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A Harbour Seal photographed at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. The most widely distributed species of pinnipeds, they are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Baltic and North seas. Photo: AfloatA photograph of a Harbour Seal taken at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, this species can be found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are the most widely distributed species of pinnipeds and can be found in the coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Baltic and North Seas. Photo: Afloat

Displaying items by tag: Damian Browne

Extreme adventurer Damian Browne is hosting a “spoken word tour” early in the new year on his solo rows across the Atlantic in both directions.

Browne, the focus of the documentary Man Versus Ocean broadcast on RTE Television last week, has taken the same title for his tour.

The Man Versus Ocean spoken word tour kicks off in Dundalk, Co Louth, at An Táin on January 19th, and he is in Belfast at the Elmwood Hall in Queen’s University on January 20th.

He speaks in his home city of Galway on January 21st in the Black Box Theatre, and he is in the Sligo Hawk’s Well Theatre on January 23rd.

The tour continues to Dublin, at the Helix Theatre, on January 25th, and The Everyman Theatre in Cork on January 31st.

Waterford is the final stop at the Theatre Royal on February 2nd.

As previously reported by Afloat, the former professional rugby player and his lifelong friend and fellow rugby player Fergus Farrell had been attempting to set a new Guinness world record in an unsupported row across the Atlantic in 2022.

However, Farrell, who learned to walk after a serious spinal injury at work, had to be medically evacuated after 12 days at sea after leaving New York to Galway, and Browne continued alone.

After 112 days at sea and five capsizes – the last one within Galway Bay – Browne arrived home to a hero's welcome.

Admission to Browne’s spoken word tour is €27.50 plus the booking fee.

More details are here

Published in Coastal Rowing
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“Can you see what I see?”

“ Land, land motherfxxxxxs…”

“Ireland !!! I see you! Finally, the old sod is in site...”

The words of transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne on day 108 of his extraordinary effort to row from New York to Galway last year which is the subject of a documentary on RTÉ television tonight (Wednesday December 6th)

Browne and fellow former Connacht rugby player Fergus “Gussy” Farrell from Galway had hoped to break a record of 55 days and 13 hours for the crossing.

Damian Browne and fellow former Connacht rugby player Fergus “Gussy” Farrell setting out on their transatlantic rowDamian Browne and fellow former Connacht rugby player Fergus “Gussy” Farrell setting out on their transatlantic row

However, a series of unfortunate events, including weather and five capsizes, led to Browne spending 100 of the 112 days the row took on his own.

Ireland here we come - Damian Browne and Fergus Farrell setting out from New YorkIreland here we come - Damian Browne and Fergus Farrell setting out from New York

Farrell, who had learned to walk again after he sustained a traumatic spinal injury, had to be evacuated after 12 days at sea. Tension was already building between the pair, who knew each other from childhood, and the documentary reflects the strain put on that friendship

Browne, who filmed himself in tears after Farrell was taken on board a ship, admitted he cursed Farrell “many’s the time” after he left and had “bags of resentment” but also knew “the guy had to get off..”

“We just knew that being on top of each other when all of the stress and anxiety was going on about our departure that something could and might possibly erupt and, ultimately, it did, ”Farrell says in the documentary made by Tomek Ciezki of Heavy Man Films.

“Thankfully, myself and Damo are well used to that between each other, so we’re well able to take it on the chin, just get over it and move on...”

Damian Browne arrives back in Galway and is greeted by crowds of well-wishers in Galway DocksDamian Browne arrives back in Galway and is greeted by crowds of well-wishers in Galway Docks

“I left New York with virtually no time on the water in a boat with my rowing partner. So, I was not afforded the opportunity of five or six days in a cabin to understand what life was like living on an ocean. On day two, the ocean was quite harsh and choppy, so we had to get into the cabin together. That was when things really started going...wow this is going to be difficult... It was like going into a sauna. I did not enjoy that experience one little bit,” Farrell says.

“The minute you get comfortable, the Atlantic just knocks you over,” Browne says of his ordeal when he was forced to eat cold food after losing his jet boil, along with two oars and a compass after three of his five capsizes.

He explains how he hadn’t closed the air vent on the cabin properly which let in water during the capsizes.

Man vs Ocean will air on Wednesday 6th December, 9.35 pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.

Published in Maritime TV

A documentary on the epic transatlantic row by Galway oarsman Damian Browne and his rugby partner Fergus Farrell is due to broadcast on RTÉ next week.

Man Vs Ocean, which is described as “an emotional and reflective adventure documentary”, will air on Wednesday, December 6th, at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.

Browne is the first man to row from New York to Galway, and one of only a handful of people to have rowed solo across the Atlantic in both directions.

Browne rowed east-west solo from San Sebastian to Antigua in 2018, but said the west-east crossing which he finished after 112 days at sea last year, was far harder as he encountered headwinds and currents for much of the route.

It was to have been completed with his close friend Fergus Farrell after the pair left New York in mid-June 2022 for Galway.

The two men from Renmore and Athenry, Co Galway respectively, have been friends and rugby players with Connacht and Galwegians Rugby Football Club since they were young.

However, Farrell had to be evacuated at sea after 13 days, when his oxygen levels dropped to 86 per cent and he was at risk of blood clots. At the homecoming, Farrell said he was “thrilled for Damo” and delighted to know he was safe.

Entitled Project Empower, the row has raised funds for four charities: National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, Ability West, Madra and Galway Simon Community.

Browne has completed the six day, 257km-long Marathon des Sables across the Sahara Desert - also known as “The Toughest Footrace on Earth”.

He has also climbed five of the seven summits or highest peaks on each continent, and had planned to attempt Everest two years ago, but both he and his Sherpa got Covid.

He had said he finds the “primal moments” of extreme challenge to be very rewarding.

“You learn to appreciate the small things we take for granted,”he said on his arrival into Galway docks after five capsizes in October 2022, admitting how much he missed family and friends and saying it would be “a long time” before he got back into an ocean rowing boat again.

Man vs Ocean, 112 Days | Weds 9.35 pm | RTÉ One & RTÉ Player

Published in Maritime TV

Atlantic oarsman Damian Browne’s achievements in crossing the ocean each way and becoming the first man to row from New York to Galway were lauded at a civic reception hosted by Mayor of Galway Clodagh Higgins this week.

Mayor Higgins had not been invited to Browne’s arrival on October 4th last, when he landed into Galway city after rowing more than 3,450 nautical miles over 2,696 hours.

However, at a reception in Galway on Monday, Cllr Higgins paid tribute to his efforts.

Transatlantic rower Damian Browne, with his parents, Mary and Joe Browne, at the Galway City Council civic reception in his honour. Photo: Andrew DownesTransatlantic rower Damian Browne, with his parents, Mary and Joe Browne, at the Galway City Council civic reception in his honour. Photo: Andrew Downes

“It takes a particular type of person to see a death-defying challenge with nature, and to seriously consider taking it on,” she said.

“It takes an even more special person to complete it successfully. Damian Browne is one such person,”she said.

“Damian continues to inspire and motivate us, in both his career as an extreme adventurer and peak performance athlete, and also as an international keynote speaker,” she said.

She acknowledged Damian’s role as an ambassador for Galway, and wished him and his family continued success, health, happiness and contentment in future.

Browne and his team mate Fergus Farrell, who are both former rugby players, spoke about Project Empower with manager Macdara Hosty before a packed audience in the Galmont Hotel, Galway, last Friday.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Ocean rowing has come up before in our Sailor of the Month listings. But it’s an understandably rare feat, and noted former rugby player Damian Browne’s huge achievement of rowing from New York to Galway is put into deeper perspective by knowing that his shipmate at the start of the voyage had to be air-lifted off at an early stage owing to illness. Thus Damian made his way solo across a notably obtuse ocean in what was essentially a two-man boat, resulting in a time scale which is difficult to grasp.

He departed on June 14th and reached Ireland on October 4th, by which time the ocean swell and the Atlantic winds were already well into the beginnings of their winter routines.

 

Published in Sailor of the Month
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Galway city’s mayor was advised against attending the official homecoming for transatlantic rower Damian Browne after an application for city council funding for the event was rejected.

Mayor of Galway Clodagh Higgins (FG) has declined to comment beyond stating that she had “other engagements” on the morning of Browne’s homecoming into Galway docks.

However, sources have said that the mayor was very keen to attend the event but was advised against it the night before due to Galway City Council’s lack of financial support for the official welcome.

In a statement, Mayor Higgins said that Browne “is a huge inspiration to us all”, and his story was one of “resilience, endurance and superior mental and physical strength”.

She said she wished to offer her heartfelt congratulations on a “wonderful achievement” and wished him “the very best in his next expedition”.

Hours after his early morning capsize off na Forbacha in a force nine gale, Browne was applauded by over 1,000 people in Galway docks when he was driven in by RIB through the lock gates.

When his vessel Cushlamachree was refloated by a community team out at na Forbacha, he returned to sea and rowed the vessel in through Galway dock gates just before they closed on a falling tide.

Galway City Council has confirmed that Project Empower - which was set up to back the transatlantic row planned by Browne and his close friend Fergus Farrell - did make an application to the Galway City Council marketing fund.

The detailed application submitted in 2021 outlined the many benefits to Galway city of the project and invited the city council to be the title partner for Project Empower at a value of €30,000 + Vat.

The city council said that the marketing promotion fund was established to ensure that the council could provide support for the holding of major events and festivals in the city.

“ Events or activities that would take place from October 2021 to April 2022 were eligible to apply,” it said.

Guidelines state that the funding “should only be provided to projects that will support local economic development, i.e. attracting or generating investment, spending, jobs or additional events in the city”.

" Funding should only be provided to projects and events that have a city-wide impact. This is not a fund for small-scale, local events nor is it an emergency fund for existing projects that may have lost other sources of funding,”it said.

It said that “proposals must detail the economic benefits of the activity or event”, and “the full extent of co-funding or matching funds either sought or obtained from other sources must be disclosed”.

“As Project Empower could not demonstrate a major impact in relation to attracting significant bed nights, it was deemed ineligible for this fund,” the city council statement said.

Published in Coastal Rowing

Well over a thousand people turned out to welcome transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne home to Galway docks yesterday morning after he survived his fifth capsize and was washed ashore in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Hours after he was located by three gardai on rocks at Na Forbachas (Furbo) and taken home to Renmore, he returned to the docks for the official celebrations planned in his honour.

The extreme adventurer and former Connacht rugby player is the first man to row from New York to Galway.

A flotilla took Browne through the lock gates to the blare of ships’ horns, flares, drum beats and cheersA flotilla took Browne through the lock gates to the blare of ships’ horns, flares, drum beats and cheers Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

He is also one of only a handful of people to have rowed solo across the Atlantic in both directions.

Browne and his boat was located by three gardai on rocks at Na Forbachas (Furbo)Browne and his boat was located by three gardai on rocks at Na Forbachas (Furbo)

Browne was not injured, and his vessel, Cushlamachree, was later refloated from rocks at Na Forbacha (Furbo) by Ciaran and Patrick Oliver and a number of local vessels.

Even as this effort was underway, a flotilla organised by Port of Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan took Browne through the lock gates to the blare of ships’ horns, flares, drum beats and cheers.

Damian Browne, his daughter one-year-old Elodie and her mother Rozelle greet the rower who became the first person in history to row from New York to Galway after 112 days at sea. Photo:  Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyDamian Browne, his daughter one-year-old Elodie and her mother Rozelle greet the rower who became the first person in history to row from New York to Galway after 112 days at sea. Photo:  Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Pupils from his former secondary school, “The Bish”, who were among many schoolchildren at the event, formed a guard of honour with oars.

Dr Karen Weekes, who became first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic, was among the many wellwishers.

Transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne with Dr Karen Weekes, the first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic, at the Galway docks homecoming Photo Joe O'ShaughnessyTransatlantic oarsman Damian Browne with Dr Karen Weekes, the first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic, at the Galway docks homecoming Photo Joe O'Shaughnessy

Browne could have made his landfall in Kerry, but reached the Aran islands on Monday night where a bonfire was lit on Inis Oírr and he was delivered ham and cheese sandwiches made by his mother Mary.

A bonfire was lit on Inis Oírr for BrowneA bonfire was lit on Inis Oírr for Browne Photo: Paddy Crowe

Swaying slightly after 112 days at sea, he described how he had to crawl ashore at Na Forbacha (Furbo), but felt he wasn’t in any great danger.

He encountered a force nine south-westerly gale with wind gusts of up to 44 knots as rowed from the Aran islands to Galway in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Browne reached the Aran islands on Monday nightBrowne reached the Aran islands on Monday night Photo: Paddy Crowe

He said he misjudged how close he was to two large rocks. As he tried to row back out, several large breakers capsized his boat and snapped one of his last two oars.

He said used a broadband satellite link to raise the alarm with weather router Chris Martin, and saw a flashlight about 20 minutes later.

Damian Browne with his father Joe at Galway DocksDamian Browne with his father Joe at Galway Docks Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

Garda Micheál Ó Ráinne from An Spidéil, Garda Vincent Kelly from Indreabhán and Garda Eoin O’Malley from Carna located him, and ensured he was checked out by emergency first responders.

He was then driven home to Renmore in Galway by his team manager MacDara Hosty.

“So I am knocking at my parents’ door at 2.30m and my partner Rozelle put her head out,” he laughed.

His teammate Fergus Farrell drove out to Na Forbacha with boatbuilder Justin Adkin and Martin, and they confirmed that the Seasabre 6.2m craft Cushlamachree was not seriously damaged.

Fellow Project Empower team mate Fergus Farrell with Damian BrowneFellow Project Empower team mate Fergus Farrell with Damian Browne Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

The craft was refloated by a number of vessels, coordinated by Ciaran and Patrick Oliver of the Claddagh, and towed into Galway shortly after midday.

Browne was then brought out to sea again by RIB and boarded Cushlamachree. Ships’ horns sounded up as he rowed into the lock gates just before they closed on a dropping tide.

Browne rowed east-west solo from San Sebastian to Antigua in 2018.

However, he said this crossing was much longer and far harder as he encountered headwinds and currents for much of the route.

This year’s west-east crossing was to have been completed with his close friend Fergus Farrell after the pair left New York in mid-June for Galway.

However, Farrell had to be evacuated at sea after 13 days, when his oxygen levels dropped to 86 per cent, and he was at risk of blood clots.

Farrell said he was “thrilled for Damo” and delighted to know he was safe.

Entitled Project Empower, the row has raised funds for four charities: National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, Ability West, Madra and Galway Simon Community.

Browne has completed the six-day, 257km-long Marathon des Sables across the Sahara Desert - also known as “The Toughest Footrace on Earth”.

He has also climbed five of the seven summits or highest peaks on each continent and had planned to attempt Everest last year, but both he and his Sherpa got Covid.

“Everyone should do an ocean row,” he said, describing how much he learned about himself.

“You learn to appreciate the small things we take for granted,” he said.

Published in Coastal Rowing
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Transatlantic Rower Damian Browne is due to be welcomed at Galway docks this morning after he was swept into rocks in a force nine gale in the early hours of this morning.

The extreme adventurer was not injured after his boat Cushlamachree was forced onto a lee shore at Furbo west of Galway city shortly before 1am and he raised the alarm.

He had been making his way into Galway on the final leg of his 3,500-mile voyage from New York.

Southwesterly winds were gusting to 44 knots with a heavy swell.

The boat 'Cushlamachree' was forced onto a lee shore at Furbo west of Galway cityThe boat 'Cushlamachree' was forced onto a lee shore at Furbo west of Galway city

He was located by three gardai from Spiddal, Inverin and Carna and checked by paramedics before being taken to his parents' home in Renmore by MacDara Hosty. Mr Hosty said he was in good spirits.

A homecoming is still planned for 11 am at Galway docks.

A statement issued by Project Empower said:

On Tuesday, October 4th shortly before 1am Irish time after 2,686 hours at sea and over 3450 nautical miles rowed, Damian Browne became the first person in history to row from New York to Galway when he and Cushlamachree came ashore on the rocks at Furbo Beach, just short of The Port Of Galway.

Efforts will be made at high tide to refloat Cushlamachree at Furbo(Above and below) Efforts will be made at high tide to refloat Damian Browne's transatlantic rowing boat Cushlamachree at Furbo

Efforts will be made at high tide to refloat Cushlamachree at Furbo

Having left Chelsea Piers, Manhattan on Tuesday, June 14th at 03:10 am (GMT + 1), Damian had spent almost 16 weeks or 112 days at sea, fighting Mother Nature every step of the way and eventually, in the last hours of this epic, unforgiving undertaking Mother Nature had her way and forced Damian ashore in precarious circumstances on the rocks at Furbo Beach, Galway.

Damian immediately called Chris Martin, the Project Empower land support officer, who in turn contacted the relevant emergency services who mobilised immediately. First on the scene were Garda Micheál Ó Ráinne from An Spidéil, Garda Vincent Kelly from Indreabhán and Garda Eoin O’Malley from Carna who found Damian and Cushlamachree on the rocks and helped Damian to safety. Damian and The Project Empower team would like to express their sincere gratitude to the Gardaí and the Emergency First Responders who looked after Damian so well.

Tyres are put between the rocks and the fibreglass hull in a bid to prevent damage to Damian Browne's transatlantic rowing boat Cushlamachree at FurboTyres are put between the rocks and the fibreglass hull in a bid to prevent damage to Damian Browne's transatlantic rowing boat Cushlamachree at Furbo

While gutted not to have made it to The Port Of Galway, Damian is now reunited with his family, is in good spirits and is very much looking forward to celebrating his amazing achievement with the people of Galway at his homecoming which takes place as planned at 11 am in Galway Docks on Tuesday, Oct 4th when the hope is that there will be hordes of people present to celebrate the successful completion of this mammoth adventure.

The journey, which has been entitled Project Empower, is part of a fundraising effort for four charitable organisations: National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, Ability West, Madra and The Galway Simon Community.

Those wishing to support Project Empowers charity partners - National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, Ability West, Madra and The Galway Simon Community - can do so by visiting: http://www.idonate.ie/projectempower2022

Published in Coastal Rowing
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Extreme adventurer Damian Browne rowed into Galway Bay after his transatlantic crossing and is due into Galway docks from 10.30 am on Tuesday.

The former Connacht rugby player will have become one of a handful to have rowed both ways across the Atlantic when he berths after 112 days at sea.

Browne rowed east-west solo from San Sebastian to Antigua in 2018. This year’s west-east crossing was to have been completed with his close friend Fergus Farrell after the pair left New York in mid June for Galway.

However , Farrell had to be evacuated at sea after 13 days, when his oxygen levels dropped to 86 per cent and he was at risk of blood clots.

Transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne passing a crowded Inis Meain pier last evening. Liam O'Brien of the Co Clare Doolin ferry company provided an escort for Browne in his RIB Photo: Paddy CroweTransatlantic oarsman Damian Browne passing a crowded Inis Meain pier last evening. Liam O'Brien of the Co Clare Doolin ferry company provided an escort for Browne in his RIB Photo: Paddy Crowe

Farrell, who survived a traumatic spinal injury in 2018 and  learned to walk again, said his online medical support took just 30 seconds to inform him his row was “finished”.

Video by Michael Gill

The pair were attempting to set a new Guinness world record in their purpose-built Seasabre 6.2m craft.

Entitled Project Empower, the row continued by Browne is raising funds for  four charities: National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, Ability West, Madra and Galway Simon Community.

Browne survived a number of capsizes and has been living on cold food after losing vital equipment in storms.

He  could have  made his landfall in Kerry, as his first sight of Ireland was of the Irish south-west coast  last Thursday.

Instead, he  has been transiting north along the Irish Atlantic seaboard to ensure his first landfall is in his native city.

Challenging conditions forced him to deploy his para-anchor, with south-westerly winds sweeping him up to Foul Sound between the Aran islands of  Inis Meáín and Inis Oírr  last  evening (mon) where a crowd of islanders greeted him from shore and a large bonfire was lit on Inis Oírr.

Weather permitting, a flotilla of vessels will accompany him in on his last leg into Galway docks early this morning.

“"When I started out on this project some three-and-a-half years ago, the final destination was clear from the start; Galway. Home,”Browne said in a statement from his boat, Cushlamachree, yesterday.

A welcoming bonfire for transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne lit on Monday evening on Inis Oírr Photo: Paddy CroweA welcoming bonfire for transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne lit on Monday evening on Inis Oírr Photo: Paddy Crowe

“The great hope with this was to give the next generation of kids in the west and throughout the country a real image, and touchable action to emulate, and hopefully inspire them to dream big and work hard in whatever avenue of life they decide to explore,” he said.

 “After 112 days of stresses, strains and doubts only an endeavour like attempting to row 3000 miles across the unforgiving North Atlantic can elicit, I’m incredibly excited to close out this beautiful project in my hometown, surrounded by my family, friends and supporters; making my dream a reality,”he said.

It is anticipated that he will be greeted in Galway docks by his partner Rozelle, baby daughter Elodie, parents Mary and Joe Browne and siblings Andrew and Gillian and their families, along with Port of Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan and supporters including Fergus Farrell and MacDara Hosty.

A golf buggy has been provided to drive him around the docks to meet wellwishers, before he is taken to the Harbour Hotel for a private reception.

Published in Coastal Rowing
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“I see land and it’s Ireland”.

After sending that WhatsApp message from sea several days ago, former Connacht rugby player Damian Browne could have berthed in Kerry by now after rowing 3,500 nautical miles across the Atlantic.

However, the extreme adventurer was so determined to become the first person to row solo from New York to Galway that he has eschewed hot showers, hot food and a bed on land for several more days.

Instead, Browne has been transiting north along the Irish Atlantic seaboard over the weekend to ensure his first landfall is in his native city.

“I see land and it’s Ireland”

Bonfires are planned on the Aran islands as he approaches the southernmost island, Inis Oírr, having passed Loop Head in Co Clare on Sunday evening.

It is anticipated that he will time his row into Galway docks for the high tide on Tuesday morning (Oct 4), when the Port of Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan and team open the lock gates from 10.45am.

Weather permitting, a flotilla of vessels is planned to accompany him in for the last 30 miles from Inis Oírr early on Tuesday.

Browne, who has survived a number of capsizes during a most arduous crossing, has already rowed east west across the Atlantic.

This west-east crossing has been particularly challenging, as weather often forced him off course – meaning he has rowed 3,400 nautical miles on a 2,600 nautical mile distance as the seabird flies.

Loss of vital equipment during storms and heavy weather has also meant he has been surviving on cold food.

The unsupported row began on June 15th with his close friend Fergus Farrell, also a former rugby player.

However, Farrell had to be evacuated at sea after 13 days, when his oxygen levels dropped to 86 per cent and he was at risk of blood clots.

Farrell, who survived a traumatic spinal injury in 2018 and learned to walk again, said his online medical support took just 30 seconds to inform him his row was “finished”.

The pair were attempting to set a new Guinness world record in their purpose-built Seasabre 6.2m craft.

“Damian is very stoic, focused and very present,” MacDara Hosty of his Project Empower support team said at the weekend.

It is anticipated that he will be greeted in Galway docks by his partner Rozelle, baby daughter Elodie, parents Mary and Joe Browne and siblings Andrew and Gillian and their families.

A golf buggy has been provided to drive him around the docks to meet wellwishers, before he is taken to the Harbour Hotel for a private reception.

Published in Coastal Rowing
Tagged under
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The Coastal Notes category covers a broad range of stories, events and developments that have an impact on Ireland's coastal regions and communities, whose lives and livelihoods are directly linked with the sea and Ireland's coastal waters.

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Thanks to our location in the North Atlantic, there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe. From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals, the Marine Wildlife category documents the most interesting accounts around our shores. And we're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and video clips, too!

Also valuable is the unique perspective of all those who go afloat, from coastal sailing to sea angling to inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing, as what they encounter can be of great importance to organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG). Thanks to their work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. But as impressive as the list is, the experts believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves, keep a sharp look out!

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Developments and activities in existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector, and those of the energy exploration industry, point to the future of energy requirements for the whole world, not just in Ireland. And that's not to mention the supplementary industries that sea power projects can support in coastal communities.

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Aside from the green sector, our coastal waters also hold a wealth of oil and gas resources that numerous prospectors are hoping to exploit, even if people in coastal and island areas are as yet unsure of the potential benefits or pitfalls for their communities.

Changing Ocean Climate

Our ocean and climate are inextricably linked - the ocean plays a crucial role in the global climate system in a number of ways. These include absorbing excess heat from the atmosphere and absorbing 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity. But our marine ecosystems are coming under increasing pressure due to climate change.

The Marine Institute, with its national and international partners, works to observe and understand how our ocean is changing and analyses, models and projects the impacts of our changing oceans. Advice and forecasting projections of our changing oceans and climate are essential to create effective policies and management decisions to safeguard our ocean.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, “Our ocean is fundamental to life on earth and affects so many facets of our everyday activities. One of the greatest challenges we face as a society is that of our changing climate. The strong international collaborations that the Marine Institute has built up over decades facilitates a shared focusing on our changing ocean climate and developing new and enhanced ways of monitoring it and tracking changes over time.

“Our knowledge and services help us to observe these patterns of change and identify the steps to safeguard our marine ecosystems for future generations.”

The Marine Institute’s annual ocean climate research survey, which has been running since 2004, facilitates long term monitoring of the deep water environment to the west of Ireland. This repeat survey, which takes place on board RV Celtic Explorer, enables scientists to establish baseline oceanic conditions in Irish waters that can be used as a benchmark for future changes.

Scientists collect data on temperature, salinity, water currents, oxygen and carbon dioxide in the Atlantic Ocean. This high quality oceanographic data contributes to the Atlantic Ocean Observing System. Physical oceanographic data from the survey is submitted to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and, in addition, the survey contributes to national research such as the VOCAB ocean acidification and biogeochemistry project, the ‘Clean Atlantic’ project on marine litter and the A4 marine climate change project.

Dr Caroline Cusack, who co-ordinates scientific activities on board the RV Celtic Explorer for the annual survey, said, “The generation of long-term series to monitor ocean climate is vital to allow us understand the likely impact of future changes in ocean climate on ecosystems and other marine resources.”

Other activities during the survey in 2019 included the deployment of oceanographic gliders, two Argo floats (Ireland’s contribution to EuroArgo) and four surface drifters (Interreg Atlantic Area Clean Atlantic project). The new Argo floats have the capacity to measure dissolved ocean and biogeochemical parameters from the ocean surface down to a depth of 2,000 metres continuously for up to four years, providing important information as to the health of our oceans.

During the 2019 survey, the RV Celtic Explorer retrieved a string of oceanographic sensors from the deep ocean at an adjacent subsurface moored station and deployed a replacement M6 weather buoy, as part of the Irish Marine Data Buoy Observation Network (IMDBON).

Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the IMDBON is managed by the Marine Institute in collaboration with Met Éireann and is designed to improve weather forecasts and safety at sea around Ireland. The data buoys have instruments which collect weather and ocean data including wind speed and direction, pressure, air and sea surface temperature and wave statistics. This data provides vital information for weather forecasts, shipping bulletins, gale and swell warnings as well as data for general public information and research.

“It is only in the last 20 years, meteorologists and climatologists have really began to understood the pivotal role the ocean plays in determining our climate and weather,” said Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann. “The real-time information provided by the Irish data buoy network is particularly important for our mariners and rescue services. The M6 data buoy in the Atlantic provides vital information on swell waves generated by Atlantic storms. Even though the weather and winds may be calm around our shores, there could be some very high swells coming in from Atlantic storms.”