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Displaying items by tag: Scotland

#MarineWildlife - BBC News reports that three killer whales from a community of orcas off the Scottish west coast have been spotted off the country's east coast for the first time since scientists began monitoring the group in the 1990s.

Mark Hosford of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust described the sighting as "a really exciting development".

He added: "The west coast community is thought to be the only resident population of orca in the British Isles, and understanding their behaviour and movements is crucial to the conservation of these remarkable creatures."

The group's normal range includes Scotland's north and west coasts to the west coast of Ireland, and is thought to comprise just nine older whales - which are also believed to be genetically distinct from other orcas in the North Atlantic, showing much closer similarity to Antarctic killer whales.

As reported on Afloat.ie earlier this year, marine wildlife experts fear that the group is now on the "brink of extinction".

Published in Marine Wildlife

#RNLI - Stranraer RNLI's lifeboat was dispatched by Belfast Coastguard on Friday evening (7 June) to rescue men from a stranded personal water craft on the rocks at Corsewall Point.

The men had been travelling on the water scooter across the North Channel from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland to Campbeltown in Scotland and back - a round trip of some 130km - but ran out of fuel on the return leg, and drifted to Corsewall on the north point of the Rhins of Galloway.

The RNLI Stranraer lifeboat launched at 5.20pm from Lady Bay and 20 minutes later arrived on scene, where they discovered that two of the men were cold and one had an ankle injury - although a conflicting report via the Belfast Coastguard says only two men were found.

The men were transferred safely on to the lifeboat and taken to Dally Bay, from where they were taken by road to Stranraer Accident and Emergency Hospital.

But as BBC News reports, they were beset by further problems on their return trip to Northern Ireland later that evening, when the private vessel on which they were travelling also ran out of fuel and had to be towed to Red Bay in Co Antrim.

Belfast Coastguard confirmed to the BBC that the men had been travelling on their water scooter with "no navigational aids" and that "they could not get a signal from their mobile phone".

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#maritimefestivals – The fascinating story of an ancient agricultural crop and how it played a key role in the maritime industry will be brought to life at Scotland's leading celebration of nautical heritage and culture.

A display and demonstration on flax – described as Britain's forgotten crop - will be one of the main attractions in the craft tent at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival later this month.

Crowds in excess of 16,000 are expected to descend on the village of Portsoy on the Aberdeenshire coast when the festival, now in its 20th year, takes place over the weekend of June 22 and 23.

The demonstration will be led by Flaxland, a group of flax growers and producers who featured in the BBC television show, Wartime Farm. They will be showing members of the public how the fibre was used in a huge variety of maritime products, and will reveal how they have even been able to build a boat made from flax fabric.

Flax growing in the UK is believed to date back to the Bronze Age and grew popular due to the versatility of both the plant's stem and seed. As well as being used in oil and in cooking, flax can be used to create everything from clothing to paint.

Roger Goodyear, chairman of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, says organisers are delighted to welcome Flaxland to the event for the first time this year.

"The festival is one of many events taking place across the country for the Year of Natural Scotland, so it seems entirely fitting that this natural product with such a rich history in the UK should play a key role in this year's celebrations," he says.

"Authentic maritime and craft skills have always been an important part of the festival, and this year we will once again play host to a very diverse range of crafts men and women who represent the very best in traditional skills."

In addition to Flaxland, visitors will be able to learn splicing for beginners thanks to the maritime studies department of Orkney College, try a pottery wheel and watch a basket weaver in action. Younger visitors will also be able to take part in a workshop teaching basic knot-work, and the very popular Living Traditions tent will be making a return appearance.

The festival is a key event in the Year of Natural Scotland – a partnership between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland EventScotland and Scottish Natural Heritage which aims to showcase the country's unique natural environment.

For more information about the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival and to buy tickets visit www.stbfportsoy.com Updates about this year's festival are also available on Facebook and Twitter – search for @STBFestival. An adult day ticket costs £8, children aged five to 18 and concessions are £5. Adult weekend tickets are priced at £12 and children and concessions at £8. There are also family tickets available which allow entry for two adults and three children for £25 for a day ticket and £35 for a weekend. Children under five go free and there is no charge for parking.

Published in Maritime Festivals
Tagged under

#Diving - With the Lusitania back in the news, Ireland's wealth of interesting diving sites are bound to draw attention this summer.

But it's worth remembering how dangerous an activity wreck diving can be - as Gizmodo reader Magicguppy relates in a special column for the tech news website.

He recalls his first ever shipwreck dive in September 2006, to the remains of the Rondo beneath the Sound of Mull in western Scotland.

"Used as a passage for shipping for centuries, it had a certain reputation for wrecking ships — even in 1935," writes Magicguppy, who goes on to depict in vivid detail how the ship went down, not to mention how the danger persists today for those who want to get close to the wreckage:

"The surface current swept my dive buddy and I towards the buoy. I turned and saw it gunning down on me. Grabbing the rope under the buoy, I signalled to my buddy.

"I knew that we had to get down below the current, and if we let go, even for a second, we wouldn’t be able to fight the current and get back onto the rope. My buddy agreed: Time to dive."

Gizmodo has much more HERE. But be warned - some of the gruesome descriptions in this story are not for the faint of heart!

Published in Diving

#Coastguard - For Argyll in Scotland reports that Richard Newell has resigned from his post as rescue co-ordination centre manager at Belfast Coastguard.

The news comes some weeks after the command base took on extra responsibility with the permanent closure of the Clyde coastguard station last month.

Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) confirmed to the website that Newell resigned from his position around two weeks ago - and that he has assured the agency that his decision has no connection with the streamlining plans being undertaken across Britain's coastguard network.

However, For Argyll alleges Newell had made it known locally that "if he considered the future [of the coastguard service] was becoming dangerous, then he would go".

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, campaigners for the Clyde coastguard station in western Scotland were taken aback by the early transfer of helicopter dispatches to Belfast and Stornoway in November, ahead of the base's permanent closure on 18 December last.

More than 30 jobs were lost with the scrapping of the Clyde control centre at Greenock, with much of its role now being taken up by the Belfast command centre at Bangor across the North Channel - a change to the original plan for Scottish stations to share the load till 2015.

Published in Coastguard

#CoastalRowing - News comes from Scotland of an intriguing new coastal rowing craze that sounds like something from a Swedish furniture store!

As the Guardian reports, a traditional Scottish fishing skiff design provided the inspiration for the new flatpack coastal rowing boat, which began life as a prototype project for the Scottish Fisheries Museum four years ago.

Since then the St Ayles skiff concept swept like a wave across the UK and beyond - and examples of the DIY kit row boat, which is handmade in Fife, can be found as far afield as Australia.

Many of those international rowers are expected to converge in Scotland this simmer for the coastal rowing world championships off Ullapool.

The Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Rowing
14th December 2012

Mike Balmforth FRIN 1941-2012

#mikebalmforth – With the death on 2 December of Mike Balmforth, Ireland and Scotland lost a powerful voice for leisure sailors.

Mike was born in Belfast and learned to sail on Strangford Lough. He became a deputy editor of Yachting Monthly in the 1960s, and went on to be boatbuilder, sparmaker, yachtbroker and chandler, and marine author, editor and publisher. He edited the Clyde Cruising Club's Journal and founded The Yachtsman's Almanac and Welcome Anchorages.

Mike co-founded the Scottish Boating Alliance, which allowed marine leisure interests to speak with one strong voice to Government. His knowledge, vision, administrative skills and ability to inspire trust gave him and the SBA great authority, and the model he developed has been recommended for marine leisure development planning in Ireland.

He was a member of the Irish Cruising Club for 46 years, and made a major contribution as a director of the Club's publications arm and co-author of Cruising Ireland.

He had many boats of his own, but his masterpiece was his beautiful Dawn 39 Greenheart, which he fitted out himself from the mouldings. With his family – all dedicated sailors - he cruised Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain and the Baltic.

Mike is survived by his wife Alison, sons Robin and Des, and three grandchildren.

NBK

Published in News Update
Tagged under

#COASTGUARD - Campaigners for the Clyde coastguard station in western Scotland have suffered a blow with the news that all calls are now being routed to Stornoway and Belfast as of last night.

BBC News reports on a document leaked to the Coastguard SOS Campaign, which outlines that while the Clyde station itself is scheduled to close on 18 December, control of aerials (ie helicopter dispatches) to the stations at Stornoway and Belfast was on schedule to be completed by yesterday evening (Friday 16 November).

Campaigner Dennis O'Connor said this move meant that "Clyde will cease to exist operationally" from last night.

He also described it as a "direct challenge" to concerns from the Transport Select Committee in Westminster that the closure programme had started early with the closure of Forth coastguard in September "despite assurances that the replacement system of operation would be fully tested before any closures took place".

However, a spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that the handover period "has been planned for some time. All the staff have been informed well in advance."

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the scrapping of the Clyde control centre at Greenock will see the loss of 31 jobs, with much of its role being taken up by the Belfast coastguard at Bangor across the North Channel - a change to the original plan for Scottish stations to share the load till 2015.

Published in Coastguard

#MARINAS - The new shore block at Stranraer Marina is the latest project to benefit from the Sail West initiative across western Scotland, Northern Ireland and the northwest coast of Ireland.

As the Galloway Gazette reports, the new waterfront building comprises a permanent harbour office, coastguard base, showers and toilets, as well as a community education room.

“The ongoing development of the marina is key to branding Stranraer as a marine leisure destination," said local councillor Roberta Tuckfield.

"Plans to add more pontoons and another breakwater should bring in additional pleasure craft, increasing tourism numbers benefiting the whole town.”

The marina improvements have been made with the goals of boosting the number of marine leisure users in Stranraer, fitting in with Sail West and its cross-border MalinWaters marine tourism brand across the channel.

Sail West is an international scheme, headed by Donegal County Council and Larne Borough Council, which aims to encourage mariners to enjoy the North Channel coastlines of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Other projects recently supported under the rubric of the Sail West initiative include the new coastal marina facility at Ballycastle Harbour in north Antrim and this summer's Clipper Festival in Derry.

The Galloway Gazette has more on the story HERE.

Published in Irish Marinas

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Marine wildlife experts are investigaing the causes of a mass stranding of pilot whales at Fife in eastern Scotland at the weekend.

The Press Association reports that 16 whales from a 26-strong group died when they stranded on a beach near St Andrews on the morning of Sunday 2 September. Three of those that died were calves.

More than 50 volunteers assisted members of the RNLI and vets from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) in refloating the other 10 whales at high tide yesterday afternoon, in what BDMLR co-ordinator Ali Jack described as "a fantastic effort".

Rescuers used specialist pontoons brought in from across Scotland as well as Newcastle and Cumbria in northern England.

According to The Guardian, some 24 whales from the same pod were spotted in the shallows further along the coast at Cellardyke and are under close observation.

A Forth coastguard spokesman said that vets would return to the beach this morning to carry out post-mortems on the whale carcasses to find any indication of what might have caused them to come so close to the shore.

The spokesman told The Guardian: "It is a very rare occurrence in Scotland and very sad. The usual scenario would be that the whale that is leading the group has become ill, or has lost its way, and gets beached and the rest will follow on, although we do not know for sure if that is what happened."

The incident brings back memories of last year's mass stranding of 44 pilot whales in the Scottish Highlands, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Twenty-five whales from that pod died at the Kyle of Durness, in a tragedy that mirrored the deaths of 33 whales in a similar mass beaching in Donegal in late 2010.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Page 6 of 10

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