Displaying items by tag: Dunmore East
#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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Mayo SC's landing pontoon at Rosmoney on Clew Bay is an impressive piece of work. Photo: W M Nixon
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.
The 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.
A 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
Killybegs is the answer, with Mooney Boats a boon for boat visitors to Donegal. Photo: W M Nixon
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.
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.
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.
Dunmore East as it is today, and surely ripe for development
The 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.
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.
#marinetourism – Ireland's south coast provides an almost infinite variety of harbours, natural havens, and extensive areas of interesting sailing water. These cater for boat enthusiasts of all kinds, with craft of every type. So how does the welcome for visitors shape up? W M Nixon contrasts the different hospitality styles of four attractive ports.
The word on the grapevine that the Ballydehob Old Boat festival had taken place arrived with an intriguing photo from Anthony O'Leary. It had been noted in the interview with him immediately after he had led the team in Ireland's Commodore Cup Victory, that while he was trying to unwind for a while, it's not really in the O'Leary makeup to relax, and soon his mind was busy with new ideas of nautical interest.
Nevertheless he was cruising gently in early August down towards West Cork in the family's handsome big Nelson powercruiser Irish Mist, a fast and able vessel which his father Archie and mates like Mick Ahern once took right round Ireland in a settled springtime spell of weather, just to be in Dublin to watch Cork Con play rugby in some major championship at Lansdowne Road.
As it turned out, this year Irish Mist was getting down west ultimately to be in Baltimore for the 1720 Nationals in late August, which O'Leary duly won. But from time to time, he flashed back some photos of interesting boats met along the way, and one which really rang the bell was a little Ette Class clinker-built gunter-rigged sloop sailing in Castlehaven.
The Ette class originated way way back, when two keen dinghy cruising types sailed their little dinghy into Castlehaven, and the Castletownshend locals in the South Cork Sailing Club were so taken by the boat that they commissioned the waterfront boatbuilders, the O'Mahony brothers, to build some sister ships as the basis of a class.
All the new boats' names ended in "ette". And the class survived for many years, though at times the Ettes were hanging on by a thread. But recently it has had a fresh lease of life with new examples of what is now a classic dinghy being built by Lui Ferreira of Ballydehob, who last came through this parish when, in 2012, he put the first teak deck on a vintage Howth 17, the syndicate-owned Deilginis.
Perfection of summer – an Ette class in her home waters of Castlehaven. Photo: Anthony O'Leary
Rui Ferreira, builder in Ballydehob of the Ette Class, also put this teak deck on the 107-year-old Howth 17 Deilginis in 2012. Photo: W M Nixon
A Howth 17 looks well no matter how you photo her. But an Ette is a quirky little thing which can sometimes look odd from the wrong angle. Yet in a flash of inspiration, the Captain of the Commodore's Cup team took up his iPhone as an Ette came bustling down Castlehaven on fine sunny morning, and we got what I reckon to be one of the best photos of an Ette under way ever obtained – plus it gets the very essence of summer in Castlehaven.
The next O'Leary snap some days later was just briefly titled: "The Ballydehob Old Boat Festival, Irish Mist in archway second left". What was going on here? We'd heard vague stories about a very relaxed assembling of boat at high water at the drying quay at Ballydehob, but the O'Leary photo hinted at serious numbers and a high level of organization.
The teaser photo – first intimations of this year's Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats, with the O'Leary family's motor-cruiser Irish Mist (framed in the second arch from left) joining an eclectic group of 74 boats for a couple of hours at top of the tide. Photo; Anthony O'Leary
This is most people's image of Ballydehob, crowded and very rural, with Mount Gabriel beyond. Only the more observant will notice the tidal river in the foreground. Photo: W M Nixon
To begin with, most casual visitors would scarcely think of Ballydehob as a seaport at all. Rather, it's the very essence of rural West Cork, a crowded little village where "laid-back" is the default mode, and it has been so for some time. It reached something of an apotheosis when Annie Barry (she's one of the Fergusons of Gubbeen Cheese) was running her wonderful Annie's restaurant on one side of the winding main street, and the Levis sisters Julia and Nell, feisty little ladies of mature years, were running Levis's pub across the way.
Julia and Nan were splendid folk of considerable standing, and it's said the pair of them were once squired to the West Cork Hunt Ball in Skibbereen by Jeremy Irons of Kilcoe Castle a few miles along the coast. As for the setup in Ballydehob, space was so limited in the restaurant that, having checked out your booking, you simply took up station in leisurely style across the street in the pub with Annie's menus and an aperitif or two, then Annie would come across the road and discuss your order, and a delightful evening would continue late into the night.
Alas, for some year now Annie's has been closed, though everyone lives in hope of somebody re-opening it. And in the pub, the old ladies have passed on. But now it's run by a great-nephew, and very successfully too. We got ourselves in there late on a velvet July evening this year to find the place was heaving with youth and beauty and high fashion in casual style - achingly trendy it has become.
It could have been a traditional local in any of the world's fashionable holiday areas except for one thing. A ball of fur, a terrier of some kind, emerged from among people's legs and barked its head off at me. I assumed it was because I carried a whiff of our own little Jack Russell. But the blushing girl owner told me with a big smile that her little dog must have thought I was a priest. Only along Ireland's south coast, near some former or still surviving Protestant enclave, would you have heard that particular excuse.
The old dock at Ballydehob is well able to receive a very varied fleet, seen here from the old railway viaduct Photo: Miriam Jones
Just along the river from these scenes of hospitality and minor mayhem, immediately below the mighty railway viaduct which seems to be so disproportionate for the long-gone needs of the little West Cork Railway, there's Ballydehob Harbour. Time was when it was key to the place's economy, and it was in the late 1930s, only a year or so before World War II, that the Brooklands, the last surviving sail-only coasting schooner to deliver cargoes to West Cork, made her way up the winding estuary at the head of Roaringwater Bay (it's named for the Roaringwater River, much of the bay behind Carbery's Hundred Isles is well sheltered), to anchor just off the quay, as she was too deep to berth alongside.
The Brooklands was owned and skippered by Tom Creenan of Ballinacurra in the inner northeast reaches of Cork Harbour, but it was from Birkenhead or Goole on the Mersey that she'd bring her welcome cargoes of coal, a challenging passage at the best of times. At Ballydehob, while smaller cargo-carriers could get alongside the old quay, the Brooklands discharged her cargo into the multi-functional barge-type vessel known the Sandboat.
She was used by her owners, the Levis family, for just about everything, but primarily for going out among the islands towards high water, running up on a clean beach, then laboriously shovelling sand into the hold until the tide returned and the Sandboat could be floated off and piloted back to the quay where her eventually very useful cargo would be shovelled ashore to become builders' supplies.
The Sandboat was Queen of the Fleet at Ballydehob, and she played such a central role in the Levis family's life that Old Boat Festival organiser Cormac Levis's brother calls his pub in Ballydehob the Sandboat.
As for how Cormac himelf first got the notion for the Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats, he has been a tower of strength in the Traditional Boat movement, particularly in West Cork but also throughout Ireland, for many years. And with others following his example in restoring or even building new sailing lobster boats to traditional design, he suggested that getting together at Ballydehob during the little town's time-honoured summer festival around August 15th might hit the spot. And for the first one in 2004 –making this year's the tenth anniversary - they assembled nine boats, which was considered pretty good going.
Close-up on Cormac Levis's lobster boat, which led the way for the first gathering of traditional craft at Ballydehob in 2004. Photo: Brian Marten
From it, they learnt that, for the future, while the aspiration would of course be for quiet and easy-going organization under a light hand, underneath it all there'd have to be efficiency, always with an eye on the clock. Although the tidal window is more than two hours for most boats, they've successfully accommodated modern yachts up to two metres draft without anyone being left behind stuck on the mud. But with limited manoeuvring space in both the harbour area and the channel, once the witching hour of high water is upon the fleet, it's time to start thinking about an orderly departure after two solid hours and more of good crack, mighty barbecues, and much interest in an examination of other people's traditional and classic boats.
Even among the sister-ships of the lobster fleet, many individual variants in hull lines and rig are apparent. Photo: Brian Marten
Just to add to the variety and colour, the Ilen Trust from Limerick brought their much-travelled Shannon Gandelows (right) to Ballydehob. Their stylish pennants are a legacy of heir successful visit to Venice at the end of April this year. Photo: Gary MacMahon
So the crucial thing is to select the ideal Saturday nearest to August 15th with a good big tide in mid-afternoon. As the Boat Gathering is such a force in its own right, they can range quite extensively on either side of August 15th, and to date the earliest has been August 8th, while the latest was August 21st.
This year's was Saturday August 9th, and while there may have been rain later in the day despite West Cork having much more sunshine in August than almost any other part of the country, no-body now remembers the rain as they recall the sheer fun and sense of community of what has been described by Tiernan Roe, another of the quality boat-builders of Ballydehob, as the "shortest bestest Boat Festival in the World".
Yet another creation of the active Ballydehob boat-building scene. This is an attractive little Cape Henry 21 cutter lunched in June by Tiernan Roe of Roe Boats. Photo: Tiernan Roe
For this year, it attracted 75 boats, though admittedly last year's record entry of 50 boats was greatly enhanced by this year's decision by the Drascome Lugger Association to combine Ballydehob in their 2014 cruise-in-company in West Cork, thereby adding 27 boats at a stroke.
But even with 27 boats of one class, the variety across the fleet as a whole was remarkable. So how do they assemble such a disparate fleet of boats with obviously highly-individual skippers, in such a quietly efficient way? For you'll never see or hear the Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats being publicly advertised all that much beforehand.
The method is perfectly simple. Everyone with an interest will know it is likely to be coming up on the agenda. So a month and more beforehand, Cormac will text them with the final date on a need-to-know basis. It works, and it sets the tone of quiet consideration for others and their boats in a very special festival in which some quiet sponsorship by CH Marine and West Cork-based German traditional boat fan Thomas Drewes sees that all participants get mementoes including cherished T-shirts (definitely not for general release), while barbecue facilities keep the good humour buzzing until everyone departs in style for their anchorage for the night, for although most boats hope to be berthed in Ballydehob on the big day more two hours hours before high water, once the ebb has started the channel has become much less forgiving about any pilotage errors.
They're all here, as neatly berthed as you could please, but getting them away as the ebb starts requires good seamanship and boat-handling skills. Photo: Miriam Jones
Ballydehob's central position in a hugely varied and welcoming crusing coast is emphasized by the number of other harbour chartlets indicated in this plan of the prime cruising area of West Cork. Plan Courtesy Irish Cruising Club
It's good to see a locally-focussed event like this now coming of age with a very healthy turnout. Eastward along the south coast, last weekend saw another event which will surely grow in stature and numbers, the second staging of Y2V Cruise-in-Company on the River Blackwater up the estuary from East Cork to West Waterford, as a flotilla of ten boats - eight GP14s, a Mermaid and a Feva – sailed up-river from Youghal to Villierstown.
It has been promoted by Youghal schoolboy GP 14 skipper Adrian Lee, and last year the inaugural tiny flotilla managed most of the sailable river by going to the bridge at Cappoquin before returning downriver to Villierstown. This year it achieved deserved support from the GP 14 class, with the furthest road-trailed from sea level being incoming Irish GP 14 Association President Stephen Boyle from Sutton DC, while the furthest-travelled in terms of elevation above sea level were the Blessington group, who came down from the Wicklow Hills with their Geeps and included Richard Street and kids (see again this blog on 26th July), and a brand new Duffin boat belonging to Simon Culley and Libby Tierney.
As for seniority, the classic of the class was a 60-year-old beautifully-restored Bell Woodworking GP 14 owned and skippered by 16-year-old Jack Nolan, another of that group of Youghal youngsters who are taking local dinghy sailing forward with gusto, while further variety was provided by Norman Lee of Greystones, his crew including the inevitable family pooches which are such a part of the GP 14 scene.
The sailing was mixed – as Norman said, in a river the wind will always be ahead some time, and though we think of the secret Blackwater Estuary as being fairly straight, in fact there are some quite significant curves. It took about four-and-a-half hours to sail up, and a brisker four hours to return on Sunday morning's ebb.
The secret waterway – the Blackwater Estuary from Youghal up to Cappoquin and almost to Lismore is one of Ireland's least-sailed rivers
Villierstown's new clubhouse, open only three weeks, was ready and willing to make welcome the crews who had sailed up from Youghal. Photo: Norman Lee
The new facility, Villierstown's "floating pier"
(right), was originally the in-harbour pontoon at Dungarvan SC. Photo: Norman Lee
At Villierstown, the new clubhouse of the Villierstown Boating & Activites Cub had been open only three short weeks, but they've made good use of a sports council grant, and it well fulfills a multi-purpose role, including providing the hospitality needed by sailing campers, with Paul Virtue and his wife Caroline organising a fine feast in the clubhouse on the Saturday night, and an enormous breakfast on Sunday to send them on their way downriver to round out an event which has future annual success written all over it.
One of the reasons it all went so well was that the slightly cogglesome little plastic floating jetty, along which the sailors of Villierstown used to access their small boats, has been replaced by a proper pontoon which the club acquired when Dungarvan SC eastward along the coast up-graded their in-harbour pontoon. In fact, Dungarvan support for the development of Blackwater sailing didn't stop there, as one of the fleet in the Y2V was a vintage Dungarvan-based Mermaid in which owner Eugene Burke has cruised the entire south coast between Ballycotton and Kilmore Quay.
The boat is Akita, Mermaid No. 85, and she has certainly been around, as she was built in the Barkyard in Skerries in 1953 by Joe and Matt Boylan. The Barkyard was originally the place where the Skerries-based coasting schooners and fishing boats had their sails preserved against rot by tanning with bark, but in the 1950s the now redundant premises were used to build some of the eventually enormous fleet of Skerries Mermaids through a boat-building class run by the colourful Jem Kearney.
The Fingal region around Skerries and Rush continues to be the great heartland of the Mermaids, with some very racy boats built in the old mill at Rogerstown recently, but despite the modern challenge, this year's Mermaid Week at Rush saw the champion emerge in the form of Jonathan O'Rourke of the National YC with his vintage boat, one of the few Mermaid sailors still in Dun Laoghaire.
The welcoming port. Despite its tidal limitations, Dungarvan lays on the welcome in a big way. This shows a visiting fleet at the original pontoon, which has now been moved to Villierstown. Photo Kevin Dwyer, courtesy Irish Cruising Club
Dungarvan SC's new in-harbour pontoon has much improved the alongside berthing space, but unfortunately the local Council wouldn't permit dredging to improve access.......Photo: Donal Walsh
....and thus the reality for most boats in the Inner Harbour is a drying berth.......... Photo: W M Nixon
....but if you've access to local knowledge, there is a deep pool just below the bridge........Photo: Donal Walsh
.....and here the Northwest Passage transiting 44ft steel gaff yawl Young Larry is visiting in comfort and style. Photo: Donal Walsh
Meanwhile in Dungarvan the club's hopes of doing a bit of dredging to improve access to their extended in-harbour pontoon was stymied when the council said they wouldn't permit any salt-contaminated sludge being brought up onto the quay. But despite its tidl limitations, it's a hugely hospitable place, and if you do take the ground at the pontoon, it's mostly soft and forgiving mud which enables you to sit in relative comfort. Certainly some very substantial cruising boat have overnighted here to enjoy the fine pubs both on the waterfront waterfront and in the town, while culinary standards are set by Paul Flynn's famous restaurant The Tannery just round the corner.
Nevertheless if you absolutely won't let your boat dry out, leading Dungarvan cruising man Donal Walsh (he has just returned from an epic round Ireland and Britain clockwise cruise with his Moody 31 Lady Kate) well knows the deep pool across the harbour close under the bridge, and he saw to it that his brother-in-law Andrew Wilkes and sister Maire Breathnaith found a secure berth there for their hefty 44ft steel-built gaff yawl Young Larry, a boat in which they transited the Northwest Passage, but she looks well at home in Dungarvan with its fine tradition of first class locally-based trading schooners.
In moving along the south coast, we find that when possible, they'll lay out the welcome mat big-time in Ballydehob, Youghal, Villierstown and Dungarvan, despite the fact that all four places are restricted in what they can do by the exigencies of tide.
Despite this potential, the under-development of its facilities, fuelled by a sometimes poisonous attitude between fishermen and other harbour users, has provided recreational visitors with often unpleasant memories. In trying to understand why this might be so, we have to understand how Dunmore East came to get its pretty little harbour. When it was built in the first half of the 19th Century, it was not – as is commonly supposed – built for the benefit of fishermen. The horrible fact is that fishermen came so far down the pecking order that they just had to make do for themselves as best they could.
The handsome new pier at Dunmore East, designed by Alexander Nimmo who is best known for developing Tobermory in Scotland and many places in Galway including Roundstone, was constructed exclusively for the use of the new fast sailing cross-channel packet boats serving the top people of Waterford in their trading and communication with Britain, while the unfortunate local fishermen were forced to keep their boats in the limited shelter of The Cove to the north of it, and haul them on the exposed beaches at The Strand and Councillors Strand.
Dunmore East's substantial pier was new-built originally to provide a port for cross-channel sailing Packet Boats, serving Waterford ten miles up the road. When this was its primary function, any local fishermen were banished to the poorly-sheltered coves to the north, with their boats being hauled up on the exposed beaches beyond. Plan courtesy Irish Cruising Club
Soon, however, steam driven packet boats were able to go conveniently all the way up to Waterford, and Dunmore East was redundant as a packet-boat harbour. But it was only with reluctance that fishing boat were allowed to start using it, as the Royal Navy would have been keeping an eye on its possibilities for their own occasional use.
Yet down the years, the idea has developed that Dunmore East was always primarily a fishing harbour, and to a lesser extent the same attitude prevailed at Howth on the east coast, where the new harbour functioned as the Packet Boat station for Dublin only between 1817 and 1826, when the developing new asylum harbour at Dun Laoghaire became the selected port for the Royal Mail's new paddle steamers serving the cross-channel route. Yet the silted harbour at Howth was only allowed to become a "fishing station" in the 1850s.
The legacy of all this, in Dunmore East at any rate, is that there still seems to be a suspicion among the fishing community that their tenure is only temporary, that the powers-that-be would move them out if they see a better use for the place. How else can we explain the negative and almost paranoid attitude of the fishing spokesmen every time a suggestion for a much-needed marina at Dunmore East is put forward?
With all this in mind, I made a quick visit to Dunmore East in mid-August while on other business in the southeast, in the hope of seeing if a much-trumpeted €4 million dredging scheme was now in progress in the harbour, and also to see how an equally celebrated new Visitors Pontoon along the East Pier was working out.
The photos speak for themselves. There wasn't any sign of a dredger, though doubtless that will turn up in due course. Yet as for the 40 metre pontoon, it's not a leisure-boat-friendly neat little piece of work at all, but is quite a massive and brutal steel box structure more suited to rugged fishing boats, who were showing their approval by using it so totally that the only leisure visitor was a German motor-cruiser which had managed to squeeze in at one end.
But as this pontoon is on the wrong side of the harbour for ease of access to the Sailing Club on the west side, and the welcoming facilities in the village above it, any pedestrian boat visitor – the vast majority of incoming leisure boaters, in other words – has a long trek through the sometimes crowded and malodourous delights of a fishing port before they can access any amenities. So not surprisingly the German boat had its inflatable tender moored outside it for quick and easy movement across the harbour, and along to the beaches if wished, a situation which inevitably precluded any other newly-arrived boat from rafting up alongside
So for any cruising boat coming in from sea, often with the challenge of Hook Head just recently put astern, it wasn't a welcoming setup. In fact, it was downright hostile. While we were there, an ordinary sailing cruiser with happy folk aboard came motoring from the eastward to round the end of the pier after stowing their sails, but their hopes of a convenient and enjoyable visit to Dunmore East were soon dashed. No welcoming RIB came out from the sailing club to direct them to a vacant mooring, as there probably wasn't one. And as for the pontoon, "unwelcoming" is inadequate. It clearly didn't want anything to do with them. You could see their spirits wilting as they headed out, faced with the long haul up to the marina in Waterford City. The current visitor berthing situation in Dunmore East is at the very least a sad business, so where does it go from here?
Dunmore East in mid-August. No sign of any dredging, and the "Visitors Pontoon" under the lighthouse on the East Pier is packed out with fishing boats.......Photo: W M Nixon
........and just one visiting German motor cruiser which was protected against any rafting up by its tender on the outer side. Photo: W M Nixon
The new pontoon is an industrial standard piece of kit......Photo: W M Nixon
....and understandably very popular with active fishing boats. Photo: W M Nixon
But for visiting sailing boats newly arrived in port.......Photo: W M Nixon
....it's soon clear that there isn't really a welcoming berth for them.....Photo: W M Nixon
....and they head out to sea again, visibly disappointed by their Dunmore East welcome. Photo: W M Nixon
#AnchorageCallers – A pair of cruiseships are to anchor off Dunmore East next week bringing a potential capacity of 1,940 passengers in total to the south-east region along with more than 1,500 crew, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The arrival of two cruiseships to Dunmore East at the mouth of Waterford Estuary has happened before in recent years. On this occasion the ships due next Tuesday are Thompson Spirit (1983/33,390grt) from Falmouth and Crystal Symphony (1991/51,044grt) whose last port of call is scheduled to be from St. Peter Port, Guernsey.
Thompson Spirit is due to arrive first and anchor around 08.00hrs and followed by Crystal Symphony at 09.30hrs. The former ship is a relatively new caller to Irish waters operating for Thompson Cruises since 2012 and serving the UK market based out of English east coast ports while Crystal Cruises have been a regular customer to the Port of Waterford.
Passengers will be transferred ashore by tenders to the pontoon facility within Dunmore East's joint fishing and leisure harbour which is sited along a scenic stretch of the Waterford coastline.Time spent ashore will be approximately 7-8 hours to explore visitor attractions providing an economic boost to the region where a total of 10 cruise callers (using Dunmore East) are scheduled in this year's season.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Port of Waterford handles cruiseships throughout the estuary, asides Dunmore East, callers can berth at Belview, the main port or along the city quays.
#lasersailing – In what is building to a thrilling 2016 Olympic trial, youngster Finn Lynch, the latest addition to the Irish Olympic Laser squad, threw down the gauntlet to London 2012's James Espey when he won the Laser Leinster honours at Waterford Harbour Sailing Club at the weekend. Lynch, who earned his place for Olympic Qualification in Croatia in June, produced four race wins to beat Royal Ulster's Espey by 1.6 points in the 19–boat fleet. It's the 17–year–old's third provincial title on the trot, winning the Munsters at Baltimore in May and the Ulsters at East Antrim in June. Ballyholme's Colin Leonard was third.
Lynch and Espey meet again in September in Santander at ISAF World Champs which doubles as a nation qualifier for the Rio Olympics.
Full rig, radial and 4.7 overall results from Waterford are downloadable below.
Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, Dunmore East, hosted an excellent Laser Leinsters last weekend.
Saturday dawned with grey clouds, a chilly breeze and the confident statement by OOD Con Murphy, that "if the rain storm over the middle of the country comes this way, it won't be 12 knots from the NW." We had a cracking broad reach in 15 - 20 knots out to the start, where after a few shifts of course as a rain cloud came through and a few attempts for the Full rigs to get off the line cleanly, we got away. Whilst Ronan Cull and I traded a few crosses, James Espey came out of the left to commence what for a generation of Irish laser sailors has been normal service watching him sail off into the distance. I got out to the left and managed to come into the mark second, with a tight bunch of Finn Lynch, Conor Byrne (before he got tired), Stephen Penney and Ronan hot on my heals. Finn rapidly pulled upto me, and for what must have been a matter of minutes he was behind me. However the inevitable happened at the bottom of the second run when just as if I wasn't there Finn was past me and away. Top 3 finished that way, with Conor, Stephen making up the top 5.
Race 2 saw similar breezy conditions but a slight right shift at the top meant I led from James, Finn and the pack. Despite James Espey Sailing, becoming James Espey Coaching, half way up the second beat James was away. Superior technique in the chop was awesome to see. In fact, it was pretty awesome watching Finn do the same! However Finn kindly took part in the Leinster sailing/swimming biathlon allowing me to slip home in second, finn in third. Ronan came in 4th and Dougie Power new into the fullrig showed good speed to fight off Darragh O Sullivan! Conor Byrne was last seen stretching his hamstrings down the run...mars bars are not electrolye drinks.
Race 3 the breeze was up, James had some unintentional equipment failure and again I led from Finn for as long as I could muster but age, not enough food, and a lack of talent saw Finn demolish me up the last beat. I can't help but feel this will become as common a feeling as watching James demolish us all! Darragh used good speed downwind to close up the 3rd. I suspect that this was the only time he was firing on all cylinders and with a 2 hour recovery cycle after sailing Darragh looks sure to join Finn and James in being recognisable to the rest of us by the back of their heads! Ronan came in fourth, with Ronan Kenneally finishing his day with a 5th. Full marks to him for taking one day of his weekend to sail before returning to the family man duties!
So a good first day came to and end with everyone wondering how James had got redress, how Finn was so bloody quick downwind, just how heavy do you need to be to drop sheet and go bow down, and will Conor be able to walk tomorrow!
Sunday was sunny, and the breeze had swung round to provide big waves and the scene was set for James and Finn to battle it out, and for the rest of us to enjoy some top notch sailing conditions. Race 1 saw the main protagonists and their training partners past and present have a speed contest to the left aka wrong corner of the race track. Young Ryan Glynn defied his size to lead at the first mark, with myself James and Finn hot on his heels. He flew downwind and held on valiantly before charging back to almost take the lead again but instead rolling me like I was sinking on the last reach to come 3rd behind Finn and James. Probably one of the best races I've had in ages - great fun! Ronan Cull started his roll as must unlucky sailer of the weekend by joining the Biathlon club, and as much to his surprise as everyone else's conor not only sailed - he sailed fast into 6th.
Race 5 and, it was my turn to start badly (turns out James and Finn are high and fast) before competing in the windward capsize biathlon and retiring. Ronan showed some of his top speed to come 3rd, whilst Finn was lightening fast downwind and won from James. Dan O'Beirne had a good race in 4th, from Conor and Darragh.
At this stage it was winner takes all for Finn and James, barring a disaster I would finish third, and Stephen Penney all but had his hands on the Masters trophy! Still race 6 was a cracker and James and Finn put it all on show, close crosses at the start, Ronan closing the door on finn. Shouting matches between Finn and James at the windward mark. Finn having an angle down the waves that was unmatchable...fast. Poor Ronan had his mast snap and Dougie Power flew the home flag hard to get another 5th. Finn won, from James, myself, and Darragh (the final finishing order overall.)
Great to see so many old faces back for a play, and a privilege to see how the Pros do it. The main protagonists traded days as the quickest over the water and as they head to Schull/ U21 worlds/ Santander we all wish them well! The rest of us back at work can only know that the nationals at Ballyholme Yacht Club in late August will be as fun and good racing. See you all there!
#rnli – Dunmore East volunteer RNLI lifeboat crewmember, Roy Abrahamsson, married Tramore native, Caroline Kiely, in Dunmore East this weekend and Roy's lifeboat colleagues turned up in full life-saving kit to wish the couple every happiness in their married life. It was an emotional day, as Roy is from a hugely respected lifeboating family in Dunmore East, and he recently lost his father, Walter.
Roy has been with the lifeboat crew at Dunmore East RNLI for the last 15 years and is a Deputy Coxswain and Second Mechanic. His father, Walter Abrahamsson, spent 13 years as a coxswain and mechanic with the lifeboat station, after being asked to join in 1984 when he jumped into the harbour in Dunmore East to save a life.
Walter sadly passed away on 13 July this year and his ashes were scattered at sea. Lifeboat crew from across the institution paid tribute to him as he had visited many stations during his time with the charity, helping them when they needed a duty coxswain or mechanic, a tradition that his son Roy is continuing.
Caroline and Roy met nine years ago on a night out in Tramore. Caroline is an account manager for Core HR in Kilkenny and Roy proposed to her on top of a mountain while on holiday in the Italian Alps.
Although Walter was sadly missed by everyone on the day, his presence was keenly felt by his family and friends and of course his and Roy's lifeboat colleagues.
Best man and Dunmore East RNLI crewmember Neville Murphy commented; 'It was a special day and one of very strong emotions. Walter was a legend here in Dunmore East and in lifeboat circles and we really wanted to honour that while wishing Roy and Caroline the best in their married life together. Six lifeboat crew travelled from the station to Graiguenamanagh in Kilkenny and wore their lifeboat kit to give Roy and Caroline a surprise guard of honour when they left the church. It was like Walter was looking down on us and giving his blessing.'
The lifeboats continued to play a part in the weekend when Dunmore East RNLI received a call to launch to a person in difficulty in the water on Saturday night and Roy made the lifeboat callout before he heads off on honeymoon in a few days. The person made it safely to shore with the help of bystanders.
#toppersailing – After a series of mini heatwaves and windless weekends across the country in June the beginning of July brings a complete change for the Irish Topper Nationals in Waterford Harbour Sailing Club writes Gareth Craig.. Nearly sixty Toppers turned-out in Dunmore East from clubs across Ireland and the UK, and the three day event promises a variety of weather to suit the whole fleet.
Strong winds gusting over 30 knots off Hook head the night before the event were still making themselves felt as competitors registered, but the mood was jovial as the start was postponed a number of times - due to the wind at first, and then for safety reasons as the turning tide cause steep breaking waves across the proposed race area. Results to date are attached below for download.
By 1pm conditions had abated enough for the fleet to launch, with a South Westerly F4 (gusting F5) accompanied by intermittent driving drizzle providing enough power for the Toppers to ride the remaining infamous Dunmore Swell rolling up from the Celtic Sea. The uneven seas and fluctuating visibility made the windward mark hard to pick out at times, but this didn't appear to phase the fleet in any way as they powered away round the trapezoid course after one general recall. A top three of Niamh HARPER(Loch Tummel SC), Alexander HUGHES (Sutton SC) and Geoff POWER (Waterford Harbour SC) made good progress early, and gradually opened up leads on each other and the fleet at large, while the main body of competitor fought for places in tight bunches.
Winds and sea conditions had eased further by the second start, and again PRO Philip Cowman kept the Toppers in order, with just a single recall required despite a strong ebbing tide under the fleet propelling them up the beat. Those who had featured well in the first race largely failed to repeat their achievements, with the noted exception of Alexander HUGHES, and much of the top twenty were in a distinctly different order! This gives Hughes the overnight lead on 3 points, with a significant cushion over Ollie DIXON (Royal Harwich YC), Conor QUINN (Carlingford Lough YC), Niamh HARPER, and Adam DARCY (Royal Cork YC) tightly clumped on 10 or 11 point.
Forecasts are predicting the most contrasting day possible for Saturday, with rising pressure and light winds in the morning which will slowly build to F3-4 by early afternoon, and further light conditions for Sunday which could see very different sailors coming to the fore before everything is decided.
At 7:40pm the lifeboat launched at the request of the Irish Coast Guard to assist the vessel with two people on board, located just off Red Head.
Five minutes after launch, the Trent class lifeboat Elizabeth and Ronald arrived on scene to find the motor vessel drifting 300m from shore and both passengers wearing life jackets.
The volunteer RNLI crew took the casualty under tow and arrived safely back at Dunmore East Harbour at 8:05pm.
Dunmore East RNLI coxswain Roy Abrahamsson said: "The conditions this evening were very good, which helped the whole operation run smoothly."
Shortly after launch, the Trent class lifeboat Elizabeth and Ronald arrived on scene and transferred one of its volunteer lifeboat crew on board the casualty vessel, where he managed to free the yacht from the mooring.
As the propeller was still fouled, and with the vessel in close proximity to a busy shipping lane and a strong run of tide, it was decided to take the yacht under tow.
Shortly before 5pm the yacht was brought into the safety of Dunmore East Harbour.
Dunmore East RNLI coxswain Paulie Daniels said after the callout: “The couple were lucky that although they were just inside a busy shipping channel, the weather conditions at the time were good and they were wearing lifejackets."
#islandnation – The 'reach' of friendship which sailing has was demonstrated to me when I was trying to record kittiwakes who live on the cliff face in Dunmore East. The County Waterford fishing port has a colony of the black-legged birds which is unique.
I had actually gone there to see the new leisure marine facilities opened by the Minister for the Marine, Simon Coveney, who said his Department has spent €450,000 on them and to get reaction to his announcement that the long-awaited dredging of the port, which has been on hold for many years, would be going ahead. It will cost about €4m and is badly-needed by the local fishing fleet. Quite a bit of the harbour has silted up over the years.
(See also WM Nixon's blogs: Dunmore East: A Suitable Harbour for a Marina? and Could Dunmore East's Development Be Key to Ireland's Cruising Success? – Ed)
I was driving past the kittiwakes, stopped to have a look and heard their distinctive cry. I have recorded a lot of different sound effects during my time as a radio reporter, but it took a lot of effort to record those black-legged kittiwakes high up over the roadway. They are a small oceanic bird which breeds in the Northern Hemisphere from Portugal to the low Arctic zones. Their distinctive call sounds like "kitt-ee-wayke". What is unique about them in the inner harbour in Dunmore East is that their colony is unique in Ireland for its proximity to humans.
It took the best part of an hour to get 30/40 usable seconds of sounds and I had just finished when the crew from Waterford Harbour's Sigma 33 OOD, Flyover, owned by David Marchant, asked me what I was doing. They had just brought it back from Kinsale, where they had been racing in that South Cork club's Spring series. I spent a pleasant half-an-hour discussing the sailing ability of Sigmas. They sailed Flyover very well and took a few prizes out of Kinsale.
They also took her to Cork for the RCYC's Autumn series last year, where they also did well.
If you want to hear how the kittiwakes sounded on my radio programme, click THIS ISLAND NATION link.
I understand now why and how it takes so much time and effort to make Nature programmes!
PEOPLE OF THE SEA – OR ARE WE ?
The new slipway for leisure craft in Dunmore alongside the harbour's sailing club is welcome. I also stopped for a while at the memorial to lost seafarers in the village. It is an impressive monument and I found it an emotional and salutary experience to read the names on the memorial and realise how many have died in maritime tragedies around this part of the coastline.
The lost seafarers monument in Dunmore East
That led me to play on my radio programme, 'SEA PEOPLE,' a song performed by a choir composed of the people of another fishing community - the fishermen and women of Newfoundland & Labrador. Calling themselves 'Folk of the Sea,' they formed their group to highlight the importance of fishing tradition after their community suffered from the collapse of the cod fishery. They are sea people and so are we, the Irish. Forty per cent of the population of Ireland lives in coastal and rural communities. Ireland's cities are all located close to the coast. Half of Ireland's population lives within 10 kilometres of the coastline.
But political commitment to the marine sphere is still lacking. While Taoiseach Enda Kenny extolled what his Government intends to achieve when speaking at the naming ceremony of the new Naval vessel, the L.E.Samuel Beckett in Dublin last Saturday, he has not acted in regard to the effective work of the Oireachtas Committee Report on Coastal and Island Communities. It delivered it report to the Dáil last January after a year's work, containing realistic proposals about the future of these communities. The Committee called for a Dáil debate on their report and recommendations.
Five months later there has been no positive response from the Government. When I asked the Taoiseach's Department why he had not responded to the Committee's request, his PR people told me to ask the Chairman of the Committee. He is a Fine Gael TD and has not been given an explanation!
REMOVING FISH DISCARDS COULD DAMAGE SEABIRDS AND MARINE LIFE
Discards are food to seabirds
Referring back to sea birds, the EU decision to end the practice of discards, by which fishermen dumped catches overboard because they could not land it ashore because of fear of prosecution for quota infringements, could be harmful to bird life and fish species rather than a benefit. That view has been expressed by a Scottish Professor, Mike Heath of the University of Strathclyde.
He says that wildlife everywhere capitalise on waste from human activity and feed on discarded fish. That includes seabirds, marine mammals, seabed animals and other fish. "Banning discards of fish could have unintended effects on the ecosystem," he warns.
NAVAL SHIP NAMES NOT POPULAR
The Government's decision to name the two new Naval ships after Samuel Beckett and James Joyce, ending the tradition of vessels called after female Celtic mythological figures, is not universally popular either within or outside the Naval Service. Serving personnel are not permitted to speak publicly, but several have privately expressed disagreement. Former Naval officers have voiced disgust. Former Minister for Defence and Justice, Alan Shatter, has been described as forcing the change through. Taoiseach Enda Kenny named the first of the new ships the Samuel Beckett on Saturday in Dublin, noticeably not at the Naval Base in Haulbowline in Cork Harbour. He avoided referring to the naming controversy. Ending tradition is never without challenge, but this decision has not been well received.
BIGGEST ICE CLEARANCE IN 35 YEARS
The Great Lakes between the USA and Canada are huge inland. The US Coast Guard this week said the past Winter season had produced "the thickest and most expansive ice cover in 35 years." It released statistics at the end of Operation Taconite, the biggest ice clearance operation to keep shipping moving on the Great Lakes "through one of the most brutal winters on record."
US Icebreakers clearing ice for ships on the Great Lakes
Besides various liquid and dry cargoes, vast amounts of iron ore from the northern shores of Lake Superior were carried to steel mills in Lake Erie and Lake Michigan in convoys supported by Coast Guard icebreakers which operated for 160 days. They cleared ice for 946 vessel movements carrying 33 million tons of cargo that had a commercial value of $1.2 billion. This kept industrial production and power generation going in the Great Lakes Region during the winter months.
NORWEGIAN OIL ROW
An environmental and political row has broken out in Norway over the country's biggest offshore oil find since 1974, an estimated resource of 2.9 billion barrels. Opposition parties in an alliance holding the Parliamentary majority wants the Government to make the oil companies use electricity from land to power their offshore oil platforms to reduce greenhouse gases. State oil company, Statoil and its partners in the new Sverdrup find say this will delay "the biggest offshore development in decades." Platforms use gas turbines which account for 25 per cent of Norwegian emissions.
Three South Coast clubs are making a determined effort to revive interest in Glandore Regatta which will be held on the June Bank Holiday Weekend. As Afloat.ie previously reported, Kinsale and the Royal Cork at Crosshaven are joining with Glandore Harbour in a combined effort to get more boats to sail to the West Cork harbour for the event.
"It has been many years since this regatta has had the south coast fleets invade their shores," say the clubs. Kinsale YC yachts will race from their port on Friday, May 29, rounding the Fastnet Rock to finish in Glandore. This replaces the annual Castletownshend. There will be another race from Kinsale direct to Glandore on the Saturday. That day RCYC boats will start from Weaver's Point at Crosshaven at 0855 to race to Glandore. On the Sunday there will be a 1055 first gun for a race from Glandore to Kinsale.
DUNGARVAN PONTOON DEVELOPMENT
Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club in County Waterford has a new pontoon which can berth 30 boats. It replaces an older structure which had been in place since the early 1990s. This club has a history going back to 1946. The 16-foot 'Petrel' dinghy is the boat which got dinghy sailing established in this south-east club, the first of these being built from designs in an American sailing magazine in 1958. While this was a local boat, club members acquired GP14s for inter-club racing and the club fleet now includes Wayfarers, Lasers, Mirrors and Toppers. Its cruiser fleet has expanded.
A maritime welcome to Dungarvan in County Waterford where a new pontoon has been installed for visiting boats
Depth limitations in the harbour have made bilge-keelers popular. Though dredging was not possible for the new pontoon, future plans are for a more extensive marina. The new facility will provide short-term berthing for Club members as well as access for visiting boats.
• THIS ISLAND NATION, the hour-long maritime programme can be heard on the Afloat website by clicking this link
• Twitter: @TomMacSweeney and @Afloatmagazine
#dunmoreeast – The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced details of a €4m dredging project at Dunmore East Fishery Harbour Centre on the occasion of the official opening of a €450,000 renovation of the Marine Leisure Area at the western end of the harbour.
At the opening, the Minister said "I am delighted to officially open this. The completion of this project adds greatly to the Harbour for marine activities generally. This end of the Harbour was in need of revamping for some time, and I prioritised works to make it a fit for purpose amenity which will benefit and promote the marine leisure industry in this area".
Leisure activity in Dunmore East has been increasing substantially in recent years with 180 visiting yachts from all over Ireland and abroad using the harbour in 2013, more than a threefold increase on previous years. Cruise line passengers nearly doubled in 2013 to 9,500 and with the newly renovated slipway it is expected that usage by members of the public will double in 2014 from around 600 in 2013.
The €450,000 renovation included extending the existing slipway, widening it from five to twelve metres, resurfacing and generally improving vehicle and pedestrian access, the development of a promenade with street lighting, improved access to the beach, and a rock armour embankment to protect the development from severe weather conditions.
Commenting on the works the Minister said "This is an excellent piece of infrastructure and is now a top class amenity which will lend itself to the further development of the leisure industry in Dunmore East, and the spin off that will have for tourism and jobs locally".
Announcing the €4m dredging project for Dunmore East to resolve the impacts of years of siltation in the harbour, which has restricted vessel traffic and made manoeuvrability and fish landings problematic for fishermen the Minister said "This significant investment in Dunmore East from the 2014 Fishery Harbour Capital Programme is an indication of this Government's 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 management will be much improved as will the usability of the syncrolift".
Latest figures indicate that the value and volume of fish landings in Dunmore East has been on the increase for a number of years. Between 2010 and 2013 landings increased by 40% from 8,387 tonnes to an estimated 11,718 tonnes. The equivalent value of these landings went from €13.7m in 2010 to an estimated €17.5m in 2013 an increase of 28%.
The Minister went on to say "Taking account of the increased level of fish landings I am conscious of the need to dovetail the much needed dredging works with the seasonal work patterns of the fishing industry to cause as little disruption as possible. With that in mind every effort will be made to ensure that the works will be completed in advance of the important herring fishery later in the year".
Groundwork for the project is well advanced; a public procurement exercise will be initiated in May, with a view to awarding the contract in time for an August commencement date.
Concluding the Minister said "The development and upkeep of Dunmore East as a state of the art Fishery Harbour Centre, supporting a broad range of marine related activities is and will remain an ongoing process. These two major projects and the recent installation of floating pontoons within the Harbour are part of a long term strategy to deliver on the potential of Dunmore East for job creation for the fishing industry and as a marine leisure and tourist destination".