As you sail into Cobh, you'll pass by Spike Island to your left in what is the second largest natural harbour in the world. As a former prison, monastery and British fort, the island languishes under a curious and turbulent history.
Up on a hilly rise, the peaks and points of Cobh's Gothic Cathedral stand guard over the town. A line of rainbow houses shines along the seafront, a signal to anyone arriving that this is a colourful place.
History is all over the promenade, from the battered White Star Line pier to the statue of Annie Moore – the first immigrant to be processed through Ellis Island in New York. In charge of her two younger brothers, Annie was only 14 at the time.
Cork locals are rarely stuck for words. With that in mind, local sailing enthusiast and yacht master instructor of SailCork, Eddie English, explains what makes sailing in Cobh worthwhile.
“Sailing has carried on in this corner of Cork harbour for 350 years, and it’s one of the world's finest natural harbours with 250km of coastline. No matter where the wind blows from, we can find a sheltered area to sail in. This makes it safe and comfortable for beginners.
"The more experienced sailors who want thrills and spills can venture out a little further and find plenty of breeze!”
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Craic and quiet
According to Eddie, the atmosphere in this part of the world is unique: “The craic (fun) is MIGHTY! There are regattas or festivals in some corner of the harbour almost every weekend from May to September.
"There are at least a dozen landing points that have a ‘watering hole’ on the spot, and several excellent restaurants that can be accessed by water. Sailing races take place from April to December and racing is always great fun. SailCork takes part in several races.”
But what attracts Eddie most to sailing at Cobh? “My favourite detail is that I can sail from one little place to another within the harbour and that there are places where you can find peace and solitude.
"Each different place is a different world. Sailing from our base at East Ferry in Cobh to Aghada just over a mile away is like going to a different planet. The people have different accents, the culture is different – it’s a great transformation.”
Don't forget to drop your anchor with us in Ballycastle, Dun Laoghaire and Strangford Lough, too.