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In Ireland, Drascombes Find Lakes in the Sea & Sea in the Lakes

31st August 2017
Upriver under the bridge at Wexford – Drascombes can do it, but tall-rigged cruisers have to stay beyond on the seaward side Upriver under the bridge at Wexford – Drascombes can do it, but tall-rigged cruisers have to stay beyond on the seaward side Photo: Jack O’Keeffe

The stately progress through Ireland of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the unique Drascombe range of small character boats continues this weekend, with the fleet cruising-in-company on Lough Derg writes W M Nixon

Last weekend, they were sailing or outboarding on the intricate Wexford Harbour and the River Slaney, where half of their time was devoted to exploring – as only a Drascombe can – what is in effect a constantly changing saltwater lake in the Outer Harbour.

drascombe wexford2The boat of many flags – Jack O’Keeffe sails his much-travelled Drascombe along the edge of the training wall in Wexford’s Outer Harbour. Photo: Alan Mahon

drascombe wexford2Wexford’s Outer Harbour was to provide a marked contrast to the upriver experience. Photo: Alan Mahon

drascombe wexford2A mysterious place….this was one of the tracks recorded by a Drascombe on Wexford’s Outer Harbour

From tomorrow, they’re gathering at the recently re-vamped Lough Derg Yacht Club at Dromineer. They’ll find that despite its fresh water, Lough Derg is a perfect inland sea, complete with its own miniature harbours which are charming relics of the time when barge trade down the lake was a vital link in trading communications between Dublin and Limerick, particularly in the sacred mission of getting Guinness to the people of the Treaty City.

Although the weather this summer has been rather mixed, last weekend in and around the Slaney Estuary the sailors were blessed with gentle and often sunny conditions. The photos and track charts tell it all. With local Drascombe folk John and Darina Tully of the notably hospitable Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club pulling it smoothly together with the help of the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, and Jack O’Keeffe of Cork setting the pace in his role as overall Drascombe Association Rally Organiser, the participants enjoyed a rich range of experiences.

drascombe wexford2A remote and lonesome place, yet within easy reach with a Drascombe – masts of the fleet beached at the point at the entrance to Wexford Harbour

drascombe wexford2The complete contrast – bound upstream in the well-wooded River Slaney with the last of the flood tide

drascombe wexford2Well inland – voyaging the Slaney to Enniscorthy required neat timing of the tide……….

drascombe wexford2…..and success brought Jack O’Keeffe his reward of Enniscorthy ice-cream

In addition to exploring shallow waters under sail, these ranged from beaching their boats out at the lonesome Raven Point at the sandy entrance Wexford Harbour “somewhere out towards the horizon”, and then next day heading early up the River Slaney with its well-wooded shores to take the last of the tide to Enniscorthy, where Captain O’Keefe managed to clamber ashore at the Riverside Hotel and returned well-laden with an exotic selection of ice cream.

The flowing ebb soon took them downriver for a picnic stop at Killurin Pier in which Wexford strawberries – they’ve been extra-good this year – featured prominently. Then it was on southeastward through broadening waters back to the Boat Club for the final evening and fleet disassembly, though for visiting boats which had trailed from the UK, the pressure was relaxed as Monday was their Bank Holiday.

drascombe wexford2Killurin Quay made for an ideal stopover on the way downrivet

drascombe wexford2Wexford Harbour Biat and Tennis Club’s well-organised facilities provided a real home-from-home for the wandering Drascombes

In previewing this event, we wrote that Wexford Harbour and the Slaney Estuary might have been designed with the needs and capabilities of the Drascombe boat concept in mind. It has well proven itself to be that and more.

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