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Daria Blackwell on the Shores of Clew Bay is Helping Covid-19-Restricted Galway Family Crew to Sail Back to Europe Before Hurricanes Arrive in Caribbean

14th May 2020
Alex & Daria Blackwell’s Bowman 57 Aleria revelling in good sailing on Clew Bay in a very different time. These days, Ocean Cruising Club Vice Commodore Daria is busy at home on the shores of Clew Bay, co-ordinating the Atlantic passages of voyaging boats anxious to deal with Covid-19 restrictions, and get clear of the Caribbean and home to Europe or North America before the hurricane season sets in. Alex & Daria Blackwell’s Bowman 57 Aleria revelling in good sailing on Clew Bay in a very different time. These days, Ocean Cruising Club Vice Commodore Daria is busy at home on the shores of Clew Bay, co-ordinating the Atlantic passages of voyaging boats anxious to deal with Covid-19 restrictions, and get clear of the Caribbean and home to Europe or North America before the hurricane season sets in.

Today, all being well, a flotilla of eight boats will be leaving Antigua, bound Transatlantic for Europe in the hope of being well clear of the Caribbean before the hurricane season sets in. Included in the group will be the Galway Bay 39ft ketch Danu with Marine Institute scientist Vera Quinlan, her husband Peter Owens and their two children Lillian (12) and Ruari (10).

In all, there are about 150 Ocean Cruising Club boats spread through the Caribbean, and anxious to get clear of the sometimes extreme Covid-19 lockdown in the islands. Ocean CC Vice Commodore Daria Blackwell has been much involved in advising and coordinating this movement, working from the home on the shores of Clew Bay in Mayo where she lives with husband Alex Blackwell.

danu berthed2The Quinlan-Owens family’s ketch Danu hopes to depart Antigua today for the almost 4,000-mile voyage back to Ireland, possible with a brief stop at the Azores. Photo: Peter Owens
Some of the crews in the Caribbean have experienced decidedly harsh lockdown treatment at the hands of the island authorities, and while many are prepared to sail non-stop until they reach their own home waters, others are encouraged by the fact that the authorities in the Azores have indicated that they will do everything possible within their own restrictions to help the voyagers on their way.

Included among the voyaging hopefuls is Garry Crothers from Derry and Lough Swilly Yacht Club with his 43ft aluminium cruiser Kind of Blue, whose problems are particularly acute as expected crew have been unable to join him, and when he says he may have to sail single-handed, he really means it as he lost an arm in an accident some years ago.

More on this story and others in this account in the Guardian newspaper here and in this interview on the BBC World news here

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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