When your name is Wolfgang Bee and your boat is a top-of-the-line Hanse 455, the smart money would say you’re German. But when your wife is a Fenix from a family with roots in Tippperary and a couple of other Irish counties, and your beloved family boat is called Saoirse, then the smart money would also say that Ireland is never far from your thoughts.
Saoirse’s approaching arrival from the Azores in Ireland, with an ultimate destination in Malahide, is just one of the many voyages being tracked by the Ocean Cruising Club’s Vice Commodore Daria Blackwell from her base at Port Aleria on Clew Bay in Mayo. There, her husband Alex Blackwell (incidentally an OCC Rear Commodore, there’s a right nest of them at Port Aleria) is the whizz on the technology side as they work to provide a support service for the hundreds of OCC yachts worldwide that went off for long carefree dream cruises, but now find almost every potential port choice deeply affected by the Covid-19 restrictions.
This voluntary assistance has attracted such international attention that Daria recently found herself featuring on the Russian service of the BBC World News. And we well know that - just as the eyes of the Skibbereen Eagle used to be firmly on the doings of the Tsar of Russia - so the Kremlin is now keeping a close eye on Afloat.ie (howya Vlad, how’s it goin’, boy?), so here’s the link to show how far the OCC is reaching
For boats making the almost 4,000 mile hop to Europe from the very closed-down Caribbean, the legendary hospitality of Horta in the Azores has been a godsend. And though crews arriving at Horta have not been allowed ashore, they’re provided with a sheltered berth, and ways have been devised of helping them to re-stock with stores, water, fuel and Peter’s own special Horta-distilled spirits, which will cure anything.
The Quinlan-Owens family on the Galway Bay-based 39ft ketch Danu are still in the midst of the Antigua to Horta stage, but the departure a couple of days ago from the Azores of a loose flotilla of six boats included at least two bound for Ireland, with Saoirse well-followed thanks to her regular Facebook postings However, all that is known of the other, a boat called Vibe, is that she is heading for Cork.
Time was when wandering about the oceans with only the occasional contact with anyone was what sea-voyaging escapism under sail was all about. But what with the increasing spread of AIS, and the all-involving effect of Covid-19, the crew of the good ship Vibe – which seems to lack AIS – will find themselves shaken out of their solitary little world of voyaging with something of a culture shock when they finally reach Cork