An exemplary three year Atlantic circuit sailing cruise was completed this weekend with the return to Ireland of Neil Hegarty’s Dufour 34 Shelduck from Cork. Shelduck has reached Baltimore in the last of the summer after a rugged 16–day west-east Transatlantic return crossing from Newfoundland writes WM Nixon. The voyage saw the veteran skipper and his crew coping with at least one Force 8 gale and a definite Force 9, but in all conditions he was happy to report that his well-proven ship “behaved impeccably”.
Shelduck visited many coasts, harbours and islands during her time on the other side of the Atlantic, and was awarded the Irish Cruising Club’s premier trophy the Faulkner Cup, for 2014, while Neil Hegarty was also an Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for February 2015. He is noted for the high quality of information provided with his logs, and for his careful planning to make time available for detailed local cruising by laying up the boat in North America for two winters. As well, as his cruising partner Anne Kenny of Tralee had the 36-footer Tam O’Shanter in the Baltic, parts of the cruising season in the Northern Hemisphere were given over to Scandinavian ventures.
However, for 2016 and the final summer in America, Neil and Anne joined Shelduck in Southwest Harbor, Maine on June 1st, and cruised extensively around North Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Labrador, and Newfoundland. Then in Lewisporte in Newfoundland, they made the final preparations for the Transatlantic crossing to start in mid-August, and strengthened their crew with the addition of Neil’s son Paul – who’s an electronics and communications ace – and Charlie Kavanagh, whom the skipper describes as “a very good foredeck hand, Anne and I stuck to the cockpit…….”
During the summer of 2016, the North Atlantic was in a decidedly restless condition for much of the time, and though Paul Hegarty’s communications network during the crossing ensured that they minimised their contact with bad weather, there were some storms that just coudn’t be avoided. Yet this well-found boat and her experienced crew came through with flying colours.