Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Searching for Trawlers, Sailing Solo, Salp & Parking Your Boat

25th February 2013
Searching for Trawlers, Sailing Solo, Salp & Parking Your Boat


#islandnation – Can you imagine spending years searching for old 60-foot boats, travelling the country's coastline because of a 'bug' within your system?

Pat Nolan from Cork, who now lives in County Antrim, has done that, "a labour of love, meeting with many wonderful people" who sailed these iconic vessels.

Six years ago he began tracing the histories of all eighty-eight 50-foot fishing boats built by the State fisheries board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara between 1949 and 1970, a mammoth task which he completed in two years and published in a book called 'Sea Change'. Now he has six books about fishing boats to his credit, the latest called 'A Step Up' and which, logically enough perhaps, is a record of the BIM 56-footers which were regarded as a 'step up' when introduced to Irish waters for commercial fishing.

Understandably, Pat comes from a family steeped in commercial fishing activities, into which he was born in Baltimore in West Cork. A science graduate of University College, Cork, he worked in Nigeria for a number of years before returning to Ireland and settling in Ballycastle.

He has compiled individually-traced histories of all 39 BIM-built 56-footers, a huge contribution to the archive of Ireland's maritime history. Built at several boatyards around the coast, their construction provided great employment and underwrote the shipwright tradition in Ireland which has now, unfortunately, declined to the great loss of the marine industry. Tyrrells of Arklow designed their own 56-footers for BIM.

"That all 56-footers were not identical is beyond dispute, differences existed in detail, layout and even design, but the boats were readily recognisable, regardless of variations," says Pat. "All of the boats were well-built, efficient and regarded as 'small big boats' and first-class weather boats. Yet I'd have to say there are divided opinions as to how well they met the requirements of their era, even though they were iconic boats."


My report last week that the Coast Guard had tried to get the Marine Casualty Investigation Board to make a strong recommendation against going out on the water alone drew quite a reaction from readers, varying from "nannyism" to "why can't there be mandatory licences for boating."

"What does the Coast Guard know about single-handed sailing or good seamanship for that matter? It's the same as the priests giving marriage guidance courses," Emailed Gerry Burns.

Trudy McIntyre commented: "For driving a car you need a licence and mandatory driving classes, before you go at it alone!! Why can't there be the same for pleasure boating?"


Barry Hurley sailing to solo success in Dinah

Rory described the call as: "More dictatorship and nannyism!" while Tony O'Leary wrote that "the RNLI and Coast Guard are volunteers who at the end of the day are only trying to help people when they are in trouble. In most Lifeboat and Coast Guard crews there are people who have a vast amount of experience at sea" and Jerome Lordan wrote: "Lifeboat crews and Coastguards today do not for the most part have long-time experience at sea like they had in the past when these units were manned by experienced fishermen and ex-seafarers. They seem to think you can just train up and that is sufficient. You cannot buy or train long-time experience at sea!"

Obviously a topic that raises very different opinions, amongst which are the kayakers, canoeists and solo-rowers who told me that they venture out alone as part of their sport. It should be remembered also that Irish solo sailors have achieved success in racing internationally, such as Barry Hurley from Cobh and a member of the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire with his boat Dinah.


Having shown off its first, though somewhat unusual-looking submarine to the maritime world, as I reported a few months ago, Iran has now introduced the first oil tanker it has built. Iran Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries Complex Co. (ISOICO), manufactured the ship which is 178 metres long, 32 metres wide and has a 9-metre draft according to ISOICO. Operated by the National Iranian Tanker Company, it is reported to have cost US$30m. and to be capable of carrying 35,000 tons of oil products. Its maiden voyage has been undertaken in Persian Gulf waters.

Marine Environment – SEEN A SALP?

If anyone sees a salp in Irish waters, notify the authorities at once because these gelatinous sea creatures are another example of the alien species which are not welcome visitors. Last Spring they clogged intake pipes at California's Diablo Canyon nuclear-power plant which caused it to be shut down. Now they have shown up on the Washington coast, having somehow rounded the USA. Some fishermen have found them in nets and older fishermen can remember when they were last seen 30 years ago. Marine scientists have no idea why they are arriving in big numbers. "Weird," is one description.


They look like a jellyfish, about the size of a human hand, with a hard head and a few tentacles. Scientists describe a salp as a pelagic tunicate which lives in the open ocean and has a tubelike body that pumps water for locomotion and to filter the plankton on which it feeds. Despite its translucent appearance, it is not closely related to jellyfish. It's a chordate, which means it has a spinal cord and is related to vertebrates. Salps can swim alone or in rope-like colonies. They have the ability to reproduce rapidly and can bloom when the plankton supply is rich. Marine scientists disagree as to whether their appearance is a sign of climate change in the sea.


The State fisheries board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, is going to carry out trials aimed at minimising discarding of fish and improving the use of fishing gear to avoid by-catches. Fishing vessel owners who would like to offer their vessels for use in the trials, as well as fishing gear and chandlery suppliers, are being invited to contact BIM, Crofton Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin - Phone 01 2144100 Email:[email protected]


Noisy parkers are a problem ashore, but if you have ever had trouble entering a marina, this video should be interesting.

Email: [email protected]

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Published in Island Nation Team

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