor and mountaineer with few if any peers, having sailed four races around the world and led expeditions in the high latitudes every year since the late ‘80s. In 2021 Novak sailed his expedition cruising sailboat Pelagic Australia from Cape Town to Gough Island in the South Atlantic—a 2,400-mile journey in support of a scientific expedition to eradicate an aggressive mouse population threatening albatross and other resident bird species. The voyage was completed despite seemingly insurmountable challenges of weather, location, and sea-state, but also despite strict COVID quarantine and lockdown rules.

The Stabbarts, Niemanns, and Skip Novak are CCA members as well as award winners.

Four other club members who have sailed transatlantic and/or around the world are honoured this year for accomplishments of service and contribution.

Jim ChambersJim Chambers

Jim Chambers receives the Richard S. Nye Trophy for long-time service to the club in a number of roles including influential roles as CCA treasurer and service on the Finance, Nominating and Bermuda Race committees.

Zdenka and Jack GriswoldZdenka and Jack Griswold

Zdenka and Jack Griswold receive the Commodore’s Award for editing the Club’s Voyages magazine and raising what is typically a 200-page publication to an extraordinarily high standard.

Gretchen Dieck BiemesderferGretchen Dieck Biemesderfer

Gretchen Dieck Biemesderfer receives the Charles H. Vilas Literary Prize for her elegant article in Voyages about the art of painting watercolors from Shearwater, the Mason 43 that she owns, cruises, and races with her husband. 

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In July 2022, the yacht ‘Danú of Galway’ will depart from Ireland for Scoresby Sound, East Greenland, the largest fjord in the world.

The team will comprise of a small group of independent adventurers aiming to sail to and climb in this remote landscape. On the way, they will sample for microplastics as part of a scientific collaboration with the Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for the Environment. They will monitor both salt and fresh water sources throughout their time in Scoresby Sound. This data will be used in improving global knowledge of microplastics in Arctic waters.

Danú in Henninsgsvaer, Lofoten Photo: Peter OwensDanú in Henninsgsvaer, Lofoten Photo: Peter Owens

Ocean Cruising Club member Peter Owens, expedition leader is a mountaineer sailor with many years of experience. He has put together a strong team that aims to be self-sufficient in Arctic terrain, with a strict policy of ‘leave no trace’. A number of exploratory mountaineering objectives have been chosen on Milne Land and Renland, within reach of the coast, using the yacht as a floating base.

Peter Owens, expedition leader is a mountaineer sailor Expedition leader Peter Owens is a mountaineer sailor

The OCC has supported the Irish expedition with a grant towards the voyage costs.

Renland - south coast from bear islandRenland - south coast from bear island

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For the sailors of ARC+ 2021, last Friday's prizegiving ceremony in St. George's, Grenada marked the end of their Atlantic cruising adventure that began in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the eastern side of the Atlantic six weeks ago. The docks of Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina on the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada have come to life with arrivals over the past ten days following their ocean crossing. Warm welcomes, emotional reunions, and rum punch celebrations for every boat have fittingly marked the achievement of making landfall after sailing over 2,400nm from Mindelo, Cape Verde on the second stage of their ARC+ adventure.

Held at the stunning beachside setting of the Aquarium Restaurant, the ambiance at last night’s prizegiving reflected a large family party, everyone knowing each other so well within the fleet. 64 of the 66 boats sailing under the ARC+ banner have made landfall in Grenada, with the final arrivals who departed late from Mindelo expected in the coming days. With stunning views of Magazine Beach facing the Caribbean sea and a mountainous backdrop, the setting was perfect for the final coming together of nearly 300 participants, including the many children in the fleet. With the sound of a traditional steel pan band providing an unforgettable musical experience as a reminder of their Caribbean landfall, ARC+ children played on the sand and their parents shared stories of their great Atlantic adventure and their memorable rally experience. As the sun started to set, the prizegiving commenced celebrating everyone in this ocean-crossing community with awards for sailing performance and contributions to the amazing rally spirit that has developed over the past six weeks.

Assisting in the presentation of the awards, Suzana Tetlow and Mark Burton from World Cruising Club were joined by Petra Roach, CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Nikoyan Roberts, Nautical Development Manager and Marketing Manager for the Grenada Tourism Authority, and Lexi Fisher, co-author of Doyles Cruising Guides.

Proceedings began with a hearty recognition of the teams that have put so much into organising ARC+ 2021 with the rally arriving in Grenada for the first time. “It has been an absolute pleasure for Grenada Tourism Authority to be involved in this very prestigious ARC+ event," said Petra Roach, “I want to say a big thank you for choosing Grenada and for us choosing you as well, and to Port Louis Marina as this is a team effort and I’m really pleased about the collaboration that we have ongoing and we really lend our commitment so that going forward we get better and better, because we believe in this event.” Zara Tremlett and the staff at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina have worked tirelessly to accommodate the ARC+ fleet in Port Louis Marina and Charlotte Fairhead & Karen Stiell from the GTA service partner BroadReach were thanked for their invaluable day-to-day support in the seamless delivery of the rally.

Those visiting the stage to collect their prizes included Arya (NOR) awarded Line Honours, followed by the Multihull Division topped by Neel 47 BigBird (USA) on corrected time, with family catamaran Tortuga (DEU) in 2nd place and Scat Cat (GBR) in 3rd. Already back in their native France, the crew of Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA), who were the first boat to arrive, sent a special message played out to their fellow participants, before the party anthem ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’ by the Blues Brothers upped the party atmosphere as the awards continued.

The Cruising Division was split into three classes based on handicaps, with Najad 490 Albicilla (NOR) topping Class C, Beneteau First 456 Daisy (DNK) 1st in Class B, and Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS Adelante (NOR) 1st in Class A. It was not just the crews who were successful in the competitive side of the rally who received prizes; there were many other awards given out for happenings at sea, the closest finish and longest distance sailed, as well as recognising SSB Net and double-handed crews who took part. The young participants of ARC+ have been a prominent feature of the rally, with 33 children under the age of 16 sailing across this year all invited to the stage to receive special certificates and sweet treats from the Grenada Tourism Authority.

Numerous participants took the opportunity of being on stage to say a few words to the assembled group, praising their own crew, congratulating all the participants as having crossed the Atlantic, and thanking the team of yellow shirts for their contribution to the success of ARC+ 2021. The final participants to be called to the stage were the crew to be presented the Spirit of ARC+. Saved for last in the proceedings, this is given to the crew, or crew member, who, through their extraordinary actions, have demonstrated the spirit of what the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is all about - safer and enjoyable longer distance cruising, in the company of others.

Oceans can be testing environments for even the most accomplished sailors. And sometimes things can go wrong. On the 5th December, a single-handed sailing yacht on passage from Guyana to Martinique was dis-masted. The skipper was alone with no communications [and no engine]. In his own words, the skipper thought his time had come. However, after 3 days, fortunately for him, a boat from the ARC+ was passing nearby. The crew took the time to check on the yacht and see what assistance they could provide. Once communications were established, they relayed the distress to the authorities, and set about towing this poor single-handed sailor to port. The actions of the crew arguably saved the life of this captain and he eventually made safe landfall in Grenada. The 2021 Spirit of ARC+ was awarded to the crew of Coco (GBR) - Alfie, Ceylan, Adele, and Stuart - in recognition of the support this ARC+ crew provided over 24 hours, and their fellow participants erupted in cheers and applause.

The rally this year has been one of great rewards for those who have delayed plans and overcome challenges encountered by the pandemic; unique friendships have been formed, special memories have been made and the ocean sailors of ARC+ 2021 can all feel rightly proud of their achievements to reach the shores of Pure Grenada. “I am so grateful to have experienced the family-like environment that ARC provided for us. Not only did they go above and beyond to make sure we were prepared for the crossing, but they did a great job of bringing everyone in the rally together by hosting multiple events and parties,” said Megan Simonson from Helios, (USA). “Tonight’s prizegiving was beautifully put together. After the celebratory award hand-out, we got to catch up with fellow ARC+ sailors under the palm trees; the background sound of crashing waves was also wonderful. It was the perfect way to end the ARC+ rally.”

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Conor Haughey of Malahide’s handsome silver-liveried Moody 54DS Hibernian is having a very good Transatlantic race with the ARC+ division of 70 boats, which has taken in the transoceanic hop in two stages with a stop in the Cape Verdes. Hibernian is now just over 300 miles from the finish in Grenada, and showing as first in the Cruisers (Monohull) Division, and fourth overall.

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Two Irish yachts were among a big fleet departing Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to start the 36th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) yesterday.

Cruisers, racers, and multihulls; sleek ocean racing machines alongside comfortable family cruisers; superyachts with professional crews, and excited friends living the dream - these were the boats and sailors. With crew representing 38 different nationalities, the ocean crossing community has filled the docks of Las Palmas Marina for the past two weeks and yesterday’s start sees 141 yachts and almost 900 participants now on their way to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Spreading across the horizon the fleet of white sails made an impressive sight as the crews waved goodbye to Gran Canaria for a great adventure on the ocean.

Liam Shanahan's Oyster 625 Ruth II from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire and David Kelly's Hallberg-Rassy 40 Viente from Waterford both made successful starts to the Rally. 

The sun beamed down on the marina as crews made their final preparations to set sail. From Waterford, Ireland, Kelly, was loading on a few last-minute provisions (beers for their arrival in Saint Lucia) and on the morning of departure said: “We are all set and our crew of six have been preparing for this day for what seems like forever. It all boils down to fantastic excitement and we just want to crack on with it now and look forward to seeing everyone over the other side.” 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 Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, have been wonderful hosts to ARC participants for the past two weeks.

Prior to departure, Kelly said: “I thought the ARC weatherman, Chris Tibbs was very clear on the fact that if he were sailing this year, he’d go south, so that’s where we’ll go! We are now just looking forward to finishing with all the preparations, to getting out on the water and to start enjoying all that food we’ve bought – and of course to start sailing!”

Out in the starting area, the wind was a steady 12-15 knots blowing from the South-East as the fleet prepared for an untypical upwind ARC start. The first start, at 12:30 local time, was for the Multihulls and Open Divisions, with Outremer 51 Moxie (USA) leading the charge. In recent years, it has been the dashing multihulls that have claimed Line Honours in Rodney Bay, and previous victors Banzaï (FRA), Guyader Saveol (FRA), and Minimole (ITA) all returned to the ARC this year to battle to reach the rum punch first. A total of 31 catamarans and trimarans are sailing in the ARC, and the non-competitive Open Division sailing features the 38m traditional schooner Helena (FIN), owned by the Finnish Sail Training.

Next it was the turn of the Racing Division to get into position for their starting sequence. The wind eased slightly to 10-12 knots as the signal sounded at 12:45 and the 19 yachts headed over the start with sails tuned. The Racing Division lines up the pros against the amateurs, with a great opportunity to all compete on the same ocean course. French sailing legend JP Dick is back for his fourth ARC crossing on JP54 The Kid for Ville de Nice (FRA) and will be facing a new monohull race challenge from 12 Nacira 69 (ITA), an Italian crewed carbon flyer, and Cookson 50 Furiosa (EST). But it was performance cruiser RM1270 Grace LR (GBR) that made the best start, with skipper Chris Lewns positioning well on the line to lead the racing fleet away, and The Kid for Ville de Nice crossing just after. Each year there are yachts in the Racing Division who offer the chance for less experienced individuals to join a charter boat, sailed under the watchful eye of a professional skipper, with many regular entrants sailing the ARC as part of an annual race programme. Harmony 52 Sao Jorge (GBR), skippered by David Pritchard and one of two charter boats entered by UK based Sail Racing Academy, crossed the start line in third just behind The Kid for Ville de Nice.

Finally, the largest fleet, the Cruising Division, came into the fray with 92 yachts beginning their adventure. Onboard the Committee Vessel, ARC Rally Control began the final start sequence and the horn sounded to signify the start at 13:00. First to cross the line was Montana (DEU), a Swan 48 S&S sailed by German skipper Markus Bocks taking part in the ARC for a third time. The procession then continued with boats of all shapes and sizes leaving Las Palmas in their wake. The horizon was soon punctuated with white and black sails that could be viewed from the Avenida Maritima by the locals of Las Palmas enjoying a pleasant afternoon stroll in the sunshine.

The sailors have a calm introduction to their Atlantic crossing, and the wind is going to stay quite light and variable for the first few days before the boats that take a more southerly route start to pick up the trade winds. At the Skippers Briefing, meteorologist and ocean sailor Chris Tibbs advised for the boats to head south following the African coast to the latitude of the Cape Verde before pointing their bows westwards to Saint Lucia.

The departure of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia means a combined total of 208 yachts are crossing the Atlantic under the ARC banner in November 2021. ARC+ fleet of 67 yachts (also with Irish boats) departed Mindelo, Cape Verde for their second leg of their crossing last Friday, bound for Grenada. A further 60 yachts will join the first edition of ARC January, setting sail in the new year in a third Atlantic crossing rally organised by World Cruising Club sailing from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.

Prior to departure, crews undertook the necessary PCR test to ensure they were going to sea Covid free and complying with the health protocols for their arrival in Saint Lucia. All ARC boats are fitted with YB Tracking satellite trackers, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of home. Click here for the online Fleet Viewer

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 Tourism Authority and World Cruising Club staff bearing a welcome rum punch and cold drinks. Skipper Brad Gangardine is from Soufriere, Saint Lucia and will be sailing home on Into the Mystic. “I’m feeling awesome this morning,” he said with a big smile just before leaving the dock. “I am looking forward to heading back home and I’m about to achieve an amazing dream. I’m hoping to get the amazing welcome that all ARC sailors will get when they finish and I am sure I will feel good about what I’ve done.” There is a full schedule of events in Rodney Bay for all ARC crews culminating in the ARC prize giving on 17 December.

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ARC+ 2021, World Cruising Club’s two-stage transatlantic rally to Grenada, set sail today from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with 70 boats spirited away by the tradewinds bound for Mindelo Marina in Cape Verde for the first leg. Years of planning, months of preparations, and days of checking off the jobs list has gone in ahead of today's departure, which saw crew from 24 different nationalities heading off to begin their Atlantic adventure.

Three Irish entries were among today's departures; two multihulls and a monohull yacht. 

Conor Haughey is the skipper of Hibernian, a Dublin-based Moody 54DS. Brendan Cahill set sail in Lir, a Lagoon 450 as did County Kerry's Brian O'Sullivan and Frances Clifford in the Lagoon 46 Navillus. 

Brian O'Sullivan and Frances Clifford's Lagoon 46 NavillusBrian O'Sullivan and Frances Clifford's Lagoon 46 Navillus

The rally began with a programme of pre-departure activities to ensure the boats and crews were suitably ready for departure. From the end of October, Las Palmas Marina has become a colourful sight with yachts dressed overall and rally flags flying. ARC+ has had a real family feel this year with 17 boats sailing with children on board and a total of 33 kids set to enjoy their first taste of Atlantic sailing on the rally.

Following COVID-secure protocols, organised activities for participants prior to departure have included a range of seminars, crew suppers and drinks events creating a great community spirit amongst the sailors. Rally organisers World Cruising Club have supported their preparations with one-to-one safety checks of boat equipment and smoothing their logistics, and the many marine businesses around the city have assisted with getting the boats ship shape for departure.

There was great excitement around the docks of Las Palmas marina as start day dawned and lines were slipped to head out to the starting area. “We are really looking forward to the departure. We deferred from last year’s rally so it seems like we’ve been waiting such a long time so we just can’t wait to get going!” said Derek Frame, British owner of the Wauquiez 47PS Delite, “It was a really good Skippers Briefing yesterday and we’ve had great advice and help from World Cruising Club, so I feel we are prepared and ready go now.”

Stephan Friedel, skipper of the German Catana 531 Rob Roy III says that he has enjoyed his time here but after four weeks in Gran Canaria it will be good to start. “We want to get going now and everyone is ready and wants to get into warmer tropical weather. It’s time to go now it’s a bit cooler here! My first Atlantic crossing was in 1998, but this will be my first rally and my first as skipper - a dream that I’ve had since I was a young boy, so I’m excited that finally it has come true!”

As forecast, the winds on start day provided a rock and roll departure with 15-20knts blowing steadily in the starting area from the North East and a significant swell running outside the shelter of the port. The countdown began from ARC+ Rally Control onboard ARC yacht Vahine (FIN) acting as committee vessel for the ARC+ starts. At 12:45, the multihulls were led away by the impressive Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA) and Neel 47 Bigbird (USA) flying across the line close to the shore to the delight of the spectators strolling along the Avenida Marítima.

At 13:00 it was the turn of monohulls with the Cruising Division setting off on the 865nm passage to Mindelo. It was the Beneteau Oceanis 40, Sala from Norway sailed by the Christensen family under the watchful eye of their weather expert Mads Liestøl Christensen who were first to cross the line. The Irish Moody 54 DS Hibernian skippered by Conor Haughey was next and another Norwegian family boat, Albicilla, crossed in third place with a big cheer on board. The start was quite a sight as the fleet bounced through the ocean waves and bid farewell to the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

For their first night at sea, moderate trade winds are expected to whisk the fleet away from Gran Canaria before decreasing as the yachts get closer to the Cape Verde Islands in the coming days.

On arrival in Mindelo, there is an exciting programme for crews to explore ashore and the stopover has been extended to give crews more time to enjoy the islands. The first boats are expected from Friday 12 November and will receive a warm welcome from the teams of Marina Mindelo staff and World Cruising Club.

Following the stopover, ARC+ has a new Caribbean destination this year and the fleet will be sailing to Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina on the island of Grenada. The re-start from Mindelo will be on Friday 19 November.

All the yachts are equipped with a YB Tracker, regularly broadcasting their position to the online Fleet Viewer and YB Races app for friends and family to follow the fleet. Tales of fishing triumphs and tradewind sailing will also be sent to the World Cruising Club website, as participants share their ocean adventures.

There are three transatlantic departures from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria organised by World Cruising Club under the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers banner: ARC+ 2021, ARC 2021 and ARC January 2022.

Published in Cruising

With an impressive and eclectic fleet of 46 boats from West Coast ports which ranged from Clew Bay to the north to Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary to the south - in addition to the many harbours and anchorages within Galway Bay itself - last weekend's five day Lambs Week Cruise organised by Galway Bay Sailing Club took full advantage of the improving weather to take in Rossaveal, Kilronan on Inishmor in the Aran Islands, and Roundstone, the very essence of Connemara.

The theme of the five-day Lamb's Week – which began with most boats assembling at Rossaveal Marina on the Thursday evening – was accessibility, and the willing provision of encouragement for the less-experienced.

But one of the challenges in organizing a heavily-subscribed Cruise-in-Company of this nature in a very special place like the greater Galway Bay area is that while the number of very useful marinas at strategic ports is increasing, the number of pontoon berths available for visitors – even with rafting-up – is limited, and extra boats will have to find secure moorings, or rely on their own anchors.

It's one very complicated piece of coastline, but in experienced company it becomes a cruising paradiseIt's one very complicated piece of coastline, but in experienced company it becomes a cruising paradise

Any proper cruising boat should of course have adequate ground tackle. However, the problem of confined space in the best anchorages – often with established moorings cluttering the sea-bed - together with the rich proliferation of seaweed, means that your anchor can become irretrievably fouled, or else it doesn't take hold at all as it sits on a bed of kelp.

GBSC came up with a solution of breath-taking simplicity. They made a batch of concrete mooring blocks at their Renville base near Oranmore at the head of the Bay, and with the skilled services of Ocean Crest Marine, they'd a complete set of these additional reliable moorings in place when the first of the fleet arrived in Aran through Friday afternoon and evening with a race from Rossaveal in a brisk sou'wester which experienced the last of the Cruise's serious rain.

Problem: Shortage of Visitors' Moorings? Solution: Galway Bay SC simply made their own, and sent them on ahead of the fleet.Problem: Shortage of Visitors' Moorings? Solution: Galway Bay SC simply made their own, and sent them on ahead of the fleet.

Rossaveal was the assembly port for a diverse fleet – this is the Contessa 32 of Gillian Flattery and Blair Stannaway ready for the off.Rossaveal was the assembly port for a diverse fleet – this is the Contessa 32 of Frankie Leonard ready for the off.

Kilronan became the fleet base throughout Saturday and into Sunday morning (it will be the location for WIORA Week 2023), and with such numbers in port, it seemed natural to provide a race right round the Aran Islands for those with the need for a further spot of competition, though some thought they'd done quite enough racing with Friday's windward slog.

The pontoon-berthed section of the fleet in Kilronan. Photo: Declan DooleyThe quayside-berthed section of the fleet in Kilronan. Photo: Declan Dooley

Racing the Atlantic during Lamb's Week, Aaron O'Reily's Kondon Buntz in foreground.Racing the Atlantic during Lamb's Week, Aaron O'Reily's Kondon Buntz in foreground.

Twenty-one boats of all shapes and sizes – in other words, nearly half of the fleet – took on the challenge in a sunny 18 knots westerly, the highlight being the spectacular sight of the Cliffs of Moher as they made the southerly turn of the circuit at Finnis Rock. To add to the sport, it had been made a pursuit race, with the first boat – Patrick McCarthy's Snapper – getting away at 11:00 hrs, while the Queen of the Fleet, Tomas Furey's speedy big Rhodocar, was held back until 11:44.

Winning style – Mark Wilson's Scorpio sweeps along to a close victoryWinning style – Mark Wilson's Scorpio sweeps along to a close victory

First to finish – and winner of the King of Lambs Trophy – was Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio from GBSC. But if anything it's the handicapper, Fergal Lyons, who deserves a Gold Medal at the very least, as Scorpio at 14:16:53 crossed the final line only 30 seconds ahead of Jackie Cronin's Jimmy Burn from Kilrush, which in turn was five seconds ahead of Conor Owens' Sealion (GBSC), while only one second behind that in fourth was Stephen O'Gorman's Green Monkey (GBSC).

Brothers Conor and Fergal Lyons aboard Out of the Blue. It was Fergal who produced the exceptionally well-judged handicaps.Brothers Conor and Fergal Lyons aboard Out of the Blue. It was Fergal who produced the exceptionally well-judged handicaps.

This was pursuit racing at its very best, as their starting times had been Scorpio: 11:23; Jimmy Burn: 11:33; Sealion: 11:14; and Green Monkey 11:42. It was superb sport which greatly impressed the Aran Islanders, and set the tone for a boisterous night in Kilronan. Yet they still managed to be underway in a reasonably timely manner on the Sunday morning for the calm hop northwestward to Roundstone, one of the Connacht coast's great cruising passages as it involves a rewarding mixture of open ocean sailing and reasonably intricate pilotage to conclude in a little port which rates highly on any discerning cruising person's dream list.

There was time for a lunchtime break and swims and shore visits at MacDara's Island – GBSC Commodore John Shorten likened the procession of the fleet to a miniature of the approaches to the Suez Canal – before going on into the embrace of Roundstone, with the partying ashore rounded out by a barbecue in the Village Hall, following which the overnight fog was successfully negotiated by Martin the ever-helpful unofficial Roundstone harbourmaster to ensure that everyone got safely back to the right boat.

Part of the fleet in RoundstonePart of the fleet in Roundstone
They brought the summer back with them – sunset at the return to RossavealThey brought the summer back with them – sunset at the return to Rossaveal

The morning brought total summer with bright sunshine and the temperature pushing towards 25 degrees as the majority headed back towards Rossaveal, while others had longer passages north and south after a hugely successful event which will be remembered as one of the highlights of the 2021 season on the west coast.

As ever with an event of this kind, there were many movers and shakers and volunteers involved, but if you suggested that John Shorten and Cormac Mac Donncha in particular - and the likes of Pierce Purcell and others - had something to do with this remarkable happening, you wouldn't be far off target.

The King of Lambs – Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio was crewed by Cian Conroy, Cronan Quirke, Damian Burke, Aoife Macken, and Iso.The King of Lambs – Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio was crewed by Cian Conroy, Cronan Quirke, Damian Burke, Aoife Macken, and Iso.

Published in Lambs Week

The Cruising Association of Ireland's Whistle Stop Cruise of the east coast of Ireland overnighted at Wicklow Harbour.

The association says the cruise has attracted a fleet of 23 boats since it commenced on Tuesday 22nd June. 

The Cruising Association also intends to visit Arklow, Greystones, Skerries, Malahide and Dublin over the course of the six-day event.

Over 50 sailors are involved with 'enthusiastic cooperation from marinas and sailing clubs'.

On Saturday 27 June the cruise is headed for Dublin City. Dublin Port will open the Tom Clarke bridge and the fleet will berth at the long pontoon near the 3 Arena on the River Liffey.

Published in Cruising
Page 1 of 26

Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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