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Cork Harbour's Pinkeen Gives Us all the Gift of the Classic Summer Sailing Spirit

14th August 2020
Summer perfection – Pat Murphy's 23ft Pinkeen celebrates her seventy years with dreamlike sailing off Cobh Summer perfection – Pat Murphy's 23ft Pinkeen celebrates her seventy years with dreamlike sailing off Cobh Photo: Bob Bateman

Not everyone gets the opportunity to restore a boat built by their grandfather, a gem of a boat whose construction started 70 years ago. But then, not everyone has had a professional seafaring and recreational sailing career to match that of Pat Murphy of Glenbrook on Cork Harbour. His working days at sea in his progression towards becoming a Master Mariner involved some very challenging contracts, while his varied sailing career has included many years at the sharp end of the International Dragon Class.

Slipping sweetly along, leaving scarcely any wake – this is classic sailing at its best. Photo: Robert BatemanSlipping sweetly along, leaving scarcely any wake – this is classic sailing at its best. Photo: Robert Bateman

In fact, it's such a fascinating story that we'll be covering it in much greater detail in a proper feature when the evenings have closed in, and the main part of the sailing in this harshly-compressed season has been completed to provide more time and space. But for now, last Sunday provided the opportunity for Robert Bateman to capture some glorious "essence of summer" photos which will be a tonic for everyone during the current spell of decidedly mixed weather in this national mood of anxiety as we deal with the pandemic.

Pinkeen is an Alan Buchanan-designed 23ft Colleen Class, of which three were built for Kinsale in the 1950s, with one of them – Pinkeen for Knolly Stokes of the distinguished Cork city clock-making firm – being built in Kinsale itself by Pat's grandfather, senior boatbuilder John Thuillier. He started the work in 1950, when he was already having a busy year as he was also founding Commodore of Kinsale YC in 1950, but as he happened to be already 80 years old, the boatbuilding was at a quiet pace, and it was 1952 when he had her completed.

Pat Murphy is particularly appreciative of the pleasure of restoring and sailing the boat his grandfather built Happy man. Having had a maritime career which included some very challenging work in distant places, Pat Murphy is particularly appreciative of the pleasure of restoring and sailing the boat his grandfather built. Photo: Robert Bateman

Over the 68 years since, Pinkeen has been here and there, including a stint in Galway. But Pat Murphy was always drawn to her, and when he bought her in 2005, she was back in Cork Harbour and definitely showing her age. He has done some of the restoration work himself and some heavier tasks have been undertaken on a piecemeal basis by professionals.

But in 2018 he got her to Jim Walsh in his international-standard classic boatbuilding and restoration workshops in Nohaval beside that hidden little inlet on the Cork coast between Crosshaven and Oysterhaven, and after Pinkeen had emerged, gleaming in sublime condition, all that was needed was this year's new suit of sails from UK Sailmakers of Crosshaven – also to recognised international classic practice in cream sailcloth – to make the project and the picture complete.

The result is a little boat which truly glows as she sails sweetly along, bringing joy to an exceptional owner-skipper, and great pleasure to the rest of us in a year when such special pleasures are trebly valuable.

The effortless way in which Pinkeen slips cleanly through the water "Leave no trace". The effortless way in which Pinkeen slips cleanly through the water is an example which can be usefully transferred to others areas of activity, while her sweetly-fitting classic-style sails from UK Sailmakers of Crosshaven demonstrate how important it is to get the complete look for the most satisfying and authentic overall result. Photo: Robert Bateman

The complete picture, with a recollection of times past. The elegant new sails from UK Crosshaven Sailmakers include the Colleen Class symbol first promoted in Kinsale in 1952. Photo: Barry Hayes

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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