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Displaying items by tag: Tom MacSweeney

12th November 2010

An Irish Maritime Foundation

I wonder whether there might be interest in forming an Irish Maritime Foundation?

I raise the question having discussed the possibility with those who run the UK Maritime Foundation and whose views about the sea about the sea impressed me when I met them in London. The Foundation traces its history back to 1981 when shipowners, senior retired naval officers and people involved in the financial industry reacted to changes in British Government policy that were regarded as failing to protect the importance of the UK maritime industry. It is a registered charity with the purpose of promoting and raising interest in the maritime sector amongst the public, the media and Parliament. To do so it is involved in assisting development of maritime education, training and research.

The British are a magnanimous people in my view. It was an honour to accept the Desmond Wettern Award from the Foundation. Desmond Wettern was a distinguished UK maritime journalist for over 30 years and the awards were established in his name. This year the Society for Nautical Research joined the awards project.

In responding I used one of my favourite descriptions - "the Family of the Sea," which I have used on radio. It drew a lot of interest from those present. I believe there is a "family of the sea" which spans oceans and seas, linking those who appreciate the sea as essential to human survival.

"Everyone who has an interest in the sea would recognise that there are and will continue to be, increasing pressures on its use and on the exploitation of its finite resources, but also a number of opportunities," according to Rear Admiral Christopher Perry, Chairman of the UK Marine Management Organisation. Those views and others I discussed with some of those amongst the 200 attending the function, who came from various parts of the world. Professor Richard Harding of the Society for Nautical Research which is marking its centenary, expressed this opinion: "There is a disturbing sense of sea-blindness in the British Government, amongst the general public at large and in the media."

There is certainly sea-blindness in our Government and in much of the media, though I am hopeful that there is growing awareness of the importance of the marine sector amongst the general public. If Ireland had an organisation like the Maritime Foundation, I would be very pleased.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation

A very good fleet of 29 cruisers came to the line for the first day of the CH Marine Winter league writes Claire Bateman. The first radio sound to be heard was the familiar voice of Afloat correspondent Tom MacSweeney, who was PRO for the occasion, advising the course to be sailed would 99, sailing Classes One and Two together and Classes 3 and White Sail also together. An equally well known voice came back wondering whether there would be water at one particular mark!!

The sea was flat and there was a fitful wintery sun. In spite of the dire forecast that had been promised, one could have been doing a lot worse than enjoying a race in Cork Harbour.

The course turned out to be a good choice as it is divided into three parts and could be shortened after any one of the three rounds. The wind from the ESB stack at Whitegate was showing north west, Met Eireann report from Roches Point was giving 5 knots from the west and the Race Officer for the Laser fleet was setting a course for a south west wind. It was that kind of day.

It was an off wind start and True Penance with Joe English on spinnaker got the best start with End Game just behind with Jimmy Nyhan trimming the spinnaker, and Bad Company was looking good as well on the shore side. Magnet was throwing all sorts of shapes at the cage but a was bit slow hoisting her spinnaker.

Classes Three and White Sail sailed one round of the course and Classes One and Two got in two rounds. This worked out very well because as the race progressed the tide was getting stronger and this helped the boats to make it out the harbour against the tide so it all jelled very well.

The prize giving followed at which CH Marine presented the competitors with very seasonal and acceptable bottles of wine and boxes of Cadburys Roses and immediately afterwards the threatened rain began to pour down but as this stage the competitors were not bothered as they were ready to go home having enjoyed a great day of racing.

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Photos by Bob Bateman

Published in Royal Cork YC

I have long admired the commitment and dedication to sailing of David Harte in Schull. With his design of the TR 3.6 he has achieved what may well prove to be the ideal boat for team racing. This aspect of sailing is proving very popular amongst younger sailors. In the past few months I have been watching and reporting on the development of the sport by Match Racing Ireland which is now an integral part of the Irish Sailing Association. There is an excitement and enthusiasm which is good for the sport.

Now Schull and David Harte are adding a new dimension with the TR 3.6 which seems a bit like a Firefly when you look at it first, but then there are clear differences in design. The 3.6, a two-person dinghy, is just that in length. "It is robust, cheap to produce and the first boat customised for team racing. This is a boat for people who don't own a boat. It is a boat made for a situation where different crews will be using it and it has to be able to stand up to that pressure. I looked at the concept of the Firefly and then adapted it to what will prove to be a good boat for team racing," David told me.

The boat was shown for the first time at the announcement that Schull will host the ISAF Team Racing World Championships which will be held in the West Cork harbour in 2011. Twenty-four teams from around the world will compete, with the Fastnet Outdoor Education Centre as the base. It has a proven record of success in teaching sailing as a curricular subject at the adjacent Schull Community College which, through the foresight of the Cork County Vocational Education Committee, established this approach several years ago.

David Harte manages the operation. The success of the Schull students in winning the British championships this year, as well as their progress in the sport elsewhere after they leave the college is a testimony to his success.

Next weekend the Irish Team Racing Championships will be held in Schull, with 18 teams from around the country competing "and 40 per cent of the helms will come from Schull," David told me with a satisfied smile, which he deserves to have.

It is intended to raise funding for a fleet of 25 new TR 3.6 boats which Schull will provide for the world championships. Afterwards the boats will remain there, providing more years of sailing for young people. A sponsorship project has been launched and already seven boats have been funded. It is intended to build the boats in Cork and to have the sails made there. The world championships are scheduled to start on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

Photos of the new design afloat HERE

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation

For the first time an Irish maritime journalist was honoured by the British Maritime Foundation at its annual awards ceremony in London. The Desmond Wettern Award was presented to Afloat's Tom MacSweeney. It is made to the writer, broadcaster, journalist who in the opinion of the Foundation's Awards Committee has made the most constructive contribution to generating awareness of maritime issues.

The Awards Committee said that the significance of issues chosen, work in radio, television and newspapers and magazines, the range and depth of analysis and impact on public awareness of maritime issues were the reasons for the award to be made to a journalist outside of the UK for the first time.

There was a £1,000 award with the trophy which MacSweeney donated at the ceremony back to the Foundation for support to their work, particularly in the area of tall ships opportunities and sea training for young people. The Foundation will be offering places to Irish people and are interested in extending the work of the Foundation to Ireland.

The Award was presented by Countess Mountbatten, President of the Maritime Foundation at a ceremony in the Institute of Directors building in Pall Mall, London.

Tom MacSweeney is a columnist with Afloat, Ireland's national sailing magazine and Special Correspondent with Ireland's national fishing industry newspaper, The Marine Times. He was formerly Marine Correspondent with RTE, Ireland's national radio and television service and is a former winner of Ireland's maritime person of the year award as well as a maritime author.

TV historian Dan Snow won the Donal Gosling Award for his four-part BBC2 series, Empire of the Seas. This is for the best television, film or radio contribution.

Over 200 celebrities, journalists, business figures and senior naval officers attended this year's Maritime Media Awards, held at the Institute of Directors in London Foundation president Countess Mountbatten of Burma presented prizes to winners of the six categories:

• The Desmond Wettern Media Award for the best journalistic contribution – freelance writer and broadcaster Tom MacSweeney for exemplary coverage of maritime matters
• The Donald Gosling Award for best television, film or radio contribution – Dan Snow, Empire of the Seas
• The Desmond Wettern Fleet award for best media contribution from HM Ship, submarine, Royal Navy Air Squadron or Royal Marine unit – HMS Kent
• The Mountbatten Maritime Award for best literary contribution – Richard Guilliatt and Peter Hohnen, The Wolf

• The Maritime Fellowship Award for an outstanding lifetime contribution in a particular maritime field – Undersea explorer David Mearns

• The Society for Nautical Research Anderson Medal for best contribution to maritime history – Nicholas Black, Head of History, Dulwich College for his book, British Naval Staff in the First World War

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The awardees in Pall Mall

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Tom MacSweeney receives the award from Countess Mountbatten

Read Tom MacSweeney's weekly 'Island Nation' blog HERE

Published in Island Nation
29th October 2010

Living Beyond Our Means

That is not a title referring to the current economic situation, though it is certainly apt in that regard. I am using it to refer to the fact that as humans we live on relatively small pockets of land on this planet that is dominated by the oceans upon which we depend for life. So much damage is being done to those oceans that 600 marine scientists this week issued a sombre warning:

"It is well past the time to get serious about measuring what is happening to the seas around us."

I was looking this week at an interesting sight, an image of the Earth taken from outer space in which our planet appears as a globe, dominated by a huge drape of blue hues broken up by irregular patches of brown and green, with swirls of grey and white above them. The blue are the oceans, the patches of brown and green the land and the swirls of grey and white the clouds. It made me think that, if life had evolved on another planet and scientists from there were looking at Earth, they would see it as a water planet, dominated by the oceans which cover over 70 per cent of its outer surface.
The oceans are what set Earth apart from other planets in the solar system. They contain over 324,126 cubic miles of water, an enormous quantity of liquid upon which life on the planet depends. We humans, who lack the ability to live totally in water, who do not possess the gills with which marine life is equipped, who are land-bound, air-breathing organisms, have forgotten how unrepresentative is our perspective of land in relation to the oceans. They occupy two-thirds of the world on which we humans live and which we believe was made for us. Yet, there is much more life in the seas. Isn't that an interesting thought, particularly as human life continues to abuse the oceans?

POGO is an organisation linking 80 per cent of the world's institutions studying the oceans. The "Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans" was created by leaders of the world's major oceanographic institutions. One of its major aims is to reach out to the public, creating more awareness of the seas. It has now established 'Oceans United,' an international forum intended to become 'The Voice of the Oceans,' sharing observations, knowledge and information for the benefit of humanity which depends for its continued existence on the survival of the oceans.

The 600 marine scientists who issued that sombre warning are members of 'Oceans United.' They have called for an integrated global ocean observation system which would monitor the entire ocean surface:

"The situation is that serious. Every country in the world needs to unite, irrespective of their differences, because the ocean surface is now more acidic than ever before and this will affect life on our planet."

The danger from this rising trend is that it will affect the basis of life in the sea – the plankton which are at the base of the global marine food chain. This is not a remote, ethereal issue. Scientists are concerned that the origins of recent world catastrophes such as the floods in Pakistan and summer heat waves and forest fires could be traceable to effects on the oceans as they grow saltier, hotter, more acidic and thus less biologically diverse.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork , where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation

I am in a somewhat depressed mood writing this week’s column. On Sunday afternoon I boarded my boat on its mooring near the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven and what I saw destroyed memories of a pleasant summer sailing season. SEASCAPES had been attacked by thieves and vandalised inside.

It is depressing to think that a group of thieves sat inside my boat for some time. Not satisfied with stealing electronic and other equipment, a plotter, binoculars, flares, even personal items such as sunglasses, sailing hats, gloves, they smashed bulkhead equipment which they could not remove. A barometer and clock were destroyed, adding to the damage caused when the cabin door was broken open.

I can understand how people feel when their homes have been vandalised. This was my “home on the water” during the summer when we sailed along the West Cork coastline. Now it has been defiled by unknown people by persons who must have some boating experience, some maritime knowledge, because they had to use a boat of their own to get onto mine.

Are they amongst the “family of the sea” about which I have written and spoken so often? How can people who have any affinity with the sea do so much damage to a vessel of the sea, I ask myself.

I feel sorry for the boat, that she was undefended against those who attacked her. I feel responsible for what she has suffered, because I was not there to help her as she helped me through many experiences, through bad weather and testing times. These thoughts that come to mind in what I know is a useless raging inside me, but I feel hurt, upset, angry, emotions that are mixed as I write. It is possible to understand theft, but it is very hard to accept mindless vandalism against my undefended ‘lady of the water’ with whom I have shared so much time and energy in moments of joy and of sadness, who looked after me as I slept aboard when she swung to her anchor in coastal harbours.

It was only last week that the Irish Sailing Association warned that thieves were targeting boats and marine equipment. Take care of yours. I have notified the Gardai and they are investigating.

This shall not dissuade me, depressed as I am this week.

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Seascapes - vandalised on her moorings in Cork harbour. Photo: Bob Bateman

•    This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork , where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation

It is great to report more Irish success on the world sailing scene, where our sailors have done well this season, lifting the country’s reputation internationally.

 

SCHULL will stage the Youth World Team Racing Championships next year, which is a huge international recognition of Irish ability at organisational, as well as performance level, while a Kinsale Yacht Club team has won a top international regatta.

 

The decision by the world sailing authority, the International Sailing Federation, to award the team racing event to the West Cork village is a strong international recognition of the achievements of the Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre which was established at Schull Community College in 1997. The event will be raced in TR 3.6 dinghies, a one-design boat purpose-built for team racing, sailed by a crew of two. Organisational work is underway at Schull and a formal announcement of plans for the event will be made next month. It is expected to cost up to €200,000 to stage. At least 20 teams from around the world will take part.

 

This is also a boost for youth sailing and for team and match racing which have been increasing in popularity amongst younger sailors. The Irish Sailing Association’s Women’s Match Racing Championships were held at Kinsale Yacht Club last weekend and were won by a team led by Laura Dillon from Howth YC. The next match racing event will be the ISA’s Open Championships also to be staged at Kinsale, where racing will be from the 23rd to 25th of this month. It is approved by the International Sailing Federation as a Grade 3 event which gives world rankings to Irish competitors.

 

The annual general meeting of Match Racing Ireland, which has been given formal recognition by the Irish Sailing Association, will be held in Kinsale YC on October 23. In conjunction with the championships, members of the association will review progress made in developing match racing.

 

CIT Cork won the Student National Championships sailed at the RCYC, qualifying them for the Student World Cup next year. Six college teams took part. The team was skippered by George Kennefick.

 

Olaf Sorensen from Kinsale Yacht Club, crewed by Martin Payne and Shawn Kingston achieved another international success for Ireland at Saint Tropez in the 2010 Dragon Regatta, winning the eight-race highly-competitive event. It was sailed over two days during which the 48-boat fleet, drawn from several countries, faced a wide variety of wind and sea conditions.

 

Sailing Dragon IRL 207 “Christianna” in a competitive fleet where there was little separation amongst the top boats, the Kinsale crew held the lead after the first day of racing, closely followed by two Russian boats. In the final day’s racing, with winds of up to 25 knots and big seas, they held onto their position to take the event overall, with Russia second and France in third place, securing another Irish win on the international scene.

 

Irish sailors have had some great victories overseas this season, lifting the reputation of the country.

  • This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO of Cork where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

 

Published in Island Nation
New regulations that may force smaller vessels out of the Irish fishing fleet have come in to force. Fishermens organisations have reacted angrily to meeting the high cost of what they call 'over zealous' safety regulations. Lorna Siggins has more in today's Irish Times HERE and Tom MacSweeney counts the likely cost of the Department of Transport regulations in Afloat's Island Nation blog HERE.
Published in Fishing

The cost of upgrading fishing boats to comply with new regulations first mooted three years ago means some boats cannot put to sea again. It's a move that will cost hundreds of jobs to coastal communities says Tom MacSweeney

The nation may be reeling from the revelations about Anglo Irish Bank and AIB. The fishing industry is reeling from another shocker. While earlier this week it cranked up its PR machine in an attempt to convince the public it was going to create jobs, the reality is that this Friday, October 1, it wiped out at least 200 and the overall effects of what it has done may throw as many as 800 people out of work in coastal areas.

That is callous disregard for people and underlines the disinterest and disrespect which the Government has for the maritime sector.

These jobs are in the fishing industry and are being lost because of a decision by the Department of Transport that smaller fishing boats, ranging in size from 15 to 24 metres must conform to the same safety standards as bigger boats, those over 25 metres, even though they operate under different fishing methods.

There can be no argument against safety, but there should be moderate, reasonable implementation of regulations. To quote the Taoiseach in his own recent defence, "moderation in all things." There are 99 boats in the Irish fleet in the 15-24 metre category. These are, effectively, day boats which operate in inshore waters, close to land. The Department has decided to implement regulations requiring them to conform to the same standards as bigger vessels that operate farther out to sea for extended periods.

Of the 99 boats nationwide faced with the implementation of the new regulations, 39 have not applied for certification, apparently because owners could either not afford the costs of upgrading the boats to the higher standard or felt the vessels would not be able to meet those standards, irrespective of how much money was spent on them. Those 39 boats have to be tied up, unable to go fishing any longer, another blow to the Irish fishing fleet. Their owners and crews will face unemployment.

The total number of jobs lost nationally could be up to 800, according to fishing organisations, when those whose livelihoods ashore depend on the 200 direct fishing jobs are added.

The Department makes the point that it has been known for three years that these new regulations would be imposed and that there has been ample time for owners to upgrade. Fishing organisations asked the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, who also holds the brief of marine safety, to establish a separate category of safety requirements applying specifically to the smaller boats. Dempsey, who has not been a friend of the fishing industry, refused. So around 200 fishermen are out of work, directly due to a Government decision. It has not been explained why different regulations cannot be applied to different sizes of boats.

The sight of more Irish fishing boats tied to the quay wall, stopped by Irish Government regulations from working will not be pleasant.


• This article is reprinted by permission of the CORK EVENING ECHO in which Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation
One of the great enjoyments is sailing along on a pleasant, sunny day, with nice music adding to the occasion but what is the best music aboard a boat? There have been strong disagreements about my choices as Skipper, so I am intrigued by the first published list of top "boating" music. It has been compiled by the National Marine Manufacturers' Association of America, which has nearly 1,500 member companies which produce nearly every conceivable boating product.

It runs a "Discover Boating" national awareness project creating interest amongst the public in going afloat. "We identified the most popular nautical-themed songs from a variety of artists and genres, all of which illustrate why boating and music go hand-in-hand," said Carl Blackwell, the Association's Vice-President running the project. "They illustrate why boating and music go hand-in-hand, the wind in your hair, sun on your face, friends and family aboard. Music and boating provide an escape from the pressures of life."

Kenny Chesney's song 'Boats' has been voted the top boating son in the USA

These are the Top Ten Boating Songs:

BOATS – sung by KENNY CHESNEY;
BRANDY YOU'RE A FINE GIRL BY LOOKING GLASS;
COME SAIL AWAY BY STYX;
IF I HAD A BOAT BY LYLE LOVETT;
INTO THE MYSTIC BY VAN MORRISON;
PROUD MARY BY CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL;
REDNECK YACHT CLUB BY CRAIG MORGAN;
SITTIN' ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY BY OTIS REDDING;
SON OF A SON OF A SAILOR BY JIMMY BUFFETT;
SOUTHERN CROSS BY CROSBY, STILLS & NASH.

These are chosen from an American viewpoint, I wonder what an Irish list would include? Let me know in the comment box below.

WIND PLAN WILL CHANGE THE HARBOUR

Wind turbines have become an established feature on the coastline and around many parts of the country. Controversy has often surrounded their construction as an alternative energy supply. Wind turbines nearly four hundred feet high which would change the appearance of Cork Harbour are being proposed by four pharmaceutical companies in Ringaskiddy. They want cheaper energy and have formed the Lower Harbour Energy Group. GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Centocor and DePuy plan to construct a total of turbines between their sites. Public response to the proposals will be interesting. Indications are that the body of the turbines would be 78 metres, the blades a further 40 metres high, making a total of around 118 metres.

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A cargo ship navigates Cork Harbour. Photo: Bob Bateman

There are serious concerns about 336 offshore turbines around the UK coastline, because their foundations are suffering from subsidence, sinking into the sea. Checks are being made on a wind farm off Essex
another in Liverpool Bay, of turbines at Blyth, Northumberland and Robin Rigg in the Solway Firth. If repairs have to be made to all of them, the total bill could be £50m. stg.

The Scottish Government is attempting to encourage Norwegian Statoil to locate the world's first floating windfarm either off the Isle of Lewis or the Aberdeenshire coastline. Statoil is also considering sites in Norway and the USA for the development, intended to have a capacity of up to 100 megawatts.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the CORK EVENING ECHO in which Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation
Page 12 of 13

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