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My Time Aboard The Brian Ború

Having a water-fight on deck is a memory I will look back on fondly

By Lara Dwyer

As someone who did not grow up around boats, nor has large family ties to yachts, yacht clubs, or marinas, or frankly any seamanship history at all,  working and training aboard The Brian Ború is something I never expected to do. I sail a mirror, one I reconstructed with my friends over lockdown, and have only started becoming really invested in sailing in the past year. The week working and training on The Brian Ború was an unparalleled experience for me and I could not have enjoyed it more. The Brian Ború is a vessel of breathtaking beauty, in its historically picturesque facade. I personally think it looks like a pirate ship. The boat was kept sane and afloat due solely to the really wonderful crew – Phil, the bosan, whose unique style and energy added greatly to charm of the week. Hugh, the first mate and engineer, who was frankly delighted to have so many slaves *cough cough* crewmembers aboard. And finally Peter, the skipper, from whom

I’ve learned so much, not only about sailing but about leadership and teamwork and confidence onboard a vessel of such size.

One thing that really struck me about The Brian Ború and my time training on board was how much I resonated with the ethos that Peter, Hugh and Phil established right from the onset. It was a really welcoming warm environment, where the main objective was to have a good time. I was initially trepidatious about the week long course, being relatively new to the sailing world, but there was no hierarchy, no sense of superiority from those who were more experienced. Everyone was there to learn about sailing “organically”, the way our ancestors did. And I just thought it was brilliant. Each morning we were briefed on what the day was going to entail. We were assigned roles, alternating daily, which included Watch Leader and Galley Crew. I enjoyed being watch leader, partly because I was given the authority to bark orders and not do so much hauling of halyards, but also because it allowed me to gain a sense of confidence I once lacked, instilling in me vital leadership skills when working with a team. Skills which are applicable to any path in life.

Being part of the Galley crew, however, was not a role I adored nor was I particularly talented at. I have a newfound respect for anyone who has to make a hot meal for a significant number of people aboard a ship. It was difficult, and that was on a calm day. I don’t want to think about what it would have been like trying to whip up some fajitas in such cramped quarters during the middle of a storm. Nonetheless, the experience was insightful, if a bit stressful. Working on deck was strenuous and required concentration but I genuinely just had such a good time.

On the first day, the sheer number of ropes on deck was overwhelming, but I quickly learned the function of all of them and by the end of the course, all of us trainees were wonderfully efficient in raising the sails, preparing to jibe, lowering fenders, berthing, throwing and making up lines, anchoring and cleaning the deck. We each got to helm, which was really cool. Under the angelic guidance of Peter, I somehow maneuvered the boat to dock in Crosshaven, and I have to say I felt proud. Jumping off the anchored boat and having a water-fight on deck is a memory I will look back on fondly. The five days I spent onboard The Brian Ború were by far the best spent days of my Transition Year. I met many new wonderful people and had such a fantastic time out on the water. I feel lucky that I trained onboard such a unique vessel and I cannot recommend the experience more highly to anyone who loves the outdoors, the water and a bit of adventure!

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