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Saturday’s (April 9th) Lift-in of yachts and boats at Dun Laoghaire Harbour in perfect calm and sunny conditions marked the opening of the 2022 summer sailing season on Dublin Bay. 

In the harbour, the National Yacht Club and neighbouring Royal St. George YC lifted in approximately 30 sailing cruisers apiece using mobile cranes in the day-long operation. 

The boats had wintered ashore on hardstanding at the club premises.

After the weekend lift-in, the summer sailing season will commence on Dublin Bay with a 35-mile ISORA coastal race and the Dublin Bay Sailing Club summer season, starting on April 23rd.

Lift in of boats at the Royal St. George Yacht ClubThe annual lift in of boats at the Royal St. George Yacht Club

At Ireland's biggest boating centre, the fine Spring weather and good sailing breezes have seen several yachts based at the town marina already back on the Dublin Bay race track.

Welcome to Nautical Limbo Land. This weekend may see the annual start-of-season lift-ins – with masked-up socially-distanced protocols - at the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, the National YC, and the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. But as was discussed here a week ago, it will be somewhere around the 20th April before it's clear whether or not the inevitable behind-doors socialising of the Easter Weekend has led to a fresh peak in the currently almost-plateaued pandemic infection rate. And officially it's 26th April before limited activity will be permitted in specialised outdoor sports such as tennis, sailing and golf.

There are those – particularly lone sailors of every hue from paddleboarders to top Laser performers – who have been pushing their particular envelopes to the absolute limit afloat. But equally, there are those for whom sailing simply isn't worth resuming until it re-emerges – if it ever does – as the carefree sociable activity of yore, in which skills of seamanship and sailing techniques are as important as ever, but you no longer find your activities hampered at every turn by considerations of social distancing and bubble maintenance.

Out on his own - the lone kite-surfer in Dublin Bay is at much less risk of COVID infection than the passengers on the cross-channel ferryOut on his own - the lone kite-surfer in Dublin Bay is at much less risk of COVID infection than the passengers on the cross-channel ferry

A crisp email from a sociable skipper sums it up: "Whatever other crews may be doing, our lot aren't going racing again until we're all Pfull of Pfizer". Now that's telling it like it is. But the ultimate nationwide logistical challenges in fulfilling its demands scarcely bear thinking about.

Nevertheless "Get Pfull of Pfizer and Sail for Ireland" has quite a ring to it, and it makes for an inspiring aspiration. But as we've learned through the long and dreary unwinding of the Great Pandemic Experience, predictions of when and how we can resume specific activities are very difficult to make with any real accuracy, mainly because they involve the future. And it emerges that the supposedly smooth-running roll-out is neither smooth nor rolling, as yet another glitch emerges somewhere along the line in the supply chain and the supply train moving it.

There they are – gone…..Today (Saturday's) lift-in at the National YC is one of three similar club operations this weekend in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Afloat.ie   There they are – gone…..Today (Saturday's) lift-in at the National YC is one of three similar club operations this weekend in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Afloat.ie  

Time was when trains were a matter of romance and song, but this has all become so deadly serious that's it's just not on to envisage The Vacc-Supply Train as a topic for a hypnotically rhythmic railroad song on the lines of The City of New Orleans (Willie Nelson your only man), or the Rock Island Line, and even less so with The Orange Blossom Special.

So we keep the head down and plod on towards late April, sustained and encouraged by the knowledge that in the brief suspensions of Lockdowns last summer, Ireland was indisputably a world leader in providing local racing and offshore challenges which stayed within guidelines, and yet managed to keep our sport and many of our clubs alive and active, albeit in an often decidedly muted way.

Sister power…..the Murphy family's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo – with one of the sisters on the helm – cutting a dash in the first evening race of the truncated 2020 Royal Cork YC Club Programme on Thursday July 9th. In addition to club racing, Nieulargo won both the Kinsale-Fastnet-Kinsale and the Fastnet 450 Races to be "Boat of the Year". Photo: Robert BatemanSister power…..the Murphy family's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo – with one of the sisters on the helm – cutting a dash in the first evening race of the truncated 2020 Royal Cork YC Club Programme on Thursday, July 9th. In addition to club racing, Nieulargo won both the Kinsale-Fastnet-Kinsale and the Fastnet 450 Races to be "Boat of the Year". Photo: Robert Bateman

This was done through quiet and thorough behind-the-scenes planning and organisation in order to minimise the shore-crowd element of any event, sometimes to the point that a compliant event might be taking place afloat, but there wasn't a soul to be found ashore, with Dublin Bay SC setting the pace by moving their entire race administration activity aboard their Committee Boats.

Thus in the current febrile national sporting mood, with recreational control freaks ready to leap on anyone making plans for some sporting activity that starts to explore the limits of what's possible, we wouldn't dream at the moment of contacting those who successfully organised special events last year and will be expected to do the same this time round. And equally in the current fluid situation, now is not the time to challenge those who have flagged significant events for the early to mid part of the hoped-for season to confirm definitely whether or not those events will actually happen.

By moving their entire Race Administration operation aboard their Committee Boats, Dublin Bay SC succeeded in running a comprehensive COVID-compliant programme in 2020 which resulted in the club's acclamation as the Mitsubishi Motors Club of the YearBy moving their entire Race Administration operation aboard their Committee Boats, Dublin Bay SC succeeded in running a comprehensive COVID-compliant programme in 2020 which resulted in the club's acclamation as the Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year

That said, from last year we have some knowledge of what can be made to work. Other things being equal, keep it local and keep it on the water – offshore if need be – and you're half way there. Beyond that, keep it young. We know that sailing is always reaching out to more senior age groups for introductory courses, but the fact is the potential infection rate tends to decline with a younger cohort, and young people have a greater need to be shown how to be doing something than older folk who, having reached a certain stage in life, should have sufficient reserves of character to think and act for themselves in a regulation-compliant way.

Even when a limited amount of post-race shoreside socializing was permitted last year, it was found that there were many who were more than satisfied to go quietly afloat, have their race, then stow the boat afloat or ashore, and simply go straight home again.

VOLVO DUN LAOGHAIRE REGATTA HITS THE SPOT

VDLR Chairman Don O'Dowd was ahead of the curve in leading his Committee into organising a re-structured two-part regatta to cope with post-pandemic conditions   VDLR Chairman Don O'Dowd was ahead of the curve in leading his Committee into organising a re-structured two-part regatta to cope with post-pandemic conditions

So in trying to move what's implicit in this behavioural pattern on to a larger scale, the clear message is that "local-ness" is the essence of it all, and the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta – while having a significant international element in its eclectic entry list – must be unrivalled in the number of participants who live right beside or within easy distance of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

With the regatta being served by four club and forecourt complexes - three of which are notably spacious - together with the shore space at the marina, any crowd pinch-points can be easily controlled, and yet you're dealing with overall crowd numbers which would swamp many a smaller venue in a non-compliant way.

The Water Wags and other One-Designs will have their Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from July 2nd to 4thThe Water Wags and other One-Designs will have their Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from July 2nd to 4th

Beyond that, Chairman Don O'Dowd and his Organising Committee put themselves even further ahead of the curve more than a year ago, when they announced a pandemic-induced re-framing of the regatta format into two extended weekends, one devoted to One Designs (2-4th July) and the other to Cruiser-Racers (8th to 11th July).

In these difficult times, classes have leapt at the convenient opportunity to make the VDLR one of their regional championships, or even the national championship itself. Overall, entries are already running beyond the 300 mark, and with Early Bird Entry still available until April 16th, this has a refreshing air of certainty about it, a classic case of a problem situation being turned into an opportunity to create something exciting and new.

Cruiser-Racer action in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta – this year, their Regatta will be the long weekend of July 8th to 11th. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien   Cruiser-Racer action in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta – this year, their Regatta will be the long weekend of July 8th to 11th. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O'Brien  

Nevertheless we'd argue that in mid-April with some disturbing international pandemic statistics emerging, it is pointless and indeed irritating to constantly chivvy organisers of other proposed events as to whether or not their fixture is going to take place.

You'll know the events we mean. And we'd argue that any owner-skipper who – in the current exceptional circumstances – finds it beyond his or her capabilities to firm up a challenge crew at just three weeks notice (or perhaps even less time) may well be somewhat out of their depth in the first place. Meanwhile, others find their way as best they can through a changing sea of circumstances. 

Once upon a time…..in times past, as at the Kingstown Harbour Centenary VDLR Regatta in 2017, social distancing was unknown, but for 2021 things will have to be done differently. Photo: VDLROnce upon a time…..in times past, as at the Kingstown Harbour Centenary VDLR Regatta in 2017, social distancing was unknown, but for 2021 things will have to be done differently. Photo: VDLR

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

Saturday’s Lift-in of yachts and boats at the Royal St. George Yacht Club and National Yacht Club at Dun Laoghaire Harbour is an important milestone in the opening of the 2021 sailing season on Dublin Bay.

Despite the continuing lack of clarity surrounding the easing of lockdown measures, sailing is heading into its second season of adapting and coping with Covid 19.

The Government has announced the phased easing of some Covid-19 restrictions during the month of April.

They plan to continue this cautious approach, gradually easing restrictions, while a substantial level of the population is vaccinated during April, May and June, after which, it should be safe to reopen society more widely.

After the weekend lift-in, the summer sailing season is to commence on Dublin Bay with ISORA Golden Jubilee coastal racing sometime after April 26th and for DBSC to start its summer season sometime in Mid-May depending on Govt restrictions.

Read more here from WM Nixon on why Sailing in Ireland Looks to April 20th for Some Real Clarity

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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