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Displaying items by tag: COVID19

Two representative associations of the militiary are seeking financial compensation for troops who are forced to leave their families two weeks prematurely to go into compulsory Covid-19 quarantine prior to deploying on overseas missions.

Meanwhile, the Naval Service has confirmed that it's had to “deep clean” one of its ships after a sailor was confirmed as having the virus.

Both PDForra, which represents enlisted personnel, and RACO, which represents officers, have sought compensation for troops who are having to leave their families two weeks earlier than usual before UN deployment.

PDForra wrote to the Department of Defence saying it believes a special payment is “warranted given the analogous nature of quarantine.” 

For more on what the association said click Irish Examiner here. 

Published in Navy

Seafarers worldwide will get enhanced rights as key workers following a joint commitment made at the International Maritime Summit held in London last week.

  • UK holds first international maritime summit to address impact of COVID-19 on crew changes
  • international recognition for seafarers as key workers to enable free movement and quicker repatriation
  • joint statement backed by International Maritime Labour Organization and other UN agencies

Representatives from over a dozen countries including Norway, Denmark, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Philippines and the USA attended the summit. They agreed to new international measures to open up foreign borders for seafarers and increase the number of commercial flights to expedite repatriation efforts.

Despite the crucial role they play restrictions on international travel have left thousands of seafarers stranded at foreign ports with some confined to vessels for months despite having no contact with coronavirus.

The summit, hosted by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst, brought together members of the UN with political and business leaders from across the globe. The difficulties maritime crews face across the world was at the centre of the discussions, while all governments and parties were urged to resolve the issues with maritime transport to support workers and the industry more widely.

Kitack Lim, UN Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, also gave a special address.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Throughout this pandemic, seafarers have played a crucial, though sometimes unseen, role in keeping vital supplies flowing into the country. It is unacceptable that there remain thousands of people stranded at ports around the world and we owe it to them and their families to change things.

“Today marks a new chapter for seafarers and alongside our international partners we are taking, a stand to end the bureaucracy preventing men and women around the world from returning home.”

Today’s agreement builds on the UK government’s longstanding work to bring home the British maritime workers waiting for repatriation and help seafarers in UK ports return home. The summit follows the successful repatriation of 12,000 seafarers from UK shores throughout the pandemic.

Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst said: "I am deeply concerned about how the global crisis has affected crew changes across maritime transport.

“I called today’s summit to turn the tide on the struggles seafarers have faced during this crisis and through today’s commitment we will speed up repatriation for crews globally.”

In conjunction with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and Seafarers UK, the government has also announced a programme to support seafarers in UK shores with mobile internet routers – MiFi units – on board ships where hundreds of seafarers are still waiting to return home. This will give hundreds of seafarers free internet access on board.

Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization Kitack Lim said: “It is time to act for seafarers. Safe ship operations and crew wellbeing should not be compromised. The humanitarian crisis seafarers face has implications for all of us, for the world economy and for the safety of life at sea and the environment.“

To ensure their swift repatriation, the Maritime Minister wrote to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization at the start of the outbreak on 23 March pressing that all states follow the UK’s work in repatriating workers regardless of their nationality or employment.

Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping Guy Platten said: “Globally there are now over 200,000 seafarers who are stranded at sea and have overrun their contracts. These forgotten heroes of global trade work 12-hour days and 7-day weeks to make sure those of us on land have the food, medicine and fuel we need during this difficult time.

“This summit is a welcome show of political leadership at a time when seafarers across the world need it most. Governments must now use this summit as a catalyst to implement with the solutions the shipping industry has provided, applying the political will needed to put them into practice. This issue doesn’t require money and did not need complicated negotiations. This summit is a catalyst for action.”

The UK has remained open for seafarers to come and either stay on vessels, go ashore, take shore leave, or be repatriated, abiding by Public Health England requirements and social distancing.

(AFLOAT adds for those interested in towage, the Irishman featured previously in a report from last year). 

Published in Ports & Shipping

Minister for Transport reports RTE News, has said a mandatory quarantine is not possible to enforce for those entering Ireland but stricter control measures are set to be introduced.

Eamon Ryan said those measures will include an electronic register and testing of some travellers.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sarah McInerney, he said the advice remains that in the wider interests of public health it is best to stay in Ireland and not to travel abroad.

He said the Irish approach to Covid-19 is working and the quarantine measures in place are working, but authorities need to remain vigilant and continue to adapt, monitor and review the situation as more people start flying.

He said if the number of cases of Covid-19 rise as a result of international travel "we will have to tighten restrictions".

For more on this ongoing development click here.  

Published in Ferry

As container lines have done relatively well financially during the Covid-19 pandemic, cargo owners have faced inflated transport costs and lower service quality, with many shippers reporting cargo roll-overs and carriers prioritising higher-paying spot cargo, according to container shipping consultancy and analyst Drewry.

The firm according to LloydsLoadingList, reports that container shipping lines are one of the few sectors that can be said to be having a good pandemic, but their positive financial performance risks them appearing to be profiteering from the crisis and may lead to carrier-shipper animosity. Drewry indicated that it did not believe lines have been profiteering but that they needed to do more to develop a better shipper-carrier dialogue in order to prevent possible animosity from building.

It noted that, “perversely, despite a sudden fall off in demand for their services, lines look set this year to make more money than they have in a long time as their crisis-management tactics – essentially blanking voyages – has paid off handsomely. In our latest Container Forecaster report, published at the end of June, Drewry estimates that the industry secured an operating profit (EBIT) of around $1.4 billion and margin of 3.2% in 1Q20, pretty much on par with the same quarter of last year.”

It said that while the first quarter was not a full test of the industry’s COVID-19 coping mechanism as most countries did not enter lockdown until quite late in the period, “all signs point to operating carriers having not only survived the market shock, but even benefitting from it, with spot market rates soaring and a number of previously guarded companies now upgrading quarterly and full-year guidance”.

But the same cannot be said of other stakeholders, Drewry said, highlighting that “cargo owners have had to contend with greatly inflated transportation costs, but lower service quality. Many shippers have been experiencing cargo roll-overs, including some contract BCOs that have told Drewry carriers are prioritising much higher-paying spot cargoes”.

For much more on the container shipping sector click here. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

This year’s Southampton International Boat Show has been postponed to 2021 as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to reverberate throughout the boating industry.

As International Boat Industry reports, the 52nd edition of the industry fixture — which had been scheduled for this September — has been pushed back a year, as current UK government guidelines suggest such large-scale events will not be permitted.

However, with Whitehall set to reveal a timetable for the holding of mass gatherings, British Marine hopes to hold an alternative, smaller-scale, outdoor event in lieu of this year’s Southampton boat show.

International Boat Industry has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Trade

RYA Northern Ireland has updated its guidance for boaters following recent announcements by the NI Executive.

Sport Northern Ireland officials confirmed that the sport sector remains in Step 2 of the Roadmap to Recovery until further announcements.

The situation in Northern Ireland is summarised as follows:

  • Groups of up to 10 who do not share a household are permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor activity. Recent announcements regarding increased group gathering sizes does not apply to outdoor activity, which remains at 10.
  • Indoor facilities are to remain closed with the exception of restricted access to small shared facilities, eg storage area/toilet/through-ways. These are disinfected regularly with sanitation products available.
  • Elite athletes are permitted to train indoors.
  • Bars/restaurants in registered clubs will now be able to open alongside the hospitality sector. The NI Executive, at its meeting on 2 July, agreed to the restricted opening of restaurants and bars in private members’ clubs on 3 July. Guidance is available on the Tourism NI website. The Chief Scientific Adviser in Northern Ireland has also advised that a register of those present is kept on the premises. This will assist in contact tracing if necessary.
  • Overnight stays onboard can take place with the easing of restrictions on second homes from 26 June.
  • Social distancing remains at two metres unless you use mitigating measures, which could allow a reduction to a minimum of one metre. The NI Executive has reiterated that two metres remains the optimum. RYANI has updated Step 2 Guidance with this change and considerations for smaller craft.

RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said it “welcomes an outline timetable going forward that includes competitive sport potentially resuming from 17 July”.

He added: “This will have potential restrictions on numbers able to undertake activity at that time and facility access remains a key consideration on what may be delivered.”

The governing body for sailing in Northern Ireland has issued ongoing updates to clubs, training centres and engagement through its webinar forums.

Questions remain over more specific elements, however, and RYANI says it will continue to raise these with the Sports’ Expert Panel and working alongside the joint watersports group. This includes matters such as changing room access and guidance.

Full updated guidance and FAQs can be found on the RYANI’s Return to Boating webpage.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
Tagged under

Permission for overnight stays in England from this Saturday 4 July means a “cautious” return to cruising for those who see their boats in the country, according to the UK’s Cruising Association (CA).

The move follows similar changes already introduced in Northern Ireland in line with the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in the Republic of Ireland.

Wales and Scotland are expected to follow suit by mid July, while Schengen countries throughout the European Union are now working to “get back in sync” with open borders and random testing.

England-resident owners with boats in other countries will be looking to announcements on ‘air bridges’ to allow travel to their vessels — which for now excludes popular cruising destinations like Portugal and Sweden.

The CA reminds that rules for those who travel abroad from England on their own boat are “not yet clear” as permissions and restrictions are on a frequency changing, country-by-country basis.

However, based on requirements in Spain, it’s expected that all on board cruising vessels must social distance at a minimum of 1.5 metres from anyone not a family member; use face coverings in close quarters, such as in shops or on busy streets; and continue hygiene measures such as regular hand washing. Fines of €100 are being levied in Spain for breaking these rules.

CA president Julian Dussek said: “Of course, I’m delighted that many of our members will be able to do some sailing this summer.

“But there are still many challenges in getting to and equipping your boat, sailing safely, and identifying destinations where facilities are open and you can enjoy your stay.

“That’s where the CA comes in. If our members keep posting their experiences on our forums, it could make all the difference for another member following in your tracks.”

The CA website has a section regularly updated with the latest information for cruising in Europe and the Mediterranean.

Warrenpoint Port held for the first time an annual general meeting (AGM) virtually due to the unprecedented circumstances brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and current Government guidance on social distancing.

A digital copy of the Co. Down's port Annual Report, outlining the performance of the Harbour in 2019 can be viewed and downloaded here

The report according to Warrenpoint Port confirms their position as the second largest harbour in Northern Ireland with tonnage of 3.5 million tonnes as we recorded turnover of £6 million.

While the coronavirus continues to impact locally and across the globe, Warrenpoint Port has remained open throughout the lockdown, as we have worked with our customers to fulfil our important role helping to ensure the local economy and food supply chains have continued to flow.

There was significant progress made throughout 2019 in efforts to optimise the harbour estate as we continued to invest in the reconfiguration of the port while work on the restoration and refurbishment of our landmark Town Dock House was completed in October re-establishing a direct interface between the harbour office and the town itself.

As it was impossible to hold our AGM in public, members of our community were invited to submit questions in advance of the meeting (held last Tuesday) for consideration.

There was a huge response from our community, and we are pleased to provide answers to these questions below.

Due to the volume of questions received, particularly in regards to the development by Nippon Gases of a liquid CO2 hub to service the Irish food and drinks market, some questions have been summarised in order to provide as full and concise answers as possible.

Individual responses will follow by email by the end of the week.

AGM Questions and Answers here

Published in Ports & Shipping

It’s been confirmed that tourist travel to offshore islands will be permitted from next Monday under the next phase of lifting coronavirus restrictions, which was announced last night (Thursday 25 June).

RTÉ News reports that the move was recommended by the Attorney General and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) after consultation with Comhairle na nOileán, the authority for Ireland’s island communities.

However, Comhairle na nOileán said it was not responsible for public health decisions.

Earlier this week, the islands federation Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann echoed comments from Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne in their opposition to the early lifting of travel restrictions to offshore islands, instead recommending a phased approach.

As Lorna Siggins reported for Afloat.ie, a survey conducted Inis Óirr last week indicated 92% of residents and businesses oppose reopening for the remainder of the summer due to fears over the spread of Covid-19, of which there has been one confirmed case across all three Aran Islands.

Restrictions on foreign travel are set to be lifted on Thursday 9 July, with the Government to provide a ‘green list’ of countries where people can travel without being subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
Tagged under

Restrictions on foreign travel will be eased from (Thursday) July 9th with travellers permitted to move between countries with similar levels of coronavirus infection.

As The Irish Times writes, a green list will be compiled before that date detailing which countries people can travel between without having to undergo a 14-day quarantine - but it will not include Britain if current Covid-19 trends continue.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also said checks and controls would be stepped up in airports and ports and there will be an expanded list of exceptional personnel who don’t have to abide by quarantine measures.

Mr Varadkar said the list of accepted countries could change every two weeks.

“If a country ends up having a second wave, they may be taken off the list.”

For more comments from the Taoiseach on what was potentially his last press conference click here.

Published in Ferry
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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