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The “Drogheda Sail Training Bursary” was once again highlighted at the Annual Sail Training Ireland Awards Ceremony last week in the Mansion House. The CEO of Sail Training Ireland, Mr. Darragh Sheridan acknowledged the Drogheda bursary scheme as the first of its kind back in 2013, encouraging many other port towns and cities to follow suit. Fast forward seven years and there are 8 of these local bursary schemes operating throughout Ireland in association with the national charity, Sail Training Ireland.

It is true to say pre-2013 Maritime facilities for such opportunities as this in Drogheda were non-existent, so the Drogheda Port Company set out to change that through Sail Training. Since then 140 local teens have been gutsy enough to experience this influential sailing experience that often has a profoundly positive effect on their outlook on life and career choices. Some trainees have progressed to longer voyages on bigger tall ships, while others are now sitting on the Sail Training Ireland Youth Council and even pursuing maritime careers in the Navy. These developments are a testament of how much this Drogheda Sail Training youth development program has grown since its maiden voyage back in 2013.

At last week’s Awards Ceremony, local students, Erin Englishby of Colaiste na Hinse, Bettystown and Ronan Collins of St. Joseph’s C.B.S, Drogheda were both presented with the Perpetual Trophy for ‘Outstanding Trainee’ on their respective voyages in June 2019. Their vessel Captain, Mr. Peter Scallan who presented these awards, described these trainees as valuable, committed leaders who enriched the experience of all onboard. Both students are keen to continue sailing and are hopeful of upskilling on progression voyages later this year.

The continued support of the bursary sponsors is the key driver of this initiative; Irish Cement, Fast Terminals, Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company make this possible.

Published in Tall Ships
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Tall Ships and Sail Training? Everyone will immediately think of stately clipper-bowed cathedrals of sail making their elegant and timeless way across the high seas, driven along under acres of square-sailed cloth, spreading the gospel of international fellowship and the benefits of sail training.

But the many training associations worldwide have to live in the real world. Much as they all like to have their international Parades of Sail dominated by such magnificent Tall Ships, they know that many sail training vessels are much more modest craft. So for their inter-port races, the fleet is divided into classes which – at the lower limit - include smaller fore-and-aft rigged cruiser-racers which can qualify simply by being of reasonable size and carrying the minimum required proportion of trainees in the crew.

Yet as far as the general public is concerned, it’s still a Tall Ships Race. And one of the most spectacular staged in Irish waters was back in 1991, when a huge fleet raced from Cork to Belfast, with our own late lamented Asgard II – skippered by Captain Tom McCarthy – as flagship.

It was months – indeed years – in the planning, and during that time a young Northern Ireland sailor, Adrian “Stu” Spence, was pleased to find that his 1910-built gaff yawl Vilia was big enough to qualify, as her hull was 37ft in length when the lower limit was 35ft, while by adding in the bowsprit and the mizzen boom, she clocked in at 45ft.

vilia 1991 crew2Peter & Gary Lyons and Stu Spence aboard Vilia for the Cork-Belfast Tall Ships Race 1991
Thus Vilia qualified comfortably, and with his old friend Peter Lyons as First Mate and Peter’s son Gary as one of the trainees, Vilia made her way to Cork from Portaferry and raced back to Belfast in style, finishing with many bigger boats astern.

Since then, Stu Spence has become internationally known as the long-time owner of the former pilot cutter Madcap, which was built in 1874, but her great age didn’t hold him back from some remarkable voyages. And as it was that early experience with Vilia in 1991 which led on to these achievements, it is now time and more to remember a special boat and that Tall Ships race of nearly thirty years ago.

madcap 1998 greenland3Stu Spence’s 1874-built former pilot cutter Madcap in Greenland in 1998. Photo: Frank Sadlier
Stu and Peter have put together a show about it all, and it’s being presented as part of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association Winter Programme at Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club on Thursday January 23rd at 8.00pm. Admission is free, but there’s a €5 donation for the Howth Lifeboat.

It promises to be something which will brighten away those dark January blues, and we may even learn a bit more about Vilia. She was built as a gaff sloop by the renowned Belfast back-street boatbuilder Paddy McKeown to the designs of Vincent Craig, who was himself an interesting bit of work.

A keen sailor who was an architect noted for such buildings as the original Belfast Boat Club (no longer in existence, alas) and the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, he was a younger brother of James Craig (himself a keen sailor in his younger days) who later became Lord Craigavon, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1921.

belfast boat clubBelfast Boat Club
ruyc clubhouse5The Royal Ulster YC clubhouse of 1899 was another Vincent Craig creation
Vincent didn’t share his brother’s all-or-nothing approach to the developing political situation in Ireland, so around 1912 he took early retirement and went to live in the south of England. However, talk of “early retirement” was only a politeness, as he and his six siblings were extremely rich, thanks to their father’s enormous success as a whiskey distiller. As Vincent’s obituary in 1925 in the Irish Builder delicately put it, “he was never obliged to engage in the rough and tumble of professional practice, or to trouble about business, as he had ample private means”.

Yet his buildings were interesting, while Vilia was almost embarrassingly fast despite being rated as a cruiser. Nevertheless, it’s a reminder that in those heady days of sailing expansion in Ireland as the 1800s became the 1900s, much of it seemed to be funded by a profitable sea of booze, driven along by a wind filled with equally profitable tobacco smoke, all of which looks decidedly murky from health-obsessed 2020.

So you can say what you like about Tommy Lipton and his America’s Cup mania, but at least he made his money out of tea…

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The traditional Tall Ship sailing vessel "Eye of the Wind" will reach Dublin Port within the next few days.

The "Eye of the Wind" is 109 years old, sails under UK flag, and is considered to be a "sailing legend" in the maritime world.

The arrival is scheduled for September 20. The exact ship's route can be tracked here

In the past, she used to be the flagship of a scientific expedition under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales and featured in several Hollywood movie productions.

Published in Tall Ships
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The Tall Ship Pelican of London evoked memories of days gone by alongside at the Port of Cork quays on the River Lee last night writes Bob Bateman.

The part clipper, part pirate ship was back in Cork Harbour a fortnight after her previous visit to the Tall Ship Sail Training Armada & Awards Presentation.

Based in Bristol, the 45-metre Pelican is a three-masted Barquentine that sails throughout the summer on voyages from the UK to European harbours including maritime festivals, historic ports and competing in Tall Ships Races. 

One such voyage is currently advertised on the ship's Facebook page: a trip from Cork to Santander at €500 from 6th to 12th September.

Pelican of LondonPelican of London Photo: Bob Bateman 

Published in Tall Ships
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Dublin Port Company and the Mexican Embassy in Dublin have announced that one of the world’s largest Tall Ships, the 270-foot-long Cuauhtémoc will sail into Dublin on Thursday, 5th September 2019 for a five-day visit to the capital before departing again on 10th September 2019.

The majestic vessel will be met by Dublin Port’s tugboats Shackleton and Beaufort in a ceremonial escort to mark the ship’s arrival in Dublin Bay next Thursday, accompanying her to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay where she is due to berth at 11am.

Arriving from Hamburg, Dublin is the second-last stop on the ship’s 250-day training voyage of Northern Europe involving visits to 15 ports in 10 different countries (Canada, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Colombia).

Led by Commanding Officer Captain Carlos Gorraez Meraz, the Cuauhtémoc is an official sail training vessel of the Mexican Navy which travels around the world carrying a message of friendship and goodwill. This will be the Cuauhtémoc’s fifth visit to Irish waters since her maiden call in 1998. She subsequently visited the capital in 2008, in 2012 as part of the Tall Ships festival and again in 2015.

In keeping with the tradition of hospitality and friendship, the Cuauhtémoc will be open to the general public to visit, for free, on the following dates and times:

  • Friday, 6th September, from 11.00am to 8.00pm
  • Saturday 7th September, from 11.00am to 8.00pm
  • Sunday 8th September, from 11.00am to 8.00pm
  • Monday 9th September, from 11.00am to 8.00pm

Members of the public will be able to see up close members of the 257-strong crew at work and inspect the fine craftsmanship of the vessel which has trained more than thirty generations of officers, cadets, petty officers and sailors, both Mexican and other nationalities.

Commenting ahead of the tall ship’s visit, The Ambassador of Mexico to Ireland, H.E. Miguel Malfavón said; “For over 40 years, Mexico has enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations with Ireland built on a shared sense of history and strengthening cultural, academic and trading ties in the present day. The arrival of the Cuauhtémoc reminds us of the affinity and friendship that exists between our two nations and symbolises the hand of friendship from Mexico to Ireland. For most of the crew on board, it will be their first visit to Ireland, marking a new generation of Mexican-Irish exchange.”

Encouraging members of the public to visit over the weekend, Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, said; “Tall Ship visits to Dublin are always a highlight, and the Cuauhtémoc is no exception. This is a spectacular vessel and one of the finest working tall ships at sea today. I would encourage people in the city to take a trip down to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay and explore the Cuauhtémoc over the weekend. She brings a little piece of Mexico to our doorstep and it’s an opportunity not to be missed.”

Built in the Celaya shipyards in Bilbao, Spain, the Cuauhtémoc was launched in July 1982. She was the last of four windjammers built by Bilbao shipyards and is named after the last Aztec Emperor who was imprisoned and executed by the conquistador, Hernán Cortés, in 1525.

Published in Dublin Port
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Lord Mayor John Sheehan, County Mayor Christopher O’Sullivan, and Brendan Keating, CEO, Port of Cork today welcomed the Irish vessel Brian Boru and the Tall Ships Pelican of London and Maybe into the Port of Cork. The three ships having completed voyages as part of the Cork Sail Training Bursary Scheme 2019 included 50 young people onboard as trainees.

A presentation ceremony also took place in the Port of Cork to celebrate the achievement of 25 young people from all backgrounds and a range of abilities across Cork City and County who completed voyages aboard the Irish vessel Brian Boru and the Tall Ship Pelican of London during the 2019 season. These voyages were made possible by a group of generous sponsors including Port of Cork, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Ardmore Shipping, and The Institute of Master Mariners.

Five trainees from the City and County crewed the Pelican on voyages from Belfast to Liverpool and on to Dublin. These trainees formed part of groups with up to 28 trainees and mentors on each voyage, which were part-funded using EU “Erasmus +” funding and involved active educational programmes of youth sailing development as part of “Youth Exchange” projects.

In addition, eight Cork-based young people took part on the Asgard Armada voyages aboard Pelican and Maybe sailing in convoy with Brian Boru and arriving alongside in Cork today.

The Cork Sail Training Bursary Scheme was established in 2014 to provide access to Sail Training voyages on tall ships and large sailing vessels for young people from the region. Now in its sixth year, the scheme is one of the largest and most active on the Island of Ireland and runs in parallel with similar schemes now in operation under Sail Training Ireland in Belfast, Drogheda, Dublin, Waterford, Derry and Arklow. The participants are nominated through a network of youth and community groups in Cork and places are available to young people from all backgrounds and with all abilities. The scheme has supported approximately 140 trainees since 2014 and looks likely to grow from strength to strength over the coming years.

“It’s fantastic to see the impact these sail training voyages can have on the young participants. It can lead to a real transformation and in such a short period of time” Daragh Sheridan, Sail Training Ireland. 

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Brendan Keating Chief Executive of the Port of Cork said: ‘We are proud to support these sail training voyages which give young adults an opportunity which some have described as life-changing. Not only do they learn how to sail and skipper these fantastic vessels, they are taught personal development and become better equipped to deal with challenges, not just at sea but later in their everyday lives. Well done to all the sail trainees this year.’

The certificates were presented to trainees by Lord Mayor of Cork City John Sheehan and County Mayor Christopher O’Sullivan.

Published in Tall Ships
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Today, 50 young people from all over Ireland head off on a ten-day voyage aboard three Tall Ships, the Pelican of London, Maybe and Brian Boru. The participants were offered the amazing opportunity to become trainees on a tall ship to experience an exciting voyage leaving Dublin, visiting Wales and finishing up in Cork on the 23rd August 2019. This opportunity was made possible by funding support from the Government of Ireland through the Department of Defence, Dublin City Council and Dublin Port Company.

This is the inaugural Asgard Armada Sail Training Voyage. The project will see twenty-eight 15-17-year olds and twenty-two 18-30-year-olds from all backgrounds and abilities becoming trainee crew members aboard the ships. Skills such as communication, leadership, confidence and teamwork are all developed when onboard a sail training vessel. A key aim is to see a percentage of trainees progressing onto mentoring roles, new employment and other training opportunities.

Trainees were selected by nominating organisations currently working with young people throughout the country, such as the HSE, Cork Life Centre, Educational Training Boards, Manor St John Youth Services, Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed, Foroige, Peter McVerry Trust, Youth Reach, Scouts and Girl Guides.

“We are delighted that this project involves the three ships sailing in convoy, which adds to the adventure for trainees. It is fantastic to provide this opportunity to young people who may not otherwise have had a chance like this” Daragh Sheridan, CEO of Sail Training Ireland.

Published in Tall Ships
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Tall ships are the ultimate symbols of seafaring romance, inspiring enthusiasm in maritime fans of all ages. Four of these majestic ships will come to Hamburg for the 830th Hamburg Port Anniversary from 10 to 12 May – Alexander von Humboldt II, Kruzenshtern, Sedov and Mir. They will participate in the grand arrival and departure parades in the heart of the city, on the Friday and Sunday respectively, and invite visitors to look around on board. Alongside these amazing tall ships, the Hamburg Port Anniversary will be a meeting place for some 300 vessels of all kinds, including many classic sailing vessels that will also be open to visitors.

Germany’s first female captain on a tall ship

The Alexander von Humboldt II is currently Germany’s largest operational sail training ship, with length overall 66 metres. She is a three-masted barque, launched in Bremen in 2011 as the successor to Alexander von Humboldt, and belongs to the non-profit foundation Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training. She has a regular crew of 25, and provides places for up to 55 trainees, who pay for the trip and to learn the fundamental skills of sailing. All of them, from trainees to helmsman, will be under the command of Maren Reif, Germany’s first female captain of a tall ship.

Maren Reif was a trainee on the Alexander von Humboldt for the first time in 2003. That was a life-changing experience for her – “the trip from Travemünde through the Bay of Biscay to Lisbon was so exciting that I then decided to give up my job as a communication designer and took up nautical studies,” she explains. After completing her studies, Maren Reif joined a Hamburg shipping company, obtained her sea captain’s licence, and works as a maritime inspector today.

The regular crew is made up of volunteers

Ever since qualifying as an ordinary seaman in 2004, Maren Reif has been a regular crew member on the tall ship, and since 2011 she continued on the successor vessel Alexander von Humboldt II, gaining experience in almost every position up to that of captain. “In sailing it is not so much a question of the destination, but rather the way to get there, and cooperation among the crew,” she explains. The regular crew members on the Alexander von Humboldt II do not get paid. “All of us in the regular crew are volunteers, and work for our passage. Most of us even take holidays to enable us to work on board.”

Maren Reif has chosen Hamburg as her home, and is specially pleased to come to her first Hamburg Port Anniversary as Captain of the Alexander von Humboldt II – “It is a great feeling to be part of this fantastic event, and to welcome so many interested visitors on board. It makes you aware of the close links between the people of Hamburg and their port. And it is a good opportunity to show my family, friends and colleagues around the ship. This is practically my second home,” says Maren Reif. Her personal programme highlight at the world’s greatest port festival is the tugboat ballet. “From our berth, we have a full view of the dancing tug boats. That’s really spectacular. And I’m looking forward to my first Captains Dinner on board the Rickmer Rickmers.”

The most beautiful tall ship – Kruzenshtern

Alongside Alexander von Humboldt II, three Russian tall ships will be present at the HAMBURG PORT ANNIVERSARY. Kruzenshtern is the last of the Flying-P liners of the Hamburg company F. Laeisz still in operation. She is regarded as the world’s most beautiful tall ship, with her characteristic black-and-white hull markings. This four-masted barque was launched in Bremerhaven in 1926 as Padua, and carried cargoes to South America and Australia. After the Second World War, she was surrendered to the USSR as war reparation, and renamed Kruzenshtern. Today the 114-metre traditional sailing ship is used by the Russian Ministry of Fisheries to train crews for the fishing fleet.

The longest tall ship – Sedov

With length overall 117 metres, Sedov is the world’s longest traditional sailing ship still in operation. This four-masted barque was launched at the Krupp-Germania shipyard in Kiel in 1921, under the name Magdalene Vinnen II. At the end of 1945 she was likewise surrendered to the USSR as reparation, and has been in service with the Soviet and subsequently the Russian Navy as a sail training ship for cadets. Since 2017 she has been owned by the Kaliningrad State Technical University. In 2005 Sedov was used for a major TV drama “The Loss of the Pamir”. Her white bow was painted black specially for the film.

The biggest tall ship – Mir

Mir earned her reputation as the world’s fastest tall ship in numerous tall ship races, particularly in the 1990s. The 108-metre three-masted, full-rigged ship was built at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk in 1987. She is owned by the Admiral Makarow State Maritime Academy in Saint Petersburg, which operates Mir as its main sail training vessel for the Russian merchant navy. Mir has for many years been a regular guest at the world’s greatest port festival.

Published in Tall Ships
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Last Saturday, (2nd February) Sail Training Ireland held their Annual Awards event at the Mansion House in Dublin. The annual awards, as reported by Afloat.ie here recognise excellence, achievement and outstanding contribution in the sailing community at all levels. The Drogheda Sail Training Bursary has been a central element in the award ceremony for a number of years and two special recognition awards are made to Drogheda Trainees who participate in the local scheme. 

Two specially commissioned perpetual trophies are awarded each year at the prestigious award ceremony. Mayor of Drogheda, Frank Godfrey and the Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring were in attendance among other regional and national dignitaries to mark the occasion.

The 2018 trainees included young people from residential care homes, Garda Diversion Projects, Sea Scouts, Youth and Community groups and Schools, drug rehabilitation programmes, asylum seekers and immigrants and young people with visual, hearing and physical impairments from across the island of Ireland.

Two award recipients were Drogheda teens, Shauna Murphy of the Sacred Heart School and Sinead O’Byrne of the Grammar School. Drogheda Mayor Frank Godfrey and Drogheda Port Company Director Ciaran Callan presented the girls with a perpetual trophy each for ‘Outstanding Trainee’ on their respective voyages as part of the 2018 Drogheda Sail Training Bursary. Both of these transition year trainees displayed remarkable resilience and never refused a chance to acquire new skills and gain a greater self-belief.

"Drogheda Sail Training Bursary has funded over 100 local trainees"

Sail Training Ireland’s chairman Seamus Mc Loughlin singled out the ‘Drogheda Sail Training Bursary’ as the very first regional sail training scheme, which since 2013 has funded over 100 local trainees to participate in sail training voyages and bring a positive focus back to the maritime town of Drogheda and its famous River Boyne. Nessa Lally of Drogheda Port thanked the Mayor of Drogheda for his attendance and she emphasised the importance and the strong continued support of the Drogheda bursary sponsors, who are; Irish Cement, Fast Terminals, Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company.

The Drogheda Sail Training Bursary programme for 2019 is now open, voyages are open to 18-23-year-olds from any nominating schools, youth or community groups, diversion projects and others. If you are seeking a life-changing experience and think you could benefit from this wonderful opportunity please get in touch as we are funding 20 trainee places this year.

Published in Drogheda Port
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On Saturday 2nd February 2019, Sail Training Ireland held their 7th Annual Prize Giving and Season Launch event at the Mansion House in Dublin, courtesy of Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring.

As previously reported by Afloat.ie, the event at the Mansion House saw awards presented to trainees, who made an outstanding contribution to their individual voyages and to the charity.

Sail Training Ireland helps young people from all backgrounds and abilities to participate on training and self-development programmes on Tall Ships.

Their work has resulted in two thousand young people going to sea since 2011. In 2018 over 340 trainees went onboard ships from Ireland and across Europe. Minister Paul Kehoe recently announced Government funding for the charity, which will enable it to make the opportunity available to even greater numbers of young people.

"Minister Paul Kehoe recently announced Government funding for the charity"

The 2018 trainees included young people from residential care homes, Garda Diversion Projects, Sea Scouts, Youth and Community groups and Schools, drug rehabilitation programmes, asylum seekers and immigrants and young people with visual, hearing and physical impairments from across Ireland and Northern Ireland. The purpose of the sail training experience is to provide the opportunity for a change in direction, perspective, attitude, and behaviour leading to self-confidence, motivation and new skills acquired.

The highlight of 2019 will be the second running of the North East Inner City (NEIC) sail training project.

The charity is also delighted to be involved once again with “The Voyage” an initiative between the Cities of Dublin, Belfast and Liverpool which, includes voyages between the three cities. The project celebrates the historical, cultural, and maritime links between the cities. These voyages benefit from E.U. Erasmus + funding.

Sail Training Ireland announced a voyage programme for 2019 including several very exciting funded programmes. The regional sail training schemes in Drogheda, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Waterford and, Derry, are well established at this stage and 2019 will see similar schemes starting in Arklow and the Islands. This year will also see 4 wheelchair users go on board the tall ship Lord Nelson as part of the Ability Voyage project. Lord Nelson is a ship built specifically to cater to those with disabilities. Sail Training Ireland was recently a runner up in The National Inclusion Awards in recognition of the 86 trainees with a disability that participated in 2018.

Dublin City Council and Dublin Port Company continue to support the charity and will build on the legacy of Tall Ships Regatta of 2018.

Published in Tall Ships
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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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