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It’s February and that means the annual Optimist Sailing Week in Baltimore, Co. Cork, when kids from all over Ireland pack their boats, their rugby balls and their hover boards and descend on this small fishing village on the southernmost tip of Ireland. Their mums and dads don their striped Breton tops, their Helly Hansen and Musto gear, regardless of how close they get to the actual water, and we all have a jolly time in this rocky little spot which sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean. It was time to start sketching Optimists again, but this year we had just one sailor in the family, her brother having moved on to a bigger craft last year. She was dreading the week, and it wasn’t too surprising – the prospect of sailing in the open Atlantic in February with nothing but a tiny dinghy between her and the cold, greeny-blue water, a dinghy of which she and she alone was captain and crew, wasn’t one that inspired enthusiasm. (I soon discovered that many other children felt the same way.) Our eleven-year-old sailor made it perfectly clear that this week would be her last to sail, forever…unless we got her a dog, something which won’t be happening.
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