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#Offshore - Last October, a Canadian solo yachtsman made the news when he was taken in by the residents of Inis Mór in the Aran Islands after a tumultuous Atlantic Ocean crossing.

And now The Irish Times reports that Erkan Gursoy has received a hero's welcome upon arrival at his final destination of Turkey.

The 68-year-old retired teacher had sailed his self-built boat Altan Girl all the way from Vancouver, navigating the challenging Northwest Passage, before stormy weather slowed his progress towards Europe.

Contact with his vessel was lost for a short time, but Gursoy eventually made it to the safety of the Aran Islands with only minor damage sustained.

In the 10 days he spent in Galway Bay, he related to the locals even more of his lengthy adventure – including a collision off Greenland, and scaring away polar bears while stuck in ice in the far north of Canada.

But his homeland of Turkey beckoned, and after sailing most of winter away through the Mediterranean, Gursoy at last reached a marina in Istanbul this week.

“My wife said I had better go and get it out of my system, so we could then live out our lives,” he said of his epic near-10-month voyage.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Offshore

#Rescue - Five crew on an Aran Islands fishing trawler were rescued yesterday (Tuesday 20 January) after the vessel sank off Scotland's Outer Hebrides.

As BreakingNews.ie reports, the trawler Iúda Naofa began tanking on water some 48 miles off Lewis in the far north-west of Scotland.

Three of the five crew were airlifted to hospital for treatment for hypothermia while the others were evacuated to a nearby fishing boat also from the Aran Islands.

According to The Irish Times, the Iúda Naofa is owned by Mairtín Ó Conghaíle of Inis Mór.

Four of its crew are natives of the islands, the fifth being a Romanian national.

Published in Rescue

#Offshore - RTÉ News reports that the Canadian yachtsman slowed in his crossing of the Atlantic by last week's storm conditions has made landfall at the Aran Islands.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, 67-year-old Erkan Gursoy had been looking forward to a pint once reaching his intended landfall at Dingle after an eventful few months solo navigating the Northwest Passage.

According to Independent.ie, his boat Altan Girl finally found its way to our shores yesterday (Sunday 26 October) after contact was lost for a short period.

The vessel was escorted by the Aran Islands RNLI to Inis Mór, having sustained minor damage in the storms.

And upon repairs, Gursoy may continue his solo voyage all the way to his native Turkey.

Published in Offshore

#AranIslands - 'Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink' has never been more true for residents of the Aran Islands who are facing their worst ever water shortage.

Now BreakingNews.ie reports on a call on Irish Water to tap into the newly discovered network of underground rivers believed to run beneath the islands and throughout Galway Bay to provide a lifeline for Aran's communities.

Tiernan Henry from NUI Galway's Earth and Ocean Sciences department says geological surveys for the freshwater aquifier systems believed to extend throughout the bay could lead to an invaluable source of fresh water for people on Inis Mean and Inis Oirr in particular, who have been forced to use water brought in from the mainland at great expense – around €1 per litre.

BreakingNews.ie has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#CliffDiving - British diver Gary Hunt trounced the competition at the weekend's Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series leg at the 'Serpent's Lair' in the Aran Islands.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the extreme sports event was making its long-awaited return to Ireland after wowing the crowds on Inis Mór two years ago, bringing the cream of the world's cliff diving talent such as living legend Orlando Duque, who led the field after Saturday's qualifying round.

But it was Hunt who would triumph on the Sunday with an impressive series of dives, including the highest-scoring single dive of the day - erasing memories of his poor performance at the Aran Islands blowhole in 2012.

The win also means that Hunt is 150 points in the lead in the series standings as the crew head to Norway for the next leg of this year's championship tour.

Red Bull has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#Coastguard - The HSE has been criticised for deploying two Irish Coast Guard helicopters to the Aran Islands for injured woman who could have been transported to hospital by a commercial flight.

The Irish Times reports that the HSE West has defended its actions in deploying successive rescue helicopters to airlift the elderly tourist as part of the coastguard's air ambulance service, despite the Inis Mór GP who treated her broken ankle describing the injury as not serious.

But the National Ambulance Service does not have a contract with Aer Arann, which operates commuter plane flights in the islands, necessitating a medevac by coastguard helicopter at an estimated total cost of €7,000.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#rnli – RNLI lifeboat crew with Aran Islands RNLI will be able to launch their all weather Severn Class lifeboat faster following the installation of a 24 metre pontoon, which will enable the lifeboat crew to board the lifeboat from a newly installed berth. The new stable platform will also ensure that the transfer of casualties onto or from the lifeboat can be done more easily and safer.

The 56 tonne structure is situated in the harbour between the new breakwater and the original pier. The enormous structure was transported to the island by ferry and carefully manoeuvred into place for fit out over a couple of weeks.

The work brings to completion a major building project on Inis Mór which has also seen a new lifeboat station built on the site of the old one, giving the volunteer lifeboat crew better facilities including a crew changing area and training room. It represents a significant investment by the charity for the island based lifeboat station, which has been in existence since 1927.

Speaking on the recent works RNLI Divisional Operations Manger Owen Medland said, 'this development makes the operation of the Aran Islands lifeboat safer for the crew. Maintenance is easier with shore power and water close at hand. Also most importantly the transfer and handling of casualties can be done with minimum disruption and on the shore. It is also safer for the lifeboat crew who can be responding in the middle of the night and in all weathers to life and death situations. This new pontoon does away with the need of a boarding boat to transfer the crew out to the middle of the harbour to board the lifeboat. It has been a long wait but we are all delighted to finally see the Aran Islands RNLI crew and supporters provided with appropriate modern facilities.'

Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell added, 'This is a very welcome development for the lifeboat station and the whole community. Many of our callouts are medical evacuations and to have this new stable berth for the lifeboat means that a casualty can be safety moved with a minimum of discomfort. It will also shave a few minutes off our launch times which in some search and rescue situations can be vital.'

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

#FishFarm - Any decision on the proposed deep-sea organic salmon farm for Galway Bay is at least six months off, as Galway Bay FM reports.

That was the message from the Department of the Marine after Galway TD Eamon O'Cuiv raised the matter in the Dáil this week.

Previously the Fianna Fáil deputy for Galway West had called on Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) to withdraw its application for the 500-hectare fish farm off Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands in light of dispute over the potential impact of sea lice on the region's wild salmon stocks.

His call, in turn, came after the European Commission halted progress on BIM's plans last November amid concerns regarding scientific studies on the impact of disease at what would be the largest aquaculture scheme of its kind in Europe.

Published in Galway Harbour

#AranIslands - Galway Bay FM reports on fears that winter ferry services to Inis Mór in the Aran Islands might end due to lack of Government funding.

Galway Senator Fidelma Healy Eames raised the issue in the Seanad last week, telling how the Galway Bay islanders have been lumped with travel and fare increases since the ceasing of a State-subsidised contract for Inis Mór's passenger ferry, and the failure to receive tenders for a new five-year contract.

It's already been reported that ferry visits to the Aran Islands have fallen by 20% in six years.

Published in Ferry
Tagged under

#IslandNews - Galway Bay FM reports that ferry visits to the Aran Islands have fallen by 20% in six years.

The latest numbers show that fewer than 160,000 people made the trip from Rossaveal in Connemara to the Galway Bay island chain in 2013, compared to the more than 222,000 who made the journey in 2007.

Reduced ferry services to the islands, as well as a general drop-off in tourism to the West of Ireland, have been suggested as possible causes.

Published in Island News
Tagged under
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