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Displaying items by tag: Asgard

#woodenboat – The wonderful world of Ireland's wooden boats is a winding trail. W M Nixon went to West Clare to see one boat, but unexpectedly happened upon another with which he was totally smitten. Then he found the original objective of his travels was even better than expected. And finally back home, he found the project to re-create Asgard's 10ft dinghy from 1905 has produced a gem of classic boat-building.

With Sally O'Keeffe, it's love at first sight. I defy anyone to resist the allure of this shapely beauty.

You may have heard of this community project in southwest Clare, to build a replica of the working cutters which used to ply their trade in the demanding waters of the Shannon Estuary. And like me, you may even have noted with pleasure that the designer to the project was Myles Stapleton of Malahide, the great unsung star of Irish naval architecture, who has never drawn an unharmonious line in his life.

Yet like me, while you may have been aware that the boat was first launched in 2012, somehow neither of us has ever been in the presence of this remarkable little ship. And this despite the fact that she has been cutting a swathe through the fleet at classic and traditional events between Galway Bay and Baltimore for the past year and more.

Even with all this, I was actually trying to find the whereabouts of another new wooden boat entirely when I stumbled upon Sally O'Keeffe - newly-launched in Kilrush last Saturday - and was instantly smitten. For she's only gorgeous. She looks so utterly right, she's mad keen to sail which she does very well indeed, and she brings much pleasure to everyone involved. This has to be the community project par excellence. But then, Querrin in West Clare is a genuine community par excellence, an idea and vision as much as a place.

It's spread out on your left down towards the Shannon Estuary as you enter the Loop Peninsula, which is Ireland's ultimate place apart. Loop Head's island atmosphere is very marked, with the extensive but shallow Poulnasherry Bay west of Kilrush pushing northwest deep into the land, almost to Kilkee. Thus places like Querrin, until well into the 19th Century and even later, were much reliant on goods being landed at and exported from their little quays.

The Shannon Estuary is a mighty highway, but with the biggest tides in Ireland – 5.6 metres range at top of springs – the workboats carrying the vital goods had to be multi-functional and capable of taking aboard diverse cargoes. Not least of the requirements was a good all-round sailing ability, for although the Galway Hookers away to the north largely plied their trade by reaching back and forth across Galway Bay from Connemara to the Aran Islands, the Shannon Hookers had to excel in windward ability in order to sneak along inside the inevitable foul tides, and weather the increasingly difficult headlands which they encountered as they made their way west. Thus the boats which regularly sailed to Querrin were among the most able on the estuary, and long after the last of them sailed, the folk memory of their significance lingers on.

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Querrin at the heart of things. Once you get west of Poulnasherry Bay, you're in the remote island-like atmosphere of the Loop Head Peninsula. Loop Head itself is another six miles west of the left edge of this map

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Sally O'Keeffe provided a formidable design challenge for Myles Stapleton, as he had to create a roomy and high freeboard hull which still managed to incorporate elegant curves, yet all within an overall hull length of only 25ft. And of course, she had to sail very well too. Photo: W M Nixon

It was thought that the ribs of one of the old sailing workboats were sticking out of the mud at Blackwater Bridge on the road approaching Querrin from Moyasta. So as a local Querrin Sailing group began to gain traction, they got the notion of getting those last remains out of the mud, and restoring a proper Shannon Hooker to be the flagship of their little fleet, and the focus of a worthwhile community project in boat-building.

Perhaps it's as well the old wreck proved to be no more than shallow-water cot, for this seeming disappointment led eventually to designer Myles Stapleton and a magnificent but manageable project to build a new 25ft Shannon Hooker, using ancient photos and old drawings to re-create the best of the type.

In Querrin, Ned Griffin lent his fine shed up the hill for building the new boat, and as she took shape he also came up with the perfect name. In the 19th Century, Sally O'Keeffe had been the wife of a Querrin-based sailing workboat skipper, and she was a woman still remembered. It's a name of great style, but lest anyone think it's just too good to be true, let it be known that in 2012 as the new boat was making her debut, didn't Sally O'Keeffe's grandson – aged a hundred – return from America to give his blessing?

The building had started in 1910, and this Seol Sionna project drew on many sources and much voluntary labour, both within southwest Clare and further afield, to reach completion. They had the benefit of the extensive knowledge of traditional craftwork guru Cristoir Mac Carthaigh, who may be best known for his work in traditional boats, but if you've a bit of old-style thatching in mind, he can help you there too.

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Some of the team at Querrin Sailing who built and sail the Sally O'Keeffe. Seen aboard on launching day at Kilrush are (left to right) Joe Hassett, Criostoir Mac Carthaigh, Michael O'Connell, Stephen Morris, Dixie Collins, Fintan Ryan, John Kennedy and Stephen Courage. Photo: W M Nixon

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Steve Morris. Photo: W M Nixon

As for the building team, the trainee boatbuilders ranged in age from 16 to 80. It all became very possible thanks to Steve Morris, a fully-qualified New Zealand boatbuilder who came to Ireland a long time ago while taking a world backpack tour, and somehow stayed. He got involved in the building of the Jeannie Johnston on Tralee Bay in 1986, and for several years now he has lived near the shores of Poulnasherry Bay, and is a pillar of the maritime scene locally and nationally.

Steve served a full five year apprenticeship in boat-building in Auckland, so the community boat-builders of Querrin have had guidance and teaching of gold standard. In fact, thanks to Steve's input and the enormous goodwill and enthusiasm which the project engendered, it's doubtful if she could have been better built anywhere else in Ireland, while this video of him demonstrating caulking skills shows the standards to which they worked.

The ethos underlying the project has been eloquently articulated by Richard "Dixie" Collins, another of the key movers and shakers in Querrin Sailing:

"This is very much a community project from Loop Head peninsula. A keen, salty group who are sharing skills and enthusiasm for getting out on the ocean, to a place with a big sky and lots going on. There is training in seafaring skills for people who have never been out in a boat, and we provide trips to islands, and old piers which were built for boats like this in another time.

Our logo is taken from a gravestone in Scattery Island church of a boat-builder by the name of O'Mahony in 1832. In this small rural part of the western seaboard, we have built a sailing boat which we can maintain ourselves, and we offer sailing opportunities for everyone in the area for a five euro contribution to the club. An important outcome is the capacity building with new relationships, generational sharing of learning and having a right good time ourselves. It strengthens our sense of community, and is a shared credit to the collective efforts of everyone."

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Despite the robust hull's obvious sailing power, Sally O'Keeffe needs only one hand on the tiller.

As the Sally O'Keeffe was going to be kept undecked with her hull limited to 25ft overall, for safety reasons they had to ask Myles Stapleton to give her quite high freeboard. It says everything about his skills as a creator of good-looking boats that despite the high freeboard – which has proven a Godsend in both the Estuary and on some remarkable and swift coastal passages on the open Atlantic north to Galway and south to Baltimore – the Sally O'Keeffe has a tremendously vigorous style to her appearance. It lifts the spirits just to see the sweep of her sheer and the elegant way in which the transom stern is incorporated in a sweet yet powerful run aft.

In 2013 she sailed forth more than seventy times, and while the highlights were the voyages to Galway and Baltimore, the essence of her popularity is the shorter jaunts within the Estuary, captured very effectively on this brief video by John Collins taken aboard after overnighting with a camp on Canon Island.


Despite a tiller of only average length, she is easily steered – in fact, "finger-tip control" is the theme of much of her sailing. As for her speed, it has pleasantly surprised everyone involved, and the visit to Baltimore found the little 25-footer from the Shannon pacing with or even over-taking the 33ft mackerel yawls from West Cork.

The Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival (this year's is from 23rd-25th May) is the gathering of the crème de la crème of Ireland's wooden boatbuilders. The very fact that they can be up and running so early in the season is proof they're the tops, but as the Baltimore maritime calendar is so full of events, this is when the timber tribe has to take to the seas, even if many older wooden boats elsewhere in Ireland seldom put a toe out until June.

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At the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival 2013, Sally O'Keeffe found herself pacing with the larger 33ft West Cork mackerel yawl

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Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival gathers the crème de la crème of the traditional and classic boat-building brotherhood. This is Rui Ferreira of Ballydehob sailing the Castlehaven Ette Class dinghy which he built, with Sally O'Keeffe in the background making her Baltimore Debut

Meanwhile, nearer home, Querrin Regatta is today. That's right, Saturday May 10th. Unfortunately the weather prospects aren't great, with the jet stream squatting over Ireland like some vast demented dragon. But at least the Sally O'Keeffe is in proper order, as she demonstrated during some heavy weather sailing in the Estuary on Bank Holiday Monday. And the famous West Clare racing currachs are up for it too – last Sunday we saw one of the renowned Doonbeg racing currachs in intensive training off their little port, where the inner reaches now have a handy pontoon in a pool in the river.

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The western way. Racing currach at Doonbeg in training on Sunday morning. Photo: W M Nixon

One local boat which definitely won't be at today's Querrin Regatta is the reason we ended up in Kilrush in the first place. This is Steve Morris's own special pet, and it was Kim Roberts of Askeaton who suggested that this was worth seeing. It certainly is. He has taken a classic Harrison Butler Khamseen design, which is remarkably like an anticipation of Lyle Hess designs like Fred Schotman's Raven from the Netherlands which was in Dublin Bay last year, and is creating his dreamship at home.

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The port side of Steve Morris's 31ft Harrison Butler design looking forward, with the rich texture of the Alpine larch glowing through. Photo: W. M. Nixon

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Don't try this at home.....Steve Morris has managed to fit this 31ft hull into the garage beside his house. Photo: W M Nixon

Steve is building this honey of a boat in multi-skin, using dark dense Alpine larch, the leftovers of a consignment of timber which was brought in from Austria for the building of Jeanie Johnston. The man works so neatly that he has managed to fit the entire project into the admittedly spacious garage beside his house near Moyasta, and the workshop is one of those spiritually-enhancing places which are a balm for the soul.

Particularly impressive is the perfectly-shaped lead ballast keel which fits so well into Harrison Butler's flowing lines. And it's typical of this job too. For when I asked him who made the form and cast the keel for him, he was surprised by the question, as the answer simply is: "I did it myself, right here on site".

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"No problem". The lead ballast keel was cast on site. Photo: W M Nixon

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Even with quite a large garage, it's very difficult to get a photo showing all of a 31ft boat. Starboard side looking aft. Photo: W M Nixon

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Although the Metacentric Shelf theory of hull design to which Harrison Butler subscribed has been large disproved, he still produced hulls of balanced performance with transom sterns which didn't drag half the ocean after them. Photo: W M Nixon

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A dartboard is an essential in any boatbuilding shed. You need something to keep you well away from the job while glue is setting. Photo: W M Nixon

Using "leftover" timber for boat-building projects is an appropriate theme as we emerge from recessionary times. After John Kearon and his team had made such a fine job of conserving Asgard, there were bits and pieces of well-seasoned leftover wood, and they provided enough timber for Pat Murphy and his group of support volunteers to put in train the building of a replica of Asgard's original 1905 10ft dinghy, designed by Colin Archer himself.

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Asgard's dinghy starts to get the finishing treatment. Photo: W M Nixon

It was Fingal boatbuilder Larry Archer (absolutely no relation to the great designer, we're told) who put the little boat together. Like Myles Stapleton when he was tidying up the original drawings of Asgard's lines for a book two decades ago, Larry was very impressed with the way Archer's mind worked, as he designed the transom of the little boat to sit clear of the water when carrying a normal load, thus enabling her to slip easily along without leaving a wake like the inside of a washing machine.

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Pat Murphy with Asgard's dinghy. After leading the creation of this little beauty, he understandably has mixed feels about putting her in rugged salt water. Photo: W M Nixon

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Classic construction and finish detail up forward. Photo: W M Nixon

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The interior in the stern – for a ten footer, she is remarkably detailed, particularly where the required twist is put into the planking to maintain a sweet run aft. Photo: W M Nixon

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With a clever design to keep the transom clear of the water when the boat is carrying a normal load, Colin Archer created an easily driven yet workmanlike hull. Photo: W M Nixon

It's a remarkable bit of boat design, but with the dry timber it was the very devil to build in the necessary twists.. However, it was done in the end, and the new boat emerged in all her glory, exquisitely finished in classic varnishwork by Pat Murphy and George Elliott, with Neville Maguire making an impressive job of restoring an old set of oars to match the style.

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Public debut – Agard's dinghy at Howth Prawn Festival. Photo: Pat Murphy

Asgard's dinghy made her public debut at the Howth Prawn Festival a fortnight ago, and was a star of the show. But the trouble is that when you get a boat finished to this standard, the very thought of putting her into rugged salt water is not appealing. Pat and his team accept the fact that the Asgard dinghy will have to go afloat for the Erskine & Molly Childers Asgard Centenary at Howth on Sunday July 27th. But for now they're much happier just admiring this gem as she shines in the shed, safe from the sea. And who can blame them?

Published in W M Nixon

#Asgard - Round-the-world yachtsman Pat Murphy will give a special presentation later this month on what's perhaps the most famous yacht in Irish history, the Asgard.

All are welcome to the talk at 6.30pm on 31 March at Donaghmede Library in North Dublin, at which Murphy will recount the story of the gun-running vessel's 23-day secret voyage to land munitions for the Irish Volunteers in 1914. Early booking is advised - contact the library at 01 848 2833 or [email protected]

The talk precedes a centennial sail-in this summer to mark the pivotal date in Irish history when the original Asgard, owned and skippered by Erskine Childers, landed at Howth.

On Sunday 27 July 2014 - 100 years and a day after Childers' yacht delivered its cargo to the Irish Volunteers in their fight for home rule - a flotilla of boats comprising vessels from the period and more modern yachts will assemble outside Howth Harbour from 1.30pm.

The recreation of the landing is scheduled for 2.30pm, followed by the official presentation of the restored Asgard to the National Museum of Ireland, where it is currently on display at Collins Barracks; and a community picnic.

The day is being organised by a voluntary group, many of whom were involved in the rigging of the restored vessel, and will be celebrated with pier-side entertainment for all the family.

Published in Tall Ships
Tagged under

ASGARD rises again .. Can you help to find goose barnacles? ... Irish brothers wrap up the 18s in Scotland... Commercial fishermen want bass fisheries re-opened.... The weather hasn't really been so bad – do you believe that? The Channel Tunnel buys ferries ... Lusitania artefacts are assigned to the States and the oceans are saving humans ashore. That is the TIN mix this week.... Read on ....

 

ASGARD IS MAGNIFICENT

I have reported the conservation of Asgard since it began five years ago under the leadership of John Kearon from Arklow who formerly headed up restoration work at Liverpool Maritime Museum where I saw him direct the refurbishment of the Wolfe Tone Bantry Longboat. Both are now on public display at the National Museum in Collins Barracks, Dublin. Asgard looks magnificent, painted on the port side, the varnished hull gleaming on starboard. Standing under the port side at the opening ceremony as she went on public exhibition, I remembered how she had looked when I first saw her, raw, much in need of attention so many years back when John told me with confidence that she would be restored to what she had originally looked like. There was painstaking tracing of artefacts, of locating many items which had been removed from the vessel in previous years. There was a lot of controversy and opposition to the restoration from those who wanted her to go afloat again. They opposed the concept of a vessel being preserved ashore, out of her natural environment. There is no doubt in my mind that the correct decision was taken, to make her a national treasure, on display, open for viewing free-of-charge to the public, a reminder of the birth of our nation and her pivotal role in the 1914 Howth gun-running from which weapons unloaded were later used in the Easter Rising. She will also be remembered as Ireland's first national sail-training vessel. All those memories flowed from the large attendance present when she went on display. I met many friends from the maritime sphere. A common comment was the regret that there is not an Asgard 3 to carry on the great tradition of this name in Irish sail training. The former government and Minister responsible at the time, Willie O'Dea, destroyed Irish sail training, a denial of Ireland's maritime role and of the educational and cultural, formative role of young people through the sea. Is there anyone, any wealthy Irish businessman or business group, who would provide the funding for an Irish sail training vessel. It would have been possible to purchase a new vessel for the €3.8m. compensation paid for the sinking of Asgard 2 but Willie O'Dea handed over that money to the Department of Finance, a blow against Ireland's maritime sphere.

 

COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN WANT BASS FISHERIES OPENED

in bassThe Irish Fishermen's Organisation has called on Marine Minister Simon Coveney to re-open bass fisheries to commercial fishermen. They have been closed for several years but that may lead to Ireland being excluded forever from fishing bass, while foreign vessels in the EU can catch the fish in Irish waters. The EU has begun a process to put controls on the catching of bass by commercial boats, known as the TAC - Total Allowable Catch. Officials have proposed that this be based on commercial landings of bass over a ten-year period. But Ireland will have no adequate record to claim part of this TAC, so once again the Irish government approach will damage the Irish fishing industry and allow foreign nations to continue catching in Irish waters, while Irish boats cannot. The leisure angling industry demanded and got the ban and has benefited from non-commercial catches. While Irish fishermen are banned from catching bass, foreign boats have targeted the species off the South coast and will be allowed continue, even if a TAC is imposed because they have a catching record. "The Irish Government is again handing national resources to foreign usage," said the commercial fishermen's organisation. Anglers are only allowed to have two bass in their possession in any one 24-hour period and they must be over 40 cm. in total length.

 

CAN YOU HELP RESOLVE A STICKY SITUATION?

Humans have not managed to create glues that can be used successfully in wet environments, but sea creatures have and Irish marine researchers are trying to find out how they do it. The secrets of the goose barnacle are being sought so that a synthetic version of their natural underwater glue could be used in surgery and dentistry. This barnacle is mostly at sea so examples are difficult to find ashore. Although goose barnacles look like giant shellfish attached to a long neck, they are in fact filter-feeding creatures.They have an ability to attach themselves to practically every surface and researchers have found they can even do so to non-stick frying pans! The glue-like substance they emit, which hardens into a strong "cement", consists of several proteins. Scientists based at the Martin Ryan Marine Institute in Galway hope to study the glands emitting the glue and the protein composition. The team needs a large supply of goose barnacles and has asked for public help from people on the beaches, swimming, surfing and from divers. The barnacles sporadically wash ashore in Summer along the Irish coast. "It might seem perfectly ordinary that a sea creature can stick to a surface, but if you stop to think about it, it's actually quite an incredible innovation by nature," say the researchers. "Humans haven't managed to create glues that can be used successfully in wet environments, but nature has done it over and over again."

 

TUNNEL BUYS FERRIES – UK GOVERNMENT WANTS TO KNOW WHY

in seafrance

Eurotunnel, the company which operates the Channel Tunnel, has bought three of SeaFrance's former vessels. The move surprised the UK Government where the Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation to decide whether the purchase is in contravention of merger rules. Eurotunnel Chief Executive Officer Jacques Gounon Jacques Gounon said: "There's an evolution in traffic, notably towards heavy goods vehicles, which can't be fully captured by the Channel Tunnel."

 

CORK BROTHERS WRAP UP THE 18S IN SCOTLAND

Cork Harbour Monkstown Bay Sailing Club members, brothers Ewen and Colin Barry won nine of the ten trophies up for competition at the National 18 Class Championships in Findhorn in Scotland, a stunning achievement.

Colin is the Club's Rear Commodore and Ewen is Hon.Treasurer. Another MBSC member, Dave O'Connell, a long-time stalwart of the Class was fifth overall in a fleet which included entries from the Scottish host club, from Temasis Yacht Club in London, the Isle of Man YC and the Royal Cork.

Ewen and his crew were sailing 'Good Bad & Ugly' and were top overall boat on nine points, six clear of brother Colin and his crew sailing 'Purple Warriors' on 13 points in second place. They finished on the same number of points as Colin Chapman from the RCYC. A tie-breaker, used in sailing to establish final positions from the best individual race placings, favoured the Monkstown crew. The National 18-foot dinghy has survived several assaults on its popularity, one of which was from the development of the 1720 Class, named after the founding year of the Royal Cork and which it was once thought would replace the 18. That did not happen and, after a surge of popularity, the 1720 declined for a number of years locally though gaining a lot of support internationally. It is now regaining popularity as a sportsboat.

 

STATE GETS LUSITANIA ITEMS

Items recovered from the last survey of the wreck of the Lusitania have undergone conservation and maintenance in Ireland and been assigned to the State. They include part of the steering mechanism, a bronze telemotor, four portholes, two of them from the first-class passenger area and an indicator used for finding the ship's direction. The items were recovered during the filming of the recently-transmitted National Geographic Channel television documentary. The company sponsored the last survey carried out a year ago.

There have been legal disagreements between American millionaire Greg Bemis who owns the wreck and the State, but there were negotiations involving the National Museum, the National Monuments Service and his representatives after the survey in which Irish maritime archaeologists were involved.

 

A BAD SUMMER - BUT IT COULD BE WORSE!

It has been a bad summer but history shows that there have been much worse! 1783 for example when there was so much volcanic activity around the world and a fog that lasted most of the summer in England, leading to predictions that it was the end of the world! Between June 23 and July 20 of that year the skies over the UK were covered by a smoky fog and there was regular thunder and lightning which terrified people. There were volcanic eruptions in Italy and Japan and a massive eruption on Skaptar Jokull in Iceland where 9,500 people were reported to have died after being smothered by the immense dust cloud which drifted south and covered much of Europe.

Remember the last Icelandic cloud?

 

OCEANS ARE SAVING US

in oceansaving

If the oceans were not soaking up carbon dioxide from land, global warming would be much worse. A new report this week shows that industrial production and human living requirements on land are now creating so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the oceans and plants ashore are having to absorb more than twice the amount they previously soaked up. They are the only brake on global warming, but having to absorb so much CO2 is changing seawater, a process called ocean acidification. "This change will have profound effects on life in the ocean and those who depend on it," according to the report from the University of Colorado in the USA which confirms data from the Global Carbon Project, linking scientists around the world. Carbon soaked up from the atmosphere by the seas has risen to 5 billion tonnes. Twenty years ago the figure was 2.4 billion.

Email comments, opinions, information to: [email protected] more marine news and comment on Twitter: @TomMacSweeney

And on Facebook – THIS ISLAND NATION page

Published in Island Nation

#ISLAND NATION – The historic Asgard I, the original Erskine Childer's yacht which has been under extensive renovation at the National Museum in Dublin is to go on public display this summer. Public involvement is being sought to provide part of the planned exhibition.

Tom MacSweeney has more details in his 'This Island Nation column' below which this week also has reports from Achill, Galway Bay, the fishing and shipping industries and the marine environment. They include the first Chinese offshore exploration and a major international appointment for a Cork seafarer.

THIS ISLAND NATION

I had my first sail of the season on Saturday, not my normal 'opener' of the year in Cork Harbour, but on the waters of Galway Bay. Preparations for the Volvo Race arrival and overall conclusion there in early July are well underway in the midst of the start of the racing season at Galway Bay Sailing Club at Rinville near Oranmore.

It was from the club there that I sailed aboard my son Pat's Contessa 32, Roamer, on what started off as a day of light winds with sunny conditions. Then the skies darkened, it got cold and the wind strengthened so that soon we were beating as the boat shoved waves aside making its course on a voyage of just over two hours to Parkmore near the hallowed, traditional base of the Galway Hookers at Kinvara harbour.

The Contessa range was designed by the legendary David Sadler and is one of the best-known yachts, with a great reputation for seaworthiness. It was good to hold the helm of a yacht again and hear that pleasant rush of water past the hull. There are several classes of boats sailing out of GBSC, with the younger members particularly favouring the Dart 18 catamaran as I saw last Saturday.

ASGARD 1 TO BE OPEN TO PUBLIC FROM JULY – YOU CAN HELP

The restored Asgard 1, the original Erskine Childers yacht which carried out the historic Howth gun-running to the Irish Volunteers in 1914 will go on public display this July, 98 years after the event. The vessel has been restored over several years at the national museum in Collins Barracks Dublin. The present recessionary times restricted funding for the renovation of the building, a former gymnasium where the work was carried out, into a suitable public display area. This has now been resolved and the necessary works are underway. Spars and rigging are the final stages of preparing the yacht itself for display. There has been considerable voluntary effort by a group of boat owners in Howth helping with the renovation of the old mast, booms and standing and running rigging.

Sarah Kingston of the Education Department at the National Museum Decorative Arts & History Section tells me that they are collecting oral histories and memories of people who had some connection to the yacht. "This may be people who served on the Asgard when it was a training vessel, people who were involved in its conservation or people who saw the boat in Kilmainham Jail. We would love people to share their memories, so that these could be incorporated into the exhibition. Their stories would be recorded and quotes of these recordings may be used in the exhibition. It would be great, if you could support our search in any way."

I am delighted to do so. If you can help, if you have memories you can share, contact the museum by Email to: [email protected]

The Asgard exhibition will be a big visitor attraction and show how the marine sphere was vitally involved in Irish history.

ACHILL ISLAND

I was on Achill Island in the past week to launch a book by international artist Alexandra van Tuyll who now lives there. "Sea meets Land" was the appropriate title of the book which is a record of her journey around Ireland in aid of the RNLI. It is composed of her paintings of various locations she chose. There was a big turn-out in Giltie's Pub and Restaurant at Doeega on the westernmost part of the island for the launch. Alexandra was born in the Netherlands and taught art and music before moving to Achill in 2001 to paint full-time. She exhibits solo and in group shows in leading Irish and international galleries and her work is found in both private and public collections.

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Achill RNLI Book - Sea meets land

Operations Manager at the Achill RNLI Tom Honeyman and the crew and fund-raising supporters invited me to visit the station, a modern building at Cloghmore in the southern part of Achill Sound. The station was established in August 1996 and its all-weather lifeboat is kept on moorings. It is always a pleasure to meet and talk with lifeboat people and this visit underlined the huge community involvement with and pride in the lifeboat.

I wish Alex and the Achill Station every success with the book. It has been published by and is available from Achill Art Press Slievemore Road, Keel, Achill, Co.Mayo or by Emailing: [email protected]

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With the Achill Island lifeboat crew

FISHING INDUSTRY NEEDS LOCAL MANAGEMENT

Giving more power to local communities in the fishing industry must be encouraged. There is too much dominance by State and European bureaucracy which has not been helpful. This is underlined in a community-led report published in the biggest whitefish port in the country, Castletownbere in West Cork.

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Castletownbere fishing strategy presented to Marine Minister Simon Coveney. L. to R. Liam O'Driscoll, Vice Chairman Irish South and West Fish Producers' Organisation; John Nolan, Castletownbere Fishermen's Co-op; Eibhlin O'Sullivan, CEO, ISWFPO; Minister Simon Coveney; Frank Fleming, 'Responsible Irish Fish' organisation and Michael Keatinge, BIM Fisheries Development Manager.

More than half the economic life of Castletownbere depends on the offshore fishing industry. With fish farming and ancillary activities added that dependence increases to 86 per cent. The economic figures, revealed in the report compiled by the State fisheries Board, BIM and local fishing industry organisations, underline how vital the industry is to coastal areas. It provides 81 per cent of all employment in the town. The money spent by those employees keeps business turning over.

The proposals were presented to Marine Minister Simon Coveney. Key actions proposed include improved co-operation in the catching sector; new gear adaptations and techniques; tuna and boarfish processing locally; a frozen prawns brand and an increase in aquaculture development and processing.

SHIPPING

Cork Mariner Appointed European Chairman

Captain Michael McCarthy, formerly Deputy Harbour Master in the Port of Cork and now its Commercial Manager, has been elected Chairman of the Cruise Europe organisation which has a hundred member groups in the Atlantic Europe and Baltic Region, including Portugal, Russia, Iceland, Scandinavia, Norway and the UK, developing the cruise ship business. He has been involved in the maritime sphere for 40 years, as a Master Mariner, Ships' Captain and marine surveyor.

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Captain Mike McCarthy of the Port of Cork

The cruise industry faces major challenges, not just from recession but the effect on public confidence of the Costa Concordia disaster in January and other emergencies at sea involving cruise ships, as well as rapidly increasing operational costs, such as fuel.

"The organisation provides cruise ship owners with top-class destinations of which Ireland is a major one. There are over 200 cruise calls to Ireland a year carrying half-a-million passengers and crew. This is worth €60 million," Capt. McCarthy said.

World Harbour Masters Visit Cork

The 8th International Harbour Masters Association (IHMA) Congress, "Global Ports & Marine Operations" will be underway from Monday, May 14, in Cork City Hall. The Congress is held every two years and this is the first time it is being held in Ireland. An attendance of 300 local and international harbour masters is expected to hear 30 leading industry speakers.

MARINE ENVIRONMENT

More Water Moved

More water moved into and out of the atmosphere in 2000 than in 1950, making parts of the world's oceans saltier and fresh waters less salty according to American researchers this week. A warming planet may be to blame. Evaporation and rainfall increased by 4 per cent as surface temperatures rose half a degree. That is a bigger change than previous studies suggested, but underlines that a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture.

EXPLORATION

Oil Day In China

China brought its first home-made, deepsea, semi-submersible oil drilling rig into operation on Wednesday. This starts the country's offshore exploration programme. The new rig, Ocean Oil 981, took six years to build and has been towed to the eastern region of the South China Sea to begin 56 days of drilling to a depth of over 7,000 feet. It is being operated by the State-run National Offshore Oil Corporation and is another stage in Chinese economic development.

oceanoil981

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Published in Island Nation

#TALL SHIPS - The flagship vessel for an Asgard-type sail training programme in Cork has been locked up in a boatyard since 2007, the Irish Examiner reports.

The Omar B was supposed to be the focus of a Youthreach project based in Bantry for early school leavers. But the schooner has spent the last four-plus years in storage in Baltimore, and has been deteriorating due to lack of maintenance - despite the scheme still notionally running, the newspaper report says.

Five two-man dinghies purchased with grant money have also reportedly spent most of 2011 in storage.

Co Cork's VEC has now put the €150,000 sailing programme under review following concerns over storage costs and lack of direction for the project.

The 75ft Omar B was donated to the CCVEC by owner and builder Don Attig in 2003 and refitted for use by students thanks to generous voluntary funding. Attig said the boat was of immense benefit to students who would not otherwise be in education.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Tall Ships

Although not a 'Long Eireannach', the yacht Creidne is nevertheless a proud member of the Naval fleet. She looked very much the part, with her gleaming blue topsides, during manouvers in Cork Harbour for Royal Cork Yacht Club's annual Naval race last Sunday. PHOTOS BELOW BY BOB BATEMAN.

Creidne underwent an extensive refit in Haulbowline in 2009 and one of her proposed uses is as a stopgap measure, pending the acquisition of a permanent replacement for Ireland's Tall Ship Asgard II.

_DSC4726

Creidne under Sail. Photo: Bob Bateman. More photos below

Creidne previously acted as a stand in Sail Training Vessel between the retirement of the original Asgard, and the construction of Asgard II. She was the national sail-training vessel from 1975 to 1980.

She was built in Norway in 1967 and is a 48 ft bermudan ketch, originally named Galcador.

Creidne is one of two yachts owned by the Naval Service, the other being Tailte. (Also pictured below). A third yacht Nancy Bet, also used by the Navy, was sold a few years ago.

A limited cruise programme (mainly in Irish waters) is planned, she has a capacity for about 8 trainees compared to 20 on Asgard II.

Published in Tall Ships
Erskine Childers' Asgard, the 1905-built 51ft Colin Archer ketch, is one of the stars of this fascinating book, as her meticulous restoration at Collins Barracks by John Kearon and his team of expert shipwrights drawn from the Arklow tradition has been a fine example of wooden ship conservation.

John Kearon – who is himself from Arklow – is one of the foremost in this field, with a distinguished career centred on the historic ships programme in Liverpool. His patient work, in making Asgard a non-seagoing conserved version of the vessel as she was when Erskine and Molly Childers had her built as a wedding present from her Molly's father, has clarified design features which had been lost in alterations made in the 1930s and the 1960s.

John_Kearon_with_Asgard

John Kearon with Asgard in Collins Barracks at an early stage of the conservation. Photo: W M Nixon

The quality of his research and craftsmanship has also helped in deciding Asgard's future. It is right that she should be conserved rather than restored. But if any group wishes to build a sailing replica, then the definitive plans are now available.

The features on aspects of Asgard's conservation are only part of a very comprehensive extensively illustrated book which covers historic ships and boats of any types. Naturally there's a significant element of serious academic insight. But those of us who are fascinated by all craft immediately warm to a learned volume which, despite its adherence to historical rigour and correctness, nevertheless refers to each vessel as "she".

WMN

Understanding Historic Vessels-Volume 3
Published by National Historic Ships, £30.
www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk

Published in Book Review

Asgard II's wheel and bell look like new again following their recovery from the sunken Irish sail training brigantine. Unlike 2005, Asgard won't be sailing in this year's Tall Ships race when it calls to Waterford but one suggestion doing the rounds is that the shiny bell should sound the start of the race from Waterford on July 3. It's a nice idea, certainly a lot nicer than rotting on the French seabed or sitting on a shelf in the Office of the Receiver of Wrecks. Let us know what you think in our poll on the left hand column.

asgardbell

Back from the deep: Asgard II's bell (above) and wheel look like new again. Should they have a place at the Tall Ships Waterford, vote in our reader poll!

 

asgardwheel

Published in Tall Ships
Although most sailing delegates attending last weekend's Tall Ships workshop in Dublin appear to see Ireland's future sail training vessel as a square rigger there was one proposal floated last Saturday that, say the promoters, would at least be a temporary solution to allow young and old alike an opportunity to sail and experience Sail Training.  Gail McAllister of West Cork Sailing School own a 'Tall Ship Sailing Sloop' and here is what she proposes:

"There was fantastic energy at the Tall Ships workshop and while it was agreed that Ireland would benefit tremendously from an iconic square rigger tall sihip, this will take some to bring to fruition.

In the meantime, we are can look to existing Tall Ships operating with Irish Flag to offer the great experience that Sail Training can offer.  Rohan MacAllister, previously captain of Asgard II for 10 years attended the meeting with Gail & Niall MacAllister of West Cork Sailing Centre to present Cypraea as a marvelous tall ship sailing sloop that is equipped to provide sail training on our Irish waters this summer. 

The attendees of the meeting congratulated the MacAllisters on their tenacity and determination in bringing their sail training vessel to our waters and making the "Sail Training Experience" accessable for teenagers and adults this summer by dedicating July to Teenage Sail Training 5 day adventure sails for 350 euro and August to Adults at 450 euro.
Cypraea is a 23.5m steel sloop with berths for 10 at present and plans to increase to 16.  She has three sails and is an extremely hands on team work sailing experience.

West Cork Sailing have been providing ISA and RYA sailing for many years and are excited to be providing Sail Training and the amazing life changing opportunity that it can bring".

Looking for further reading on Tall Ships in Ireland? Click the links below:

Click this link to read all our Tall Ships Stories on one handy page


Previewing Ireland's Tall Ships 2011 Season


Can Ireland Get a New Tall Ship?

Published in Tall Ships

Ireland could yet have a Tall ship to replace the Asgard II and the Lord Rank, if a new sailing group formed to press for a replacement is successful. The news is in this morning's Irish Times newspaper. Groups representating different interests from maritime to tourism to economic are getting together for a special conference on March 26th in Dublin Port. The full Irish Times story is HERE. Next week in Afloat magazine's March/April issue an article called 'Tall Order for Ireland' gives all the details on the conference. It includes a 'call for contributions' from key stakeholders who would support a Tall Ship for Ireland. More details HERE. And in a separate article WM Nixon looks at the realities of national sail training in the 21st Century.  This new move on a replacement seems to have entirely appropriate timing; Asgard II was commissioned in Arklow 30 years ago this week, on March 7, 1981.

Looking for further reading on Tall Ships in Ireland? Click the links below:

Click this link to read all our Tall Ships Stories on one handy page


Previewing Ireland's Tall Ships 2011 Season


Can Ireland Get a New Tall Ship?

Published in Tall Ships
Page 2 of 3

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