By David Beattie

Hasn’t it been a busy season? It started with the Annual Dinner weekend in Sligo where we had an attendance of over 240 people, including the Commodores of the Cruising Club of America, and of the Royal Cruising Club, Chris Otorowski and Nick Chavasse and their wives Shawn and Margie. The CCA presented our Club with a magnificent Irish silver cup to be known as the Friendship Cup. The committee will be considering how best to manage the award of this trophy each year when it meets in October.
Then there was the joint East and Northern regions rally to Carlingford in May, ably organised by Robert and Rose Michael. The weather was kind, and I was delighted to be invited to crew by our Hon. Secretary Donal Gallagher on board his super new Oceanis 40.1 Catalina.

On 17th June the Royal Irish hosted the Club for the Saoirse voyage departure lunch. This was a warm and very sociable gathering mirroring “the good lunch” that Conor O Brien had enjoyed in that club before his departure around the world 100 years previously. The RIYC has presented our Club with a magnificent half model of Saoirse on the understanding that we will display it in their clubhouse. Almost a dozen members of the O Brien family, led by our own David and Charlotte Delamer with their son Alex attended the lunch and to see off Alex who joined the crew of Ilen for her non-stop voyage to the Madeiran islands. Expect to read much more about this in the Annual. Also present was Captain William Roberts, Officer Commanding Naval Support Command of the Naval Service.

As well as marking O Brien’s voyage itself, the Club, jointly with the Royal Cruising Club arranged for the publication of a new edition of the long out of print Across Three Oceans, which is available on Amazon. Alex Blackwell led the charge in getting this done, ably assisted by a number of supporters who re-typed the text and by Winkie Nixon who wrote a very appropriate new forword that puts O Brien’s achievement into context.

Aoife and I then flew out to Madeira and awaited the arrival of the fleet. The hospitality was prodigious – there will be reports aplenty, I am sure. The welcome we received and the efforts that Madeira is making to ensure they offer a safe-haven and an alternative stopover for Atlantic crossings are notable. By far the biggest group present at the rally were ICC members and it was plain to see that we continue to punch above our weight in the cruising milieu. Rear Commodore Seamus O’Connor, ably assisted by his sub-committee and by Patricia did a sterling job at organising the rally and dealing with the detailed protocol requirements of our hosts who were faced with government ministers, an ambassador, an honorary consul, and local dignitaries to entertain. At the final dinner I assured those present that the ICC will be back! Aoife and I then joined Ilen for the passage home via the Azores. Unfortunately, we had to jump ship in Ponta Delgada but we were in Kinsale to welcome them home after a mixed weather, ten day passage from the Azores. Our thanks must go to Sailing into Wellness and our own James Lyons for the major contribution they made to the rally and the privilege of our members being able to undertake an ocean passage on board the 96 years old Ilen.

While we were enjoying the hospitality of Madeira, the Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore North, and a group of members were enjoying the hospitality of the Clyde Cruising Club at the rally to western Scotland and the Inner Hebrides. They certainly enjoyed the hospitality, but the weather left much to be desired. Are we simply becoming less tolerant of poor weather or is it deteriorating? Certainly, there seems to be much more energy in the atmosphere as Aoife and I witnessed in the Aegean in September.
Early in August, before Rear Commodore South – Séamus O’Connor – could return from his herculean efforts in the Atlantic his regional committee, led by John McAleer, ran a rally in Bantry Bay based on Bere Island (he made the final day).

On 25th to 27th August, Julie Chambers, our Rear Commodore North, organised a most successful rally to the marina in central Belfast. This concluded with an excellent barbecue on the terrace of a hotel on Donegall Quay. During the day members and their guests were offered visits to a local distillery and to the Seamans’ Mission. Both were found to be very satisfactory, although history does not relate how well the mission thought they had succeeded in taming our members! Aoife and I attended by road and thus missed the Mission…

Aoife and I headed out to Lavrion in Greece to join Des Cummins (ICC) aboard Alpaire for a couple of weeks exploring ancient Greek sites. Unfortunately, our plans were disrupted by ‘Medicane Daniel’ which, having caused floods in much of Greece then led to devastating conditions in Libya where hosts of people were killed. Where we were, it generated a prolonged Meltemi that had yachts cowering in port for over a week, before we could escape and head to the balmy conditions of the Ionian.

Now as the days shorten, we can look forward to the usual mix of lunches and then the Christmas meals around the regions. I urge you to attend these and perhaps try going to one outside your own region. It’s always great to meet members that one doesn’t know especially well, and this is a good way to do it. Finally, don’t forget that the deadline for submitting logs for inclusion in the Annual (and consideration for awards) is Friday 20th October.

Fair winds
David Beattie, Commodore

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