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The practice of sailing

November '99

Paddy's Weekend

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The theory , the planning

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Weekend Cruiser Course
St. Patrick's 2000

These are some images from a weekend cruiser course I attended over St. Patrick's Weekend. Apart from the technical aspects, the cruise featured the Fastnet, Cape Clear, and some dolphins.

In some of the pictures, you'll notice people looking at some A4 charts/sheets. These are draft versions of some passage and pilotage notes that I'm working on. I've started to keep a clipboard of relevant sheets and a tidal curve in the cockpit locker. People on the cruises found them very useful.
I'll make them available on the site as soon as the day/night job allows me time to finish them.


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Boats: 2 x Beneteau 51's
Roller-furling genoa, Slab-reefed main

Crews: Second-timers to Experienced

Beneteau 51


Thursday March 16th, 2000 - Kinsale Harbour

While the crews got the standard boat and safety briefing from the sailing school staff, we wannabe-skippers got the provisions so that an early departure could be made the following morning.
After a cruise-planning session and a briefing over a chart of the harbour, we headed out for a night sail. Night-time Kinsale Harbour boasts the navigational lights of a lighthouse, a cardinal, a sectored light as well as lateral buoys.

Then followed my first shot at bringing a big boat into a marina berth in the dark. Happily, with a little devine guidance from Toni, I managed it on first attempt without alarming myself or anyone else. Flushed with success, I was ready to take the boat out again and try to bring it in astern. However that would have entailed:
- probably making the roving fenders work really, really hard
- definitely missing last orders in the pub by a frustratingly few minutes
Sanity prevailed over my lust for power.



Friday, March 17th - Kinsale, Courtmacsherry, Union Hall

We motored out and hoisted sail under the Old Head.

Wind: Not a lot! A high arrived off the South coast, decided that it had found somewhere nice, and stayed there for the entire weekend while a series of lows passed well to the North. Without the engine the knots would have been slight. Knots of a different type were made (It's all about rabbits)

So each to his own - position fixing or knots until we headed in to Cortmacsherry Bay for a spot of man-overboard, anchoring, dinghy-handling and lunch.

"Insert boat-hook between ribs, twist, and pull"

The wind picked up for a while, so Westwards then, for reefing, position-fixing, reefing, beating and .... reefing. (Better to get it fast and smooth in conditions where we don't really need it.)

Round Galley Head and in through Glandore to Union Hall, where we tied up beside a trawler. (Note: Don't do this without explicit permission from the skipper folks! Fisher-folk have to work and don't take kindly to yachties using their boats as pontoons, even if a crew stays aboard.

Nightlife in Union Hall (afer a meal on board) was an intense - "Pubs R US" meets "Ballroom of Romance"



Saturday March 18th, 2000 - Union Hall - Fastnet Rock - Cape Clear - Baltimore

On the way out of Glandore, I was all set to photograph "The Dangers" at low tide as part of my pilotage notes. But Blow me! (for want of a more colourful expression) if the electronics in my camera didn't decide to take a rest. I did get just one shot of the two Outer Danger perches with Adam's Island beyond them, and the Eastern rocks of Eve just showing on the right. I wouldn't try beating out of the harbour without a good look at the Dangers during low tide.

Outer Danger perches in Glandore


20 miles out of Glandore and approaching the Fastnet.
Good Morning W!


Northwards along the West coast of Cape Clear Island to the North Harbour
where W had a swim. (You just can't keep a good man down!)

We had a walk and a choice of pubs on the island.


Then on to Baltimore for some dinghy exercises, showers, a meal and another night of R&R. Astoundingly for mid-March, we were able to sit out on deck until 2 in the morning with the real only chill being the cans in our hands.



Sunday March 19th, 2000 - Baltimore - Kinsale

My 7-year-old sent along her Teddy to keep an eye on me, and thoughtfully supplied a swimming arm-band as his lifejacket. The moral of this picture : Teddy says "Guys! It is not wimpish to wear a lifejacket. Your inner teddy-bear will shine through, and the girls will still love you."

W volunteered to try the Bosun's Chair.

Shortly after we set off, we let him down. You just can't keep a good man up!

From there to Kinsale it was 'painted ship upon a painted ocean'. Just as well we had a great big horse of an engine. The mainsail was just a stabiliser and a focus for yet more reefing exercises.

In Clonakilty Bay, we saw a disturbance in the water ahead.
Dolphins! - and they came over to play. Yes, they really do that thing under the bows.




Counting the beans

  • 150 miles
  • 3 night hours ( a benefit of winter cruises )
  • Handling under power
  • Handling under sail
  • Reefing (lots!)
  • Man overboards
  • 6 x coming alongside
  • 1 x anchoring
  • Pilotage
  • Navigation


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