A traditional Irish sailing boat is on the way to Abu Dhabi in a cultural exchange that will also see six Arabian dhows in Galway for the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race next summer.
The National reports that the near-century-old Galway hooker Nora Bheag is being transported to the United Arab Emirates as part of a Maritime Heritage Cultural Exchange initiative, co-ordinated by Irish expat Peter Vine. (Track its progress at marinetraffic.com.)
On her way: Nora Bheag heads for Abu Dhabi. Photo: Boyd Challenger
According to the Galway Independent, the boat is currently en route to Rotterdam in a container loaded with a small curach named Noa.
Plans to include turf and bottles of poitin were abandoned, however, due to customs concerns - instead two hurleys and a sliotar will make the trip.
Nora Bheag is expected to reach port by early December ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet which arrives on 1 January, marking the first time the city has hosted and taken part in the race.
Vine says he came up with the idea of the boat swap because of the two countries' shared maritime heritage.
There are many similarities between hookers and dhows, too, from their comparable sail shapes to their usage for fishing and personal transport.
"This will be a huge common shared experience that will build true friendships and a real cultural exchange," said Vine. "I am hugely grateful to Emirates Heritage Club, which has done so much to revive Arabian dhows, for making such a project possible."
The National has more on the story HERE.
Meanwhile a delegation from Galway is set to travel to Spain later this week for the launch of the Volvo Ocean Race.
A week of events begins this Saturday ahead of the start of the race proper on 5 November in Alicante.