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Aran Islands RNLI responded to two call-outs last night and early this morning to carry out a medical evacuation and come to the aid of a lone sailor.

The volunteer crew was first asked to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 11 pm on Monday night following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to transport a patient under medical advice to Rossaveal Harbour and on to a waiting ambulance.

The lifeboat under Coxswain John O’Donnell and with six crew members onboard, launched immediately and made their way to the scene to carry out the medical evacuation. Weather conditions at the time were good with calm waters.

Later in the early hours of this morning, the volunteer crew was requested to launch their lifeboat at 4.50am by the Irish Coast Guard following a report that a 38ft yacht with one sailor onboard had run aground in Kilronan Harbour after it's mooring line broke.

The lifeboat under Coxswain John O'Donnell launched once again and went to the aid of the yacht. Weather conditions at this time were good with calm seas.

Once on scene, the crew proceeded to launch the lifeboat’s small inflatable daughter boat which is used in rescues to access areas near rocks and shallow waters. The three crew members onboard this y-boat made their way to the stranded yacht where two crew members then boarded the yacht and first assessed that the sailor was safe and well before assisting him with the incoming tide to free his yacht from her grounding.

Speaking following the call out, Lena O’Connell, Aran Islands RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘While our volunteers are always prepared for the pager to go off at any time, it is unusual to get back to back call outs in quick succession during the night. We would like to wish both the patient who required a medical evacuation off the island and the lone sailor all the best'.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#Lifeboats - Baltimore RNLI carried out a medevac on Thursday night (11 April) from Sherkin Island off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat following a request from the Irish Coast Guard at 9.29pm to provide medical assistance and evacuation to an islander living on Sherkin.

Conditions at sea during the callout were calm with good visibility and no sea swell.

The lifeboat arrived at Sherkin pier at 9.45pm, the casualty was brought onboard and the lifeboat departed the island within four minutes, handing the casualty over to the care of HSE ambulance crew at 10.08pm.

Speaking following the callout, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer, said: “Baltimore RNLI regularly provides the vital service of medical evacuations (medevacs) for residents and visitors to local islands such as Sherkin, Cape Clear and Heir.

“If you find yourself in need of medical assistance, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Elsewhere, volunteer lifeboat crews from the Aran Islands and Galway RNLI participated in a multi-agency training exercise on Galway Bay this week.

The all-weather lifeboat from Aran Islands RNLI and the inshore lifeboat from Galway Bay RNLI were among the many emergency service agencies that took part in a maritime mass rescue exercise.

The scenario training, which saw the lifeboat crew practise an evacuation of survivors from a seagoing ferry in a busy shipping lane, was organised as part of a multi-agency exercise co-ordinated by the Irish Coast Guard.

Among the other agencies involved were the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopters located at Sligo and Shannon, Doolin/Inisheer Boat Unit, Costello Bay, Killaloe, Kilkee and Cleggan Coast Guard units, Galway Fire Service and the HSE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#IslandNews - Air service between the Aran Islands and the mainland has been saved for two more weeks after a short-term tender was agreed, as The Irish Times reports.

Aer Arann Islands gave notice in June that it would terminate its PSO arrangement for the service this month two years ahead of schedule, citing contractual terms that affect its profitability.

The company’s owner even offered earlier this week to sell the airline to the islands’ communities for a nominal €1 sum.

Flights were expected to halt after next Thursday 6 December but a last-minute deal with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will see the service continue till at least Thursday 20 December.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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#HistoricBoats - Afloat has noted work has recently begun in Dublin's Grand Canal Dockyard to transform a former CIÉ Aran Islands passenger /freight ferry as previously covered into a floating 5-star luxury hotel on the Liffey, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Commenting to Afloat, the owners Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Co said the initial works are to clear the vessel of combustible materials in preparation for the €6.6m restoration project which is scheduled to be completed next year.

The first stage of the project will require work to survey the vessel's hull, but this can only be done with the ship removed out of the Grand Canal Dock basin's historic Georgian built graving dock of more than 200 years old. This is to facilitate the installation of docking blocks that will correctly position the ship's keel before any further works can take place. 

Naomh Éanna was built for Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) to serve the Galway-Aran Islands ferry route. For almost the last three decades, however the small passenger, freight and livestock carrier ship has languished in the Grand Canal Dock basin. The basin at Grand Canal Dock opened in 1796 which has three locks linking to the Liffey and were last in use by commerical ships until the 1960's. 

In 2015 the IS&BFCo. for €1 acquired Naomh Éanna from the Irish Nautical Trust, as the vessel completed in 1958 is a rare surviving example of an Irish built ship (Liffey Dockyard) and constructed by rivetting. Then the practice was at the end of an era not just in Ireland but in Europe. Following the ferry's withdrawal from the Aran Islands service in 1988, the ship transferred from the state transport company to the ownership of the Trust. They intended to make the ship into a museum about the Aran service in addition to be in a seaworthy state.  

Naomh Éanna's berth in the basin's Georgian graving docks in Ringsend is notable given the facility was disused (see save architecture). The IS&BFCo is working to restore the veteran vessel now in its 60th year in the drydock for a new career as a luxury hotel berthed on the capital's city centre quays.

Naomh Éanna's transformation is to involve a 28-cabin hotel complete with a glazed restaurant on the boat deck. The work follows Dublin City Council awarding a licence earlier this year, which permits the vessel to berth on Custom House Quay along the Liffey following a public tendering process. The waterbased process seeks to animate the river frontage lining the 'Docklands' quarter, the modern financial quarter downriver of O'Connell Street.

Roll back three decades when safety concerns from the Irish maritime authorities, chiefly stability, led to the withdrawal of the 483 tonnes Naomh Éanna from the Aran Islands service. The closure of the three-hour seasonal route on the Atlantic Ocean became the last passenger service directly linking the mainland mid-west city port and the trio of islands. A cargo-only service remains through a private operator, Lasta Mara Teo using the Bláth na Mara. 

Up until recent years the former ferry in Grand Canal Dock was home to a watersports shop. The shop occupied the former cargohold, as shown in a rare photo overlooking the vessel's deck layout. On that occasion a visit involved having to access a quayside building for the purposes of a piece published in Ships Monthly, May 2014. 

In that same year, the fate of Naomh Éanna could of been all so different, as the principle authority in charge of Grand Canal Dock, Waterways Ireland intended to dispose the vessel through scrapping having been alongside Charlotte Quay for decades. Other laid up and abandoned vessels, albeit smaller craft were also subject to a removal clearance programme as the area had become run down.

Fears that the old Aran Islands ferry cargoship would sink led Watersways Ireland to tow the vessel to the nearby Georgian built dry-dock, though this procedure required firstly a digger to widen the entrance to the dry dock. From within the drydock the ship was to have been scrapped. 

A campaign was raised for Naomh Éanna, the Save Our Ship (SOS) group which was led by those concerned in assisting to secure the unique ship launched from the Liffey Dockyard. The shipbuilder no longer exists, though it was rathar apt to have observed the vessel occupy a berth a stone's throw of the shipyard site in Alexandra Basin. On that occasion the visit to the port took place in the year the former ferry returned to the capital in 1989.

Campaigners protests resulted in the Seanad, upper house of the Irish Parliament, to grant a reprieve given the vessel's historic Irish maritime heritage, despite a previous appeal rejected by the Department of Heritage.

An extended timeframe was made to allow efforts to concieve a restoration project, where the IS&BF originally proposed to return the Galway registered ship back to its western homeport. The Port of Galway was where the former ferry would become a floating boutique hostel, micro-brewery and museum recounting the Aran service. However, plans fell through resulting in Dublin retaining its own built ship.  

Afloat's recent visit to Grand Canal Dock basin also noted waterbased commercial boat activity, albeit only applies to the regular traffic of Viking Splash Tours. Their amphibious excursion / tourist craft use the Grand Canal Dockyard's slip, exactly at this location is where the largest of the three Georgian graving docks had occupied but is now infilled. 

 

 

Published in Historic Boats

#Rescue - A US yachtsman sings the praises of the RNLI and people of Inis Mór who took him in after his yacht dismasted at sea, according to The Irish Times.

John Lubimir and his wife Christine were sailing their yacht Patriot in the Aran Islands just weeks after circumnavigating Ireland when its carbon fibre mast snapped.

That was in spite of the moderate conditions — with a 12-14 knot southwesterly — and the mast being only 18 months old.

The damage wasn’t limited to the mast itself, as it gouged a hole in the top cabin of the Able Apogée 58 and threatened to hole the vessel’s hull.

“theWhen the going was good: the 58ft Patriot (centre, dark hull) at the start of the Volvo Round Ireland race on 30 June. Patriot came second in its class in this year’s race Photo: W M Nixon

But after a call to the coastguard, Aran Islands RNLI were on the way to escort the Lubimirs to the safety of Inis Mór and avoid a “potentially tragic” situation, as John puts it.

And while John sorts out the insurance claim, he’s being treated to the Aran Islands’ legendary hospitality.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
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#IslandNews - "It’s like Groundhog Day"… reports RTE News as residents on the Aran Islands could be forgiven a touch of dark humour this week, after it emerged that the contract to operate daily flights to and from the mainland was being terminated.

In a dispute over the terms of its four-year contract with the Government, Aer Arann served notice that it will end the deal in early December.

It is not the first time that the air link between the islands and Conamara has been the subject of discussion. In fact, in recent years, it has almost become an annual occurrence.

Air and ferry travel to 19 islands [see related to Aran] is subsidised by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The Public Service Obligation (PSO) subvention is paid to different operators, to ensure there are regular crossings to and from the islands for residents.

Figures on the Department’s website show that the total PSO cost comes to over €5.95 million each year.

Given the seasonal nature of tourism to the islands, the subsidy ensures that islanders can access the mainland all year round. Or at least, that is what is intended.

For much more on the story, click here. 

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - Aer Arann Islands has given notice for termination of its PSO contract for the Aran Islands two years ahead of schedule, as RTÉ News reports.

The airline will end its flights between the islands and the Galway mainland at the end of December this year — once again throwing into doubt the future of the islands’ decades-long air service.

The current PSO contract was only signed in January last year after months of uncertainty, and should have secured flights between Inis Mór, Inis Meann and Inis Óirr until the end of 2020.

However, it is understood that the imposition of additional passenger fees for unscheduled journeys became a sticking point just weeks into the new arrangement.

Without mediation to resolve the issue, the airline says it can no longer continue the contract as it stands.

The news comes six months after the signing of a new ferry contract to guarantee daily ferry service to the islands until November 2022.

Published in Island News
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#IslandNews - A new pier for Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands is now on the cards, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Minister of State Joe McHugh announced funding of €330,000 to appoint consultant engineers for the design and construction tender phase.

The news comes after it was announced earlier this month that €225,000 has been ringfenced for harbour projects throughout Co Galway.

Published in Island News
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Accessing Ireland’s most popular offshore destination, the Aran Islands, and the Cliffs of Moher by sea is to get a lot more comfortable, faster and environmentally friendly thanks to a record investment by one of the best known sea faring families on the west coast.

In what will be the biggest single private transport infrastructure investment on the Wild Atlantic Way, the Garrihy family run business, Doolin2Aran Ferries, has commissioned a state of the art, €3m new vessel that is being built by OCEA Shipbuilding in La Rochelle, France. This is the first ship to be built for the popular port of Doolin this decade, the last one being the Doolin Discovery, which was also commissioned by the Garrihy family in 2009. 

Doolin2Aran Ferries is owned and operated by the Garrihy family from Doolin, who have been operating commercially on the seas around Doolin for half a century.

doolin aran ferryAn artist’s impression of the new 26m Doolin to Aran Ferries cruise ship being built in France

The 26–metre vessel will be the fastest and most comfortable domestic cruise ship on the entire Irish coast. It will operate daily sailings to the Aran Islands as well as the stunning cruise to the foot of the Cliffs of Moher, one of the West coast’s most captivating tourism experiences.

The one-off designed cruise ship will also be tailored for international tourists, with multi-lingual voice and visual guide systems to ensure visitors get the absolute experience and knowledge of the world-famous heritage sites.

In production since late October, the 200-seat vessel will have the highest specification available. It will incorporate system built seating and air conditioning, and the most advanced computerised stability system providing quality and comfort to passengers.

The ship also embraces the latest in terms of environmentally friendly technologies with a high-tech, on-board waste water treatment plant and TIER ii advanced low emission energy efficient engines.

The shipbuilders, OCEA, are one of Europe’s leading specialist manufacturers of ships for the leisure and commercial markets. Building up to 20 vessels per year, and for some of the world’s most high net-worth individuals, OCEA operates across four production sites, with 95% of its turnover garnered from the export markets. Its biggest build to date is an €80m patrol boat for a Middle Eastern client.

On completion, the Doolin2Aran Ferries vessel will be sailed back from La Rochelle, with stops in Brest in North West France before making its way to Doolin where it will join the fleet of Doolin2Aran Ferries vessels, helping to accommodate the huge increase in popularity of cruises to the islands and the Cliffs of Moher since the launch of the Wild Atlantic Way brand. It will be the largest operator sailing out of the hugely popular Aran Islands gateway pier. The Garrihy family also own and operate The Happy Hooker, The Rose of Aran, The Jack B, The Doolin Discovery and the St Bridget, which operates on Dublin Bay.

Commenting on the investment, Eugene Garrihy of Doolin2Aran Ferries said: “We worked hard to get the new improved pier facilities at Doolin and now we are investing in this state of the art vessel. We have grown the business year on year and we feel the time is right to take our business to a new level with this investment. The Wild Atlantic Way is proving a global tourism phenomenon and we have to respond in the industry by improving the quality of our offering to ever more discerning customers.

“With good visitor management and continued engagement with all tourism bodies, we are confident that the impact of this investment in the region will be very positive. The ship will be the largest and fastest operating to the islands from Doolin. As it will operate in the UNESCO Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, we were also particularly conscious that it would be the most energy efficient and sustainable vessel operating here and is being custom built to that end.

“We’re really looking forward to its completion and getting it back here. There’ll be nothing like it for tourists heading out from the west coast.”

Published in Ferry
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#IslandNews - A new five-year ferry contract from residents on the Aran Islands has been welcomed, as the deal will guarantee daily services to each of the three islands.

Details of the Public Service Obligation contract reports RTE News were announced by the Department of the Gaeltacht.

The contract with Aran Ferries Teo comes into effect tomorrow and will run until November 2022.

Costing almost €6 million, the agreement will see morning and evening services between Ros a' Mhíl and Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr.

Bus services between Ros a' Mhíl and Galway city are also included in the contract.

As part of the deal, the price of a return fare for islanders will be capped at €10. This represents a reduction on the existing €15 fare for residents of Inis Mór.

Negotiations on the service have been ongoing for several months. For more on the story click here.

Published in Island News
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