Some boats had arrived in advance of the Liffey cruise on Friday night at Poolbeg for the Sailing supper - great music and company saw us partying until the early hours. Poolbeg knows how to party.
The day brought a clear sky as boats started to arrive on the outside breakwater. There was no walking the pontoon this year for me, wondering if things would work out. From 10.00 I could look down the river and see boats approaching from the Baily and Dalkey. This year we had to be sure of numbers....both for mooring at the Docklands and ordering meals at the Clarion. Last year we took a terrible risk of paying security, booking the Docklands and ordering meals for over a hundred people and with no money in the bank. It was, with your help, a major escape. What little hair I had left must have blown down the Liffey that morning.
This year with less space available on the pontoons, we tightened the registration for boats and dinners. It was easy to register online and to our maximum capacity - thirty six (36) boats and over one hundred diners (105) committed themselves. Unfortunately we didn't have quite a full turnout - a couple of unavoidable cancellations and a number of "no shows" meant we made less use of the space and hotel capacity than we could have done. Nevertheless, we had a respectable number - we had a great day, put 26 yachts through the bridges into the Liffey and 85+ sailors enjoyed a great Dinner in the hotel.
We arrived through the bridges at mid-day with a clear sky and some late season sunshine - just the ticket for a relaxing afternoon. As "Paddy the Piper" played the pipes for us the docking plan issued in advance seemed to work well, and boats tied up in an orderly fashion.
Some of the crews took the Luas to the Guinness storehouse, climbed the tower and sampled the black stuff. Others went on board the Jeanie Johnston to see the realistic replica of the original famine ship. I was so proud in the week leading up to the Cruise because I had the key of the Jeannie Johnston in my pocket.....she was mine, or should I say ours for that week? We had open access to her all weekend, culminating with offering Mass on Sunday morning deep in the bowels of the ship where so many passengers had suffered as they made their way to the New World and a new life. The setting, lighting and music created an atmosphere that made it special.
The Clarion Hotel once again laid on a great 3-course meal for us at a very reasonable price. Speeches were short and we got down to the business of enjoying ourselves. We had a new slideshow going in the background all through the meal... many from various cruises during the summer, some from the cruising association trip to Strangford Lough in July, and some from the photo competition held last year. The buzz in the room rose as friends met friends again, and lasted late into the night.
Long before breakfast the next morning some brave souls made it back to the hotel for the rugby match. The less dedicated gradually showed our heads through the companionways, and the pontoon slowly came back to life.
Conversations re-started, breakfasts were eaten and before long it was time to untangle the web and make our exit - back through the bridges under a darker sky as our new cruising association flags fluttered in the rising wind. There was a moderately bumpy exit from the Liffey, and an "interesting" trip round the Baily for those boats heading north to Howth & Malahide.
We now start planning for next year....but, I think a little rest might be in order. Thanks to all our Committee and members for another great year of cruising. The Cruising Association of Ireland is gathering momentum and it is our wish that cruising sailors from all Clubs or no Club will always feel free to participate in all and every function we have. We will need your help to prepare for next year - if you are willing to lend a hand in events or on committee activities please let us know.
Finally, remember Nelson's words......"Men and ships rot in harbour." Let's get out there.
Derek Harris (Commodore).
Event Organising Committee
A special word of thanks to all who made this years Liffey Cruise such a success, with special word of thanks to the following:.
Derek Harris - Bridge Lifts, Docklands authority & Jeanie Johnston liason.
John Leahy - Pontoon plan, VHF communications & weather briefing.
Aidan Coughlan - Website & email communications, photo slide show, merchandise.
Brenda Kearns - Hotel negotiations, meal organisation.
Simon Parker - Press, Merchandise, Banners & Membership.
Brendan O'Regan - Tours
Michael Moran - Income & expenditure.