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The Irish Coast Guard has revealed further details over an incident involving the activation of an emergency positioning beacon off West Cork last month.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Baltimore RNLI was called out to search or the EPIRB which activated two nautical miles west of the Calf Islands on the afternoon of Wednesday 19 August.

Despite an extensive operation which also involved Schull Coast Guard, a coastguard helicopter and the Naval Service vessel LÉ Samuel Beckett, nothing was found and the search was stood down by early evening.

‘…it is highly unusual to have detections of the type that was encountered on 19 August’

In response to further enquiries from Afloat.ie, the Irish Coast Guard said the EPIRB in question, which was last detected at Coosnagulling on the southwest of Long Island, “did not appear to be fully functional and the homing signal was not active.

“It was not registered in Ireland and registration details were not available. It was not of Irish origin.”

Confirming that the search was terminated with “no further action being deemed necessary”, the IRCG added: “Accidental activations of EPIRBs are not unusual but it is highly unusual to have detections of the type that was encountered on 19 August.

“Every effort was made to locate the device both inland and on the coast but as outlined above, the search proved to be unsuccessful given the operational gaps in the information that was available.”

Published in West Cork

The West Cork harbour of Crookhaven took a hammering earlier this week in Storm Francis with at least one sailing boat lost from its mooring on Tuesday.

Footage online shows the village pontoon swaying in the Force 11 gusts (see vid via Facebook below) as Cork County battled with a Status Yellow Weather Alert.

As Afloat previously reported, Baltimore's all-weather lifeboat was called to two yachts in difficulty in Crookhaven. The two vessels, one with four onboard and the other with two, were dragging their moorings in the strong Force 9 winds, gusting up to Force 11, and rough sea conditions with a five-metre swell.

It's not the only West Cork Harbour affected either in this month's storms. More boats were damaged at nearby Baltimore.

In a tough month for Cork sailing, as Tom MacSweeney reports, the new Cove Sailing Club marina in Cork Harbour was damaged in the earlier Storm Ellen.

Published in West Cork
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Historial Castle Island in Roaringwater Bay off the coast of Schull, West Cork is on the market for offers in excess of €1m.

The island is located immediately east of the entrance to Schull Harbour and south-west of Horse Island. It is readily accessed from either Schull Harbour or Rossbrin Cove.

It is one of very few privately owned islands in the area.

The island, which extends to approximately 123.85 acres or c. 50.12 hectares, was home to a small community of approximately fifteen families who were last resident on the Island up to the year 1870.

A substantial Pier and Slipway that offers very considerable shelter and access to the island in most weather conditions at all tidal stagesA substantial Pier and Slipway that offers very considerable shelter and access to the island in most weather conditions at all tidal stages

According to the auctioneer Dominic Daly, the ruins of the original three clusters of houses which made up the community are situated in three distinct locations the first at the pier where the original O’Mahony Castle stands and the other two at each end of the island. Lazy beds can be detected near one of the clusters of houses which look out across Roaringwater Bay and onward to Fastnet lighthouse a naturally beautiful landscape. Currently, the island is in use for agricultural purposes. Tillage was undertaken there in the past. It is now used for grazing.

There is a substantial Pier and Slipway that offers very considerable shelter and access to the island in most weather conditions at all tidal stages. A number of adjoining islands in Roaringwater Bay are inhabited – some with small communities (Long Island, Heir Island, Sherkin Island, Cape Clear Island) and others by single families (West Skeam Island, Horse Island).

Castle Island, Roaringwater BayCastle Island, Roaringwater Bay

Castle Island is home to one of a number of ruined O’Mahony Castles – one of a string along the coastline, all within sight of each other and sited strategically to control the waters of Roaringwater Bay and their abundant resources. The O’Mahony’s became extremely wealthy in their day, charging for fishing and fish processing facilities and for supplies and fresh water. They also formed strong alliances with the Spanish and French fishing fleet and any visitors who worked these waters an alliance that came to the attention of the English crown, which lead to the O’Mahony’s demise in the area.

It is a great opportunity for anyone interested in all water sports particularly sailing and fishing. It also benefits from the warm Gulf Stream and mild south westerly winds. The island can offer total solitude with substantial scope to develop it’s considerable amenities. There are extensive amenities in the area with multiple Harbours in Schull and Baltimore and also good shelter in Rossbin & Crookhaven as well as Cape Clear. In the far distance, the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse can be seen.

West Cork is a predominantly tourist area. It has rugged peninsulas, sandy beaches and bustling market towns. Future use of the island could be for private occupancy or tourism-related development or outdoor pursuits and/or agricultural use.

More details from auctioneer Dominic Daly here

Published in West Cork
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The first race of the West Cork sailing season took place on Saturday in murky conditions with intermittent foggy spells and light rain making it a tough return to sailing for the Schull harbour sailing fleet.

The seven yachts had a tough double beat up Long Island Sound in a freshening southwest wind. In a time of necessary adherence to social distancing, the club ran a ferry service limiting the transfer of each crew as a single pod.

The seven boat fleet had a tough windward leg up Long Island SoundThe seven boat fleet had tough windward legs up Long Island Sound

The traditional apres sail prize presentation is currently cancelled with Tony O Brien's Excelsior on his first outing with the club receiving his victory news online.

The Schull Harbour Race Committee for the first race of the 2020 seasonPreparing to go afloat at Schull Harbour for the first race of the 2020 season

Published in West Cork
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In locked-down Baltimore in West Cork, the word is that in current circumstances, the most exciting thing that happens during the day is when a dog walks past, taking its sniff-busy morning walk up the empty street. Everybody goes to their window to watch this major event until the canine inspector has disappeared from view, and then they return to the task in which they’d been engrossed.

Those who are making some semblance of working from home for the first time are learning that for most folk, it ceases to be home once you have to do some supposedly income-generating task within its walls. Those social commentators who are predicting that our ways of working will see a marked change once the current situation has got back to something approaching normality seem to be unaware of this inescapable fact. Completely separate work-places are necessary for most people to work. That’s all there is to it.

bustling baltimore2Baltimore in more normal times on a sunny summer evening. Currently, the height of the locked-in day’s excitement is when a solitary dog walks up the road
For sure, there are those of us who have always worked from home, but as one of them, I can assure you that it’s not a way of life for everyone. And the basic reason we earn a meagre crust in this way is that we probably lack the social skills to function in an interpersonal situation at some sort of work-station with anyone within anything remotely approaching today’s mandatory two-metre social distancing.

"the most exciting thing that happens during the day is when a dog walks past"

In fact, we don’t want anyone in the same room, and one other inhabitant within the same building is all that is required to hope that from time to time, a cup of coffee or tea might appear, or a clever light lunch gets effortlessly rustled together with a chance that it might be enjoyed in the suntrap down the garden.

That said, we’re lost in admiration for those techno-whizzes who have invented ways of making the whole business of being house-bound more entertaining, and it’s said that in Baltimore they’ve now got an online sweepstake running as to when certain dogs will take their daily dander up the street. I’ve no idea if it’s true that some rogue elements have taken to releasing cats into the empty streetscape in order to upset some gamblers’ carefully made observations and closely-calculated predictions. But in times like this, all’s fair for a spot of entertainment and distraction.

Because with Easter plumb in the middle of April where it should be on a permanent basis, and with good weather a real possibility, people are going up the walls in holiday sailing places which would normally be springing to fresh life this Friday. So just to sharpen the exquisite torture, at the end of this piece there’s a link to a Sailing on Saturday blog from 2014 which seemed to succeed in capturing the flavour of Baltimore on a sunny sailing weekend, for it received a gratifying global response.

start round ireland3Typical start for the biennial Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. With nearly everything else announcing early cancellations for major events because of COVID-19, Wicklow SC are quite right to stay on track until the end of April, for it’s not as if anyone else will have an alternative programme in mind for June 20th
But before we go to it, let me just say that I think Wicklow Sailing Club is absolutely right in postponing until the end of April any decision on cancelling their 20th June Round Ireland Race. With every other major event falling over itself to cancel early, what alternative programme would potential Round Ireland Racers have in mind?

But enough of that – here’s Baltimore and West Cork in the summer of 2014, and though some things have changed, others are eternal in their charm.

Published in West Cork
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16-21 February are the dates to save for Optimist Spring Training at Baltimore Sailing Club in West Cork.

This year the class has teamed up with freelance dinghy performance coach Thomas Chaix to work collaboratively on training sessions to kick off the season — riding high on the international success of Oppy helms like Rocco Wright.

And at the end of the week the assembled Optimist sailors have their pre-trials regatta.

On the social side, IODAI has organised a movie night at Casey’s Hotel and an end-of-week disco with the opportunity for parents to relax and meet up for a meal.

Registration for 2020 Spring Training is now available online. For more details contact Mandy at [email protected] see the IODAI website.

Published in Optimist

Shepperton Lakes in West Cork will now be eco-friendly following the introduction of measures to reduce the carbon footprint of anglers fishing the popular Shepperton (Shreelane) fishery.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is introducing regulations which will only permit battery-powered engines on the lake from 1 January 2020.

As part of the eco-friendly measures, Inland Fisheries Ireland is removing its four petrol engines from use at Shepperton, between Leap and Skibbereen.

Anglers can now hire one of the recently refurbished boats and bring their own battery-powered engines.

This follows similar measures introduced at Ballinlough, north of Leap, which has operated successfully for a number of years.

The boat hire at Shepperton Lakes, including a one-day fishing permit for up to two anglers, will cost €30.

‘…a popular winter pike angling destination attracting local and visiting anglers to the area’

Sean Long, director of the South Western River Basin District, said: “This initiative was proposed by the local Inland Fisheries Ireland ‘Green Team’ as a quick and simple measure to reduce carbon emissions.

“We are pleased to offer this green solution to anglers at the lake while also maintaining the permit price once again this year.”

IFI’s Green Team comprises staff in various locations across the country and is part of the organisation’s efforts to refocus its philosophy in line with the critical nature of climate change and the impact it is having on the fisheries resource.

The Green Team works to create solutions which will help achieve an energy reduction target of 33% by 2020 and devise solutions which will support society in reducing its environmental footprint.

Shepperton/Shreelane Lakes in West Cork represent a popular winter pike angling destination attracting local and visiting anglers to the area.

As shore angling is not permitted, anglers are advised to book a boat locally from Mrs E Connolly via telephone 028 33328 in advance to avoid disappointment.

Published in West Cork

Following last Thursday’s launch to a sailing dinghy aground on an island near Baltimore Harbour, the local RNLI crew were called out twice on Sunday (22 September), with the first to other boat aground in the harbour.

The inshore lifeboat was on scene in a matter of minutes after they were notified that the 14m sailing boat had run up on rocks at the harbour’s edge.

Volunteer crew set up a tow line to return the vessel to deeper water and, once it was checked over for damage, the lifeboat towed the yacht head to wind to let its crew set their sails.

Baltimore’s inshore lifeboat launched again at 3.36pm to assist a RIB with five people on board which broke down and was at anchor off Castle Point, near Schull Harbour.

However, while en route the lifeboat was stood down after word came through that the RIB’s occupants had managed to get themselves under way.

Elsewhere, in West Cork, Courtmacsherry’s all-weather lifeboat launched on Saturday evening (21 September) as bad weather unfolded to rescue a surfer in difficulty off Inchydoney.

As the lifeboat was speeding across Clonakilty Bay to the reported location, its crew were informed that the surfer had managed to get ashore safe and well.

Deputy launching authority Diarmuid O’Mahony praised those on shore who called for help for their quick alert: “Vital minutes today could have been so important in sea conditions that were very poor.

“I also want to commend all the volunteer crew who responded so quickly in coming to the lifeboat station in the knowledge that they were going to face some mountainous seas and difficult conditions off the coast.”

As previously reported, Crosshaven RNLI also launched yesterday to two sailors whose catamaran dinghy capsized in Cork Harbour yesterday evening.

Published in West Cork

Baltimore RNLI launched yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 17 July) to rescue a windsurfer who got into difficulty in Baltimore Harbour in West Cork.

The inshore lifeboat launched at 2.01pm after a member of the public alerted the Irish Coast Guard that a windsurfer was being blown against the shoreline at Reengarogy.

With four volunteer crew aboard — helm Kieran Collins and crew members Micheal Cottrell, David Ryan and Ian Lynch — the lifeboat arrived on scene two minutes later to find the casualty in the water, swimming hard to keep clear of the rocks.

The casualty was brought aboard the lifeboat, along with his board, and once satisfied that he was unharmed, the crew took him back to the beach in Baltimore he had originally set out from.

While the inshore lifeboat crew were dealing with their casualty on the shoreline, instructors from Baltimore Sailing Club went to the assistance of another windsurfer who was in difficulty in the middle of the harbour and brought them safely to shore.

Weather conditions at the time of the call were blustery with a south-westerly Force 5 wind and sloppy sea.

Speaking following the callout, Baltimore lifeboat press officer Kate Callanan said: “This was a particularly fast response as the inshore lifeboat was on scene with the casualty within seven minutes of the lifeboat pagers going off.

“Thankfully a member of the public had spotted the danger that the windsurfer was in and did the correct thing in alerting the coastguard.

“If you see anyone that you think is in difficulty on the water or along the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI launched yesterday morning (Friday 28 June) after a yacht became propped on a pot buoy two miles south of Mizen Head off the coast of West Cork.

The all-weather lifeboat launched at 10.03am following a request by the Irish Coast Guard to assist the 30ft yacht with one person aboard, which had been on passage from Baltimore to Bere Island.

Arriving on scene at 10.47am in misty and foggy conditions with an easterly Force 3-4 wind, the volunteer crew made a quick assessment of the situation, and launched the smaller Y-class lifeboat to try to free the yacht from the pot buoy while the all-weather lifeboat established a tow.

The pot line was cleared within a few minutes, and after the RNLI crew assessed that all was fine with the vessel, the tow was disconnected and the yacht continued on its journey to Bere Island.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Page 3 of 23

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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