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The practice of sailing

November '99

Paddy's Weekend

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A Weekend Cruiser Course
November '99

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This is a record of a weekend cruiser course I attended in November '99. Don't expect the very highest standards of photo-journalism. We were concentrating on sailing. The pictures here('snaps' to be honest) happened more by accident than design.

We were sixteen people ranging from complete beginners to experienced sailors. Some of us were attending Day/Coastal Skipper shore-based courses. Some owned their own boats. Apart from the beginners, who were along for the blast and the social side, most were clocking up miles and formal structured experience towards RYA/ISA certification. The day is coming when we won't be able to even look in the direction of the sea without having to produce a cert.
Three instructors were on hand to encourage us to 'get it right'. (Bless them)

My 7-year-old was a bit worried about the dad heading off into a November sea in 'a boat'. She needn't have worried about my creature comforts. The two Beneteau 510's were quite palatial. Click and Drool on the image.



Friday, November 19th - Kinsale Harbour

After a briefing over a chart of the harbour, we headed out for a night sail to see the lights. These would be "lights-navigation" rather than "lights-bright". The pre-sail briefing was useful in explaining the sectored light in Charles Fort as well as the lighting patterns of the Old Head, the Bullman (Cardinal - not pub) and the harbour buoys.

A little socialising on our return to the Trident was needed after a spot of intense "getting-the-spring-lines-just-right-after-berthing-in-a-difficult-current"



Saturday, November 20th - Kinsale, Robert's Cove, East Ferry, Cobh, Crosshaven

After a spot of retail therapy (for food supplies -- we were already impeccably dressed) we set sail, seeing by daylight the navigation marks we had seen the previous night.

And here we are, all happy campers on the first leg of our journey :-

Robert's Cove - where we were cruel to the local innkeeper

The offshore wind and the high tide allowed us to squeeze into the cove for lunch.
Poor innkeeper! Two big boats anchored in the cove. -- Bustle, bustle of both crews inflating dinghys and launching. -- And then then taking turns to paddle around the boats. -- Just a training exercise!

A gargantuan al fresco lunch followed on board - courtesy of fine weather and the retail therapy mentioned above.
In the interests of accuracy, I have to say that a certain 'other' crew has a less splendid meal as their shopping party had a theory that adequate supplies could be gathered in supermarket baskets rather than on carts.
Rule.1 of the International Regulations for the Prevention of Discomfort at Sea : "You can not buy too much food/liquid".

On to Cork Harbour

During the leg to Cork Harbour, we practiced position-fixing. We also took turns to impart various pieces of wisdom to the second boat over VHF.

We were heading into East Ferry as the sun went down.

The pier at East Ferry triggered a lesson in the use of a fender board. More "getting-the-lines-just-right" in the dark - followed by some R&R in the pub.

We headed back to Cobh in the dark, to face another pier, another fender board session, and the inevitable "getting it right".
Dinner in the Bistro at International Sailing was followed by another night sail across the harbour to the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven. Some intense chemically-assisted social activity followed, with a few hardy souls continuing to discuss Life, the Universe and Everything until 4 in the morning (that 'other' crew again).



Sunday, November 21st - to Oysterhaven and Kinsale

Another glorious morning!
Here we have the two Benetaus tied up at the RCYC pontoons. One boat full of giggles and the sizzles of a monster fry-up. The other (Yes - that 'other') somewhat more subdued.
Either sombody read characters well when the crews were assigned, or "there's a destiny that shapes our ends".


We followed the cruiser fleet out into the harbour to watch the start of the racing. They very kindly ran the start in slow-motion (if you get my drift), so Eddie had plenty of time to explain the signals and tactics involved.



Reefing was hardly necessary given the light airs, but a sailor's gotta learn what a sailor's gotta learn. We explored the joys of slab-reefing systems (a lot).


The Asgard sail-by

Approaching Oysterhaven, we spied the Asgard heading towards us under full sail.
With 'oohs' and 'aaahs' we grabbed cameras and waited for it to get into range.
With 'aaarghs' and '#~!s" we saw little black spiders eat all the canvas off the yards.

Timing is everything! We had to forgive them however. Some of those guys appeared to be giving off intense waves of cling-to-the-yard-for-dear-life vibrations. What could we do only send them good karma.



The full tide allowed us to sail well upriver and anchor in a broad bend under a wooded hillside. The tranquility was broken only by an unplanned glove-overboard exercise.

Lunch was followed by some discussions and by the serious business of getting the cruising logs signed.



We arrived back in Kinsale Harbour as darkness fell. We practiced man-overboard drill and managed not to lose any fenders.

After docking, a spring-clean and a course debriefing we were well ready for a visit to the pub.



Counting the beans

What did we chalk up in our weekend (apart from the social scene and the scenery)?
  • 50 miles
  • 6 night hours ( a benefit of winter cruises )
  • Handling under power
  • Handling under sail
  • Reefing
  • 2 x coming alongside a pier using a fender board
  • 3 x coming alongside a pontoon
  • 2 x anchoring
  • Pilotage
  • Informal navigation
  • Basic VHF

All of which was almost as impressive as the the social bit and the environment.



Reality Check

It was hard to believe that it was late November when we lunched in Robert's Cove.

I hear that the group who did the course on the following weekend may well have believed they had hit a bad January. Whatever they may have lacked in miles logged they more than made up for in wind over the decks. Reefing was not an academic exercise. Good anchor-work and the identification of sheltered waters would have been the order of the day.


The course was run by International Sailing in Cobh, Ireland.