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Smallest Round Ireland Non-Stop Under Sail? 22-Footer From Kinsale on Track to Complete Challenge

13th September 2021
A vintage Hurley 22 bustling along. One of this marque – Moonshine from Kinsale – is on track to become the smallest boat to sail non-stop round Ireland
A vintage Hurley 22 bustling along. One of this marque – Moonshine from Kinsale – is on track to become the smallest boat to sail non-stop round Ireland

The Hurley 22 – series-produced in considerable numbers between 1966 and 1975 to an Ian Anderson design by Plymouth boatbuilder George Hurley, who was of distantly Irish descent – is still rightly seen as an able little boat, with pleasant looks and good seagoing ability. Nevertheless most folk would think she's a bit on the small side to take on the challenge of a non-stop two-handed round Ireland voyage.

Yet at the moment things are looking good in that direction for Eoin Keyes and Leonie Conway, who departed Kinsale in his 1969-vintage Hurley 22 Moonshine a week ago to make the 700 miles circuit clockwise, and they're currently southward bound off the Wicklow coast, with the final leg along the south coast almost in sight.

The project – which has been undertaken with the full support of Eoin's employer James Lyons of Sovereign Sailing in Kinsale – is being done to raise awareness of the recently-formed Irish Chapter of Sea Shepherd, the international marine conservation society whose work worldwide has never been more important than it is today.

"Compact but comfortable" – the plans of the Hurley 22"Compact but comfortable" – the plans of the Hurley 22

Yet the crew of the little Moonshine are well aware of the need to keep plans reasonably under wraps, at least until you've made significant progress toward your objective. But now they've shown their hand with an intriguing query to Afloat.ie, and in doing so, they've revealed their track and current position here

The query is the age-old one of how you measure the size of a boat. These days, even the boat manufacturers operating in metricated countries tend to name their boats in terms of overall length in feet. Indeed, they often add a foot or two to the actual length in order to make the boat seem even bigger to a potential buyer. In due course, this can lead to all sorts of merry discussions with marina managers when assessing berthing fees. But because it takes no account of beam regardless of the units used, it means that a Hurley 22 appears to be a larger boat than a Mini-Transat 6.50, whose metres translate into an LOA of 21.3255ft.

Yet even to the most casual observer, the Mini-Transat is a very much bigger boat than the Hurley 22. Which would be neither here nor there, except that in the 2018 Round Ireland Race, two Mini-Transats went round having their own race in company with the official IRC fleet, thereby entering the record books as the smallest boats known to have sailed non-stop round Ireland.

Louis Mulloy's Mini-Transat 650 Blackshell Farm in the 2018 Round Ireland race. In every way except overall length, this is a bigger boat than the classic Hurley 22. Photo: Afloat,ie/David O'BrienLouis Mulloy's Mini-Transat 650 Blackshell Farm in the 2018 Round Ireland race. In every way except overall length, this is a bigger boat than the classic Hurley 22. Photo: Afloat,ie/David O'Brien

It was a West Coast Derby, with Yannick Lemonnier's Port of Galway finishing in 5 days 16 hours and 30 seconds, while Louis Mulloy's Blackshell Farm from Westport completed in 5 days 18 hours and 8 minutes - both of them well ahead of several larger craft.

Obviously, there's no way the comfortable little Moonshine is going to match these racing-machine times, even if she has been maintaining a very respectable pace for a boat of her size, type and vintage. And when (DV) she gets back into Kinsale this week, we'll be right there with those who say that this is the smallest boat ever to have sailed round Ireland non-stop.

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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