By Johnny Hamilton
On Wednesday, 24th July, 2013, we bore witness to the sad and tragic sinking of the Tall Ship Astrid. At approximately 12.30pm the Astrid struck Quay Rock just north west of the Great Soverign. Having spent the night in the shelter of Oysterhaven Bay, she was making her way to Kinsale Harbour but encountering engine failure she sent out her distress call. On board were 30 people comprising 23 sailing trainees and 7 crew.
The response was immediate with all boats in the area coming to their rescue. The Courtmacsherry and Kinsale lifeboats were quickly on the scene and did what they do best, saving lives. The Irish Coastguard were also on hand with their search and rescue helicopter. Oceanaddicts Dive Liveaboards two ribs , Oisre and Up to Something, responded to the mayday call with Up to Something playing a pivotal role in assisting the transfer of pasengers from the Astrid to safety, as did the Spirit of Oysterhaven yacht. Within an hour of striking the rocks all 30 of the Astrids crew were back on dry land safe and sound, no doubt with a stirring tale to tell their famililies and friends.
Wednesdays weather was nothing like what we have been having over the past month. With a swell of up to 3m and Southerly
winds of force 5 to 6 the Astrid didnt stand a chance once its engine failed. What a pity it is to see such a beautiful Tall Ship stranded on the rocks. As with many such sinkings there are echoes from the past. On the 24th October,1911, The Falls of Garry ran aground nearby at Ballymacus. She was a four masted sailing vessel en route to Falmouth and thankfully like the Astrid all were saved.
Built in 1918 as a lugger, the Astrid was used as a cargo ship until the mid 1970s. She sailed under the Lebanese flag before succumming to fire in the mid 80s. She was completely overhauled and has since served her time as a sail training vessel. With a potential salvage operation underway we will have to wait and see what the future holds for her.