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Displaying items by tag: Shannon

10th July 2012

Controlling The Canals

I wrote recently that the terms of Waterways Ireland's licence agreement for the "Extended Term Serviced Mooring Vacancies" at Shannon Harbour could be easily adapted for use elsewhere on the canals. That might allow WI to begin to bring the long-term berthers, residential or otherwise, under control. And so it proves. We have received this press release from Waterways Ireland.

 

WI Press Release

Waterways Ireland has recognised that many boat owners wish to stay for a more extended period in a single location than the 5 days the annual Canal Mooring and Passage Permit (under the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-laws), 1988) currently allows.

In response, Waterways Ireland intends to issue an Extended Mooring Licence granting a boat owner the right to leave their boat in one location for longer than 5 days. This permit will enable the holder to moor in a position allocated by Waterways Ireland on a soft bank area of navigation property for a period of up to 1 year. The Extended Mooring Licence will cost e152 per annum.

The application process for the Extended Mooring Licence will open in the autumn when all existing permit holders will be contacted.

All boat owners will still require an annual Canal Mooring and Passage Permit allowing the holder to cruise and pass through locks. Boat owners with a Canal Mooring and Passage Permit proposing to stay longer in one location than 5 days can then apply for the Extended Mooring Licence. The total fee to hold both the Permit and the Licence in 2012/2013 will be e278.

For boat owners with the Canal Mooring and Passage Permit who do not hold an Extended Mooring Licence, the 5-day rule (in the one place or within 500m of that location) will still apply. Waterways Ireland will enforce this bye-law from autumn 2012.

Waterways Ireland will be contacting permit holders regularly between now and autumn 2012 to ensure they are kept up to date with the roll-out of the new permit. All queries about the enforcement of the current bye-laws or the Extended Mooring Licence should be directed to Shane Anderson, Assistant Inspector of Navigation: Tel no +353 (0)87 286 5726, Email [email protected]

These changes are necessary steps to improve the management of the canals and waterway amenities for both the navigational and recreational user, so that investment in the new infrastructure and facilities which Waterways Ireland has undertaken is maximised for every user.

Comment

About time too. I welcome this development: WI has to be able to control who uses its waterways and the uses they make of them.

The proposed charge is surprisingly modest. It is the same for all areas, those of high and of low demand: it might have been difficult to implement differential charging. However, the new licence does not apply to hard-edged areas; I presume therefore that WI intends to keep them clear for visitors.

It is significant that the new control mechanism is a licence, not a permit. Waterways Ireland had been hoping to bring in a single set of bye-laws to cover all its navigations, but it proved to be very difficult to do that within two jurisdictions. Accordingly, I understand that WI now intends to seek amendments to the bye-laws for the Republic, allowing it (inter alia) to increase the charges for various permits. However, the Canals Act 1986 allows WI to issue licences, and they are not subject to the restrictions in the bye-laws.

 

Royal water

The fragility of the water supply to the Royal Canal was shown in April, when Waterways Ireland closed the summit level of the canal because of low water levels; the 34th and 35th levels were also closed for emergency repairs. At time of writing, WI is hoping to be able to re-open the summit level on 1 June. Some boats that had intended to go west along the Royal to the Shannon were forced to go east instead, through Dublin and along the Grand Canal; happily, Effin Bridge, the lifting bridge at North Strand Road, worked properly this year.

The Royal always had fewer feeders than the Grand. The summit level was fed from Lough Owel, north of Mullingar, but while the canal was closed, Westmeath County Council found it needed more drinking water for the Mullingar area. In dry conditions, the Lough Owel feeder cannot meet both needs.

With great foresight, CIE (which then owned the canal) got the Council to agree that, if the canal was to be re-opened, it would provide an alternative supply.

Nowadays, environmental regulations mean that water abstraction needs more thought, more planning and more factors to be considered. Extensive studies were carried out and WI and the County Council agreed that the best possible alternative source was Lough Ennell, which is south of Mullingar: water could be pumped from there to the canal. The Council had to apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission; it has just completed oral hearings in Mullingar.

 

Traditional boats

In the first half of the nineteenth century, anyone travelling to the seaside resort of Kilkee could take the steamer to Kilrush and travel onward by road. But the passenger traffic was initially established by the turf boats of the Shannon Estuary: most of Limerick's fuel came from Poulnasherry, west of Kilrush, and was carried by small sailing boats, which also carried a few passengers.

A 24' replica of one of these boats was launched recently at Querrin, at the entrance to Poulnasherry. The Sally O'Keeffe was built by the Seol Sionna group http://seolsionna.org/, which grew out of the West Clare Currach Club. The boat will be used for sailing training. The Shannon Estuary, which is insufficiently appreciated, has a wealth of traditional boat types, but there were no extant Shannon hookers, so it is nice to see their return.

On the same weekend, another of those traditional boat types was featured in Limerick. The Ilen Wooden Boat Building School http://ilen.ie/gandelow-races/ had built five gandelows, boats used in the upper reaches of the estuary, and conducted races in the city.

And the Thomastown Regatta, on the Nore http://www.happyvalleyfestival.com/ebooklet.pdf, will feature traditional cots and racing boats: the 1905 racing cot Nore Lass, owned by the O'Farrell family, will be on display at the Grennan Mill Craft School.

 

Here are some updates I wrote about recently...

Water charges

The EU Commission sent a Reasoned Opinion to Ireland in November 2011, suggesting that Ireland had not correctly implemented the provisions of the Water Framework Directive that require "a cost recovery policy for water services that includes the environmental and resource costs of water use". The Commission believes that cost recovery should be extended to many other water uses, including hydroelectricity generation and the supply of water to navigations. Having got an extension of the deadline for replying, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government responded to the Commission. I asked for a copy of the response, but the department won't tell anybody what it's doing. I am appealing that decision, but without much hope.

 

Traffic

Waterways Ireland has kindly given me the Shannon traffic figures for the first four months of 2012. The numbers of movements in those months are always low, and can be significantly affected by the weather, so there can be quite a lot of variation between one year and another without its indicating any long-term trend. For example, back in 2002, there were 4875 boat movements in the first four months; the figure was up to 6204 in 2003 but back down to 5304 in 2004. It's important therefore not to read too much into the figures, but a five-year moving average suggests that traffic has been falling since 2007. The figure for 2012 was 4052. It will be interesting to see whether better weather balances economic gloom in the rest of the year.

 

Mineral Oil Tax

In the last issue, I gave the figures for the numbers of Mineral Oil Tax returns received by Revenue from owners of diesel-powered boats in the first two years of the scheme's operation. They told me that they got 38 returns in 2010 for the year 2009 and 41 in 2011 for 2010. I now have the figure for the following year, the returns made in 2012 for the year 2011. There was a very significant change, of 46%, but unfortunately it was downward, to 22. The Revenue Commissioners tell me that "[...] there were 22 returns received by 1 March 2012 for 2011, amounting to e53,398.58 MOT [Mineral Oil Tax] on 141,503.29 litres oil." That's an average of 6432.1 litres each, which is a lot, so I suspect that much of the total came from the hire fleet, with less than twenty private owners making returns.

 

Royal and Ulster Canals

I said, in the last issue, that I did not understand how the cost of the restoration of the Royal Canal, 146 km with 46 locks, could be less than the expected cost of the canal to Clones, 13 km with one double lock. It has been explained to me that the figure for the Royal was essentially only the marginal cost, recorded (initially) under Civil Service accounting procedures, so that it understates the total cost. It would be a huge job to try to find the full cost using modern accounting conventions, but unfortunately that means that we have no usable figure for the cost of the Royal, no basis for estimating the return on investment and no guideline on the value of any future restorations.

Published in Brian Goggin

#Lifeboats - RTÉ News has a video report on a memorial to lives lost on the Shannon recently installed at the location of Lough Ree's new lifeboat station.

Relatives of those lost to the waterway spoke of their appreciation for the setting up of the new search and rescue base for the mid-Shannon after a decade of campaigning.

As reported on Afloat.ie last July, the RNLI's 44th lifeboat station in Ireland - located at Coosan Point in Athlone - Co Westmeath, has been welcomed as a search and rescue asset on Lough Ree and the Shannon.

Some €150,000 has been invested in the temporary facilities, from which volunteers operate the B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat Dorothy Mary, on a year-long trial basis.

According to RNLI Lough Ree's Matt Harte, the new station was among the busiest in Ireland last year, with up to 20 call-outs in its six months of operation thus far.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#INLAND FISHERIES - Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd was on hand to launch the Atlantic Aquatic Resource Conservation (AARC) conference in Limerick on Wednesday 28 November.

The conference, attended by delegates from five countries, is intended to showcase integrated collaborative water resource management projects across the European Atlantic Arc, comprising Portugal, Spain, France, Britain and Ireland.

The AARC project is the culmination of work undertaken by 13 international partnerships across these five countries, and the conference provides an opportunity to share the research, findings and recommendations to support the conservation of native fish species.

As the project nears conclusion next month, all AARC project requirements have been met and exceeded in a number of cases, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

In Ireland specifically, the project has made a valuable contribution to the Shannon Salmon Restoration Plan (SSRP) which looks at redressing the decline in Atlantic salmon populations throughout the Shannon river system.

Overall, says IFI, AARC has provided an important instrument to facilitate a pan-European approach to conserving our indigenous, migratory fish stocks.

Speaking at the launch of the conference, Minister O’Dowd highlighted the importance of EU research programmes like AARC in enhancing international research and collaboration.

“The strong inter-regional co-operation, under AARC, between regional authorities and research institutions has increased our knowledge of the conservation requirements of these important European fish species,” he said.

“AARC has ensured that we will play our part in utilising this new knowledge and co-operation for the enhancement of the conservation status of important EU species and habitats.”

AARC is a three-year project, launched in 2009, which focuses on migratory stocks of protected fish species: shad, Atlantic salmon, sea trout, sea lamprey, European eel and smelt. Across Europe these species have economic, cultural and environmental value but are in decline.

The issue of their decline is truly transnational, says IFI, and can only be addressed through long-term intensive transnational collaboration.

A major theme running through the AARC project was establishing the role of wider stakeholders in the management of our aquatic resources. Many of the AARC partners have worked to engage local stakeholders in protecting, conserving and managing these resources through the AARC project activities.

In Ireland, the project dealt with restorative initiatives for Atlantic salmon in the Shannon system. This included determining the genetic composition of contemporary and historical populations of salmon in the Shannon and comparing the relative performance in the wild of the progeny Feale, Mulkear and Shannon wild and hatchery salmon populations.

IFI was joined in the project by fellow partners ESB Fisheries Conservation, University College Cork and the Marine Institute. Of the total project budget of €3.87m, Irish partners received €754,242 over the three years.

The Shannon AARC project will address issues pertaining to fish passage, water quality, habitat and hatchery programmes in addition to the construction of a project specific geograpgic information systems (GIS), co-ordination of stock assessment surveys and the promotion of catchment management.

Ultimately it will help identify important factors in the conservation of Atlantic salmon in the Shannon, and will provide a set of useful maps and a spatial visualisation tool for improved planning and development throughout the Shannon catchment.

Results will help inform fisheries staff of the current status of Atlantic salmon populations in the Shannon as well as provide a useful inventory or potential and/or historical salmon locations in the Shannon.

The project will also benefit inter-agency co-operation, particularly in relation to River Shannon fisheries management, and will strengthen the links with relevant research institutions and international fisheries experts.

Published in Fishing

#INLAND WATERS - The European eel population is highly endangered and conservation of this species is a priority for Minister Fergus O’Dowd, who recently visited one of the ESB Trap and Transport sites in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

The minister saw first-hand the silver eel operation that involves the capture of the fish at strategic locations upstream in the Shannon catchment and their subsequent release downstream of Parteen Weir in order to aid their passage and bypass the hydropower generating facility.

Minister O’Dowd assisted the fishermen, Brian and Brendan Connell, in the weighing of the silver eels and loading them into an oxygenated tank for transportation by the ESB to Parteen.

“Eels are protected under EU directive,” said the minister. “I am satisfied that Ireland is addressing its obligations under the directive by ensuring the safe passage of eels past Parteen Weir as they travel onward to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.  

"I value highly the work done by ESB on the Trap and Transport initiative and the co-operation with IFI (Inland Fisheries Ireland). I saw at first hand how ESB, as a major commercial State company, continues to take very seriously its responsibilities in this area.”

The National and River Basin District Eel Management Plans specify actions that include closure of eel fisheries and markets, mitigation of adverse effects of hydropower generation facilities, improvement of water quality and bio-security issues.

The overall objective is to increase the biomass of spawning eel leaving Irish waters as the stock has depleted to a dangerous level.

Inland Fisheries Ireland monitors this ESB-sponsored operation throughout its duration, checking weigh and condition of the fish.

Published in Inland Waterways

#INLAND WATERWAYS - Waterways Ireland is advising all masters and users of the Erne navigation that a fireworks display will take place at Castle Island in Enniskillen on Hallowe'en night around 8pm.

Masters of vessels are advised that in there interest of public safety, there will be no mooring permitted at the Waterways Ireland head office mooring nor at the Henry Street public jetties on the day of the event.

Navigation in the vicinity of Castle Island is also prohibited for the duration of the event.

Alternative mooring is available at the Forum and Regal Pass jetties with easy access to event vantage points. Instructions from safety vessels must be adhered to at all times.

Further information may be had from the Lough Erne manager/warden at the Waterways Ireland head office at +44 48 66 322 836.

Meanwhile, Waterways Ireland also reminds masters and users of the Lower Bann and Shannon waterways that the winter schedule for lock and bridge opening times will take effect from this coming Thursday 1 November, running till Sunday 31 March 2013.

Full details of opening times are available on PDF format for both the Lower Bann Navigation and the Shannon Navigation.

Published in Inland Waterways

#rnli – A young Irishman has played a significant role in developing the RNLI's most advanced class of lifeboat - the Shannon class.  Named after the River Shannon and almost 50% faster than the lifeboats it will replace - the Shannon will help the charity's volunteer crews reach those in need even quicker.

Capable of 25 knots, the Shannon is the first modern RNLI all-weather lifeboat to be powered by water jets, not propellers. Over 50 new Shannons will need to be built within the next ten years to replace the older classes of lifeboat and the charity estimates that the 50+ Shannons in their class will rescue over 56,000 people and save the lives of over 1,500 in its lifetime.

Peter Eyre, an RNLI Naval Architect from Derry in Northern Ireland was instrumental in the development of the new lifeboat, designing the hull form at the age of 24 in his spare time. Four years after Peter's original design, the prototype of the Shannon class lifeboat is undergoing sea trials around the coasts of the UK and Ireland, with the first lifeboat going into service in 2013.

Peter Eyre, RNLI Naval Architect says:

'I kept the design under wraps in the early stages. After a while my boss could see I was working on something and encouraged me to continue. My job was to find the design by working with other naval architects, not to design it. I was the youngest in the team and before long I had designed the new lifeboat hull.

'I'm chuffed it was named after an Irish river and the strong connection the boat now has with Ireland. I think the moment it first goes out on a service will be the high point of my career. My parents will be so proud. It's a great legacy to be a part of, especially at this age. I think it will sink in gradually. When the first life is saved I think that's when it will really hit home.'

The Shannon class is expected to make up almost a third of the RNLI's all-weather lifeboat fleet and once rolled out all RNLI all-weather lifeboats will be capable of at least 25 knots. The Shannon class will also improve the safety and welfare of the charity's volunteer crews, thanks to its shock absorbing seats and computer monitoring and operating system.

While Peter was not to become actively involved with the RNLI till later in his life, he had a brush with the charity in 1998 when the Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat came to his aid.

Peter explains:

'I was just 14-years-old at the time when my family's 30ft cruiser racer yacht was dismasted in rough seas and force 7 winds. The yacht lost its mast and was escorted back to shore by the volunteer lifeboat crew. We were so relieved'

Owen Medland, RNLI Training Divisional Inspector for Ireland says:

'This is the first time that the RNLI has named a class of lifeboat after an Irish river – which is very fitting considering that Peter has been so fundamental in its design. All of the crews who have tested the new lifeboat have been thrilled with its speed, manoeuvrability and the improved crew safety features. We don't know yet which Irish lifeboat stations will receive a Shannon class lifeboat, but the Shannon is designed to replace the majority of Mersey and some Tyne class lifeboats. We look forward to seeing the Shannon here in the near future.'

The RNLI has launched a €6M fundraising campaign across the UK and Ireland to fund two Shannons and their launch and recovery vehicles designed by Supacat for the relief fleet. These 'relief lifeboats'  will be used to replace station boats when they go for maintenance or repair and will therefore operate at many places around the UK and the RoI.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

#canoe – A blind journalist, canoeist and past pupil at ChildVision's national education centre for blind children will paddle the River Shannon in aid of ChildVision this weekend. Wesley Bourke and his paddling partner Aisa Cooper will take on the 360km (225 mile) feat from August 16th-19th, covering 100km per day for the first three days. The challenge will begin at Dowra in County Cavan and cover the counties of Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath, Galway, Clare and Tipperary as they make their way to Limerick.

"No blind person has ever done this before but I'm confident we'll not only complete the challenge, but we'll get it done on schedule," said Bourke. "And ChildVision really deserves every support you can give them, and I hope everyone along the route will be generous in supporting them, and us, too."

Wesley was diagnosed with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy at a eighteen while he was completing an apprenticeship with the Air Corp, leaving him with less than 15% vision. He attended ChildVision's integrated post-primary school, Pobal Scoil Rosmini, to complete his Leaving Certificate. Graduating in 1998 Wesley went on to study International relations at the University of Hull and Kings College London. He now works as a journalist at An Cosantóir, the Defence Forces magazine.

An adventure enthusiast, Wesley recently completed the Devizes – Westminster International Canoeing Marathon with Aisa, paddling over 200km in a two man kayak in preparation for this event. Wesley and Aisa are members of the Celbridge Paddlers Canoe Club, Co. Kildare.

The pair will take to the Shannon in a K2 kayak on August 16th to raise funds for ChildVision, Ireland's only national education centre for blind children. ChildVision works with over 800 families throughout the country providing educational resources and facilities for blind children.

Published in Canoeing
Tagged under

#COASTGUARD - The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter was dispatched to the Donegal coast on Friday night to rescue a young boy seriously injured in a farming accident.

As the Clare Herald reports, Rescue 115 - which only entered service a month ago - was called on to make the long-distance journey after the Sligo coastguard chopper was grounded by technical problems.

The mission put Shannon's new Sikorsky S92A craft's long-range capabilities and specialist medical equipment to the test, as it flew from Clare to Tory Island via Sligo General Hospital to evaculate the six-year-old boy, airlifting him to Letterkenny General Hospital for treatment.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Irish Coast Guard took delivery of the new chopper at its Shannon base earlier this year as part of the rescue service's €500 million deal with CHC Ireland to revamp the aircraft fleet. Shannon is the only base to receive a brand new helicopter as part of the contract.

Equipped for dedicated search and rescue operations, the Sikorsky S92A provides coverage for deep Atlantic Ocean missions, services Ireland's offshore islands and provides rescue cover on the west coast from Cork to Galway.

Published in Coastguard

#inland – The Largest Boat Rally to ever travel to Limerick will arrive at the Hunt Museum this weekend the 30th-1st July as part of an organised tour to Kilrush for boaters from all over the inland waterway system.

Over 80 boats are expected to take part in this momentous event as they depart in groups from 5.30am on Saturday and Sunday morning leaving Killaloe & Ballina and heading to Parteen Weir, Ardnacrusha and down into Limerick City itself.

This rally is extremely special in that many of the boaters have never made the journey through the lock and into Limerick before. This 'newbies' rally where boats travel 'in company' is designed to show inland waterway boaters the joys of travelling through Ardnascrusha and into the city and as they travel under the guidance of highly experienced boaters from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) , any 'fear of the unknown' is greatly reduced.

Éanna Rowe Head of Marketing & Communications, Waterways Ireland confirmed "Waterways Ireland is delighted that the moorings in Limerick City are ready to receive such a large flotilla, as all the works have been completed over the winter in preparation for more boat traffic through Limerick. That fact that these boaters are mostly new visitors to Limerick is to be greatly welcomed. I hope their experience is highly enjoyable and that they stay longer on their next journey."

Dave Mc Cade and Noel Griffin Organisers of the Rally stated "The IWAI is delighted to be bringing this rally into Limerick, and the Open Day on Sunday 1st July is a great opportunity for local people to come down and visit us on Arthurs Quay and behind the Hunt Museum."

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

#shannon –  Waterways Ireland has successfully completed dredging maintenance in Limerick City around Sarsfield Lock and the Abbey River undertaken over the Winter & Spring of 2011/12 so the city is once again open to boating traffic.

This contract was challenging due to the requirement to execute the works during the winter, out of the boating season. The Abbey River experienced very high flows at this time of year as a result of operations at Ardnacrusha Power Station and part of works were undertaken in a tidal zone of the river. Meticulous planning by Waterways Ireland and the contractor was required to ensure the dredging was carried out safely and effectively in reduced daylight hours, under strict environmental guidelines with severely limited access and traffic restrictions within the city. The contract resulted in the removal of approximately 20,000 tonnes of sediment deposits from the navigation channel in the Abbey and Shannon Rivers.

The work programme was carefully planned approximately 18 months in advance and involved extensive consultation with National Parks and Wildlife Service, Shannon Foynes Port Company, Inland Fisheries Ireland & Limerick City Council (Planning, Roads, Environment and Waste sections) to minimise the impact of the essential maintenance works on the sensitive habitats that have become established within the Shannon estuary.

Licences to undertake the work were secured in October 2011 and continual monitoring ensured that the works were carried out in full compliance with current environmental legislation. In addition the consultations developed into regular communications during the progress of the contract and also involved the local rowing clubs and city councillors.

The contract was undertaken in three phases as a result of differing site requirements and conditions. The first phase from the Custom House Quay to Sarsfield Lock was undertaken in October 2011 and required the employment of a pontoon mounted excavator with barges. Barges transported the material to Sarsfield Lock where a temporary loading area was constructed for load out to lorry.

The second phase of the contract was undertaken in December and involved the removal of material from the Baals Bridge area of the navigation. Flow conditions in the river dictated the employment an innovative amphibious excavator. Access for this excavator was achieved through the Park Canal and the existing Lock, where it was able to operate directly in the river at low tide conditions. Removal of the material was via an agreed temporary loading area at Baals Bridge

The third phase of the contract, undertaken in February involved the removal of material from the Georges Quay area of the navigation. Work in this area was undertaken last as additional environmental studies and approval was required to protect the Lamprey Eel. Flow conditions in the river dictated a different removal method that employed a smaller pontoon-mounted excavator with an anchorage system. Removal of the material was via an agreed temporary loading area at Georges Quay, immediately adjacent to the Barrington Hospital, direct to lorry and disposal.

All dredged material removed from the Abbey River was transported to a licenced disposal facility in accordance with current disposal legislation and the Traffic Management Plan agreed with Limerick City Council, which was designed to minimise traffic disruption in the city centre.

It is anticipated that this maintenance work will greatly enhance the key asset that the navigation provides to Limerick City and help stimulate greater use of the marina by boats. The improved mooring facilities will also enable the boating enthusiast to access the extensive public amenities available in the city centre, including many restaurants, bars, shops and museums amongst other attractions.

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under
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