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Strength in Numbers - Cruising Association Lifts the Liffey Bridges in Once-a-Year Display

18th September 2019
East Link already up, Sam Beckett starting to swing… could only be in the heart of Dublin with the Cruising Association of Ireland getting together for their friendly invasion and the annual Three Bridges Opening East Link already up, Sam Beckett starting to swing… could only be in the heart of Dublin with the Cruising Association of Ireland getting together for their friendly invasion and the annual Three Bridges Opening Photo: Aidan Coughlan

John Leahy, Honorary Secretary Cruising Association of Ireland, reports on this year’s "Three Bridges Liffey Cruise"

The Cruising Association of Ireland’s “Three Bridges Liffey” cruise is an annual end of season mini social cruise which attracts a large number of East Coast sailors to mark the end of another summer afloat.
Typically hosting thirty plus yachts from 28 feet up to 50 feet, they cruise up the Liffey with dress flags fluttering as some skilled manoeuvring and helming is required to motor under and through three bridges, with it all followed by shared in-city berthing and an end of season dinner and much craic.

sunshine image2Getting ready for the bridge transits – sometimes an extra fender is very helpful indeed. Photo: Aidan Couglan
The name “Three Bridges” comes from the fact that only once per annum, all three Liffey Bridges open simultaneously to permit the fleet to sail nearly up to the old limit point of Butt Bridge. A new pedestrian bridge is the last barrier these days, but they are within a couple of hundred metres of the centre of the city.

To get the three bridges open at once is a massive operation and thanks have to go to Dublin Port and Dublin City Council for permitting this to happen. Traffic management all over central Dublin has to be put in place, since during the cruise the only way over the eastern Liffey is the East Link and Butt Bridge.

This year the fleet was blessed with autumn sunshine on Saturday and 33 boats left the Poolbeg Sailing Club at 1230 hours to be there for the bridge opening at 1330. East Link opened first, followed by Samuel Beckett Bridge and then swinging pedestrian bridge upstream. They completed two circuits of the Liffey anticlockwise before berthing at the Liffey Port Pontoon beside the Point Arena - it was really quite a spectacle.

rafting upWarm weather, warm friendship – in conditions like this, there’s always room for more. Photo: Aidan Coughlan
Many coastal cruises end with a stroll in a local village or social chats on deck, so this cruise organised a guided walking tour of Dublin led by Joe Varley for those looking for a stretch, while the rest of the gang enjoyed being rafted up in the warm sunshine and swapped stories of their summer cruises.

Cruising in company brings together the joy of sailing and exploring with the fun of socialising with like-minded sailors. CAI welcome new members at the very low rate of €30 per annum and not only provide a social and cruising calendar but great support and advice.

aldebaran berthedThe most-travelled – Pat Murphy’s Aldebaran from Howth is the veteran of a nine-year global circumnavigation. Photo:Aidan Coughlan

Published in Cruising
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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