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#Diving - Writing in today's Irish Times, veteran diver Patrick O'Sullivan gives an introduction to his new book on the sinking of the Lusitania – and the deep-sea diving pioneer who helped rediscover the story of a vessel thought lost forever.

It was US Navy diver John Light who arrived in Kinsale in 1960 on a mission to lead the first sub-aqua team to reach the wreck of the ill-fated ocean liner some 45 years after her sinking by a German U-boat.

Over two years, Light and his team logged 42 dives to film the wreck site for American TV using standard compressed air, a highly risky proposition even for experienced commercial divers, many of whom bore the serious physical brunt of their adventures.

Later that decade, the race for new sources of fossil fuels led to a revolution in diving technology, prompting Light to return to the Lusitania wreck – which he had by then purchased – and finally uncover its mysteries, such as whether it was indeed a secret gunrunning vessel for the Allies in the First World War.

But as O'Sullivan writes, while this return effort turned out to be as ill-fated as the Lusitania herself, it did send Light on a new course diving into the history books instead of the deep waters off Cork.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving
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#Lusitania - A nuclear weapons lab has found itself in trouble with US authorities over its work on a TV documentary on the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducted munitions testing at its facility for National Geographic's Dark Secrets of the Lusitania, an investigation into how the passenger liner was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Cork in May 1915.

But as the Los Angeles Times reports, the testing was a possible violation of strict rules governing the lab's government funding, insofar as doing work for National Geographic that could have been contracted to the private sector.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the documentary's findings have been disputed by the Lusitania's millionaire owner Gregg Bemis, who is hopeful of funding one more return expedition to the wreck site off the Old Head of Kinsale.

The LA Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
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#CorkHarbour – As previously reported the Cork Harbour Open Weekend which began today is packed with lots of free activities for all the family to see and enjoy throughout the natural harbour, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported, due to operational reasons, unfortunately the Naval Service are unable to provide the L.E. Orla (P41) for public tours at City Quay as part of this weekend's Cork Harbour Open Weekend. 

Should you however be taking an excursion to Cobh today, notably two flagships, one belonging to a French ferry firm, the other a German cruise company will be in local waters.

The impressive flagship Pont-Aven (2003/44,000grt) of Brittany Ferries is a cruise ferry that is scheduled to pass off Cobh from 16.00hrs onwards. The Breton based ferry company celebrates 35 years of service running between Cork Harbour to Roscoff.

Approximately two hours later at 18.00hrs the other flagship, the Amadea (1991/29,008grt) of German cruise operator Pheonix Reisen is set to depart Cobh's deepwater quay. As previously reported she sailed last night from Foynes as part of a cruise to include Irish ports.

Prior to these ship movements there will be an air/sea rescue demonstration early this afternoon at 14.30hrs and held in the lower harbour carried out by the Irish Coastguard. This is a super spectacle for everyone to watch from the shoreline and see the incredible work carried out by our Coastguard.

At the Cobh Heritage Centre the Cork Dockyard Photographic Exhibition continues with a display of around 200 photographs which is a must for those interested in the history of local shipbuilding. The exhibition which is admission free is open today and closes tomorrow.

On Sunday at 14.00hrs there will be an event for anyone with an interest in the Lusitania tragedy. Local historian Jack Gilmartin will attend the Lusitania graves in the Old Church Cemetery in Cobh and outline the town's links with the tragedy of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.

For further information on the Port of Cork Open Weekend visit the programme www.corkharbour.ie or to download a PDF version of events click HERE.

 

Published in Cork Harbour

#Lusitania - The owner of the Lusitania may get his wish for a return dive to the wreck of the ill-fated passenger liner after the Minister for Heritage endorsed plans for a fresh investigation into its sinking.

The Irish Times reports that Minister Jimmy Deenihan has "agreed to a broad set of exploration objectives" with Gregg Bemis, the American millionaire businessman who has had had a financial interest in the wreck since 1968, and sole ownership since 1982.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Bemis had been seeking permission from the Government since last September after disputing the findings of a documentary made during an expedition to the wreck in the summer of 2011.

The cruise liner - a rival of the Titanic in its day - was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat off the Old Head of Kinsale on 7 May 1915, during the First World War, sinking in just 20 minutes and taking 1,198 lives.

However, there have long been accounts of a second explosion on the sinking vessel before it was submerged - leading some to believe that it was carrying Allied munitions in its cargo.

Bemis staged his previous expedition in a bid to discover once and for all what really happened to the Lusitania. But last year he said that the National Geographic documentary team behind 'Dark Secrets of the Lusitania' used "insufficient data" to conclude that the second explosion was from a boiler in the bowels of the ship.

The businessman's ambitions had also been thwarted by a long-running dispute with Leinster House over the State's heritage rights to the wreck site and the effect of exploration on its condition.

Minister Deenihan is reviewing a new licence application that would involve numerous dives to the wreck over the next three years, including the centenary year of the Lusitania's demise in 2015.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#LUSITANIA - The millionaire owner of the Lusitania shipwreck has rejected the findings of the recent TV documentary investigating the mystery of its sinking.

The Irish Independent reports that Gregg Bemis is seeking permission from the Government to mount another dive to the wreck site to "pursue the truth".

On 7 May 1915 the cruise liner RMS Lusitania was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat off the coast of the Old Head of Kinsale in Co Cork, with the loss of 1,198 lives.

A second explosion was reported minutes later, and within 20 minutes the vessel was underwater. Only 761 people survived.

Last summer Bemis launched what was expected to be the last dive expedition to find out what really happened to the former Cunard passenger liner.

However, Bemis argues that the National Geographic documentary team behind 'Dark Secrets of the Lusitania' used "insufficient data" when they concluded that the second explosion on the vessel following a torpedo strike was from a boiler blowing up in the bowels of the ship.

He remains convinced that a secret cargo of Allied munitions was responsible for the devastating explosion that sealed the ship's fate.

"They did not have all the information they should have had," said Bemis. "They used a computer analysis to get their theory and a computer is only as good as the garbage you put in. You put garbage in, you get garbage out."

The American said only a second dive with complete access to the hull could uncover what he believes really happened - a project he hopes will take place before the Lusitania centenery.

Published in Maritime TV

#LUSITANIA - M3 TV Productions will be holding a special event in the Port of Cork on 14 September to mark the worldwide release of Dark Secrets of the Lusitania.

The TV documentary, which premiered last month on the National Geographic Channel, follows what might have been the last expedition to the wreck of the ill-fated cruise liner.

On 7 May 1915 the passenger liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat off the coast of Cork, with the loss of 1,198 lives. But theories abound that there was more to the disaster than the torpedo strike, and that the ship's cargo hold contained precious art and illegal munitions.

The documentary attempts to uncover what really happened, using the latest submersible technology to see further into the shipwreck than ever before.

Gregg Bemis, the US owner of the shipwreck of the former Cunard cruise liner, will be flying in for the worldwide launch event.

Other guests include representatives from the marine industry, Minister for Arts & Heritage Jimmy Deenihan, Sean Kelly MEP, Senator Deirdre Clune and representatives from the Irish Coast Guard and Naval Service.

Actors will be dressed in First World War period costume to create a special atmosphere on the evening. The Irish Examiner will also display a digital exhibition of photos on the Lusitania, while UCC's Professor Dermot Keogh will give anoverview of that tumultuous period of world history.

Published in Maritime TV

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

 

ASGARD IS MAGNIFICENT

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

 

COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN WANT BASS FISHERIES OPENED

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

 

CAN YOU HELP RESOLVE A STICKY SITUATION?

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

 

TUNNEL BUYS FERRIES – UK GOVERNMENT WANTS TO KNOW WHY

in seafrance

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

 

CORK BROTHERS WRAP UP THE 18S IN SCOTLAND

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

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

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

 

STATE GETS LUSITANIA ITEMS

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

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

 

A BAD SUMMER - BUT IT COULD BE WORSE!

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

Remember the last Icelandic cloud?

 

OCEANS ARE SAVING US

in oceansaving

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

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

And on Facebook – THIS ISLAND NATION page

Published in Island Nation

#LUSITANIA - A new TV documentary on the National Geographic Channel follows what might be the last expedition to the wreck of the Lusitania, in a bid to get to the bottom of the century-old mystery surrounding the ill-fated vessel.

On 7 May 1915 the passenger liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat off the coast of Cork, sending 1,198 lives to their doom.

But theories abound that there was more to the disaster than the torpedo strike, and that the ship's cargo hold contained precious art and illegal munitions.

Dark Secrets of the Lusitania attempts to uncover what really happened, using the latest submersible technology to see further into the shipwreck than ever before.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Gregg Bemis - the elderly American who owns the wreck of the former Cunard cruise liner - hoped last year to discover once and for all what secrets the ship really holds in what may be the last major dive to the wreck site.

Dark Secrets of the Lusitania premiers on Sunday 15 July at 7pm on the National Geographic Channel, available on Sky and UPC.

Published in Maritime TV

#TITANIC - Irreverent tech website Gizmodo has marked the 100th annversary of the sinking of the Titanic with a list of the 13 deadliest shipwrecks in history.

The list runs the gamut from well over a century ago, in the early days of passenger shipping - see the SS Sultana, a tragedy overshadowed by the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the end of the American Civl War - to more recent events.

Included are such as sad tales as that of the Empress of Ireland, the worst disaster in Canadian maritime history in which more than 1,000 died, and much closer to home the Lusitania, which went down off Kinsale in May 1915 after a torpedo attack.

But the worst was arguably suffered by the passengers of the steamship SS Kiangya - which blew up 50 miles north of Shanghai in December 1948, taking as many as 3,920 lives - and the horror that befell the MV Doña Paz in the Philippines in December 1987, where estimates put the death toll at an unbelievable 4,000.

Gizmodo has more on the story HERE.

Published in Titanic

On Saturday 10th September 2011, MV Queen Elizabeth will make her maiden call to Cobh in the Port of Cork. To coincide with this visit the Port of Cork will formally present a plaque to the Captain of the Queen Elizabeth on the quayside at 10.30am.

This will be followed by a Lusitania Memorial Service led by the Captain and Chairman of the Port of Cork at the memorial in Cobh Town.

Saturday 10th September 2011
0900hrs - MV Queen Elizabeth arrives in Cobh
1045hrs – Plaque exchange with Port of Cork and Cunard
1115hrs – Lusitania Memorial Service Begins in the centre of Cobh Town
1145hrs – Memorial Service Ends
1145hrs – 1245hrs – Band 1 Southern Brigade will play in the promenade in Cobh

Published in Cruise Liners
Page 3 of 4

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