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Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough

Not too long ago the City of Belfast had turned its back on the River Lagan which enters Belfast Lough on the border between Counties Antrim and Down. But since 1989 when the Laganside Corporation began redevelopment of the surrounding area the transformation has been immense.

And this transformation has enhanced the location of The Belfast Barge, a visitor attraction with a maritime theme, as it lies at Lanyon Quay close to the Belfast Waterfront Hall and minutes from the city centre.

The vessel was built in the Netherlands in 1960 and named MV Confiance. In 2006 the Lagan Legacy charity brought it to Belfast (not without some difficulty as it’s flat bottomed) and after considerable work it opened in 2012 as a museum. But now, with the name changed to The Belfast Barge, it is much more than that, with events space, the museum, gallery, and dog-friendly café.

The Belfast Barge Photo: Susan DohertyThe Belfast Barge Photo: Susan Doherty

The world-renowned Harland & Wolff shipyard which since its establishment in 1861 has built over 2000 ships, offshore vessels and various stell structures, was situated downriver of the two bridges spanning the Lagan and after the shipbuilding ended the Barge managed to acquire many items such as archived plans which would otherwise have been dumped and these formed the basis of the museum collection.

BBC News has reported that manage Susan Doherty said the space would host maritime events, new bands and weddings. She added, “It’s a bit more of an event going on to a boat as to a run of the mill venue”.

The Belfast Barge is funded by the Heritage Lottery fund, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Published in Belfast Lough
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The Clarendon Docks are the oldest remaining docks in Belfast Harbour, built in the 1800s by Belfast’s first commercial shipbuilder, William Ritchie. He originally set his shipyard up at the Old Lime Kiln Dock (inland from the present location) but Ritchie needed a dry dock, so Belfast Harbour agreed and Ritchie built it himself, completing it in 1800. Known as Ritchie’s Dock for years, it was later renamed Clarendon Dock No 1. The second Clarendon Dock was completed in 1826. These Victorian dry docks are no longer used but remain an important link to Belfast’s maritime past.

The docks lie on the west side of the River Lagan which flows through Belfast, opposite Titanic Belfast, and Belfast Harbour is bringing forward plans to develop an iconic Waterfront for the city which will border the Clarendon Docks and provide a safe year-round destination space for the people of the city and visitors. It is called City Quays Gardens.

Belfast City Quays Gardens

City Quays Gardens will integrate Belfast’s rich maritime heritage as a Port city into the design, creating a new green space. Features will include extensive planting and landscaping, events lawns, amphitheatre style seating and leisure and outdoor workspaces. It is understood that the proposed City Quays Gardens project will begin development in 2022 subject to planning approval.

Belfast Harbour says that the maritime-inspired design is influenced by the site’s unique industrial and shipbuilding heritage and the River Lagan waterside location. A series of feature seats and benches within the gardens will tell the story of Belfast Harbour. They will form focal points and form the beginnings of a City Quays Heritage Trail which will complement the wider Maritime Mile activity and improve connectivity to the city. The Maritime Mile is an award-winning initiative developed by Maritime Belfast Trust in association with the Belfast Harbour, Odyssey Trust and Titanic Quarter Limited. It connects the waterfront physically, recognising that the sum of its parts is much greater than the individual components.

City Quays Gardens will help create a ‘Clean, Green Port for Everyone’ and support the delivery of Belfast Harbour’s ‘Green Port’ ambitions. It will seek to fulfil sustainable travel objectives such as cycle connections and cycle parking/facilities and encourage sustainable transport use through the integration of public transport.

It is the first in several landmark developments which will be delivered in future phases by Belfast Harbour and will be the first One Planet Living development in Northern Ireland. One Planet Living seeks to create a world where everyone lives healthy happy lives within the limits of the planet.

Published in Belfast Lough
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It was grey and damp, with a cold gusty offshore South Easterly in Ballyholme Bay on Boxing Day (26th) but although the morning mass charity swim was postponed, racing went ahead in the afternoon with a mixed dinghy fleet sailing two back to back races. The saving grace was a relatively flat sea on Belfast Lough.

Thirty-five crossed the line formed by a RIB and a buoy on the outer edge of the bay which gave a windward start with the first leg of a triangular course into the bay, finishing at the club battery. Race Officer Des Magee did well to get two rounds into both races.

Ballyholme Yacht Club's Boxing Day RegattaA Laser dinghy start at Ballyholme Yacht Club's Boxing Day Regatta

The mixed large dinghy fleet, which included Bob Espey in his Wazsp, was won by Dave Fletcher and Ryan Smith in a 2000 with Ruan and Rebekah O’Tiarnaigh in a GP14 second.

The largest group was the Laser Standards with 17 out. The winner here was Irish 49er Olympian Matt McGovern with Richard McCullagh runner up. And in the Radial first was Barry McCartan with Lucas Nixon and Joni Rock tying and the tie broken in favour of Nixon.

Matt McNicholl won in the small fleet of three F18 multihulls and in the Small Dinghy fleet of Toppers and Laser 4.7s first was by Bobby Driscoll in a Topper with two first places.

The next weekly racing is the Icebreaker Sunday Series 2 which starts on 6th February.

Published in Belfast Lough

Great patience was required from the 44 youngsters competing in the 39 dinghies at the Ballyholme Yacht Club Cadet Christmas Regatta as wind was scarce on Belfast Lough. But persist they did in a variety of dinghies – Toppers, Picos, Fevas, Lasers and a lone Optimist.

First Topper 5.3 was Katie Brow and runner up was Ella Fitzgerald who had travelled from Dun Laoghaire. The 4.2 top prize went to Jessica Dadley-Young. In the Fevas Annabel and Emily Ridout repeated their success in the Junior Icebreaker taking first place with Hanna Bell and Evie Pringle second. The Laser win went to Zak Dalzell.

Dave Nelson with Hannah Bell and Evie Pringle runner up in the Feva classDave Nelson with Hannah Bell and Evie Pringle runner up in the Feva class

Again, as in the Icebreaker Series, Matthew Holden had a sail over in his Optimist.

The prize for the most Christmassy dinghy went to Isabel Nixon who decorated hers with fairy lights and tinsel. And Chloe Whyte got a mention for coming as a Christmas Present.

The next big gathering at the Club will be on Boxing Day (26th) for the traditional mass swim in the morning and a Regatta in the afternoon. 

Topper 5.3

1. Katie Brow
2. Ella Fitzgerald
3. Emily Macafee

Topper 4.2

1. Jessica Dadley-Young
2. Alex Eadie
3. James Eadie

Feva

1. Annabel and Emily Rideout
2. Hannah Bell and Evie Pringle
3. Annika Hunter and Romy Maguire

Laser

1. Zak Dalzell
2. Callum Dalzell
3. Eva McDonagh

Optimist

1. Matthew Holden

Published in Belfast Lough

Gone are the days when sail racing was a summer sport and regattas only ran in the warmer months on Belfast Lough. Now even young sailors are afloat virtually all year. Forty-six entered Part One of the Junior Icebreaker series at Ballyholme and had some great sailing in Ballyholme Bay to the east of Bangor before the Christmas Break.

Matthew Holden had a sail over in his Oppie as did Emily and Annabel Ridout in their RS Feva. In the 36 strong Topper 5.3 division, Emily McAfee was first overall with scores of mostly 2nds and 3rds. Second in that class was Annika Hunter counting five third places and first boy and 3rd overall went to Joseph Robinson who improved in the second half of the 16 race series. In fourth, fifth and sixth places were Hunter Reddy. Romy Maguire and Isobel Nixon. Romy never missed a race! The Topper 4.2 fleet saw Polly Robinson with nine first positions top the results with Sally Nixon second and Jesse Gillespie pick up 3rd place.

Dave Nelson and Matthew Holden (Oppie)Dave Nelson and Matthew Holden (Oppie)

The strength of BYC training has been stepped up a notch with the purchase of two new RS Quests to add to the four Bahias already owned by the club.

The Junior Icebreaker resumes on 5th February next year and runs till 5th April on Saturday afternoons.

David Nelson, BYC lead Cadet coach taking delivery of two new RS Quests for the BYC Training TeamDavid Nelson, BYC lead Cadet coach taking delivery of two new RS Quests for the BYC Training Team

Published in Belfast Lough

Investment in a two-mile stretch of Bangor Waterfront on Belfast Lough is part of the recently announced £1billion Belfast City Deal funding. Plans already published for Bangor Waterfront aim to “reconnect the town with the sea through a range of attractions and experiences”. It involves the provision of high-quality public spaces and the regeneration of Bangor Marina and Ballyholme Yacht Club. The plans say that the club “has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events by the Royal Yachting Association”.

Ballyholme Yacht Club as it is todayBallyholme Yacht Club as it is today - the club has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events by the Royal Yachting Association

Some of the scheme, which has been designed by Hemingway Design and Aecom, has already caused controversy. There are concerns that the character of Kingsland, the only substantial green area at Ballyholme, will be lost with the development of “tourism accommodation pods, café kiosks and a skate park (now an Olympic sport) set in landscaped gardens.

"Ballyholme Yacht Club has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and water sports events"

There is also the potential for a small cluster of high-quality residential developments to the south of the area”. And the graphics in the Bangor Waterfront document show a landscaped area replacing the very large car park near the Club which may be to the detriment of competitors in large events hosted by BYC. The plans continue “The redevelopment of BYC would provide Bangor with a world-class facility for water sports and the ability to host international events”.

A graphic of the proposed Waterfront development at Bangor, County DownA graphic of the proposed Waterfront development at Bangor, County Down

The Club refers to the proposed new building as Ballyholme Yacht Club and Watersport Centre, to reflect its increased range of activities, which now include diving, SUPs, kayaking, and swimming.

Sea swimming on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme Yacht ClubSea swimming on Belfast Lough at Ballyholme Yacht Club

Kingsland, the only substantial green area at BallyholmeThe tennis courts at Kingsland

It is understood that the Council will publicise opportunities to engage in the whole scheme and that everyone with an interest in the scheme can become involved. Subject to financial/ project approvals and planning permission, work ‘on the ground’ will begin in 2023 (phased), with the projects delivered over 8 to 10-years.

Kingsland is the only substantial green area at BallyholmeKingsland is the only substantial green area at Ballyholme

David McMullan, who leads a small ‘redevelopment’ sub-committee reporting to the Executive Committee of BYC, has explained the Club’s position “On Wednesday 15th December it was announced that £1 billion funding for the Belfast Region City Deal had been approved. This is the first City Deal to be signed for Northern Ireland. Ards and North Down Borough Council (ANDBC) had submitted their plans for the Waterfront Redevelopment in Bangor as part of this Regional City Deal, which included the redevelopment of BYC, and we understand proposed plans have been reviewed and approved in principle. We expect to hear early in the New Year details of the funding for ANDBC’S plans and then be able to conclude discussions with ANDBC on how that will impact the proposed redevelopment of BYC. We will then present this to the membership for discussion and hopefully approval”.

The £40m funding for Ards and North Down Council will be matched by its contribution of £20m from the Council.

Published in Belfast Lough

SUPHUBNI is a mobile paddleboarding school based in Bangor  on Belfast Lough and last week ran an event in Bangor Harbour to raise funds for RNLI. A record 92 paddlers hit the water dressed as Santas and raised £1000 for the Bangor and Donaghadee lifeboats. Added to the £600 from the Halloween paddle £800 will be presented to each station.

Iain McCarthy of SUPHUBNI was very pleased with the effort. “A huge thanks to all participants and passers-by, but particular thanks to Nina Cristinnace for provision of mince pies, sausage rolls and hot chocolate for all. And to Safer Waters NI, an independent charitable Safety Boat service, who kindly provided a safety boat for the event. Whether you paddled, supported, volunteered, gave time, gave money, made food, made drink, gave prizes, provided safety, provided access, gave us a wave or a smile”.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Farra Marine Ltd is a new company set up in Dublin. It is a CTV (Crew Transfer Vessel) owner and operator and has had the first in a new line of catamaran wind farm vessels built by Penguin Shipyard in Singapore, Asia.  As Afloat reported a year ago, Farra Orla will be the first of its kind to operate from Ireland.

The 27m catamaran ship is presently docked in Bangor on Belfast Lough having arrived on December 5th. She will stay till the New Year. The Irish Ambassador to Singapore Pat Bourne and his wife Sonali Rajasingham attended the official naming ceremony in Singapore.

The Farra Orla in Bangor Harbour Photo: Bangor MarinaThe Farra Orla in Bangor Harbour Photo: Bangor Marina

The management team headed by owner and CEO Martin Rice, has been actively involved in the offshore wind sector for several years and has worked extensively across the UK and Europe on various renewable energy projects.

The Farra Orla voyaged to Europe via the Suez Canal, arriving in Ireland at Arklow in November. It is understood the company has plans for 10 more vessels, the second of which, the Farra Ciara is due for delivery this month ahead of schedule.

Farra CiaraFarra Ciara

The Farra Orla is the third in Penguin’s Windflex 27 series, which Australian designers Incat Crowther say offers excellent speed, deadweight and seakeeping, making it capable of many roles in the offshore wind industry.

An interior shot of Farra OrlaAn interior shot of Farra Orla

The vessel has a deadweight above 50 tonnes and features two working decks. A large working deck forward equipped with a deck crane can accommodate up to four 10-foot containers or two 20-foot. The aft deck can accommodate a 10-foot container. Both decks have multiple tie-down points for flexibility, accommodating every possible requirement or spares and equipment. Her service speed is 25 knots with a max of 31knots.

Inside the main cabin is a large wet room with multiple showers, toilets, and lockers. The main deck passenger space is large and open, with forward visibility, seating 24 personnel in comfortable suspended seats.

It will be the first of a new generation of offshore support vessels, able to stay at sea longer, work in increased weather limits and provide the greatest level of safety and comfort for those onboard.

Published in Belfast Lough

With the end of the first half of Ballyholme’s Icebreaker Sunday series in Belfast Lough finishing on 19th December it would be nearly impossible to forecast winners when the discards come into play.

The Icebreaker winter series has always been a big draw for dinghies from the home club and farther afield since its inception in the mid-seventies when the Laser class was introduced by Ron Hutchieson. Before that, sailors would never have considered racing after Closing Day in early September but now with top-class clothing and infectious enthusiasm winter racing is nothing out of the ordinary at lots of clubs.

Many of the sailors are big boat crew in the summer but enjoy the competition provided by a large fleet in the winter. This season’s entry is more than 100 and while not all race every week a substantial fleet does often fill the Bay. Classes racing are Large Dinghy, Laser, Laser Radial, Multihulls and Small Dinghies.

This season’s Ballyholme Icebreaker entry is more than 100This season’s Ballyholme Icebreaker entry is more than 100

So far only one race has been cancelled and ironically it wasn’t because of Storm Arwen but strong onshore winds and big seas making launching tricky. So, the current standings are interesting in that in most classes very few points separate the front runners.

In the Large Dinghy division which has RS 200s and 400s, Aeros, Laser 2000s, and a solitary GP14, the leaders with two races to go are Dave Fletcher and crew Ryan Smith in a Laser 2000 on 9 points with Ruan and Rebeka O’Tiarnaigh’s GP 14 second on 14. Tied in third are Martin and Vikki Dews (RS 200) and Aileen and Dave Smith in a Laser 2000, both with 26 points.

In the biggest section, Jonny Henry tops the Lasers counting three firsts to sit on 14 points with Mike Kimber having a lot to make up on 25 points. In the Radial Jess Winton is three points ahead of her Mum Charlie, and in the Multihulls, mostly F18s, Adrian Allen and Barry Swanston are just one point ahead of Matt McNicholl and Peter McDowell. The Small Dinghy fleet (Laser 4.7s and Toppers) is led by Bobby Driscoll by a comfortable margin over Anneka Hunter.

So, the faithful have two more races before the break and can look forward to the Icebreaker Dinner in the club on the evening of the final race – 19th December. The series will resume on Sunday 6th February next year and run till Sunday 10th April.

Published in Belfast Lough
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The RS 400 Winter Series continued last Sunday at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough. The series is now twelve races in and has thrown up some surprises, twenty boats currently entered.

Race 10 started in a fresh breeze from the North, with 18 boats on the start line. Trevor D’Arcy and Alan McLearnon (on 1366) got a good start along with Liam Donnelly and Rick McCaig (on 1405) with the rest of the fleet in hot pursuit. Liam got to the windward mark first, however, by the end of the first lap D’Arcy had taken the lead followed by former Olympian Peter Kennedy and Steve Kane (on 1339) and Andrew Vaughan (on 1348) 3rd. At the race end D’Arcy held on and took the win, with Andrew Vaughan 2nd and coming up the outside Neil Calvin (on 1245) to take third. Incidentally, this was Barry McCartin’s old boat and after 9 races Neil had seemingly found its gears!!

Race 11 the wind had clocked slightly to the left, course-corrected, Race Officer Gerry Reid got the race away again sharply. This time the fleet was pushing the line, with 2 boats over Tom Purdon (on 1004) to be fair has been nailing the starts on the series, however on this race, he nailed it a bit to hard, found himself in the pack and struggled to get back to the line, but back to the line he went now following the whole fleet. Unfortunately for D’Arcy they pushed on believing they were having a terrific race. Liam Donnelly was once again first to the windward mark and first on lap one, followed by D’Arcy (OCS) and Ross & Jane Kearney now lying 2nd, and Peter Kennedy 3rd. By now Donnelly was going well with a comfortable lead right up to the last leeward mark were a spinnaker issue stopped them dead in the water allowing a few boats to pass on the short run-up to the line. Peter Kennedy took the win followed by Ross Kearney and Neil Calvin in third. Donnelly was robbed into 4th!

The breeze was still nice and steady-going into the third race of the day (race 12) possibly it was the extremely cold conditions that the entire fleet was keen to start, quickly followed by a General recall. Conditions didn't allow for a normal restart and the race got underway with a black flag start. They were all less keen this time around to push the line so aggressively as before. By now the wind started to drop yet once again Liam Donnelly was going well in a heavy pack making for the windward mark. By lap one Peter Kennedy had taken the lead, followed by Donnelly with Andrew Vaughan in third. In lap 2 the wind continued to lighten. But still over 7kns. By the finish, Neil Calvin had accelerated into the fist spot with PK in second and Tom Purdon third. It was deemed to cold for a fourth race as many of the crews were blue not to mention the Rescue and Committee boat teams!! Some credit has to be given to Neil Calvin who had a great day and has shown a huge improvement in his performance over the series so far.

The RS 400 Series continues for another three Sundays, finishing up on the 19th of December for the Big Christmas Race.

Download results below as a pdf file

Published in RS Sailing
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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG 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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