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The third leg of this year’s Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey (IAMS 2022) will be carried out from Wednesday 13 to Friday 22 April.

Following this month’s surveys off the West, Southwest and South coasts, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, leg three will be conducted to the North and North West coast of Ireland by the Marine Institute in fulfilment of Ireland’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) obligations.

The demersal trawl survey will consist of some 50 otter trawls each of 60 minutes’ duration in ICES area 6.a, conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB).

The vessel will be towing a Jackson demersal trawl during fishing operations and will display appropriate light and signals.

Maps and coordinates of the survey area can be found in Marine Notice No 12 of 2022, attached below.

Published in News Update

Fisheries research undertaken by Marine Institute scientists features in a new short documentary from Europe's leading international news channel.

Produced by Euronews, ‘Where’s the catch? The fishery surveys keeping our seas sustainable’ follows the RV Celtic Explorer during the annual Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS), which most recently took place from October to December 2021.

This six-week fisheries survey in Ireland’s Atlantic shelf takes place each year, with the survey passing through 170 points on the nautical chart.

The IGFS assesses commercially exploited fish stocks, such as haddock and whiting. The survey provides an index of the share of young fish in the stock, which in turn gives an indication of its spawning success.

In the video, David Stokes of the Marine Institute, and chief scientist on the IGFS, explains the sampling processes and the survey’s importance, while scientists Jennifer Doyle and Sinead O’Brien discuss what data is collected in the research vessel’s laboratory.

This Irish survey is one of many conducted in a coordinated way along the northern and western coasts of the European continent. The data collected from all surveys is compiled and analysed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

Dr Ciaran Kelly, director of fisheries, ecosystems and advisory services at the Marine Institute, said: “We are delighted for our work to be featured in this Euronews documentary, as Marine Institute scientists play a key role in carrying out assessments and developing the scientific evidence and advice at ICES.

“The important scientific work undertaken by our scientists is essential for supporting a sustainable ocean economy, as well as protecting and managing our marine ecosystems.”

The video is part of the monthly ‘Ocean’ series produced by Euronews and the European Commission, which is broadcast in nine languages and available in 160 countries.

Published in Marine Science

The first and second legs of this year’s Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey (IAMS 2022) will be carried out from next Saturday 5 February to Tuesday 1 March.

Surveys will be conducted to the West, Southwest and South Coasts of Ireland by the Marine Institute in fulfilment of Ireland’s obligations under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

IAMS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 110 otter trawls, each of 60 minutes duration, in ICES areas 7b, 7c, 7g, 7h, 7j and 7k.

Fishing in 2022 will take place within a three-nautical-mile radius of the positions indicated in Appendices 1 and 2 of Marine Notice No 04 of 2022, a PDF of which is attached below.

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) which will display appropriate lights and signals. The vessel will be towing a Jackson demersal trawl during fishing operations.

The Marine Institute requests that commercial fishing and other marine operators keep a 3nm radius area around the tow points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period.

Further details are included in the Marine Notice below.

Published in News Update

The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport advises that the Informing and Mapping the Offshore Renewable Environment (I-MORE) Survey will be carried out in the North Irish Sea from early in the New Year.

From 4-13 January 2022, the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) will carry out the survey on a 24-hour schedule using the Manta–200 Seabed Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) system.

The aim of this survey is to gather critical seabed data to feed into existing postdoc and group research across a range of disciplines, including marine geotechnics and physical geology, to better understand the geology and engineering properties of the sediment in this area and to identify potential geohazards to infrastructure development.

Map of the proposed iMORE survey areaMap of the proposed iMORE survey area

Coodinates of the survey area and other details can be found in Marine Notice No 66 of 2021, available to download below.

Published in Marine Science

The annual Irish Groundfish Survey (IGFS) for 2021 will be carried out by the Marine Institute off the North West, West and South Coasts of Ireland from Saturday 30 October to Tuesday 14 December.

The IGFS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 170 fishing hauls of 30-minute duration each in ICES areas VIa, VIIb, VIIg and VIIj.

As part of the requirements for the 2021 survey, fishing will take place within a two-nautical-mile radius of the positions indicated in the appendices to Marine Notice No 57 of 2021, which can be downloaded below.

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) which will display appropriate lights and signals. The vessel will be towing a high headline GOV 36/47 demersal trawl during fishing operations.

The Marine Institute requests that commercial fishing and other marine operators keep a two-nautical-mile area around the tow mid-points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period outlined above.

Further details can be found in the Marine Notice attached below.

Published in Fishing

The ability to track free-swimming salmon juveniles has been extended hundreds of kilometres into the open ocean using advanced robotic technology.

As part of the EU INTERREG VA-funded SeaMonitor project, Dr Ross O'Neill of the Marine Institute and Kieran Adlum, P&O Maritime, tested a remotely operated ocean glider along the steeply sloping area of the shelf edge some 130km north-west of the Scottish Hebrides.

The torpedo-shaped device, equipped with an acoustic tag detector, was deployed from the RV Celtic Explorer on 16 April during the 2021 Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey.

This is the first time such active tracking technology has been applied to Atlantic salmon in Europe.

During its two-month mission, the glider successfully detected four individual juvenile salmon smolts measuring only 15-19cm, nearly 600km from their home rivers in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

These fish had been tagged between four and six weeks previously with electronic acoustic transmitting tags along with hundreds of other juvenile salmon as part of the SeaMonitor project as well as the West Coast Tracking Project, a partnership between the Atlantic Salmon Trust, Fisheries Management Scotland and Marine Scotland, EU INTERREG VA-funded COMPASS project and Agri-Food Biosciences Institute (AFBI) research initiatives.

One of the main aims of these projects is to investigate the persistent low marine survival of Atlantic salmon in the early stages of their oceanic migration to feeding grounds in the North Atlantic.

The four fish originated from the River Burrishoole in Co Mayo, the River Bann in Northern Ireland and the rivers Clyde and Awe in Scotland.

Up to now, most tracking studies had been limited to estuarine or coastal areas due to technology limitations and the need for stationary receivers.

Map showing SeaMonitor Atlantic salmon smolt detection and release locations

According to Dr Niall Ó Maoiléidigh of the Marine Institute and principal investigator for the SeaMonitor project: “The detection of these fish confirms the importance of the shelf edge in this amazing journey, as the faster currents associated with the steep slopes most likely act as an aquatic transport system facilitating the northward migration of these tiny fish through a very harsh environment.”

Prof Colin Adams of the University of Glasgow and principal investigator for the SeaMonitor Project added: “This study shows that tracking salmon over considerable distances at sea can be achieved which is crucial for research into highly migratory marine species especially where mortality may be occurring far from the shore.”

Dr Ciaran Kelly, director of fisheries ecosystems and advisory services at the Marine Institute, said: “The use of the glider to track the movements of even very small fish has been clearly demonstrated and this will encourage the use of autonomous underwater vehicles to improve information on many marine species of animals which may be endangered or threatened without interfering with their natural migrations.”

The SeaMonitor project is “breaking the boundaries of research into the marine migration journey of the iconic Atlantic salmon”, said Loughs Agency chief executive Sharon McMahon.

“This innovative research will help to identify migratory routes and factors influencing salmon survival at sea, providing data to inform future research and decision making.”

The glider is part of the SeaMonitor integrated cross-jurisdiction major network of acoustic receivers, robotic underwater vehicles, satellite tracking and passive acoustic receivers in European waters and its use will be extended to track cetaceans, basking shark and skates as well as to collect physical oceanographic data.

When combined, the data will enable a holistic view of the regions mobile marine species and will prove invaluable to the regions managers, as well as establishing an integrated network of marine receivers for future applications and extended monitoring.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in Ireland.

For more information about the project visit the Lough Agency’s SeaMonitor portal or follow the project on Twitter at @SeaMonitor1.

Published in Marine Science

Applications are currently being accepted for ship time in on Ireland’s national marine science research vessels in 2022 and 2023.

In addition to the RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, placements will also be available on the new RV Tom Crean which is expected to be operational in mid 2022 and will replace the RV Celtic Voyager.

The ROV Holland I as well as the Marine Institute’s Slocum Glider submersibles Laochra na Mara and Aisling na Mara are also offered.

Applications must be submitted using Research Vessel Operations’ online Survey Planning System by Thursday 16 September. Contact Research Vessel Operations at [email protected] to obtain a username and password.

Each application will be reviewed and the applicant will be informed as soon as possible whether the ship time they requested is available. If the requested timing is not available, alternative dates may be offered.

The Vessel Charter Guidelines should be read carefully before submitting the ship-time application form.

Further information, technical specification and contact details for the Slocum Gliders are available on the Glider webpage.

Applicants may seek grant-aid to cover all or part of the vessel charter costs for Research Surveys or Ship-Based Training Programmes in 2022. The closing date for receipt of grant-aid applications is 5pm on Thursday 16 September.

Applicants for ship-based training are advised to consult with the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) at [email protected] SMART aims to standardise and optimise ship-based training for undergraduate and post-graduate students and develop nationally accredited ship-based training activities for national higher education.

Applicants are advised that survey schedules can change during the year; contact Research Vessel Operations at [email protected] to check whether any survey slots remain for 2021 and/or request to be notified if any dates become available.

Published in Marine Science

Yesterday, a group of students from 5th and 6th class from Kilglass National School in Co Galway delivered their 1.5 metre unmanned mini sailboat called ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’ to the Marine Institute’s research vessel, RV Celtic Explorer, in Galway Harbour. Marine Institute scientists will deploy the mini-boat from the RV Celtic Explorer into the Atlantic Ocean, near the M6 Weather Buoy, during the AIMSIR (Atlantic In-situ Marine Scientific Infrastructure Replacement) survey.

The mini-boat is equipped with a sail and a satellite tracker, or transmitter, which allows the students to track it as it sails across the ocean and gain a better understanding of ocean currents. This initiative is part of the international Educational Passages programme which connects schools from across the globe through the mini-boat activity.

Congratulating the collaborative effort of the Explorers Education Programme team, Kilglass National school, the infrastructures team at the Marine Institute, as well as Educational Passages in the USA, Patricia Orme, Joint Acting CEO said, “The Explorers mini-boat project is a wonderful example of marine science literacy and citizen engagement with the oceans. It supports the Marine Institute’s Oceans of Learning campaign which highlights the value of partnerships essential for sharing marine science with the wider community. For children, this project provides an exciting way of seeing real life examples of how the ocean has an influence on all our lives, learning how the ocean influences our weather and climate, and the types of technology used.”

‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’ about to be Deployed from the RV Celtic Explorer‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’ about to be Deployed from the RV Celtic Explorer

Peter Kane, teacher at Kilglass National School, Galway highlighted that working with the Explorers Education team and Educational Passages has helped to provide children with a better understanding of the ocean through real life hands-on activities. “The project involved more than 100 children in our school. Students have painted and decorated the boat, created artwork and good luck messages, and named the boat ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’. Alisha McHugh from 4th class explained that the Irish term recognises the tradition of fishing in Galway and Ireland.”

Thanking the Marine Institute and the Explorers team for coordinating the delivery of the boat and teaching resources, Peter Kane said, “It has been a comprehensive STEM project and cross-curricular in nature. Using the boat as a focal point provides a great example of how teachers can integrate marine themes through a range of cross-curricular activities. This included learning how the boat was built, to covering a range of science and technology concepts using GPS and satellites.”

Padraic Creedon, Explorers Education Officer, Galway Atlantaquaria said, “It was great to see the children increasing their understanding of the ocean, completing science experiments and producing amazing class presentations about our ocean. The children also learned about marine biodiversity in the ocean from the smallest microscopic plankton to the largest animals in the world – the blue whales migrating across the Atlantic.”

The provision of the boat has been funded as part of the EU Interreg iFADO project, in which the Marine Institute are partners. Engaging in the mini-boat project, the iFADO consortium of researchers are launching five mini-boats this year around the Atlantic from Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, and the UK.

“People all over the world can monitor and track the mini-boats in the ocean, including Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor. The project webpage is available to children, teachers and their classes. This is a really fun way of connecting people, and predicting where the boat may land is part of that experience. At least 11 mini-boats have landed in Ireland since 2009, and some have been recovered, fixed, and relaunched. Currently, there are six actively reporting boats in the Atlantic, and some in the Pacific as well. Both the Explorers Education Programme and Educational Passages are absolutely delighted to see another boat leaving Galway, and look forward to seeing how it can connect more people around our world ocean,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Explorers Strategic Education Manager, Camden Education Trust.

To follow the mini-boat Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor, visit here

The Marine Institute and partners are celebrating our seas and Ireland’s marine resource through the Oceans of Learning series. Over four weeks, Oceans of Learning enables everyone to engage with our ocean through a podcast series, short films, news and online resources all about our ocean. 

Teachers, children and parents can also follow the Explorers Education activities on Facebook: @ExplorersMarineEducation and Twitter @explorersedu for great ideas and fun facts about the ocean. The team in Galway will also be tracking the Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor.

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland's state agency for marine research and development.

Published in Marine Science

The Department of Transport advises that a survey will take place at several offshore reefs and sandbanks off the North West Coast from next Friday 23 April to Tuesday 4 May.

Survey works with marine robots in support of the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme will take place within a three-nautical-mile radius of six shipwrecks, the coordinates of which are included in Marine Notice No 24 of 2021 which can be downloaded below.

The survey will be conducted from the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) which will conduct acoustic surveying during the night using its hull mounted multibeam, with remotely operated vehicle (ROV) sampling during daylight hours.

In addition, the vessel will be used as a platform to deploy a range of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and a series of six small (1.2m3) pyramidal landers, referred to as baited remote underwater video (BRUV).

At all times, the RV Celtic Explorer will display appropriate lights and signals.

Published in Coastal Notes

The Department of Transport has been advised that a marine geophysical survey will be carried out from 5-30 May southwest of Rockall Plateau and across the Porcupine Abyssal Plain and Porcupine Seabight.

This survey is part of the Irish marine research programme project PORO-CLIM and is being carried out with the support of the EU Eurofleets+ programme (Project PORO-CLIM, Survey Code CE21008).

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB). The vessel will display appropriate lights and signals. All survey operations are 24 hours, continuous over day and night.

The vessel will on occasion be towing a hydrophone cable and other equipment up to a maximum of 1,000 metres behind the vessel. The vessel will be restricted in its movements when towing a cable astern.

Full details of coordinates for these survey works are included in Marine Notice No 17 of 2021, a PDF of which can be downloaded below.

Published in Marine Science
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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

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