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OGA50: Dublin Bay, June 2013

The fleet begins to gather in Ireland for the great party in Dublin, with tall ships providing a backdrop along the quays to the Howth 17s fleet racing on the River Liffey, a parade of sail for all participating boats between the Samuel Beckett and East Link Bridges and lots more going on over the whole weekend. After more challenging weather forecasts for skippers to wrestle with in planning their Irish Sea passages from Holyhead, the majority of the fleet remaining in North Wales left for Dublin early on Tuesday morning. The winds were variable, 3-4, requiring some motor-sailing for most of the fleet for the 12-hour crossing.

‘Cygnet of London’, ‘Toucando’, ‘Windbreker and ‘Annabel J’ are all lying in Howth, taking a relaxing day out on Wednesday to explore the peninsula and find out more about the historic Howth 17s fleet. ‘Vlieter’, ‘Cine Mara’ and ‘Moon River’ are already in Dublin, having crossed to Ireland earlier in the week, making their way up the east coast. ‘High Barbaree’, ‘Windflower’ and ‘Bonify’ sailed in company with ‘Greensleeves’, the 19 foot Memory joining the fleet in Holyhead. ‘Greensleeves’ arrived on a trailer, driven to North Wales from her home port in East Coast Essex, and motor-sailed with the aid of two outboards from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire. ‘Master Frank’ the Isle of Man longliner and ‘Minstrel’ have also departed Holyhead for Ireland. ‘Bonita’ has already moved north from Dublin, now lying in Carlingford Lough and ‘Peggy’ intends to sail from Milford Haven to Ireland later in the week.

The OGA50 fleet gather in the Poolbeg Yacht, Boat Club and Marina within walking distance of the centre of Dublin. With a great welcome from members of the Club and the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers, the Bank Holiday weekend included racing for the Asgard and Leinster trophies as well as the first opportunity to see the Howth 17 fleet sailing in the River Liffey between the East Link and Samuel Becket bridges. On Sunday morning, the road traffic was halted at 11am to allow the fleet to enter the River Liffey for a grand day of sail. Gaffers and tall ships moor against the quays and the historic Howth 17s sail in light winds providing a great spectacle for visitors to the Dublin Festival.

As the OGA skippers plan their onward passage, we learn some are heading for the Isle of Man, with motorcycle leathers tucked on board amongst their sailing gear, intending to join in with the TT weekend. Others are sailing up the Irish coast for the next party in Belfast. ‘Master Frank’ with Ramsey fishing number RY96, launched in 1896, is the last remaining Isle of Man long-liner, restored and still sailing her home waters in the Irish Sea. She joins the fleet for the weekend, including taking part in the races. In her working days, four fishermen with half a mile of line each caught cod and pollock with hooks along the two miles of line.

For some great pictures and an interesting report on the weekend’s activities, read Winkie Nixon’s excellent blog.