by Maeve Bell

There was a changing of the guard for our region at the AGM in February. Derek White finished his term as Vice Commodore and retired from the committee. Bravo Derek! We will remember with gratitude his energy in organising events for us which ranged from weekend rallies to Annual Dinner weekends, and we will long remain deeply impressed by his sailing exploits especially when faced by adversity, such as last summer when a combination of experience and possibly sheer bloody mindedness got him and Viv round Malin Head and Bloody Foreland in order to represent the North at The West’s Awake. Many thanks to both of you for your service.

We offer a warm welcome to Julie Chambers who has taken over as Rear Commodore North. Along with her husband Graham, Julie sails Big Wig out of Killyleagh Yacht Club on Strangford Lough and is renowned for her organisational qualities which achieve that rare blend of being both meticulous and good humoured. Peter Mullan has stood down from the committee but has kindly agreed to continue as Membership Secretary, while new to the committee since February’s AGM are David Meeke from Belfast Lough and Paul McSorley from Lough Swilly. Des Brown and I will continue to serve. We look forward to a great season.

John Clementson receiving the J B Kearny Cup
from Aoife Beattie

Each year the Club makes an award for an outstanding contribution to sailing, the J B Kearney Cup, and we were all delighted to see John Clementson honoured for his significant cruising achievements and his years of service to the Club. John’s work has touched every single one of us whether through the Little Green Book, the emails we receive, or Facebook and the website.

I am sure we all want to applaud Andy McCarter along with his wife Paddy for his achievement in sailing Gwili 3, their Starlight 35, from the Canaries back to Lough Swilly last summer. This was a major open water passage with zero handy ports of refuge a matter of a couple of hours away. Most of the time they were just two up and, without giving away any secrets, they are both in their seventies. They are very deserving winners of our regional award, the Wright Salver, and carried off the Fingal Cup as well.

Following the lead of Leinster, we laced up our walking boots this winter and thoroughly enjoyed four outings. Our game plan was an hour to an hour and a half’s walk with an agreeable coffee destination at the end. We started with a circular route on the Lagan towpath on the outskirts of Belfast, had a blustery outing between Christmas and New Year at Murlough on the County Down coast organised by Julie and Graham Chambers who also brought a trailer-load of seasonal goodies to be scoffed afterwards, enjoyed the rolling drumlins of the Ards peninsula at Mount Stewart estate lead by John Clementson, and finished with a bracing walk organised by Tony and Rosemary Irwin along the north shore of Belfast Lough out to Black Head lighthouse; this time we finished with refreshments in Whitehead.

In addition to all this athleticism, we fitted in some well attended and enjoyable lunches. The first was in central Belfast at the Reform Club through the good offices of Oliver Lynas, the second was our traditional Christmas lunch in the ever-hospitable surroundings of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club with our Commodore David and his wife Aoife in attendance, and the final one, organised by Des and Mo Brown, was a splendid all-day affair which involved taking the train from central Belfast to Derry and navigating our way 100 metres across the road to Browns restaurant.

Enough of what has occupied us over the winter, the sailing season is almost here. The big events this year are the rally to Madeira to mark the centenary of Conor O Brien’s circumnavigation and the rally to Scotland being organised jointly with the Clyde Cruising Club. Realistically there will be more members heading up the North Channel to the distilleries than south to Madeira although Ed Wheeler in his exceptionally well-travelled Contessa 35, Witchcraft of Howth, may make the passage. Others who may join Ed are Tony Irwin in Pride of Erin and one of our new members whom we welcomed into membership earlier this year, David MacDonald, in Leda. The joint rally with the CCC starts with a party in Rathlin Island on 1st July and, as I write, Derek White has had 22 expressions of interest. These include Scottish stalwarts Ralph McCutcheon in Reziki, Frank and Muriel Smyth in Wild Otter, Bob Brown in Seranade, and Peter Bullick who will be joined by Rosemary Stevenson in Kittiwake.

Fair winds to all concerned.

Categories: Regional News