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Displaying items by tag: Transatlantic

When your name is Wolfgang Bee and your boat is a top-of-the-line Hanse 455, the smart money would say you’re German. But when your wife is a Fenix from a family with roots in Tippperary and a couple of other Irish counties, and your beloved family boat is called Saoirse, then the smart money would also say that Ireland is never far from your thoughts.

Saoirse’s approaching arrival from the Azores in Ireland, with an ultimate destination in Malahide, is just one of the many voyages being tracked by the Ocean Cruising Club’s Vice Commodore Daria Blackwell from her base at Port Aleria on Clew Bay in Mayo. There, her husband Alex Blackwell (incidentally an OCC Rear Commodore, there’s a right nest of them at Port Aleria) is the whizz on the technology side as they work to provide a support service for the hundreds of OCC yachts worldwide that went off for long carefree dream cruises, but now find almost every potential port choice deeply affected by the Covid-19 restrictions.

This voluntary assistance has attracted such international attention that Daria recently found herself featuring on the Russian service of the BBC World News. And we well know that - just as the eyes of the Skibbereen Eagle used to be firmly on the doings of the Tsar of Russia - so the Kremlin is now keeping a close eye on Afloat.ie (howya Vlad, how’s it goin’, boy?), so here’s the link to show how far the OCC is reaching 

german saoirse crew2The German-Irish Bee-Fenix family on Saoirse are bound for Malahide from the Azores, where they had a restricted but very welcome five day stop in Horta after saioing from the Caribbean

For boats making the almost 4,000 mile hop to Europe from the very closed-down Caribbean, the legendary hospitality of Horta in the Azores has been a godsend. And though crews arriving at Horta have not been allowed ashore, they’re provided with a sheltered berth, and ways have been devised of helping them to re-stock with stores, water, fuel and Peter’s own special Horta-distilled spirits, which will cure anything.

The Quinlan-Owens family on the Galway Bay-based 39ft ketch Danu are still in the midst of the Antigua to Horta stage, but the departure a couple of days ago from the Azores of a loose flotilla of six boats included at least two bound for Ireland, with Saoirse well-followed thanks to her regular Facebook postings  However, all that is known of the other, a boat called Vibe, is that she is heading for Cork.

Time was when wandering about the oceans with only the occasional contact with anyone was what sea-voyaging escapism under sail was all about. But what with the increasing spread of AIS, and the all-involving effect of Covid-19, the crew of the good ship Vibe – which seems to lack AIS – will find themselves shaken out of their solitary little world of voyaging with something of a culture shock when they finally reach Cork

Published in Cruising
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Jangada, the smallest boat in the RORC Transatlantic Race was also the overall winner.

Richard Palmer's British JPK 10.10 Jangada was presented with the RORC Transatlantic Trophy in Grenada at a ceremony and prize-giving banquet held at Camper & Nicholsons Victory Bar and Restaurant. Racing Two Handed with Jeremy Waitt, Jangada scored the best corrected time under IRC to win the race overall and completed the 3,000nm race in 17 Days 10 hrs 11 mins 06 secs. Jangada is the first Two Handed team to win the antique sterling silver trophy, as well as the smallest boat to do so.

"This win absolutely exceeded all our expectations - a great start to the season!" commented Jangada's owner, Richard Palmer. "The competition out there certainly gave us a run for our money - Childhood 1 was doing 20 knots and we could never match that speed, and Pata Negra 12 knots, but we just said 'bring it on' and we raced hard all the way to the finish. Persistence and perseverance were the key to keep going for each three-hour watch. It was hard work but it paid off. It is absolutely fabulous to be back at Port Louis Marina in Grenada. We were here two years ago and we are looking forward to celebrating for a few days."

Guest of honour at the prizegiving was Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation. Honoured guests included Patricia Maher, CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Nikoyan Roberts, Manager of Nautical Development for Grenada, Assistant Chinel Sandy, and Charlotte Fairhead, Port Louis Marina Manager.

For Jangada the decisive strategy was using weather forecasts to decide on the optimum route to Grenada, as Jeremy Waitt explains: "It was a progressive strategy; going to a certain point and then making the decision based on the forecast, trying to pick a route through. The big decision came on day 5, whether to stay north up against the high pressure or dive south for more breeze. By day 7 there would have been no get out, we would be committed. It was always going to be a bit of a gamble, but we managed to pick our way through a few light patches and when we got into the breeze we kept pushing. Jangada kept moving and although the boats to the south were faster, they were going a long way to get to the breeze. We think we got the navigation right and it's great to be here and to have won the race."

About 1,000nm from Grenada, Jeremy Waitt fell overboard while re-setting a twisted spinnaker. Jeremy was clipped onto the boat using a tether which is a requirement for all RORC offshore races. The sea state was up and had Jeremy not been tethered to Jangada, he would have disappeared from sight very quickly: "A wave caught us and I went straight over the side," explained Waitt. "I was being dragged at seven knots and that is a moment when you think about a few things, when you are in the middle of the ocean. The survival gene kicks in fairly quickly and it was a good bit of team work to get back on board. I have a few bruises but I don't think Richard was too impressed as I was slowing the boat down! When I was safely back on board, Richard said, 'shall we have a cup of tea?' I replied, let's get the spinnaker back up first!"

Jpk10.10After 17 days and 10 hours, Jeremy Waiit (L) and Richard Palmer (R) cross the finish line outside Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada in the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race © RORC/Arthur Daniel

Benedikt Clauberg's Swiss First 47.7 Kali was the final boat to finish the RORC Transatlantic Race. Crossing the line at 19:28:19 UTC on 11 December, the crew were in time to join the prizegiving party and also celebrate finishing the race for the second year in a row.

Published in Solo Sailing
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Two decades after the first victory by a mixed duo, the iconic Transat AG2R La Mondiale is making a serious pitch for mixed two-handed crews to take part in next year's outing.

Entry will now be free for mixed crews, with AG2R La Mondiale saying it will cover the registration fee for all male-female duos who sign on for the 4,000-mile transatlantic challenge which was first raced 27 years ago.

The most recent edition of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale in 2018 saw Figaro sailor Tom Dolan and crew place 11th and first among the rookies after more than 19 days at sea.

With the next event scheduled just weeks ahead of Tokyo 2020, organisers are also touting the move as a great opportunity to set the foundation of a future Olympic campaign, providing invaulable experience in tactics, weather conditions and life offshore — as well as in racing one-design monohulls (namely the Beneteau Figaro 3), just like the Olympics where it's the sailor who makes all the difference.

The deadline for registrations is 31 January 2020. For further details and now to sign up, contact Marine Derrien of organisers OC Sport Pen Duick at [email protected]

Published in Figaro

When a Vimy Vickers bi-plane made a crash landing in Connemara a century ago, it not only marked the first transatlantic flight – but also the first such airmail delivery writes Lorna Siggins

Aviator John Alcock, who flew with Arthur Whitten Brown, had accepted a small bag of mail from a Newfoundland postmaster. After the sack reached Clifden, Alcock ensured it made its way to London.

That epic 16 hour and 28-minute transatlantic delivery was celebrated by An Post on Thursday when it published a stamp to commemorate Alcock and Brown’s achievement.

The stamp by Clare artist Vincent Killowry depicts the Vimy Vickers above an Atlantic swell, having emerged from a spiral dive through very turbulent clouds.

The stamp is ‘W’ or international rate, ensuring that it is valid as worldwide postage, according to An Post.

Its “unveiling” in Clifden, Co Galway is the first in a series of events over this weekend in Connemara as part of an “Alcock and Brown 100 Festival”.

The pilots had to write notes to communicate and flew the 1,900 miles in terrible conditions after they took off on June 14th, 1919 from Newfoundland.

After snow, sleet, and a stalling that took them so close to the Atlantic’s waves that they could taste sea salt, the pair spotted the masts of the Marconi wireless station at Derrygimlagh bog outside Clifden.

Marconi technicians who looked like they were welcoming them were actually waving them away.

The London Daily Mail presented the men with a £10,000 prize and they received a knighthood from King George.

Cork-born and Galway-based journalist Tom “Cork” Kenny also got the international “scoop”, beating the Daily Mail  journalist to it.

The Alcock and Browne 100 festival programme on Saturday (June 15) will start with a remembrance and wreath-laying ceremony at Derrygimlagh, and reception for relatives of the aviators in Foyle’s Hotel, Clifden. It will be followed by an Air Corps fly-over display over Clifden.

Sunday’s programme will include a search and rescue display at noon at Derrygimlagh and a traditional boat regatta off Clifden harbour. There are also photographic displays and talks with experts, including Brendan Lynch who is relaunching his book on the flight, Yesterday We Were in America.

The Central Bank is minting a 15 euro silver coin, and Waterford Crystal is producing a limited edition miniature replica of the Vickers Vimy biplane, made up of 51 individually hand-crafted pieces

Full details of the festival are on www.alcockandbrown100.com

Published in News Update
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Ludde Ingvall's Australian Maxi CQS finished the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race on Wednesday 6th December taking Monohull Line Honours in an elapsed time of 11 days 00 hrs 03 mins 08 secs. CQS committed to a southerly route for the 3,000 nautical mile race and despite sustaining sail damage in a vicious 40 knot squall, the canting keel 98ft Maxi led from start to finish. Ingvall is no stranger to taking line honours in prestigious offshore races, twice taking the honour in both the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. This was Ludde Ingvall's 16th transatlantic.

Once dockside at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Ingvall was full of enthusiasm for the RORC Transatlantic Race and his team:

"We have had a fantastic trip, even though the slow start meant we didn't have a fast race, but I love it. It is great to be back in the Atlantic and especially nice to be first. Much more fun than being last! We have a young crew on board and it is especially rewarding to give them this chance and 'pass it on'. Sailing is an amazing sport, but big boat opportunities for young sailors are few and they did really well. Just think, we have eight nationalities on one boat and everybody was focused on the same finish line. We worked as a team, looked after each other and it was tough at times."

After the Australian Maxi had safely moored at the impressive Superyacht Dock, CQS received a warm welcome from RORC Race Officer Steve Cole and Glynn Thomas, General Manager at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. Patricia Maher, Chief Executive Officer at Grenada Tourism Authority presented Ludde Ingvall and his team with a basket of Grenadian produce.

CQS has now set the bar for the best corrected time under IRC for the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy. The defending champion, Marten 72 Aragon, skippered by Jochen Bovenkamp and Canadian Southern Wind 96 Sorceress, skippered by Daniel Stump are likely to be the next yachts to finish. The Maxis have close company from two high-performance offshore racing yachts, Tilmar Hansen's German Elliott 52 Outsider and the provisional overall leader, Eric de Turckheim's French Nivelt-Muratet 54 Teasing Machine. All four yachts are expected to finish the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race on Friday 8th December.

Published in RORC
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Cork University Hospital (CUH) is to receive vital funds as four Irish men compete in a 5,500km (3,000 nautical miles) rowing challenge across the Atlantic on December 12th to raise over €20,000 for the hospital’s Children’s Unit. The team, dubbed the ‘Relentless Rowers’, hopes to break the current world record by completing the Talisker Whiskey Challenge from the Canary Island of La Gomera to the Caribbean island of Antigua in under 35 days.

If successful, the group comprising of junior doctors Seán Underwood and Patrick O’Connor, Cork-based podiatrist Eoin O’Farrell and young Dublin entrepreneur Thomas Browne, will also be the first all-Irish four-man crew to complete the challenge. Funds raised will go to the CUH Children’s Unit. To make a donation, visit www.relentless.ie.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is known as the world’s toughest row, and the team will take part in a specially-designed small 28ft ocean rowing boat, named Saoirse. They will receive no outside assistance and no re-supplies of food, drink or equipment during the race, surviving solely on what’s on-board.

Speaking about the upcoming challenge, Miriam Forde, CUH Charity said: “Everyone at CUH is extremely excited for the team, and we wish them the best of luck as they take on one of the world’s most difficult challenges. Their efforts will have a significant impact on our services and facilities in our Children’s Unit at CUH, which will directly affect the level of care that we can provide to our youngest patients and their families.”

Sean Underwood added: “Fewer people have crossed the Atlantic than have climbed Everest, so we’re well aware of the challenge we’re undertaking, but quite simply, we believe that you only get one shot at life, everybody dies but not everybody lives.

“In the hospitals we work in, we are faced almost daily with the fragility of the human condition. To put a dream on hold in the hope of affording a better time to do it is a dangerous thing. Life fleets past us. There is and will never be a ‘good’ time to row an ocean, so we’re acting on our dreams here and now.

“If we can make a difference to just one child in the CUH Children’s Unit by competing in this race, then it will all have been worth it.”

While their primary goal is to raise funds for the Children’s Unit at CUH, the team is also hoping to raise awareness for suicide prevention charity Pieta House.

Published in Coastal Rowing
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#ARC - Ripped sails and breakages caused by chafe were the most common repairs required by transatlantic cruisers in last year’s ARC rally.

That’s according to a survey by Yachting World to detail the kinds of breakages experienced at sea — and what solutions skippers recommend to deal with them.

The magazine polled all 290 yachts that took part in the rally from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean last November and December, which also featured a number of Irish skippers and crew.

And the findings were a mix of the expected and the surprising.

More than half the fleet — 167 out of 290 yachts — experienced some kind of breakage or malfunction in last year’s rally.

Predictably enough, some of these are par for the course when it comes to long-distance ocean crossings, from issues with steering and rigging to blocked toilets.

But the magazine also found that “worrying number of yachts” had problems with their kicking straps and gooseneck fittings — issues it sees “time after time”.

Overpowered yachts, sometimes sailing with old sails, led to sail damage in several cases, while lack of routine maintenance was noted as the common thread between a number of generator problems.

Yachting World has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruising

#Lancer - An American high school student this week made the trip across the Atlantic to meet the Galway schoolgirl who found her marine science project mini-yacht last year.

Kaitlyn Dow from Waterford High School in Connecticut met eight-year-old Méabh Ní Ghionnáin for the first time at the Marine Institute in Galway for the official handover of the unmanned Lancer sailboat, which is set to be relaunched from the RV Celtic Explorer in the Atlantic later this year.

The 1.5m boat provided by Educational Passages was used as part of Kaitlyn's year-long research project studying wind and currents in the ocean.

Fitted with a GPS transmitter, the boat was released in May 2016 by NOAA ship Neil Armstrong off the coast of Cape Cod and successfully crossed the Atlantic.

In September, Kaitlyn made an appeal to Afloat.ie readers to keep a look-out for Lancer as it was tracked as far as Galway Bay.

And when it was eventually washed up in Connemara on 20 September, Méabh was the first to find it after following its GSP signal to a spot near her home in Lettermore.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan congratulated Méabh and Kaitlyn on their endeavours, adding: "We are thrilled to be involved with the continued voyage of the Lancer sailboat where it will be launched from the research vessel RV Celtic Explorer during its up and coming transatlantic expedition in April.

"This story is a wonderful example of both science literacy and citizen engagement with the oceans – themes which are a priority for the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between Canada, the EU and USA.

“Seeing new friendships formed across the Atlantic at an early age highlights the value of international partnerships that are essential for sharing marine science.”

Dr Heffernan added: “With the Atlantic being the second largest ocean in the world, it is important to increase our awareness of the value, opportunities and societal benefits the ocean provides us.”

Michael O'Connor, Kaitlyn's science teacher from Waterford High School, also made the trip to Ireland wit her and her family.

"I am thrilled to see this project to the next stage bringing Méabh and Kaitlyn together,” he said. “Although this started as a science project, the social connections and the sea that binds them are just as important as the data collected.

"Kaitlyn learned to design a study from the ground up, figure out how to fund it, make the social and professional connections to further the project and foster an international dialog about the ocean.

“She has a love for sailing and turned that love into a science project with great social impact and a great story. She will carry that combined social service and love of the sea to the Coast Guard Academy next year for college.”

Lancer was repaired by Ciaran Oliver and James Rattigan from Port of Galway Sea Scouts, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

The Sea Scouts recently visited the RV Celtic Explorer with Méabh and will also be attending a seashore safari with Galway Atlantaquaria and the Explorers Education Programme team later this month.

Published in Coastal Notes

Solo Sailor Tom Dolan from County Meath has booked his place in October's Mini–Transat Race from La Rochelle to Martinique.

The sole Irish entry was in Dublin last night to talk about his exploits at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. This will be Dolan's second Mini–adventure having successfully competed in 2015.

For this 2017 edition of the race, organised by Collectif Rochelais pour la Mini Transat, the race will host a full contingent as the number of applicants signed up for the adventure already exceeds the 84 places available. Download the full entry list below.

- The Mini Transat 2017 will set sail from La Rochelle
- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Le Marin (Martinique) the stopover and finish venues
- 84 competitors expected on the start line on 1 October 2017

Forty years on from its first edition, the Mini Transat remains on the crest of the wave. A maiden voyage for some, a stepping stone to further sporting challenges for others, the Mini Transat holds a very special place in the world of offshore racing. In an era of new technologies and intensive communication, it is still the only event where each racer is pitted solely against themselves during a transatlantic crossing. No contact with land, no other link to the outside world than a single VHF radio, at times the Mini Transat is a voyage into solitude.

Boats: minimum length, maximum speed

With an overall length of 6.50m and a sail area pushed to the extreme at times, the Minis are incredibly seaworthy boats. Subjected to rather draconian righting tests and equipped with reserve buoyancy making them unsinkable, the boats are capable of posting amazing performances in downwind conditions… most often to the detriment of comfort, which is rudimentary to say the least. In the Class Mini, racers can choose between prototypes and production boats from yards. The prototypes are genuine laboratories, which frequently foreshadow the major architectural trends, whilst the production boats tend to be more somewhat tempered by design.

Racers: from the amateur to the future greats of offshore racing

There are countless sailors of renown who have made their debut in the Mini Transat. From Jean-Luc Van Den Heede to Loïck Peyron and Thomas Coville, Isabelle Autissier and Sam Davies, a number of offshore racing stars have done the rounds on a Mini. However, the Mini Transat is also a lifelong dream for a number of amateur racers who, in a bid to compete in this extraordinary adventure, sacrifice work and family to devote themselves to their consuming passion. Nobody comes back from the Mini Transat completely unchanged. This year, there will be 84 solo sailors, 10 of whom are women! The Mini Transat is also the most international of offshore races with no fewer than 15 nationalities scheduled to take the start.

The course: from La Rochelle to the West Indies via the South face

Two legs are offered to make Martinique from Europe’s Atlantic coasts. The leg from La Rochelle to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a perfect introduction to proceedings before taking the big transatlantic leap. The Bay of Biscay can be tricky to negotiate in autumn while the dreaded rounding of Cape Finisterre on the north-west tip of Spain marks a kind of prequel to the descent along the coast of Portugal. Statistically, this section involves downwind conditions, often coloured by strong winds and heavy seas. Making landfall in the Canaries requires finesse and highly developed strategic know-how.

The second leg will set sail on 1 November. Most often carried along by the trade wind, the solo sailors set off on what tends to be a little over two weeks at sea on average. At this point, there’s no way out: en route to the West Indies, there are no ports of call. The sailors have to rely entirely upon themselves to make Martinique, where they’ll enjoy a well-deserved Ti Punch cocktail to celebrate their accomplishments since embarking on the Mini adventure.

Published in Offshore

When Kaitlyn Dow of Waterford High School in Connecticut put a shout–out through Afloat.ie last September for people to look out for her unmanned yacht off the Galway coast, little did she realise she would be travelling across the Atlantic to meet those finders and be reunited with her school project.

The 5ft mini–sailboat, The Lancer, was washed up in Connemara on September 20 last year. Sent by Dow of Waterford High School in Connecticut, it travelled all the way across the Atlantic, and was picked up by Méabh Ní Ghionnáin (aged 8) on Garumna Island, Co. Galway.

Since then, the Connemara Sea Scouts, who are affiliated with the ISA’s Galway Sea Scouts, have patched up The Lancer and are preparing to send it on another voyage.

Visitors from Waterford High School are due in Connemara in late February – so more updates to come.

Connemara Sea ScoutsThe Connemara Sea Scouts with the American mini yacht

Published in Coastal Notes
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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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