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A 10–metre catamaran type yacht that ran aground two miles north of Hook Head, in County Wexford, Ireland is believed to have drifted free from its moorings.

Volunteer lifeboat crew launched yesterday morning following reports of the grounded cruiser. On arrival, the lifeboat crew found the unmanned yacht sitting deep in the water, perilously close to the rocks.

First on scene was Fethard RNLI Inshore lifeboat whose crew established a tow with the yacht, however this proved unsuccessful.

Shortly after, Dunmore East RNLI Lifeboat arrived on scene and put two crew on board the casualty vessel with a pump to try and drain the water from the yacht and establish a tow to recover it to a nearby harbour.

However, once on board, the lifeboat crew discovered that the yacht had taken on a large amount of water and that it was in danger of sinking. When they attempted to establish a tow the vessel dangerously dipped low into the water and the attempt was abandoned.

The Irish Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter Rescue 117 were also called out to the incident.

A decision was taken to leave the vessel as it was determined that the crew were in danger if they stayed on the yacht.

Published in Coastguard

#fireball – Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (15114) put together an almost flawless defence of their 2014 Irish Fireball Nationals title in Dunmore East over this past weekend writes Cormac Bradley. Almost flawless? They dropped one race in the nine-race event, finishing second in Race 7, but winning all other races.
International Race Officer Con Murphy (Dun Laoghaire) was given a set of challenging conditions to work with over the weekend. Due to the wind direction we had three days of big seas and waves, prompting a 2hr postponement on the Saturday morning when we were joined on the race course by Flying Fifteens and 420s. As he stated at the Saturday morning briefing, the wind strength (+ 20 knots) and sea conditions warranted holding back the fleet for safety reasons. As he admitted, tongue in cheek afterwards, the race committee team on board the 36-foot committee boat wanted some respite from the rolling seas as well.
McCartin & Kinsella made a clean sweep of Days 1 & 2, winning each of three Windward/Leeward races on both days. Kenny Rumball & Brian Byrne (15058) and the Clancy Brothers, Conor and James (15113) shared out the seconds and thirds between themselves, with the exception of Race 4 when Mick Creighton & Hugh Johnson (1506X) took third place. As my interim reports tried to convey, the first three boats were comfortable in their positions and one has to admit the racing among them was a bit processional.
Behind them there was a different story! Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) and Creighton & Johnson, were sharing the next raft of places on the water. Mike Murphy & Alex Voye (14908) had a poor first day when their centreboard gasket parted from the hull. This cost them two races on Day 1, but they finished with a flourish taking 4th place in the last race of the day. Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe (14691) had their best day on Friday counting a 6th and 2 x 8th, while Mary Chambers & Cormac Bradley (14865) after missing the first race due to a work commitment, entered the fray with a 7th and a retirement. The youngest combination on the water, Edward Coyne and Adrian Lee (14044) from Youghal, not Kinsale as previously reported, took eighth place in the first race.
On each of the first two days the wind was at its strongest early in the morning and eased as the day wore on. But the sea conditions made it a very physical sail and on the Friday evening some crews admitted to taking an early nap in order to sustain themselves for the rest of the evening.
On Sunday morning the fleet was greeted with a rain shower as they rigged up but this soon passed to give way to sunshine conditions again. Rather than wait for the Flying Fifteens to launch first, the Fireballs were encouraged to launch with them in order to get racing underway on time (10:30). For a change the wind was modest, but the seas were still there. This was reflected by the fact that the fleet rounded the first weather mark of the day in a bunch. Gybing immediately at the spreader mark paid dividends and as the fleet approached the leeward gate they were still in good company. A gust came through as the leeward gate loomed and this caused a number of capsizes under spinnaker, leading to two retirements – this correspondent being one of them. That means I can't tell you how Rumball & Byrne took the race win.
After the gust disappeared the wind stayed up but sunshine returned and order was restored with McCartin & Kinsella taking the last two races. Team Clancy fell off the pace a little, recording a 4th and a 5th in these last races but they were never in danger of losing their overall spot in the pecking order.

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Brian Byrne, Kenneth Rumball

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Conor Clancy, James Clancy

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Adrian Lee, Edward Coyne

Mike Murphy, now with son James on board took full advantage of the conditions to record a 4, 3, 3, on Sunday, while Miller & Butler scored two fifths and a fourth.
Colin & Casey's regatta came to a premature end when the hook attaching the kicker to the base of the mast broke and McKenna & O'Keeffe's regatta was cut short by a loose gudgeon on the rudder.
The prize-giving was held in fantastic sunshine on the deck of the clubhouse and due thanks were given to all those who had contributed to a great weekend of racing. The hosting of three classes at a single venue over the same weekend is the only way that these events are viable for clubs. Our current fleet size does allow us to secure a venue by ourselves so we have to partner with other classes if we are to put a calendar together.
Another concern for the Irish Fireball Class must be the low numbers we are experiencing at present. Ten boats is a very poor turnout and means we have to really consider why the numbers are what they are? All events suffer from occasional absences but we no longer have the depth of numbers to accommodate occasional absences when our core fleet is so small.
The club distribution of the Nationals reads as follows:- Royal St George Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire, 3, Irish National Sailing Club, Dun Laoghaire, 1, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, 3, Dun Laoghaire/Clontarf composite, 1, Waterford Harbour Sailing Club (hosts), 1 and Youghal Sailing Club, 1. Of these clubs, three had their full turn-out of known Fireballs at the club, INSC, WHSC and Youghal. Another Dun Laoghaire Fireballer stood at the top of the slipway on the one morning in Dunmore East curious as to why there were so few Fireballs racing.
We don't have an exhaustive calendar with a plethora of events – 5 regattas spread over six months – Open in May, Ulsters in June, Nationals in July, Munsters in September and Leinsters in October. We had a training event in April and the Worlds, organised by others, are in August in Wales.
Of the other clubs where we know there are Fireballs – Skerries (1), Killaloe (4/5), Clontarf (4/5), East Down Yacht Club (2/3) – none were available. On Tuesday of last week, six boats contested the Tuesday race of Dublin Bay Sailing Club and this forthcoming weekend (9th – 12th July), eight Fireballs are registered to contest the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, even with other Fireball commitments to big boat racing.
The Fireball Worlds take place in Pwllheli, Wales, in the second half of August and it would appear at this stage as if our involvement there will be disproportionately high relative to the size of our domestic fleet size. It is an interesting contrast!
Dunmore East were exceptional hosts again – fresh scones with jam and cream available every morning in the clubhouse, at no charge, an excellent BBQ on the Saturday night and bar staff who kept the drinks flowing until a good hour. Volunteer members cooked and served the meal on Saturday night. Two parties of Fireballers ended up in the same post-mortem venue on the Friday evening – The Spinnaker Bar & Restaurant – before adjourning back to the clubhouse.
Con Murphy espoused punctuality on the race course, starting races on time, turning them around very quickly and starting Fireball races while the "Fifteens" and 420s were still racing.

2015 Irish Fireball Nationals, Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, Overall Results.
1 Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella 15114 RStGYC 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 7pts
2 Kenneth Rumball & Brian Byrne 15058 INSC 2 2 3 5 2 2 1 2 2 13pts
3 Conor & James Clancy 15113 RStGYC 3 3 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 19pts
4 Mike Murphy & Alex Voye/James Murphy 14908 WHSC 11 11 4 11 4 4 4 3 3 33pts
5 Mick Creighton & Hugh Johnson 1506X GBC 5 6 7 3 5 5 8 6 6 36pts

The Classic Trophy and the Silver Fleet Prize were won by Edward Coyne and Adrian Lee of Youghal Sailing Club.The regatta prizes and the event overall enjoyed support from sponsors Ernest & Young and the Club Commodore presented the prizes to the three fleets.

For some Irish Fireballers, their next event is across the pond in Wales. For the balance, there is a hiatus until we reconvene at Lough Derg Sailing Club in September for the Munsters. This again will be a shared venue with Wayfarers and 420s.

Published in Fireball

#RNLI - Dunmore East RNLI is holding a 'blessing of the boats' ceremony and lifeboat open day in Dunmore East harbour next Sunday 21 June at 2pm.

The Dunmore East RNLI all-weather lifeboat will position in the harbour for the ceremony, and all seagoing vessels are welcome to come alongside for the duration.

The flotilla of boats will then head to sea, just outside the harbour wall, where the Dunmore East lifeboat crew will lay a wreath to remember those lost at sea.
 


At 3pm the Dunmore East Lifeboat will be joined by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117 for a winching demonstration. On return to the harbour, the lifeboat and station house – and lifeboat shop – will be open to the public. 


The crew of Dunmore East RNLI are also having a BBQ at the station house afterwards, and welcome everyone to come and join them for a burger and light refreshments complements of the crew, along with music by the Matt Tappers and lots of fun with net mending and splicing competitions open to all. 


"The blessing of the boats is a great tradition in Dunmore East and we hope that the fishermen, sailors and all seagoers will join our flotilla to remember those lost at sea," says Dunmore East RNLI's Neville Murphy.

"Our boat will be open to the public, so it a great chance for everyone to get a look inside an all-weather Trent class lifeboat and meet the crew who will answer all your questions.

"Our open day is our way of saying thank you to those who support us in our mission to save lives at sea."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#dunmoreastdredging – The dredging works underway at the entrance to Dunmore East harbour means visitors to the south–east fishery centre will be severely restricted this summer and visitor berths most likely be limited to swinging yacht club moorings. The largely anticipated restriction is due to dredging and is confirmed in a Marine Notice downloadable below. Dredging works are also being carried out in the harbour basin and will be ongoing until September.

Dunmore East Harbour Master Harry McLoughlin says 'Unfortunately, there will be no visiting leisure craft pontoons in place during 2015', McLoughlin suggests calling Waterford Harbour Sailing Club's Cruiser Captain, Rene Wubben on 0872199570 who may be in a position to allocate visitor moorings nearby. 

Published in Coastal Notes
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#dunmoreeast – The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced details of a €6m dredging project, which his Department has awarded for works at Dunmore East Fishery Harbour Centre. The contract to complete the works was awarded to L&M Keating Ltd. following a competitive tendering process. It is anticipated that the works will commence next month and be substantially completed by the end of September.

Whether it is a suitable harbour for a marina has been the focus of some intense debate on Afloat.ie

On making the announcement the Minister said "I am delighted to be able to announce that the much needed dredging works in Dunmore East will commence shortly following the award of the contract. The Fishery Harbour Centre at Dunmore East is an important piece of infrastructure which is the bedrock of the local community and is integral to the Governments policy to further develop our fishing industry, the wider seafood sector and indeed other ancillary and marine leisure industries."
Years of siltation in the harbour has restricted vessel traffic and made manoeuvrability and fish landings problematic for fishermen. This maintenance dredging operation will cover the harbour area itself and the entrance channel to the Harbour basin. The Minister went on to say "Today's announcement is a further indication of this Governments commitment to the fishing industry in the South East. When complete, not only will the harbour be more accessible to larger vessels, landing times and vessel management will be much improved as will the availability of the syncrolift, which is required to raise vessels to facilitate their repair and maintenance."

The volume and value of fish landings into Dunmore East have increased significantly in recent years, and the size of fishing vessels using the harbour have also increased. Currently the siltation impedes their ability to operate efficiently, while making the syncrolift unusable.

Concluding the Minister said" This is the single largest capital investment in our Fishery Harbour Centres this year, and when complete, the Dunmore East Harbour will be well equipped to attract larger Irish and foreign fishing vessels, while also benefiting other commercial and leisure harbour users. It will complement the works carried out in 2013 and 2014 to create a new and enlarged slipway for marine leisure and fisheries users and also the newly opened harbour user's facilities in the ground floor of the Harbour management Building. Those works and the new €6m dredging contract announced today will improve the utilisation of the infrastructure in Dunmore East and will help to stimulate further economic development in the area with a spin off for local job creation"

Published in Coastal Notes

#CoastalNotes - Online video channel IrishTV has turned its cameras on Dunmore East for the latest edition of Waterford County Matters – going out on the water with the local RNLI lifeboat for a training exercise, discussing seasonal trade with businesses in the popular seaside town and much more besides.

Published in Coastal Notes

#flyingfifteens – Ireland's Flying Fifteen man in Waterford, Charlie Boland, has organised an information session on Tuesday next week for those interested in taking up sailing or switching into the 20–foot keelboat class.

Boland, of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club in Dunmore East says: "Sailing a Flying Fifteen is an affordable way to learn the ropes and have great fun on the water. Next season will see several new boats arrive at the club."

He adds that he is actively on the lookout for entry-level boats for the club's new Fifteeners to purchase.

The information meeting takes place on Tuesday at 19:30 the Haven Hotel, Dunmore East. Contact Charlie at 087 2224475 for more details.

Published in Flying Fifteen

#RNLI - Dunmore East RNLI launched yesterday (Saturday 11 October) to assist four people on a 6m rigid inflatable boat, or RIB, that got into difficulty off the Waterford coast.

The RIB, which was lost and suffering engine failure, was located two miles south of Hook Head Lighthouse.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 10.25am at the request of the Irish Coast Guard. The people in the RIB raised the alarm by mobile phone and were unsure of their location.

Fifteen minutes after launch, the Trent Class lifeboat Elizabeth and Ronald located the vessel. All four people on board, who were wearing buoyancy aids, were transferred onto the lifeboat.

The casualty vessel was then towed into the safety of Dunmore East Harbour at 11.55am.

Speaking following the callout, Dunmore East RNLI coxswain Michael Griffin said: "Luckily the conditions today were very good. I would like to remind people to plan their trip carefully and to be sure to carry all the proper safety equipment needed."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

#rnli – Dunmore East RNLI lifeboat in County Waterford rescued a cow on Saturday after she fell off a cliff and became stranded.
The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat just before 4pm at the request of the Irish Coast Guard following a report that a small boat with three people on board was in difficulty.

The vessel was reported to be in close proximity to rocks just under Creadan Head in the Waterford Estuary approximately two miles north east of Dunmore East.

The Trent Class lifeboat Elizabeth and Ronald arrived on scene five minutes after launching. The lifeboat crew noted that the small boat was not in actual difficulty but was trying to rescue a cow which had fallen over a cliff and was stranded at the bottom.
The RNLI crew assisted the three people by setting up a rope system for them and together with the assistance of Dunmore East Coast Guard the cow was brought ashore safely.

Speaking following the call out Dunmore East RNLI Deputy Coxswain Ray Power said: 'As a lifeboat crew we never know what we might be facing each time we are called, but in this case thankfully the actual call was not as serious as we first thought, but we were glad we could help all the same and bring the cow to safety.'

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

#marinetourism – Yet another Failte Ireland Marine Research initiative is taking shape to examine the coastal infrastructure for leisure sailors of all kinds, and how facilities might be developed to attract visitors from abroad, while better serving the home fleets. In view of this new research programme, W M Nixon returns to the topic of Dunmore East's potential for development, and sets it in the national context.

Every port in Ireland should be so lucky as to have someone like Harry McLoughlin as Harbour Master. Down in Dunmore East, he's passionate about fulfilling the potential of his picturesque harbour. And it's no easy task, as Dunmore is trying to cope with meeting the demands of a growing home port fishing fleet, while the numbers seeking berths can fluctuate rapidly with visiting boats.

At the same time, the peak summer months will see leisure craft arrive in unpredictable numbers, keen to avail of any sheltered berthing to be had in a port whose strategic usefulness will be obvious to anyone with experience of cruising the Irish coast. And on top of that, from time to time cruise liners will call by, anchoring off and seeking to disembark passengers via their ship's tenders in this characterful little port, where virtually every inch of quayside and pontoon space is already taken by a wide variety of boats.

This provides a colourful and crowded scene, which makes it even more attractive for visitors who might be jaded by the usual big port/cruise liner berthing routine. But it's a headache for a harbour master who has to juggle the often conflicting requirements of different boat interests.

Last week's series of photos gave a snapshot of a few moments in a Dunmore East summer afternoon which well illustrate the challenges that Harry McLoughlin constantly faces. The reality is that the new industrial-style 40 metre pontoon along the East Pier under the lighthouse is a multi-purpose facility. Certainly it has been installed with leisure visitors in mind. But thanks to the welcome growth in the Dunmore East fishing fleet in the last couple of years, there are times when the dedicated pontoons for smaller fishing craft in the southwest corner of the harbour become impossibly crowded. The main quays have to be left clear for large trawlers unloading their catches and their other berthing requirements. So when there's so much pressure on space, some smaller fishing boats are sent across to the Visitors' Pontoon if it happens to be clear, and no visitor is expected.

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No room at the inn.......an unannounced and unexpected cruising boat finds no space available when pressure is on the berthing at the small craft pontoon. Photo: W M Nixon

It has to be confessed, though, that some of us when cruising are oddly reluctant to call ahead to the Harbour Office when approaching a new port. We prefer just to come in round the pierhead, hoping to be able to choose our own favoured berth without any communication with officialdom at all. It's part of the attraction of cruising when you can do this, as it adds to the sense of freedom which commanding your own small boat is supposed to confer. But the reality is that in a place like Dunmore East, you just have to call ahead, and that is what last week's photos, in the final analysis, seem to be all about.

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When they pack them in at Dunmore East, they do it big time. A notably trim fleet of smaller craft crowded at their own pontoon. Photo: Aileen Egan

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The big boys are in town. Quay space has to be kept available at all times for the comings and goings of larger trawlers. Photo: Harry McLoughlin

But with so much pressure on space, how can Dunmore also cope with the special demands of cruise liner passengers – many of them far from the first flush of youth – disembarking from ship's tenders? Well, in the spirit of community which keeps Dunmore going, the secret is the cruise liner passengers are allowed to come ashore on the usually hallowed territory of the RNLI pontoon.

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An example of a port harnessing different activities and working together with yachts, trawlers and, in the foreground, cruise line passengers disembarking at Dunmore East. Photo: David O'Brien

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The extended slipway at Dunmore East, which has an abundance of younger sailors who would benefit greatly from an improved harbour. Photo: Harry McLoughlin

That such a temporary re-allocation of resources is necessary from time to time reinforces the genuine demand for improved facilities at many of Ireland's key ports. It will be interesting to see how the priorities are high-lighted by the international research programme which is being implemented under a new Failte Ireland initiative, with an advisory panel of Norman Kean, who researches and edits the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions for both the book and on-line versions, Paal Janson the General Manager of Dun Laoghaire Marina, representing the Irish Marine Federation, and Gail MacAllister of the ISA.

We could be forgiven for being a bit bewildered about some of this. Exactly seventeen months ago, in this blog on Saturday April 13th 2013, we were welcoming an up-coming report for Failte Ireland, titled: A Review of Tourism Policy Regarding the Funding of Marina and Berthing Facilities in Ireland. Ultimately known as the Fisher Report and resulting from the work of an agency from outside Ireland, it has since been gathering dust on some shelf. Now, that dust has apparently congealed into aspic with the realisation that the report was so vague and general that it didn't provide any sufficiently clearcut conclusions and proposals to form the basis of a policy.

The questionnaires which are being developed will be targeted at Irish, British, French and German markets. Making a point of ensuring that Irish leisure sailors are included in the equation strikes me as essential, for not only are we often sailing visitors in our own country, as our island's coastlines are long enough and sufficiently varied to make this the case, but visitors from abroad are attracted by the vibrant Irish sailing scene. Thus anything which provides better facilities for our own sailors will be beneficial in a much wider context.

The guidance of someone as experienced in cruising as Norman Kean will be invaluable, as the framing of the questions is vital in producing a worthwhile result. Then too, Norman is at the heart of the Irish sailing and boating scene, both with his key role in the internationally-praised Cruising Club Sailing Directions, and the fact that he is based at Courtmacsherry in West Cork, a friendly port which has shown it knows a thing or two about how to make visiting cruising boats feel welcome, and wish to come back again.

So we can be sure that the doughty Norman will accurately and eloquently represent the views and requirements of the Irish boating community, whose enthusiastic approach to sailing in all its forms is an important part of the package for boating visitors. This is all-too-frequently overlooked by the powers-that-be, who are so keen to tot up numbers of new visitors that they overlook the existence and needs of Ireland's large home sailing community, all of whom are more than willing to be personal hospitality managers when visiting boats come to call.

But in any case, regarding the ultimate value of market research, we should remind ourselves of Henry Ford's opinion on it, as we did back on April 13th 2013. The great car pioneer and manufacturer said that when starting out in business, if he'd asked his potential customers what they wanted, they'd have demanded a faster horse...

It seems that with the Fisher Report, we didn't even get a slow horse, we got a lame duck. So for the moment, instead of setting up a ponderous set of questions, Afloat.ie will simply dream on. What do we want for good cruising in Ireland? Well, setting aside those who insist that a giant astrodome should be installed to cover the entire country before they'll come near the place, we have a wish list that begins with good sailing which is sometimes sufficiently challenging to make the completion of each passage a satisfying experience. And all of it to be done with a background of attractive coastal scenery.

As for making safe passages, and then getting the best from each haven at the end, we'll know that the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions are an indispensable guide. Ideally, we'll be in an area with an abundance of natural anchorages where we can put down our own anchor without fear of fouling abandoned moorings or other detritus on the seabed. If there are reliable and regularly-serviced visitors moorings, that's fine and welcome too. But we who cruise the Irish coast, and the western seaboard in particular, do so in the knowledge that any proper cruising vessel will have her own more-than-adequate ground tackle.

If we happen to be sailing along an Irish coastline which lacks an abundance of natural harbours, we would like handy artificial harbours – preferably with marinas – at about 35 mile intervals or even less, as 35 nautical miles seems to be the magic distance which is easily attainable in one day, yet its completion really does make you feel you've moved on.

This sense of needing to move on is part of what cruising is all about. It satisfies some hidden genetic urge which most of the time is dormant in us, but given half a chance, there is indeed a gypsy in our soul. However, having satisfied our wanderlust by the modest total of 35 or so miles made good, what will we expect to find ashore?

Your complete dyed-in-the-wool cruising person is often content simply to stay on board enjoying the natural grace which is provided by a boat lying comfortably to her own anchor. Be sure, though, to choose a spot where your pride-and-joy won't be uncomfortably tide-rode, which so often turns out to be the case in what looked to be a snug if narrow inlet.

In their wellnigh perfect anchorage, these traditional cruising folk will be happy to dine aboard. At such times, you realise that a good sea cook is a pearl beyond price, much more valuable – in this age of sensitive auto-helms – than a top helmsman for the general welfare of the crew and the success of the cruise.

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Mayo SC's landing pontoon at Rosmoney on Clew Bay is an impressive piece of work. Photo: W M Nixon

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The attractive facilities at Mayo SC bring in a membership from all over North Connacht. Photo: W M Nixon

Such traditional cruising people, if they do go ashore, are quite happy to scramble up some awkward foreshore for a bracing hike on nearby moorland, or even climb a mountain or two. But the vast majority of us – and an increasing majority as newcomers arrive in cruising – prefer to get easily ashore from an anchored boat via the dinghy onto a good jetty, and ideally a landing pontoon - such as you see at civilised places like Mayo Sailing Club on Clew Bay – is both much safer, and more convenient.

However, let's face it, when cruising you're on your holidays. After a perhaps slightly rugged day at sea, there's no doubting the benefits conferred by a comfortable marina berth. Apart from the safety and security, there's the simple sense of freedom. While there are those who enjoy the restricted and aromatic confines of a cruising yacht, for many it can quickly become claustrophobic, and the freedom of personal movement which a marina confers on the cruising crew can be vital for preserving harmony. And it greatly broadening the options of what to do once ashore, because unlike the crew from an anchored boat reliant on one dinghy, crews in marinas can come and go as they please.

Perhaps it's the fact that they have this choice is one of the reasons why, by and large, cruising crews tend to stay as a group when they are ashore – they may even be celebrating the fact that they're still friends, and a marina can help in this.

As to what's needed ashore, basically it's good hospitality facilities within easy walking distance. The "easy walking" requirement cannot be over-emphasised. Once you're into a cruise, you're moving at a different speed in a different frame of mind, and too much walking on tarmac or cobblestones or whatever becomes simply tiresome. In fact, you'll have noticed that some experienced cruising folk are surprisingly willing to take a taxi if there's anything other than a short walk involved. For they also know that, coming off a boat, you're out of sync with road traffic – a cruising crew ambling along a busy road can be a hazard to themselves and a distracting menace for other road users.

So we're beginning to get the picture of our cruising crew's Irish dream port. It has to be colourful, characterful, and compact. Ideally, all facilities for every possible need, including repair, fuelling and re-storing, should be within easy reach from a marina berth with full-sized walkways and proper pontoons – you might be a bit rocky on your pins after a rough day at sea, and sea legs need something better than a cogglesome thin little finger pontoon.

From all this, it is clear that Kinsale is the Irish cruising port par excellence, even if the Yacht Club marina does get over-crowded betimes, and even if, when the ebb is running hard and there's a strong sou'easter blowing, the boats rafted along the outer berths have a bumpy time of it. Despite all this, Kinsale has so much to offer we can learn from it, and from other top cruising visitor places like Dingle and Howth while the new harbour at Greystones on the Wicklow coast is a fascinating example of a port in active transition from a small boat mini-haven to a proper harbour with marina and full facilities for multiple uses.

But equally there has to be fresh thinking about making the best of existing ports. In other words, the old notion that some ports should be exclusively designated as Fisheries Harbours is patently nonsense when those harbours are located in key positions with ready-made characterful port towns and villages as part of the package.

There still is some residual resistance in a few ports to the very notion of a marina being installed. But it should be seen in the broader context as an indicator of attractive peace and prosperity, every bit as much as a facility for visiting boaters who will be keen to spend their holiday money ashore. I was recently in Ballycastle in the far northeast corner of Ireland, and in going up the town we noticed a welcome air of prosperity. Buildings had been painted and generally spruced up. This was even more marked in the area down beside the little harbour, where there's a small but very useful marina, and the regular ferry leaves from its much-improved berth for Rathlin Island six miles away. We still think of it as the "new harbour and marina" at Ballycastle, although it has been around for some time now. But such facilities are put in for the long haul, and it is now that Ballycastle harbour's attractive sense of purpose and prosperity has had this beneficial spinoff for the mood of the town.

dunmore_east_visitor8.jpgThe small but convenient and very useful marina at Ballycastle has played a part in the North Antrim town's improved perception of itself. Photo Kevin Dwyer courtesy Irish Cruising Club

Elsewhere in the north, one of our favourite ports is Ardglass, where one of the most strategically useful marinas on the entire Irish coast was slotted into a spare corner of what had formerly been a decidedly rugged "fishing-and-fishing-only" place, and the mood has been pleasantly lightened as a result.

dunmore_east_visitor9.jpgA handsome and obviously fast perfomance cruiser in the hoist at an Irish port – but where is it? Photo: W M Nixon

But for pure rugged essence of total fishing port, you just couldn't beat the Wild West atmosphere of Killybegs in Donegal. The fishing has been mighty, and there are now at least 23 multi-millionaires in the Killybegs area whose wealth has been drawn from the sea. Yet in recent years, the Killybegs attitude has softened slightly. The place has tidied itself up, and as one of the best natural harbor in the entire northwest of Ireland, it has put out some visitors' mooring for leisure craft, while serious cruising men visiting this challenging but rewarding area find that the Mooney Boats quayside yard with its massive travel hoist is a real boon.

Killybegs does have space where a marina could be installed to be handy to the town while not interfering with fishing boat needs, and judging by the quality boats flying foreign ensigns on the visitors moorings, its usefulness as a crew-change port is a particular asset, as the international airport at Knock isn't so very
far away.

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Killybegs is the answer, with Mooney Boats a boon for boat visitors to Donegal. Photo: W M Nixon

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Once upon a time, Killybegs was fishing, just fishing, and only fishing. But now the deep sea trawlers are well used to sharing their harbour with visiting yachts, in this case a couple of Dutch boats. Photo: W M Nixon

So if Killybegs can take aboard the idea of a marina, maybe the other mega-fishing-port of Castetownbere in southwest Ireland can do so too. That said, there is a hugely popular little marina already well established at the other end of Bere Island at Lawrence Cove, but a convenient facility at the western end of Bere Haven would improve cruising options.

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The 78ft cruiser-racer Whisper contrasts vividly with the lifeboat in Castletownbere, a fishing port which might be able to find space for a marina. Photo: W M Nixon

In the cruising heartlands of West Cork, we can expect new movement on the long-proposed marina at Schull, which would greatly help in rationalizing pier use. But in bustling Baltimore there may be more of a challenge in creating a proper marina, as waterfront space beside the village is limited. As it is, the current berthing pontoon which juts straight out into the harbour can be a mixed blessing when there's a serious wind from the west, with the pitching and banging of boats and pontoon sections being a nuisance at best, and a real hazard at its worst.

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The berthing pontoon at Baltimore can become a decidedly exposed place when the wind is fresh from the west.

But all these places already have something of a range of choices, in Dunmore East there's just this one little bit of a harbour, and everyone wants a piece of it. I make no excuses for dragging out the dog-eared rough sketch of what a marina might look like if there was to be a realistic separation of fishing and leisure use, for while we do suggest that places which were originally exclusively fishing ports can be usefully modified to be partially leisure ports as well, there's no doubting the primary need of clearly defined boundaries between the two within the harbour confines.

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Dunmore East as it is today, and surely ripe for development

dunmore_east_visitor15.jpgThe possibilities for a marina at Dunmore East are suggested in this rough sketch

For there's no doubt we all wish the very best for Dunmore East. It very much wants to be a hospitable port, and can do it very well too, given half a chance. Harry McLoughlin was talking enthusiastically about some of the fine boats and great sailing people he has welcomed since he took over as Dunmore's Harbour Master in the Spring of 2013, and from 2014 he best remembers the great Jim Mottram.

Jim cruises alone in his pretty little Elizabethan 23 Reservation out of Christchurch in Dorset just outside the west entrance to the Solent, and over the decades he has logged some formidable voyages, down to Spain, and round Britain three times. But as his boat has a lifting keel which reduces the draft to 2ft 6ins, for 2014 he decided that a cruise to Ireland with a spell on the inland waterways would make for a change.

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The most senior sailor – Dunmore East visitor Jim Mottram has cruised thousands of miles in his Elizabethan 23 Reservation.

So he arrived into Dunmore East early in the season, intending to go up the Barrow, across Ireland on the Grand Canal, then back to the sea again via the Shannon through Limerick. But after going up to Waterford from Dunmore, he reckoned the early-season surge down the River Barrow would make things unnecessarily difficult, so he cruised right round the south coast of Ireland and went up the Shannon Estuary to Limerick. There, he unstepped his mast, and motored north through Lough Derg and into the Grand Canal at Shannon Harbour, then right across Ireland to swoosh down the Barrow – which becomes even more lovely the further south you go – until in New Ross the manager of the Three Sisters Marina John Diamond set him up again, and on he went down to Dunmore East for a warm welcome and a celebration of his near-circuit of Munster.

Harry McLoughlin discovered Jim had a special birthday coming up while he was in Dunmore East, so he and his wife took the lone skipper along to the Waterford Harbour Sailing Club for a party to celebrate both the birthday and the success of his cruising since he'd last been with them.

And which birthday was Jim Mottram celebrating?

His 80th, of course.

Published in W M Nixon
Page 3 of 7

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