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Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

WM Nixon

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

Getting on a head of steam. Rockabill Vi (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC) starting to find the strengthening fair wind in the early stages of the 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. Already the defending champion after winning in 2017, she held on to her title in Dingle, and was also ISORA Champion and ICRA “Boat of the Year”, while her owner-skipper became 2019 Sailor of the Year
It’s only a week since the listings opened for the National YC’s 2021 Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race scheduled for June 9th, and already 15 definite entries have arrived in with such speed that the organising committee - under…
Irish sailing in 2020 involved carefully monitored events with limited numbers. Deprived of properly celebrating their Quarter Millennium as long planned, Lough Ree YC ran a special regatta in late August which – despite numbers in the club compound being limited to 200 with strict social distancing in the clubhouse – produced excellent racing, with one of the stars being Ben Graf, who went on to become September's Junior Sailor of the Month. Here, there's crisp action at the weather mark for the leading Shannon One Designs, which in 2022 will be celebrating their Centenary
For sure, the pandemic-plagued year of 2020 - with its stop-start framework of activity afloat and ashore - was something beyond most sailors' experience. Yet ours is nothing if not a can-do sport. And while some sailing enthusiasts – particularly…
Christmas Eve, 1895, and the Dublin Bay lifeboat has capsized with tragic loss of life whole trying to reach the wrecked sailing ship Palme.
If you think that life is tough under the current pandemic, then the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association has just the thing to put current national and personal problems into perspective, with a comprehensively illustrated Zoom talk by noted maritime…
A brisk breeze for the finish of the "Belfast Regatta" of 1829 – the full title reads: "Race Won 19 June 1829, at the Belfast Regatta', by the 'Ariel, John McCracken Esq., against the 'Crusader, Sir Stephen May, and the 'Zoe', Marquis (sic) of Donegall". From a painting by Andrew Nicholl, Ulster Museum
The history of sailing in Belfast Lough became so hectic in the 1890s, with the pioneering development of One-design keelboat classes and the first of Thomas Lipton's five America's Cup challenges going forth from Royal Ulster Yacht Club in 1899,…
Dublin Bay - playground, workspace, living area and complex ecosystem. With Dublin Port to the left and Dun Laoghaire Harbour on right, the sporting challenges of best utilising Dublin Bay's uniquely balanced potential have been successfully met by Dublin Bay Sailing Club
Dublin Bay Sailing Club's recognition today as the Mitsubishi Motors "Sailing Club of the Year" 2021 on the strength of achieving a remarkably full programme in 2020 when Pandemic Regulations permitted is well merited. Yet it's only the second time…
Paddy Judge brings a wealth of technical experience and a long record of voluntary service to his new position as Howth YC Commodore
Paddy Judge, a long-serving committee member and flag officer with Howth Yacht Club, succeeded Ian Byrne as Commodore as the members were asserting the club spirit with an impressive entry in the competition for the best Christmas Festive Lights display,…
The Brendan currach – "36ft of Cow & Gate" – made for a challenging east-west crossing of the northern North Atlantic in 1976-77
When the Courtmacsherry Harbour Boat Club was founded ten years ago, the late Tim Severin - the neighbourhood's own legendary sea adventurer and explorer of international renown - found himself in several roles at the inaugural gathering. Naturally, he was…
The sort of days which will return "when all this is past". The Doug Peterson-designed Contessa 35 Witchcraft of Howth racing in ISORA Week 1991 in Howth
Our header photo is one whose use had not been anticipated for at least another month, and hopefully not at all. For it was optimistically expected that by late January, we'd have evidence the vaccines were beginning to work, with…
"She stopped time for everyone around". So said photographer Teddy Murphy as he recorded the characterful Limerick trading ketch Ilen when she came through Dalkey Sound in a flash of sunlight on the afternoon of December 7th for a busy two weeks visit to Dublin
In Greek mythology, at the Winter Solstice, there is a brief calm for the Halcyon Day, and this was the experience of the crew on the Limerick ketch Ilen as they headed away on Monday evening, after a busy two…
Festive lights afloat at Kinsale Marina in West Cork
There are only a few harbours in Ireland where you get the feeling that the land is effortlessly embracing the sea rather than endlessly battling it, but Kinsale is undoubtedly one of them. The picturesque port town provides a gentle…
Putting on the cloth on the shortest day of the year – Ilen’s headsails being hanked on at Poolbeg Y&BC in Dublln this afternoon
The great Captain Cook may have voyaged to the Pacific in 1769 for the astronomical purpose of observing the Transit of Venus from Tahiti. But tonight (Monday) the crew of the Limerick ketch Ilen have a more modest hope -…
Your flexible friend – as we finally emerge from the pandemic, the classically good-looking Lasers will be tops in leading the way afloat
The Irish Laser class would remind you of a murmuration of starlings. They major in highly flexible shape-changing formations in which the actual moving around of the fleet is a matter of independent individual units somehow sweeping together with apparently…
The National YC's biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, currently scheduled for June 9th 2021, could become symbolic of the emergence from pandemic. The start of 2019's race shows overall winner Paul O'Higgin's JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (left) showing briefly ahead of Mick Cotter's 94ft line honours winner and new course record-setter Windfall
In normal times, the yearly Irish sailing fixtures list is a reasonably harmonious programme based around annual or biennial pillar events of various types and sizes, an ongoing succession of regattas and championships which slot together in a reasonably meaningful…
Summer evening sunshine greets the Galway Bay Sailing Club fleet as they welcome home the Transatlantic-voyaging ketch Danu (at centre) at Kilronan in the Aran Islands at the end of July 2020
Galway Bay Sailing Club, comfortably ensconced in their fine clubhouse at Renville New Harbour near Oranmore at the head of Galway Bay, can look back at many ups and downs during the fifty years of sailing development they've experienced from…
New Dublin Bay Commodore Ann Kirwan Brings Many Talents to DBSC
This week, Ann Kirwan of the National Yacht Club became the 25th Commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club at the club's 136th Annual General Meeting, in succession to Jonathan Nicholson of the Royal St George YC. This harmonious change of…
Ships that pass as history is being made. With the final stages of Brexit negotiations in the balance, the Limerick Trading Ketch Ilen is recorded by RTE News coming up Dublin's River Liffey as the cross-channel ferry Clipper Pennant heads out for a UK port, still under minimal customs regulation. With Ilen making for a berth at Poolbeg Marina, she has been instructed to hold to the south side of the Dublin Port Channel
The Limerick ambassadorial ketch Ilen arrived on the Liffey River at Dublin in the late hours of Sunday after a fast passage, and since then has been out daily from Poolbeg Y & BC's marina on Dublin Bay with a…
Bill King of Oranmore Castle in Galway
Global circumnavigator Bill King of Oranmore Castle in Galway had lived to be 102 when he died – still very fit – in 2012. Yet he’d led such an extraordinary life of adventure and danger ashore and afloat and under…
Phantom mark-boat in a haunted harbour. In keeping with a ghost season, the sailing spooks were out and about in Dun Laoghaire on Sunday
You will have seen Afloat’s photos (posted this morning) of various training “clinics” emerging into sunshine yesterday in and off Dun Laoghaire harbour as people tried to get in some regulation-compliant sailing after the "ghost season” which seems to have…
Sunshine at sea, clouds over the land – the season of 2020 is defined at the National Yacht Cub's Sesquicentennial Regatta in Dublin Bay on September 5th, with Flying Fifteen Class Captain Neil Colin (DMYC) racing Ffuzzy with Margaret Casey
It would be needlessly painful to look back at the Afloat.ie features of a year and more ago anticipating the coming sailing season of 2020. They exuded optimism, anticipation, energy and enthusiasm for the approaching twelve months. They looked forward…
Harry Donegan's famous Gull and her successor Sibyl off Cobh – both boats are somehow involved in the story of how the "genuine fake ketch" Betty Alan has so far failed to sail round Britain and Ireland
Frances Edwards & Ed Maggs are clearly the most incompetent cruisers, as Ed says himself, for they have completely failed in their modest ambition of a circumnavigation of the British Isles by stalling on the West Coast of Ireland, and…
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