Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Cruising

Conor Haughey of Malahide’s handsome silver-liveried Moody 54DS Hibernian is having a very good Transatlantic race with the ARC+ division of 70 boats, which has taken in the transoceanic hop in two stages with a stop in the Cape Verdes. Hibernian is now just over 300 miles from the finish in Grenada, and showing as first in the Cruisers (Monohull) Division, and fourth overall.

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

Two Irish yachts were among a big fleet departing Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to start the 36th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) yesterday.

Cruisers, racers, and multihulls; sleek ocean racing machines alongside comfortable family cruisers; superyachts with professional crews, and excited friends living the dream - these were the boats and sailors. With crew representing 38 different nationalities, the ocean crossing community has filled the docks of Las Palmas Marina for the past two weeks and yesterday’s start sees 141 yachts and almost 900 participants now on their way to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Spreading across the horizon the fleet of white sails made an impressive sight as the crews waved goodbye to Gran Canaria for a great adventure on the ocean.

Liam Shanahan's Oyster 625 Ruth II from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire and David Kelly's Hallberg-Rassy 40 Viente from Waterford both made successful starts to the Rally. 

The sun beamed down on the marina as crews made their final preparations to set sail. From Waterford, Ireland, Kelly, was loading on a few last-minute provisions (beers for their arrival in Saint Lucia) and on the morning of departure said: “We are all set and our crew of six have been preparing for this day for what seems like forever. It all boils down to fantastic excitement and we just want to crack on with it now and look forward to seeing everyone over the other side.” It was an incredible farewell atmosphere as the harbour gradually emptied leaving bare pontoons for another year. The Tourist Board of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas and the Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, have been wonderful hosts to ARC participants for the past two weeks.

Prior to departure, Kelly said: “I thought the ARC weatherman, Chris Tibbs was very clear on the fact that if he were sailing this year, he’d go south, so that’s where we’ll go! We are now just looking forward to finishing with all the preparations, to getting out on the water and to start enjoying all that food we’ve bought – and of course to start sailing!”

Out in the starting area, the wind was a steady 12-15 knots blowing from the South-East as the fleet prepared for an untypical upwind ARC start. The first start, at 12:30 local time, was for the Multihulls and Open Divisions, with Outremer 51 Moxie (USA) leading the charge. In recent years, it has been the dashing multihulls that have claimed Line Honours in Rodney Bay, and previous victors Banzaï (FRA), Guyader Saveol (FRA), and Minimole (ITA) all returned to the ARC this year to battle to reach the rum punch first. A total of 31 catamarans and trimarans are sailing in the ARC, and the non-competitive Open Division sailing features the 38m traditional schooner Helena (FIN), owned by the Finnish Sail Training.

Next it was the turn of the Racing Division to get into position for their starting sequence. The wind eased slightly to 10-12 knots as the signal sounded at 12:45 and the 19 yachts headed over the start with sails tuned. The Racing Division lines up the pros against the amateurs, with a great opportunity to all compete on the same ocean course. French sailing legend JP Dick is back for his fourth ARC crossing on JP54 The Kid for Ville de Nice (FRA) and will be facing a new monohull race challenge from 12 Nacira 69 (ITA), an Italian crewed carbon flyer, and Cookson 50 Furiosa (EST). But it was performance cruiser RM1270 Grace LR (GBR) that made the best start, with skipper Chris Lewns positioning well on the line to lead the racing fleet away, and The Kid for Ville de Nice crossing just after. Each year there are yachts in the Racing Division who offer the chance for less experienced individuals to join a charter boat, sailed under the watchful eye of a professional skipper, with many regular entrants sailing the ARC as part of an annual race programme. Harmony 52 Sao Jorge (GBR), skippered by David Pritchard and one of two charter boats entered by UK based Sail Racing Academy, crossed the start line in third just behind The Kid for Ville de Nice.

Finally, the largest fleet, the Cruising Division, came into the fray with 92 yachts beginning their adventure. Onboard the Committee Vessel, ARC Rally Control began the final start sequence and the horn sounded to signify the start at 13:00. First to cross the line was Montana (DEU), a Swan 48 S&S sailed by German skipper Markus Bocks taking part in the ARC for a third time. The procession then continued with boats of all shapes and sizes leaving Las Palmas in their wake. The horizon was soon punctuated with white and black sails that could be viewed from the Avenida Maritima by the locals of Las Palmas enjoying a pleasant afternoon stroll in the sunshine.

The sailors have a calm introduction to their Atlantic crossing, and the wind is going to stay quite light and variable for the first few days before the boats that take a more southerly route start to pick up the trade winds. At the Skippers Briefing, meteorologist and ocean sailor Chris Tibbs advised for the boats to head south following the African coast to the latitude of the Cape Verde before pointing their bows westwards to Saint Lucia.

The departure of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia means a combined total of 208 yachts are crossing the Atlantic under the ARC banner in November 2021. ARC+ fleet of 67 yachts (also with Irish boats) departed Mindelo, Cape Verde for their second leg of their crossing last Friday, bound for Grenada. A further 60 yachts will join the first edition of ARC January, setting sail in the new year in a third Atlantic crossing rally organised by World Cruising Club sailing from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.

Prior to departure, crews undertook the necessary PCR test to ensure they were going to sea Covid free and complying with the health protocols for their arrival in Saint Lucia. All ARC boats are fitted with YB Tracking satellite trackers, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of home. Click here for the online Fleet Viewer

The majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2700 nautical mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia. Whatever time they make landfall, every boat will be met at the dock by Saint Lucia Tourism Authority and World Cruising Club staff bearing a welcome rum punch and cold drinks. Skipper Brad Gangardine is from Soufriere, Saint Lucia and will be sailing home on Into the Mystic. “I’m feeling awesome this morning,” he said with a big smile just before leaving the dock. “I am looking forward to heading back home and I’m about to achieve an amazing dream. I’m hoping to get the amazing welcome that all ARC sailors will get when they finish and I am sure I will feel good about what I’ve done.” There is a full schedule of events in Rodney Bay for all ARC crews culminating in the ARC prize giving on 17 December.

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

ARC+ 2021, World Cruising Club’s two-stage transatlantic rally to Grenada, set sail today from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with 70 boats spirited away by the tradewinds bound for Mindelo Marina in Cape Verde for the first leg. Years of planning, months of preparations, and days of checking off the jobs list has gone in ahead of today's departure, which saw crew from 24 different nationalities heading off to begin their Atlantic adventure.

Three Irish entries were among today's departures; two multihulls and a monohull yacht. 

Conor Haughey is the skipper of Hibernian, a Dublin-based Moody 54DS. Brendan Cahill set sail in Lir, a Lagoon 450 as did County Kerry's Brian O'Sullivan and Frances Clifford in the Lagoon 46 Navillus. 

Brian O'Sullivan and Frances Clifford's Lagoon 46 NavillusBrian O'Sullivan and Frances Clifford's Lagoon 46 Navillus

The rally began with a programme of pre-departure activities to ensure the boats and crews were suitably ready for departure. From the end of October, Las Palmas Marina has become a colourful sight with yachts dressed overall and rally flags flying. ARC+ has had a real family feel this year with 17 boats sailing with children on board and a total of 33 kids set to enjoy their first taste of Atlantic sailing on the rally.

Following COVID-secure protocols, organised activities for participants prior to departure have included a range of seminars, crew suppers and drinks events creating a great community spirit amongst the sailors. Rally organisers World Cruising Club have supported their preparations with one-to-one safety checks of boat equipment and smoothing their logistics, and the many marine businesses around the city have assisted with getting the boats ship shape for departure.

There was great excitement around the docks of Las Palmas marina as start day dawned and lines were slipped to head out to the starting area. “We are really looking forward to the departure. We deferred from last year’s rally so it seems like we’ve been waiting such a long time so we just can’t wait to get going!” said Derek Frame, British owner of the Wauquiez 47PS Delite, “It was a really good Skippers Briefing yesterday and we’ve had great advice and help from World Cruising Club, so I feel we are prepared and ready go now.”

Stephan Friedel, skipper of the German Catana 531 Rob Roy III says that he has enjoyed his time here but after four weeks in Gran Canaria it will be good to start. “We want to get going now and everyone is ready and wants to get into warmer tropical weather. It’s time to go now it’s a bit cooler here! My first Atlantic crossing was in 1998, but this will be my first rally and my first as skipper - a dream that I’ve had since I was a young boy, so I’m excited that finally it has come true!”

As forecast, the winds on start day provided a rock and roll departure with 15-20knts blowing steadily in the starting area from the North East and a significant swell running outside the shelter of the port. The countdown began from ARC+ Rally Control onboard ARC yacht Vahine (FIN) acting as committee vessel for the ARC+ starts. At 12:45, the multihulls were led away by the impressive Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA) and Neel 47 Bigbird (USA) flying across the line close to the shore to the delight of the spectators strolling along the Avenida Marítima.

At 13:00 it was the turn of monohulls with the Cruising Division setting off on the 865nm passage to Mindelo. It was the Beneteau Oceanis 40, Sala from Norway sailed by the Christensen family under the watchful eye of their weather expert Mads Liestøl Christensen who were first to cross the line. The Irish Moody 54 DS Hibernian skippered by Conor Haughey was next and another Norwegian family boat, Albicilla, crossed in third place with a big cheer on board. The start was quite a sight as the fleet bounced through the ocean waves and bid farewell to the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

For their first night at sea, moderate trade winds are expected to whisk the fleet away from Gran Canaria before decreasing as the yachts get closer to the Cape Verde Islands in the coming days.

On arrival in Mindelo, there is an exciting programme for crews to explore ashore and the stopover has been extended to give crews more time to enjoy the islands. The first boats are expected from Friday 12 November and will receive a warm welcome from the teams of Marina Mindelo staff and World Cruising Club.

Following the stopover, ARC+ has a new Caribbean destination this year and the fleet will be sailing to Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina on the island of Grenada. The re-start from Mindelo will be on Friday 19 November.

All the yachts are equipped with a YB Tracker, regularly broadcasting their position to the online Fleet Viewer and YB Races app for friends and family to follow the fleet. Tales of fishing triumphs and tradewind sailing will also be sent to the World Cruising Club website, as participants share their ocean adventures.

There are three transatlantic departures from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria organised by World Cruising Club under the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers banner: ARC+ 2021, ARC 2021 and ARC January 2022.

Published in Cruising

With an impressive and eclectic fleet of 46 boats from West Coast ports which ranged from Clew Bay to the north to Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary to the south - in addition to the many harbours and anchorages within Galway Bay itself - last weekend's five day Lambs Week Cruise organised by Galway Bay Sailing Club took full advantage of the improving weather to take in Rossaveal, Kilronan on Inishmor in the Aran Islands, and Roundstone, the very essence of Connemara.

The theme of the five-day Lamb's Week – which began with most boats assembling at Rossaveal Marina on the Thursday evening – was accessibility, and the willing provision of encouragement for the less-experienced.

But one of the challenges in organizing a heavily-subscribed Cruise-in-Company of this nature in a very special place like the greater Galway Bay area is that while the number of very useful marinas at strategic ports is increasing, the number of pontoon berths available for visitors – even with rafting-up – is limited, and extra boats will have to find secure moorings, or rely on their own anchors.

It's one very complicated piece of coastline, but in experienced company it becomes a cruising paradiseIt's one very complicated piece of coastline, but in experienced company it becomes a cruising paradise

Any proper cruising boat should of course have adequate ground tackle. However, the problem of confined space in the best anchorages – often with established moorings cluttering the sea-bed - together with the rich proliferation of seaweed, means that your anchor can become irretrievably fouled, or else it doesn't take hold at all as it sits on a bed of kelp.

GBSC came up with a solution of breath-taking simplicity. They made a batch of concrete mooring blocks at their Renville base near Oranmore at the head of the Bay, and with the skilled services of Ocean Crest Marine, they'd a complete set of these additional reliable moorings in place when the first of the fleet arrived in Aran through Friday afternoon and evening with a race from Rossaveal in a brisk sou'wester which experienced the last of the Cruise's serious rain.

Problem: Shortage of Visitors' Moorings? Solution: Galway Bay SC simply made their own, and sent them on ahead of the fleet.Problem: Shortage of Visitors' Moorings? Solution: Galway Bay SC simply made their own, and sent them on ahead of the fleet.

Rossaveal was the assembly port for a diverse fleet – this is the Contessa 32 of Gillian Flattery and Blair Stannaway ready for the off.Rossaveal was the assembly port for a diverse fleet – this is the Contessa 32 of Frankie Leonard ready for the off.

Kilronan became the fleet base throughout Saturday and into Sunday morning (it will be the location for WIORA Week 2023), and with such numbers in port, it seemed natural to provide a race right round the Aran Islands for those with the need for a further spot of competition, though some thought they'd done quite enough racing with Friday's windward slog.

The pontoon-berthed section of the fleet in Kilronan. Photo: Declan DooleyThe quayside-berthed section of the fleet in Kilronan. Photo: Declan Dooley

Racing the Atlantic during Lamb's Week, Aaron O'Reily's Kondon Buntz in foreground.Racing the Atlantic during Lamb's Week, Aaron O'Reily's Kondon Buntz in foreground.

Twenty-one boats of all shapes and sizes – in other words, nearly half of the fleet – took on the challenge in a sunny 18 knots westerly, the highlight being the spectacular sight of the Cliffs of Moher as they made the southerly turn of the circuit at Finnis Rock. To add to the sport, it had been made a pursuit race, with the first boat – Patrick McCarthy's Snapper – getting away at 11:00 hrs, while the Queen of the Fleet, Tomas Furey's speedy big Rhodocar, was held back until 11:44.

Winning style – Mark Wilson's Scorpio sweeps along to a close victoryWinning style – Mark Wilson's Scorpio sweeps along to a close victory

First to finish – and winner of the King of Lambs Trophy – was Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio from GBSC. But if anything it's the handicapper, Fergal Lyons, who deserves a Gold Medal at the very least, as Scorpio at 14:16:53 crossed the final line only 30 seconds ahead of Jackie Cronin's Jimmy Burn from Kilrush, which in turn was five seconds ahead of Conor Owens' Sealion (GBSC), while only one second behind that in fourth was Stephen O'Gorman's Green Monkey (GBSC).

Brothers Conor and Fergal Lyons aboard Out of the Blue. It was Fergal who produced the exceptionally well-judged handicaps.Brothers Conor and Fergal Lyons aboard Out of the Blue. It was Fergal who produced the exceptionally well-judged handicaps.

This was pursuit racing at its very best, as their starting times had been Scorpio: 11:23; Jimmy Burn: 11:33; Sealion: 11:14; and Green Monkey 11:42. It was superb sport which greatly impressed the Aran Islanders, and set the tone for a boisterous night in Kilronan. Yet they still managed to be underway in a reasonably timely manner on the Sunday morning for the calm hop northwestward to Roundstone, one of the Connacht coast's great cruising passages as it involves a rewarding mixture of open ocean sailing and reasonably intricate pilotage to conclude in a little port which rates highly on any discerning cruising person's dream list.

There was time for a lunchtime break and swims and shore visits at MacDara's Island – GBSC Commodore John Shorten likened the procession of the fleet to a miniature of the approaches to the Suez Canal – before going on into the embrace of Roundstone, with the partying ashore rounded out by a barbecue in the Village Hall, following which the overnight fog was successfully negotiated by Martin the ever-helpful unofficial Roundstone harbourmaster to ensure that everyone got safely back to the right boat.

Part of the fleet in RoundstonePart of the fleet in Roundstone
They brought the summer back with them – sunset at the return to RossavealThey brought the summer back with them – sunset at the return to Rossaveal

The morning brought total summer with bright sunshine and the temperature pushing towards 25 degrees as the majority headed back towards Rossaveal, while others had longer passages north and south after a hugely successful event which will be remembered as one of the highlights of the 2021 season on the west coast.

As ever with an event of this kind, there were many movers and shakers and volunteers involved, but if you suggested that John Shorten and Cormac Mac Donncha in particular - and the likes of Pierce Purcell and others - had something to do with this remarkable happening, you wouldn't be far off target.

The King of Lambs – Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio was crewed by Cian Conroy, Cronan Quirke, Damian Burke, Aoife Macken, and Iso.The King of Lambs – Mark Wilson's Sigma 33 Scorpio was crewed by Cian Conroy, Cronan Quirke, Damian Burke, Aoife Macken, and Iso.

Published in Lambs Week

The Cruising Association of Ireland's Whistle Stop Cruise of the east coast of Ireland overnighted at Wicklow Harbour.

The association says the cruise has attracted a fleet of 23 boats since it commenced on Tuesday 22nd June. 

The Cruising Association also intends to visit Arklow, Greystones, Skerries, Malahide and Dublin over the course of the six-day event.

Over 50 sailors are involved with 'enthusiastic cooperation from marinas and sailing clubs'.

On Saturday 27 June the cruise is headed for Dublin City. Dublin Port will open the Tom Clarke bridge and the fleet will berth at the long pontoon near the 3 Arena on the River Liffey.

Published in Cruising

The Cruising Association, through its local representatives, has helped to make cruising to France easier, post-Brexit.

Since leaving the EU, boats arriving in France from the UK or Channel Islands are required to sail to one of a small number of "Ports of Entry" (mainly the ferry ports) and search out the relevant authorities - usually the Police aux Frontières - to register the arrival of their boat and crew.

This same process of going through a Port of Entry would also be necessary before departing France for the UK or Channel Islands (or indeed any non-Schengen country), presenting CA members, and other sailors coming from the UK to France, with a potential problem for many passages.

Two of the Cruising Association's Honorary Local Representatives (HLRs) have been aware of this extra challenge to cruising for some time and have been working with the local marinas, the marina associations and local officials to try and simplify it.

Now, as a direct result of their efforts, the French government has announced a process to allow entry at any French port.

A form is now available from web sites that can be downloaded, completed and submitted by email to the local administrative Port of Entry prior to arrival. Providing all is acceptable, boats may then enter another port. This is already underway for Le Havre and other ports will follow on rapidly.

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

For this week's Sailing on Saturday we take a look back eight years when WM Nixon cruised from Ireland to the Outer Hebrides in the 36-foot vintage restored sloop Ainmara

#hebrides – August is almost upon us. The heat has been fierce, and the summer season has been busy. Despite some blips in the weather, civilised folk will be thinking of sailing away from it all for a while. North and west perhaps, in the hope of finding uncrowded and beautiful places which may be cooler. The Western Isles, the Outer Hebrides, are calling us away.

Certainly they did so in August last year, but not for reasons of heat. On the contrary, the jetstream lay persistently along Ireland's south coast, and July's weather here was appalling. But the word came back that up in the Hebrides, they were already thinking of water shortages as the sun shone on and on.

We had contemplated taking the 1912-built 36ft Kearney yawl Ainmara to southwest Ireland for her Centenary cruise. But as owner Dickie Gomes is an enthusiast for the west coast of Scotland in any case, it was no contest. Twelve days in mid-August were allocated to celebrating the old girl's emergence from a 27-year restoration with some Hebridean island-hopping. And I became so taken with the idea that I made an offer that if we could get to the remote little pool of Rodel at the southern tip of Harris, I'd stand my two shipmates the Centenary Dinner at the inn beside that enchanted anchorage.

Rodel is a real honey-trap, as you need a good rise of the tide to get through the drying channel into the deep pool, and there you are - whether you like it or not - until the tide returns. But it's no hardship, as the place is beautiful, the inn is welcoming, and for a thoughtful insight into times past in the Western Isles, just up the road is the restored late mediaeval church of St Clement, complete with the famous MacLeod tomb with its carving of a sailing vessel, the inspiration for Wallace Clark's building of the Lord of the Isles galley with which he voyaged from Connacht to Stornoway.

The Centenarian on a silver sea – after a restoration lasting 27 years, Ainmara deserved to spend her hundredth birthday at a very special place Photo: W M Nixon  The Centenarian on a silver sea – after a restoration lasting 27 years, Ainmara deserved to spend her hundredth birthday at a very special place Photo: W M Nixon  

The cruise objective – Rodel is exactly in the middle of the long necklace of the Outer Hebrides     The cruise objective – Rodel is exactly in the middle of the long necklace of the Outer Hebrides  

It's the sort of place that everyone thinks they are the first to discover, and my own first discovery of Rodel came in 1977 when we sailed in aboard Johnny Roche's 26ft South Coast OD Safina. The party in the inn was mighty, and dawn was already hinting when we struck a deal in the old kitchen to buy a bolt of Harris tweed, woven within sight of the anchorage. We sailed home with the tweed in a sailbag in the foc's'le, and two of the crew then commissioned that great Dublin tailor Jack O'Rourke (father of current Mermaid National Champion Jonathan O'Rourke) to make them up a couple of suits from our seafaring cloth.

Although they both were of much the same age, one was an old fogey from birth, while the other was a permanently young trendy. So when Jack finally produced the suits to their two very different and clearly defined specifications, it took a real effort to realize that both outfits were cut from the same piece of tweed, as one was a very sharp and fashionable bit of work, while the other had all the timeless style of a sack of potatoes.

Next time back to Rodel was six years later with my own Hustler 30 Turtle, and some of those good folk of Rodel with whom we'd partied in '77 had since gone to the great weaving mill in the sky, while the inn was running out of steam. It still clung to some semblance of gentility with immaculate table linen, but portions for dinner were of such modest size that we simply had two dinners apiece, one after the other.

That was all of thirty years ago, and since then the word was the inn had closed down completely. But a few years ago there was a welcome whisper of a restoration under completely new ownership. So when Ainmara's centenary came up the agenda, it seemed the perfect setting for a mid-cruise Centenary Dinner, and we departed from Ballycastle towards the sunny Hebrides with this interesting cruise objective in mind, while astern the Irish coast continued to lie under cloud.

Despite his impressive record of international long distance offshore racing, these days Dickie Gomes takes care to avoid unnecessary nights at sea, so our progress towards Rodel was gentle yet effective, hopping our way via Port Ellen and Ardbeg in Islay, then on to Scalasaig in Colonsay, and then out to Tiree to be nicely placed for the passage across the Sea of the Hebrides to Barra.

There'd been only one other yacht in Gott Bay in Tiree when we arrived, but there were half a dozen getting under way in leisurely style that morning. Ainmara was the only boat to head west out through Gunna Sound between Tiree and Coll into the Sea of the Hebrides, shaping our course for Barra and motoring gently through a large shoal of basking sharks going about their leisurely work. There was a strengthening breeze from the northeast and the soft grey cloud cover was melting away. It may have been three days already since leaving Ballycastle, but coming out through Gunna Sound gave a special feeling of the cruise really getting under way, and it settled into a perfect 40 mile passage, beam reaching in sunshine with everything set to the jib tops'l on its first outing, and the distinctive peaks of the southern outliers of the Western Isles starting to rise above the horizon while still thirty miles ahead.

First port in the Outer Hebrides - Castlebay in Barra revelled in the August sunshine Photo: W M NixonFirst port in the Outer Hebrides - Castlebay in Barra revelled in the August sunshine Photo: W M Nixon

Castlebay basked in the sun, the heat was solid, and the tarmac on the quayside road was soft in the sun. At first we were in solitary splendour on the visitors mooring nearest Kisimul Castle, that ancient fortress of the MacNeils, but some other boats came in later in the evening. Up in the cool of the pub, glad to be out of the fierce sun, our gallant skipper met so many interesting folk that we were too late to get a booking at the funky little Café Kisimul on the quay, but had a reasonable meal in the hotel above the boat and retired aboard in a state of enchantment at being in the Outer Isles.

The morning brought a crisp easterly and hazy sunshine, so we were away early to make northing through the Sea of the Hebrides. We'd thought to drop into Eriskay for a lunch break, but the sailing was just too good, this was what we'd come for, we just kept going, and began to think that in a day or two we might even get to Rodel. Once the southeasterly headland on South Uist was astern, the sheets were eased and Ainmara settled into her stride with the jib tops'l pulling well, and the ancient mizzen staysail in its Killkenny colours of black and gold making its first appearance after a very long time in storage.

This is what we came for – glorious sailing in the Sea of the Hebrides with the ancient mizzen staysail (in the Kilkenny colours) pulling well. Photo: W M NixonThis is what we came for – glorious sailing in the Sea of the Hebrides with the ancient mizzen staysail (in the Kilkenny colours) pulling well. Photo: W M Nixon

God be with the days.....Ainmara alongside the cliff at Loch Boisdale in June 1963 to collect a bunch of heather for the bowsprit end Photo: W M NixonGod be with the days.....Ainmara alongside the cliff at Loch Boisdale in June 1963 to collect a bunch of heather for the bowsprit end Photo: W M Nixon

With progress like this, where on earth were we going to stop? Northward she romped, passing Loch Boisdale almost without a thought. Back in 1963 on our first cruise to the Outer Hebrides with Ainmara (when I already thought she was rather an old boat), one fine June morning we were gliding seawards down Loch Boiusdale, and noticed a healthy growth of heather on the nearby cliff. Once you've got north of Ardnmurchan Point, Scotland's Cape Horn, you're entitled to have a bundle of heather on the stemhead or bowsprit end. We hadn't yet got around to this back in 1963, but on that blissful morning we simply came alongside the steep shore, and nipped up the cliff to get the heather. It was Monday June 10th 1963. It was with some relief at the end of June that we noted the exact Golden Jubilee of that magic morning on Monday June 10th 2013 had passed entirely unmarked. You can have enough of Golden Jubilees.

Onward we sailed in August 2012 with gems of lochs like Eynort, Skipport and Uiskkevagh slipping by as this perfect day progressed. Flodday likewise was missed with cavalier disregard, then by Eport the wind was gone, but we motored on to Loch Maddy (48 miles from Castlebay) as we'd never been there before, and it left barely a dozen miles next day to Rodel.

We liked Loch Maddy, it's very Western Isles with the pier in one place and the village in another, and in the morning there was time for an heroic breakfast before heading down the loch in bright sunshine. There was a fine easterly breeze, and out in open water all plain sail was set and we started making impressive knots towards Rodel. I foolishly remarked that this looked like being the best sail of the cruise. Within minutes, it was as if somebody had knocked off a switch. We'd to motor for a while, then a gentle nor'easter had us beating in very leisurely style, and in mid-afternoon we were off Rodel with an hour or so to go to high water.

 While Loch Rodel itself provides only limited shelter, the pool behind Vallay Island is snug  While Loch Rodel itself provides only limited shelter, the pool behind Vallay Island is snug  
The tidal entrance looks tricky enough, but it's worth it for the perfect anchorage within  The tidal entrance looks tricky enough, but it's worth it for the perfect anchorage within  
The shoreline begins to take shape, with St Clements Church clear above the hotel at Rodel Photo: W M Nixon  The shoreline begins to take shape, with St Clements Church clear above the hotel at Rodel Photo: W M Nixon  

Ainmara is lining up for the Bay Channel into the pool Photo: W M NixonAinmara is lining up for the Bay Channel into the pool Photo: W M Nixon

The seabed is clearly visible as you pass through the channel close to the port hand marker Photo: W M Nixon   The seabed is clearly visible as you pass through the channel close to the port hand marker Photo: W M Nixon  

A very relieved skipper as we start to find deeper water in the pool Photo: W M Nixon   A very relieved skipper as we start to find deeper water in the pool Photo: W M Nixon  

Mission accomplished – Ainmara in Rodel to celebrate her Centenary Photo: W M Nixon   Mission accomplished – Ainmara in Rodel to celebrate her Centenary Photo: W M Nixon  

But as tides were neaps, the skipper was a bit nervous as we found our way through the shoal entrance in gentle style. You really do pass very close to the port hand marker. Yet once within the pool, my shipmates saw why I was so keen about this enchanting place, and we happily slowed down to Rodel speed for the rest of the day.

St Clement's Church at Rodel is one of the Outer Hebrides more significant buildings Photo: W M NixonSt Clement's Church at Rodel is one of the Outer Hebrides more significant buildings Photo: W M Nixon
The historic Macleod tomb in St Clement's Photo: W M NixonThe historic Macleod tomb in St Clement's Photo: W M Nixon

he stone carving on the MacLeod tomb which inspired the Lord of the Isles galley to be built in Greencastle in Donegal Photo: W M Nixon  The stone carving on the MacLeod tomb which inspired the Lord of the Isles galley to be built in Greencastle in Donegal Photo: W M Nixon  

Ashore, a visit to St Clements Church fitted the mood perfectly. There is a genuine sense of the past, and of the turbulent history which had once been the lot of this sleepy and now remote place. Down at the restored inn (it's called the Rodel Hotel these days, but for me it will always be the inn), we found the sympathetically-renovated establishment had a new dining room beside a new bar – the old rough bar out the back where we'd started negotiating for the tweed was long gone. And though the Countess of Dunmore's drawing room cum dining room where we'd enjoyed fine linen still exists, it is boarded up. But everything else is very much alive, we were able to have luxurious baths in Jock's Room (thanks Jock) and the setting was perfect with the evening sun still bright on the Centenarian sitting gracefully on her mooring and well visible through the restaurant windows, while the food aspirations were up to speed with a German chef and a friendly and obliging Spanish husband and wife couple front of house.

The Rodel Hotel has been restored in a manner which respects its original style. Photo: W M NixonThe Rodel Hotel has been restored in a manner which respects its original style. Photo: W M Nixon

Appropriately, the skipper had the best of it - he went for the surf'n'turf option which was far from your usual beef and salmon, it was Pabbay venison from the second-last island before St Kilda, combined with Sound of Harris hand-caught scallops. It sounds a bit overpowering, but worked very well, and kept himself in the best of spirits. Denis our third crewman being a sports addict, he was keen to see the Olympics Closing Ceremony on television after dinner, and we were invited to use the Residents' Lounge to do so in comfort. While the lads were settling themselves in there with the coffees and digestifs, I nipped furtively up to the bar to settle the bill - the other two hadn't really believed my "get to Rodel and I'll pay for dinner" proposal - and found what was clearly the man himself running the bar and everything else.

"Would you be our host?" I enquired. "I am indeed," said he, "for my sins I'm the proprietor of this place. Welcome to Rodel. I'm Donald MacDonald".

Such is life. We go all the way, nursing an old boat across hundreds of miles of potentially very turbulent water to Rodel in the Western Isles in order to celebrate her Centenary Feast in the Great Hall of the MacLeods of Harris, only to find it has become a MacDonald's.

A MacDonald's with a difference – Ainmara serene in the evening sunshine at Poll an Tigh-Mhail, seen from the dining room in the Rodel Hotel. Photo: W M Nixon  A MacDonald's with a difference – Ainmara serene in the evening sunshine at Poll an Tigh-Mhail, seen from the dining room in the Rodel Hotel. Photo: W M Nixon  

This article was first published on Afloat on July 27, 2013

Published in W M Nixon

The Cruising Club of America couldn't hand out its 2020 awards in person, so the club made it a special event and gathered a pantheon of great sailors on Zoom.

In early March in a normal year, Cruising Club of America members visit the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan for a weekend of meetings featuring an Awards dinner to recognize more than half a dozen worthy sailors as recipients of the club’s major awards. The pomp and circumstance of that event had to be adapted to a virtual space this year, starting with an hour-long presentation, largely pre-recorded, followed by a longer breakout-room segment in which members conversed with the winners in real-time.

As it turned out, sailing royalty showed up from all over the globe, including six previous winners of the Blue Water Medal: Jean Luc Van Den Heede (2019), Skip Novak (2014), Jeanne Socrates (2013), Peter Passano (2007), Tony Gooch (2003), and Bob and Beth Lux (1996). They provided a great welcome reception for the 2020 winner Randall Reeves.

In accepting his award, Reeves said he had had a great deal of good luck, starting with marrying his wife Joanna, who buoyed him up despite “resounding failures.” He also credited his luck at finding the right vessel for the trip, his 45-foot aluminium cutter Moli, “a boat fast enough and big enough, simple enough that I could handle it and fix what broke, yet strong enough to handle divergent requisites of big seas in the south and ice in the north.” He also credited former owner and Blue Water Medal winner Tony Gooch: “He was my living and breathing owners manual.”

Six-time circumnavigator Van Den Heede, who was unable to receive the 2019 award in person due to health reasons, said, “I started sailing because I read books. The first book I had the pleasure to read was by Alain Gerbault, the first man to get this medal [in 1923].” Van Den Heede said he was honoured to follow Gerbault and all the others who received the medal, adding, “these people are legends and I'm surprised to join them.”

Blue Water Medal Winner Jean-Luc Van Den HeedeBlue Water Medal Winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede

2020 Cruising Club of America Award Winners

Randall Reeves—Blue Water Medal

Christian Charalambous—Rod Stephens Seamanship Trophy

Calypso Romero/Adrien Koller—Young Voyager Award

Stephen Brown—Far Horizons Medal

Salty Dawg Sailing Association—Special Recognition Award

Simon and Sally Currin—Royal Cruising Club Trophy

Alan K. Forsythe—Charles H. Vilas Literary Prize

Peter L. Chandler—Richard S. Nye Trophy

Published in Cruising

A survey carried out amongst Cruising Association (CA) members who keep their boats on the rivers and canals of Schengen countries has revealed that 80% are likely to sell their boats and give up cruising altogether, or move their base to a non-Schengen country.

Overall figures for coastal cruising boat owners are expected to be broadly similar although with more sailing out of Schengen waters to other cruising grounds.

The failure of the UK government to negotiate a fair deal with the EU means that UK citizens can now only visit Schengen countries for 90 days in every 180, making it impossible for boat owners to spend a whole season exploring Europe’s coasts and inland waterways.

The CA says that this flies in the face of Britain’s maritime heritage and shrinks the country’s pool of experienced, adventurous sailors. The CA’s President, Julian Dussek, is very concerned, stating:

"It will weaken the long-standing cultural ties between UK and EU boating communities, and damage efforts to rebuild tourism post- Covid. The knock-on effects could do serious damage to UK boat sales and the British marine industry in general.

“Unless we can find practical ways of overcoming this debilitating 90-day rule, British flagged boats will become a rare sight in Schengen waters. For a proud seafaring nation, this would be a real tragedy.”

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Patron of the Cruising Association, recently called on The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to step in to resolve the difficulties now facing the approximately 30,000 British sailors who currently keep their boats in EU waters, and who are facing this threat to long-distance cruising.

The 180-Day Campaign is gathering pace, with new members signing up to the Association in support of its efforts.

The CA is the largest UK organisation focussed solely on supporting extended cruising in small boats. It recently launched a 180-day Visa Campaign to encourage individual EU states to reciprocate the British provision to allow EU citizens to spend 180 days per visit in the UK by making long stay visas available to UK boating visitors.

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

The Cruising Association has today launched its campaign to reduce the impact of Brexit on British small boat cruisers who have traditionally explored the coasts and inland waterways of Europe in sailing and motor boats.

There's a particular focus on the Netherlands, Greece, Spain and Portugal where the CA is lobbying for a 180-day cruising visa separate from the Schengen 90-day visa. The CA is also exploring opportunities for a simplified application process to the existing long-term tourist visas available for France and Sweden.

Along with other groups such as second homeowners, professional musicians, academics, etc. the CA has previously tried to engage with MPs and Ministers on this issue but, thus far, and with the COVID pandemic taking priority, there has been little will to address the 90/180 problem in the corridors of Westminster.

EU rules allow individual EU countries to issue long-term visas and a recent report that the Government is now considering addressing the problems for professional musicians is encouraging. The CA is making the case that any solution should also cover sailing and motorboat cruising.

In a well-crafted letter from the CA's Patron, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, addressed to The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State, Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Sir Robin puts forward the CA's argument that the Schengen 90 days in 180 limit, that now applies to UK citizens, will cause severe difficulties and is unfair.

Each EU member country can set its own policy for visas and permits of more than 90 days, hence the CA has its 'local' teams working out the best strategy for each country.

More on this story and the full text of Sir Robin's letter to the Secretary of State here

Published in Cruising
Tagged under
Page 1 of 25

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating