One of last year’s most successful events was September’s Cruising Association of Ireland Rally in Dublin’s River Liffey writes W M Nixon. This involved the varied fleet – many of them much-travelled cruising boats – going in convoy through all the opening bridges as far as the Customs House in a fascinating Saturday afternoon logistics exercise co-ordinated by Dublin Port, Dublin City Council, and the CAI’s John Leahy.
Afterwards, with the fleet berthed at Dublin Port’s then-new pontoon immediately upriver of the Eastlink Bridge at what all true Dubs still think of as the Point Depot, the programme continued across the river with a welcome aboard the German sail training vessel Gorg Foch which was in port on an extended visit. Then the Captain of the Tall Ship with members of his crew joined with the CAI members for a reception aboard the river-berthed Restaurant Ship Cill Airne, followed by a full-house dinner using the Cill Airne’s renowned hospitality services.
The trouble is that when you make such a success of the first attempt at such a challenge, not only do people expect something similar or even better the following year, but as well the key mover and shaker finds that, if anything, he is responsible for even more of the hands-on organisation.
So as of this morning, John Leahy finds that he already has a full house for the CAI hog roast supper aboard the Cill Airne on the evening of Saturday September 17th to celebrate all that afternoon’s through-bridges manoeuvrings and evolutions. And on top of all that, he is CAI Honorary Secretary, he the Association’s Director of Waterborne Activities, and in recent months he has also found himself in the vital role of CAI Webmaster.
Obviously it’s not a situation which is going to last. But while it exists, you might as well take advantage of it in making instant administrative decisions simply by having an immediate consultation with yourself. So having found that, with just 27 boats booked in, all seating available for the hog roast supper on the ship was thus taken up, didn’t the bould John decide that the supper would start promptly at 7.30pm in order to end neatly within an hour or so, and thereby provide plenty of time for the second part of the evening, a night’s entertainment in the roomier part of the ship. At that convivial gathering, people who had failed to make the cut for the supper could then join the accelerating festivities.
It’s a situation which arises because the Pontoon Berth above the East Link can actually accommodate 40 boats, and it’s highly likely that up to a dozen additional CAI craft will decide nearer the date that they want to be involved. So the idea is that after the river events and the pontoon-berthed socializing, the extra crews will either have supper on board their own boats or at one of the nearby shoreside hostelries, and then head to the Cill Airne for the main event.
That will include a reception for Dublin Port personnel and Seamus Storan of Dublin City Council, who between them give generously of their time and expertise to ensure that the co-ordination of the bridge openings all runs smoothly. When you think of how rarely you see some of the bridges other than the Eastlink being opened, it gives some idea of how much of a “Once a Year” exercise this has become.
This is proving to be a “Year of the Bridges” for the CAI, as the last time they assembled in significant numbers was at the beginning of August. That was when they had their annual rally to North Wales, an entertaining week which includes transitting the Menai Straits where the two spectacular bridges are at such a height that even the tallest masts can pass comfortably underneath, leaving the boat crews free to enjoy a contemplation of the pioneering engineering involved in the bridges’ construction while also dealing with the renowned tides of the Swellies.
The tides of the Liffey are much more manageable, but nevertheless all signed-up or would-be participants in the CAI Liffey Rally on 17th-18th September 2016 are advised to keep closely in touch with the CAI website.