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#tallship – The German Embassy in Dublin has announced the arrival of the GORCH FOCK, Tall Ship and Training Vessel of the German Navy. The vessel will pay a visit to Ireland from March 13th to 29th, 2014. It will be berthed at Cobh Cruise Terminal in the Port of Cork.

The crew will be happy to welcome the public for "open ship" events on Sunday, March 16th, and Sunday, March 23rd, from 2 – 5 p.m.

All are welcome, admission is free, no prior registration is required.


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#astrid – The Dutch Tall Ship Astrid that ran aground two months ago has been successfully recovered off the Cork coast today. Using specialist lifting equipment brought in from England, the 100– foot steel hull, now safely atop a massive barge, is remarkably intact as the pictures below, taken by Erskine Tanner at Kinsale harbour, show. 

News of the salvage before the arrival of any autumn gales has been warmly greeted. The lift brings an end to the saga for all involved during the rescue of those on board, during her protection while she was on the rocks and in her salvage this week.

A Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report is being prepared into the accident.

The 95-year-old vessel ran aground on to  Rocks off Kinsale two months ago during a photocall for the Irish Sailing Association Gathering Cruise promotion, prompting dramatic scenes as 30 people were rescued from rough seas. The vessel has been resting on the rocks since the grounding on July 24th.

The vessel hit rocks inside the Sovereign Islands at Ballymacus Point, near Kinsale.

The training ship had lost power and was apparently driven on to rocks by a strong southerly wind at the western entrance to Kinsale Harbour. The grounded vessel quickly took on water and these pictures show where the steel hull was holed.


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#tallships – Ireland's largest sail training vessel, the 70 foot schooner "Spirit of Oysterhaven", has recently completed her crossing of Biscay to Spain with a crew of seven under skipper Tom O'Leary. An intense high pressure system delivered 15 to 20 knots for the start of the voyage before dying to a windless calm, with Spirit quietly motoring through fields of phosphorescence at night and joined by dolphins on the bow-wave by day. Then by the
time she passed Cape Finisterre of the North West tip of Spain she was running at 9 knots before a force 7.

She is currently making her way down the Portuguese coast prior to rounding the Straits and then heading for Barcelona where she is due to participate in the Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta at the end of September. "This is a very exciting event for us", commented owner Oliver Hart, " as we were invited to participate following our involvement in Dublin Tall Ships in 2012. We still have a few berths available on both voyages, and we are
looking for delivery crew to help us bring Spirit back to Alicante after the event."

The Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta is a chance to join the Spirit of Oysterhaven for an unforgettable cruise in the company of a fleet of Tall Ships from Barcelona in Spain on Sunday 22nd September to Toulon in France and finishing in La Spezia in Italy on Sunday 6th October. 

Published in Tall Ships

#tallship – A salvage operation to remove the wreck of the Tall Ship Astrid from rocks off Kinsale is underway. The operation will involve specialist marine crane equipment brought in from the UK. The 95-year-old vessel ran aground at Rocks off Kinsale last month during a photocall for the Irish Sailing Association Gathering Cruise promotion, prompting dramatic scenes as 30 people were rescued from rough seas. The vessel has been resting on the rocks since the grounding on July 24th.

The operation is expected to take between one and two weeks, depending on weather conditions. A lifting barge and crane are due on site over the next couple of days.

Divers with the company have already completed a survey of the wreck and submitted a report to Coastguard officials on Monday.

For a month after the accident Astrid made a sad picture, still trapped on rocks, her beautiful sails torn and ripped by the sea but amazingly her rig still intact.

The vessel, which was built in 1918 and operated as a cargo ship until 1975, was on a 14-day voyage as part of an EU Youth in Action programme sailing from Southampton to Cherbourg via Kinsale. The Astrid departed Oysterhaven for Kinsale but lost power during a photocall with seven crew and 23 trainees on board.

For more on Astrid's sinking click Afloat's Tall Ship news section.

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#Astrid - Items thought to have been stolen from the wreck of the tall ship Astrid near Kinsale have been surprisingly recovered from the vessel this week.

As previously reported on, the ship's bell and compass were listed among items believed by owner Pieter De Kam to have been stolen in a night-time raid on the stricken sail training vessel around Friday 26 July.

That was just days after the brig struck rocks near the Sovereign Islands, prompting the rescue of all 30 crew on board.

But according to, no report of theft was ever made to gardaí - and a group of divers solved the mystery once and for all two days ago when they recovered the ship's bell, compass and wooden wheel. has more on the story HERE.

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#tallships – Another great day for The Tall Ships Races 2012 and Dubliner sailor Holly Byrne Scoops prestigious Award ahead of 7,000 international sail trainees

More than 200,000 people arrived in Dublin city yesterday as it came alive with a spectacular festival to herald the arrival of 40 splendid Tall Ships to the capital as the Tall Ships Races 2012 commenced.

Day two saw the Tall Ship's Crew Parade take place along the North side of the Quays with thousands of people gathering to see 1,800 crew members from 15 countries around the world parading up the quays to the Custom House where an international sailing award ceremony took place. A total of 28 awards were presented with the most anticipated awards being; The Torbay Cup, The Sail Training International Friendship Cup and the winning ship of the overall Tall Ships Race 2012. (for full list see grid in notes)

Dubliner Holly Byrne won the prestigious Sail Training International Torbay Cup, beating off stiff competition from 7,000 traineesover 30 countries around the world.

The Torbay Cup

The Torbay Cup was established by Torbay, UK (the first port to host a Tall Ships Race) and is presented to a trainee for outstanding individualachievement and personal effort. Holly was nominated by her captain on the Stavros S. Niarchos, Liam Kelly (Irish) for her extraordinary effort. Holly was a trainee on the Asguard II 4 years ago and has overcome the experience of the ship sinking to board the Stavros and share her story with the crew. Every Captain from each ship on the various legs of The Tall Ships Races 2012 was invited to nominate a trainee who has taken part in The Tall Ships Races 2012, Holly was chosen as the overall winner by theinternational judging panel.

The Sail Training International Friendship Trophy

St IV won the principal award at the end of each race series, the Sail Training International Friendship Trophy. This trophy epitomises the objective of the races and is awarded to the vessel which, in the opinion of the entire racefleet through a secret ballot, has done most to help further international understanding and friendship during the races.

The Fryderyk Chopin won the overall Tall Ships Races  based on corrected times.

The TallShips Races 2012-Dublin which will run until Sunday afternoon will see The Minutes, Ryan Sheridan, Ash and Mark Geary take to the stage at the Bulmers Live Music Dock today while Hanover Quay will be awash with skateboarding, BMX stunts, street art and parkour as the adrenaline-fulled Kings of Concrete kicked off. Grand Canal Square will offer an epic adventure for all the family with an instant sea orchestra, comedy acrobatics, a wooden family games area, underwater themed interactive installations and music. The Waterways Ireland Visitor centre played host to puppet shows, model boat building workshops and a duck race. Grand Canal Dock hosted and incredible water experience. Well-known Dublin author Peter Sheridan will host a reading at Festival Hub at CHQ  and Turtle Bunbury hosted a reading on the MV Cadhla Barge. When dusk settled on the city the floating cinema commenced and an animated historical tour of the city took place.

Class prizes for the race from La Coruna to Dublin donated by the host ports of Saint-Malo, Lisbon, Cadiz, La Coruna and Dublin.

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#OLYMPICS 2012 - The RNLI will play a "key role" during the Olympic torch relay ahead of the London games this summer, as Yachting and Boating World reports.

On 28 May the Olympic torch is set to visit Anglesey in north Wales, when it is taken along the Menai Strait on board the RNLI's Annette Mary Liddington.

The torch will again be carried by RNLI volunteers on 18 July when it is ferried to shore from a tall ship in Dover harbour aboard the all-weather lifeboat City of London II.

Dover RNLI's operations manager Roy Couzens said: “We are very much looking forward to being involved on the day – and believe me, when that torch is at sea in our lifeboat, it couldn’t be in safer hands!”

The Olympic torch relay begins in Plymouth on 19 May and finishes at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July. Its two-month-long journey will take it throughout Britain and Northern Ireland, and includes a visit to Dublin on Wednesday 6 June.

An interactive map of the complete torch relay route is available on the official London 2012 website HERE.

Published in Olympics 2012
#TALL SHIPS - RTÉ News reports that the Celtic Mist is finally in dry dock for refurbishment to begin its new life as a maritime research vessel.
As previously reported on, the 52-foot yacht - which was gifted by the Haughey family to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) to assist in its marine wildlife conservation work - relocated to its new berth at Kilrush, Co Clare in July.
This followed its last jaunt at sea earlier this year, completing a leg of the Tall Ships Races from Waterford to Greenock.
The cost of refurbishing the yacht for research and training purposes is expected to top €60,000, with an annual running cost of some €20,000, for which the IWDG is seeking ongoing financial assistance.
The group aims to get the Celtic Mist back at sea before next summer.

#TALL SHIPS - RTÉ News reports that the Celtic Mist is finally in dry dock for refurbishment to begin its new life as a maritime research vessel.

As previously reported on, the 52-foot yacht - which was gifted by the Haughey family to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) to assist in its marine wildlife conservation work - relocated to its new berth at Kilrush, Co Clare in July.

This followed its last jaunt at sea earlier this year, completing a leg of the Tall Ships Races from Waterford to Greenock.

The cost of refurbishing the yacht for research and training purposes is expected to top €60,000, with an annual running cost of some €20,000, for which the IWDG is seeking ongoing financial assistance.

The group aims to get the Celtic Mist back at sea before next summer.

Published in Tall Ships
As of today (September 24th) the first square rigger newly built in Germany since 1958 is officially named "Alexander von Humboldt II". The building shipyard founder's wife, Brigitte Rönner, christened the barque today at noon in Bremerhaven. Several thousand spectators followed the event and created a festival atmosphere at Neuer Hafen.
"We all are happy to send off "Alexander von Humboldt II" soon for its first major voyage", Willi Schäfer beams with joy. He is project manager for the ship's construction and chairman of the board of Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training (DSST). The charity DSST, owner and operator of "Alex II", will use the ship starting at the end of October to familiarize young people and people young at heart with traditional seamanship. Everybody can participate. The first winter voyage will see the three-masted ship sailing from Bremerhaven to several ports on the European continent, to Madeira and to the sailing area of the Canary Islands. The new year will see "Alex II" calling the Cape Verde Islands before it will sail to Ireland visiting Portugal on the way. The barque is expected back in its homeport of Bremerhaven in April 2012.
Diedrich Rickens, chief executive officer of DSST, rejoices about the new ship as well: "The old "Alexander von Humboldt" often did not have enough room to offer a bunk to all those interested in sailing her. The new ship can host a crew of 79, that means 20 people more than before." Rickens adds that "Alex II" fulfils international safety and security standards and is operated according to IMO regulations. That simplifies visits to countries like the USA.
Although a modern ship, "Alex II" offers traditional seafaring experience, says Reimer Peters of the project team: "This three-masted ship is new, but its construction is very traditional." As a proof in point Peters mentions the lowerable yardarms featured as well on the most legendary square riggers like "Passat" or "Gorch Fock". Lowerable yardarms make it possible to set the square sails by lifting up the round poles fixed horizontally to the mast.
Safety aspects are certainly not seen in a traditional way: the most modern equipment like electronic sea maps, satellite telephone and high speed work boats (RIB) are available to the crew in double format. Below deck it is much more comfortable than on an old traditional sailing ship: the crew is sleeping in air-conditioned 4-bunk-compartments with showers attached.
Manfred Hövener, who initiated the reconstruction of a lightship into the proud green square rigger „Alexander von Humboldt" in 1986, is happy about the successor as well: "Naturally I am a bit melancholic about the retirement of our old "Alex", but the new ship gives us so many more possibilities. And the most important thing is," adds DSST pioneer Hövener;" that the charitable cause of the foundation can be continued." He wishes that many more generations learn traditional seamanship on "Alexander von Humboldt II", form friendships and simply enjoy life. Just like it has been for the past 25 years on the old "Alex".
Ownership of „Alexander von Humboldt II", which was built at a price of 15 Mio Euro, will be transferred from the building shipyard BVT Brenn- und Verformtechnik Bremen GmbH to DSST at the beginning of October.
Before setting out for its first big winter voyage, training trips for the voluntary staff crew are on the schedule. Meanwhile, the old "Alex" will be retired by the foundation. Several potential buyers came forward, but for the time being the famous barque with the green sails will remain pier side in Bremerhaven. "We are not time-pressured to sell the old ship. The finance concept for the new build is secured without the sales profit", explains Wolfgang Arlt, chief financial officer of DSST.
By the way: "I would like to thank all those who supported the building of "Alexander von Humboldt II", stresses Willi Schäfer. "Only due to the donations in money and material by donors and sponsors we were able to realize the new build", he points out.

Technical Data Alexander von Humboldt II
Length                          65 meters
width                            10 meters
height main mast          33 meters over water surface
draught                        5 meters
sail area                       1,360 square meters, divided into 24 sails
engine power                550 kW
crew                             79 sailors (among those 25 staff crew)
home port                    Bremerhaven
owner and operator       Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training

Published in Tall Ships
Ireland's newest research vessel Celtic Mist will arrive at Kilrush Creek Marina on 16 July. The yacht was a gift to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) from the Haughey family and was made famous by former Taoiseach Charles Haughey. After completing the leg from Waterford to Greenock, Scotland in the Tall Ships Race, Celtic Mist will sail for Kilrush.

Shannon Development is sponsoring the IWDG by providing a berth for Celtic Mist at Kilrush Creek Marina as the Company sees it as an important asset for West Clare. Shannon Development's Regional Development Manager for Clare Finbarr Brougham said: "We are delighted that IWDG secured Celtic Mist for Kilrush Creek Marina as it will provide a significant focal point of interest in the Marina and should attract a number of visitors to the yacht with the consequent knock on effect to the town of Kilrush. We would like to take the opportunity of wishing the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group every success in relation to the future use of Celtic Mist."


Celtic Mist is heading for Kilrush. Photo: Shay Fennelly

The yacht will be used for research and surveying for whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife in Ireland. It will also be used for training people to carry out marine surveys including the use of acoustic monitoring with towed hydrophones.

IWDG Co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow said: "The marine wildlife around Ireland is superb, with whales, dolphins, seals, seabirds and basking sharks abundant at different locations and times of year. However we still know relatively little about what occurs where and why. Celtic Mist will provide a fantastic platform from which to survey Irish waters and help us learn more about this fantastic resource."

All are welcome to visit Celtic Mist when she arrives in Kilrush on Saturday 16 July. The expected time of arrival is between 1500h and 1600h but it is advisable to check   for confirmation.

As the cost of running a yacht like the Celtic Mist will be a major drain on scarce resources, the IWDG are looking for sponsors to help them fund its operation. Anyone interested can get further information by contacting IWDG at

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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