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Displaying items by tag: Coronavirus

Outdoor ethics programme Leave No Trace Ireland has published a set of simple guidelines for getting outdoors responsibly and safely amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“Now, more than ever, it is vitally important that collectively, we use the outdoors responsibly, taking care of each other and taking care of our local environs, our magnificent wildlife, our lands and waters,” the programme said.

“As seen in the media, overcrowding at popular outdoor beauty spots, lack of social distancing, increased disturbance of wildlife and vegetation, rubbish left behind, are all indicators that outdoor use is up but we are not caring for our outdoor spaces as we should be.

“Following Leave No Trace Guidelines ensures we are being collectively responsible in our use of outdoor spaces, protecting ourselves, our families, our fellow citizens and our incredible island.”

Leave No Trace Ireland’s guidelines are:

  • Plan Ahead: Check weather, bring proper clothing and footwear, water and food. Park and walk responsibly.
  • Expect Closures: Before leaving home, consider lack of usual facilities such as toilets, shops, cafes, restaurants.
  • Stay Home or Local: Unwell? Don't go! Feeling well? Look for local trails, hidden gems, explore closer to home.
  • Be Considerate: Maintain social distancing throughout the day. Keep group sizes small. There is plenty of space in the outdoors for everyone!
  • Time and Place: Find those hidden gems, avoid peak times, avoid difficult routes. Adhere to HSE guidelines.
  • Leave No Trace: Don't rely on or add to already overburdened services. Bring your own rubbish home.
  • Be Dog-Responsible: Keep dogs under control. Mind out for young wildlife. Pick up and bring home dog waste.

Leave No Trace Ireland also reminds of its seven principles: prepare for spring weather conditions, stick to trails, dispose of waste properly, minimise fire impacts, leave what you find, keep a safe distance from wildlife, and be considerate of others.

If you are well, remain active through outdoor pursuits, but do your part and comply with the latest Government guidelines issued by the HSE in the Republic of Ireland and the HSC Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. For more up to date information and advice about coronavirus (Covd-19), visit

For ideas on where to find inspiration for safe and responsible outdoor activities, see and share these ideas with friends and family on social media #LeaveNoTrace #WeLoveNature

Published in News Update

Following last night’s announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of a full lockdown in the UK over the next three weeks, Bangor Marina in Northern Ireland has closed and is asking customers to stay away for the duration of the lockdown period to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

In a statement on their Facebook page, the marina team said: “We wish to act responsibly, and in line with Government advice. So although it goes against everything we stand for, we have to ask our customers to keep away from Bangor Marina until the situation improves. Not easy, with bright and beautiful weather out there.

“We can only hope that by us all taking these restrictions seriously we can reduce the spread of this horrible disease, so that we can all get back on the water soon, in time to enjoy the summer boating season in July and August.”

As from today, Tuesday 24 March, Bangor Marina is taking the following steps:

  • Customers should not be visiting our Bangor Marina, but should be following UK Government advice and avoiding all non-essential travel, including visiting their boat.
  • The marina reception is closed. Most of the office-based team are now working remotely, so pick up the phone or email as you normally would. They will do their best to answer any questions or enquiries you may have about berthing or the operation of the marina. You can continue to make payments in all the usual ways, including through our online portal.
  • Customers are respectfully asked not to ‘quarantine’ or ‘isolate’ themselves on their boats. You should remain in your primary residence. The marina insists its staff are “still busy looking after your boat”.
  • If you haven’t yet confirmed your berthing plans for the next few months, please do so as soon as possible.

“We understand what a difficult time this is, but our whole team are firmly focused on riding out this storm with you, and we remain hopeful that the clouds will pass in time for us all to make the most of our summer boating season later in the year,” the statement added.

It’s expected that all marinas and sailing, boat and yacht clubs in Northern Ireland and Great Britain will be closed for the lockdown period, which will be reviewed by Easter Monday, 13 April.

Published in Irish Marinas

In light of the rapidly evolving situation and public health measures due to the coronavirus, a decision has been taken to postpone European Maritime Day in Cork Harbour until later this year.

The European Maritime Day Team released the following statement regarding European Maritime Day 2020:

Dear speaker, dear workshop organiser, dear stakeholder,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support for European Maritime Day (EMD) 2020 in Cork, Ireland on 14-15 May.

Given the implications of coronavirus for all countries including restrictions on travel, it is with regret that, together with Cork City Council and the Irish Marine Coordination Group, we have decided to defer EMD.

We are currently looking into possible alternative dates later in the year and will keep you posted.

We thank you for your understanding and hope that you will be able to join us in Cork later in 2020.

Published in Cork Harbour

In response to the continuing Covid-19 situation, the National Yacht Club has revised its plans for 2020 in preparation for the eventual resumption of sailing activity.

Commodore Martin McCarthy says cost and staffing adjustments have been made to complete some major maintenance works at the Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubhouse, including just-completed upgrades to the hot water system.

Another protect, the renovation of the wooden benches in the changing rooms, falls under the sustainability efforts that saw the NYC recognised as Sustainable Club of the Year (along with Bray Sailing Club) in Saturday night’s Irish Sailing Awards.

Commodore McCarthy said: “Grainne Ryan has led our effort on that front so congrats and well done to Grainne.”

In an email update to club members, the commodore added that “the fabric of the club and esprit de corps are vital assets we are working hard to protect” — as he confirmed plans are still in train for lift-in day on Saturday 11 April.

Meanwhile, many members are working on their boats and are encouraged to do so in compliance with physical distancing and Department of Health hygiene regulations.

“As a club, our primary focus is the welfare and safety of our staff and members,” Commodore McCarthy said. “Observing the guidelines on physical distancing as the storm of Covid-19 blows through in the coming weeks is a top priority.”

Published in National YC
Tagged under

The International Olympic Committee has given itself a four-week deadline to decide whether to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games set for this summer or reduce the scale of events, amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

It comes after IOC president Thomas Bach was emphatic that a cancellation was not on the agenda — as the IOC backtracks on its previous confirmation, and sporting bodies believe the most likely scenario is the Games are pushed back by an entire year.

The Guardian reports that Canada has already withdrawn its Olympic teams over coronavirus concerns, and that World Athletics have written to the IOC to say holding events as planned is “neither feasible nor desirable”.

The situation has thrown every Olympic campaign into disarray, both for competitors already qualified and for the likes Irish sailors yet to secure a spot, who already face last-minute changes to the qualification process.

On Friday (20 March), in an interview with German broadcaster SWR, Thomas Bach — who is quarantined at his home office in Lausanne, Switzerland — said: “You cannot postpone Olympic Games like a soccer game to next Saturday.

“This is a very complex business, where you can only act responsibly if you have reliable and clear bases for decision-making, and we monitor this every day, 24 hours a day.”

Scuttlebutt Sailing News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Marine Minister Michael Creed spoke with representatives of the fishing sector yesterday (Friday 20 March) to discuss next steps amid the challenged of the Covid-19 outbreak.

As reported on by Lorna Siggins yesterday, fears have been growing that Ireland’s fishing fleet could be forced to tie up in port, following the virtual disappearance of their primary European markets as the continent goes into lockdown.

Already, the Irish Examiner reports that one fish processor, the Castletownbere Fishermen’s Co-Operative, has closed for the coming week but could remain shut for up to three months.

Minister Creed said his videoconference with fishing representatives was “constructive”.

“It is very clear that, as with many other sectors, the fisheries sector is facing very difficult times as its traditional markets both in Asia and now in Europe have been effectively closed.

“The bad weather earlier in the year has resulted in lower than normal catches and therefore both the crew and vessel owners were already in a disadvantaged position.”

All parties discussed the possible options available to the sector, with a focus on redirecting supply of whitefish normally sold in Europe to Irish fish counters and consumers and “keeping food on the tables of our citizens, keeping those in the sector in their jobs and sustaining, where possible, economic activity in the sector”, the minister added.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara has been asked to work with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the industry to provide practical support for the necessary changes.

The minister has also written to EU fisheries commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius seeking changes in EU regulation that would allow for temporary frozen storage and support the sector during this crisis, and to consider providing EU aid to the Irish fleet to cease fishing on a temporary basis.

In the meantime, the department says normal service is continuing at the six State-owned Fishery Harbour Centres at Castletownbere, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs, Dingle and Rossaveal.

“It was clear to me that the fishing sector shares the concerns of every citizen and is committed to mitigating the health risk for all including sectoral workers,” said Minister Creed. “I appreciate that as food suppliers they have a special role and are committed to doing their part during these difficult times.

“The Government is fully appreciative of this considerable effort and I will provide necessary supports to the sector over the coming period.”

Tagged under

It's nice to be out there with the wind and the waves and as one letter writer to the Irish Times mentioned when he spotted boats sailing on Dublin Bay this week - 'what a way to isolate!' 

We think the same here at Afloat but even sailing isn't free of social distancing guidelines and as we have seen, unfortunately, largely because of shoreside issues, the bulk of sailing events around the world have now been cancelled. It is important to recognise the significant impact that the current Coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis is having on sailing clubs across Ireland.

Right now there are other priorities of the most serious nature but it's worth mentioning - for sailing's sake - that this Coronavirus is wrecking the 2020 sailing fixture list and much more besides.

It's important for the club network that we salvage as much as we can.

Other sports, such as golf, are finding ways of keeping play going.

We have plenty of unpopulated open water (for example look at this live webcam of Dublin Bay). We have plenty of boats and with today's Spring Equinox (the earliest in 124 years) hundreds of boaters itching to go afloat.

While areas within clubhouses may not be available due to the need for social distancing, the sport remains open and accessible. The lift in of the country's biggest fleet of yachts on Dublin Bay is on track for April. Marinas are open.

Club membership plus supporting the cluster of Irish marine services around the coast has never been more important. 

Yacht Club members and sailors and boaters, in general, can still go afloat and enjoy their sailing while staying within the guidelines issued by the Health Service Executive in the Republic of Ireland and Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. A link to the HSE guidelines is here.

Irish Sailing stated for good reason last week 'For double handers and/or keelboats requiring two or more crew, it is not possible [to sail]. Even for organised activities involving single-handers requiring safety cover (with two people in the safety boat), it is not achievable". We know this and we also know it is not possible to observe social distancing on crewed racing yachts but can anything afloat be achieved safely while also maintaining social distancing?

Nobody knows when our ‘VBF’ from China will go away but on the basis that Hong Kong is back sailing again as Cork sailmaker Barry Hayes of UK Sailmakers Ireland told Afloat so positively here, it does seem reasonable to conclude we could be back in business at some stage this summer after a delayed start? 

So, as organisers prepare to launch the season, is there a way to support them in order to go afloat safely without abandoning the ship, as it were? 

Can there be any activity that rigorously upholds the social distancing guidelines, keeps everyone safe and avoids groups of people in prolonged contact?

If there's no appetite in the cruiser classes for multiple trapeze wires in order to keep crew the required distance apart on the rail, as one reader jokingly told us this week, what else can we do? There has to be more to our fantastic sport than an eSailing National Championships?

Already, North Sails sailmaker Prof O'Connell is reporting a number of clients are changing the way they plan to go sailing: "there's some interest from yacht owners in re-tasking their race boats into family day-sailers to get the family out on the water, conversion of bolt rope race mainsails into luff slid cruising sails, the addition of furler/furling headsails for family cruising.

A quick brainstorm also came up with the following ideas: 

  • Solo keelboat races with white sails/reduced sail?
  • Solo dinghy races with white sails?
  • Family/household crewed races (eg can people living in the same household sail on the same boat?)
  • Family/household day cruising?
  • Virtual marks/starts to avoid contact among race officials?
  • Can yacht clubs offer RIB rentals to families/households to get them out for a blast - with full disinfectant wash-down afterwards?
  • Swap changing rooms for open-air dinghy park changing?

Wishful thinking? It may well be but getting out on the water is good for both our physical and mental health. We only need two boats to start an informal race or one boat for a day sail. So at Afloat, we're keen to hear any ideas as to how sailing can keep going. But above all else, any suggestion first needs to ensure it is well within social and physical distancing guidelines. Email our editor here.

UPDATE: Government measures introduced at midnight on Friday, March 27 2020 prohibited the personal use of vessels for leisure purposes

Published in Your Say
Tagged under

The RNLI is urging anyone planning a visit to the coast to stay safe and not take any unnecessary risks.

Given the current Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and Ireland and the importance of social distancing and avoiding non-essential contact with others, coastal areas may be seen as providing an opportunity to enjoy fresh air and exercise while adhering to government guidance.

However, our coastal areas can also present dangers of their own. The RNLI is asking people to ensure they follow essential water safety advice.

Please take the time to take note of signage at the entrances of beaches advising of the local hazards, check tide times to avoid being cut off and to check weather conditions before setting out as these can change quickly.

If you see someone in difficulty, or you get into difficulty yourself, please call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Gareth Morrison, RNLI’s head of water safety, said: “Our beaches and coastal areas may see an increase in visitors in the days and weeks to come, so we’re urging everyone to follow our advice and stay safe.

“Whether you’re fishing, surfing, kayaking, sailing or just going for a walk, we’re asking people to be extra responsible and to avoid taking unnecessary risks to themselves and others which could put unnecessary pressure on front line services.”

The RNLI advises coastal visitors to:

  • take care if walking near cliffs — know your route;
  • check tide times daily;
  • if going afloat, carry a means for calling for help and always wear a lifejacket;
  • check your equipment is in good working order; and
  • be aware of the conditions and your capabilities and only enter the water if it is safe to do so.

“During these unprecedented times, we have taken steps to close our lifeboat stations and shops to the public. However RNLI lifeboats and stations remain fully operational and we will still launch to those in peril on the sea,” Morrison added.

“As with all public places we’d encourage people to follow guidelines provided by the government to maintain a two-metre distance, follow good hygiene practices and avoid mass gatherings.”

More safety advice can be found at

Tagged under

In light of the coronavirus situation effecting Ireland, got in touch with Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers Ireland, who has lived in three continents, to share his experience in Asia and what’s going on with Covid-19 in Hong Kong’s sailing community.

Barry says: “Having lived in HK for so long, I can tell you they have vast experience with viruses! For example, HK has had influenza, swine flu and the SARS virus. They hit very hard in HK and the people responded to it.

“Yes, clubs closed and people lost jobs. Racing stopped for a short time. It returned and they recovered quickly.

This year, Covid-19 really hit home in Hong Kong around Chinese New Year festivities on 24 January. “When HK started to go into lockdown schools were closed, and still are. From there all racing was stopped and the clubs closed.

“But this time the HK government felt it was better to keep the clubs going and get people out sailing. So they didn’t let the clubs stay closed for long — pushing them to reopen as soon as a low in the virus came so people got out and got active in the sun.

Racing in Kowloon Bay at St James’ Place Ladies Helm Day on 8 March (Photo: RHKYC/Guy Nowell)Racing in Kowloon Bay at St James’ Place Ladies Helm Day on 8 March | Photo: RHKYC/Guy Nowell

The upside of this, Barry says, is that “there is light at the end of the tunnel”.

“Last weekend HK returned to full racing. Just eight weeks after the virus hit the hardest. They held the Hong Kong IRC Nationals on 14-15 March.

“This virus will affect us but we will rebound. I am sure, having lived in both countries, we need to work super hard to reduce the contact between humans as much as we can. And Ireland seems to be working hard on doing this.

“I know in the short term it seems impossible, but I can tell you from experience we will be back racing with a delayed season.

One of the boats sailing in last week’s HK IRC nationals was Nick Southward’s modified J109, Whiskey Jack.

Whiskey Jack on day 3 of the Hong Kong IRC Nationals (Photo: ABC/Takumi Furuichi)Whiskey Jack on day 3 of the Hong Kong IRC Nationals | Photo: ABC/Takumi Furuichi

Nick, of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and who will be chartering Imp for Cork Week, said that with border restrictions imposed early on, the infection rate in HK has been very slow.

“The threat now appears to be infections from people flooding back into HK from Europe and the US, but there is now a travel restriction in place and all who arrive have to go into a compulsory fourteen day quarantine at home. This monitored by a smart bracelet, an app and the police to ensure enforcement.”

Beyond that, Alex Johnson, manager of HK’s Aberdeen Yacht Club, reports that life is “sort of normal, but restricted in terms of what you can do”.

“The population is also very clued-up after SARS which really has helped to combat the virus. Everyone wears face masks, liberally uses hand sanitiser and luckily the toilet roll supply is now constant!

“HK is not out of the woods yet but the infection rate on the mainland has dropped dramatically so everyone is hopeful.”  

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

Fishermen based on the South and West Coasts have been advised to pause fishing from this weekend until measures are put in place to protect the industry, after its main market collapsed due to European lockdowns against Covid-19.

RTÉ News reports from Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre, where concerns are widespread among the fishing fleet and seafood producers such as the local co-op — which normally sells 100% of its prawn catch to Italy, where the restaurant trade has been closed.

Important markets in Spain and France have also dried up as extraordinary social measures are put in place to control the spread of the virus.

And prices have plummeted, with John Nolan of the Castletownbere Co-Op saying white pollock, which normally sells for €3.50 to €4 per kilo, is now trading in the UK at a mere 40p sterling.

“It wouldn’t pay for the diesel for the boat to go fishing,” he said.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under
Page 9 of 12

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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