A Tale of Many Rivers

A cruise log by John Murphy

Reviewing my log of our summers cruise last week it struck me it could be different this time. As an alternative to merely a list of times, courses, speeds, and headlands I propose to submit a different kind of log, one of impressions, observations, and the people I met. Perhaps, as an article for our web site, I wanted to write something more like Charlie Kavanagh’s Round Ireland Cruise story of some years ago, but only covering a small bit of the south coast.

Following last year’s Siege of Hook Head, as Simon calls it, we were all determined to reach New Ross this year. We had the advantage of starting earlier, 4th July, and we even decided to approach it from the West, first sailing as far as Baltimore. I’m afraid I lost the run of myself and wrote something rather longer than I had originally intended!

Cruising Association of Ireland's Summer Cruise 2022

Following last year’s Siege of Hook Head, as Simon calls it, we were all determined to reach New Ross this year. We had the advantage of starting earlier, 4th July, and we even decided to approach it from the West, first sailing as far as Baltimore.

As it happened all the ports I visited were situated on rivers, Arklow (Avoca) to Baltimore (IIen) Castlehaven to Waterford (Suir) and New Ross (Barrow). Don’t forget Crosshaven (Lee) and Kinsale (Bandon) too! I’m not quite sure about the river at Castlehaven.

We departed Dun Laoghaire on Monday July 4th following months of revising and slowly crossing off all the tasks on a long to-do list. It was our Independence Day; it was the start of a month of cruising from our home port and we would ultimately join up with the CAI Summer Cruise in Waterford later in the month. Colm and I had sailed Enigma for many years and following a major refit over this past year we had a lot of calibration and tuning to do on the new gear, so a month-long cruise was a good chance to test it all. Joining us for the overnight from Arklow to Cobh was Richard Holbrook and Otto the new Autopilot. (I think everyone calls their autopilot Otto, if indeed they feel compelled to name it, as a German built boat, I think it works).   Richard and I had sailed together on a delivery from The Canaries to Dublin back in 2005 and it was great to sail with him again after all this time.

As the evening closed in, we passed Tuskar Rock motoring across an unusually calm sea.

The wind returned sometime later, and we were able to sail through the short hours of darkness and past an early dawn until we could almost see the entrance to Cork Harbour. It had been a lovely night without the engine and only the sound was the water rushing along the hull as we held a steady course in a good wind.

It was soon to be Cork Week again after an absence of four years. Starting the 11th of July already there wasn’t a berth to be had on any of Crosshaven’s marinas, so we proceeded on up through Cobh, around Spike Island with many Naval ships tied up and on past a cruise liner. The Spike Island ferry passed across ahead of us and waterfront of Cobh looked busy and full of visitors.  

Soon we rounded up to wind, dropped the sails and motored onto the outside of the breakwater at Monkstown Marina. In keeping with the theme of Rivers the Bandon did its best to make our arrival a little challenging. We were assisted by the marina owner, James, who is a most interesting and helpful guy.  

Over the next few days, I learned a lot about Monkstown as a sailing base, about the marina and why its development has stalled for so long. James has for many years worked at getting permission to complete the marina, install showers and an office and increase the size. It’s been a long campaign, way back in 2014 a well-known visitor, Alex Thompson, expressed his hope that they plans could be successful soon! From Afloat 29th April 2014 – “The Open 60 Hugo Boss made a surprise visit to Cork Harbour Marina in Monkstown Bay at the weekend. Skipper Alex Thomson said he and his crew were not far off Land’s End in Cornwall after a leak discovered in the starboard ballast tank required overnight repairs. But rather than sail back to Falmouth, Thomson reckoned they could find a suitable deep-water berth on Ireland’s south coast. Thomson described their impromptu visit to Cork Harbour as “one of those serendipitous incidents. “What a great place to have to visit by accident!” He also expressed his hope that “the next phase of development for the marina will go ahead and yachts such as ours will be able to use the facilities again in the future.”

It’s been a long and very expensive campaign to get permission to develop the marina, James told me, and it appears that there are many similar stories along the south coast.

Later that day Richard returned to Dublin. Taking the bus (216) from just outside the marina he was quickly in Cork and following a short walk across the river got an Aircoach directly home. Colm took the same route the following day as he needed to be home for a few days for a family event. I decided to use the opportunity to explore the area by bike and visit Crosshaven to check out Cork Week.

First cycling destination was Cobh via the Cross-River ferry at Passage. It was a fantastic day, and the first job was to unpack the bike, stowed below, and crane it out of the cockpit with a Handy Billy and the boom up and out over the rail onto the marina. And we were off!

Three Euro return on the Ferry and one running every few minutes it was very convenient.

Cobh was full of tourist busses and visitors and looked very colorful in the sun.  According to the skipper of a French boat called Athos we met in Waterford and again in Arklow, the marina in Cobh takes visitors but he was told not to mention it, that’s for next year’s investigation.

The berth at Monkstown can be quite lively with passing ships on their way to Cork and some muscular looking tugs creating a bit of a wake. It’s also exposed to Southeast winds. For the few days I was there I rigged lines with rubber inline snubbers and rocked comfortably with the benefit of the shock absorbing effect of the snubbers.

The blue skies continued and next day I took advantage of the very good bus service to shop in Cork City and later visited Crosshaven. I always sat up front and the conversations with the bus driver were very entertaining. Everyone was in good form with the sunny weather and keen to chat.

In the city centre I changed bus to take the route to Crosshaven in the late morning and took my usual front seat. The driver helped an elderly couple onto the bus then sat ready for the lights to change. He was watching a group of young people dawle across the road and then the lights changed! After a pause, he revved his engine loudly and then leaned out of the window and said good humouredly in that great Cork accent “I see there is nothing wrong with yer legs now is there” as they sprinted for the pavement and the bus began to move. All part of the Cork experience

The bus dropped me off just before the Royal Cork Yacht Club which was completely covered with Cork Week flags. It was a smaller affair than I remember from the past with less manufacturers’ stands and traffic jams but nonetheless very well attended. There was a huge crowd at the ladies’ lunch which spread across the entire club and a large marquee so there was a frenzy of activity and sound. At least 500 conversations.

A quick exit was needed, and I popped across the road to The Drake pub for lunch, I think it used to be called the Admiral Drake but looks updated. No sandwiches, said the man behind the bar, must be because the whole fleet was out racing, I thought. He suggested I go down the road to Centra where they’d make me “a very nice sandwich” and then he’d give me a coffee when I returned!

I consumed my outsourced sandwich and two coffees (a free top up) with the two regulars at the bar one of whom lived on his boat on Salve Marine pontoon, I think. Great conversation and entertainment. On the bus back I noticed how prosperous and well-maintained Cork looked and how well the bus service operated! Perhaps the sun had gone to my head! The following day I visited CH Marine warehouse for parts and spent the rest of the day “busy” on boat work.

Colm returned the next day via the Aircoach and the 216 local bus again and we prepared for the next leg of the adventure to Kinsale. We left early next morning for Kinsale passing another cruise liner at Cobh and watching one of our Navy ships arrive at Halbouline passing close by with a friendly wave from the bridge. We had one short stop at Crosshaven for diesel at Salve Marine fuel berth. Once secured at the fuel berth we watched the Cork Week fleet put to sea to the sound of a piper in full gear on the foredeck of one boat! (You do know, of course, the definition of a gentleman? Someone who can play the bagpipes but doesn’t!)

Salve Marine has an interesting collection of boats. From a pristine Island Packet to a steel yacht called Enigma, no less, that looked like a garden center. I guess it’s some time since she’s been to sea. While walking to arrange the fuel top-up at the office I came across a nice little motor sailor called Áine III. The proud owner was cleaning the widows, “that’s a nice boat”, I said, “my wife’s name is Áine.

So is mine, he said, but she is not my third wife!” He was English and away on his retirement cruise to Ireland. “The boat is my retirement present to myself”, he continued, and I couldn’t help thinking the boat may also be a present his wife Áine approves of as it had taken him away from under her feet now that he’d retired. We all need a hobby!

Fuel topped up, at a price much lower than I’d paid in Dun Laoghaire only a week or so before (€2.33 per liter), we were on our way bound for Kinsale as we followed the last of the Cork week stragglers out to sea. Once clear of Cork Harbour it was engine off, and the sails filled as we settled on a course for the Bulman Rock off Kinsale entering the harbour just after 1300. It was a fabulous morning for sailing and as the wind lightened, we kept the engine off for as long as possible and we made our way past the Forts and waterfront houses as far as the left turn towards the Kinsale YC marina.

I had spoken earlier with Stephen at Castlepark Marina, and he’d advised us to go to D15 port side to. Asile was already there on her way back from the West and berthed in the marina and was probably nearby. It was just after low water. The entrance into the marina is at the upriver end of the long pontoon and around the corner. We slowly approached watching the depth sounder count down and made the last turn into the marina, just outside where a Hawk Day-sailor was tied alongside. With virtually nothing below the keel we moved slowly ahead and had to push a little harder to move through the mud as we just touched bottom. We were in, now to find D15. This wasn’t too difficult however it was occupied by a big Dufour but D14 was empty. A quick 180 degree turn, and we reversed in as fenders were set for port side. We were secure, engine off, we sat quietly in the sunshine and surveyed our surroundings.

Castlepark is a very busy marina. With visitors coming and going and some impressive local boats it is relatively full. Like all marinas on the South coast, it is wise to book, and many are almost completely full at this time of the year. Doing a quick survey of the shower and toilet facilities Castlepark scores the highest! It has a very high-quality shower block and looks like it exceeded its design budget with charcoal-coloured tiles and glass sliding doors throughout! It was a little like a night club or hotel.

The downside of Castlepark is that there are no local shops. Apart from a nice pub and two food vans we must take a taxi into the town of Kinsale. In the end the crews of Asile and Enigma walked into town and shared a taxi back which worked out well. The big SuperValu in Kinsale is pretty good too. We shared dinner onboard and had a good first night in Kinsale. We explored James Fort and environs the next day.

Two nights in Kinsale and we were off again for Baltimore on a sunny Sunday morning and yet another day in shorts and t-shirts. The log notes a force 3+ with many little sunshine symbols and we consistently progressing at about 6 knots over ground. Another lovely day, we spoke on the mobile with Baltimore and arranged a berth. Fortunately, we had the comfort of knowing that there was a good mooring available to us through the generosity of a well-known local CAI member, Aedan Coffey, who was sailing further west to Bantry at the time. If life on the pontoon got too lumpy or busy, we had the option to move. On arrival, sails stowed and fenders on starboard side, as advised, we made our way towards the pontoon past a long line of moored boats and ribs. It soon became clear where our spot on the pontoon was tucked in at the end.

 We rounded up in another 180 degrees turn around two boats already rafted up and a third moored somewhat sideways into an inside berth greatly assisted by the breeze which acted like a bow and stern thruster. This gently moved us sideways into the small gap just long enough for us to fit alongside the pontoon. A lucky one that looked more planned that it was! We were greeted by a young French sailor who took our lines and had been trusted, she explained, by Dermot to manage the pontoon today. She’d arrived on one of those small 6.8 racers with a problem and stayed! (See photo below of us tucked in alongside.)

First impression of Baltimore was that it looked busy and full of holidaymakers. We quickly checked out the pub, which was buzzing and had a great band that played classic hits!

Some pints later, when the band had finished, and the sun had begun to set we made our way back to Enigma. Here we found a recently arrived French Figaro racing boat with a German couple on a five-month sabbatical, rafted up alongside us. He normally raced singlehanded near Kiel, and his boat was an early version of the Figaro racing boat. His wife, a nurse, had taken extended leave too and gamely agreed to cruise with him in this racing machine with limited facilities.

We discovered all this when we invited ourselves aboard with the question “do you know much about Irish Whiskey?”. They didn’t, had just arrived from directly from LaRochelle into Baltimore, their first Irish port.  They were planning to go to Islay on their journey as they were interested in Scotch whiskey! An opportunity to fly the flag! We were probably the first Irish sailors to greet them and able to discuss their plans for our coast with the help of Norman’s pilot books and a bottle of Irish Whiskey!

One of the big things that struck us about Baltimore, apart from the lovely scenery, was the number of RIBs. We counted 81 and I’m sure there are more. It’s the perfect watercraft, they say, for families to explore the islands and beaches in this fabulous area. This is probably where we’ll start from next year. We had two more days in Baltimore including a trip to Cape Clear North Harbour and a walk to the South Harbour to have a look! So much to see and get back to next year.

Baltimore was the furthest West we went as we needed to be back to meet the fleet in Waterford. The CAI Summer Cruise had targets of Waterford and New Ross outstanding since last year and we were determined to visit. Besides, as one of the port coordinators, I planned to be there to meet the other cruisers and make sure we had the berths we needed. On July 19th, we left Baltimore at midday bound for Castlehaven.

We took about 30 minutes motoring in circles in the wide space of Baltimore to check the calibration of our fluxgate compass on the autopilot using a hand bearing compass until we were happy with the adjustment. We then cleared Baltimore and began our turn for Castlehaven. In 13 knots of a beam wind, we had a beautiful sail along the coast.

After that cracking good sail, we finally drop anchor at 1600 in a stiff wind in Castlehaven. The anchor had no trouble bedding in and we were very secure in a rising wind while we watched the boat range around between the wind and tide for the next few hours.

Castletownsend, evening...
...and morning

It was a secure night on anchor, and we woke to a bright sky ready for our next short hop to Crosshaven to top up the diesel and water tanks.

At 0710 we began taking in chain and 20 minutes later had the anchor onboard. With up to 7 layers of weed, rope, wires, and God knows what else, Colm managed to finally clear it and we headed off into about 5kts of wind. Asile’s anchor experience was worse than that. Their chain had wrapped itself around a concrete post and only for the fact that there was a diver working nearby they might have been tethered for a lot longer. They were freed in no time.  

Baltimore to Crosshaven took about seven hours, much of this was without engine as the wind arrived shortly after we emerged. Another great sailing day during which we took the opportunity to test the ‘sail steer’ function of our new plotter and a Cunningham line Colm had rigged. ‘Sail steer’ works out course and when to tack or gybe for the best progress towards a given waypoint. A little bit of B&G magic.

At Crosshaven we were again tied up along the pontoon, inner one this time, at Salve Marine with the long fuel line to top up. They could fit 5 boats here for fueling!

Crosshaven was much quieter on this visit. We walked down to Centra for some supplies and around the town in the afternoon sun and I called into Crosshaven Boatyard to enquire about a berth for next summer. I’m now on the waiting list. The plan is to base ourselves there next year and explore further West from a Crosshaven base. It also has good train and bus access from Dublin.

During the afternoon we’d been following an incident on the VHF where a Bavaria 36 had lost power just beyond Roches Point and were being assisted by the lifeboat. As we walked back to our boat, with the shopping, we saw the Bavaria being brought in to the Crosshaven Boatyard Marina tied alongside the lifeboat. I’m pretty sure this was the one we’d seen alongside the pier in Baltimore the previous day. This was one of many incidents we’d overheard on channel 16 over the past few weeks. I don’t believe its appreciated just how many callouts the Coastguard and RNLI get each summer, I never realised just how busy they both are. Sure, as sailors we have a great appreciation of what they do and are grateful for their presence, but I never knew how constant it is in the summer. Take one event for example, we listened to this while swinging at anchor on that windy night in Castletownsend.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 5.50 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a lone sailor who had been taking part in a race when his yacht capsized, approximately 70 miles off the coast of Baltimore. The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the casualty vessel at 9.08 pm. The sailor was on the upturned hull of the catamaran in which he had been racing single-handed. (Afloat Magazine) https://afloat.ie/safety/lifeboats/item/55485-baltimore-rnli-rescues-lone-sailor-from-capsized-catamaran-70-miles-south-of-baltimore-west-cork

As we listened, we were very impressed by the professional manner in which both agencies handled the whole affair. The process, the radio procedures and the people all worked together for a successful outcome.

The CAI using channel 72 (or another appropriate to the location) as a fleet communications channel serves another purpose. I know many are familiar with their VHF set and comfortable to use it, but others aren’t perhaps because of lack of experience. It’s useful for the CAI to encourage VHF usage on 72 during cruises as good practice.

We left Crosshaven early the next morning for Dunmore East to a beautiful morning, sun peeping through.

We were off Ballycotton by 0915 and Youghal by 1150. The log has several more sunshine symbols by each entry, but we were also watching PredictWind as it was becoming clear some windy weather was on the way. Asile was ahead and entered Dunmore East before us. Simon had been in touch with the Harbour Master and arranged for us to stay just one night. The Harbour Master insisted we leave in the morning as the forecast was predicting winds that made their pontoon unsafe; there were notices around the place when we arrived warning us!

Shortly after 1700 two new crew members arrived, Rosie and Derek, CAI members. As part of the CAI’s ICC training, I’d invited them to sail with us to Waterford and subsequently to Arklow. Now we were 4 and at Enigma’s comfortable limit. They parked their car in Dunmore East to be retrieved later.

All throughout the cruise we’ve been very grateful for John Leahy’s weather commentary and charts. It is really something that you can’t get anyplace else. It’s both information when its needed and an education and I believe everyone who reads his posts has benefited hugely. Just right now at least three CAI members are embarked on an extended cruises and John’s information is invaluable. Of course, it’s not a weather service and we must rely on our own judgement but the education it provides to enable us to make those judgements if seriously helpful. He is doing very valuable work.

Some time ago Simon published a piece on the web site about where our members are now. I think it’s’ fun to follow fellow members and inspirational for future cruises. Many of us watch Marine Traffic to see where other CAI members are now!

CAI's members Global Tracking Service!

Dunmore East really has only a few visitor berths on the relatively new pontoon and good shore facilities. What a pity there aren’t more berths. It has a lively cruiser fleet on moorings just outside the harbour but essentially is a major fishing fleet base. Dunmore East was the first port I cruised to in 1971 and holds special memories. It’s a little different today from when I arrived there as a teenager aboard Asgard on the last day of my first cruise way back then.

At last, we were on the leg to Waterford. We cleared the harbour at 0845 in 18kts wind from the Hook and powered up the river with the wind from astern towards the channel under a small jib in a swell. By 0940 we passed the Passage East Ferry well in the river now and shelter but with misty rain. No little sunshine symbols in the log today! At 1130 we were secured alongside in the marina just astern of Asile. Like Monkstown I rigged lines with rubber snubbers as the river runs very fast each way with the tide.

On arrival we were quickly met by Sinead from Waterford County Council who run the marina. She had power cards, gate instructions (you use your mobile phone to open the gate like Kilmore Quay) and Shower Access Codes – most efficient. Sinead also runs the River Rescue. This is a story for a whole other article but it’s a challenging job and they are far busier than you might expect.

Waterford was an unexpected delight. The City Council have certainly spent money on its public spaces, its wall murals, its paving and covered ways, and signage. In no time our music hound (our Commodore) had found a gig we all wanted to attend.

Stacey Mitchhart was playing at The Reg (venue behind Reginald’s Tower) and 6 CAI members turned up to hear his brand of Jazz Latin and Rock in a blues style! It was a great sound and the owner of the Reg had invited Stacey when he heard him in Nashville last year, we were told.

The following day a more traditional session was found and CAI musicians, Simon, Rosie, and Derek, contributed to the orchestra and flew the flag high. Soon after that the other boats started arriving led by Beluga and quickly followed by Seod Na Farraige, and Blue Moon. Now we were five.

That evening we all trooped off to The Three Shippes pub and restaurant. I must have changed our reservation there about a dozen times in the preceding two months. It was great to turn up at all since we’d cancelled the booking at the same pub last year. The food and service were great, and everyone enjoyed the company of their fellow CAI cruisers and the dinner! As is traditional on these occasions many repaired to another music location discovered by our music venue detective, Simon. Fortunately, Rosie, Derek, and Simon had remembered to take their musical instruments with them, and a great evening followed. I was beginning to recognize some of the local musicians at this point.

New Ross, our final objective was at hand! The previous day I had booked the bridge to open at 1430, but it turned out later that there was already a booking by The Barrow Princess, running a new Service between Waterford and New Ross for tourists. She was a fine vessel, with a well-stocked bar, and was already attracting customers. Her berth was about 30meters along the pontoon from us. It was a reminder of the strength of the tide that runs along the marina in Waterford and the fun to be had trying to come alongside and with a strong wind blowing off the berth! It took them just two goes, I don’t know how many it might have taken me aboard a vessel like the Barrow Princess with such a lot of windage.

The Barrow Princess powering ahead as we motor down the river from Waterford
Asile saying farewell to Waterford

The passage from Waterford was very scenic and much quicker that I thought. Beluga powered ahead and all looked well as they made the trip amid green hills and along a clearly marked channel.

On arrival in New Ross Charlie was waiting for us on the pontoon. He’d arranged two hammerheads for the fleet with Mick, the marina manager, clearing boats in advance to make it easier for us to come alongside in the flow of the river. All were rafted up together in no time, including three boats that came directly from Kilmore Quay.

I suppose every town in Ireland has an amazing history when you research the detail. Charlie had arranged for a Historical Walking Tour; one of 5 tours Myles Courtney gives about the town. Ours was around Medieval times in New Ross and was fascinating.

Myles has been the leading light is developing a better understanding of the historical significance of New Ross and its place in Irish history. None of us had any idea, I suspect, of all the reasons why New Ross was such a significant seaport so far from the sea. I’ll be back to learn more from Myles.

Some medieval sailors from the CAI

Following the tour, we remembered it was lunchtime and most visited the very good restaurant in the Dunbrody Ship visitors center.

Today was also a day of historical significance for Jeff Brownlee, Skipper of the Beluga. It was his birthday. We were all invited aboard for a celebration and a musical evening followed. I can safely say that the saloon in Beluga was bigger than the last pub we’d been in to hear music in Waterford!

Looking at the photo again I realise I was very remiss as I didn’t capture Jeff in it, he was below in the galley taking sausage rolls out of the oven! It was a great birthday party… happy birthday Jeff.

It was Friday 29th of July and it was time to start making our way home. We departed New Ross at 0700 along with Seod Na Farraige, Jumani, and Faliraki. By the railway bridge everyone had caught up.

We passed through the railway bridge, which was open early, at 0830 and by 1000 had the Hook lighthouse abeam and well on our way. We motor sailed throughout the day and always had Seod Na Farraige in sight. Some had gone into Kilmore Quay for the night and Asile had opted to anchor off Rosslare in a sheltered spot. Enigma and Seod Na Farraige continued for Arklow. It had been a beautiful day and evening to be on the water, we were joined by the occasional dolphin and thankfully all the pots we encountered were clearly visible in the calm sea.

By 2130 we were both approaching Arklow and by 2200 were rafted up together on the pontoon which unexpectedly had couple of spaces available.

It had been a long day, especially for Andrew aboard Seod Na Farraige, who was single handing!

The following day we were joined by Muirgheal and Asile, who reclaimed her home berth, arriving from Kilmore Quay and Rosslare.

Arklow was busy with boats from Germany, France, and the UK as a popular transit port. All around the marina were major engineering works for the new treatment plant which at last was underway. When completed, it will end discharges of raw sewage into the river Avoca and Arklow was the largest town remaining in Ireland without treatment. The project includes a treatment plant at the Old Wallboard Factory site at Ferrybank in the town; two interceptor sewer pipelines (along North and South Quay) to bring untreated wastewater to the plant and an outfall pipe to safely discharge treated effluent to the Irish Sea. It is due to be completed and operational by 2025. (According to an article in The Irish Times). The new HQ for Arklow Shipping, the treatment plant and all the surrounding works, when finished, will give a great boost to that part of the town.

Arklow Sailing Club kindly laid on facilities for us to make use of their club BBQ for our final get together. It was a rainy day, and we made a quick dash to the shops to get supplies for the BBQ as it was a bring your own food event. The bar in the club supplied the refreshments. The evening went very well and fortunately, our musicians remembered to bring their instruments again!

Throughout the day there had been some discussion about leaving Arklow the next day to head north. Most concluded they’d make the early start despite the head winds and rain forecast. We decided to wait till the following day, 1st August, to head for Dun Laoghaire when a more favorable day looked likely.

The morning of the Sunday 31st was rainy and cooler, throughout the day several more visitor boats arrived from Norway and France, and I took the opportunity to move outside and raft up on the large steel boat, Athos, to be ready to slip away in the early morning of Monday. We had lunch up town at The Old House (last year’s CAI Arklow dinner venue) and met Simon and Sue after.

The last day dawned sunny, Monday 1st August, the rain had gone, and a southerly breeze had arrived. We quietly slipped our lines at 0700 and motored down the river stowing fenders and lines plus setting our main on the way out. Bound for Dun Laoghaire and catching the north going tide we were already making 7.6kn over the ground at 0800 with Mizen Head abeam.   By 0900 we passed Wicklow Head at 8.8kn and were motor sailing in lovely sunshine.

By 1040, off Bray head we had 16knots of favorable wind which continued all the way home. We finally tied up in our home berth in Dun Laoghaire at 1230. The end of almost a month away cruising incorporating the CAI summer cruise and getting more sunny days than I remember afloat in a long time.

In conclusion, I think it’s worth taking a little time to remember some of the things I learned.

Firstly, the CAI is a catalyst for many things: cruising with friends, exploring further and having the comfort and security of being able to discuss decisions around the weather, passage plans and topics like anchoring. Whether you are a sailor with global experience or totally new to cruising the CAI has something for you.   

I was very fortunate to have great people to sail with. Colm and I have sailed together for many years, so I know he is first class, but this year we were joined by Richard (from Dun Laoghaire to Cobh) and Rosie and Derek (from Dunmore East via Waterford and New Ross to Arklow). All experienced sailors with a superb attitude it made it easy for us to meet our cruising objectives. Time and again it’s so important to sail with people that have the ability to work together as a crew. It’s more about their attitude than their experience.

There is so many other places to explore on the South coast and beyond around West Cork and Kerry. We are spoiled for cruising opportunities on our coasts all around Ireland, we’ll need lots more time! Something that really astonished me was just how busy the RNLI and Coast Guard are day in and day out. I feel the issue with poorly marked pots is a major burden for them too. It’s so reassuring they are just a VHF call away. We owe it to them to know the how best to work with them should we ever need their help.

This year’s weather was extraordinary and together with PredictWind and the new weather WhatsApp channel with John Leahy we were extremely well served with information to base our decisions on. Remember all decisions are our own responsibility and whether it’s the CAI, WhatsApp, the ICC Pilot or eOceanic.  All opinions and comments in this article are my own too!

Lastly, the CAI is growing and welcomes new members. Find us at cruising.ie.

John Murphy