Sail Training Ireland is to organise a coastal voyage early next year for the eight Irish teens rescued from the Dutch sail training ship off Kinsale, Co Cork, in July.
It also hopes to bring together, later next year, the 23-strong international group of trainees plucked to safety by the RNLI and other boat owners when the 42m-long vessel struck rocks close to Oysterhaven.
A crew of seven was also taken to safety. All the trainees, from Ireland, France, the Netherlands, and Britain, have kept in contact.
Five of the eight Irish teens rescued returned to Kinsale yesterday to say thank you to the emergency services, the people of the harbour town, and Kinsale Yacht Club which offered comfort and shelter.
A plaque was presented to the yacht club by the teenagers in a gesture of thanks for the hospitality received, while a burgee, ‘The Spirit of Asgard’, was presented to the RNLI and to Oysterhaven Adventure Centre for their assistance.
Rachel Skelly, on behalf of the group of five survivors present, said the experience, although traumatic at the time, had brought the trainees closer together.
“I don’t think our time together on the Astrid should be defined by the grounding, the sinking, and the rescue,” she said.
A final-year Leaving Certificate student in Holy Faith Secondary School in Clontarf, Dublin, she said: “I had 10 of the most amazing days of my life on the Astrid. I met so many extraordinary people, the friends I made are the friends for life.
“My time onboard the Astrid was truly breathtaking and, although she will no longer grace the seas with her beauty, she will sail forever through the veins of those who loved her.”
Christopher Hopcraft, of Ballincollig, Co Cork, said the group is looking forward to going back on a sail training course at Easter.
“The positive thing about our adventure is we have all bonded as a group. The sinking has brought us all closer together. We all talk on a regular basis through Facebook and Skype.”
Sail Training Ireland manager Michael Byrne said: “Everyone wanted to come back to Kinsale to show our gratitude for the outpouring of help and support. They are all anxious to get back to sea.”
He said a coastal voyage was being planned for the Irish students on the Spirit of Oysterhaven, a 70ft schooner involved in the rescue, but it was envisaged to bring all 23 trainees together sometime next year.