Sail Training – Cruising for Young Adventurers

Last week I led a five day sail training voyage for nine Sail Training Ireland sponsored trainees aboard the gaff ketch Brian Boru. Brian Boru is well known to CAI members, a number of whom have skippered her over the years, and many of whom have been heavily involved in sail training since the Coiste an Asgard programmes. Our own present commodore also leads the Atlantic Youth Trust organisation which now oversees the combined operations of both Brian Boru and Leader (1892 Brixham Trawler) providing sail training across the Island of Ireland.

Dun Laoghaire to Waterford

On the first day we motor sailed from Dun Laoghaire to Wicklow with a Force 5 Southerly wind on-the-nose, causing a relatively lively sea state. After bumping into the friendly face of fellow CAI member Charlie Kavanagh we then finished the day out with a BBQ on the Wicklow East pier and watching the sunset.

The second day saw a longer passage from Wicklow, around Carnsore Point, crossing St Patrick’s Bridge and arriving into Kilmore Quay a little after 10pm – just in time to make it to Kehoe’s before last call. A Force 5 wind from the North East and a carefully timed departure to work the spring tides enabled a fast passage, and having full radar and AIS capability enabled us to safely cross the busy South Shear channel at Rosslare Europort despite the visibility having reduced to less than 1 mile in the area.

The next morning started with an invigorating swim off the beach and then the short passage from Kilmore Quay, around Hook Head and into Dunmore East to the “Lighthouse Berth” on the harbour wall. Waterford Harbour Sailing Club very kindly welcomed us to use their shower facilities, after which we had fish and chips ashore!

The next morning brought more challenging conditions, with a Small Craft Warning in place for all Irish coasts. We were delighted to visit the Dunmore East RNLI station for a guided tour of the state of the art Shannon Class lifeboat. In the afternoon we ventured out of the harbour, well reefed, to experience the conditions and then tucked back into the Waterford estuary to overnight in the very well sheltered anchorage off Buttermilk Point, approximately 1 mile South of the confluence of the Suir and Barrow.

The final day saw us make the short passage up to Waterford city to disembark the crew, having stopped for lunch at a lovely secluded anchorage within the Kings Channel, off the West side of Little Island.

Sail Training in Ireland

Sail training is focused on youth development and team building, yet it is essentially a coastal cruise which creates the optimal environment and space for the trainees to step outside their comfort zones, to meet new people, to challenge themselves and to develop new skills. The trainees live aboard together in close quarters, and are involved in all aspects of running the vessel including cooking for each other, sailing and navigation. There are very many parallels between sail training and cruising!

There are a number of excellent sail training organisations in Ireland, including the Atlantic Youth Trust, Sail Training Ireland, and Sailing into Wellness. If you are looking for opportunities to get involved, or perhaps for children or grandchildren to join a voyage – I can wholeheartedly recommend them.

It is an enormous privilege to be able to explore Ireland’s beautiful coastline with an open minded and enthusiastic group of young trainees and to have the opportunity to share with them some of our passion for sailing, seamanship and adventure! It is rewarding seeing the trainees develop, as their knowledge and confidence increase and they grow together as a team. Being able to weave in sea swims, mast climbs, secluded anchorages, night watches at anchor, dancing in the rain, fish and chips, and barbeques is the icing on the cake.

Fair Winds!

Jonny Sedgwick