With all the talk these days of cruise liners and where they might be berthed, we tend to overlook the fact that most recreational sailors in Ireland would list “cruising” as their primary boating interest writes W M Nixon.
But these mariners are thinking in terms of making determinedly non-racing sea passages – ranging from coastal hops of a couple of hours to voyages lasting many days – in command of their own vessels, rather than going as passengers on some cruise line company’s luxurious behemoth.
The Cruising Association of Ireland was set up to cater for their specialized needs, and although most of the members do their cruising on their own, or maybe in company with one other buddy boat, from time to time they organize cruises in company, while every so often there’s a CAI Rally.
One of the most successful was held in September 2014 in Dublin’s River Liffey, when Dublin Port put out the hospitality mat at the new pontoons at the Point Depot. After a Vessels Parade up to the Samuel Beckett Bridge once the East Link Bridge had opened to let the fleet through, all the usual inter-boat visiting in a large and varied fleet kept them busy at the Point Depot pontoons, and then the evening was rounded out with a convivial meal aboard the restaurant ship Cill Airne.
So successful was that gathering that upwards of 30 CAI boats have already signed up for this year’s assembly, which is this coming weekend, 19th to 20th September. The Association’s Commodore John Leahy emphasizes that it’s an entirely open event, and all boats are very welcome to take part whether their owners are CAI members or not, while powerboats are of course also warmly invited.
Last year’s CAI September Rally saw the Samuel Beckett Bridge being the upper limit of navigation, but this year it will be opened for the enlarged fleet. Photo: W M Nixon
The format has been stepped up, as they’ll now be also able to transit the Samuel Beckett Bridge for a proper river tour before berthing at the Point Depot, while the festivities at the Cill Airne on the Saturday evening have been developed further to include a hog roast, starting at 1900hrs.
In fact, Saturday is going to be one busy day, as they get through the East Link Bridge at 1500hrs, have their Parade of Sail “through three bridges”, berth up and socialize at the Point Depot Pontoons, and then take in a scheduled CAI tour of the very impressive German Tall Ship Gorch Foch at 1700hrs.
On Sunday 20th the Eastlink Bridge will be opened at noon to permit the fleet to head downriver again. But rather than heading straight back to their home ports, CAI visitors and their guests from outside the Liffey are thinking in terms of an informal gathering for Sunday lunch at the hospitable Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club marina.
Gathering of voyagers. The impressive fleet at 2014’s Dublin CAI Rally is likely to be increased this coming weekend. Photo: W M Nixon