Creamy white sails billowing in the Irish breeze, the glossy wooden hull of a grand old Scottish yacht skimmed across the surface of the River Lee; the final push in a daring cross sea journey.

Dwarfed by tankers moored alongside Cork’s harbour and accompanied by a small and excited flotilla of currachs – Irish rowing boats – the 101-year-old Gaff Yawl was a long way from its Argyll roots.

Having acted upon a spur of the moment idea to sail his treasured Edwardian yacht, MACARIA, at least part of the way from his home at Crinan, south of  Oban to a festival in the Irish city, musician Alexi Murdoch had, a bit to his own surprise, gone all the way.

And in a wet and sometimes a little bit wild voyage, his elegant and deceptively sturdy hand-built wooden yacht, ten metres long and just three metres wide, took everything the Irish Sea threw at her.

Singer-songwriter Alexi – whose songs have featured in a string of well-known television series and movies - was preparing to make his way to this weekend’s Sounds from a Safe Harbour festival in Cork when he decided to see how well the old yacht might cope.

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“I never really thought we’d do it,” he confessed. “I left from just south of Oban and thought I’d maybe get as far as Ballycastle.

“Then I got to Belfast and thought I’d keep going to Dublin.

“The marina there was really disappointing, and I didn’t have the heart to just berth her and drive onwards to Cork. So I carried on.”

The journey wasn’t as simple as it might sound. Although lovingly restored, the yacht, handmade in 1922 by the famous boatbuilder Peter Dickie at his father, Archibald’s, Tarbert yard, is far from a luxurious mode of travel, with scant above deck shelter and cramped accommodation below.

While the solo voyage meant Alexi had to carefully plan when he could sail and fit in sleep around tides, weather and the dying light.

Particularly challenging was navigating busy shipping lines, with the little wooden yacht overshadowed by much larger vessels.

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And although the weather was mostly kind there were still high tides and swells to overcome, wild winds as he left Islay and the rare blue super moon tide which pushed levels higher than normal.

Nevertheless, the quality of her design and construction were confirmed as – a century after she slipped away from the Loch Fyne boatbuilder’s yard – she crossed from Scottish waters and over the Irish Sea.

“She is a pretty wet boat – you’re exposed and very low to the water, nothing like a modern yacht with a high freeboard,” says Alexi, whose song,  Orange Sky, has featured in a string of US productions including The O.C., House, Ugly Betty and Dirty Sexy Money.

“But that makes her even more seaworthy, she is like a little seabird. She has a lovely balance of elegance, she is beautiful to look at, but she is also very strong.

“You have to put your full weather gear on a lot of the time and get wet but that’s not a problem, staying afloat is.”

Leisure craft yachts like MACARIA were once a common sight on Scotland’s west coast; yachting was a favourite past-time for wealthy industrialists who raced in regattas and rubbed shoulders at exclusive clubs such as the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club at Rhu.

The early 1900s saw a boom in leisure sailing, much of it focused on the Firth of Clyde where Glasgow industrialists used their enormous wealth to build coastal holiday villas and enjoy increasingly speedy state of the art ‘super’ yachts.

At the same time, Scottish yacht designers and boatbuilders became among the best in the world – with Dickie’s of Tarbert, builders of the MACARIA, among the most acclaimed.

Alexi, whose first album "Time Without Consequence" received huge critical praise when it was released in 2006 and saw him placed on Rolling Stone's Top Ten Artists list, bought the yacht 12 years ago after spotting her at a Fife regatta on the Clyde.

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“I fell in love with her,” he says. “She has this amazing pedigree, she is a thoroughly Scottish boat and I’d be bringing her closer to home than she’d been for many years.

“She needed quite a lot of work which has been a labour of love. But she is strong, and I always felt she was seaworthy.”

A lifelong sailing enthusiast, he said he set off partly because he was curious to see both how the yacht would handle a sea voyage and to immerse himself in the solitary world of solo sailing before the bustle of collaboration and community at the festival.

“Somewhere along the line I thought there might be some way to reconcile these two things and bring a sense of calm and focus,” he adds.

His arrival in Cork caused such a stir that he was accompanied by the small flotilla of rowing boats and handed instant membership of the city’s Royal Cork Yacht Club.

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But while the unexpected journey has ended well, Alexi says there is just one small issue he didn’t give too much thought to at the start of the trip – getting back home.

“The fact I’m supposed to be sailing back again in a few days is a slight concern – I think there’s heavy weather coming in which could make it interesting and it’ll be dark that bit earlier.

“But it’s made me think of where else I could take her – I’m quite happy sailing the north west of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides and I’ve had a lovely trip to St. Kilda.

“But the Faroes, Iceland and Norway might be nice…”