#islandnation – In THIS ISLAND NATION this week .... Determination at 70 .... The ports call for co-ordinated Government action .... Why is the public starved of information about the national marine plan? .... Galway Bay environmental controversy and who are the lobbying groups? ... Are the collision regulations understood and next year's coastal sailing gathering....
SAILING – OLDEST BUT NOT FINISHED
Sailing is a sport for all, at all ages and competitive sailing can vary from single-handed or fully-crewed racing boats to individual challenges, but round-the-world solo sailors are a breed apart.
Last Monday the oldest woman to sail solo around the world left Canada for her third attempt to do so non-stop. On two previous attempts she completed circumnavigations but stops in various ports caused by gear failure and damage at sea frustrated her non-stop attempts. With the distinguished surname of one of the great philosophers, 70-year-old Jeanne Socrates, left Victoria in Western Canada on the third attempt in her Najad 380 yacht, Nereida. She was forced to stop on Cape Town for repairs during her first attempt in 2009, which started in Lanzarote. A second non-stop attempt in October 2010 ended with a knockdown 100 miles west of Cape Horn the following January. However, she did manage to complete the single-handed circumnavigation last August after stopping in the Falklands, Cape Town, Tasmania, Tahiti and Hawaii.
"This is like any sporting challenge, I want to do it non-stop and I am determined to achieve it and be back here successfully, hopefully without any serious incidents along the way," she said on leaving!
PORTS – DUBLIN, CORK, SHANNON-FOYNES TOP PORT PROSPECTS
Since the launch of the Ocean Strategy Plan by the Government during the Summer there has been a lack of official information about progress on its implementation. The public is entitled to a better level of information about the implementation of plans which are announced with much publicity hype.
The Irish Maritime Development Office this week published its review of the capability of Irish ports to meet development requirements for the marine renewable energy. It reported a "consensus" amongst the ports on the absence of "any clear policy framework at a national level for the development of an ocean energy industry with the necessary political will to invest in the business."
This challenges the difference between what has been publicly said by various Government Ministers and what the Government is actually doing. My sources in the industry tell of dissatisfaction with attitudes they encounter. Consultations with some of the ports for the report were undertaken before the Government's marine plan "Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth," was published. This identified potential of the offshore ocean energy sector and proposed an action plan but not a lot has been heard about its implementation. The IMDO report has identified the need for clear, co-ordinated Government action to take advantage of the possibility of creating hundreds of jobs.
There was also general consensus amongst the ports about the need for a national website integrating information about Irish ports in terms of infrastructure and facilities to support construction and fabrication; operation, maintenance and servicing; and research and development. The IMDO says that this is something that would be relatively inexpensive for the Government to create and could be used as a central marketing and information platform by Government agencies and departments in communicating where national strategic competitive advantages lie.
Let's see if the Government's marine co-ordinating group responds positively or at all.
ENVIRONMENT – GALWAY BAY FISH FARM
The State fisheries board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), has strongly attacked the environmental group, Friends of the Irish Environment and called on it to withdraw what is has described as a "spurious allegation" and apologise for what it alleges is a "slur" on BIM's reputation.
The row is over a claim by FIE that BIM suppressed reports regarding its application for an organic salmon farming license in Galway Bay which aims to create 500 jobs. The public consultation period for the project is underway, and closes at midnight on December 12. BIM has rejected the FIE allegation.
I will be interested to see how this develops.
There is a general issue about all environmental lobbying groups which, in terms of transparency, fairness and balance in public debate should be addressed. In dealing with State or public bodies we know information about them that is publicly available but there are so many different lobbying groups that a register of information about them, their membership strengths, who they represent, their financing, etc., would enable better assessment of their views.
SHIPPING – ARE COLLISION REGULATIONS UNDERSTOOD?
The Nautical Institute, the international professional body for seafarers, has raised the question of whether COLREGs are fully understood and if a lack of knowledge about them could be putting ships at risk.
In its journal SEAWAYS the Chief Executive, Philip Wake, says: "There appears to be a fundamental lack of understanding of the regulations by far too many mariners." The issue is discussed in the context of the 20th anniversary of the launching of the Mariners' Alerting and Reporting Scheme.
It could be added that there are many leisure sailors who also do not understand the collision regulations.
SAILING – GATHERING CRUISE
The Irish Marine Federation and Irish Sailing Association have announced 'The Gathering Cruise' as part of next year's plans for the celebration of the Irish diaspora.
It will take place from July 13 to August 1, with over 100 boats congregating in 'Gathering Ports' across the UK before sailing together to Ireland. "The Gathering Flotilla will assemble in Kinsale for a welcome reception," says the ISA and then "flotillas will have an opportunity to explore the coastline of West Cork and Kerry for a week of unscheduled cruising. All boats will then gather again in Dingle, Co. Kerry for a Gathering Cruise farewell reception and 'scattering' where boats will have the option to continue their cruise in a northerly direction in the company of other cruise participants. Gathering Welcome Ambassadors will be available in Welcome Ports along the Irish coastline."
BOOKS – JEANIE SHOULD HAVE BEEN A DIFFERENT COLOUR!
With the Jeanie Johnston hosting maritime stories aboardship in Dublin Port as to the atmospheric creaking sounds of the famine Ship's hull enveloping the audience I was interested to read that there was an original colour scheme for the Jeanie Johnston that would have made her stand out strikingly at sea – all yellow sails, red-coloured masts and a bright orange decorative strip with false black porthole outlets on the hull. That was proposed by Fred Walker, the ship's architect. When completed the tall ship was less dramatic in appearance – traditional white sails, natural wooden masts and a white strip with false black portholes.
That was one conception, reproduced in this book which was changed.
This book is predominantly a photographic record by the author who voyaged in her in 2005, Liverpudlian Michael English. My particular favourite picture is that of the two crew members who found a spot aloft to have an 'al fresco' lunch, while the one of crew members furling sail on the topsail yard will test your head for heights!
Sailing the Irish Famine Tall Ship Jeanie Johnston, by Michael English, published by Collins Press €29.99
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