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Danu of Galway, Kari & Selkie - Irish Liveaboard Families

16th August 2020
Philly Eves and Tedd Hamilton on board Kari which they spent 6 years on from 2003 with their children (from left)Cian, Soracha and Oisin Philly Eves and Tedd Hamilton on board Kari which they spent 6 years on from 2003 with their children (from left)Cian, Soracha and Oisin Photo: Ultan Devaney

“A steel boat will take you anywhere if it is well maintained, but knowing it inside out made all the difference,”

“You can jump onto a boat and sail it, but you can have lots of problems if you aren’t familiar with it.”

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Galway scientists and sailors Peter Owens and Vera Quinlan speak of their 14 months sailing Danú of Galway with their two children Lilian (12) and Ruairí (10) and give tips for families considering the same.

Had they dodged lightning storms, swum through a shiver of sharks and clung to a coconut sack to escape the prison on the Îles du Salut that featured in the film Papillon, the Quinlan-Owens family could not radiate more exhilaration after their 12,000 nautical mile trip, which involved quarantining in the latter stages due to Covid-19.

Lilian was a toddler and Quinlan was still on maternity leave with Ruairí when they bought Danú, a 1 Mauritius-class steel ketch in 1993 to a Bruce Roberts design.

The cost for the couple was “the price of an average family car”. However, it required a complete refit, along with a new engine and electronics, after they sailed it up from the Guadiana river on the Spanish-Portuguese border.

danu crewHere comes the sun…..Danu’s crew as they took their departure from Ireland at the end of June 2019, with Lilian and Ruari (foreground), and their parents Peter Owens and Vera Quinlan. Photo Vera Quinlan

For almost two years, Owens laboured with power tools, dust and grime in Galway docks. Through dark winter nights, he dreamed of ventures north to climb in Norway’s Lofoten islands — a trip he made when the work was done.

“We just wanted to be 100% sure of the vessel,” says Quinlan. “Experience is something you cannot buy, and with that comes the knowledge that if you have something like a catastrophic fire out in the north Atlantic, you are out of range of a helicopter rescue.” Lilian and Ruairí learnt man-overboard drills and what to do if they had to abandon ship.

“You can’t take anything with you — not even your books,” says Ruairí.

Yearning to spend more time with their young family

A yearning to spend more time with their young family was also shared by Phillida Eves and Tedd Hamilton, who set off from Rosscahill, in Co Galway, for the Mediterranean in July 2003.

Their children, Oisín, Cian and Soracha, were aged between nine and two, and their springer spaniel, Poppy, travelled with them on 14-metre, 30-year old Nicholson ketch, Kari, which they had bought in southern Spain.

The couple remortgaged their house, and Hamilton’s profession as a marine engineer meant he could work on “superyachts” while Eves, a teacher, could be drawn on real-life situations to give the children maths lessons, such as calculating distance for fuel.

Practical education was also the focus for Trish McDonagh, when she and her husband and two children, then aged four and seven, embarked on an extended Atlantic circuit from Cork harbour on their yacht, Selkie, between 2012 and 2015.

“I took the home-schooling seriously, but then stripped it away to maths and English, while every other subject — history, geography, science, and so on — was based on where we were,” she says. “I think the big advantage for the children was having time with both of their parents, which can be difficult enough in this world we find ourselves in.

Read more in The Sunday Times here

Published in Cruising
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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