Scottish sailors enjoy a warm Irish welcome on Malinwaters Cruise

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


A fleet of 19 boats and over 75 sailors left Largs on Saturday 10 August to make their way to Northern Ireland as part of the MalinWaters Cruise to Ireland 2013. Boats joined the cruise from all over Scotland and a few even from England to enjoy all the benefits that a cruise in company brings.

There were boats of varying size as well as skippers and crew of all different backgrounds and abilities so it was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to get to meet different people, share experiences, go somewhere new and sail further in the safety of a group as well as receive advice and tips from other sailors and the lead boat.

The lead boat was a Bavaria yacht, Bravado, which was kindly provided by DDZ Marine who was supporting the cruise. Barry Laughlan from DDZ Marine joined the cruise for the whole week to act as skipper for the lead boat. Also in board were Cruise Manager Graham Moss as well as a Yachtmaster, engineer and marine biologist; all there to support the fleet and ensure they got the most from their experience.

The weather forecast was predicting some challenging days ahead so the decision had to be made to miss out Campeltown on the outward leg and go straight to Rathlin for the first stopover. With the large fleet arriving in time for the opening of the new pontoons in Rathlin, there was a warm reception from Moyle Council for all the sailors who watched the plaque being unveiled and met with the local mayor. Marine biologist, Natalie Welden, also did a beach safari on Rathlin Island so there were lots of new things for the sailors to learn about in what is quite a familiar environment.

“I’m on board as a floating biologist and will hopefully be pointing out lots of sea animals and birds we will see on the cruise and also talking a bit about the problems the seas around the Clyde and Ireland are facing at the moment,” said Natalie.

The fleet then left Rathlin Island on Monday morning and headed for Greencastle. Conditions were not favourable and strong winds in the wrong direction made for quite an uncomfortable day for most of the sailors. One of the boats suffered a problem on the way to Greencastle and was assisted by the inshore lifeboat from Greencastle but in the end was very well looked after and was towed into Greencastle to tie up with the rest of the fleet. The situation demonstrated the benefit of cruising in company as another boat from the fleet was able to assist them almost immediately. Thanks to Clyde Challenger for their assistance and also to the Greencastle inshore lifeboat for their rescue and hospitality.  

The fleet was able to enjoy the Greencastle Maritime museum during their stopover and then had a sociable evening to relax after a hard day sailing.

Mark Homer was sailing with his wife along with a couple they are friends with and explained what the highlight of the cruise had been for him:

“The girls hadn’t been across the Irish sea before and with having us both on board it made it a bit easier for them. I think the trip from Rathlin to Greencastle has been the highlight, just the achievement of getting there in those conditions. To do it with my wife and my friends was just great.

The fleet then made their way to the final destination of Derry/Londonderry on Tuesday (13 August) to enjoy all the festivities of the fleadh cheoil na heireann, a very well-known festival that brings hundreds of thousands to people to the city every year. The city was full to the brim of people soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying some traditional Irish music, tasting the huge variety of food available at the stalls along the water front as well as relaxing with a well-known Irish drink or two.

The sailors all attended a reception with the mayor upon arriving in the city and then were free to enjoy everything the Fleadh has to offer. The next morning the fleet did a short parade along the front in Derry before starting their passage to Coleraine.

Coleraine District Council and Coleraine Yacht Club hosted a fantastic evening of live music and a BBQ at their club house for the fleet. Coleraine Yacht Club were 2012 winners of the RYA Northern Ireland Club of the Year award so were delighted to welcome the large fleet of boats and show off their club.

In Coleraine, Councillor David Harding greeted the fleet on the arrival and had the following to say:

"I would like to extend a warm welcome to RYA Scotland and the sailors from Scotland on their visit to the Borough of Coleraine. I hope they have the opportunity to avail of the fantastic scenery and attractions here on the North Coast during their stay."

It was a great opportunity for all of the sailors in the fleet to spend the evening in the same place, catching up on stories about the cruise so far and what everyone had seen along the way. There was even free whiskey and whiskey cocktails on offer from Bushmills to help everyone to relax and socialise. “The reception we received when arriving in Coleraine was fantastic and everyone had a great evening. It was brilliant to have everyone together for the whole evening and to catch up on all the stories about the cruise so far. There are so many different people and boats taking part in the cruise, it is really interesting to hear from everyone about what kind of sailing they do and about the boats they own,” commented Claire Caffrey, RYA Scotland Marketing Officer, who was sailing on the lead boat.

The fleet were then up again in the morning and setting sail for Ballycastle. It was a fantastic day and there was even enough wind to get the sails up for a while. Upon arriving in Ballycastle everyone met with the mayor for some tea and had even got the chance to have a quick look in the council chambers. It was then either off into the town or back to the boat for dinner and as much socialising as you had the energy for.

The fleet woke up in Ballycastle to a clear blue sky and lovely warm sunshine before making their way to Campeltown, which was their last stopover before heading back to their home marina. A few of the fleet decided to skip the last stopover and head straight for home after Ballycastle. Everyone seemed to have really enjoyed the cruise and the highlights have ranged from gaining experience on the water, going somewhere new and also meeting new people.Damyon Graham who was crewing for his mother, Rosemary, on her own boat is a great example of someone who isn’t sailing on a regular basis but this cruise in company type of event appeals to him as it offers people more than just a sailing experience.

“I don’t sail that much these days. I used to do a lot when I was younger but not so much now. I am crewing for my mum and it was a great chance to take a week off work! The highlight has been turning the engine off and getting the sails up as well as all the socialising in various places around Ireland, having a few pints and just enjoying myself,” commented Damyon.   

The RYA Scotland team would like to thank Moyle Council, Greencastle Maritime Museum, Derry City Council, Coleraine District Council, Coleraine Yacht Club, Ballycastle Council, Ballycastle Marina, Campeltown berthing company, Campeltown Sailing Club and Argyll & Bute Council for their hospitality and warm welcomes at each of the cruise stopovers.

Thanks to DDZ Marine for providing the lead boat free of charge for the week. Their Bavaria yacht, Bravado, ensured that the lead team were travelling in comfort and style! Thanks especially go to Barry Laughlan from DDZ Marine, skipper for the lead boat, and also Natalie Welden, Marine Biologist for the cruise, for giving their time and helping to ensure that the participants had the best experience possible.Love Sailing? Then why not join the association that promotes and protects, safe, successful and rewarding British boating.  Join today and support the RYA in protecting your boating rights and freedoms.  Take advantage of free advice and support on all aspects of your boating, as well as enjoying a range of fantastic personal member offers. 

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Claire Caffrey

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 August 2013 )