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Big Welcome for Cruising Association as Boats Revisit Northern Ireland Waters

25th August 2020
Darina Brown from the yacht Rhapsody and her accompanying sea dog Brody was on the Cruising Association of Ireland cruise from Dublin to Belfast Darina Brown from the yacht Rhapsody and her accompanying sea dog Brody was on the Cruising Association of Ireland cruise from Dublin to Belfast

It's only 160 km by road but the passage north from Dublin Bay for the twelve Cruising Association of Ireland crews who set out for Belfast Lough was a great deal more. With stopovers in Carlingford Lough and Ardglass on the way to Bangor and Belfast, those sailors who persisted in what turned out to be mostly disappointing weather conditions were rewarded with a warm welcome in all the marinas visited. It has been three years since the fleet came North and new members were welcomed to the CAI fold.

Led by Commodore Vincent Lundy in Timballoo, the 14-boat fleet mustered at Malahide Yacht Club where they were treated to a Barbecue hosted by Commodore Dan Flavin and his wife Therese. From there, aided by CAI Secretary John Leahy's regular forecast maps, some of which were so highly coloured there could be no mistake about what they told, two left for Carlingford – John McInerney's Nos na Gaoithe and Noel Lappin's Rhiannon. The rest had a lay day.

Friday saw the rest of the fleet head for Carlingford Lough and for those winds were generally NNE and 12 knots with a sloppy sea but relief came when the turn to port at the Hellyhunter Buoy off Cranfield Point brought some sunshine and calm seas. The destination was the marina on the County Louth shore, in that beautiful fiord like lough, where they enjoyed an evening meal.

Cruising Association of Ireland yachts arrive in Carlingford Lough during the cruise from Malahide to Belfast LoughCruising Association of Ireland yachts arrive in Carlingford Lough during the cruise from Malahide to Belfast Lough

Early morning at Carlingford MarinaEarly morning at Carlingford Marina

The next stop was the fishing town of Ardglass on the south Down coast. With the dire forecast of Storm Ellen for the end of the week, three chose the discretion option and planned to head back to Dublin Bay. After Ardglass it was on North to Belfast Lough.

Early morning at Ardglass Marina. The only marina between Carlingford and Bangor, Ardglass Marina is one of the safest small harbours on the east coast of Ireland thanks to its two breakwaters and dArdglass Marina is the only marina between Carlingford and Bangor. It is one of the safest small harbours on the east coast of Ireland thanks to its two breakwaters and deep water.Cruising Association members at Ardglass are (from left) Clifford Brown, John McInerney and Gerry Dunne

By Wednesday seven of the fleet were tucked up in Bangor – Timballoo, Rhapsody, Rhiannon, Aldebaran, Seod na Farraige, Nos Na Gaoithe and Enigma (John Murphy had the shortest passage having come from his home port of Carrickfergus on the opposite shore). There was plenty of room for Nanuq owned by Pat McCormick, Commodore of Carlingford Yacht Club and Simon Parker's Asile in the sparsely populated Belfast Harbour Marina with surely the most stunning backdrop in Titanic Belfast. And another northern member, David Meeke was in Bangor without his boat, having picked an unfortunate time to antifoul in Carrick! 

Stunning backdrop of the Titanic in BelfastThe stunning backdrop of the Titanic Belfast

Royal Ulster Yacht Club was the venue for the end of cruise dinner where on Wednesday evening the gathering assembled, suitably socially distanced, with Vice Commodore Alan Espey welcoming the crews.

Commodore Vincent Lundy reflected on the event." It is very difficult to organise any event which complies with COVID 19 regulations. The CAI is very particular to the point that they applied a high degree of Health and Safety over and above the recommended guidelines. The majority of CAI crews are family groups and we were able to put in place an alternative short cruise to replace the original planned for the West Coast of Scotland. At each of the main stops in Malahide, Carlingford and Bangor, the reception was welcoming and friendly. This was a worthwhile effort".

Published in Cruising
Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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