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APRIL FOOL!: Radical Solution to Dun Laoghaire Harbour New Cruise Liner Problem

1st April 2015
APRIL FOOL!: Radical Solution to Dun Laoghaire Harbour New Cruise Liner Problem

#sdls –  A new group, Save Dun Laoghaire Sailing (SDLS), has come forward with radical proposals for a re-configuration of the harbour in order to accommodate the proposed Cruise Liner Berth in the harbour, (plans of which were revealed on Afloat.ie last Thursday), while at the same time maintaining the town's pre-eminent role as Ireland's greatest sailing centre.

A spokesperson for SDLS said that the new group's proposals were still only at a very preliminary stage, but the extremely short time lapse permitted for objections or modifications to the Harbour Company's plan has meant that they have had to act in great haste. 

However, the spokesperson asserted that the harbour's thousands of recreational sailors are so concerned at some elements of the new plan - such as the rumoured intention to forbid boats manoeuvring under sail only, let alone racing, within the harbour – that they have had no trouble in recruiting supporters, and an ad hoc inaugural meeting in recent days instructed an acting committee to proceed as rapidly as possible.

The underlying thinking behind SDLS's proposals is that the areas of activity for the different interests within the harbour should be clearly delineated. "Good fences make good neighbours" is the group's core philosophy, and with this in mind they have proposed two new in-harbour breakwaters in order that the large area in the centre of the harbour, which is intended for use by the new cruise liner berthing facilities, will be walled off from other areas of the port.

This will be done by a new in-harbour breakwater from St Michael's Pier to the outer end of the present East Pier, and another small in-harbour breakwater closing off the present outer entrance to the marina.

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour with the Harbour Company's proposed Cruise Liner Berth occupying most of the space between St Michael's Pier and the harbour entrance

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Radical proposals from SDLS (Save Dun Laoghaire Sailing) include new Eastern and Western entrances to the harbour, and two new in-harbour breakwaters which will clearly separate the cruise liner areas from the recreational sailing and boating areas. In effect, three new harbours will be created.

 In order to make this feasible, the group has come up with the visionary concept of giving Dun Laoghaire Harbour two additional entrances. The new entrance to the east would be created by making a gap in the existing East Pier, and would inevitably be expensive, as this is exposed to onshore winds, and thus would require a very substantial sheltering breakwater. However, it would still be as cost-effective as possible, as this new Eastern Entrance would not need to be nearly as wide as the current main entrance, as that was created in order to be negotiated by the cumbersome sailing ships of the early 19th Century.

When Afloat.ie pointed out to the spokesperson (who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being) that a gap in the East Pier would result in the ending of the time-honoured tradition of South Dubliners walking the length of the pier on a Sunday, the response was that the demographic is such that an increasing number of South Dubliners are so aged as to be no longer capable of walking the entire length of the East Pier, and thus they would welcome the shorter walk to the lighthouse which will be provided by the new inner breakwater direct from St Michael's Pier.

A further question about the need for manoeuvring space for the cruise liners between their proposed berth and the East Pier elicited the reply that the Harbour Company have already made it clear that they will have to dredge a ten metre channel from the present main entrance to the new berth to serve the deeper drafted liners. Therefore the building of a new pier along the eastern edge of this dredged channel will not impinge on the cruise liners' area of access, and will moreover restrain small craft which might be sailing or racing in the eastern harbour from straying into the liner area.

SDLS is particularly enthused about the possibilities offered by he new western entrance. "For far too long, the West Pier has been more like the Wild West Pier than part of a civilised harbour," we were told. Now, with the new entrance, it will be brought centre stage, and those dinghy sailors from the RIYC, the DMYC, the INSS and the Coal Harbour who were formerly reluctant to venture into the open waters of Dublin Bay will find they have easy access to the relatively sheltered Bay waters between the West Pier and Seapoint.

SDLS conclude their initial policy document by pointing out that their plan would in effect provide the benefit of having three harbours where at present only one exists. And for further diversity, they suggest that the central commercial area for the cruise liners could possibly, in time, also accommodate some working fishing boats, as the colourful activity of hardy fisherfolk is much appreciated by cruise liner passengers 

As to the fact that the creation of two new entrances means in effect that there will now be two completely separate leisure harbours on the south side of Dublin Bay with their entrances one and a half miles apart, SDLS argues that this is one of the most attractive features of their plan.

"Sailing enthusiasts from places blessed with natural advantages and numerous little ports of call, such as Cork Harbour, are always bemoaning the fact that when you sail out of Dun Laoghaire, there is nowhere convenient to go to within easy reach. But thanks to our plan, we can now envisage that a boat which has to go to sea via the new West Entrance could go out for a nice sail in Dublin Bay, and then go visiting in the eastern part of the harbour through the new Eastern Entrance, and vice versa.

Having considered these attractive options, we don't see the proposed new cruise liner berth as a problem. On the contrary, we see it as an opportunity to make Dun Laoghaire a much more interesting place to sail from".

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Dun Laoghaire harbour largely as it is today, although the presence of the HSS ferry in port is now history and the contentious new library has been inserted in the tree-surrounded green space at right foreground. Photo courtesy ICC.

Editor's Note: Normally our April 1st special would be pulled at noon. But as virtually all plans for a totally artificial harbour at Dun Laoghaire, ever since the first ones more than two hundred years ago, have been initially treated as an April Fool joke, we think we'll let this one run. And further comments are welcome, for underlying the tomfoolery, a very serious situation is developing for the harbour's future.

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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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