WATERFORD City River Rescue held its annual Kayak Run from Cheekpoint to Waterford City Marina on Saturday July 13th.
In total, 82 paddlers participated and created a wonderfully colourful flotilla in Waterford Estuary.
The Waterford Dragon Warriors were in attendance as well as the impressive Brian Ború heritage boat.
The Munster Express joined the crew of the Brian Ború during the special event.
The brainchild of Tony McLoughlin and Grace O’Sullivan, the Brian Ború Traditional Sailing Experience offers a wonderful insight into Waterford’s maritime heritage.
“I don’t think people in Waterford realise what we have on our doorstep,” said Grace.
“The water quality is improving in this area so the biodiversity is also improving. We’re seeing otters and lots of different birdlife in the river.”
She said the feedback has been very positive, and not just from tourists but from locals as well.
“People are pleasantly surprised. I would love people to take a trip on the Brian Ború on a regular basis, not just as a one off trip. I describe the boat as a big armchair. People can just sit back and relax.”
The sailing trips provide passengers with a chance to explore the many gems in the Waterford Estuary.
“It’s a different way of experiencing what is now being called Ireland’s Ancient East,” said Grace.
“When the Vikings were coming this was their motorway. This was Ireland’s M1. These rivers were their means of colonising countries.”
“I’m at home with anything that brings me in touch with nature and out onto the water. To be able to talk about conservation here at home in Waterford is fantastic,” said Grace.
John Stubbs from Tramore is first mate on board the Brian Ború.
“People are very surprised when they come along and take a trip with us,” he said.
“It gives them a different vision of the harbour and a Viking perspective. The trips show what the Vikings actually saw as they came up the river.”
Tony McLoughin worked on developing the Brian Ború.
“It was a big project. There was a lot of work involved but boat building is something I love,” he explained.
Living in Tramore but originally from Co. Down, Tony has vast experience in the shipbuilding industry including on the Dunbrody.
“Most people fall in love with the boat. It’s so comfortable. It’s quite a different feeling to being on a modern boat but it is built to very strict guidelines and safety is paramount,” he said.
He believes the Brian Ború is an important addition to Waterford’s tourism offering and says the River Suir is a huge asset for Waterford.
During the May- October season the cruises will run daily peaking at four cruises a day with special morning and evening cruises incorporating breakfast and evening barbeques.
In the November to April season the cruises will focus on school cruises, universities, whale watch enthusiasts and sail training.
The presence of the Brian Ború certainly added to the atmosphere of the recent kayak run.
More than 120 people, including catering and land crew, all helped to make the event an outstanding success.
Providing safety cover were crew members on Trisha Nell 2, CRBI Crew Bonmahon Lifeboat, South Tipp Civil Defence, 1st Port of Waterford Sea Scout Rib, MV “PufPuf”, Hollie Ann.
Waterford City River Rescue PRO Richard White thanked Sean in Cheekpoint, Jo in The Boat Club Bar, Gerard Captain of Waterford Boat Club, Park Service Station, Tesco Ballybeg, Fastnet Shipping Ltd and all families of participants for providing the excellent food on the day.
“Since last year’s Run, the public’s support has helped us replace two new engines on our Lifeboat, purchase Drysuits, help pay for training and keep fuel in our tanks,” he explained.
“We would not be here but for the dedication of our Crew and the public’s generous support at providing this dedicated Search & Rescue service along the River Suir 24/7/365.”
He continued: “Since last January, Waterford City River Rescue has had 13 Call-Outs verified by the Irish Coast Guard. In the past some of these call-outs vary from rescuing dogs to boats running out of fuel, yachts running aground, searching for navigational Marker Buoys to stolen boats. Attempted suicide is sometimes part of our duties and on several occasions it seems that our presence is a factor in the causality stepping back to safety which gives us great encouragement, this along with highly experienced communication skills of the Gardai and Ambulance Service here in Waterford which sometimes goes unnoticed.”
On behalf of Waterford City River Rescue, Richard thanked the many participants including those who travelled from Dublin, Kilkenny and Wexford and everybody else who made this year’s fundraising event a great success.