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The Irish Cruising Club’s 2017 Rally in northwest Spain begins its stately progress southwards today from the fleet assembly point of Portosin writes W M Nixon With its organisation ably led by experienced Galician cruiser Peter Haden (whose home port is Ballyvaughan on Galway Bay), the event has far exceeded expected fleet numbers in reaching the 60 mark for a very diverse assembly of cruising yachts.

This has meant that although the notably talented ICC team running the event have put together a formidable information package and programme for those taking part, the sheer numbers mean that they’ve had to very definitely restrict participation in the carefully rationed special shore event and anchorage assemblies only to those who have officially signed up.

Rally chartlet2One of Europe’s most attractive cruising areas is being put to good use for the ICC’s 60-boat Galician Rally, which starts heading southward this morning on a ten day programme

A successful cruise-in-company is a decidedly finely-judged affair, as you have to organize sufficient specific events to give the fleet movement a sense of coherence, yet at the same time you have to allow for the fact that genuine cruising enthusiasts will want time to themselves, while others will want to form small mini-groups having their own cruises-within-the-cruise.

With the rally making full use of one of Europe’s finest cruising areas, the experiences of the next ten days should provide a unique opportunity for those new to Galicia to get to know one of the most interesting corners of Europe. And as for the local people who live there in the many and varied coastal villages and small towns, quite what they’ll make of 60 Irish boats and their enthusiastic crews making their way along their fine coast remains to be seen. But we’ve no doubt that many new and enduring friendships will emerge.

rally flag3Far into the future, the 2017 Galician Rally flag will be a treasured souvenir

Published in Cruising

The Cool Route Project, funded by the EU’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and led by Cork Institute of Technology, commenced in June 2015. Since then, as Afloat.ie reported previously, project partners in Ireland Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Faroe Islands and Norway have been working hard to study and develop strategic initiatives to build the route, covering all of the cruising grounds between Cork and Tromsø, as a world recognised cruising area.

The project workpackage to develop a Route Marketing strategy was led by project partner, The Royal Cork Yacht Club, based in Crosshaven, Co. Cork. Before developing the strategy, The Royal Cork, in the almost complete absence of statistics on sailing in Northern Europe, had to undertake a number of different studies.

The first study undertaken was a Cruising Preferences Study, with over 500 highly qualitative responses received, mainly from Ireland and the UK - the study highlighted the needs preferences and priorities of cruising sailors. A key finding being that the preferred daily journey was 25 nautical miles.

Cruising folk also like very much to have a dry step ashore, be that on to a marina or a pontoon. If they have to moor offshore, they are slightly in favour of anchoring rather than using a public mooring, stating reasons of distrust.

donegal cruisingNew pontoon facilties in Killybegs in County Donegal are important to the establishment of the Cool Route. Photo: WM Nixon

An interesting finding of the comprehensive study was that 65% of respondents stated that they would consider chartering as an option to explore different areas of the route.

Equipped with the preferred daily cruising distance, partner Glasgow Caledonian University, was then positioned to complete its Route Logistics Study and Gap Analysis. The logistics study clearly demonstrates that, with the exception of the west coast of Ireland, there are no distance gaps of over 25mnm, other than the sea crossings from Northern Ireland to Scotland and Scotland to the Faroe Islands and Norway. There are a number of facilities gaps in terms of showers and toilets.

Ideally the project would like all stopovers to have these facilities. Waste disposal is also an issue, and failed to find a suitable solution, as areas around local bins were consistently being used for fly-tipping. The project has also researched, and made recommendations, on a modular design for a toilet and shower block, which is manufactured from recycled shipping containers, easily transported and installed.

The next research task completed towards the finalisation of the marketing strategy was to undertake a Route Traffic Study. The study estimated the total numbers of cruising vessels located throughout the route and also calculated the numbers and locations of vessels within a two day voyage of any part of the route. In all there are in excess of 150,000 vessels capable of voyaging different parts of the route.

Gavin Deane, General Manager at The Royal Cork, stresses that: “The Cool Route is not about sailing from Cork to Norway, but enjoying all of the cruising grounds along the route. UK Boats may likely just come to the South Coast of Ireland for a week, or Northern Ireland and Scottish boats may make reciprocal trips. The project is firmly focussed on bringing new marine borne business to local enterprises and it does not make a difference if the visiting boat originated its voyage 10 miles or 100 miles from its destination. The important aspect is that a visiting craft bring business to local harbours.”

Superyachts KinsaleSuperyachts moored at Kinsale in County Cork

During the summer of 2016 partners in Ireland and Scotland witnessed a growth in the numbers of superyachts visiting. A focus group of 25 superyacht skippers was assembled and the feed-back was clearly to immediately market the route to these craft, who were actively looking for new voyages. Superyachts do not require any additional facilities than ordinary cruising craft with an emphasis on a dry step ashore and facilities to take and recycle waste.

Visits to areas of the route by small liners with 100 or so passengers was also a developing trend.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club, as part of its Cool Route marketing brief, has now produced a very high quality Superyacht Marketing Brochure, containing both generic information on the overall route, as well as a set of national inserts on reach of the participating coastal areas. The brochure is available in hard copy for circulation to superyacht and small liner operators, owners and skippers and also in an online version which can be downloaded here

In publishing the Route Marketing Strategy, which can be downloaded here, the partners are calling on higher levels of proactivity by local ports to encourage visitors.

Dr Breda Kenny, Head of the Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence at CIT, who is leading the project said
“The strategy involves action by the main beneficiaries. This may involve organising weekend events at ports, perhaps including a barbecue or music and entrainment.Twenty visiting boats can bring between 60 to 100 visitors, the presence of boats in your harbour will bring as many day visitors and this combined effect can have significant economic benefits for local shops, cafes, restaurants, museums etc.”

One of the main strategic actions proposed is for national yachting associations and clubs in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland to organise a Cool Route stand at International Boats Shows. The shared stand will have a much greater impact that any one of the individual stands – It will market all of the Cool Route as prime world cruising grounds. National interests will still compete for the business – but to a significantly larger audience.

All of the Cool Route research and studies to date can be viewed and downloaded here.

Published in Cruising
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#RNLI - Lough Ree RNLI’s lifeboat crew were alerted by the Irish Coast Guard to two separate incidents on Saturday 27 May.

The first alarm was raised at 11.04am when two people on board a 32ft motor cruiser ran aground north-west of Inchbofin Island, near the eastern shore of the lake.

Lifeboat operations manager Tony McCarth, assisted by shore crew Bernard Larkin and Denis Begley, had Lough Ree lifeboat The Eric Rowse launched and underway in less than 15 minutes with crew members Stan Bradbury, Kieran Scullion and Stewart McMickan on board.

Weather conditions at the time were difficult, with heavy rain and a strong Force 4 breeze from the north-west. Visibility was poor and there was a moderate swell on the lake.

The Eric Rowse was alongside the casualty vessel at 11.31am, with the lifeboat crew checking that all on board were uninjured and wearing life jackets. Once established that the vessel was not taking on water, the lifeboat towed it off the sandy shoal to safe navigable water.

All equipment on the boat was confirmed to be in good working order, and the people on board were able to continue their journey to Lanesboro at the north end of Lough Ree.

The lifeboat crew returned to station at Coosan Point, where the shore crew prepared The Eric Rowse for service once again by 12.30pm.

Less than three hours later, 3.15pm, the volunteers were alerted again – this time to assist eight people aboard a hire cruiser aground north of the Black Islands, at the north-east shore of Lough Ree.

Launch authority Billy Henshaw and shore crew member Bernie Larkin launched the lifeboat at 3.26pm, crewed again by volunteers Bradbury, Scullion and McMickan.

The lifeboat crew reached the cruiser at 3.49pm and proceeded to conduct the usual checks before towing the cruiser to safety. The eight people on board then continued their journey south to Athlone, and the lifeboat crew returned to the station, where The Eric Rowse was reported ready for service again at 4.50pm.

Speaking later on the day, Tony McCarth said: “We were happy to be able to assist in both callouts today and to help these 10 people continue to enjoy their weekend on Lough Ree.

“Heavy rain leads to poor visibility on the lake, which can make locating navigation markers difficult, even in calm conditions. We remind all users of the lake to ensure they check the weather forecast and seek local advice on likely conditions on the lake before leaving harbour.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Cruising Association of Ireland is already well into a busy season in 2017, but it moves up a gear this weekend with the AGM at Howth presided over by Commodore Clifford Brown tomorrow (Saturday) at 1800hrs, and based around a rally of East Coast members and their boats followed by a dinner, with CAI folk from other parts of Ireland travelling overland to the venue writes W M Nixon.

Last year the CAI AGM & Rally in the Spring was used to mark the opening of the new Greystones Sailing Club with GSC Commodore Dave Nixon as CAI’s Guest of Honour. This year in the more mature marina at Howth, the home club are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of their clubhouse – a winner of architectural awards when it was opened in 1987 – while the marina itself has been in action for nearly 35 years.

The CAI programme in 2017 is impressive, as they started with the Kish Muster in Dublin Bay on 8th April with the overnight at the hospitable National YC. This weekend of May 13th-14th, the focus swings to Howth, then on June 3rd to 5th a significant contingent will be at the Dublin Port festival, while they’re back to meet their old friends in Greystones on 10th to 11th June.

This year’s Cruise-in-Company is focused on Belfast Lough from July 3rd to 10th, then after a mid-season hiatus when many members expect to be doing individual cruises, they gather again on 12th August for an East Coast Rally at either Arklow or Carlingford, depending on the weather. Their East Coast season is rounded out by the traditional and popular Liffey 3 Bridges Cruise on 16th/17th September, when the opening bridges in the heart of Dublin are co-ordinated to allow the CAI fleet through for an convivial assembly which culminates in feasting aboard the Dublin Restaurant Ship Cill Airne.

cruising associationThe popular Cruising Association of Ireland 3 Bridges Cruise in September sees the Liffey bridges co-ordinated for a shared opening time to allow the fleet through. Photo : W M Nixon
While Saturday night’s AGM and dinner at Howth has a certain business-to-be-done emphasis to it, around a dozen boat think it’s only right and proper to sail there, none more so than the renowned Charlie Kavanagh of Wicklow. His Sadler 34 Stravaiger was wintered in a berth in Kilmore Quay, and he was keen to sail to the Howth AGM. But with a period of cold nor’easters threatening, he grabbed a brief weather window on Sunday night by press-ganging shipmate and Wicklow SC Hon. Sec. Peter Shearer into an overnight passage, and they were rewarded with fair easterly winds for a dream sail to Wicklow, admittedly in decidedly crisp temperatures.

So now Stravaiger is conveniently poised to sail north to Howth either this evening or tomorrow morning, and with his new season properly under way, Charlie Kavanagh’s plans for Stravaiger in 2017 include a leisurely Round Ireland cruise.

Published in Cruising

After a winter which included training with Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire, Galway’s Mossie O’Reilly and Paddy Shryane are well into a clockwise Easter circumnavigation of Ireland to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis writes W M Nixon.

Spurred on by the death from CF last summer of their friend Eva Davin aged just 32, the Galway duo are sailing fully-crewed on the INSS’s J/109 Jedi. They aren’t trying to break any sailing records, but instead are doing the classic Round Ireland circuit in a way with which most sailors will identify. This in turn will, they hope, draw attention to the remarkable work being done in Galway University Hospital, where 85 children and adults are receiving treatment for CF.

Even before their venture got under way from Dun Laoghaire in the first minute of Holy Saturday, April 15th, they and their team had already raised €2,545 towards a modest target of €3,000 which we hope will be significantly exceeded by the time fund-raising ends of August 15th 2017. Because the voyage target is simply to get round Ireland, when total calm descended off Kinsale they dropped into port for a few hours until the wind returned.

Published in INSS
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#RNLI - Portrush RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew got an early callout yesterday morning (Sunday 5 March) on reports of a cruiser with three on board that had got into difficulties 33 miles offshore just south-east of the island of Islay in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides.

Weather conditions were described as ‘perfect’ with a bright morning pagers went off at 10.10am, and the crew were quickly underway at full speed due the favourable sea conditions.

When the lifeboat crew reached the vessel, a towline was quickly attached to the cruiser and it was taken under tow to Portrush at a slow and steady rate of six knots. The lifeboat crew returned to base by 4.30pm, six hours after launch.

Portrush RNLI lifeboat operations manager Robin Cardwell said: “This was a textbook exercise for the crew, and something they train for all year round. The good weather conditions assisted the recovery and good progress was made for home.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Daragh Nagle, an ex-Pat Dub who live and sails from Victoria on the west coast of Canada, is the Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for February in honour of his award of the Irish Cruising Club’s premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, for a notably varied voyage in the Pacific from Mexico to Hawaii and then eastward back to Canada.

Although this was island-hopping in what was only a part of the Pacific, for anyone accustomed to the smaller scale of the Atlantic, the distances seem enormous. By the time Daragh’s 29-year-old Moody 346 Chantey V returned to her home port, she’d logged a total of 7,858 miles during 2016 as part of a three year venture which has seen a total of more than 25,000 miles sailed.

It was a challenging programme. But with his skillfully-updated veteran 37-footer, and well-thought-through crew changes which saw his wife Cathy sailing many of the stages involved, Daragh made a real dream cruise which has been deservedly rewarded by his home club, more recently by the Irish Cruising Club, and now by the “Sailor of the Month” award for February 2017.

daragh nagle2The 29-year-old Moody 376 Chantey V in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico shortly before departing for the long haul direct to Hawaii

Published in Sailor of the Month

#Tourism - Boating in the Midlands’ waterways will be the focus of a major tourism push this year, as The Irish Times reports.

Fáilte Ireland’s new ‘slow tourism’ initiative will concentrate on promoting existing walking and cycling greenways and ‘blueway’ cruising routes in Midlands counties south from Lough Allen on the upper Shannon.

Minister of State for Tourism Patrick O’Donovan announced the new marketing plans in his address to the Irish Hotels Federation conference in Kilkenny yesterday (Tuesday 28 February).

“We have had the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, and now we are working on a development plan for the Lakelands,” he said.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

The Irish Sailing Association Cruising Conference headed south this year with the original venue set at the historic Port of Cork meeting room. But when demand went beyond the capacity of the Port HQ, the venue was moved over the road to the Clayton Hotel Cork City to accommodate the gathering of upwards of 80 sailors from all parts of the country last Saturday (February 18th).

Once again the sponsorship from Union Chandlery and support from Cruising Association of Ireland made the day possible, and kept the delegate fee as low as €10 for ISA members, making this informative, entertaining and sociable event accessible to a wide audience.

After a welcome from Harry Hermon, CEO of the Irish Sailing Association, Paul O’Regan, Harbour Master for the Port of Cork, presented the development plans for Bantry Marina and enticed many of the sailors to head for Bantry Bay this summer to avail of the choice of marinas, moorings and anchorages.

Bantry harbourBantry as it has been until this year – the harbour is now being transformed to make it much more user-friendly for recreational sailors

Celebrity Chef Rachel Allen cooked up a storm and had everyone eager for an early lunch as she elegantly and efficiently filleted a fresh plaice while entertaining the room with talks of the foods available along the coast and how to prepare them. Butter sizzled and the plaice was seared, dressed with fresh lemon and parsley and tasters were served around the room. Followed by some good tips on the preparation of fresh mussels as she cooked them off with cream and wild garlic pesto – delicious. Rachel then gave personal message book signings as the sailors queued up to buy themselves her cookbook “Coast” all about the foods of south and west coast.

rachel allen sailingCelebrity chef Rachel Allen’s demonstration was of double interest, as she’s from a sailing family
Myra Reid had the audience inspired by her story of her sail round the world with husband Pairaic O’Maolriada on their Amel Super Maramu Saol Eile, an achievement which made them Afloat.ie “Sailors of the Month” for July 2016 when they returned successfully to Kinsale.

“Around the world in 80 Days (+1,724)” was the title on the presentation slide. Pairaic and Myra were introduced to boating in 2003, started learning in 2004 and in 2005 Pairaic announced he would rather like to sail round the world, and so their project began.

Myra Reid and Pairaic OMaolriadaMyra Reid and Pairaic O’Maolriada on their return to Kinsale in July 2016. Their six year global circuit cruise “under the radar” is deservedly becoming the stuff of legend. Photo Robert Bateman

saol eile 5“We were here” – Horta in the Azores was Saol Eile’s last major port of call before returning to Ireland
As novice sailors, training was their priority and they both embarked on 5 years of knowledge building and training, from skippering to sea survival. Myra entertained the enthralled audience with their tales of deep sea fishing, Panama Canal adventures, Pacific island life and much more.

After all that talk of adventure, Sean O’Farrell of Courtmacsherry RNLI shared some good sound advice on how to avoid a call out. Did you know the main causes of distress are mechanical or structural, fuel, weather, injury or illness and lack of experience or training? Training and the correct equipment on board can help all sailors be prepared for the unexpected.

Evie Conway of Union Chandlery shared her personal experience of falling overboard in Cork Harbour in the winter and left us all in no doubt that without her fully serviced life jacket she might not be with us today. The advice from the RNLI on whether or not to call is “If in doubt, call them out”. Respects were paid to Caitriona Lucas, mother of two and volunteer for Doolin Coast Guard, who during the past year lost her life in service of saving others.

Evie Conway Union ChanderyEvie Conway of Union Chandery providing informed insight
Deirdre Lane of the Commissioners of Irish Lights took us on a tour of the lighthouses and navigational aids round Ireland, sharing her broad knowledge of how the network of weather buoys, synchronised buoys, virtual buoys and beacons all combine to give cruising sailors safe passage, and gave us a tip to keep a close eye on e-Navigation as the future for navigation communications.

John Leahy, airline pilot, yachtmaster and secretary for the Cruising Association of Ireland, gave an in-depth explanation of Ireland’s weather systems and how to work out your own forecast from some basic understanding of weather fronts and how they progress.

The day closed with the knowledgeable Norman Kean of Irish Cruising Club Publications and Fellow of the Royal Institute for Navigation explaining the “Strange Tides of Ireland” or for those more in the know, the “Amphidromes”, the points where the range of the tide is zero, and the effect that has on the sea. For those who mightn’t believe such places exist, there’s one near Courtown on the Wexford coast, and another between Rathlin Island and Islay in the Western Approaches to the North Channel.

Sailing Directions for the South and West Coasts of IrelandThe goodies….the Irish Cruising Club’s Guide to Paradise (aka The Sailing Directions for the South and West Coasts of Ireland) is edited by Norman Kean.

Throughout the conference Evie Conway was at hand to give expert advice on safety equipment, ICC publications were available to purchase and the team from Clean Coasts gave guidance on the impact of different types of refuse that may find itself overboard on to our beautiful coasts.

Clifford Brown Sue Parker Charlie Kavanagh Simon ParkerCruising Association of Ireland Commodore Clifford Brown (left) with fellow members Sue Parker, Charlie Kavanagh, and Simon Parket

The incredible energy and passion for their subjects from each of the volunteer speakers, and the genuine interest from the sailors, truly brought this conference to life. Roll on the 2018 Cruising Conference, it’s provisionally scheduled for February in Dublin, while 2019’s is penciled in as February in Galway.

Rosemary Roy Jack Roy Paddy McGlade Gearoid ORiain Rosemary Roy with Jack Roy & Paddy McGlade of the ISA Board of Directors, and Gearoid O’Riain of Scouting Ireland, at last weekend’s Cruising Conference in Cork

Purchase the ICC Cruising directions here

Published in Cruising
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Cruising is the side of sailing which sometimes finds it difficult to make its voice heard. Its essence is in the quiet enjoyment of seafaring and the peace of secluded anchorages. Unlike the absolute clarity of racing results, which create their own noise and are energised by a sense of competition with others, cruising folk are in competition mainly with themselves, and with their own self-reliant ability to see a voyaging venture brought to a successful conclusion. W M Nixon takes us through a weekend which is cruising-oriented, and concludes tomorrow with a celebration at the home port of Irish cruising’s most legendary figure.

In previewing the prospects for the sailing season of 2017 a couple of months ago, we suggested that it would be The Year of the Everyday Sailor. For inevitably, 2016 was a year of the high profile happenings featuring superstars, events such as the Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow, the KBC Laser Radial Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire, and the absolute peak in Rio de Janeiro, Annalise Murphy’s Olympic Silver Medal.

But 2017 sees a total change of emphasis. With a clear two or three years before the 2020 Olympics start to come up the public agenda again, it’s time to savour and enjoy the sort of sailing most of us do all the time. Local events, neighbourhood regattas, regional offshore and club racing, and that most indefinable of all waterborne activities - cruising.

Last night in Dublin, the Irish Cruising Club held its Annual General Meeting and Prize Giving in which the logs of outstanding cruises – activities which usually stay well under the radar – were given full recognition.

Annabelle J 2The rugged power of a seaworthy vessel – Annabelle J on passage from Smerwick Harbour in the Dingle Peninsula to Kilronan in the Aran Islands during her 2016 cruise on Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard Photo: Maire breathnach

Today in Cork, the Irish Sailing Association/Cruising Association of Ireland Annual Cruising Conference is being staged, and it has attracted so much interest that the venue has had to be moved to larger premises than originally planned. As last night’s ICC AGM was a distinctly crowded affair too, clearly the interest in cruising is stronger than ever. But quite how many have managed to attend both events we won’t know until this morning, yet it’s just about possible with a bit of early morning discipline.

Then tomorrow, the focus swings northwestward from Cork to Foynes on the Shannon Estuary, where a Family Day from 2.30pm to 5.30 pm sees a celebration of Foynes Yacht Club becoming the new Volvo ISA Training Centre of the Year, with ISA President David Lovegrove doing the honours for a club which is the very essence of voluntary enthusiasm and community spirit.

Of course, many of the 200 or so young people who emerge from the Foynes Yacht Club Sailing Academy hope to go on to the highest level of racing success. But equally, they will find their talents in sailing much appreciated aboard keenly-sailed cruising boats. And the club has a solid record in offshore racing, with FYC’s Simon McGibney the current Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association, while father-and-son team Derek and Conor Dillon from Listowel have sailed their Dehler 34 under the Foynes colours to win the two-handed division in the Round Ireland Race.

And then beyond that, Foynes was home port to the great Conor O’Brien (1880-1952) of 1923-1925 Round the World fame. He lived out his final days on Foynes Island, and is buried in the nearby churchyard, but the recently-confirmed plans to build a replica of his famous 40ft ketch Saoirse in her 1922 birthplace of Baltimore will draw further favourable attention to everything that Foynes has done, and is doing, for Irish sailing – racing and cruising alike.

It’s all interconnected, for when the Irish Cruising Club was formed in Glengarriff on Bantry Bay on 13th July 1929, one of the first things they did was make Conor O’Brien an honorary member, and the first time I saw the noted portrait of Conor O’Brien sketched by his wife Kitty Clausen, it was in Foynes YC more than a few years ago..

model of Saoirse in Foynes MuseumAlways remembered. The model of Saoirse in Foynes Museum reminds us that she will soon be re-created full size

portrait of Conor OBrienThe portrait of Conor O’Brien by his wife Kitty Clausen, seen for the first time in Foynes Yacht Cub.

So last night’s ICC post-AGM dinner was well peopled with friendly ghosts, but as well it was a celebration of some really remarkable cruises on every scale. Then too, it marked two significant changes of the watch with Peter Killen of Malahide, who led by example with his Amel Super Maramu 54 ketch Pure Magic seemingly always on the move, retiring as Commodore to see the to post go north to Stanton Adair of Belfast Lough, a long-serving committee member and flag officer who will be leading his members in the ICC Cruise-in-Company to the Galician Rias of Northwest Spain this summer in his well-travelled Beneteau Oceanis 43 Grand Cru.

However, while Commodores and other top officers may be the public face of the ICC, the strength of the club is in its voluntarily-produced publications, with Honorary Editors who between them keep the two volumes of Sailing Directions for the entire Irish coast up to date with notable rigour, and produce an Annual journal of the club’s cruising logs.

Norman Kean of Courtmacsherry is very much in charge of the Sailing Directions which are publicly available, and he’ll be one of the keynote speakers at today’s conference in Cork. But in their way the logs in all their rich variety in the Annual can be every bit as informative, particularly as the club is now so far-ranging that its members can be found cruising on most of the planet’s oceans.

Here, there has been another change of the watch, with Ed Wheeler from he north producing his final and as ever excellent Annual to cover the 2016 season, and after four years he hands over to noted sailor/musician/writer Maire Breathnach of Dungarvan. Or at least she’s from Dungarvan and she spends about a third of her time there, but as she’s married to another formidable voyager, Andrew Wilkes of Lymington on the south coast of England, they spend about a third of their time there, where - with other Irish ex-Pats - they’ve created a sort of West Hampshire Gaeltacht.

Maire Breathnath off Cape Horn 5Maire Breathnach off Cape Horn at the helm of Andrew Wilkes’ Swan 44 King of Hearts during their cruise round South America in 2004. Photo: Andrew Wilkes

Annabelle J 2The new girl in town. Annabelle J as seen recently from Reginalds Tower in Waterford, with the sail training ketch Brian Boru astern. Photo Maire Breathnach

However, the remaining third of their time is maybe most interesting of all, as its spent aboard their gorgeous 55ft gaff cutter Annabelle J, which they bought about 18 months ago to replace their steel gaff yawl Young Larry, with which they’d transitted the Northwest Passage.

The 1996 steel-built Annabelle J first entered Irish maritime consciousness during her previous ownership in 2013, when she was undoubtedly the Queen of the Fleet during the Old Gaffers Golden Jubilee Cruise-in-Company, which took in both Dublin and Belfast. However, if you’ve progressed along the waterfront in Waterford recently, you’ll see her there near Reginald’s Tower, berthed just ahead of the Sail Training ketch Brian Boru, for she’s simply too big to fit into the handy little pool just below the bridge in Dungarvan which Young Larry used to make her winter home.

Although she’s “only” 55ft long in overall hull length, Annabel J is 66ft from nose to tail with spars included, and she speaks “ship” rather than “yacht”. The basic design was by David Cox completed by Gary Mitchell and she was constructed by shipbuilders A & P of Appledore in Devon. Yet while they admit to Bristol Pilot Cutter influence on her design, the original owners made no direct claims for this, but the fact is that she’s such a strikingly handsome vessel that it’s difficult not to see her as the definitive modern version of a pilot cutter, even if she’s larger than most of the original Bristol Channel boats.

For Maire and Andrew, taking on such a vessel was a leap in the dark until they could be confident they could handle her with just the two on board, but a cruise of Ireland’s west coast to Donegal and back in 2016 – including a transit of the Joyce Sound pass inside Slyne Head – showed them they could manage her both in confined waters and at sea, so for 2017 the far horizons call.

However, for 2017 there’s also the additional challenge that Annabel J is now editorial headquarters for the most important annual record of Irish cruising achievement, but her crew being aces in the communications business, they’ll take it all in their stride even if Ed Wheeler has left a very high standard to maintain.

For his final edition of the Annual, the adjudicator for 2016’s logs was former Commodore Cormac McHenry, himself a Transatlantic veteran, and although the ICC now has an enormous selection of trophies to highlight various specialities of achievement, nevertheless he had to by-pass some very notable cruises in order to make his final selection.

The ICC’s premier trophy, dating back to 1931, is the Faulkner Cup, and its latest award is to Daragh Nagle, a member based in Victoria on Canada’s west coast, from where he cruises extensively with his wife Cathy and others in his 1987-built Moody 376 Chantey V.

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7Cathy & Daragh Nagle aboard Chantey V in the Sea of Cortez on the west coast of Mexico.

Chantey 8Chantey V is a standard Moody 376, designed by Bill Dixon and built 1986.
Chantey V’s 2016 cruise was from San Salvador on the Pacific Coast of Central America northwest along the Mexican coast to the long inlet of the Sea of Cortez, followed by the big ocean hop to the Hawaii Islands, before heading eastward back to Canada.

For the long haul out to the islands, he recruited Portuguese-based ICC member John Duggan as first mate, a role he filled with added diligence as he also obligingly wrote up the log of that stage of the voyage – other first mates please note. And as his skipper was unable to collect the Faulkner Cup last night in person as he is at a family wedding in Malaysia, John Duggan was in Dublin last night to do it for him.

His views on the Pacific between West Coast America and Hawaii were interesting. He says it may seem Pacific after you’ve battled your way round Cape Horn, but by comparison with his usual Atlantic stomping grounds, it seemed an oddly unsettled area of water, with twitchy little waves patterns running every which way.

Chantey V Moody 376Man aloft. Daragh Nagle rigging an emergency inner forestay in mid-Pacific. Photo John Duggan

In fact, the going was so jerky at times that Chantey V broke her baby stay. The word from riggers is that the shorter the stay, the less able it is to absorb sudden snatches in loading. But whatever caused it, Darren Nagle spent a few hours getting well bruised at the lower spreaders before he’s rigged a satsfactory temporary baby stay to the stemhead to keep the rig in place for the rest of the voyage. By the time Chantey V got back to Victoria, this cruise totalled 7,858 miles for 2016, and just under 25,000 miles since they started their North America circuit three years ago.

As it happens, the Strangford Cup for an alterative best cruise goes to a venture which John Duggan has done a couple of times with his own 40-footer Hecuba, from the Iberian peninsula out to the Azores and then cruise in detail before returning to Spain or Portugal. In 2016 this very Atlantic cruise was undertaken by Seamus OConnor with his new Hallberg Rassy 42, and with three weeks in the Azores, he produced a mass of interesting information in addition to obviously enjoying himself, which is really what cruising is supposed to be all about.

Enjoyment takes many forms, yet cruising to northeast Greenland would not be many people’s first choice. But Brian Black of Strangford Lough finds he’s drawn back there seemingly year after year in his fairly standard 1985-built Trident Voyager Seafra. He writes of it in such an unassuming yet elegant way that his cruise first to the Faeroes then eastward of Iceland to Ittoqqortoormiit in northeast Greenland (it’s just south of the latitude of Jan Mayen) wins him the Wild Goose Cup for a log of real literary merit, and in it he finds the time to tell us of gig racing in the Faeroes and a visit to his favourite Arctic anchorage of Jyttes Havn.

Gig racing in the Faroes 10Gig racing in the Faroes as watched by Brian Black while cruising towards northeast Greenland. Photo: Brian Black

Arctic anchorageFavourite Arctic anchorage. Seafra in Jyttes Havn, Greenland. Photo: Brian Black

The sun may have shone for Seafra in Jyttes Havn, but far to the southwest in Labrador, Neil Hegarty and his shipmates on the Dufour 34 Shelduck found the weather classic Grand Banks cold and foggy as they readied their Dufour 34 Shelduck for a rugged but efficient passage to Baltimore in West Cork via Newfoundland to complete a three year Atlantic circuit which has been already been garlanded with awards, and now adds the Atlantic Trophy to its laurels.

Neil Hegarty Ann Kenny 13Cold and foggy. Neil Hegarty’s Shelduck at Red Bay, Labrador. Photo Neil Hegarty

Neil Hegarty Ann Kenny 13Homeward bound. Neil Hegarty (right) with Ann Kenny of Tralee and icebergs off St Anthony, Newfoundland

Even the briefest summary of the other main awards doesnl’t do them justice, but it gives some idea of the ICC’s level of activity:

Fortnight Cup: Best cruise within 16 days, Adrian & Maeve bell of Strangford Lough in the Baltic with their Arcona 430 Oisin Ban.

Round Ireland Cup: Donal Walsh of Dungarvan with his newly-acquired Ovni 385 Lady Belle. Thanks to his new boat’s lifting keel, not only was he able to explore shallow ports seldom visited such as Belmullet and Donegal town, but the fact that an Ovni is well able for seafaring meant he made St Kilda part of a round Ireland cruise while he was at it.

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7Donal Walsh’s newly-acquired Ovni 385 Lady Belle showing her versatility by comfortably finding enough water with keel raised to visit Donegal town (above), while she also made the passage out to St Kilda (below) with no bother. Photos Donal Walsh

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7

Fingal Cup: for the log which the judge most enjoyed goes most deservedly to Peter Fernie of Galway for a cruise round Ireland with co-owner Dave Whitehead in the Moody 27 Mystic. At least, it was basically round Ireland, but they also took part in the RUYC 150th Anniversary Cruise-in-Company with the ICC and the Clyde Cruising Club to Tobermorey, so through the minimum round Ireland circuit is 704 miles, the little Mystic had logged 1,228 miles by the time she got back to Kinvara.

Despite its many global adventures, the West Coast of Scotland still figures large in ICC activity, and it has its own trophy, the Wybrants Cup, awarded in 2016 to Robin & Denise Wright for a Hebridean jaunt including St Kilda in their 12m Jeanneau Geronimo.

And the charms of the Irish coast aren’t forgotten, they have their own Glengarriff Trophy, and most approoriately for 216 it goes to the new Annual Editor Maire Breathnach for her account of the mighty Annabel J’s stately progress up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

In fact, the Annabel J is the largest of the award winners this time round, and despite her traditional appearance, she’s also one of the newest. So anyone who has an image of the ICC as large glossy new yachts tearing about the ocean is somewhat mistaken, and the club makes a point of honouring its relatively humble origins with the Marie Trophy for the best cruise by any boat under 30ft. It celebrates the little 1893-built gaff cutter Marie which was the first awardee of the Faulkner Cup way back in 1931, and 85 years later, the Marie Trophy goes to Conor O’Byrne for his cruise from Gaway to the cruising paradise of southwest Ireland in the 1986-built Sadler 26 Calico Jack.

It says everything about the ICC’s breadth of achievement that the awards are only the tip of an iceberg of seagoing coasting and island-hopping variety. One particularly notable cruise which didn’t get any nod of special recognition was from Galway Bay to Russia by Fergus and Katherine Quinlan with their own-built van de Stadt 12 metre steel cutter Pylades, a wonderfully detailed account of many countries which contrasts very vividly with their previous big venture, a voyage round the world.

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7A long way from Pacific Islands. Dawn beyond the Ijsselmeer in the Netherlands, as seen from Pylades during the cruise to Russia. Photo: Fergus Quinlan.

But then that world circuit saw Pylades being awarded the Faulkner Cup three years on the trot, so maybe there’s room for a new trophy “For A Cruise Which Is As Different As Possible From The Same Vessel’s Previous Award-winning Cruise”.

And then there’s no award for a cruise which provides photos which best capture the sprit of a cruising area, but for 2016 it would have gone to Paul Newport of Howth, whose cruise his wife Fiona to the Hebrides with the Najad 332 Puffin Eile was not only a gem of its type, but he brought back a couple of photos which make the place live for the rest of us.

The more dramatic is taken into the sun at Cragaig Bay on the island of Ulva west of Mull, with the distinctive Dutchman’s Cap island in the distance. In the foreground are four cruising yachts, all lying to their own anchors in the approved manner, all at a distance from each other which is enough for politeness and privacy, yet they’re not so far apart that there can’t be some sociable interchange if it is mutually wished.

Cathy Daragh Nagle Chanty V 7The most perfect small Hebridean island…..Puffin Eile at Eriskay. Photo Paul Newport

The other is simply Puffin Eile lying to the visitor’s mooring in the lovely little island of Eriskay. Eriskay is so perfect that when we first went there, one of my shipmates was so impressed that he duly named his next boat after it. Yet somehow timetables in cruising the Outer Hebrides recently have meant that we’ve missed out on Eriskay while passing south or north through the Sea of the Hebrides, so it’s good to see the little place looking so well.

Getting a special satisfaction out of sailing your own boat to places like Eriskay is part of what cruising is all abut. But there are many other factors which contribute to true enjoyment of this mainstream yet low-profile aspect of sailing, and one of them is good food.

So it’s a brilliant idea that Rachel Allen of Ballymaloe should be another of the key speakers at today’s Cruising Conference in Cork. Only recently she featured here in Afloat as Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy has been doing the intensive 12-week Cookery Course at Ballymaloe, which is definitely not an undertaking for the faint-hearted.

annalise Murphy darina allen Rachel allenDarina Allen, Olympic Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy, and Rachel Allen at Ballymaloe Cookery School.
But Ballymaloe’s connections with sailing are much wider than that, for it was windsurfer Rory Allen of Ballymaloe, who started the famous Round Great Island Race in Cork Harbour scheduled at the top of the tide, and it’s now an annual highlight. And Rachel herself is of the O’Neill sailing family, whom we’ve known afloat for many years. It goes back a very long time to when they’d the Nicholson Half Tonner Silver Mite, and we buddy-boated together from West Cork home to Dublin in good company with Denis and Brian O’Neill. The latter very obligingly hauled one of the Nixon kids out of Kinsale Marina when he fell in while being over-enthusiastic about fishing. I’m happy to tell “Disgusted of Dunmanway” that the young fisherman was wearing a lifejacket, but the O’Neill pull-up was very much appreciated nevertheless.

anchorage Cragaig Bay Ulva off Mull19The cruising dream on Scotland’s West Coast. The anchorage at Cragaig Bay on Ulva off the west coast of Mull, with the distinctively-shape Dutchman’s Cap island beyond. Photo Paul Newport

Published in Ilen
Page 4 of 20

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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