Cork couple donate wedding anniversary boat to Union Hall RNLI fundraiser

Union Hall RNLI L-r Jane and Ivon Roberts, who are donating their boat Decade, to Union Hall RNLI, to help with fundraising. Also included are Harriet O’Regan, Jim Moloney, Mary Jacinta Casey, Carmel and Mick McKenna and Anna Burns
By Eoin English
Irish Examiner Reporter

A couple who bought a boat to mark their 10th wedding anniversary has donated it to their local lifeboat station to help fundraising.

The team at Union Hall RNLI in West Cork, who like many others have seen their fundraising activities hit by Covid-19 pandemic, issued a heartfelt thank-you last night to Ivon and Jane Roberts, from Rosscarbery in Co Cork, for their generous donation.

Mr Roberts, whose family is steeped in maritime heritage - his great grandfather, Richard Roberts, was captain of the legendary Sirius which was the first wooden-hulled side-wheel steam-ship built to cross the Atlantic in 1838: his father, Norcott, was one of the founding members of Monkstown sailing club - said they were delighted to give back to the RNLI.

“The lifeboats have been around for many, many years, and they have always been there for us so we are now just giving back to them,” he said.

Ms Roberts said she was sad to see the vessel go, but added: 

“We had many happy years with the boat and there is a lot of history there but hopefully it will do some good now."

Mr Roberts, a ship’s captain who is normally based at an oil facility in Nigeria, and his wife bought the 1978-built Seal 22 Mark 2 boat just over 20-years ago to mark their tenth wedding anniversary and christened it Decades.

They used it to take their children on many day and weekend sailing trips along the south coast.

“It is a good safe boat and we had great fun with it. We took it to Schull, Cape Clear Baltimore, all around West Cork,” Ivon said.

Any fella with bit of experience can handle it on their own. It’s not recommended, it’s better to have two on board but it can be sailed by one person.”

And now that the couples’ ‘crew’ has flown the nest, they are looking to buy a new boat and have donated Decades to Union Hall RNLI - a lifeboat station which actually saved it from being wrecked on rocks after it broke its moorings.

Mr Roberts, who has been grounded in Ireland since March because of Covid-19 restrictions, spent lockdown making sure Decades was ship-shape for sale.

A spokesperson for Union Hall RNLI said: “This sale opens the door for an exciting opportunity for a new owner, the next chapter of ‘Decade’ and much-needed funds for Union Hall RNLI.”

 Decades is a 21 foot 9 inch long sailing vessel, with a lifting keel that allows it access water just a foot deep. It has four berths and a toilet. She is ideal for day-sailing and coastal cruising.

The boat is on a single axle trailer on Union Hall pier ready for inspection by prospective buyers, and ready to go sailing. The new owner will need to fit electrics and an outboard motor.

Mick McKenna, chairman of Union Hall’s RNLI fundraising committee, said the vessel is in excellent condition and will be offered for sale online soon, with initial bids of around €2,000 invited.

Sirius

Built in 1837, Sirius, the largest of the St George company’s steamers, was designed for the Cork-London service, which began in August 1837.

But in 1838, she was chartered to sail to New York, leaving Cork on April 4 and arriving in New York 18 days, four hours and 22 minutes later when the normal westbound passage by sailing packet was 40 days.

Sirius was wrecked on January 16, 1847, when on a voyage to Cork from Glasgow via Dublin, with 91 souls on board, she struck rocks in dense fog in Ballycotton Bay, with the loss of 12 passengers and two crew.

The tragedy prompted the need for a lighthouse between Old Head Kinsale and Hook Head and Ballycotton Lighthouse was constructed over the following years and lit in 1851.


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