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Maire Breathnach of Dungarvan is Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" for February

1st March 2021
Maire Breathnach aboard Annabel J off the Kerry coast
Maire Breathnach aboard Annabel J off the Kerry coast Credit: Andrew Wilkes

The pandemic lockdowns divided the sailing world into those who complained constantly about all restrictions and did little or nothing, and those who made the best of what was permissible. Maire Breathnach and her husband Andrew Wilkes, with their challenging but rewarding 64ft steel-built gaff cutter Annabel J of 1996 vintage, had a busy 2020, with a voyage from Waterford to South America – which, like North America, they circumnavigated on a previous cruise – being temporarily curtailed in the Canaries with the need to replace part of their wooden mainmast. Lockdown arrived, they endured it in extremely restricted circumstances for two months, and then as some local sailing became possible, they cruised the Canaries in detail.

Meanwhile, as Honorary Editor of the Irish Cruising Club Annual, Maire inspired her fellow members to make a special effort and produce "Narratives of Nostalgia" if they hadn't managed a cruise of some sort. The result was an eclectic production, one of the most interesting ICC Annuals of modern times. And at the ICC Virtual AGM in February, Maire was awarded the ICC's Rockabill Trophy for seamanship in recognition of the competent way in which she and Andrew had dealt with the demands of mast and rigging problems at sea, with just the two of them on a hefty ship which could handily carry a crew of six.

Annabel J, a hefty 1996-built steel ship that could handily carry a crew of six, has made many long passages with just two on boardAnnabel J, a hefty 1996-built steel ship that could handily carry a crew of six, has made many long passages with just two on board

Published in Sailor of the Month
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