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The Kenmare River where Kerry verges into Cork is one of Ireland’s cruising gems – it’s pure gold and then some. But we weren’t exactly cruising when the Nixon Tribe descended on the area precisely a year ago for a significant anniversary. The anniversary had been delayed because of the lockdown restrictions, and so the Tribe were in the mode of a genie let out of a bottle. Rather a lot of bottles, as it happens. But our host John Brennan, hotelier of that parish, was so tolerant of this invasion of the barbarians that he took us all out for the afternoon in his pride-and-joy, his then-new Redbay Stormforce 1450 super-rib Dromquinna, with a real red-carpet champagne and super-nibbles treatment in a secluded anchorage in Kilmakilloge for the anniversarians and their associated brood.

We don’t get together that often in significant numbers for various good reasons, including the fact that when the next generation are on their own with each other in more compact groups, it can be fairly civilized, but when the parents are introduced into the total equation, that old demon of sibling rivalry is always bubbling under the surface.

John Brennan in his happy place – aboard the boat and headed somewhere interesting. Photo: W M NixonJohn Brennan in his happy place – aboard the boat and headed somewhere interesting. Photo: W M Nixon

Thus if we were together this weekend, I reckon that the annual review of combined family fleet activities since that special gathering in Kenmare would include two dismastings. This in turn brings the revelation that the Seventeen Footers in Howth are rather better organized as a class in coming up with an immediate mast replacement than are the Devon Yawls at Bosham on Chichester Harbour. The Howth 17s can have you up and sailing again within a day, whereas the new mast for the Devon Yawl takes six weeks. And that is precisely the kind of thing that makes for a good row in a sailing family

Yet despite those various spars coming down around people’s ears, sailing trophies have been won for both family fortresses through 2022. Perhaps the most notable is the annual Bognor Bogbrush, in which the grandson Magnus skippered the winning under-9 team racing Opties for Chichester Harbour at Bognor Regis. The young sailor is named after the first and last Viking Saint. You can visit St Magnus’ cathedral at Kirkwall if cruising the Orkneys, but his mission to deter Vikings from violence was only successful after his aggressive people martyred him, which gives his name a special sanctity.

Thus in the family home of thatched Quay Cottage in Bosham, the Bognor Bogbrush is referred to as “the special trophy”, for they share the quay with the still active though very ancient church which was founded by King Canute’s wife, and with this double sanctity the successful young team captain’s mother cannot allow it to be publicly known that her lovely son is the current holder of the Bognor Bogbrush.

Kitted out for serious sailing – Magnus Nixon, the winning team captain in the U9s in the annual Bognor Bogbrush championship. Photo: Brian NixonKitted out for serious sailing – Magnus Nixon, the winning team captain in the U9s in the annual Bognor Bogbrush championship. Photo: Brian Nixon 

Be that as it may, having seen how calmly and thoughtfully John Brennan dealt with our mob of Viking successors, we’ve taken a special interest in his doings with the Stormforce 1450, for he and his son Adam – a naval architect in the making – made a significant input into the design. And as well, since we were with him his book about how he turned the problem of severe dyslexia into an opportunity and encouragement – it’s called My Name Is Jhon and is one of the best reads I’ve had during the past year – has been published to deserved acclaim.

It turns out that he and his wife Gwen have been very successful in combining business with pleasure. John is a hotelier to his finger-tips, totally engrossed 24/7 in his job when he’s on duty. So how does a guy like this take a holiday? Does he saunter off to some distant specialist Seven Star-plus-plus hotel and allow others to cater for a while for his every need?

The ports in South Brittany visited by Dromquinna in June.The ports in South Brittany visited by Dromquinna in June.

Not so, it seems. During June, thanks to his skills in delegation and his ability to rely on the many talents of his famous brother Francis to keep an eye on their three hotels, John and Gwen headed off for Brittany in the Dromquinna in the hope of a few days relaxation, but also with plans to meet up with others who are putting together the Adventure Nautique Atlantique Sauvage.

Some time ago before Brexit, the Cool Route cruising concept from Cork Harbour eventually to Norway was being developed, but this enlargement acknowledges the ancient sea routes between Ireland, Brittany and Iberia (think Song of Amergin, where the main man departs from A Coruna in northwest Spain), yet also deals with post-Brexit reality by utilising British-flagged Gibraltar – which has a special relation with the EU – as a start point.

National and regional flags aloft to celebrate the Adventure Nautique Atlantic Sauvage meeting at Port Haliguen in Quiberon. Photo: John BrennanNational and regional flags aloft to celebrate the Adventure Nautique Atlantic Sauvage meeting at Port Haliguen in Quiberon. Photo: John Brennan

At Port Haliguen - when you’re proposing a cruise route along Europe’s Atlantic seaboard, it’s a good idea to have the rescue services on side from the start…….Photo: John BrennanAt Port Haliguen - when you’re proposing a cruise route along Europe’s Atlantic seaboard, it’s a good idea to have the rescue services on side from the start…….Photo: John Brennan

Thus thanks to the presence of John & Gwen with Dromquinna at a meeting in Port Haliguen, the Irish tricolour was flying with the array from other nations exploring the possibilities of this nautical Wild Atlantic Way. And by that time they’d discovered that this style of cruising was suiting them very well indeed. For the fact is that Gwen had mixed feelings about boat life beforehand, yet it emerges that this dyed-in-the-wool hospitality couple spent every single night in board while in Brittany.

This is home for now - settling in for the night at Camaret after a seven hour passage from the Isles of Scilly, with the yellow Q flag flying for the customs. Photo: John BrennanThis is home for now - settling in for the night at Camaret after a seven hour passage from the Isles of Scilly, with the yellow Q flag flying for the customs. Photo: John Brennan

Of course they went ashore for knowledgeable enjoyment of local cuisine. And like all boaties, they spent time around harbours large (sometimes very large) and small, talking boat talk. But their expectation that every so often they’d book into a good hotel for two or three nights simply didn’t happen.

Usually with just the two of them, there was space to spare, they knew how everything worked and being John, everything did work. They were having a ball. Seeing ports as entertaining places to visit, and knowing that they had all the comforts of their familiar home-from-home within walking distance, proved to be totally relaxing – they were so well organised on board that they didn’t even have a shower off the boat.

Perfect cruising evening in Brittany – yet though John & Gwen Brennan might have an interesting meal ashore, they returned to the familiar comfort of the boat every night. Photo: John BrennanPerfect cruising evening in Brittany – yet though John & Gwen Brennan might have an interesting meal ashore, they returned to the familiar comfort of the boat every night. Photo: John Brennan 

For there’s no doubting that John is in his happy place when he’s aboard Dromquinna. But being the man he is, lolling about is not an option, and a year ago we had the experience of being at better than 35 knots with him in the Kenmare River, which shows the kind of performance he can call on for short periods, while a solid cruising speed means that no passages are required at night – on the outward voyage, they did Cork to the Isles of Scilly in five hours.

Dromquinna’s speed potential – even with a party on board – is shown top left in knots on the Kenmare River September 2021. A cruising speed of 23 knots is much more economical, but it’s good to have this performance in reserve. Photo: W M NixonDromquinna’s speed potential – even with a party on board – is shown top left in knots on the Kenmare River September 2021. A cruising speed of 23 knots is much more economical, but it’s good to have this performance in reserve. Photo: W M Nixon

In fact, while Brittany was marvellous in its variety and unique pace of life while being confident in its own identity, it was the freedom of being able to visit the Isles of Scilly in their own boat which was one of the cruise highlights. So much so, that they lingered longer than expected while heading south, and took a chunk out of the homeward passage for a further stay among those enchanted islands.

Dawn departure from France – to ensure there were no night passages, early starts for the longer legs were always useful. Photo: John BrennanDawn departure from France – to ensure there were no night passages, early starts for the longer legs were always useful. Photo: John Brennan

The need to anchor and use the outboard tender in Scillonia rather than having access to a marina berth was seen as an added attraction rather than an irksome chore, for most RIB owners are new to the experience of a cruising boat comfortably lying for a few peaceful days to her own anchor.

Well worth the effort…..heading ashore for dinner at Tresco in the Isle of Scilly, while Dromquinna lies sweetly to anchor in New Grimsby Sound. Photo: Gwen BrennanWell worth the effort…..heading ashore for dinner at Tresco in the Isle of Scilly, while Dromquinna lies sweetly to anchor in New Grimsby Sound. Photo: Gwen Brennan

That said, in big marinas you can sometimes find yourself berthed conveniently near to boats of special interest. It takes some doing in the general drone image of Port Haliguen to find Dromquinna, but when you do, it’s to discover that she’s berthed just across the pontoon from the veteran Dick Newick trimaran that may be the former Downtown Flyer, built by Brian Law and Dickie Gomes of Strangford Lough at Lisburn in 1982, and a mighty racer in her day forty years ago.

Contrasting styles. In Port Haliguen, Dromquinna is berthed next to a vintage Newick trimaran which may well be the 1982 Downtown Flyer. Photo: John BrennanContrasting styles. In Port Haliguen, Dromquinna is berthed next to a vintage Newick trimaran which may well be the 1982 Downtown Flyer. Photo: John Brennan

And there is of course an extraordinary story about what happened when Downtown Flyer first made her home in France after “Lawsie and Gomesie” had done everything they wished with her on the international racing circuit, and thought they’d sold her. But we may need advice from m’learned friends before recounting it………

Published in W M Nixon
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Chaos outside Paris’ Stade de France at the Champions League final is leading this morning’s headlines — and among the fans in the city were a group of resourceful Liverpool supporters who travelled part of the way by speedboat.

As the Liverpool ECHO reports, Paddy O’Toole said friends’ original travel plans appeared to have been scuppered by the cancellation of their EasyJet flight to Paris for the crunch football final.

After dashing from Liverpool to London, the group managed to get on a flight from Heathrow to Jersey in the Channel Islands, where Paddy lives, but that still left them hundreds more kilometres short of the French capital.

Enter Paddy’s friend Garry Brennan, whose local business has a fleet of motor vessels including the 12-person RIB that carried the intrepid group to the French mainland on Friday (27 May) in plenty of time to join thousands of other Liverpool away fans.

The Liverpool ECHO has more on the story HERE.

Published in RIBs
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The 'mystery' to local observers of just who was behind the impressive 15-boat strong RIB raid fleet powering across Dublin Bay last Sunday morning was answered this week on social media when it emerged the boats, ranging from 5 to 8 metres in length, were freshwater visitors from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) Powerboat Branch.

The River Shannon ribbers, which included three jet skis, took in a River Liffey spin via Grand Canal Dock in the city centre as well as heading out into the Bay to Dun Laoghaire Harbour, followed by a 12km run in some bumpy southerly conditions down to Greystones Harbour in County Wicklow.

"We waited so long to do our first RIB run with the IWAI Powerboat Branch, and it was FANTASTIC! After seeing Dun Laoghaire, Greystones and Dublin city from these new perspectives, I wouldn't wish to live anywhere else but beautiful Éire", said one of the RIB crews online.

Published in RIBs
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Dublin Bay-based yacht broker Ronan Beirne of Leinster Boats is listing a Redbay Stormforce 7.4S RIB on his current boats for sale brokerage listings.

Described by Beirne as 'the perfect family rib', the open sea adventure vessel is available now and priced at €53,000.

The all-weather rib comes as a complete package with a Suzuki DF 250, Rollercoaster trailer, full instrumentation.

The boat is very well cared for and recently serviced.  "This rib is meticulously maintained with everything in full service," Beirne says. 

"Hesitate and you will be ashore this Summer, " Beirne adds. 

See the full advert on Afloat here.

Published in Boat Sales
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Captain Sergio Davì, the Italian seafarer who first made headlines when he travelled from Palermo, Italy to New York in 2019 (via Ireland) in his 11-metre (36-foot) rigid inflatable boat (RIB), is ready for his next adventure across three continents, two oceans and covering over 10,000 nautical miles.

Davì is expected to depart in the next best weather window for his solo trip from Palermo to Los Angeles, crossing the Atlantic, passing through the Panama Canal and heading north along Mexico and California’s coast in his Nuova Jolly RIB before arriving in Los Angeles in late February.

Captain Sergio Davì in his ocean crossing RIBCaptain Sergio Davì in his ocean crossing RIB

Davì has named the bid the OCEAN TO OCEAN RIB ADVENTURE and his voyage will be dedicated to issues around ocean health. During the crossing, he will collect seawater samples to assess the presence of microplastics and carry out the analysis of metal traces, focusing in particular on under-researched or specific geographical points of reference.

For this trip, Davì has partnered with the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes of Piedmont, Liguria & Valle d'Aosta and Sicily to examine the dangers of ocean pollution on human health.

“They are giving me the opportunity to make my trip and experience of study and research as well as a warning for the protection of our seas and oceans,” said Davi.

OCEAN TO OCEAN RIB ADVENTURE RouteOCEAN TO OCEAN RIB ADVENTURE Route

OCEAN TO OCEAN RIB ADVENTURE – SCHEDULE (Expected Departures)

  • Leg 1 PALERMO-MALLORCA (LATE NOVEMBER)
  • Leg 2 MALLORCA-GIBRALTAR
  • Leg 3 GIBRALTAR-LANZAROTE
  • Leg 4 LANZAROTE-GRAN CANARIA
  • Leg 5 GRAN CANARIA-MINDELO
  • Leg 6 MINDELO-KOUROU
  • Leg 7 KOUROU-PORT OF SPAIN
  • Leg 8 PORT OF SPAIN-CURACAO
  • Leg 9 CURACAO-SANTA MARTA
  • Leg 10 SANTA MARTA-CARTAGENA
  • Leg 11 CARTAGENA-FUERTE SHERMAN
  • Leg 12 FUERTE SHERMAN-SAN CARLOS
  • Leg 13 SAN CARLOS-BOCA BRAVA
  • Leg 14 BOCA BRAVA-PUERTO QUETZAL
  • Leg 15 PUERTO QUETZAL-PUERTO DE SAN BENITO
  • Leg 16 PUERTO DE SAN BENITO-ACAPULCO
  • Leg 17 ACAPULCO-IXTAPA
  • Leg 18 IXTAPA-MANZANILLO
  • Leg 19 MANZANILLO-CABO SAN LUCAS
  • Leg 20 CABO SAN LUCAS-ISLA CEDROS
  • Leg 21 ISLA CEDROS-ENSENADA
  • Leg 22 ENSENADA-SAN DIEGO
  • Leg 23 SAN DIEGO-LOS ANGELES LATE FEBRUARY
Published in RIBs
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Way back in the dim and distant OtherTime, back in the vaguely-remembered May of last year when we still hadn't really grasped how our lives had been totally pandemically changed, we ran a story about how super-host John Brennan of Kenmare and his son Adam were working with Redbay Boats of the Glens of Antrim to create the ultimate personalised variant of the northern firm's Stormforce 1450.

Well, despite everything that has been done or imposed or thought up to foul up cross-border trade and the exchange of ideas, the new machine is now cutting a dash on the Kenmare River and the ocean beyond, and doing so to such good effect that the Brennan hotel group can offer you a handy jaunt out to the Skelligs before stopping off somewhere agreeable for lunch.

The constraints of using the giant RIB configuration will sometimes result in a rather unsightly super-structure. But as our header pic of a sister-ship indicates, the design team at Cushendall have come up with something uniquely attractive in itself, while the fact that it does the business is shown in this vid of the Skelligs voyage experience by Nick Burnham of Aquaholic

And if you fancy the complete guided tour of the boat, try this for size: 

An alternative layout for the Stormforce 1450An alternative layout for the Stormforce 1450

Published in RIBs
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John Ryan's planned arrival into Dublin Bay this evening by high speed RIB was scrubbed shortly after his UIM record bid started at Cork Harbour this morning.

Ryan told Afloat "We lost the middle engine, we'll be a no show today".

It's a frustrating scenario for the record-breaker given the current favourable weather forecasts and flat seas.

As Afloat reported earlier, the Royal Cork skipper was due to depart Cork Harbour at 11 am in the 85-mph RIB.

As regular Afloat readers will know, Ryan broke his own existing Cork Fastnet Cork speed record in a time of 1 hour, 47 minutes and 7 seconds (Subject to ratification by UIM) last week as reported here.

The Zerodark team are expected to set a new date for the Cork-Dublin run and other Irish powerboat record attempts too.

Published in Powerboat Racing

ZeroDark, the big black high-speed RIB driven by Royal Cork member John Ryan, broke his own existing Cork Fastnet Cork speed record in a time of 1 hour, 47 minutes and 7 seconds (Subject to ratification by UIM) yesterday.

The previous record of 2 hours 6 minutes and 47 seconds was set by Ryan when he was team principal of All Black Racing in 2018 as Afloat reported here.

This week, as regular Afloat readers will know, the boat had been turning heads on test runs with its impressive speed around Cork Harbour.

Speaking after the record run, John said “we were delighted to be able to break the existing record and while conditions proved challenging in the latter stages I am really pleased how the boat handled the conditions”. He also paid tribute to his navigator on the day, Ciaran Monks, no stranger to high-speed craft.

Zerodark RIB team(Above and below) The Zerodark RIB team prepare for the record at RCYC marina

Zerodark RIB team

Zerodark RIB team

Fastnet Rock - the halfway point on a perfect evening for a high speed Rib runFastnet Rock - the halfway point on a perfect evening for a high speed Rib run

Ryan told Afloat his top speed during the run was 83 knots, but that he lost navigation and all instruments due to an electrical issue after ten minutes from start so the run was by compass only with no trim or engine management. The average speed was 65 knots.

The record time of 1 hour, 47 minutes and 7 seconds is subject to ratification by UIM record keepersThe record time of 1 hour, 47 minutes and 7 seconds is subject to ratification by UIM record keepers

Colin Morehead, Admiral of the Royal Cork who was assisting the record bid commented – It is great to see John, a member of our club achieving such results today. The yacht club has a strong motor history and it is wonderful to see John and his team perform so admirably today. It was my pleasure to provide him with a special five-gun salute on their victorious return to the yacht club marina this evening”

Record breakers - celebrating at Royal Cork Yacht Club marina after the record time was set, John Ryan (right)and Colin Morehead  (second from right) and the Zerodark team(above and below) Record breakers - celebrating at Royal Cork Yacht Club marina after the record time was set, John Ryan (right)and Colin Morehead (second from right) and the Zerodark team Photo: Bob Bateman

Zerodark RIB team

ZeroDark was built by Ophardt Maritim in Duisburg, Germany and she arrived by road earlier this week. Designed by Andrew Lee of Norson Design specifically for the German Special Forces as a craft to be utilized for high-speed covert operations.

She has an aluminium hull and is the fastest of its type in the world and can reach speeds in excess of 85 knots.

 Ryan says Zerodark will be attempting further records in near future.

Zerodark Cork-Fastnet-Cork Record Run Photo Gallery

Published in Royal Cork YC
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A high-speed RIB capable of 80 knots has arrived in Cork Harbour for several 'days of testing' and to 'show its speed capabilities', according to posts on social media.

The RIB, say posters, is here to attempt the Cork Harbour to Fastnet Rock speed record.

The black RIB reportedly 'gently stretched' its speed to 74 knots on a short test run.

As regular Afloat readers will recall, in August 2020, Frank Kowalski's Safehaven Marine in County Cork set a new World powerboat record for Cork - Fastnet Rock – Cork averaging 44.6 knots.

Safehaven Marine set a new over 50ft class Cork to the Fastnet Rock and back UIM World powerboat record in their 23m long XSV20 ‘Thunder Child II’ in a time of 2hrs 36 minutes averaging 44.6kts, recording a maximum speed of 53kts on the run. 

The UIM World powerboat records are categorised in three sizes which, if the RIB crew attempts a bid, will be for the 30-50ft record, a separate one to Kowalski's time.

Here's a video of the newly arrived 12-metre RIB vessel off Roches Point posted on social media below.

Published in RIBs
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RS Electric Boats will present their latest generation of electric RIB, the Pulse 63, for the first time at The Green Tech Boat Show 2021 hosted by MDL Marinas at Queen Anne's Battery, Plymouth, 19-20 June 2021.

The world's first electric RIB with a fully integrated electric drive, the Pulse is designed to help individuals switch to a more environmentally friendly way of getting out on the water. With zero emissions, no unpleasant fumes and no risk of oil spills, the Pulse 63 promotes clean boating, and the dynamic and efficient electric propulsion is extremely quiet with minimal wake for discrete operations and a comfortable ride. The electric RIB is also built using sustainable and recycled materials and constructed on British soil to reduce shipping miles.

The Pulse 63 will be presented by the recently appointed RS Electric Boats Commercial Sales Manager, Andy Andrews. Andy brings a wealth of commercial RIB experience and knowledge to the team, including 25 years in the Royal Navy, time working for Oman Sail, Saphire Marine, Berthon, and Gemini Marine, and supplying boats, engines, marine equipment and maritime training courses to UN and Government agencies throughout East Africa.

"We are really looking forward to inviting interested parties to view the new Pulse 63 for the first time at The Green Tech Boat Show," says Andy Andrews. "With zero emissions propulsion, the Pulse 63 provides a unique opportunity for marine-based companies to meet sustainability targets and move towards a greener future. We expect the RIB to appeal to a wide range of organisations, including law enforcement, border protection, security, wind farms, harbour masters, sailing schools and marinas, to name just a few. We also offer leisure and superyacht configurations for private boat owners wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and enjoy time on the water in a way that doesn't harm the planet."

The RS Electric Boats Pulse 63 will be available to view at The Green Tech Boat Show, Queen Anne's battery, Plymouth, 19-20 June 2021 on Stand 21.

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