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Historic Ketch Ilen Reaches First Port in Greenland After 11-Day Voyage from Limerick

11th July 2019
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After a successful crossing of the North Atlantic from Limerick, Ilen arrives at Nanortalik, Greenland’s most southerly town After a successful crossing of the North Atlantic from Limerick, Ilen arrives at Nanortalik, Greenland’s most southerly town Photo: Gary MacMahon

After experiencing every sort of condition from Force 8 winds to near calms, the 56ft 1926-built restored ketch Ilen of Limerick has reached her first port in Greenland to conclude 11 days of Transatlantic ocean voyaging, having successfully negotiated the challenging waters around the majestic Arctic super-island’s southerly headland of Cape Farewell.

As Afloat previously reported, although Cape Farewell and its surrounding coastline is totally barren, Ilen’s crew are now relaxing on Greenland’s southwest coast in the relative comfort of Nanortalik (it means “Place of the Polar Bears”), a port town with 1,337 inhabitants which is Greenland’s most southerly municipality. The next stage of the voyage will be northwards towards the Greenland capital of Nuuk, but for now the fact that the hazards of Cape Farewell have been successfully put astern through difficult conditions, in which the Conor O’Brien trading ketch handled very well, is a matter for celebration by the crew of ten and their many supports in Ireland and worldwide.

Published in Ilen
WM Nixon

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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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The Ilen is the last of Ireland’s traditional wooden sailing ships.

Designed by Limerick man Conor O’Brien and built in Baltimore in 1926, she was delivered by Munster men to the Falkland Islands where she served valiantly for seventy years, enduring and enjoying the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties.

Returned now to Ireland and given a new breath of life, Ilen may be described as the last of Ireland’s timber-built ocean-going sailing ships, yet at a mere 56ft, it is capable of visiting most of the small harbours of Ireland.

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