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Displaying items by tag: west cork

#MarineWildlife - Wildlife watchers have been baffled by the sighting of an Arctic seal in West Cork, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Bearded seals, marked by their pale pelt and distinctive long whiskers, are usually found between the far north of Canada, Greenland and the Russian Arctic.

But as photographed in recent days by Shearwater Wildlife Tours, one appears to have taken up residence in the much milder climes of Timoleague, near Courtmacsherry in West Cork.

And it’s been suggested in comments that the heavyweight seal has been living in the area for at least the last two months.

It marks only the second recorded sighting of this marine mammal species in Ireland, the other being a female in distress who was nursed back to health in Galway in 2002, according to Shearwater’s Paul Connaughton, who is also chair of Birdwatch Ireland’s West Cork branch.

Others have been found in the Scotland’s Shetland and Orkney Islands, but fewer than 20 are on record.

Now experts are speculating as to whether melting sea ice in their Arctic home is prompting these seals to seek refuge further south.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in West Cork
Tagged under

#RNLI - In the first of two incidents yesterday morning (Thursday 3 August), Baltimore RNLI launched to reports of a vessel adrift in Crookhaven Harbour.

The vessel, a 4m Boston Whaler powerboat, had broken from its mooring in strong winds and was drifting outside the West Cork harbour. 

There was no one on board the vessel, and weather conditions at the time were poor, with an easterly force 6-7 wind and 4-5m sea swell.

Baltimore's lifeboat arrived on scene at 8.38am, some 51 minutes after launch, and established a tow to bring the vessel back into the harbour, where it was secured to a mooring.

As the lifeboat was departing to return to station at 9.11am, the Irish Coast Guard contacted them to investigate another boat in trouble in the area. 

The second vessel, a 20ft Merry Fisher pleasure boat with no people on board, had gone ashore on rocks in Crookhaven

Due to the position of the vessel on the shoreline, coxswain Aidan Bushe decided to launch the Y-boat from the stern ramp of the lifeboat. 

The Y-boat, with Kieran Collins and David Ryan on board, secured a tow and pulled the casualty vessel clear of the shoreline. The lifeboat then took up the tow and secured the vessel on a mooring.

Speaking following the callout, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Kate Callanan said: “It is advisable in such incidents, where boats get into trouble near the shoreline, to call the coastguard for assistance. This reduces the risk of people getting themselves into a dangerous situation. 

“If you get into difficulty at sea, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Bushe, Ryan and Collins were joined on yesterday’s callout by mechanic Sean McCarthy and crew members Jerry Smith and Don O’Donovan. Micheal Cottrell provided shore crew assistance at the lifeboat house.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore will become a centre for sailing over the next few weeks. This August weekend the annual sailing trek to the waters around Carbery’s Hundred Isles will get underway with the annual overnight race from Crosshaven to Schull. For the next few weeks the Cork sailing fraternity will be joined by boats from the East Coast, taking in events like Calves Week, Baltimore Regatta, racing around the Fastnet and the legendary Cape Clear Regatta.

The date when the club was founded varies, according to which account you take it from. A list of Commodores in the club starts in 1952 but a letter dated 3rd August 1976, written by Frank Murphy, who was the first Secretary of the club, stated that the club was founded in the summer of 1953. However, the Minutes of a Meeting held at Salters premises in Baltimore on Saturday 28th July 1956 state that "It was unanimously felt that a Sailing Club should be formed”

On my podcast this week I talk to a former Commodore of the Club, Gerald O’Flynn, who puts that date as the one when the club was formed.

Its story, set up originally as a Summer sailing club for Cork families with second homes in the fishing village, began when some of those seasonal residents lost boats in storms while they were kept at nearby Tragumna beach.

Gerald O’Flynn tells the story of boats built and bought for £75 each in ‘old’ money; about a ‘bastard-type’ of National 18, Enterprises and Fireball dinghies used by the club, the running of National Dinghy Week and the time when the club annoyed locals by covering grass areas on the pier with concrete. It’s a fascinating story about a club with a strong family emphasis which he told me in its modern premises which these days operates for a wider period than just Summer.

Listen to the PODCAST here:

• Tom MacSweeney presents THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme on local stations around Ireland.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

#RNLI - Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was called out at 4.20pm yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 1 August) to go to the aid of a 40ft pleasure fishing boat with mechanical failure 15 miles off the Seven Heads in West Cork.

The Courtmacsherry Lifeboat, under coxswain Kevin Young and with a crew of six, launched in minutes and reached the stricken boat just after 5pm.

On scene near the Lusitania site, the lifeboat secured a tow line to the vessel and then proceeded to tow it back to the safe haven of Courtmacsherry’s inner harbour.

All six on the pleasure boat were safely returned to Courtmacsherry Pontoon at 8pm.

Weather conditions on the callout reasonable, with winds in the area blowing Force 3-4.

The callout was the latest in what was a busy 48 hours for the voluntary crew of Courtmacsherry RNLI, with three callouts to boats in distress beginning on Sunday afternoon with the rescue of another pleasure fishing boat, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Baltimore RNLI launched this morning (Friday 28 July) to locate a vessel sending an alarm from their positioning beacon off the coast of West Cork.

The Irish Coast Guard requested the launch just before 10am after it had picked up an alarm from an EPIRB (electronic position indication radio beacon) on a yacht half a mile south west of Cape Clear Island. 

Coastguard staff at Mizen Head had no success raising the occupants of the yacht on their VHF so the Baltimore all-weather lifeboat was launched to investigate at the last known co-ordinates of the vessel.

Meanwhile, 10.30am the coastguard finally made contact with the yacht’s two occupants on their VHF and established that the EPIRB had been activated by accident.

Speaking after the callout, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat navigator Micheal Cottrell said: “It is important to ensure the secure fastening of an EPIRB on board a vessel and to regularly check that it is in good working order. Also, whilst out at sea it is important to keep radio watch on Channel 16. 

“If you get into difficulty at sea, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Union Hall RNLI were alerted by Valentia Coast Guard at 3.24pm yesterday (Saturday 22) to a report of a 30ft yacht with two sailors gone aground at the middle danger in Glandore Harbour, West Cork.

The lifeboat launched and was underway to the yacht at 3.33pm in favourable weather conditions, with a slight breeze from the north.

While en route to the scene, a member of the public notified the lifeboat station that the yacht had refloated safely. The volunteer crew subsequently spoke to the sailors, who were happy to continue sailing.

Union Hall RNLI deputy launch authority Peter Deasy said: “While a lot of activity is taking place in Glandore Harbour this week with the Glandore Classic Boat Regatta, we advise people to be alert, obey navigation aids and respect the water. If you see someone in trouble dial 999/112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#WaterSafety - The dangers of boating without proper safety equipment have been raised by a report into the death of an angler who went overboard from his vessel off West Cork last summer.

The body of Michael O’Brien was recovered on the morning of 15 August 2016, after he was reported missing the previous evening when he failed to return to Schull from a solo fishing trip.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the incident found that O’Brien, who regularly went angling around Long Island Bay in the summer months, was not wearing a PFD and had no emergency beacon or VHF radio, with only a mobile phone for communication.

It’s unknown how the 69-year-old came to enter the water, but his reduced mobility due to a hip operation and the fact that his crutches were found stowed suggests he used the boat’s bulwarks for support, which would have put his centre of gravity over the edge of the vessel.

The full MCIB report can be downloaded below.

Published in MCIB
Tagged under

The good news for West Cork boaters is that the €200,000 pontoons procured for Cape Clear island's North Harbour will be installed this Summer. And as our photo taken this week shows there's little doubt that they will be put to immediate use.

Under the 2017 fishery harbour and coastal infrastructure capital programme, Junior Minister Andrew Doyle told the Dail Harbour's debate in June he had allocated €720,000 for maintenance and development works at the Island's North Harbour. 'The 2017 programme provides €200,000 for pontoons at Cape Clear and €250,000 for the design, preparation of contract documents and planning for additional repair work to Duffy's Pier' he said.

After storm damage wrecked the coastal infrastructure there, construction work has been underway at Cape Clear island since 2014. As Afloat previously reported in March that year, the works have involved the construction of a slipway; replacement of the Bull's Nose structure incorporating a storm gate and an extension to the end of Duffy's Pier; excavation, dredging and reclamation works including the construction of an armoured embankment at the seaward side of the new Bull's Nose structure.

It is expected the Duffy’s Pier preparatory work will also be completed in 2017. However, further work will be subject to permission and funding in future years.

Published in Coastal Notes

#RNLI - Baltimore RNLI assisted two sailors yesterday afternoon (Friday 14 July) after their motorboat broke down off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer crew was requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 2.25pm following a report from the sailors that their vessel had got into difficulty off Toe Head.

Helmed by Youen Jacob and with crew members Pat O’Mahony and Colin Rochford on board, the lifeboat launched immediately and was on scene in 25 minutes.

The 22ft motorboat had broken down half a mile west of Toe Head and had secured an anchor. Weather conditions at the time were relatively good, with a Force 3-4 south-westerly wind and a sea swell of 2-3m.

The lifeboat crew established a tow and brought the vessel safely back to Baltimore Harbour before returning to the station at 4.35pm.

“The sailors did the right thing today requesting assistance when required,” said Baltimore RNLI lifeboat operations manager Tom Bushe. “We would remind everyone enjoying our coast this summer to always respect the water.”

Shore crew in attendance at the station were Rianne and Jerry Smith, Kate Callanan, Marty O’Driscoll and Aidan Bushe.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Union Hall RNLI went to the aid of a yacht with two people onboard yesterday evening (Thursday 13 July) after the vessel got into difficulty half a mile east of Castlehaven Harbour in West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew was alerted at 5.26pm by Valentia Coast Guard to reports of a 28ft yacht that had fouled its propeller.

The lifeboat was launched and on scene within 20 minutes. Weather conditions at the time were good and the sea was calm.

Two whale watching boats, Voyager and Liscannor Star, stood by the casualty vessel until the lifeboat crew arrived and worked with the two men onboard to attach a tow line to the yacht.



The lifeboat then towed the yacht to the safety of Reen Pier before returning to Union Hall, joined by a pod of dolphins along the way.

Speaking following the callout, Union Hall RNLI deputy launching authority Peter Deasy said: “We were happy to assist the sailors this evening on what was the first callout for our only female crew member, Sarah Browne.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Page 8 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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