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Southern Soundings, by Séamus O’Connor
November 2022

As I write this the sailing season here in the south is coming to a close. And what a wonderful season it was! I hope you all had a great time on the water. Of course, the weather was not too kind in mid-June, you may recall those continuous cold days with constant NW winds. Yes, those same winds played havoc with the West’s Awake Rally, you will fi nd a note elsewhere in this Newsletter and a log or two in the Annual about that. The continuation of the rally saw the fl eet coming to the southwest where Paul Taylor had arranged a get together in Dingle, Knightstown in Valentia and Lawrence Cove Marina.

Sailing on Tapdancer I made an attempt to get to the West’s Awake Rally for June 18th but persistent north- westerly winds prevented us getting there. We had a short cruise with crew of son Tomás and son-in-law Niall. We got to Derrynane then back SW outside the Bull, Cow, and Calf in foul conditions before seeking solace in Kitchen Cove in Dunmanus Bay. From there we sailed back to Glengarriff in better conditions.

Kevin Lane has been very busy researching and writing up the story of his grandfather in a delightful article entitled “The story of Paddy O’Keeffe’s adventure with Water Witch”. The story begins with the purchase and details of Water Witch in May 1934, his planned cruise to Britany in May 1935, the foundering and loss of Water Witch in very stormy conditions, rescue of the crew by the SS Etrib and the subsequent purchase of Sheila II.

The article has amazing detail of the seas encountered, the seamanship involved in keeping the vessel afl oat, and the diffi cult decision to abandon ship. In Kevin’s
own words: “So having left Bantry on 29th May 1935 on the Water Witch he arrived back in Sheila II on 29th June 1935. Paddy was then 38 years old and had 5 Children under the age of 7.” “Sheila II he later sold, and she is still going strong in Hamilton, New Zealand having been sailed there by Adrian Hayter. “Sheila in the Wind” is his book recounting that trip.” “The SS Etrib, under different offi cers, was torpedoed and sunk 100 miles off Cabo Finisterre in 1943.”

Neil Hegarty mentioned in the Spring newsletter that Shelduck was up for sale, here is his update: The south was well represented at Encuentro 22 in Galicia. This was reported as delightful. You will find Peter Haden’s report in this issue.

Darryl Hughes reports that he is still working on the house so will not be sailing again until 2023! Sean Norris and Raffl es cruised to Brittany in late June and
returned in late July. While there he was joined by family and Tom Kirby, and they cruised in the Brest area. Sean also had his second Calves Week as Commodore of SHSC so all in all a busy summer.     

John and Aideen Cudmore on Setanta made their annual pilgrimage to West Cork and wrote: “Fortunately we were blessed with all the good weather which allowed
us to easily reach Dingle and back. It was our aim to try a few new stops along the way and these included Dirk Bay at the Galley, Ballycrovane, Dunkerron and Coongar Harbour in the Kenmare River, Black Ball Harbour in Bantry Bay, and fi nally the anchorage at Tralong on the North side of Sherkin Island. All in all, one of the bettertrips West!”

Tomás and Niall on Tapdancer in Dunmanus Bay Supermoon from Setanta in Squince Harbour near Glandore in August “After 50 years of yacht ownership, of which almost 20 years were with Shelduck I decided to part company with her. She went on the market over this year’s late Easter, mid-April. On the 22nd of the month Anne, my daughter Patricia and I fl ew to Terceira to prepare Tam O’Shanter for launching. She is being passed on to the next generation: Anne’s son Ian. On the 27th of April, as I was fi lling the hired car for return near Lajes Airport Terceira, I got an email to say that the asking price for Shelduck had been offered. Shelduck and Tam O’Shanter were gone within an hour of each other. While we greatly enjoyed having the use of two yachts in different locations around the North Atlantic and Baltic for 13 years, with a two- year interruption for Covid, the time had come for us to move to chartering.” Wishing both Neil and Anne all the very best with their chartering adventurers.                                  

My daughter Gráinne and I made it to Dingle on the 4th of July on Tapdancer to link up with the West’s Awake fl eet. Dingle was buzzing, dinner reservations were hard to come by, but the Half Door turned out to be excellent. The ‘fl eet’ at this stage was made up of 3 yachts with 8 people! The Commodore and crew member Vincent Rafter, former Commodore of Lough Ree YC, on ReeSpray, Vice Commodore Derek and Vivien, together with daughter Melanie and fi ancé aboard Ballyclaire, and Séamus with Patricia and Val O’Connor as crew on Tapdancer. Peter Killen and crew got as far as Derrynane but the dreaded Covid was lurking within, so they and Pure Magic II returned to LCM. From Dingle the next stop was Knightstown, some 11nm across Dingle Bay. It was a very pleasant broad reach. There was room a plenty on both sides of the fl oating breakwater. An exploratory walk ashore was delightful, revisiting the glory and wonder of communications in 1858 when the fi rst message was successfully transmitted to the ‘new world’. We had dinner organised in the Royal Hotel with 10 participants, this was a wonderful ‘old world’ venue.

There were a few free days before the fi nal gathering on 9th of July at Lawrence Cove Marina in Bantry Bay. This was planned as a BBQ gathering, bring your own
booze and food, with the marina supplying the BBQ and tables, chairs, etc. It was a great night of fun, songs, banter, and beer. The weather was kind, and a full
outdoor gathering was possible. Peter & Bev Killen, daughter Katie, brother Michael, and Mary were now able to join us. Also joining us were David O’Sullivan and Janet Woodward on Shiraz and guests Michael and May Sullivan from Jubilant. Andrew Robinson had joined the crew of ReeSpray together with his mandolin and the gift of accompanying any song!

We missed Hugh Barry, he was unable to attend as the same night he was defending his Champion of Beara Quiz