"Take one for each hand..." 17:45.09N 58:44.75W
The Return of Irene III - 2018
Mon 18 Dec 2017 01:57
As we approach Antigua, the spirit of Irene Ronan (nee Nicholson) after whom
our vessel is named, looms ever larger in the minds of Louis and Sabine.
Irene was their maternal grandmother who lived her married life in Cobh.
Known as Peggy to all, she was a vivacious, fun-loving woman with a hearty
laugh - who's very presence lit up every room she entered.
She was an attentive and approachable grandmother - deeply interested in
what her offspring and their children were up to. Louis recalls that when
Peggy offered a biscuit, she always insisted that he "take one for each
When Louis was in his 20's and Irene in her 90's - she joined the Goor
family for day sails from East Ferry in Cork Harbour. Once at sea - she was
in her element and radiated happiness. Naming successive boats after this
indomitable personality - keeps fond memories of a very special woman alive
in the hearts of those who knew and loved her dearly.
Eighty years ago this year, Irene's brother Vernon Nicholson set sail from
Southampton to cross the Atlantic. His boat the "Mollyhawk" was a
clinker-built hardwood classic boat. Accompanied by his wife, their two sons
and a cat, they landed at Nelson's Dockyard, settled and made Antigua their
In the following decades, Vernon Nicholson and his sons were responsible for
the renovation and regeneration of many of the historic buildings in English
Harbour. At first they chartered the "Mollyhawk" and from this modest
beginning, Nicholson Yacht Charter grew to become a world-leading charter
Several of Vernon's grandchildren, second cousins of Sabine and Louis, still
live on Antigua. Family bonds and friendships, based on an enduring love of
the sea, will be renewed and strengthened when Irene III ties up at Nelson's
Dockyard in the coming days.
As if to presage that impending arrival, a pilot whale came to escort us
along our way at noon. This was no fleeting visit. She appeared 30 metres
off our starboard side and then ranged around us - firstly riding the waves
of our wake, then skirting to port, back to our starboard quarter and
finally gliding right beneath our bow.
Our pilot seemed curious of our vessel and she kept pace with us for 20
minutes. No exuberant flumes of water were exhaled. Her short finned back
barely broke the surface and then she would shallow dive - becoming a grey
blue shadow form mirroring fractured light from just below the water's
surface. She moved gracefully and effortlessly before finally taking her
leave and disappearing silently away from our boat.