Why I love sailing

Sailing is my passion in life. I was first introduced to it by my grand father who had in turn passed it onto his son my father and then also me. We used to go out on to Lough Neagh and he would show me a little at a time how to sail and would eventually pass most if not all of his sailing experience onto me before he sadly passed away.

This blog is a tribute to my grandad and as I am beginning to get back into sailing after a 15 year gap I want to rekindle my old passion for sailing and in turn pass on any knowledge that I had onto you the reader.

I had recently been to the finale of the Volve Ocean Race in 2012 and that was a magic experience that had got me wanting to get back into the boat so to speak.I am looking forward to this years race which is running from Southampton around the world and back to Portsmouth and I also enjoy looking back at the finale that I was lucky to attend in Galway.

Unfortunately (or fortunately!) shortly after the race I fell pregnant with my third child and that soon put an end to my new found aspirations. Luckily I have a supportive husband who is keen to learn how to sail and together we are slowly finding time for us to get back onto the water – sometimes even with the children in tow!

I am determined to get back into sailing on a regular basis and want to be able to share my love of sailing with my family. Its important that I pass on all that I have learned from my granda to my children so that they can do the same with their own kids.

However I will be doing this one step at a time as I remember back to when I was younger and a little bit bolder with nothing to loose (like my family) I would sometimes take risks when I was out on the water that I really shouldnt have and now that I look back and am a little bit wiser I remember the old saying “It’s better to be on the dock, wishing you were on the lake, than to be on the lake, wishing you were on the dock“, and will be taking some guidance from my father who still sails regularly in the Irish sea and Atlantic Ocean – although he never strays too far from the shore! (Sorry Dad!!)

So I hope you enjoy this blog as I put it together bit by bit along with my old forgotten knowledge that I will be passing on and hopefully keeping a good record off here. Please check back regularly as I hope to update it often as it will be my online journal about getting back on the water and the good times that I know I will have along the way.

Slán go fóill

A beginners guide to sailing safety

There are few things that can compare to a good day on the water.

Whether on a lake or open waters, a beautiful day and smooth sailing can be one of the best experiences in the world.

As exciting as sailing can be, whether on a smaller boat or yacht, there are some important things you should know.

Before you set out, there is a lot of material to cover.

When you are getting in sailing, or boating in general, knowledge is vital. Taking classes or having a mentor can be invaluable in preparing you. If you set out unprepared mentally, you could find yourself in a world of trouble very quickly. You should learn about basic boating layouts and terminology. Be familiar with and use terms such as starboard, port, aft and so forth when talking about the boat.

They are universal terms that can make communicating extremely efficient. Unlike phrase like right and left, which can be confusing from different perspectives, the positions on the point are constant no matter what perspective you view them from.

Once you are familiar with terminology and basic design, its also good to understand some of the mechanics.

Learn how to operate and troubleshoot common minor problems.

If you breakdown while driving somewhere, it is a lot easier, even in the middle of nowhere, to get help than it is when you are out on the water. Learn about general boating problems and tips so you can help yourself if something minor goes wrong. You don’t need to learn how to rebuilt the mast or engine, depending on the vessel, but you should be able to fix minor issues. It is the same concept behind knowing basic car maintainable.

Most people know how to do basic things like checking fluids and adding fluids, you should know how to untangle lines, or clear a stalled engine if its been flooded.

A good rule of thumb is to keep a guide to basic repair on hand.

Preparing the boat.

You should be sure that you have all the right equipment on hand before setting sail.

There is a basic list of safety that is not only common sense but actually required by law in a lot of areas. Every person aboard needs to have a personal flotation device on or readily available to use in an emergency. There also needs to be a flotation device that is dispensable, such as a life ring. You also need to have some sort of sound-generating device for signaling, such as a loud whistle or air horn.

Kepp all safety gear to hand

If you will be out at night or there is a potential to on the waters after sunset you should have appropriate navigational lighting affixed or handy. In addition to navigational lights, you should have a distress light and flares in case of emergency. If there is an engine, you should also be sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand that is appropriate for the setting. A first-aid kit and emergency rations in a water-tight container are also important items to have on board.

Aside from the right safety equipment that can be stowed away for use later, having a safety harness and jackline, also called a tether, can be life saving in rough weather. Though of the most important things to have installed is an AIS, or Automatic Identification System. They can vary in complexity and price, but even a basic one is vital in helping other ships that you may not see yet know you are there and avoid potential collisions.

It is also useful for quickly locating your vessel if you break down completely and need assistance. It along with a chart plotting device and equipment can help make sure you are not lost or caught unaware by other vessels.

An important experience before you sail for yourself.

Even though you’ve studied up and gotten your boat in good sailing order, well stocked with basic supplies and safety equipment, there is one thing you should practice it you’d not already done so in your studies. Capsizing.

capsizing isnt fun

In a controlled environment you should capsize in a dingy and experience what its like. In rough waters and storms it can happen, the disorientation and chaos in a storm can make staying calm difficult and getting confronted with the heart pounding experience of capsizing for the first time in that sort of setting can spell disaster.

With a well trained and trusted crew of instructors you should take a class on how to handle being capsized, including experiencing. It may seem a bit extreme, but done with proper safety precautions, it can give you the experience you need to weather the experience and come out of it alive.

You’ve done your homework, you’ve prepared the boat and yourself. It’s time.

Once you are ready to set off you can do so with more confidence that you will be able to handle whatever the waters may throw at you.

Though, it should also be said that while you relax and enjoy calm waters, don’t let your training slip. Always be aware of your surroundings. Accidents on the water tend to happen when people take their safety for granted and quit following the basic guidelines for being safe.

For sailboats, always keep an eye on the sails and arms. Being caught of guard by a suddenly swinging line can result in a nasty bump or even going overboard.

You should also be keen to the weather and skies, if there are signs of an incoming storm, head for port as soon as you can.

If you have properly prepared yourself and your boat, and keep a safe mindset at all times while on the waters, there is nothing that can hold you back, aside from mother nature when she is angry of course. While it may seem like a lot of hard work and preparation, any experienced sailor can tell you that it is worth it to enjoy the thrill and beauty of being out in open waters.

Keep safe x

Shopping online – Not always plain sailing

I have shopped many times online and would class myself as a veteran online shopper. This post is more of a rant rather than a helpful post about sailing so bare with me!

I have wanted for a long time to purchase a load of new sailing gear and some equipment. The lovely weather we have been getting which is unusual for our little island (Its called Hibernia for a reason!) made me want to purchase some of the lovely fashionable sailing clothes available such as a new jacket, a lovely Skagen tunica and some deck shoes.

The lovely jacket I wanted..

The lovely jacket I wanted..

When I placed the order and paid the online site (I wont mention them by name) they told me it would take up to one week for delivery which is usual for Ireland especially when it was coming from central Europe. I am always prepared to wait a little extra time for online shopping to come to Ireland as the specialised gear that I usually order isn’t always available to buy here.

So I waited a week then left it a few more working days. When nothing arrived I was told by the company that a courier had already attempted delivery which really wasn’t the case. I was told to contact the courier direct and when I did they told me that they could deliver on the following Monday – nearly two weeks after I had originally placed the order. However after waiting in all day on that Monday again the courier didn’t show up!

In the end I told the company that due to their choice of courier I didn’t receive the goods and now I was fed up and just wanted to get my money back so that I could purchase the goods elsewhere. I hate when this happens and I am a very loyal shopper and it was only that fact that this had happened to me once before with this company that I had enough – time to find a new supplier.

When I find a good website I will recommend it to friends and family and generally I tend to stick to that site for my online shopping needs. I like to find new sites that offer unusual types of products and found one recently when trying to order a christening gift for my new nephew Aidan.

The site Personal Touch has a large selection of personalised gifts and I will surely use them again for other occasions when I need a persoanlised unique gift. I picked a beautiful baby photo frame for Aidan from their christening selection and although I know he wont appreciate it for a while his parents we delighted with this unique christening gift. I also liked their selection of money boxes which I thought were quirky.

With Personal Touch i was kept informed every step of the shopping process from order placement to dispatch notification – now that’s service and its good to see an Irish company with such a good customer service. Again I did have to wait a few days and as I said before I am prepared to do this, but this time the small delay was due to the fact that they have to personalise the gift and that takes time – it was worth it in the end as the gift looks even better in young Aidan’s bedroom than it did in the picture online .

At least this online shopping experience was better than the previous one and much less painful. Anyway rant over!!

The Fundamentals of Sailing

For a lot of people, sailing is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend their free time. As well as the challenge of pitting themselves against the elements, there is also a certain sense of adventure that draws people to this pastime.

To get the most enjoyment out of sailing, it is vital that you familiarize yourself with some of the fundamentals of sailing in order to stay safe. One such consideration is to make sure that you have enough time available to you in order to really enjoy your sailing adventure. Unfortunately, it is all too common for novices to get in to difficulties because they are pressed for time, something which can lead to accidents and mishaps.

Planning your Sailing Adventure

Before you even set foot on to your yacht, you should take time to plan your trip in as much detail as possible, as this will lead to less confusion later on, as well as lessening the chance of problems arising. Getting to know the area you will be traversing in your boat is a good place to start, as is being armed with up-to-date charts and maps. This is important as many novices often neglect to check for such hazards as sand banks and shallow waters etc.

Sailing Hazards

Sailing Hazards

Once you have decided on your course, and you have purchased the necessary charts and maps, you can begin to plan your trip in much more detail, such as checking the weather forecast for the date of your trip, as well as things such as ports of call and duration of the trip.

The Boat

The next vital step to take is to make sure that your boat is in a seaworthy condition. That means making sure everything is in good working order, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem. You will also need to make sure that your boat is kitted out with the latest safety equipment, tools and spare parts, and a couple of anchors.

Final things to Remember

Another thing to remember is that before you set off on your sailing trip, make sure that you have informed someone of where you are going and how long you expect to be out on the water for.

In addition to which, make sure that your methods of electronic communication are in full working order and have been switched on, in order to stay safe when sailing.

If you haven’t already done so please read my introduction to sailing post.


An Introduction to Sailing

When it comes to water based sports, there are not many that are as challenging and enjoyable as sailing. Whether you are taking part in a challenging yacht race, or you just wish to head out on to a calm sea for the solitude and peace and quiet, sailing is becoming much more popular.

The Attraction of Sailing and the Open Sea

The one thing that tends to draw more people to sailing is the very fact that it is a sport that is challenging, yet can be learnt quite quickly by novices in just a few short hours. In fact, a lot of sailing clubs run their own open days during the summer months in order to encourage people that have never been sailing before to try their hand at the sport.

Sailing Club Open Days

Most sailing club open days offer novices the chance to try their hand at dinghy sailing, and this version of the sport is a great introduction to sailing, and is something that is enjoyed by countless people across the world. The great thing about dinghy sailing is that tuition is more affordable than lessons for other variations of the sport, yet it will give you enough experience and information to allow you to quickly go it alone.

Moving on from Dinghy’s to Yachts

After you have experienced the delight of dinghy sailing you might want to try your hand at other classes of sailing, such as yacht sailing. There are plenty of ways in which you can achieve this, and your local sailing club will be able to advise you on what you need to do to achieve this.

Sailing Holiday’s

Another way of gaining experience of sailing, as well as putting what you have learnt in to practice, is to go on a sailing holiday. A sailing holiday is a great way to gain some more vital experience to add to what you have already learnt.


Getting involved in sailing is a lot easier than many people think, and if you are determined to have a go at sailing, or you want to get back in to the sport after a few years away, you should contact your local sailing club for advice. Sailing is a fantastic sport to get involved in and once you have experienced it for the first time, you will want to keep going again and again.