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Displaying items by tag: Marinas

#marina – The Royal Southern Yacht Club and Royal Air Force Yacht Club have been successful in securing Harbour Works Consent, Planning Permission and a Marine Licence for the development of the proposed Prince Philip Yacht Haven on the River Hamble. Specialist consultancy Marina Projects Limited has been the lead consultant throughout an extensive feasibility, design and consultation process that has been undertaken over the last 18 months.

Mark Inkster, Immediate Past Commodore for the Royal Southern, commented, "A great deal of work has gone into every detail of the application process and Marina Projects has provided a truly superb service, and exceeded our expectations at every stage. We have tried in the past to unlock permission for developing our on-water facilities and failed. A recurring theme of the application process was the recognition of the quality, thoroughness and professionalism of the application documentation particularly by the regulatory authorities including Eastleigh Borough Council, the River Hamble Management Committee and Harbour Board. I am in no doubt that without the capabilities of the Marina Projects team and their in-depth knowledge of the consent regime, this success would not have been possible. We are looking forward to continuing our working relationship with them as we proceed to deliver the approved scheme."

The Prince Philip Yacht Haven is another scheme that highlights Marina Projects' ability to secure consents in a highly sensitive and contentious area. Throughout the process Marina Projects used their specialist knowledge and expertise to successfully navigate through the consenting process, responding to national legislation & policy, dealing with local concerns and paying particular attention to site specific conditions. Key elements of the application included production of a consent strategy and a detailed Navigation Risk Assessment that demonstrated how navigational safety was improved by the scheme. A full package of environmental mitigation was agreed with the relevant authorities prior to submission of the applications.

Mike Ward Project Director at Marina Projects Ltd noted "This really is fantastic news for both clubs and underpins the vital contribution that they make to the river and local economy. The partnership approach adopted by the clubs, their desire to deliver a project with a wide range of benefits and a genuine commitment to an extensive consultation process was vitally important to achieving the consent success.

Development of the consented scheme, designed by Marina Projects will include:

· Capital dredging

· Replacement of a failing quay wall structure

· Construction of a full tidal access slipway

· Development of fully serviced walk ashore pontoons

· A purpose built disabled berth complete with personnel hoist - the first on the Hamble

The Prince Philip Yacht Haven will deliver market leading facilities to the combined 2,500 members, disabled and youth sailors, as well as providing improved event hosting capability and additional facilities for the local community. With these key consents now granted, the Royal Southern and RAF Yacht Clubs can move forward with the next step in delivering their new, world-class mooring facility.

Published in Irish Marinas
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This private marina really is in a spectacular location on the waterfront in Kinsale County Cork, within five minutes walk of many shops, bars and restaurants.  The marina operated by the hotel has access to yacht charter and deep sea fishing vessels.

Published in Irish Marinas

Royal Cork Yacht Club Marina is a private yacht club marina with visitor berths located in the fishing village of Crosshaven, one of three marinas in this Cork harbour location. With 100 berths overall and accessible at all stage of the tide this marina was one of the first of such facilities in the country, pioneered by members of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

The marina offers Petrol & Diesel and all other services available locally.

Published in Irish Marinas

#MARINAS - The new shore block at Stranraer Marina is the latest project to benefit from the Sail West initiative across western Scotland, Northern Ireland and the northwest coast of Ireland.

As the Galloway Gazette reports, the new waterfront building comprises a permanent harbour office, coastguard base, showers and toilets, as well as a community education room.

“The ongoing development of the marina is key to branding Stranraer as a marine leisure destination," said local councillor Roberta Tuckfield.

"Plans to add more pontoons and another breakwater should bring in additional pleasure craft, increasing tourism numbers benefiting the whole town.”

The marina improvements have been made with the goals of boosting the number of marine leisure users in Stranraer, fitting in with Sail West and its cross-border MalinWaters marine tourism brand across the channel.

Sail West is an international scheme, headed by Donegal County Council and Larne Borough Council, which aims to encourage mariners to enjoy the North Channel coastlines of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Other projects recently supported under the rubric of the Sail West initiative include the new coastal marina facility at Ballycastle Harbour in north Antrim and this summer's Clipper Festival in Derry.

The Galloway Gazette has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Marinas

#marina – Four happy crew of the yacht " Atlantis" recently visited Bangor Marina, bringing TransEurope visiting boats over the thousand mark since Bangor joined the network in 2004. In addition, the crew enjoyed a 50% discount on the visitors' rates as a result of their home port's membership of TransEurope Marinas, a unique pan-European marina marketing group, comprising 50 of Europe's most welcoming marinas stretching from Lanzerote to the Clyde.

This network of marinas in UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain, including the Canaries, was established in 1987 as TransManche by 5 cross Channel ports, but over the past 5 years it has expanded rapidly, to include a particularly strong Irish Sea area cluster

Andrew Jaggers, Director at Quay Marinas and immediate past Chairman of TransEurope, said: "Bangor Marina has welcomed tens of thousands of visiting boats and crew over the past 23 years, generating a very significant economic benefit to the town. Membership of TransEurope has contributed to a steady flow of valuable out of state visitors to Bangor, which has been very welcome locally in these difficult economic times. In turn, we are very pleased to be able to make TransEurope benefits, together with those offered by Quay Marinas, available exclusively in Northern Ireland to Bangor Marina berth holders"

Published in Irish Marinas
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#MARINA NEWS - A new €124 million marina development in Holyhead has been given the go-ahead by Anglesey councillors, as the North Wales Chronicle reports.

The residential and retail development by Conygar Stenaline will include a 500-berth marina, restaurants, a hotel and more than 320 waterfront homes, and could create up to 700 jobs in the port town, which is one of Wales and England's principal logistical and passenger ferry links to Ireland.

A report to Anglesey Council's planning committee stated that the new scheme's "contribution to the local economy is likely to be significant."

However the development plans have faces criticism locally. Campaigners staged a protest against the project upon the news this week, while Holyhead councillor told the Chronicle: "We do not have to give our own heritage to private developers.

"Our beaches are our family silver and our heritage," he said.

The final decision on the development will be made by the Welsh Government as the plans depart from the council's adopted development proposals.

The North Wales Chronicle has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Marinas
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#MARINAS – Marine Tourism facilities on the North coast get a boost today with the official opening of Portnagree House, Harbour and Marina Visitor Centre at Ballycastle harbour.

The new coastal marina facility provides a welcome boost to the local economy as it will strengthen the reputation of Ballycastle as a destination for visiting boats from Ireland, Scotland and beyond.

The new £600,000 facility owned and managed by Moyle District Council provides onshore toilet, shower, laundry and kitchen facilities for boat owners and users of the adjacent award winning marina.

In addition it has a large meeting room and dedicated office space for the Harbour Master.

The building is part funded under the Sail West Initiative, which secured grant aid from the European Unions's European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG IVA Cross-border Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. The match funding was provided by Moyle District Council, the Department of Enterprise Trade & Investment (DETI) in Northern Ireland and by the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport (DTTS) in Ireland.

Moyle District Council is one of over 20 partners involved in the Sail West Initiative which spans the west of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to encourage the development of marine tourism across the entire region, through a targeted capital investment programme in key marine infrastructure, and a concerted marketing campaign. The Initiative will provide a necklace of highly developed boating, angling and marine related infrastructure aimed at increasing visitor numbers to the Sail West region which is now being marketed using the Malin Waters brand name.

To mark the occasion representatives from the Sail West project partners held their Steering Committee meeting in Portnagree House, after which they had the opportunity to see the sights along Ballycastle Bay, courtesy of Richard Lafferty of Aquaholics who provided a short boat trip. They then joined representatives from Moyle District Council and the local sailing community for the officially opening of Portnagree House. Two other important milestones were also announced at the event, namely the new website, and the 2012 edition of the Welcome Anchorages publication which features Ballycastle Marina on the front cover.

Chairman of Moyle District Council, Cllr Padraig McShane welcomed guests to Ballycastle and had the honour of officially opening the building. He acknowledged the valuable financial support that Moyle District Council had received under the INTERREG IVA Programme and said: "that Ballycastle can now fully seize the opportunity to position itself as a key maritime location linking Ireland to Scotland".

Aidan McPeake, Head of Technical Services in Moyle District Council explained that: "the Council's Development and Technical Services departments have been working for a considerable period of time with our Sail West partners to secure almost €700,000 for the Ballycastle facility. Since our 74 berth marina opened in 1999 it has been a real success story for Moyle District Council, but the shore based facilities which were located in an existing bungalow were very basic, and this was highlighted in user feedback. The Council wanted to ensure that Ballycastle Marina continues to compete successfully with other coastal destinations and to do this we must offer a high standard of on shore facilities which is expected by today's marina users. We were delighted to have been successful in our bid for INTERREG funding to demolish the existing bungalow and build a modern, state-of-the –art facility for marina users. We are very proud of our new facility which has been named Portnagree House after a small nearby inlet, and we look forward to the continued success of the marina and to attracting even more visitors to Ballycastle and the wider Moyle District".

Mr Garry Martin, the Chairman of the Sail West project steering committee and Director of Finance in Donegal County Council expressed his delight at being present at the Ballycastle launch and suggested that: "from a County Donegal perspective the marina at Ballycastle is vital to the future success of sailing and cruising tourism in the wider North West of the island and therefore the new marina building was an important addition to the regional infrastructure."

Howard Keery from SEUPB highlighted that at €7.4 million the Sail West Initiative was one of the most significant tourism projects that had been approved under the INTERREG IVA programme, and that he was particularly pleased to see that the new Malin Waters marine tourism brand was being rolled out successfully. He said that:

"the Malin Waters brand helps firmly ground the seas and coastlines shared by the project partners from Donegal Bay to Belfast Lough, and from Loch Ryan to the Isle of Skye. Other elements of the project such as the Harbour & Marina building in Ballycastle, a strategic location for the expansion of the sailing traffic between Scotland and Ireland, will provide support to coastal communities that are increasingly reliant on the development of the tourism sector. The new Malin Waters website will also build on this by offering comprehensive details on the marine tourism opportunities available in the region and will undoubtedly encourage more visitors to the region".

The announcements relating to the MalinWaters website and the 2012 edition of the Welcome Anchorages publication were equally warmly welcomed by all present. Previously this publication acted as a guide to shore facilities for cruising yachts at 125 locations around the coast of Scotland, including the key sailing destinations of the Clyde and West of Scotland. However the 2012 edition is the first to include details of anchorages on the North West of Ireland and Northern Ireland, coastlines that face the short distance across the sea to Scotland.

Frank McGrogan, Sail West Project Manager said that: "the new edition will put sixteen Irish anchorages including Ballycastle Marina firmly on the maritime cruising map, as over 40,000 copies of this publication are circulated every year, and is also free to download at several websites including the MalinWaters site.

Published in Irish Marinas
Tagged under

#MARINAS - Sandy Bay is the only "realistic" location for the development of a new marina in the Larne area, according to a local council majority.

The Larne Times reports that a feasibility study of the borough, looking into the potential for marina facilities and watersports, identified a number of possible sites, including Curran Point and Howden's Quay, and an extension of the marina at Glenarm.

But only Sandy Bay has had any consistent interest over the years, said Alderman Roy Beggs, who described it as "the only realistic possibility for marina facilities in this borough, which we should have had 30 years ago."

Mayor Councillor Bobby McKee added that many of the sites in the report were lacking in amenities.

“Glenarm has a marina, but there is nothing else in the village to attract boat owners," he said. "The same can be said for Magheramorne and Howden’s Quay – you can’t even get a cup of coffee in these places."

The Larne Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Marinas


irishmarinamap full

South-West Coast

Kilrush Marina – 170 berths. Kilrush, Co. Clare. Tel: 065 905 2072, email: [email protected]

Fenit Marina – 130 berths (to be extended). Tralee and Fenit Harbour Commissioners, Harbour Office, Fenit, Tralee, Co. Kerry. Tel: 066 713 6231, email: [email protected]

Dingle Marina – 80 berths. Dingle, Co. Kerry. Tel: 066 915 1629, email: [email protected]

Cahersiveen Marina – 93 berths. ACARD Ltd., 'The Old Barracks', Bridge Street, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry. Tel: 066 947 2777, email: [email protected]


South Coast 

Lawrence Cove Marina – 50 berths. Bere Island, Co. Cork. Tel: 027 75044, email: [email protected]

Kinsale Marina – 270 berths. Kinsale Yacht Club & Marina, Kinsale, Co. Cork. Tel: 021 477 3433, email: [email protected]

Castlepark Marina – 150 berths. Kinsale, Co. Cork. Tel: 021 477 4959, email: [email protected] 

Royal Cork Yacht Club Marina – 200 berths. Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven, Co. Cork. Tel: 021 483 1023, email: [email protected]

East Ferry Marina – 100 berths. East Ferry, Cobh, Co. Cork.

Crosshaven Boatyard Marina – 120 berths. Crosshaven Boatyard Co. Ltd., Crosshaven, Co. Cork. Tel: 021 483 1161, email: [email protected]

Salve Marina – 57 berths. Crosshaven, Co. Cork. Tel: 021 483 1145, email: [email protected]


South-East Coast 

Arklow Marina – 72 berths. North Quay, Arklow. Tel: 0402 39901/32610, email: [email protected]

Kilmore Quay Marina – 55 berths. Harbour Office, Kilmore Quay, Wexford. Tel: 053 91299 or 087 900 1037.

Three Sisters Marina, New Ross – 66 berths. Tel: 086 388 9652 or 051 421284, email: [email protected] Also New Ross Town Council, The Tholsel, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Tel: 051 421284, email:[email protected]


East Coast/Dublin Area

Malahide Marina – 350 berths. Malahide Marina Centre, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Tel: 01 845 4129, email: [email protected]

Howth Yacht Club Marina – 270 berths (to be extended). Harbour Road, Howth, Co. Dublin. Tel: 01 839 2777, email: [email protected]

Dublin City Moorings – 30 berths. Dublin Docklands Development Authority, 52–55 Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Docklands, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 818 3300, email: [email protected]

Poolbeg Marina – 100 berths. Poolbeg Yacht, Boat Club & Marina, South Bank, Pigeon House Road, Ringsend, Dublin 4. Tel: 01 668 9983, email: [email protected]


Dun Laoghaire Marina – Over 800 berths. Harbour Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. Tel: 01 2020 040, email: [email protected]

Greystones Marina - 100 berth facility. [email protected] Call: +353 (0)86 2718161



North and North-East Coasts

Lough Swilly Marina – 200 berths, more after extension. Marina Office, Fahan, Inishowen, Co. Donegal. Tel: 074 936 0008, email: [email protected]

Foyle Pontoon, Derry – 50 berths. Foyle Pontoon, Londonderry Port, Port Road, Lisahally, Co Londonderry BT47 6FL, N. Ireland. Tel: 0044 28 7186 0313 (24 hours), email: [email protected]

Seatons Marina – 70 berths. Drumslade Road, Coleraine, BT52 1SE, N. Ireland. Tel: 028 7083 2086, email: [email protected]

Coleraine Marina – 60 berths. Cloonavin, 66 Portstewart Road, Coleraine BT52 1EY, N. Ireland. Tel: 028 7034 4768, email: [email protected]

Portrush Harbour – 100 berths. Portrush, Coleraine, N. Ireland. Harbour Master, Mr Richard McKay, tel: 028 7082 2307 or on VHF channel 12. Further information from Victor Freeman on tel: 028 7034 7234.

Ballycastle Marina – 74 berths. Contact: John Morton, 14 Bayview Road, Ballycastle BT54 6BT, N. Ireland. Tel: 028 2076 8525

Rathlin Island – 30 berths. Ballycastle, N. Ireland. Contact Moyle District Council, Sheskburn House, 7 Mary Street, Ballycastle BT54 6QH, N. Ireland. Tel: 028 2076 2225, email: [email protected]

Glenarm Marina – 40 berths. Glenarm Harbour, Glenarm BT44 0EA, Co Antrim, N. Ireland. Tel: 028 2884 1285

Carrickfergus Marina – 280 berths. 3 Rodgers Quay, Carrickfergus BT38 8BE, N. Ireland. Tel: 0044 28 933 66666

Bangor Marina – 500 berths. Bangor Marina, Quay Street, Bangor, Co. Down BT20 5ED, N. Ireland. Tel: 0044 28 9145 3297, email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Portaferry Marina – 15 visitor berths. 11 The Strand, Portaferry, Co. Down BT22 1PF, N. Ireland. Tel: 0044 28 4272 9598, email: [email protected]

Phennick Cove Marina – 55 berths. 19 Quay Street, Ardglass, Co Down BT30 7SA, N. Ireland. Tel: 0044 28 4484 2332, email: [email protected]

Carlingford Marina – 300 berths. 6 Carlingford Marina, North Commans, Carlingford, Co Louth. Tel: 042 937 3073, email: [email protected]


Proposed New Marinas (as at March 2009) 









Union Hall 


Published in General
25th September 2009

Buying a Boat

Dip your toe in

Starting off in boating is easy – the difficult bit is deciding what part of the sport to try.  We publish Tips For Those Buying And Selling Boats on our dedicated boats for sale site. This part of the website provides you with invaluable tips and advice from people within the new and second hand boat industry. We provide information about the types of boats that are out there and what to look out for when buying a new or used boat.  We also list some of the precautions you might want to consider before buying a boat.  There are lots of things to look out for which do not always immediately meet the eye. We aim to give you relevant information regarding the negotiations involved in selling or buying a boat and also provide guidance on how to finance the purchase of your dream boat.  

Below you'll find extra information and articles about how to get started in Irish boating.



Above: Malahide Marina, the site of several On The Water boat shows and the venue for this October's Used and Demo Boat Show 2009

If anchoring in a secluded cove or a BBQ from the deck of a yacht sounds like a far-fetched idea this summer, then it might be time to think again.

More and more people across Ireland are discovering that the shoreline represents a border but also a means of escape.

The romantic freedom of sailing is as true today as it has been throughout maritime history. Harnessing the elements for propulsion is one of the most appealing things about an afternoon afloat.

You don’t need a licence, insurance or experience to own and operate a pleasure craft in this country. And what’s more, the wind and the waves are free!

The sailing principles used by the Vikings when they sailed up the Liffey are the same as those used today on an afternoon potter around Dublin bay. Over the centuries, man has fine-tuned his ability to use the wind. Indeed, it’s now possible to sail faster than the wind. However, most people going afloat are not focussed on speed – they simply want to watch the world go by.

The boats may have changed since the Vikings but the view around the coast – except for the cities – is pretty much the same as a thousand years ago.

Nowhere was this point more clearly made than last year when the world’s top offshore sailors called in unexpectedly to our south and west coasts.

They came principally in search of wind in leg eight of the Volvo Round the World race. They found little wind, unusually, but before they left they wrote prose worthy of a Failte Ireland copywriter.

In his log, navigator Simon Fisher from ABN AMRO Two wrote: “Our day started sailing in and out of the mist rolling down off the hills and, as the sun rose and the mist burnt off, it gave way to spectacular views of rolling green hills and a weather-beaten rocky coastline. With castles and towers stationed on each headland, it gives you the feeling of sailing through a scene out of ‘Lord of the Rings’.”

So far our waters remain remarkably unspoilt and it’s one of the reasons French and German sailors have been enjoying our coastline for decades. But it’s only quite recently that there has been any kind of increase in the Irish pleasure boat numbers with more and more people sticking their toes in the water. The marine industry is also playing its part, attempting to break down the preconception that crusty old yacht clubs rule the seas.

Figures from a report commissioned by the Marine Institute in 2005 show that 142,000 adults were involved at that time in boating activity – ranging from sailing and boating at sea to boating on inland waterways. The survey confirmed a large rise in numbers in coastal and inland boating and water sports since the last survey ten years previously.

Unfortunately, unless you have a background in sailing, getting started can be anything but easy. Even at this year’s boat show, there will be a bewildering amount of information about many different types of boats. Websites, dealers and magazines all have their merits but often the best place to start is an honest conversation with yourself.

Are you buying a boat on a weekend whim or is it something you’ve been planning to do since lodging your first SSIA money?

A boat with a cabin, no matter how small, is just one practical way of escaping the worst of a showery day. It’s also a great way to extend the boating season that runs typically from St Patrick’s Day through to the end of September and it’s no accident that the most successful brands in Irish harbours all have some form of cover.

Going afloat is not just about racing yachts at Cork Week nor is it just about early morning trolling for trout on the river Shannon. It’s also about coastal kayaking, diving and windsurfing and many other forms of boating to boot. But most of all it’s about experiencing our coastline or inland waterways, something that has its own appeal and is proving as much a form of stress relief as any round of golf or Spanish holiday apartment.

Out on the water, sailing can be many different things to different types of people. It can be exciting, invigorating, relaxing or challenging. And you need to decide is what you really want from a boat.

There are reasons why people might stay off the water in Ireland. The sun doesn’t always shine and, more to the point, there appears to be a gale somewhere around our coast every fortnight.

And then there’s the perceived high cost of entering the sport of boating and, until recently, a complete the lack of public berthing facilities.

But if you can deal with all these questions and are still keen to go afloat, any one of a range of schools can advise you on the right way to get started. A good information website is and search for a school in your area. Lakes, rivers and seas are a great resource but anyone going afloat in Ireland needs to realise that it can be a potentially dangerous environment and take steps to educate themselves in safety measures before going afloat.

For most people, anchoring a boat in the lee of Ireland’s Eye for a picnic or island hopping on a sun-kissed day on Roaringwater Bay are not really unrealistic ideas at all if they are determined to get afloat. If you want to get started, start asking questions now. Very soon, you could be sitting back to hear the ripple of water off the bow.



Sailing – the bluffers guide

How easy is it to learn?

You can leave your slippers on. Anyone can pick up the basics in a week’s tuition and can continue on their own after that.

Will I know it all then?

They don’t call it the lifelong sport for nothing. Even old salts learn something knew every time they go afloat.

Do I need a licence?

No, one of the reason people enjoy sailing so much is that it is regulation free.

What does it cost?

The wind and waves are free but everything else you pay for. You can rent for a few hundred for a weekend charter. You can buy a sailing dinghy for three grand. A 25-foot yacht can be bought second-hand from 15 grand upwards.

What’s the typical size boat here?

Between 25 and 35 foot.

What’s the biggest?

It is in Dun Laoghaire and it’s an 80-footer costing over E2m.

How long is our coast?

8,960 kilometres of coast but about 704 miles sailing distance. It takes two weeks to cruise round but the record is less than three days!

How many harbours and piers?

The Department of Communications, Marine & Natural Resources say there are 900 so there’s plenty of places to call into.

How many marinas are there?

Only 26 around the entire coast. There is a real shortage and none between Kerry and Donegal. All of them are full.

Where is the biggest marina?

Dun Laoghaire with over 800 berths.

What about inland waters?

There are 700 kilometres of navigable rivers and lakes and freshwater sailing is very popular too.

How many sailing boats are there?

No one knows. The Irish Marine Federation reckons there are approximately 27,000, based on number of boats registered with Waterways Ireland, marina berths, swinging moorings, sailing and sea angling club boat parks.

Last but not least, do I need a cravat?

Well, you won’t be alone in Dun Laoghaire. Everywhere else it’s a t-shirt and jeans. Sailing is trying to shed its crusty yachting image and most yacht clubs welcome new members with open arms. 



Going offshore



Even in recession there are good reasons to buy a boat, writes David O'Brien (reprinted from February/March 2008 Afloat)

Edward Heath famously grumbled about the cost of boating 30 years ago when he complained that “ocean sailing is like standing under a cold shower tearing up five pound notes”. Three decades later, boat dealers are quick to point out that as luxury products go, depreciation on boats is not such a black hole even in this economic climate.

Walk along the waterfront of Ireland’s biggest boating centre at Dun Laoghaire on any summer Saturday and repeat Sir Ted’s comparison to the growing band of boat owners and it’s sure to draw a telling smile.

Those passionate about boating normally avoid any talk of cost. From Monday to Friday they may be wage slaves but boyhood dreams are relived at weekends, and it has become an unwritten law of the sea that the boat account is never scrutinised.

Heath, a great yachtsman, was being unnecessarily harsh. In examining the contents of his wallet, he forgot about the pleasures of boating. It’s there, from the simple smell of sea air to the sense of adventure offshore, but most of all the good times on board with friends and family.

If you want to make money, buy a house; if you want to lose money, buy a car; but if you want to keep your money, buy a boat. At least, that’s the story your local boat dealer is likely to advance.

Thanks to the lower cost of mass-produced boats and equipment in recent times, there has never been a better time to get involved. As leisure pursuits go, sailing in Ireland represents surprisingly good value for money – if only the facilities were there to back it up.

Take a look over the breakwater at Dun Laoghaire’s public marina and it’s pretty clear that both the size and style of pleasure craft berthed there – particularly motorboats – is impressive. If you wanted a snapshot of the former Celtic tiger era, here it is.

Since the marina opened 400 berths in 2001, it has grown to become an 820-berth facility, has transformed boating in Ireland and led to an influx of new blood where access to the water was previously controlled by private yacht clubs.



Above: Dun Laoghaire Marina has grown from 400 to 820 berths, and transformed boating in Ireland 

In doubling Dun Laoghaire’s size over the past six years, the facility that took sceptics 20 years to build became an overnight success. It is the country’s largest marine leisure centre by a long chalk. It is also the shining jewel in an otherwise flawed necklace of marinas still to be built around the coast.

Providing facilities takes considerable investment – from the State or from private investors, or a combination of both in public-private partnerships – because marinas need expensive breakwaters or sea walls to protect pleasure craft from the open seas.

“Ireland has largely turned her back on the sea despite being an island nation,” says Bernard Gallagher, a marine dealer in this country for the past 30 years. “We have simply failed to recognise the true value of the marine environment for leisure purposes.”

But even with such obvious infrastructural deficits, there is a surge of interest in the freedom of the seas and a lot of it is being driven by novice boaters.

You don’t need a licence to own and operate a boat in this country. And what’s more, in these recessionary times, the wind and the waves are free. But for everything else you will need a cheque book.

Growing numbers of the Irish public are demonstrating, in many cases for the first time, that boat ownership is no longer beyond their financial reach, particularly over the past ten years, a period in which the flow of newcomers has been tracked by official figures.

At a cost of E425 per metre as one of the top rates for mooring fees, it’s pretty easy to work out how much it costs to park an average 40-footer (12-metre) in Dun Laoghaire or at one of 22 other coastal facilities around the country. But boat ownership costs don’t stop with an annual berthage fee.

A typical new 40 footer will cost an owner (with modest cruising plans of 100 hours) E13k–E14k per annum. This includes berthing, fuelling, servicing and insurance.

Even if a boat owner has signed his cheque for all this, that isn’t the end of the story.

The romantic freedom of boating is as true today as it has been throughout maritime history. The seas might be free to roam but finding a berth is not quite as easy.

In fact, demand was so high until the credit crunch that a lack of berths was hampering further growth of the marine leisure sector. Downturn aside, the industry is capable of growing by around 30% over the next three years – if the government and local authorities decide to unlock the potential that lies in Irish waters.

The west coast of Ireland is hardest hit with no marina facilities between Kilrush Creek, Co Clare and Fahan, Co Donegal. Thankfully a small facility in Galway now has the green light compliments of the Volvo Ocean Race.

“On the east coast significant gaps exist between Arklow and Kilmore Quay and on the south coast between Kilmore Quay and Cork Harbour”, says Steve Conlon of the Irish Marina Operators Association.

Users are calling for government action to cut the bureaucratic red tape that surrounds foreshore development for marine leisure usage. The trade body fears that the run of new boat sales could be short-lived as a shortage of berths around the coast hampers the growth of the sailing industry.

In the major sailing centres on Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour – representing 3,000 craft – all five marinas are full or nearing capacity.

The Irish Marine Federation estimates the number of berths needed to bring Ireland up to the EU average is 22,826 berths. To accommodate existing waiting lists and boats located on existing swinging moorings, an extra 2,000+ berths are required immediately.

Motorboats remain the big growth area and the evidence at the national boat show in 2007 bore this out when ‘bling bling’ replaced the sea shanty as the new wave in boating.

Eighty-five per cent of the exhibits were powerboats – from jetskis to James Bond super yachts – and a sign that there has been a shift in the market away from its traditional musty yachting base.

This is no real surprise to the marine industry, however. The wind of change has been blowing through the world’s boat shows for the past decade. Put simply, power boating is perceived to be much more accessible than sailing for the newcomer.

“Power boating has a ‘jump in and go’ image whereas sailing – whether it is true or not – appears more complicated,” says Irish Marine Federation’s Brian O’Sullivan whose own company, O’Sullivans Marine of Tralee, sells both types of craft.

O’Sullivan’s comment is backed by Irish Sailing Association (ISA) training statistics. Figures point to a 33% rise in power boat instruction, as opposed to only a 6% rise in sail training – and these figures are merely the tip of the iceberg because they represent only those who opted for the voluntary certification scheme.

In spite of our miles of coast (and a further 500 miles of navigable rivers and lakes), Ireland has one of the lowest ratios of boat ownership in Europe: one boat to 158 people. The European average is one boat to 42 people.

Industry figures argue that low participation in watersports is not because Irish people don’t like boats; it’s because a lack of facilities prevents both residents and tourists from getting access to the water and enjoying a coastline that is arguably our greatest natural asset.

There are only three public slipways between Dublin city centre and Bray in County Wicklow – serving a population of 750,000 or more. The situation in the rest of the country is not much better, with a Department of the Marine estimate of 900 piers and harbours around the coast.

Growing participation and competition among boat builders means there has never been a better time to get involved. In spite of Ted Heath’s grumblings over fivers, a boat is not just a black hole into which you pour your hard-earned cash. But if you do splash out on a boat this summer, just remember you also need somewhere to berth it.

Copyright Afloat magazine/Baily Publications Ltd./David O'Brien 2009

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