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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club

The Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association is now the central organisation for the OGA in Ireland, following the absorption of the Northern Ireland branch, which supplied the re-elected President, Adrian "Stu" Spence.

His home port is in Ringhaddy Sound in Strangford Lough, but on Saturday, he brought together an Annual General Meeting in Dublin Port which reflected the all-Ireland nature of the DBOGA despite its apparently location-specific title, and the election of a large committee further reflected the gathering's countrywide interests.

Honorary Secretary Darryl Hughes of Crosshaven stood down after several years of sterling service, which included steering the Association through the Pandemic in a busy style with a comprehensive series of Zoom sessions involving a wide range of maritime topics, while combining a successful ongoing fund-raising drive for the Howth lifeboat

Darryl is succeeded by Peter Tobin as Secretary, while Dave Neilly takes over from Jimmy Murphy as Treasurer as the DBOGA heads into a busy 2023, which will include the extensive celebrations of the now-international Old Gaffers Association's 60th Anniversary.

The 2023 DBOGA Officers & Committee are: 

Adrian Spence - President
Peter Tobin - Secretary
Dave Neilly - Treasurer

Committee:

Dennis Aylmer (Dun Laoghaire)
John Elston
Joe Foley
John Ferguson
Negley Groom (Poolbeg)
Darryl Hughes (Crosshaven)
Gerry Keane
Paul Keogh (Clondalkin)
David Lewis
Cormac Lowth
Ed Maggs (Kerry)
Jimmy Murphy
Paul Rowe
Mark Sweetnam
Chris Trevithick
Seán Walsh (Kinsale)
Johnny Wedick
Michael Weed (Donegal)

A recording of the AGM is below

Published in Dublin Bay Old Gaffers

Dublin's Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club has asked berth holders not to 'quarantine' or 'isolate' on their boats at the city-centre marina.

The advice comes as the River Liffey club also cancelled its annual lift-in boat boats until further notice because of the Covid-19 emergency.

The marina and clubhouse has been closed in line with government guidelines and the club has asked visitors not to arrive at the marina until further notice.

In a letter to members, the PYBC committee said 'although it goes against everything we stand for, we have to ask our customers to keep away from Poolbeg Marina until the situation improves'.

Published in Irish Marinas

Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club’s annual regatta will take place this coming bank holiday weekend during the Dublin Port’s Riverfest! The organisers have apologised for the short notice which was caused by an incident resulting in possible outage of Poolbeg marina facility during the event but this is now rectified.

Racing participants and visiting boats are welcome to Dublin Port’s Riverfest and the Caribbean beach party at PYBC’s annual regatta!

There will be 3 days of racing, shoreside activities and all are encouraged to take a trip up the river Liffey to Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club where there will be an Urban Beach, live Caribbean Band and much more!

Race participants will be greeted with a free drink and there is food available for purchase on arrival. For visiting boats, please find attached below a Notice to Mariners and the Dublin Port Entry Guide.

Sailing races and activities are divided as follows:
Dublin Bay Racing
Cruiser 1
Cruiser 2
Cruiser 3
White sails and others include the
Irish Sea Offshore Sailing Association (ISORA)
Old Gaffers Association
E Boats
Ruffian 23
River Liffey Racing
Dinghy races for various classes
Ruffian and E Boat Classes - including "try sailing" during the race
Parade of sail demonstrations will take part on the river every day.
Any racing or cruising boat can take part.

PYBC will be broadcasting live an ISORA race on a screen throughout Saturday, the race will begin in Howth Yacht Club, around Lambay Island and finishes in Dublin Port.

Published in Dublin Bay

This is Public Consultation Week for the First Review of Dublin Port’s Development Masterplan 2012-2040, and with a 28-year timespan involved, some of the more remote yet very possible proposals will still seem at the very least far-fetched - and at worst outrageous - to residents and harbour users most directly affected writes W M Nixon.

You’ll need to get your skates on if you’re going to see how the port is presenting its proposals in the neighbourhoods most directly involved, as the Clontarf session today (Monday 13th February) in Scoil Ui Chonaill GAA was due to conclude at 8.0pm. Tomorrow being St Valentine’s Day, everyone will be otherwise occupied as Dublin is a a city of incurable romantics, but the show resumes on Wednesday 15th February from 2.0pm to 8.0pm at the Sean O’Casey Community Centre, St Mary’s Road, East Wall Road, Dublin 3.

However, it’s the concluding show on Thursday 16th February, again from 2.0pm to 8.0pm, which is likely to attract most sparks, as it’s in Clanna Gael Fontenoy GAA Club, Sean Moore Road, Ringsend, Dublin 4, and it’s the Dublin communities of Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount – all in Dublin 4 - which would see some of the more far-fetched proposals having greatest impact.

From a visit to the Clontarf presentation today (Monday) it seems that while the harbour’s development seawards is now being handled in a way which has assuaged the worst fears of Clontarf residents, it is Dublin Port’s determination to maintain a strong and growing presence south of the river which could permanently change life for people in Ringsend and Sandymount.

With the two parts of the port connected only by the East Link Lifting Bridge, this is an almost permanent traffic bottleneck, so it’s not surprising that a proposal expecting early implementation is a new bridge immediately east of the East Link.

Dublin port planConnections between the north and south parts of the port are always under strain, and an early proposal was the installation of a second bridge immediately eastward of the present East Link Bridge

At the moment this parallel bridge seems to be proposed as a link exclusively for port traffic. But if that is the case then new road capacity has to be provided from the new bridge eastward to Poolbeg Roundabout, so an alternative scenario is that the new bridge be paired with the existing East Link to provide a dual carriageway, which in turn will be continued to the Poolbeg Roundabout.

Providing such a dual carriageway will inevitably take a chunk out of the space at present used by Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club both on the land and in their marina too. So instead of a compact marina clustered at the club, one variation of the plan shows an elongated marina running virtually the whole way to the new bridge immediately seaward of the northern lane of a the new dual carriageway.

However, while this may lessen the East Link bottleneck, most of the traffic using the East Link is not port-related anyway. They’re just people deluded by the notion that they’re taking the quickest way from the North City – and particularly the airport – to the vast affluent swathes of the south county. They arrive smoothly at the East Link via the Port Tunnel, and now if the East Link to Poolbeg Roundabout section become effectively a mini-motorway, they’ll be further deluded until they find themselves back in old-fashioned traffic jams as they try to make their way towards Sandymount Strand.

Dublin port plan liffeyHints of how the port might be. A new fixed bridge has been built across the mouth of the Dodder on the South Bank immediately upriver of the Eastlink, thereby cutting off access to the Grand Canal Basin for all but “canal boats”, while the line of red-and-white dots is the suggested route of the Eastern By-pass, which seems to be sent off from the Poolbeg Peninsula into the wide open spaces of Sandymount Strand.

So the old monster which just won’t go away, the Eastern Bypass, raises its head again in the proposals relating to the more distant future, though “distant” is only relative – 28 years is no time at all. Be that as it may, the cheapest option for an Eastern By-pass is a motorway-standard dual carriageway along Sandymount Strand, upon the completion of which, the next discussion will be where it re-joins the city’s road system.

But that’s an argument for another day which may not be necessary if another line of thought is taken, to which we’ll come in a minute. But right now, whatever happens, there’s no doubting that the cosy setup at Poolbeg, with a friendly club with a strong sense of community, and it all handy to the city, is under threat.

In fact, sometimes when you see ships manoeuvring within feet of the delicate marina structure in a real breeze of wind, you can’t help but think that you are watching a YouTube “Best Ship Disasters” vid in the making, and that Poolbeg Marina’s continued existence is a little miracle.

ship close to yachtIt can be quite thought-provoking to see ships being manoeuvred in a breeze of wind within a stone’s throw of Poolbeg Marina. Photo: W M Nixon
So the Poolbeg contingent are planning to be there in strength on Thursday to see for themselves just what the future might hold, and among other things they’ll see confirmation that a bus-lane-and-pedestrian bridge is highly likely across the mouth of the Dodder, thereby cutting off access to the Grand Canal Basin for vessels with masts or even just exceptional top hamper – the only reassurance I could get was that “canal boats” will have sufficient clearance.

As for the Eastern Bypass, if the cheapo version along the beach is built, then Sandymount will indeed have lost its strand. At the moment, the little coastal road is something you can walk across at any point, and the seashore seems very accessible. But as soon as you get eastward of Merrion Gates, the railway is defining most of the shoreline, and the sense of the sea being accessible is no longer so apparent – who ever talks of Booterstown Beach?

A motorway along the beach is every bit as much of a barrier as a railway, so it would be the end of Sandymount Strand as thousands know and love it. But anyway, if such a road were built, it would only deliver people further along the line into another jam. To make sense, it would have to go all the way to the nearest part of the M50/M11 linkup, which is somewhere about Leopardstown. Yet there’s just no way a raw new motorway is going to be built across this unrivalled area of prime real estate. However, north of the river the Port Tunnel is merrily working away, doing its work so well we almost forget it exists. Yet it seemed impossibly grandiose at the time it was first proposed.

A Ringsend to Leopardstown Tunnel would be about three times as long, and it would need at least two interchanges built into it to make logistical sense. But it is certainly well within the scope of fairly basic tunneling technology. And up in Arranmore in Donegal, there’s inherited tunneling expertise from the time of building the Channel Tunnel between England and France. The Arranmore economy would find the Ringsend-Leopardstown Tunnel a very nice little earner, thank you. And with some clever planning, it could leave the communities of Ringsend, Irishtown and Sandymount largely intact.

Published in Dublin Port

#Lecture - Glenua & Friends presents a lecture: Rolex Middle Sea Race 2015 - How Malahide Father & Son Won the Double-handed Division

The talk by Dermot Cronin takes place next Thursday 13 October at 20:00 in Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club Ringsend. Entry €5 (in aid of RNLI)

The Annual 608 mile Rolex Middle Sea Race is the Mediterranean equivalent of the Fastnet.

Every October it attracts a large international entry to Valetta in Malta, the starting point of the 608 mile race where skippers and crew experience a diversity of landscape and varying sea conditions defined by frustrating light airs to sail-splitting storms.

In his illustrated lecture, Dermot Cronin of Malahide Yacht Club, will bring us the inside story of how his son Paddy and himself won the Double-handed division of the 2015 Middle Sea Race in their yacht Encore, a First 40.7.

Apart from the tactical challenges, it was an energy–sapping race with frequent sail-changing and variable winds reaching 42kts+.

Ever since his first sailing course with Glenans in Bere Island in 1979, racing around islands has attracted Dermot. Being an active racing member of Malahide Yacht Club since 1989, he progressed to Round Ireland racing, D2D’s and Fastnet in 2003.

In Encore he headed for Malta where he raced the Middle Sea Race in 2013 and 2014 fully crewed. His son Paddy has won the Round Ireland Double-handed division twice along with the RORC UK equivalent. Thus father and son teamed up in October 2015 for Double-handed division of the Middle Sea Race.

Published in Middle Sea Race

Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club hosts it’s first ever dinghy open event as part of their annual regatta. The combined RS fleets, the RS200’s & RS400’s, will race the "King of the Liffey Open Sprint Event" on Saturday the 13th of August. Exciting short course racing will be run on the Liffey opposite the ideal spectator vantage point of Poolbeg Yacht Club. Anyone interested in watching some close racing in the city centre is more than welcome!

Published in RS Sailing

I love an opportunity to call into Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club, “the real Dublin sailing club,” as I have been told by those fortunate enough to be members. There is always an easy, friendly welcome and a chat. No pretensions to the unnecessary grandeur that has to be endured at some other clubs. “We are the heart of Dublin sailing, proud to be known as the workingmen’s yacht club,” another description given to me of this club which has a particular fondness for traditional boats and has been to the fore in support for such as the Galway hookers and the Old Gaffers, whose residence in the club precincts is a notable endorsement of the hallowed traditions of sailing.
“The only marina and club in the heart of Dublin,” it proclaims and which I reflected upon as a very accurate statement as I drove through Ringsend, whose maritime tradition stretches back centuries and along the South Bank of the Liffey down to Pigeon House Road to the club. On this occasion I was calling to go aboard Celtic Mist, boat of the late Charlie Haughey, on which I had been honoured to carry out the re-launching ceremony when it was taken over by the Irish Whale and Dolphing Group to whom it had been given by the Haughey family.
I hadn’t been aboard since the day of the re-launch at Kilrush in August of 2012. It was on the 25th anniversary voyage marking Ireland’s declaration of a whale and dolphin sanctuary in national waters, made by Mr.Haughey. Celtic Mist was moored on the €1.5m. marina development by the Poolbeg Club which has provided 100 berths close to the city centre.
Fiacc O Brolochain was in charge aboard.
LISTEN to Podcast below. 

Celtic Mist left Poolbeg and headed to Howth and then Drogheda for the Maritime Festival, across to the Isle of Man and onto Arklow for the Sea Breeze festival, continuing its 25th anniversary voyage. The IWDG is not happy with the formation of the new Heritage Council which has no member with expertise in wildlife. It says the Council has been reduced by the State to a level where it is “unable to deliver on its natural heritage functions.” The Group is also monitoring a number of unexplained deaths of dolphins off Kerry which local people are blaming on the presence of supertrawlers off the coast. The supertrawler/dolphin bycatch issue has been on-going since early 2014.

Saturday, August 27, has been set by the Whale and Dolphin Group as national Whale Watch Day on 20 headlands around the coast.

Published in Island Nation

#1916maritime - The Winter lecture 2015/16 season of the Glenua Sailing Centre concludes with a lecture entitled: ‘Maritme Aspects of the 1916 Rising’ by Dr Edward Bourke.

The illustrated lectures will take place on Thursday 14 April (20:00hrs) at the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club, Ringsend, Dublin. There will be an entry fee of €5 in aid of the R.N.L.I.

Edward Bourke is an industrial microbiologist recently retired from brewery research. He is also maritime historian and has published five books on Irish shipwrecks as well as a history of Guinness. Currently he is working on the role of intelligence during the war of Independence in Ireland.

In his illustrated lecture, Edward will explore several maritime aspects of the 1916 events. Foremost among them being the role played by the Royal Navy in suppressing The Rising by strategic interventions.

He will assess the view that the impact of the Helga is greatly exaggerated on the basis that most of the shelling of Dublin was done by field artillery or whether the import of guns for the Volunteers in 1914 was carefully controlled by the British authorities. How plausible is the opinion that the navy had ample forewarning of the intentions of the Volunteers but allowed the 1916 Rising to proceed?

Edward will also discuss the significance of the 1916 rising in the wider context of the Great European War.

Published in Boating Fixtures

With last night’s Irish Cruising Club Annual General Meeting & Prize-Giving hosted at Howth Yacht Club, and this morning’s day-long ISA Cruising Conference at the same venue, centre stage has been taken by the silent majority – the large but distinctly reticent segment of the sailing population which emphatically does not have racing as its primary interest afloat. W M Nixon takes us on a guided tour.

The great Leif Eriksson would approve of some of the more adventurous members of the Irish Cruising Club. They seem to be obsessed with sailing to Greenland and cruising along its coast. And it was the doughty Viking’s father Erik Thorvaldsson (aka Erik the Red) who first told his fellow Icelanders that he’d given the name of Greenland to the enormous island he’d discovered far to the west of Iceland. He did so because he claimed much of it was so lush and fertile, with huge potential for rural and coastal development, that no other name would do.

Leif then followed in the family tradition of going completely over the top in naming newly-discovered real estate. He went even further west and discovered a foggy cold part of the American mainland which he promptly named Vinland, as he claimed the area was just one potential classic wine chateau after another, and hadn’t he brought back the vines to prove it?

In time, Erik’s enthusiasm for Greenland was seen as an early property scam. For no sooner had the Icelanders established a little settlement there around 1000 AD than a period of Arctic cooling began to set in, and by the mid-1300s there’d been a serious deterioration of the climate. What had been a Scandinavian population of maybe five thousands at its peak faded away, and gradually the Inuit people – originally from the American mainland – moved south from their first beachheads established to the northwest around 1200 AD. They proved more successful at adapting to what had become a Little Ice Age, while no Vikings were left.

Now we’re in the era of global warming, and there’s no doubt that Greenland is more accessible. But for those of us who think that cruising should be a matter of making yourself as comfortable as possible while your boats sails briskly across the sea in a temperate climate or perhaps even warmer for preference, the notion of devoting a summer to sailing to Greenland and taking on the challenge of its rugged iron coast, with ice everywhere, still takes a bit of getting used to.

Yet in recent years the Irish boats seem to have been tripping over each other up there. And for some true aficionados, the lure of the icy regions was in place long before the effects of global warming were visibly making it more accessible.

Peter Killen of Malahide, Commodore of the Irish Cruising Club, is a flag officer who leads by example. It was all of twenty years ago that he was first in Greenland with his Sigma 36 Black Pepper, and truly there was a lot of ice about. The weather was also dreadful, while Ireland was enjoying the best summer in years.

Cape Farewell Greenland 2
Peter Killen’s Sigma 36 Black Pepper in local ice at the quay inside Cape Farewell in Greenland, August 1995

penguin  Antarctica
ICC Commodore Peter Killen’s current boat is Pure Magic, an Amel Super Maramu seen here providing the backdrop for a fine penguin in Antarctica, December 2004.

More recently, he and his crew of longterm shipmates have been covering thousands of sea miles in the Amel Super Maramu 54 Pure Magic, among other ventures having a look at lots more ice down Antarctic way to see how it compares with the Arctic. With all their wanderings, by the end of the 2014 season Pure Magic was laid up for the winter in eastern Canada in Nova Scotia. So of course in order to get back to Ireland through 2015, the only way was with a long diversion up the west coast of Greenland. And the weather was grand, while Ireland definitely wasn’t enjoying the best summer in years.

The Pure Magic team certainly believe in enjoying their cruising, however rugged the terrain. If the Greenland Tourist Board are looking for a marketing manager, they could do no better than sign up the skipper of Pure Magic for the job. His entertaining log about cruising the region – featured in the usual impressive ICC Annual edited for the fourth time by Ed Wheeler – makes West Greenland seem a fun place with heaps of hospitality and friendly folk from one end to the other.

Greenland  coast
If ice is your thing, then this is the place to be – Peter Killen’s Pure Magic off the west Greenland coast, summer 2015.

But then Peter Killen is not as other men. I don’t mean he is some sort of alien being from the planet Zog. Or at least he isn’t so far as I know. But the fact is, he just doesn’t seem to feel the cold. I sailed with him on a raw Autumn day some years ago, and while the rest of us were piling on the layers, our skipper was as happy as Larry in a short-sleeved shirt.

I’d been thinking my memory had exaggerated this immunity to cold. But there sure enough in the latest ICC Annual is a photo of the crew of Pure Magic enjoying a visit to the little Katersugaasivik Museum in Nuuk, and the bould skipper is in what could well be the same skimpy outfit he was wearing when we sailed together all those years ago. As for the rest of the group, only tough nut Hugh Barry isn’t wearing a jacket of some sort – even Aqqala the Museum curator is wearing one.

Pure Magic crew
Some folk feel the cold more than others – Pure Magic’s crew absorbing local culture in Greenland are (left to right) Mike Alexander, Peter Killen, Hugh Barry, Aqqalu the museum curator, Robert Barker, and Joe Phelan

Having a skipper with this immunity to cold proved to be a Godsend before they left Greenland waters, when Pure Magic picked up a fishing net in her prop while motoring in a calm. Peter Killen has carried a wetsuit for emergencies for years, and finally it was used. He hauled it on, plunged in with breathing gear in action, and had the foul-up cleared in twenty minutes. Other skipper and Commodores please note……

The adjudicator for the 2015 logs was Hilary Keatinge, who has one of those choice-of-gender names which might confuse, so it’s good news to reveal that after 85 years, the ICC has had its first woman adjudicator. No better one for the job, man or woman. Before marrying the late Bill Keatinge, she was Hilary Roche, daughter of Terry Roche of Dun Laoghaire who cruised the entire coastline of Europe in a twenty year odyssey of successive summers, and his daughter has proven herself a formidable cruising person, a noted narrator of cruising experiences, and a successful writer of cruising guides and histories.

Nevertheless even she admitted last night that once all the material has arrived on the adjudicator’s screen, she finally appreciated the enormity of the task at hand, for the Irish Cruising Club just seems to go from strength to strength. Yet although it’s a club which limits itself to 550 members as anything beyond that would result in administrative overload and the lowering of standards, it ensures that the experience of its members benefit the entire sailing community through its regularly up-dated sailing directions for the entire coast of Ireland. And there’s overlap with the wider membership of the Cruising Association of Ireland, which will add extra talent to the expert lineup providing a host of information and guidance at today’s ISA Cruising Conference.

But that’s this morning’s work. Meanwhile last night’s dispensation of the silverware – some of which dates back to 1931 – revealed an extraordinarily active membership. And while they did have those hardy souls who ventured into icy regions, there were many others who went to places where the only ice within thousands of miles was in the nearest fridge, and instead of bare rocky mountains they cruised lush green coasts.

Nevertheless the ice men have it in terms of some of the top awards, as Hilary Keatinge has given the Atlantic Trophy for the best cruise with a passage of more than a thousand miles to the 4194 mile cruise of Peter Killen’s Pure Magic from Halifax to Nova Scotia to Howth, with those many diversions on the way, while the Strangford Cup for an alternative best cruise goes to Paddy Barry, who set forth from Poolbeg in the heart of Dublin Port, and by the time he’d returned he’d completed his “North Atlantic Crescent”, first to the Faeroes, then Iceland to port, then across the Denmark Strait to southeast Greenland for detailed cruising and mountaineering, then eventually towards Ireland but leaving Iceland to port, so they circumnavigated it in the midst of greater enterprises.

Poolbeg  Dublin6
You collect very few courtesy ensigns in the frozen north. Back at Poolbeg in Dublin after her “North Atlantic Crescent” round Iceland and on to Greenland, Paddy Barry’s Ar Seachran sports the flags of the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland. Ar Seachran is a 1979 alloy-built Frers 45. Photo: Tony Brown

Arctic polar bear
“Definitely the Arctic”. A polar bear spotted from Ar Seachran. Photo: Ronan O Caoimh

Paddy Barry started his epic ocean voyaging many years ago with the Galway Hooker St Patrick, but his cruising boat these days is very different, a classic Frers 45 offshore racer of 1979 vintage. Probably the last thing the Frers team were thinking when they turned out a whole range of these gorgeous performance boats thirty-five years ago was that their aluminium hulls would prove ideal for getting quickly to icy regions, and then coping with sea ice of all shapes and ices once they got there. But not only does Paddy Barry’s Ar Seacrhran do it with aplomb, so too does Jamie Young’s slightly larger sister, the Frers 49 Killary Flyer (ex Hesperia ex Noryema XI) from Connacht, whose later adventures in West Greenland featured recently in a TG4 documentary.

mountains Iceland
“A grand soft day in Iceland”. Harry Connolly and Paddy Barry setting out to take on mountains in Iceland during their award-winning cruise to Greenland. Photo: Harry Connolly

Pure Magic and Ar Seachran are hefty big boats, but the other ICC voyager rewarded last night by Hilary Keatinge for getting to Arctic waters did his cruise in the Lady Kate, a boat so ordinary you’d scarcely notice her were it not for the fact that she’s kept in exceptionally good trim.

Drive along in summer past the inner harbour at Dungarvan in West Waterford at low water, and you’ll inevitably be distracted by the number of locally-based bilge-keelers sitting serenely upright (more or less) on that famous Dungarvan mud. There amongst them might be the Moody 31 Lady Kate, for Dungarvan is her home port.

But she was away for quite a while last year, as Donal Walsh took her on an extraordinary cruise to the Arctic, going west of the British mainland then on via Orkney and Shetland to Norway whose coast goes on for ever until you reach the Artic Circle where the doughty Donal had a swim, as one does, and looked at a glacier or too, and then sailed home but this this time leaving the British mainland to starboard. A fabulous 3,500 mile eleven week cruise, he very deservedly was awarded the Fingal Cup for a venture the adjudicator reckons to be extra special – as she puts it, “you feel you’re part of the crew, though I don’t think I’d have done the Arctic Circle swim.”

Svartsen Glacier Norway9
A long way from Dungarvan. Lady Kate with Donal Walsh off the Svartsen Glacier in northern Norway

Indeed, in taking an overview of the placings of the awards, you can reasonable conclude that the adjudicator reckons any civilized person can have enough of ice cruising, as she gives the ICC’s premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup, to a classic Atlantic triangle cruise to the Azores made from Dun Laoghaire by Alan Rountree with his van de Sadt-designed Legend 34 Tallulah, a boat of 1987 vintage which he completed himself (to a very high standard) from a hull made in Dublin by BJ Marine.

Tallulah looks as immaculate as ever, as we all saw at the Cruising Association of Ireland rally in Dublin’s River Liffey in September. And this is something of a special year for Alan Rountree, as completely independently of the Faulkner Cup award, the East Coast ICC members awarded their own area trophy, the Donegan Cup for longterm achievement, to Tallulah’s skipper. As one of those involved in the decision put it, basically he got the Donegan Trophy “for being Alan Rountree – what more can be said?”

Azores 10
The essence of the Azores. Red roofs maybe, but not an iceberg in sight, and the green is even greener than Ireland. Alan Rountree’s succesful return cruise to the Azores has been awarded the ICC’s premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup.

Tallulah Yacht11
Tallulah at the CAI Rally in the Liffey last Setpember. She looks as good today as when Alan Rountree completed her from a bare hull nearly thirty years ago. Photo: W M Nixon

Tallulah 12
A boat to get you there – and back again. Tallulah takes her departure from the CAI Rally in Dublin. Photo: Aidan Coughlan

Well, it can be said that his Azores cruise was quietly courageous, for although the weather was fine in the islands, the nearer he got to Ireland the more unsettled it became, and he sailed with the recollection of Tallulah being rolled through 360 degrees as she crossed the Continental Shelf in a storm in 1991. But he simply plodded on through calm and storm, the job was done, and Tallulah is the latest recipient of a trophy which embodies the history of modern Irish cruising.

There were many other awards distributed last night, and for those who think that the ICC is all about enormous expensively-equipped boats, let it be recorded that the Marie Trophy for a best cruise in a boat under 30ft long went to Conor O’Byrne of Galway who sailed to the Hebrides with his Sadler 26 Calico Jack, while the Fortnight Cup was taken by a 32-footer, Harry Whelehan’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 32 for a fascinating cruise in detail round the Irish Sea, an area in which, the further east you get to coastlines known to very few Irish cruising men, then the bigger the tides become with very demanding challenges in the pilotage stales.

Sadler 26 Calico
The smallest boat to be awarded a trophy at last night's Irish Cruising Club prize-giving was Conor O’Byrne’s Sadler 26 Calico Jack, seen here in Tobermory during her cruise from Connacht to the Hebrides

As for “expensively equipped”, the Rockabill Trophy for seamanship went to Paul Cooper, former Commodore of Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club and an ICC member for 32 years, who solved a series of very threatening problems with guts and ingenuity aboard someone else’s Spray replica during a 1500 mile voyage in the Caribbean, with very major problems being skillfully solved, as the judge observed, “without a cross word being spoken”.

Not surprisingly in view of the weather Ireland experienced for much of the season, there were no contenders for the Round Ireland cruise trophy, though I suppose you could argue that the return of Pure Magic meant the completion of a round Ireland venture, even if in this case the Emerald Isle becomes no more than a mark of the course.

In fact, with the unsettled weather conditions of recent summers in Ireland , there’s now quite a substantial group of ICC boats based out in Galicia in northwest Spain, where the mood of the coast and the weather “is like Ireland only better”. The ICC Annual gives us a glimpse of the activities of these exiles, and one of the most interesting photos in it is provided by Peter Haden of Ballyvaughan in County Clare, whose 36ft Westerly Seahawk Papageno has been based among the Galician rias for many years now.

Down there, the Irish cruising colony can even do a spot of racing provided it’s against interesting local tradtional boats, and Peter’s photo is of Dermod Lovett of Cork going flat out in his classic Salar 40 Lonehort against one of the local Dorna Xeiteras, which we’re told is the Galician equivalent of a Galway Bay gleoiteog. Whatever, neither boat in the photo is giving an inch.

Salar 40 Lonehort14
So who never races? Dermod Lovett ICC in competition with his Salar 40 Lonehort against a local traditional Dorna Xeiteira among the rias of northwest Spain. Photo: Peter Haden

Hilary Keatinge’s adjudication is a delight to read in itself, and last night after just about every sailing centre in Ireland was honoured with an ICC award for one of its locally-based members, naturally the crews leapt to the mainbrace and great was the splicing thereof.

But it’s back to porridge this morning in HYC and the serious work of the ISA Cruising Conference, where the range of topics is clearly of great interest, for the Conference was booked out within a very short time of being highlighted on the Afloat.ie website.

It’s during it that we’ll hear more about that intriguing little anchorage which provides our header photo, for although it could well be somewhere on the Algarve in Portugal, or even in the Ionian islands in Greece were it not for the evidence of tide, it is in fact on the Copper Coast of south Waterford, between Dungarvan and Dunmore East, and it’s known as Blind Harbour.

It’s a charming place if you’ve very settled weather, but it’s so small that you’d probably need to moor bow and stern if you were thinking to overnight, but that’s not really recommended anyway. Norman Kean, Editor of the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions, had heard about this intriguing little spot from Donal Walsh of Dungarvan (he who has just been awarded the Fingal Cup), and being Norman Kean, he and Geraldine just had to go and experience it for themselves. But it has taken three attempts to have the right conditions as they were sailing by, and it happened in 2015 in a very brief period of settled weather as they headed past in their recently-acquired Warrior 40 Coire Uisge, which has become the new flagship of the ICC’s informal survey flotilla.

Waterford Copper Coast
The secret cove is to be found on Waterford’s Copper Coast, midway between Dungarvan and Dunmore East. Courtesy ICC

Blind Harbour
The newly-surveyed Blind Harbour on the Waterford coast as it appears in the latest edition of the ICC’s South & West Coasts Sailing Directions published this month. Courtesy ICC.

They found they’d to eye-ball their way in to this particular Blind Harbour (there are others so-named around the Irish coast) using the echo sounder, as any reliance on electronic chart assistance would have had them on the nearest part of County Waterford, albeit by only a matter of feet. With a similar exercise a couple of years ago, they found that the same thing was the case at the Joyce Sound Pass inside Slyne head in Connemara – rely in the chart plotter, and you’re making the pilotage into “impactive navigation”.

The message is that some parts of charts are still relying on surveys from a very long time ago, and locations of hyper-narrow channels may be a few metres away from where they actually are. On the other hand, electronic anomalies may arise. Whatever the reason, I know that a couple of years ago, in testing the ship’s gallant little chart plotter we headed for the tricky-enough Gillet passage inside the South Briggs at the south side of the entrance to Belfast Lough, and found that it indicated the rocks as shown were a tiny bit further north than we were seeing, which could have caused a but of a bump if we’d continued on our electronic way.

Electronic charts are only one of many topics which will be covered today. We hope to bring a full report next Saturday, for the participants will in turn require a day or two to digest their findings.

Published in W M Nixon

#iris – It has been said that keeping a boat-owning partnership intact is much more difficult than maintaining a marriage in a healthy state. Thus for most of us with the boat-owning vocation, sole ownership is the only way to go. But for others, in order to defray costs, increase boat size, and maybe leave more personal time free to pursue other interests, the ambitions can best be realised through one of a wide variety of partnerships and syndicates.

These can go through an extensive range, starting at one extreme with what amounts to time-sharing, with the large number of owners meeting (if they meet at all) only once a year for a sort of Annual General Meeting. Other possible setups can mutate through various arrangements where there is considerable overlap between the boat uses by the different owners, right through to the other extreme of total partnership where all owners sail together as often as is possible.

In some cases, the additional social glue of special shared interests is needed to give the partnership that essential extra vitality. There's nothing new in this. W M Nixon takes a look back a hundred years and more to a boat-owning group whose shared interest in art kept a 60ft ketch on a regular cruising programme around Dublin Bay and the nearby coastlines.

The 60ft gaff ketch Iris had a chequered career. She started life at the peak of the Victorian era in the 19th Century as a naval pinnace serving Dublin Bay, and she was presumably driven by steam. At the time, Dun Laoghaire – then known as Kingstown – was becoming the height of fashion as a naval port of call in the summer, made even more so by its convenient access to the centres of power in Dublin, and its strategically useful direct rail connection – pierhead to pierhead – to the main Royal Navy base in Ireland at Cobh on Cork Harbour.

However, as Kingstown had initially been planned solely as a harbour of refuge – an asylum harbor - for ships in distress in onshore gales, with the actual spur to its construction (starting in 1817) being the wrecking of a British troopship with huge loss of life at Seapoint on the south shore of Dublin Bay, the plans had included no provision for convenient alongside berthing for ships.

Indeed, you get the impression that the original underlying thinking was that there should be as little social contact as possible between ships sheltering in the new harbour and any inhabitants of its nearby undeveloped shore. But the rapid if somewhat chaotic growth of the makings of a new harbourside town, plus the advent of more rapid access from Dublin with the coming of the railway in 1834, soon meant that the top brass expected to be able to get off and on their ships in the harbour in style and comfort, and their Lordships of the Admiralty did not stint in providing large pinnaces for them to do so. When these pinnaces were replaced in due course by even more luxurious vessels, those shrewd amateur sailors who could visualise the older boats' potential as re-cycled government surplus found themselves looking at a bargain.

The Iris was originally built with lifeboat-style construction of double-diagonal hardwood planking, which was quite advanced technology for the time. For the can-do boatbuilders of the late 19th Century, converting such totally purpose-built craft into some sort of a yacht was all part of a day's work. Another similarly-built if smaller and different-shaped vessel, Erskine Childers' Vixen on which the Dulcibella of The Riddle of the Sands fame was based, was formerly an RNLI lifeboat with the standard lifeboat canoe stern. She was made more yacht-like by the addition of a staging aft to compensate for the absence of deck space just where you most need it, while underneath this new permanent staging, additional supporting planking was faired into the hull and – hey presto – you've a yacht-like counter stern.

Vixen also had a massive centre-plate complete with its huge casing, and carried more than three tons of internal iron ballast, all of which left little enough space for living aboard during the long and often rough cruise through the Friesian Islands which provided much of the on-the-ground material – and we can mean that in every sense – on which The Riddle was based.

iris2.jpg
Erskine Childers' Vixen (on which "Dulcibella of The Riddle" was based) in one of his last seasons of ownership in 1899. At first glance, she looks like a typical old-style cruising cutter of her era. But somewhere in there is a classic canoe-sterned RNLI lifeboat hull to which an afterdeck on a counter stern have been fitted as an add-on.

That cruise was in 1897, and shortly after it was completed, Childers went off to serve in the Boer War. This experience left him with doubts about the validity of the British Imperial mission, but equally left him in no doubt that on active service, there were no medals for enduring unnecessary discomfort. So by the time The Riddle of the Sands was published in 1903, Vixen was sold and he'd become a partner in a much more comfortable cruising boat, the yawl Sunbeam, which in turn was followed in 1905 by his very comfortable dreamship Asgard

Meanwhile, with the Iris a fifteen or so years earlier in Dublin, the conversion to a comfortable sailing cruiser was a more straightforward affair, as she'd a more versatile hull shape with a broad stern in the first place, and her new owner was one George Prescott, an innovator bordering on genius. He was an optical and scientific instrument maker, an electrical engineer and inventor, and a state-of-the-art clockmaker.

iris3.jpg
Man of many parts – the polymath George Prescott. Organising the Graphic Cruising Club and running its club-ship Iris was only one of his many interests. He led a long and extraordinarily interesting and varied life, and was nearly a hundred years old at the time of his death in 1942. Courtesy Cormac Lowth

But that was only one part of his life, for he had many friends among Dublin artists, particularly those interested in maritime topics, and he soon found himself to be the secretary of the Graphic Cruisers Club for sailing painters and sketchers, with the Iris becoming the base of their waterborne creative and scientific expeditions on the coast of the greater Dublin area.

She was ideal for this. She'd been converted for sailing with an orthodox gaff ketch rig, while her roomy hull was internally re-configured to have a galley with a large stove right aft, a huge saloon immediately forward of the galley to be both the clubroom and dining room, and sleeping quarters port and starboard in pilot cutter style forward of that.

iris4.jpg
Quite a transformation for a former steam-powered naval pinnace. The 60ft ketch Irish in her heyday as the club ship of the Graphic Cruisers Club in the 1890s. She is at her home anchorage off Ringsend, while across the Liffey a couple of Ringsend trawlers are lying in the roadstead known as Halpin's Pool, where the Alexandra Basin is now located. Photo courtesy Cormac Lowth

iris5.jpg
Accommodation profile of the Iris in her days as the floating HQ of the Graphic Cruisers Club – this sketch by Alexander William first appeared in The Yachtsman magazine in 1894.

iris6.jpg
Hull section of the Iris at the saloon, showing the bilge keels which enabled her to dry out comfortably in some some little-known tidal anchorages in the Greater Dublin area.

But underneath the hull, the temptation had been resisted to add a deep keel, and instead the Iris was fitted with substantial bilge keels at the same depth as the shallow keel itself, such that in all she drew only about 3ft 6ins, and would comfortably dry out in a snug berth anywhere that her artistic crew felt they might find subjects worthy of their attention.

Thus she might overnight serenely on the beach at Ireland's Eye or far up the estuary at Rogerstown, and if the Graphic Cruisers Club attention was turned towards County Wicklow, she could comfortably take the ground in Bray or in other little ports inaccessible to orthodox cruising yachts. Yet the claim was that despite the odd arrangements beneath the waterline, she handled remarkably well on all points of sailing, and certainly as she no longer had any sort of engine, she must have sailed neatly enough to get out of some of the confined berths into which her eccentric crew enjoyed putting her.

iris7.jpg
The Iris in gentle cruising mode off Ireland's Eye as the moon rises – this was sketched by Alexander Williams for The Yachtsman in 1894.

George Prescott seems to have been happy to claim that Iris was a club-owned yacht, but in truth most of his shipmates were impecunious artists of varying talent, so it was his generosity and understated business ability which would have kept the partnership together.

However, it really did seem to function as a partnership, for after the Iris project had been up and running for nearly a decade, he turned his attention in 1896 to building an unusual house on the waterfront on the Pigeonhouse Road in Ringsend, which he happily acknowledged to be the clubhouse of the Graphic Cruisers Club even if he lived in it himself.

Called Sandefjord for some reason which is still unexplained, it looked not unlike a smaller sister of the Coastguard Station next door, complete with a lookout tower. And it's distinctly nautical within, as much of the interior includes fine panelling which came from the wrecked Finnish sailing ship Palme, with the stairs being provided by the old ship's main companionway.

iris81.jpg
The house called Sandefjord near Poolbeg Y & BC as it is in 2015. When built by George Prescott in 1896, it faced across the Pigeonhouse Road directly onto the waterfront, and overlooked the summer anchorage of the Iris. Photo: W M Nixon

iris91.jpg
The design style of the Graphic Cruisers Club shore HQ at Sandefjord reflected the lookout tower of the old Coastguard Station next door. Photo: W M Nixon

The house has been restored to become a family home in recent years, and it really is an extraordinary piece of work to come upon on the slip road down to Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club. Meanwhile, interest in the doings of the Graphic Cruisers Club has been restored by the formidable research talents and tenacity of Cormac Lowth, who single-handedly does more work in uncovering unjustly ignored aspects of Dublin Bay's maritime life in all its variety than you'd get from an entire university department.

I first came across a reference to the Graphic Cruisers Club years ago in an article in an 1894 issue of The Yachtsman magazine, written by Alexander Williams (1846-1930), who was probably the club's most accomplished marine artist. But that was then, this is now, and it has taken Cormac Lowth's dedication in recent times to get the extraordinary setup around George Prescott and Alexander Williams and their friends and shipmates into the proper context.

iris101.jpg
Alexander Williams RHA was the best-known artist in the Graphic Cruisers Club. A taxidermist of international repute, he was also a noted ornithologist, and his interest in maritime subjects was matched by his enthusiasm for landscape. He was one of the first artists to "discover" Achill Island in the west of Ireland, and in time he created a remarkable garden there in a three years project in which he personally worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the build team.

iris11.jpg
A classic Alexander Williams portrayal of the trawlers of Ringsend with other shipping in the Liffey. Thanks to research by Cormac Lowth, we are now aware of how the style of the Ringsend sailing trawlers came about through links, between 1818 and the 1914 outbreak of Great War, with the pioneering fishing port of Brixham in Devon, which was the most technologically advanced fishing port in Europe in the mid 1800s. Courtesy Cormac Lowth

They were larger than life, every last one of them, and Prescott and Williams in particular were renaissance men who could turn their hand to any number of creative projects at a time when life around Dublin was fairly buzzing for those with the energy and interest to enjoy it.

And there were links to other aspects of Dublin waterfront life which have a further resonance. Back in January, I'd to give one of the supper talks at the National YC in Dun Laoghaire, and on this occasion the topic was John B Kearney (1879-1967), the Ringsend-born yacht designer and boatbuilder who was the club's Rear Commodore for the last 21 years of his life.

You need some sort of special little link to bring these talks to life, but fortunately I remembered that there's a fine big Alexander Williams painting of sailing trawlers at Ringsend in the NYC's dining room. I didn't know its date as we headed round the bay on the night of the talk, but we struck gold. It was dated 1890.

iris12.jpg
The Brixham style in Ringsend was best exemplified by the largest trawler built in the Dublin port, the St Patrick (right) of 53 tons built in 1887 in the Murphy family's boatyard beside the mouth of the River Dodder. The Murphy family also owned and operated the St Patrick in her fishing, and when John Kearney built his renowned yachts, the earliest (and best) of them were built in a corner of Murphy's Boatyard - the Ainmara in 1912, the Mavis in 1925, and the Sonia in 1929. Photo courtesy Cormac Lowth

Williams was so fond of the Ringsend scene that he lived there for a while in Thorncastle Street where John B Kearney was born, and of course the painter subsequently sailed regularly from the old port in the Iris, and would have over-nighted at Sandefjord too. He is in fact the definitive Ringsend maritime artist, and the picture in the NYC expresses this. And as it includes some of the Ringsend waterfront, we could say that it also includes John B Kearney, for in 1890 the precocious eleven-year-old Ringsend schoolboy was in the boatyards as much as possible, as he had already stated in his quietly stubborn way that his ultimate ambition was to be a yacht designer.

Not a boatbuilder or a shipwright or a harbour engineer, which is nevertheless what he was until he retired in 1944. But upon his leaving the day job - in which he'd been highly respected - he then devoted all his energies to what he had been doing all his life in his spare time. And with his death aged 88 in 1967, his gravestone in Glasnevin cemetery said it all: John Breslin Kearney (formerly of Dublin Port & Docks Board) Yacht Designer.

And if you wonder how on earth we have come to a consideration of John Kearney's memorial stone in an article which purports to be about the social glues which keep boat partnerships in good order, believe me when you get involved with the boys of the Graphic Cruisers Club you never know where it's all going to end.

We've already discovered that in later life Alexander Williams devoted much energy to his garden in Achill while at the same time continuing to be an active member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin. As for George Prescott, he too broadened his already extensive interests, and in his eighties he was much into amateur opera production, even being so deeply involved as to paint the stage scenery himself.

Dublin too was expanding, so he accepted that a move eastward was needed if he was going to be able to continue to commune directly with his beloved sea. So he left Sandefjord, and the final decades of his wonderful life were spent at his new home at The Hermitage on Merrion Strand. Needless to say, Alexander Williams provided him with a painting of The Hermitage which captured the then unspoilt nature of a place you'd scarcely recognize today.

iris13.jpg
The Hermitage on Merrion Strand, George Prescott's last home as portrayed by Alexander Williams. Courtesy Cormac Lowth

Published in W M Nixon
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