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Making Sailing in Ireland Less Elitist

28th January 2013
Making Sailing in Ireland Less Elitist

#islandnation – Making sailing less elitist; BIM addressing difficulties between fishermen and processors;Captain defends his sunken ship; Cork brotherly angling duo amidst lots of cod; Using one sea to help another; RNLI independence and a giant squid is filmed.


I believe strongly in making sailing a sport for everyone, that every opportunity should be taken to encourage more people into sailing and that clubs should be active in this regard. But there are still people who regard sailing as an exclusive sport which is difficult to get involved in and it has to be said that some clubs, by the attitudes they display, create an unwelcome aspect of elitism and exclusivity. The Irish Sailing Association has made the availability of the sport to everyone a keynote of its development commitment, but I am still approached by people who tell me that they have found it difficult to get into the sport.

I have been telling Norbert Reilly, Commodore of the Irish Cruiser Racing Association that I welcome the Association's launching of a nationwide 'Crew Recruitment and Training Programme.' He is enthusiastic about the project:

"ICRA represents 4,300 keel boat sailors and the objective is to create a pathway to get on to a racing yacht, promote local training and provide national standards for the various positions on a racing boat. It is open to all levels of sailors from those interested in midweek social racing, right up to a position on the Irish Commodores Cup Team. The initial roll-out of the programme will take place on April 21at Howth Yacht Club in Dublin where 120 slots will be available on the ISA's J80 yachts. The programme will consist of both water and shore-based sessions led by top Irish sailors"

ICRA will be working with the ISA and yacht clubs under the slogan: 'More Sailors...More Sailing'. I hope it succeeds. For those interested in getting involved go to the website to register.

I'm delighted to see that Barry Rose is remaining actively involved with ICRA and the creation of a Commodores Cup team. ICRA has invited declarations of interest from owners to participate in an Irish challenge for the cup which was won in 2010 by the team of Anthony O Leary's Antix; Dave Dwyer's Mariners Cove and Rob Davie's Roxy. The Commodores Cup won't be sailed again until next year, so there is time to prepare an Irish team. Barry Rose will be the ICRA rep looking after the Ireland Team. Email for those interested: [email protected]


There will be two stop-overs at ports in Brazil for the next Volvo Race, the 12th edition. Itajaí, in the state of Santa Catarina, has been named in addition to Recife. The remainder of the route for the 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean race will be revealed over the coming weeks. Ireland is not expected to be involved.


There have been on-going difficulties between fishermen and fish processors about the difficulties fishermen have claimed in selling their fish, getting poor prices, while processors were alleged to be buying more foreign-caught fish than supporting the Irish industry. Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the State fisheries board, has become involved and has held a number of meetings involving both sides. It seems that agreement has been reached acknowledging that there has been "poor communication between fishermen and processors" and that this has led "to a lack of supply and quality in the whitefish sector."

That is according to BIM whose CEO, Jason Whooley, has said that the whitefish sector faces serious challenges and that on-going profitability is "difficult for many of the vessels and businesses involved. Processors are competing in an extremely demanding market in terms of volume, consistency of supply and the high level of standards and quality checks that must be achieved to maintain contracts in these markets. Fishermen are working under the constraints of fuel costs, quotas, difficulties, knowing what species of fish are required by the market and when and how prices are affecting the sustainability of the catching sector to reinvest in their business," says BIM. "All parties agreed that working together, as a united entity, with greater communication would lead to an improved whitefish sector. It was agreed that the main issues to resolve were a clear communication system between fisherman and processor, scheduled landings and improved quality for some vessels."

BIM is to facilitate a pilot scheme addressing these issues over a four-to-six-week period after which fishermen and processors will meet again with BIM. This appears to indicate progress.


77-year-old Captain Apostolos Mangouras, Master of the Bahamas-flagged tanker Prestige which broke up off the coast of Spain in November 2002 has told a court there that the decision of the maritime authorities in Spain to refuse his ship a place of refuge when it was in trouble was "the worst possible" decision to make. He faces a possible sentence of 12 years in jail if found guilty of causing environmental damage when the tanker broke up and spilled over 70,000 tonnes of oil causing heavy coastal pollution. He has argued that this would not have happened if the ship had been allowed into sheltered waters to deal with problems which had occurred. He said the 1976 ship had never suffered a single detention for safety problems and should have been give refuge.

The former Head of Spain's Merchant Marine Directorate has also been put on trial over the incident, accused of causing environmental damage and he has defended his decision not to allow the Prestige into sheltered waters.

The vessel was forced to remain at sea in heavy weather for six days before it broke in two when it was about 200 nautical miles off the Spanish coastline.

The case is highlighting the problems for Shipmasters when they need a port of refuge in difficulties and are refused. The shipping industry has argued that this attitude by port states increases the danger of pollution and environmental problems.


I met Martyn Smyth, Divisional Inspector and Operations Manager for the RNLI in Ireland at Helvick last week when we discussed improvements and upgrading of the service planned by the organisation. He made it clear that the RNLI will remain independent of State involvement.

Looking over the annual rescue statistics for the RNLI in Ireland they show that the majority of calls were to pleasure craft, which accounted for 482, though this number was down from 505 in 2011. There were 115 emergency calls to fishing vessels. The call-outs indicate a lot of problems on the water, with more than half caused by people on leisure craft, including mechanical failure, running out of fuel and grounding. Twenty people a week were rescued by Irish lifeboat crews last year during which they spent over 10,000 hours at sea on emergency call-outs.


One of the country's best-known lifeboat supporters and enthusiasts, a former Valentia lifeboatman himself, Dick Robinson, is to be honoured with the award of a Gold Badge by the RNLI. This is the highest award to lifeboat supporters. Dick is also an historical expert on the lifeboat service in Ireland.


Brothers Noel and Christy Lane from Cork are pretty adept anglers, having made several good catches and are in the news again with the landing of a 3.18 lbs. specimen whiting off Cork when they were fishing along with other anglers out of Kinsale aboard charter skipper Butch Robert's boat Sundance Kid. Christy made the catch using mackerel-baited 'Shamrock Red Devil' lures.


Anglers have been taking catches of big cod off Cork Harbour. On Joe Lynch's Wreckhunter a 14lb. fish was caught while other catches of cod up to 12 lbs. are also reported.


An enthusiastic angler and inventor in Kansas in the USA has devised a computerised angling rod. The 'POLETAP SMARTROD' has an alarm and flashing red LED lights which go off when a fish takes a fly on the end of the line. The electronics are said to be water-resistant and the system works with any reel. It has an 'accelerometer' which will immediately detect with a high-sensitivity setting when a fish takes a lure.

The inventor, Ed Hope, says the alarms can be turned off after a fish strikes – in order not to annoy other anglers! Additionally, once the user starts reeling the line in, the fish-detecting microprocessor temporarily shuts down. This keeps the rod from flashing, shrieking "and generally carrying on throughout the fish-landing."

But will it take the fun and anticipation out of angling?


A report issued by the World Bank has said that the Red Sea could be used to replenish the shrinking Dead Sea. The possibility of linking the two has been suggested for over a century. It gained urgency when the shores of the Dead Sea were found to be receding at a rate of 3.3 feet every year. An underground pipeline could channel water from the Red Sea 112 miles north to replenish the Dead Sea according to the Bank but this suggestion has been criticised by environmental groups who warned of adverse effects, such as changing the Dead Sea's colour or underground fresh water springs if they were polluted with seawater from the Red Sea.


The Belgian Government is considering a plan to build a new island in the North Sea to store wind energy. The intention is to build it from sand 3 kilometres off the coastline from the town of Wendnine. By pumping water out of a hollow in the middle of the island, the intention would be to store power, even though scientific opinion is that there are difficulties in storing energy generated from wind power. The Belgians are taking this approach to reduce dependence on nuclear power after two of the country's nuclear stations were shut down when cracks were found in reactor casings. It could take five years, however, to go through the planning stages and build the new island.


Video footage of a giant squid filmed in its deep ocean habitat has caused huge interest in the marine world. It was filmed from a small underwater research submarine in the North Pacific Ocean, was about 30 feet long and silver and gold in colour. Marine biologists who shot the footage, said it was missing two tentacles

and its stomach had been removed, seemingly because of a hole in its body. "Something strange must like to eat those parts," said Dan-Eric Nilsson of Lund University. He also noted that the squid seemed to have a colour-changing system, which contained pigment and reflected light, very deep inside the giant squid's body cavity.

In recent months, researchers have also learned more about giant squid eyes. The diameter of these eyes measures two to three times that of any other animal. Giant squid eyes measure 10 inches, making them about the same size as a large dinner plate. Big is optimal for sight in deep-water environments apparently. It is believed that a giant squid can grow up to 55 feet long.

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