Displaying items by tag: maritime
#Maritime - Ireland has been "sea-blind" for decades and needs a "strong maritime constituency" to make the most of our significant ocean and coastal resources, according to the nation's highest ranking naval officer.
Rear Admiral Mark Mellett DSM was speaking at the launch of a new book celebrating 25 years of RTÉ Radio's Seascapes programme at the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire last Monday 1 December.
Citing Ireland's mostly maritime jurisdiction - "three times the size of Germany, one million square kilometres, 92% of which is underwater... with trillions of euros of yet-to-be-found hydrocarbon and mineral resources" - he lamented that the nation had taken so long to embrace the sea.
"Over many decades, in my own view, in particular since the foundation of the State, we've been sea-blind. We haven't recognised our maritime heritage to the level that we should," said the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.
"And that's why it's important that institutions like the Maritime Museum of Ireland have stood us in good stead by re-establishing our constituency, and more recently I'm delighted that Government from the centre, through Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, is driving that maritime constituency."
"But good governance needs a strong maritime constituency," he added. "And it needs champions... But more than that, it needs thought leaders, thought leaders like Tom MacSweeney, thought leaders like Lorna Siggins [Irish Times Marine Corr – Ed] and thought leaders like Marcus Connaughton, people who define and set the agenda in the maritime."
WM Nixon has much more on the Sailing By book launch in his latest blog entry HERE.
#seascapes – The maritime community in Ireland is a mystery to the vast majority of the rest of the population. Admittedly anyone Irish will sing enthusiastically about how good it is to be entirely surrounded by water. But for most folk among a people who like to think that they're basically rural even if the reality is they're increasingly urban, the sea is seen as no more than a useful barrier, while the coast is only briefly a fun place at the very height of a good summer.
The sea and the coastal interface are not seen as an exciting world in itself, a unique environment which deserves to be explored, enjoyed and utilised in practical and often beneficial ways. On the contrary, the popular view of the plain people of Ireland is that the less they know about the sea, the better. And the unspoken corollary of this is that anyone who seeks to go to sea for recreation is at best a bit odd, maybe even a misfit ashore, while those who work on the sea only do so because they couldn't get a job on land.
Here at Afloat.ie, in its various manifestations over the past 52 years, we've been trying to spread mutual understanding and useful information among the many and varied strands of those who go afloat for sport and recreation in Ireland and beyond. We know this is largely a matter of preaching to the converted. But we also try to do our bit to welcome those who may be newcomers to the world of boats, while remaining keenly aware of the drawbacks of over-selling our sport, our hobby – our obsession, if you wish.
Sailing and boating in Ireland can be rugged enough. Thus the sport in all its forms can only expand in a sustainable way if it attracts people who will themselves bring something positive to the party, for interacting usefully with boats is not a passive affair. And there has been a certain level of success. Over the years, while there was an understandable blip in boating numbers during the recent recession, the graph has been reasonably healthy when it's remembered that rival sport and entertainment attractions are proliferating all the time, while the increasing availability of holidays afloat in sunnier climates makes the promotion of boating activity within Ireland more problematic.
Fifty-two years ago, beginning a process of regular communication among Ireland's recreational boating community was quite a challenge. But it was a very straightforward project compared with inaugurating a regularly weekly broadcast maritime programme for all listeners on national radio in a country notably averse to the sea. Yet it all began 25 years ago, and it's still going strong.
So how do you celebrate 25 years of a niche radio programme, a little Irish maritime magazine of the air? It would be too much to expect a documentary on primetime television. And even an extra-long gala edition on the national radio airwaves at peak listening times might well be counter-productive. So it seems the answer is that the best way to celebrate 25 years of Seascapes on RTE Radio 1 is to publish a book well-filled with some of the key broadcasts with which it has been associated. And as those now-printed broadcasts include a maritime-themed series of the prestigious Thomas Davis Lectures, you mark the anniversary by sending out those as broadcasts again in their own right twelve years after their first transmission.
It may all sound almost devious, a matter of managing to slip the Seascapes celebrations in under the RTE management radar. But those of us who have been banging the maritime development drums for a very long time are well aware that, though the tide is definitely turning, there's still a huge underlying resistance to anything to do with the sea and boats, and it takes an element of cunning to get the message across such that, in time, the people are themselves singing from the same hymn sheet, and thinking it was all their idea in the first place.
But the founder of Seascapes 25 years ago, RTE's Cork reporter Tom MacSweeney, makes your average terrier look like a tired old dog. A sailing and maritime enthusiast himself even though his family had been from a non-maritime background, he had as a child in Cork been inspired by his grandfather's great respect for seafarers, and the vital task they performed in keeping Ireland connected with the rest of the world. He could see the sea all about us, and Cork is the most maritime of cities. So he just kept nagging RTE until they gave him a quarter of an hour once a week back in 1989 to put on a maritime programme for an island nation. And though it has been shifted around in the schedules, it is now a solid half hour every Friday night at 10.30pm, a worthy fulfilment of RTE's public service remit - you really do get a sense of Seascape's nationwide listening community, while podcasts make it more accessible than ever.
The sheer volume of material from all round Ireland's coasts, from our lakes and rivers, and from Irish seafarers abroad, is simply monumental, a treasure trove. So in producing the book (it's published by Liffey Press at €20 with all royalties going to the Lifeboat Service), they'd to wield a fierce scalpel. And though it includes the complete set of Thomas Davis lectures from twelve years ago, it's still of manageable size (in other words, you can read it in bed), while giving a good overview and flavour of the kind of material Seascapes broadcasts, and what we might call the house style.
In Tom MacSweeney's days of producing and presenting it from 1989 until he retired from RTE in January 2010, it has to be agreed that very occasionally the nagging which got Seascapes its slot in the first place sometimes spilled over onto the airwaves in the programme itself. Okay, we all know that Ireland is not as sea-minded as it might be. But things are slowly improving in this, and they might improve more quickly if the maritime movement relied more on the path of gentle encouragement and inspiring example rather than constantly reiterating the tedious refrain of "the government should do this, the government should do that....."
From time to time, I have to confess I thought the worst possible thing was to get the government involved at all, having seen what the official encouragement and enforcement of the Irish language had achieved since the establishment of the state. There'd be occasions when you'd think the best way to turn the Irish into a nation of doughty sailors would be to declare seafaring illegal. The people would have taken to boats in their droves....But nevertheless the tide is slowly but definitely turning, and in today's less frenetic atmosphere of businesslike maritime promotion and development, we're becoming more comfortable in our relationship with the sea.
Man of the sea. Rear Admiral Mark Mellett DSM on exercises with the Naval Service off the Cork coast.
So it was entirely appropriate that, in the launching of the Seascape's compendium Sailing By, the main speaker in both the Cork Harbour Commissioners' building on the Friday night (November 28th), and in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire on Monday, was Rear Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, our most distinguished navy man, who has risen to the august heights of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.
If you requested Central Casting to provide an Irish Admiral who conveys the expected air of competence with the necessary gravitas and presence, while still having that essential Irish twinkle, then they'd send you Mark Mellett. We'd most of us heard of his steady rise through the senior ranks, but for many of us in the National Maritime Museum on a damp December night, it was the first experience of seeing Admiral Mellett in a professional and public capacity. For people from a very wide range of interests and activities in the maritime sphere, it was very encouraging – we feel we now have a spokesman who can ably represent us at every level, however formal or high powered, while at the same time retaining the human touch.
Top people at the launching of the Seascapes book Sailing By are (left to right) Cllr Marie Baker (Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council), Rear Admiral Mark Mellett DSM (Deputy Chief of Staff , Defence Forces), Marcus Connaughton of Seascapes, and Richard McCormick, President of the National Maritime Museum. Admiral Mellett is being presented with the book The Atlantic Coast of Ireland, as he already has his own copy of Sailing By – he wrote the foreword.
His enthusiasm is palpable, and he provided a foreword for the book which speaks from the heart, yet provides a practical and businesslike outlook. In fact, that was the flavour of the evening in the National Maritime Museum, as it was hosted by Richard McCormick, the recently elected President of the National Maritime Museum, and the speakers included the Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Cllr. Marie Baker, and Tom McGuire, head of RTE Radio 1, who knows better than anyone just what has been needed to keep Seascapes on the airwaves for 25 years.
Most of all it has of course been the sheer dogged determination of Tom MacSweeney working on his own as producer and presenter in RTE's Cork studio, followed by his successor Marcus Connaughton, who came in as producer when the Thomas Davis Lectures were added to an already almost impossibly demanding schedule in 2002, and stayed on to become presenter eight years later.
They're two very different people. Tom is so involved and enthusiastic that occasionally his own personality, opinions and attitudes cloud the issue. He's a complex man with many interests, not least of them being a national Vice President of the St Vincent de Paul Society. But as regular visitors to Afloat.ie will know, he continues to broadcast his own maritime programmes through community radio, and he's a much-sought-after speaker on sea matters. Recently, he gave a sold-out talk - How Stands Our Island Nation? - to the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association in the Poolbeg Y&BC, and while he had the usual serious message, it was leavened by his sharp wit, with the laugh of the evening being provided by his reading of the pained official letter from an Irish Lights Manager complaining about the sheer incompetence and slovenly carelessness of Brendan Behan when he was employed as a painter renovating the St John's Point lighthouse in County Down.
That said, it was a telling lesson in the importance or otherwise of maritime affairs in Ireland's national and cultural life in times past, that the story of a noted playwright making a complete hames of painting a lighthouse was something you knew would register more readily with a general audience than anything of more direct nautical interest, and it is an awareness of the need to reach out gently to the general public which sets the tone of Marcus Connaughton's presentation of Seascapes.
He arrived in the job first as producer, and then as producer/presenter, with no personal baggage in maritime matters. His background was in music production and public relations, and a couple of years ago he brought seventeen years of research and writing to a successful conclusion with the defining biography of Rory Gallagher. But gradually he has become absorbed in and intrigued by the world of boats and the sea. As one of the speakers on Monday night put it, one of the most quietly impressive peformances you'll see is Marcus – who is by no means a small man – sidling into the crowd at some maritime gathering, armed with microphone and recorder, ready and willing to give a voice to the voiceless.
Man at work – Marcus Connaughton records the memories of Alan Martin and Jimmy Carthy of the Dublin Dockworkers Preservation Society
Tim Magennis (left) President of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association, with Marcus Connaughton. Once upon a time, they were work colleagues in the PR Department of Bord Failte
The book launch begins to become a party – Con Murphy of the National YC (left) and Brian Craig of the Royal St George YC getting their copies of Sailing By signed by Marcus Connaughton in the National Maritime Museum. Photo: W M Nixon
The changeover to a new presenter was fairly gradual, but very marked in one thing – he changed the signature tune. When Seascapes started in 1989, they simply borrowed the music which precedes the BBC Shipping Forecast, Ronald Binge's "Sailing By".
"Sailing By" in almost any form is the sound of syrup being poured over sugar lumps, but some folk loved it, so the change to the brisk tone of Simon Mayer's The Reel Thing wasn't universally popular, even if welcomed by those of us trying to cut down on the sucrose.
Yet it's surely an appropriate 25th anniversary sweetener that the published compendium of Seascapes stories is titled Sailing By, and the cover is a fine photo of the renowned pilot cutter Jolie Brise sailing by the Fastnet Rock. It was taken by Brian Carlin of Tralee, who subsequently went on to be the award-winning photographer aboard the Volvo 65 Team Vestas, which unfortunately managed to do some excessive impactive navigation off Mauritius during the Volvo World race last weekend. It was certainly not the photographer's fault, but it heightened the sense of an Irish maritime community worldwide that at Monday night's gathering, Marcus was able to tell us that not only was Brian all right, but that in contacting his father to say so, he requested that the message be passed on to Seascapes as soon as possible.
One of award-winning photographer Brian Carlin's studies of Jolie Brise sailing by the Fastnet Rock. Photo: Brian Carlin
The top moment – it's 2005, and the Seascapes team are on board Asgard II as she leads the Dunbrody of New Ross, and the Jeanie Johnston of Tralee, in the Parade of Sail at the Tall Ships visit to Waterford. Photo: Dave Osborne
As for Marcus's own special recollections of his years with Seascapes, we allowed him six and he ranked them: (1) Being on Asgard II in Waterford with the Tall Ships in 2005, (2) at sea off Hook Head with Martin Colfer amidst enormous schools of lively dolphins, (3) in Galway during both Volvo visits, (4) being far up his beloved Munster Blackwater beyond Ballinatray at the top of the tide, (5) celebrating 25 years of the Killybegs Fishermen's Association at a monster party in the great Donegal port, and (6) being in the renovated National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire when it was re-opened by President Michael D Higgins.
Presidential thoughts of the sea and seafaring in Ireland – Seascapes interviews President Higgins after he has re-opened the restored National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Margaret Brown
Seascapes was of course broadcast as usual last night at 10.30pm, and Marcus Connaughton will be signing copies of Sailing By in Waterstones in Cork this afternoon from 2.0pm to 5.0pm. The first of the six Thomas Davis lectures from 20012 – Paddy Barry's lyrical account of sailing round Ireland – will be broadcast on Friday December 19th, and they'll continue weekly until the final one on February 6th, which is my own item about why most people in Ireland think sailing enthusiasts are so odd. As mentioned at the Glandore Summer School in July, I've changed my mind about some aspects of that, and I'll probably have changed it yet again when Marcus provides me with the space for further thoughts on the matter on Seascapes some time after February 6th.
But meanwhile, happy birthday to Seascapes – you provide a wonderful example of genuine public service broadcasting.
#islands – On Thursday, October 9, not enough TDs turned up in the Dáil to create a quorum for the business of our national Parliament. The Opposition accused the Government parties of being responsible and of showing lack of commitment to the affairs of the nation.
One of the affairs of the nation to which the Dáil shows lack of interest is the maritime sphere.
The Government is particularly culpable in this regard and is ignoring two reports which it commissioned on the maritime sphere and coastal communities.
I wrote last week about this neglect, questioning in particular the Government's dilution of maritime affairs by moving them into several departments.
This attitude is underlined by the manner in which it has refused to give time to discuss the Oireachtas Committee report on coastal and island communities which was presented to them in January of this year and the CEDRA Report which also made recommendations about maritime affairs.
The Oireachtas Committee which examined and reported on the Islands and Coastal Communities made a request for a national conference to be held by Departments with responsibilities in the maritime sphere. It also called for a debate in the Dáil and Senate on the issues it had highlighted of neglect and failures to support these communities. The Committee highlighted, amongst other issues, that State 'governance arrangements' were "not the best working model."
The Government has not given debate time nor have any of the Departments with involvement in the marine sphere done anything to organise a national conference involving those in the marine sphere to debate the issues. There were more than 30 recommendations in the report, ranging from maritime tourism to the seaweed industry.
Since the report was delivered the State company, Arramara, was sold off by Udaras na Gaeltachta. Questions have been raised about this, the sale has been subject to a lot of criticism, but there has been no Dáil or Senate debate on why another maritime resource, the property of the people of the nation, was sold to private interests. This was done despite the objections of seaweed growers who have alleged that their livelihoods were being destroyed.
Another maritime report by a Commission set up by the Government, which has been ignored since it was delivered, is the CEDRA Report (Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas) which concluded that there should be 'plan-led' development of Ireland's marine territory to support economic targets and goals set out in the Government's Ocean Wealth Plan. It challenged the Government's commitment to this plan and whether it will, as a result, be effective.
The Chairman of CEDRA, former Kerry footballer and analyst Pat Spillane, did not know that the State company, Arramara, was being sold off by Udaras na Gaeltachta when his Commission recommended that the Government must set up "a regulatory development framework for the State's seaweed sector, both wild and cultivated," which would have economic and employment prospects for national benefit.
Neither did the Chairman of the Oireachtas Fisheries Committee, Andrew Doyle, T.D., know about the Government's agreement to sell off this State company and national resource, when his Committee made a similar recommendation to that of CEDRA's.
Both of these recommendations by State-appointed review bodies, were ignored by the Government. Is this not a clear indication of disregard for the maritime sector?
There are a lot of unanswered questions about how and why this sale was carried out and the effects it will have on the seaweed industry, such as why employment and potential economic benefits were ignored, as were those for whom it provided a livelihood.
Why has this sale not been made an issue for debate in the Dáil? Where are TDs and the national media in challenging aspects of it and asking for explanations?
The public reaction of the CEDRA Chairman to the Government's lack of response to his Commission's Report, which also made recommendations, as did the Oireachtas Committee, about the development of marine tourism and marinas, suggests that the Government's real commitment, away from the public relations spin, may be lacking.
In contrast to the frustration of lack of sufficient p Government focus and commitment to the maritime sector, there is the determination of people like Caitlin Ni Aodha from Helvick in County Waterford. In January of 2012 Caitlin stood on the quayside at Union Hall in West Cork when the Tit Bonhomme trawler tragedy occurred and her husband, Michael, and members of the crew died.
Caitlin Ni Aodha from Helvick in County Waterford
In the latest edition of my fortnightly half-hour radio programme, THIS ISLAND NATION, which you can hear here, I talk on the quayside at Howth to Caitlin as her new boat is launched, a 23-metre prawn freezer. She says that over the last few years she had learned a lot about life, about how good things happened, tragedies occurred, but life had to go on and it was important to do the best one can in life:
"People suffer tragedies, everything is not always easy. Michael and the Tit Bonhomme will be with me for ever. Every day I think of them, but I must do the very best I can with my life."
It is not possible to maximise opportunities from the sea without a strong maritime culture. The Government and its officials could follow that approach to improve their attitude towards the fishing and marine industries. They could also listen to and benefit from hearing the determination of the man in charge of the State's newest naval vessel, Lt.Cdr.Tony Geraghty of the L.E.Samuel Beckett, on the programme. He outlines his determination to demonstrate the public the value of investment in the maritime sphere through the new ship. The ship is a positive State commitment, but the Government generally needs to do much more to show it appreciates that is responsible for the entire welfare of an island nation and to cherish all of its people equally.
Until next week, the usual wish of ..... "fair sailing" ........
Twitter: @AfloatMagazine @Tom MacSweeney
#maritime – The first ever Irish Maritime Forum was held today (Friday, 26th September 2014) in Cork's City Hall. Hosted by the Port of Cork, in partnership with the Irish Ports Association, the forum was attended by over 150 delegates from across the maritime industry.
Entitled 'Developing the Dynamic Future for Ireland's Maritime Sector', the forum focussed on the challenges and opportunities faced by those operating within the maritime sector, both in Ireland and in Europe.
Opening the conference, Minister Sean Sherlock TD spoke of the importance of ports as strategic points for trade growth, both nationally and internationally. He highlighted the Port of Cork and other Irish ports as global benchmarks and commended them for their future vision.
Guest speakers at the forum included Vincent De Saedeleer, Vice President of the Port of Zebrugee; Mr Alan Gray, Managing Director of the Indecon International Consulting Group; Captain Fredrik Van Wijnen, General Secretary of the Confederation of European Shipmasters' Associations (CESMA), Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) and Patrick Verhoeven, Secretary General of the European Community Shipowner's Association (ECSA).
Speaking at the forum, John Mullins, Chairman of the Port of Cork, said: "I am delighted to be opening the inaugural Irish Maritime Forum here in Cork. This is a unique opportunity for industry leaders to come together and develop ideas for change. These ideas need to be put to policy makers to shape future government policy for the sector and I hope that is something that we can achieve here today".
Brendan Keating, Chief Executive of the Port of Cork continued, "We know that ports are a key element for national economic growth, particularly as Ireland emergences from recessionary times. However adequate port infrastructure is critical for future growth."
The forum will continue throughout the afternoon and will culminate with a gala dinner also in City Hall for over 200 guests.
#westcorksailing – Balitmore Maritime Centre (BMC) was formed in 2013, in order to continue the sailing activities of Les Glénans in Baltimore, West Cork which have ceased. Here BMC chairman Michael O'Meara outlines the work of the centre since it started activities earlier this year.
Both Baltimore and Collanmore sailing bases have been put on the market by Fáilte Ireland. We have been unable to secure a lease on the Baltimore property as Fáilte Ireland are not engaging in that type of business activity anymore. However, we are keeping a watching brief on the sale of Baltimore and there are moves afoot locally to secure funding to make an offer to purchase the base. There has been widespread support for Baltimore Maritime Centre/Glenua in Baltimore and Skibbereen and this is very encouraging looking towards the future. We have ongoing liaison with local businesses and other interests.
On a more practical level, BMC/Glenua, in conjunction with the local maritime heritage group has produced a comprehensive proposal for the development and use of the base. This proposal encompasses traditional boat building, maritime archaeology and a maritime heritage data base whilst ring-fencing and enhancing our Les Glénans style sailing activities. The Baltimore Maritime & Training Project document is reproduced in our newsletter, The Beacon, attached for your information.
We are using this proposal in our engagements with state agencies, politicians and funding agencies. If this proposal is successful, it will give BMC/Glenua security of tenure, enhance the total sailing experience, have the capability of using the base all year round and provide a greater economic unit to make the project sustainable for the long term.
Our fleet of 6 GL 570s were re-located to Heir Island in June in order to provide keel boat courses in a very successful joint venture with John Moore of Heir Island Sailing School. The boats are now back at anchor in Church Strand Bay, Baltimore. More courses will be available during August. We have just completed our July cruising courses running between Kinsale and Baltimore and again, more of these courses will be available during August.
A copy of the BMC newsletter, The Beacon is attached below.
#maritimeforum – Together the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Port of Cork Company announced today that the first ever Irish Maritime Forum will be held in Cork City Hall on Friday September 26th 2014. The forum themed 'Developing the Dynamic Future for Ireland's Maritime Sector' will focus on exploring the future of the maritime sector within Ireland and will look closely at the challenges and opportunities faced by many within the sector. The forum which will attract delegates from across the entire Irish maritime sector will be hosted by the Port of Cork.
A unique platform of both national and international speakers is expected at the forum such as Mr Joachim Coens, President of Port of Zebrugee, Mr Alan Gray, Managing Director of the Indecon International Consulting Group, Mr Liam Lacey, Director of IMDO, Captain Fredrik Van Wijnen, General Secretary of the Confederation of European Shipmasters' Associations (CESMA), Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General of the European Sea Ports Organisation and Christophe Mathieu, Deputy Managing Director of Brittany Ferries. With more speakers due to be announced, each speaker will bring his/her own expert knowledge and experience to the forum.
Speaking at the announcement today, Mr John Mullins, Chairman of the Port of Cork, said: "The Irish Maritime Forum is a unique event in that it will be the first time a forum attracting the entire maritime industry in Ireland will come together to jointly share and learn from each other's experience. The theme 'Developing the Dynamic future of Ireland's Maritime Industry' is aimed at everyone within the maritime sector, from ports, ship owners and operators, shipping lines, stevedore, plus maritime associations such as the Irish Institute of Master Mariners and the Chamber of Irish Shipping to name a few.'
He continued: 'The Port of Cork is honoured to be hosting this forum which will be held in Cork City Hall on Friday 26th September 2014. We hope that delegates will benefit from attending the forum and also enjoy Cork City and its many attractions.'
Delegates interested in attending the Irish Maritime Forum 2014 are asked to register now by visiting www.irishmaritimeforum.ie The Irish Maritime Forum will feature a host of events including a welcome address by an Irish Government Minister, lunch, gala dinner and a partner's programme.
#lighthouses – A London maritime institution with strong Irish connections stretching back over 500 years is opening its doors to the public to celebrate an important maritime birthday next month. In 1514 a young King Henry VIII granted a Royal Charter to a fraternity of mariners called the Guild of the Holy Trinity "so that they might regulate the pilotage of ships in the King's streams" and the month of May marks the 500th anniversary of this milestone event in British maritime history. Included in the celebrations at Trinity House, home to the Corporation and the working office of the General Lighthouse Authority, is a unique Open Day Invitation to the general public to discover the treasures and artefacts preserved and on display within its five elegant rooms and access areas from 10am - 3pm on Saturday, 17th May. There is no need to contact the House - interested day-visitors can arrive and wander about the House at their leisure and receive information from expert guides stationed throughout.
Enthusiasts unable to make this date can schedule a visit from 10am - 3pm on Saturday 20th September (only) as part of the city-wide Open House London promotion created by Open-City (www.open-city.org.uk) and staged on the 20th and 21st of the month providing rare public access to 800 other exceptional buildings in London.
Trinity House is located on Tower Hill overlooking the historic Tower of London and the picturesque Trinity Square Gardens containing a memorial to merchant navy heroes of two World Wars and the Falklands War. It is available for private hire on an exclusive use basis and throughout the year is a popular venue for prestigious corporate and social occasions and is licensed for weddings and civil service ceremonies (please visit www.trinityhouse.co.uk/events for more details).
Built in 1794, the history of the House is omnipresent and throughout the building, valuable paintings and antiques bear out the nation's remarkable nautical heritage. One of its more recent acquisitions is the brass bell from the Royal Yacht Britannia which was decommissioned in 1997.
Trinity House's connection with seamarks and lighthouses dates from Elizabeth I and the Seamarks Act of 1566 which granted powers to set up "so many beacons, marks and signs for the sea whereby the dangers may be avoided and escaped and ships the better come into their ports without peril." The first lighthouse was built during the reign of James I by Trinity House at Lowestoft in 1609, and the next 200 years saw a proliferation of light house building around the coast.
In its 200 year history, the building of Trinity House has welcomed royalty, prime ministers and Lords of the Admiralty and is today managed by Deputy Master, Captain Ian McNaught. Reflecting the on-going patronage of the Crown, the current Master of the Corporation is HRH The Princess Royal, filling a role held in former centuries by, amongst others, the diarist Samuel Pepys, the Duke of Wellington, William Pitt the Younger and, more recently, The Duke of Edinburgh.
About Trinity House
Trinity House is the working office of the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England and Wales with responsibility for nearly 600 Aids to Navigation from traditional aids such as lighthouses, buoys and beacons to the latest satellite navigation technology. In addition, it inspects over 10,000 local Aids to Navigation provided by port and harbour authorities and those positioned on offshore structures. The venue at Tower Hill pays a rent to the Corporation for its use which ensures, as in all other aspects of the two organisations' finances, that the accounts of the Corporation and the General Lighthouse Authority are entirely separate and without crossover.
Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1514, the Corporation is also a major maritime charity, wholly funded by its endowments. The Corporation spends around £4m each year on its charitable activities including welfare of mariners, education and training, and the promotion of safety at sea. It is also a Deep Sea Pilotage Authority.
#historicboats – These days we're told of the growing disparity between the economic recovery of Ireland's eastern region, and the relative economic stagnation of some of the rest of the country. But W M Nixon suggests that, for one part of the western seaboard at least, there's a special vitality to life around boats which challenges this perception, and could usefully be emulated elsewhere. And he signs off with a thought-provoking conclusion.
Connemara, Conamara. Spell it as you wish, but The Land of the Sea on Connacht's most westerly coast fires the imagination and inspires the spirit. It's a place of the mind as much as a place of wild mountains where rocky inlets wind their way deep into rugged country. So while purists might define it exclusively as the much intertwined coastline with its myriad islands between Spiddal and Killary, many of the rest of us can be so inspired by that special Connemara quality that we reckon it runs all the way from Galway Bay to Achill. And anyone from that magic coastline, or indeed anyone who has been inspired by it, carries the spirit of Connemara with them wherever they may be.
The boat people you meet out there, each with their own unique and often ambitious maritime agenda, will send you on your way re-enthused about boats and places and their many possibilities. And when someone from another place or indeed another country decides that it's in Connemara their true self and fulfilment is to be found, far from being seen as exiles they are instead seen as a new focal points for their old groups, and their soul-mates from times past descend on them in Connemara for inspiration and mental re-birth.
This weekend, the boat men from Clondalkin in outer Dublin are journeying to Renvyle on the furthest far west coast to help one of their own in his boat restoration programme at a storm-battered corner on a bit of coast which was almost washed away in the winter's seemingly endless climatic violence.
The men of Clondalkin are the community group who built and sail and continue to lovingly maintain the large Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan. Recently, they've been busy enough with replacing some planks on their hefty big boat. But their key organiser Paul Keogh is mindful of the fact that one of their own, Paddy Murphy, is in the west, living on an Atlantic point out beyond the old Oliver St John Gogarty house which is now the hotel at Renvyle.
They dreamed the dream, and they made it happen. Key movers in the Naomh Cronan story were Stiophan O Laoire (left) and Paul Keogh, seen here at Poolbeg Y & BC as they come forward to accept a prize on behalf of the crew from Johnny Wedick, Hon. Sec. of the Dublin Bay OGA. Photo: Dave Owens
And between Paddy's house and the sea, beside a little hidden slipway which serves small boats which undertake the risky but rewarding challenge of harvesting Ireland's most fish-filled waters, the restoration project on the Aigh Vie is proving to be a demanding task. So this weekend the Keogh team – precise numbers unknown until everyone checks in this morning – are on site to re-caulk the Aigh Vie in a wild weekend of communal energy.
On the Atlantic frontier at Renvyle, the Aigh Vie is under her roof, tilted over to port to facilitate work under the starboard side of the hull. Photo: W M Nixon
For the Aigh Vie is one very special vessel. She's one of the Manx fishing nobbies which reached their ultimate state of development in the first twenty years of the 20th Century before steam power and then diesel engines took over. The nobby evolved to an almost yacht-like form through vessels like the 43ft White Heather (1904), which is owned and sailed under original-style standing lug rig by Mike Clark in the Isle of Man, and the 1910 Vervine Blossom, now based in Kinvara, which was restored by Mick Hunt of Howth, but he gave her a more easily-handled gaff ketch rig which looked very well indeed when she sailed in the Vigo to Dublin Tall Ships Race in 1998.
Mike Clark's Isle of Man-based 1904-built Manx nobby White Heather sets the original standing lug rig.
The 1910-built Manx nobby Vervine Blossom was restored by Mick Hunt in Howth, and is seen her making knots under her gaff ketch rig at the start of the 1998 Tall Ships Race from Vigo to Dublin. Photo: David Branigan
It takes quite something to outdo the provenance of these two fine vessels, but the story of Aigh Vie (it means a sort of mix of "good luck" and "fair winds" in Manx) is astonishing. It goes back to the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U Boat off the Cork coast in May 1915, when the first boat to mount a rescue was the Manx fishing ketch Wanderer from Peel, her crew of seven skippered by the 58-year-old William Ball.
They came upon a scene of developing carnage. Yet somehow, the little Wanderer managed to haul aboard and find space for 160 survivors, and provide them with succour and shelter as they made for port. In due course, as the enormity of the incident became clear, the achievement of the Wanderer's crew was to be recognised with a special medal presentation. And then William Ball, who had been an employee of the Wanderer's owner, received word that funds had been lodged with a lawyer in Peel on behalf of one of the American survivors he'd rescued. The money was to be used to underwrite the building of his own fishing boat, to be built in Peel to his personal specifications, and the result was his dreamship, the Aigh Vie, launched in 1916.
Over the years, the Aigh Vie became a much-loved feature of the Irish Sea fishing fleet. Tim Magennis, current President of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association, well remembers her from his boyhood days in the fishing port of Ardglass on the County Down coast. In time, she was bought by the legendary Billy Smyth of Whiterock Boatyard in Strangford Lough, who gradually converted her to a Bermudan-rigged cruising ketch with a sheltering wheelhouse which enabled the Smyth family to make some notable cruises whatever the weather. His son Kenny Smyth, who now runs the boatyard with his brothers and is himself an ace helm in the local 29ft River Class, recalls that the seafaring Smyth family thought nothing of taking the Aigh Vie to the Orkneys at a time when the average Strangford Lough cruiser thought Tobermory the limit of reasonable ambitions.
Aigh Vie as she was when bought by Paddy Murphy from Billy Smyth of Strangford Lough.
First sail with the newly-bought ship. Aboard Aig Vie heading for Dublin down Strangford Lough, the crew includes Paddy Murphy (left) and Tim Magennis (centre)
It's some years now since Paddy Murphy bought the Aigh Vie, and sailed her back to Dublin with his crew including Tim Magennis. But around the same time, Paddy was moving his base west to Renvyle, where he reckoned his skilled trade as a blacksmith, and his talents in traditional music and folklore, would provide him with a living in the area where he felt most at home.
As for the Aigh Vie, clearly she was reaching an age where work needed to be done. And he was minded to restore her to something more nearly approaching her original 1916 configuration. So somehow or other, he took the big boat west on a truck, managing to negotiate those little winding roads through Tully Cross and down to his place by the sea, where she went under a roof and work began.
The hull of the 1916-built Aigh Vie as seen in Renvyle shows the remarkably yacht-like lines of the Manx nobby.........Photo: W M Nixon
.........in what was one of the last of the sailing type to be built before steam power took over. Photo: W M Nixon
It has been going on for some time now. The problem with being right on the frontier of Ireland's Atlantic weather is that no sooner do you start on some new area of timber repair and replacement, than the previous restoration section almost immediately starts to become weathered. Working largely on your own, you end up feeling you're going round in circles. So that's why the men from the Naomh Chronan are in Renvyle today to give the Aigh Vie project a mighty push forward.
For there's no doubt that while there's a lot done, there's a lot more still to do. But it does get done eventually if you keep the faith, and I was there back at the beginning of December to cheer Paddy along with all the usefulness of a hurler on the ditch. But at least I was accompanied by Dickie Gomes, who knows a thing or two about long-term boat restoration, as it took him 27 years to bring his 102-year-old Ainmara successfully back to life. But he did it so well that she won the Creek Inn Trophy for "Best in Show" at last summer's Peel Traditional Boat Weekend in the Isle of Man.
A bit of mutual support between two owners of vintage wooden boats – Paddy Murphy and Dickie Gomes in Aigh Vie's shed at Renvyle. Photo: W M Nixon
Nevertheless I've to confess that sometimes I wonder if wood is worth the trouble. Before getting to Renvyle, we'd called by with Jamie Young at Killary Adventure Centre for bit of a love-in with his alloy-built Frers 49 Killary Flyer which - as Brian Buchanan's Hesperia IV - was winner of the Round Ireland Race 1988 under the command of Dickie Gomes. Except that you won't see that fact in histories of the Round Ireland. Because for 1988's race, she sailed as the sponsored entry Woodchester Challenger, and thus was not entitled to the top prize, despite having the best corrected IOR time in the fleet.
But everyone in the know knows that Gomesie won, particularly the crew of Denis Doyle's slightly larger Frers sloop Moonduster. The two boats had been neck and neck running past the Blaskets, and suddenly Hesperia's spinnaker shredded. But Dickie had his crew so well drilled that one half of them had a replacement chute up and drawing before the other half had finished getting in the remains of the torn sail. The boat scarcely missed a beat in her rapid progress, and when the whole business was completed in about three minutes flat, there was a round of applause from Moonduster. You'd sportsmen doing the Round Ireland in those days.
As it happens, one of Hesperia's crew for that neat bit of work was Kenny Smyth, so it made it more than appropriate that we were going on to see the Aigh Vie on which he cut his offshore sailing teeth. But it was good to linger for a while at Jamie's snug place, and marvel at how he, with aid from the ingenious folk of the west, had contrived a slip and an angled trolley so that Killary Flyer can be hauled on site into a sheltered corner, for she's a big lump of a boat to be handling ashore.
She's a big boat to be hauling on a slip in a remote corner of Mayo. Early December beside Killary Fjord, and Jamie Young of the Adventure Centre with Deirdre and Dickie Gomes and the Frers 49 Killary Flyer ashore for the winter. Deirdre was a fulltime member of the boat's crew when Dickie successfully skippered her offshore as Brian Buchanan's Hesperia IV. Photo: W M Nixon
It was some time in the New Year that we heard the shocking news. One of the most severe storms had twirled the Flyer up like a toy boat from her sheltered corner, and deposited this Frers masterpiece on her ear. Jammed in against the steep shore, she was trapped as the tide came in, and the hull was flooded with severe damage to the electrics and electronics.
But this is the west, where they're accustomed to overcoming massive challenges. The extraordinary Tom Moran of Clew Bay Boats played a key role in a salvage project which saw a temporary road being built so that a giant crane could be positioned for the delicate job of inching the big boat back upright. That done, she could then be moved to Tom's place at Westport for restoration to begin.
A couple of dents in aluminium? No problem. Following her brief episode of aviation, Killary Flyer's hull is already made good at Clew Bay Boats in Westport. Photo: W M Nixon
The whole business has been a marvellous advertisement for the effectiveness of hull construction using modern marine alloys. When aluminium was first created as the "Metal of the Future" two centuries ago, only the Emperor Napoleon could afford to have a cutlery set made in this exotic stuff. And though an early alloy boat put afloat in Lake Geneva performed reasonably well, as soon as a boat built with it was put into the salty sea, it just melted away.
But over the years the formulas have been adjusted to be corrosion proof in sea water, such that nowadays it's the ideal material for little boats which are going to have hard usage yet little maintenance, such as angling boats and the nippy craft used by rowing coaches.
And if you have a low-maintenance alloy hull yet give it a bit of cosmetic attention, it will look very well indeed, but it's not essential. As for the rough and tumble of life afloat, if you crash into a quay wall with a traditionally built wooden boat, she'll become shook from bow to stern – you never really know where the underlying structural damage ends, if at all. As for GRP and carbon or whatever, the damage will be more localised, but it still gets holed, and messily with it at that, while bulkheads may shift to an unknown degree
But a steel or aluminium hull will generally just be dented, and very locally at that. Repairs are manageable, even if it's skilled specialist work. So there's a lot in favour of steel and alloy. But steel rusts, and it never rusts quicker than in hidden pockets in the structure. But with remarkable advances in alloy welding and building techniques, the advantages of modern corrosion-free alloy construction become more evident every year for boats that are really going to be used, and not just seen as marina ornaments.
The Killary Flyer experience is ultimately a telling argument in favour of alloy construction. The hull was only dented in a couple of places where it was actually in direct contact with outcrops on the foreshore. Any dents have already been repaired by Tom Moran and his team, for they're able for anything to do with boats in any sort of material - I reckon if you wanted to build your dreamship out of resinated peat moss, then Tom would be game for the job.
Can-do people of the west – Mary and Tom Moran of Clew Bay Boats have successfully taken on many marine problems and projects. Photo: W M Nixon
Sorting out the interior systems is going to be more of a challenge, for Hesperia was originally Noryema X, built for Ron Amey in 1975. In a sense, there's a feeling of homecoming in the fact that she's being restored in Westport. If you head directly inland from that lovely little town, you're soon up in the mountains in the Joyce Country. And way back in 1975, the alloy hull of Noryema X was built by the renowned Joyce Brothers. Their fabrication workshop may have been in Southampton, but the family wasn't that long out of the mountains of far Mayo.
However, once the innovative Ron Amey had taken delivery of the hull of his latest Noryema from the brothers Joyce, he then took it to Moody's big shed at Bursledon on the Hamble for completion by the boatyard's craftsmen. I happened to be Bursledon-based in the early summer of 1975, and it really was all a wonder to behold.
Amey had installed a caravan in Moody's shed, and he lived in it while overseeing every detail of the new boat's fitout, while at the same time running his business empire of Amey Roadstone from a telephone in the caravan. It was said that the great man wouldn't be really happy with his new boats until the final jobs were completed just before the Fastnet Race in August, and after that he'd then start to think of the next one. But Noryema X was something special. She became the last of the racing line, and despite her enormous rig, Ron Amey then used her for eleven years of cruising in the Mediterranean which concluded with her sale to Brian Buchanan of Belfast Lough at Marseilles in 1986. She has been based on our island ever since, the source of much seagoing pleasure for hundreds of Irish sailors.
So bringing her back up to Amey standards is quite a challenge, as she's now part of Ireland's sailing heritage. But with Tom Moran they've someone who seems to have links with every maritime specialist in the country, and if he draws a blank in Ireland, his connections around the Solent marine industry seem pretty hot too.
Not quite where you'd expect to find an Arctic voyaging vessel, but Northabout seems at home in the Moylure Canal in the midst off Mayo fields. Photo: W M Nixon
Much encouraged by all this, for Clew Bay Boats is the sort of place where many good things seem possible, we then headed down to the Moylure Canal, a drainage waterway near Rosmoney at the head of Clew Bay where the great Jarlath Cunnane has created a tiny boat harbour and beside it a little place where, if so minded, he can build himself a boat.
Jarlath is the quintessential Connacht mariner, yet you'll never find him being sentimental about wooden boats. On the contrary, in the time I've known him he has built himself a steel van de Stadt 34ft sloop which he cruised very extensively, and more recently he took on the challenge of alloy construction to build the 44ft Northabout. Aboard this special boat, in teamwork with Paddy Barry, he has made cruises to remote and challenging places in voyages which, for most people, would have required full military logistical support.
The new dreamship. Plans of the 37ft Atkins schooner which Jarlath Cunnane has been building over four years.
Knowing the scale of what he has done with her, it was bizarre to see Northabout sitting modestly in her berth in the little creek beside a Mayo field. But the presence of the long distance high latitude voyager was only part of the Moylure package. A few feet away in "the shed which isn't really a shed" was the new Cunnane boat, a sweet 37ft–Atkins schooner which, if you haven't yet appreciated the potential of good alloy boat construction, would surely win you over in a trice.
Good alloy construction, as seen here in the stemhead of the new schooner, can withstand comparison with any material. Photo: W M Nixon
The new schooner has a workmanlike and handsome hull......Photo: W M Nixon
....which is aimed for comfort as much as speed, but she should be able to give a good account of herself in performance, and will be very comfortable for longterm periods on board. Photo: W M Nixon
Jarlath has taken four years on the construction, and when he gets to sailing the new boat, I'd say that the motto will be: "When God made time, he made a lot of it". This is a boat for leisurely cruising, a boat to enjoy simply being on board. In her finished state, she'll give little enough in the way of clues as to her basic construction material. Like Killary Flyer, and like Northabout too, she is in her own way a great advertisement for the potential of good alloy construction.
As completion nears, it becomes ever less apparent......Photo: W M Nixon
.....that the hull construction of the new schoner is in aluminium. Photo: W M Nixon
So we'll sign off this week with a special thought. As Irish life begins to move again, doubtless we'll soon hear increasing mutterings about the desirability of building a new Asgard sail training brigantine. Maybe we should keep the government out of it this time round, and build her through a voluntary trust organisation supported by public subscriptions and corporate donations. But however it's to be done, we should be starting to think about it.
And like many others, I've long thought that the ideal way forward would be with a steel hull built to Jack Tyrell's original Asgard II lines, which have a magnificently timeless quality to them. But I've changed my mind on that. Having seen what can be done with good alloy construction down in Mayo, and knowing the quality of alloy workboat construction being produced by firms like Mevagh Boatyard in Donegal and by the descendants of Jack Tyrrell among others at Arklow Marine Services in County Wicklow, it's difficult to escape the conclusion that the hull of the new ship should be built in aluminium.
It would be initially expensive, but it would confer great longterm maintenance advantages. And by going that way, we'd be able to provide all the double skins and safety bulkheads which will now be required without using up all available hull space, and without producing a boat so heavy she wouldn't be able to sail out of her own way. So let's hear it for an aluminium-hulled Asgard III.
#maritime – Getting your message across has never been easier thanks to the power of the internet. From computers to smartphones to tablets, access to the web today is almost ubiquitous - increasingly even out on the water! - and it's often the first place marine-minded people go to find whatever they're looking for, whether it's buying a boat, looking up sailing conditions or checking out a new club to join.
So it nearly goes without saying that websites are the first line of interaction with the public - the virtual shopfronts that put across who you are, what you do and how you can be of service, often at little more than a glance.
In light of this, it's no surprise that a great web presence - a well-designed usable website, topping the web search tables with active social media connections - can mean the difference between boom and bust for any business or service, especially in the current economic climate.
But since everyone else is getting on the web, too, it's becoming a lot harder to get noticed in the crowd. No longer is it enough just to look good. Winning websites must form part of a digital strategy: attracting interest, getting talked about and making an impact beyond the bytes.
What do web users want? How can we reach them? And how do we keep them coming back? That's the biggest challenge for clubs, organisations and businesses in the marine and maritime sectors in this digital age.
We at Afloat.ie know this more than anyone, which is why we've decided to recognise the best in what we and our readers see in Irish marine digital communications with the inaugural Maritime Web Awards.
We want to highlight excellence in marine websites making the biggest mark across a variety of categories, from the business end (brokerage, chandlery, ports and marinas) to those vital services (water safety, rivers and canals, watersports) for anyone who takes to the water, whether on the coasts, offshore or inland.
Nominations for the first Afloat.ie Maritime Web Awards were accepted on any and all marine-based websites via comments on Afloat.ie and on Twitter and Facebook. Selected sites were then scored for design, usability, interaction, social media, community and speed, with voting taking place with a judging panel representing our 11 award categories: Sailing, Brokerage, Chandlery, Clubs, Classes, Safety, Inland, Ports, Marinas, Watersport and Conservation.
The sites awarded below represent our judges' choices of the best of the web in Ireland's marine and maritime sectors in a landscape that's constantly shifting. But that's exactly why these sites deserve our recognition - they're keeping ahead of the curve, and will surely adapt to what changes may come in the next few months, let alone years.
So without further ado, the winners of the inaugural Afloat.ie Maritime Web Awards are...
SailCork - www.sailcork.com
Coming in tops for its search engine ranking and easy-to-navigate website that's constantly updated with the latest course offerings and blog updates, SailCork looks forward to its 40th year in business with a Maritime Web Award in the Sailing category. Though geared towards education - with courses in navigation (including iPad navigation for the tech-minded) and radio operation among its offerings - this Cobh institution also specialises in adventure sailing holidays at home and abroad, all available at a mouse click or screen tap.
Surf Republic - www.surfrepublic.ie
Surfing is serious business to the team behind Surf Republic, run 'by Irish surfers for Irish surfers' and built around a commitment to 'accurate Irish surf reporting, quality web cameras and advanced ocean and swell forecasts' - not to mention providing a forum for Ireland's growing community of waveriders. News? They keep things up to date so you'll never miss a swell. Social media? Get connected on Facebook and Twitter. Want to see how the water looks from wherever you happen to be? Links to eight surf cameras should sort you out!
MGM Boats - www.mgmboats.com
MGM Boats has been ahead of the game when it comes to expanding its boat brokerage vision from Britain and Ireland to the continent and far beyond, establishing offices in the Mediterranean and making its presence known at boat shows as far afield as Dubai and Russia. Its website takes its reach fully global, listing hundreds of new and used boats between 15 locations worlwide that can be quickly filtered by your requirements, from brand to size to price. MGM Boats makes selling your vessel easy, too, while maintenance is a doddle thanks to their various boatyard services, all fully detailed online.
CH Marine - www.chmarine.com
CH Marine is billed as 'Ireland's leading marine equipment supplier' and it's easy to see why, boasting as it does an impressive range of chandlery, sail clothing, the latest electronic gadgets and more, available via five walk-in superstores nationwide (in Cork, Skibbereen, Belfast, Kilkeel and Newry) and its fully stocked and browsable online shop, which provides free delivery in Ireland for orders over €50. CH Marine also ships worldwide, broadening its market considerably. The site also links to CH Marine's nationwide network of chandlery partners, making it even easier to find exactly what you want.
Kinsale Yacht Club - www.kyc.ie
Compared to Ireland's storied yacht clubs - Kinsale Yacht Club, established in 1950, is the baby of the bunch. But does its comparative youth mean the club's more clued in to the power of the web? It's sleek, club livery themed website is certainly good evidence for that, presenting the latest news, results, reports and social connections up front - Facebook and Flickr both used well - and boasting a pagerank to make the competition green with envy.
Flying Fifteen Association of Ireland - www.flyingfifteen.ie
The Flying Fifteen Association of Ireland may not have the sleekest website in appearance, but they're streets ahead of their fellow sailing classes in terms of knowing how to use it. Boat specs and club details are all easy to find on the site that keeps members and the public alike regularly informed on the latest results, fixtures and other events, and engaging with the Flying Fifteen community via social media - including a Flickr page for beautiful on-the-water shots, something that should be noted by the rest.
Irish Water Safety - www.iws.ie
'Promoting water safety in Ireland' is the goal of Irish Water Safety, the national charity that works tirelessly to educate the public about respecting the water. After an exceptionally hot summer that saw an alarming rise in drowning tragedies, the work of the charity and the lifeguards its helps train is needed now more than ever. The first line is this website, an efficiently designed connection to nationwide training courses, water safety advice and rescue services to get the public clued in to safer behaviour at the beach, by the pool - anywhere there's water.
Waterways Ireland - www.waterwaysireland.org
The cross-border navigation authority Waterways Ireland launched its new website earlier this year and it's a significant improvement as a resource, putting everyday usage of Ireland's rivers, lakes and canals to the fore. A colour-coded system makes distinct every one of the seven major water systems across the island of Ireland, each with its own section detailing maps, navigation info and activities. Marine notices and events nationwide are available with a single click, as are education resources and registration for waterways services. The Waterways Ireland website is doing it right.
Port of Cork - www.portofcork.ie
Ireland's commercial ports are well served online, but the Port of Cork website is far ahead of the class. Distilling everything one wants from a port website - shipping times and services, cruise and ferry schedules, and berthing details for visiting boaters - into a simple but effective modern and clean layout, the Port of Cork site follows the axiom 'less is more' to the correct effect. Community engagement is another important aspect, and one can't ignore the port's popular and active Twitter account.
Greystones Harbour Marina - www.greystonesharbourmarina.ie
Greystones in Co Wicklow was the brightest spot on the Irish marinas map with the launch of its world-class berths earlier this year. And it's little wonder that Greystones Harbour Marina has a website to match. Cleanly designed, with direct links to details of its available berths - plus integration with boat sales partner BJ Marine - and active on social media over its first summer season, the website's doing a wonderful job of putting Ireland's newest marina on the international stage. Here's looking forward to 2014's season arrivals!
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group - www.iwdg.ie
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group knows how to put the power of the web to its advantage, using its website as a platform to educate about the many species of whale, dolphin and porpoise that frequent Ireland's shores - and get the public involved in gathering data on sightings and strandings (both can be reported directly on the site) to assist in its important conservation work. The site's news and events sections are regularly updated, and the IWDG also reaches out via a very active Facebook page with thousands of followers.
Afloat.ie will be promoting maritime web initiatives throughout 2014. Please get in touch with any website information, enewsletters or social media campaigns
#powerfromthesea – A large crowd of 130 people gathered at the National Maritime College of Ireland for the Annual IMERC Conference to discuss how disruptive innovation can help Ireland realise its ocean potential. A disruptive innovation is an innovation which disrupts, improves and replaces an existing product, process approach or idea over time in unexpected ways. IMERC, the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster, is a partnership between University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology and the Irish Naval Services.
The government aims to increase turnover from the sea to €6.4 billion by 2030. Chris Roche, the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of EMC Europe, Middle East and Africa) EMEA Division, challenged the gathering to make the leap to disruptive innovation. He said "It is fantastic to see a cluster around such an obvious potential benefit to the country. The major question is if IMERC will move at enough speed and really embrace disruptive innovation?"
Mr Roche pointed out that Ireland is not among the top ten countries with the longest coastline in the world, nor is it among the largest Maritime and Energy clusters. To be successful Ireland will have to be innovative in its approach to building networks and take advantage of big data in the maritime sector.
"While Ireland is not among the countries with the longest coastlines, it does have the largest maritime to land mass area in the EU and is the third largest territory in the EU when its seabed is included which means that the maritime sector has huge growth possibilities for the Irish economy."
Dallas Meggitt CEO of Sound and Sea Technology also spoke at the conference. Last week Sound and Sea Technology announced the creation of 55 new jobs to be located on the IMERC campus. This conference made tangible contribution to the realisation of Ireland's ocean potential by bringing together speakers and guests from North America and Europe from a range of backgrounds including industry, government and academia to discuss the role disruptive innovation can play in driving this sector. IMERC is already making a big contribution to this sector with advanced plans for the development of a research and commercial campus in Ringaskiddy.