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A peculiar fascination – 1907

Nenagh News 17th August, 1907p3    (abridged)

Hooker at Kinvara Photo: Cqui Creative Commons

Hooker at Kinvara
Photo: Cqui
Creative Commons

To witness an ordinary sailing open boat, built-in tonnage to ply between Connemara and the coast of Clare, a distance of about 60 miles, ploughing the waves in the full breeze of ordinary sailing weather,  is a novelty to the visitor or tourist uninitiated in the art of steering or sailing such a craft. There is something very taking in this style of sailing boat, away from the ordinary sailing yacht.

The boat is locally known as a hooker, rigged with mast and bowsprit, and carrying a reddish-brown suit of three sails, a jib, foresail, and mainsail, comprising over one hundred square yards of fine canvas. This style of boat, with all sails set to the Atlantic breeze, presents a very picturesque appearance, ploughing the surging waves, tacking and retacking to gain the point of destination against a head wind, bending to the breeze, with the hull of the boat disappearing at intervals between mountain waves, to reappear again on the surface, soon again to be engulfed in a valley of sea with sails trailing along the waters in obedience to gusts of strong wind, and the sea rolling in a grand curl high over the weatherboard, with nothing to keep it from engulfing the open boat but the speed of the boat itself, and the skill of the seamen to keep the rudder, sails and boat in touch with the motions of the wind and seas.

To see this entire stretch of sea strewn with every style of sailing boat crossing and recrossing each others paths in a regular breeze is a sight one could never tire of seeing and admiring. There is a peculiar fascination about sailing in open boats or decked sailing yachts of any description, that one feels uncomfortable in the stately steam or motor vessel from the loss of excitement experienced in open sailing boats and rolling sea.

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