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Always Think Water Safety Says Dublin Port Harbourmaster, Capt Michael McKenna

23rd July 2021
Dublin Port harbourmaster Capt Michael McKenna
Dublin Port harbourmaster Capt Michael McKenna

“Get your bearings — always think water safety”. That’s what Dublin Port harbourmaster Capt Michael McKenna is urging sailors, anglers, kayakers, windsurfers, kitesurfers, paddleboarders, swimmers and jetski users to remember on the lower reaches of the Liffey and out into Dublin Bay.

Actor and comedian Darren Conway has been enlisted for the port’s water safety campaign, which coincides with UN World Drowning Prevention Day this weekend.

In an interview with Wavelengths, Capt McKenna explains how it came about, and welcomes the increase in and activity on the water in recent months.

The campaign outlines eight steps (listed below) for water users to remember, starting with planning a voyage and checking weather, wind, and tides.

Dublin Port's new water safety flyerDublin Port's new water safety flyer

Dublin Port is handling up to 50 ship movements a day, and so Capt Mc Kenna urges craft seeking to cross shipping channels to call up the port’s vessel traffic system (VTS) on VHF channel 12.

VTS can advise the leisure craft as to when it is safe to cross the channel – and can also advise ships arriving and leaving to look out for smaller craft, he explains.

The benefits are two-fold. Kayaks and small white yachts or paddleboarders on a breezy day can be difficult to spot, he says.

“And the person on a smaller leisure craft has a much shorter horizon,” he explains.

If in a kayak or on a board, “you can’t yet see the ship coming over the horizon and it might be on top of you in six minutes,” he says.

“Please don’t be shy to call – VTS will be delighted with the call,” he says.

Compact VHF radios in waterproof pouches are a good investment for smaller craft users, he says.

Capt McKenna also reminds people in recreational craft to wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) at all times.

The PFD is no use in the boot of a car, he says, and he appeals to crew on larger yachts to remember this too.

“Isn’t it great to see so many people out on the water,” he adds.

You can listen to him on Wavelengths below

Dublin Port’s eight safety steps, which apply to anyone on the water right around the coastline, are:

  1. Plan your voyage: check the wind, weather and tide.
  2. Tell someone where you are going and your time of arrival/return.
  3. Wear a personal flotation device.
  4. Ensure your safety equipment is working, including VHF radio for boat users.
  5. Familiarise yourself with the location of the shipping lanes in Dublin Port.
  6. Keep a sharp lookout for other boats by sight and by sound, and radar if you have one.
  7. Call VTS on VHF Channel 12 to get traffic updates and permission to cross the shipping channel, or traffic routing schemes, at Dublin Port.
  8. In an emergency, call the Coast Guard on VHF Ch 16 or phone 112.

More information is on dublinport.ie

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...

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