Bellacragher Bay Boat Club in Co. Mayo

Bellacragher Bay Boat Club was formed in 2003 by Seamus Butler, Claggan and Brian Masterson Owenduff, in response to interest from people in Achill, Mulranny and Ballycroy. In choosing a name, they picked the Bay that links all three areas together. A introduction to sailing week was held on the four days after the August Bank Holiday 2003. On completion of the training, five 14ft boats sailed 6 miles to innisbiggle for the Island Festival. The sailing week has continued to the present and grown significantly. Last year approx 100 people took part and there was a fleet of 22 boats. The Club has had considerable success in obtaining training funding for commercial and leisure marine courses with Leader and MFG providing the funds. A grant from Shell in October 2007 allowed us to increase our sailing fleet and get instructor training for powerboats and diesel engine maintenance. Further grants from Shell, the Bellacorick fund and the Mayo Sports Partnership in 2010 allowed us improve our sailing fleet (bought two laser picos) and strengthen our safety boats (new 14ft dory and 6m rib.)

In June 2011, more special needs training was supported by the Mayo Sports Partnership and MFG granted €30,600 towards the purchase of four new Hobie Cat Tatoos.

The Club members come from varied backgrounds but many have strong marine backgrounds and experience in all manner of boating activities, cruiser sailing, dinghy sailing, canoeing, powerboating, commercial fishing and diving/sking/kiting. In August 2008, the club was offered affilliation with The Irish Sailing Association, The ISA is responsible for most marine training in the country, their courses and certificates are recognised and approved by the Irish Government. Membership of The ISA was a major stepping stone in the advancement of the club, the ISA were very impressed with the club organisation and asked if they could use some of their techniques.

Sailing starts in April of each year and the Club have regular Sailing sessions. They are scheduled to suits tides so could be on a weekday evening or weekend. Boats used are 420's 470's, lasers, toppers and five hobie cats with a fully equipped and qualified safety team supervising the sailing. Any one that wishes to have a go is very welcome to come along, even if you just want to have a look. There is always a few on the shore, getting boats ready, repairing them or looking after the BBQ.The Sailing will follow the ISA syllabus and arrangements have been made for an ISA Examiner to visit the Summer Sailing camp to assess Sailors and test them for the various sailing levels.

The Sailing branch of the club is also home to the Sea Scouts of the 22nd Mayo Troup. The club provides the scouts with all the waterborne experience they need.In addition to the dinghy Sailing, short cruises to Clare Island, inishturk and inishboffin take place during the summer where possible.The boats used are sailing cruisers and powerboats/sports cruisers. There are usually crew places available.

There is so much to learn about the sea that a short article is barely able to touch on the subject but people are very welcome to join or visit one of the sessions. You may observe Navigation, ropework, capsize/survival techniques or first aid and may find that it appeals to you!

For Further information contact Seamus Butler 087 657 9348 or email butlersea@gmail.com