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#NewBuild - Almost exactly a year after the Brexit vote, Brittany Ferries on Thursday confirmed an order for a new "£175m LNG cruiseferry for English Channel service.

The 42,400 gross tonnage newbuild (slighty larger to Pont-Aven of 41,000 on the Cork-Roscoff route) will be placed on the company’s busiest route Portsmouth-Caen from spring 2019 – as Brexit negotiations move towards completion.

The new ship will be named Honfleur after the charming seaside destination on the Seine estuary in Normandy. First details have been revealed today after contracts were signed with the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellshaft (FSG) shipyard in Germany.

Afloat adds FSG are currently constructing ICG's €144m euro newbuild cruiseferry for Irish Ferries. The 50,000 gross tonnage cruiseferry is due to enter operations by mid-2018.  

As for Honfluer, she will be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas) and promises to be the most environmentally-friendly vessel operating on the English Channel. LNG emits less carbon dioxide than diesel following combustion and burns with no smoke. It is entirely free of sulphur and produces very low emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.

In LNG-electric propulsion, four engines feed electric generators and two electric propulsion motors. This quieter and more efficient form of power delivery reduces vibration, meaning an even smoother ride for passengers.

Published in Ferry

British offshore sailor Phil Sharp is on standby to attempt the outright monohull Sailing Speed Record for the English Channel.

At a time where the winter gales start to relentlessly beat up the shores of the British Isles, and boat-owners are putting their vessels firmly to bed, Phil Sharp, sailing Class 40 race yacht Imerys is now on Code Red Standby to attempt one of the fastest of the World Record-breaking routes, the cross-Channel Sailing Record.

After establishing last December’s Length of Britain Record with extreme adventurer Sean Conway, PS Racing have their sights set on the Channel Record route, one of the most established routes in offshore sailing. Launched in 1905 by King Edward VII, the ‘Cowes-Dinard’ has since taken place as an annual race and is ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council as the Official Cross-Channel route for Sailing Speed Records.

A total distance of 140 miles, Phil will be attempting to break the outright monohull record of 12 hours 1 minute and 31 seconds. This is currently held by offshore skipper Jean Luc Van Den Heede (VDH), who set the record back in 2004 in Adrien, a boat over twice the size of Imerys, with a length of 85 feet.

Skipper Phil Sharp comments: “This is a fast and exciting record that I have always wanted to take on, but it will be tricky to beat as our Class 40 Imerys, at just 40 foot, is less than half the length of the current record setter Adrien. This means we will have to wait for some very strong winds from the North and ensure that the boat is pushed right to its limit throughout the crossing.

“Imerys will need to average at least 12 knots over the entire 140 mile route, and timing will be key for the attempt. There are extremely strong tides on this route, passing through the Alderney Race which can see currents of up to 10 knots, so the departure time will be critical to try and make the most of the best wind and the strongest south-going tide.”

PS Racing’s experienced meteorologist, Jure Jerman is keeping a close eye on the longer range forecast in order to identify a precise weather window, Jure comments; “At the moment we are on standby in a Code Red situation until we see a clear weather opportunity for Phil’s attempt. There is a possible window that might open up towards the end of next week, with some very strong NE winds, and early next week we will have a much clearer idea on whether this looks probable.”

Phil will be delivering Imerys to Cowes this weekend where final preparations will be made ahead of a potential record attempt over the coming weeks.

Published in Offshore

#Rescue - A German national clad in only shorts, a fleece and a hat was rescued from the English Channel seven miles off the British coast on Sunday morning (9 October).

But according to BreakingNews.ie, there have been conflicting reports as to how the stand-up paddleboarder wound up in his predicament, following his discovery by a diving team off Dover at first light.

First indications that the tourist had set off from France the night before to cross to the UK had been met with scepticism by one of the divers who first approached him.

“His claim was that he’d left [France] at midnight and had managed to paddle something like 14 odd miles in seven hours. It’s a bit odd,” diver Chris Webb told The Independent.

However, the Dover Marina Facebook page now says the paddler has been identified as Alexander Hahn, so set off a number of weeks ago from Coburg following the waterways of Germany and France towards Britain.

Published in News Update

#SeaSwim - Charity worker Heather Clatworthy has become only the second swimmer to cross the Atlantic between the Inishowen Peninsula and Portstewart on the North Coast – and the first in nearly 90 years, according to the Irish Examiner.

The 34-year-old, who lives in Warwick with her family but grew up in Portstewart, crossed the expanse of open sea on Wednesday 27 July in around half the time expected, reaching the shore a little over four hours after setting out from Stroove beach in Moville.

“Two hours in I just didn’t think I was going to do it,” she said after powering through illness and choppy waters to complete her amazing feat, last achieved by famous English Channel swimmer Mercedes Gleitze in 1929.

The Belfast Telegraph has video of Clatworthy as she set out on her remarkable challenge:



In other sea swimming news, Galway long distance swimmer Alice Flood celebrated her swim across the English Channel earlier this week.

As the Galway Independent reports, the Bushy Park native made the gruelling crossing in just under 14 hours and joins an elite group of swimmers who've completed the England-to-France challenge.

Published in Sea Swim

#Missing - BBC News reports that two bodies have been recovered from the sea in the search for four fishermen whose trawler went missing in the English channel this week.

Lifeboat crews from Dungeness, Dover and Hastings RNLI stations yesterday (29 January) resumed their part in a major search for the Belgian fishing boat, which vanished from radio contact on Wednesday (28 January) some 10 miles south of Dungeness.

They joined search and rescue helicopters, vessels from the French authorities, a Trinity House boat and several other fishing trawlers in what was expected to be "a long, protracted search of the channel", according to RNLI divisional operations manager Allen Head.

At 3pm yesterday debris was identified 20 miles southeast of Dungeness, in French territorial waters, and the lifeboats continued to search the area until they were recalled by the coastguard.

However later in the evening two bodies were discovered in the sea off Boulogne in northern France, some 30 miles across the channel from Dungeness. BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update

#EnglishChannel - DFDS Seaways plan to close Portsmouth-Le Havre route later this year, the announcement follows partners LD Lines which closed services also from another UK south coast port to Spain just over a week ago, writes Jehan Ashmore.

According to the Danish owned DFDS, they cite the closure is due to continued losses and that they have held consultations with French unions. The route carried 185,000 passengers and 480,000 lane-metres of freight in 2013 generating revenues of DKK 165m.

The route forms a network of English Channel and Mediterranean services run in a partnership between DFDS Seaways and Louis Dreyfus Armatuers (LDA) through is ferry brand LD Lines now reduced to the St.Nazaire-Gijon route and a France-Tunisia link.

As previously reported, LD Lines 'Irish' leg of the Spanish landbridge route was closed last month, when the service was withdrawn between the French port and Rosslare.

Returning to the Portsmouth-Le Havre route, this is served by a time-chartered ro-pax ship, understood to be Seven Sisters (2005/18,940grt). The French-flagged vessel and crew will be redelivered to her owners at the end of 2014.

According to DFDS, a number of initiatives to improve the route's financial performance since the route was taken over from (LDA) in 2012 have had limited effect, yet leaving LD Lines to continue running their remaining services in the partnership.

DFDS also claim given unsatisfactory financial results, the measures already taken and new EU sulphur emission rules coming into force on 1 January 2015, the route does not have a viable future.

Another DFDS route, Harwich-Esbjerg which is not part of the partnership with LD Lines is to close later this month. The withdrawal of what is the only ferry service connecting UK and Scandinavian is once again due in part to the introduction of sulphur directives.

 

Published in Ferry

#SHARK ATTACK - The UK Sun has posted a dramatic video of the moment when two anglers in the English Channel were attacked by sharks.

Graeme Pullen and Wayne Comben had been fishing for Mako sharks to tag and release off Falmouth in Cornwall, as part of a marine wildlife conservation programme, when their 17-foot boat was suddenly surrounded by a school of blue sharks.

The three sharks were described by Pullen as being in a "frenzied state" during the three-minute assault.

“Normally they would hold back and wait to see if there was any food drifting free but these were very aggressive and just charged directly at the boat," he said.

“One of them came out of the water and launched an all-out attack on the bag of fish, biting and tearing it to pieces — it was very worrying to witness."

Pullen concurred with experts' belief that such sharks are coming closer to land to hunt as overfishing in the Atlantic has all but wiped out their food supply.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#SWIMMING TRAGEDY - RTÉ News reports that an Irishman has died while attempting to swim solo across the English Channel.

Páraic Casey, 45, was less than 1km from the French coast and more than 16 hours into the crossing when he took ill in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He could not be resuscitated despite the immediate efforts of safety personnel.

The swimmer from Passage West in Co Cork has begun the open sea crossing just after 9am on Saturday to raise funds for St Vincent de Paul and St Patrick's Marymount Hospice.

According to The Irish Times, he had passed a standard medical examination, had completed the necessaary training and was wearing a wetsuit for the swim.

Casey is survived by his wife Riana, who described him as “amazing”.

Published in Sea Swim
The Irish Times reports that a Dubliner has become the first woman to swim across Galway Bay twice.
Sorcha Barry, who works as a physiotherapist, completed the gruelling 26km swim last weekend as part of the annual Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West.
Barry was joined in her effort by Kevin Thornton, son of the late Frances Thornton, with the duo completing the swim in 5 hours, 41 minutes.
The Dubliner is currently in training to cross the English Channel next month.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

The Irish Times reports that a Dubliner has become the first woman to swim across Galway Bay twice.

Sorcha Barry, who works as a physiotherapist, completed the gruelling 26km swim last weekend as part of the annual Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim in aid of Cancer Care West.

Barry was joined in her effort by Kevin Thornton, son of the late Frances Thornton, with the duo completing the swim in 5 hours, 41 minutes.

The Dubliner is currently in training to cross the English Channel next month.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour