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Dublin Bay Boating News and Information

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2020 was a record season for the Dublin Bay Laser Class, and by all accounts, they’re expecting an even bigger season in 2021.

While continuous sailing has been difficult for all fleets since the start of the pandemic, the single-handed Laser fleet has fared better than most, and as a result, its popularity has surged. For the 2020 Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) summer series, the Laser had the highest number of entries compared with any other fleet, with over 90 boats registered. Entries were split across the Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs with both adult and junior sailors taking part.

Lasers are proving to be a very versatile boat, especially in these turbulent times. Local active sailors range in age from teenagers as young as 13 right through to adults in their 50s and 60s. The fleet is also very well balanced between female and male sailors with both genders across the ages competing as equals, particularly in the Radial and 4.7 rigs.

"with the constant changes in COVID restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience"

Local class captain Brendan Hughes explained why there is an expectation of even bigger numbers in 2021; “We’ve seen interest in the fleet continue to grow especially amongst adults. Many of these already sail cruisers but with the constant changes in restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience. We’re the only large fleet that has been able to get out on the water in nearly all levels of lockdown.”

As a competitive single-hander, Hughes acknowledges that the Laser can be perceived by some as a challenging boat to sail. “In 20 knots, the Laser can be a challenge for sure! However, there has been a lot of effort put into training across Dun Laoghaire. Right throughout the year, there is coaching taking place for beginners and competitive sailors at both junior and adult level.” The increase in coaching availability over the past number of years is acknowledged by many new sailors as being critical in making this class more accessible.

Dublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan HughesDublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan Hughes

In addition, constant adjustments to racing formats have helped to ensure the Laser fleet remains vibrant. During 2020, the DBSC dinghy race officers introduced Saturday racing in addition to Tuesday evening racing for the Laser fleet. This proved to be extremely popular and the Laser fleet was eager to see this continued in 2021. The club has confirmed that the format will continue for the new season of the AIB DBSC Summer Series with the entry fee covering both Tuesdays and Saturdays for all sailors.

A number of headline events in 2021 taking place in Dublin Bay are expected to drive continued interest from new sailors. The Irish Laser Master Nationals event will be hosted in Dun Laoghaire’s Royal St George Yacht Club from 12th -13th June. This event is open to all sailors over the age of 35 and the organisers expect to have 50+ boats from across the country participate.

A recent survey of local Laser sailors revealed that over 120 boats intend to participate in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta One Design Championship taking place 2nd - 4th July. “If even two-thirds of that number participate in this new format, it would be the largest one-design fleet on the water at this year’s event, which is very exciting.” says Hughes.

August sees the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) 4.7 World Championship coming to Dublin Bay. Local organisers are expecting several hundred youth sailors from across the globe to participate in this event. This event will be one of the biggest sailing events to take place in Ireland this year and is a great opportunity for our younger sailors to participate on the world stage.

Afloat also hears that planning has begun amongst the Masters fleet to send a delegation to Malta in November. EurILCA, the European Laser organisation is holding its Euro Masters Regatta at Royal Malta Yacht Club from 4th - 7th November.

With a mix of local, national and international Laser events taking place in Dublin Bay this summer, it sounds like another big year for the fleet. More information on Laser sailing in Dun Laoghaire is available by emailing [email protected]

Published in DBSC
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Howth Lifeboat Station Community Safety Officer John McKenna has been awarded a long service medal by the RNLI.

In 2020, McKenna (73) reached a milestone: 21 years of volunteering for the RNLI and saving lives at sea. 

He has been telling the RNLI’s own magazine about his decision to join the RNLI in the first place, his role and how influencing people’s behaviour can be a skilful and powerful tool in lifesaving.

John works as part of a team of six in the Community Safety Team at Howth, one fo Ireland’s busiest stations.

“We all work together to educate and give free water safety advice to everyone who visits the coast in our local communities, from walkers to sailors. As the Community Safety Officer, I lead and help coordinate the team, he told the magazine.

Every lifeboat station has a Community Lifesaving Plan which identifies the most popular water activities within a community so that volunteers like me can give relevant water safety advice to those most at risk. 

John told the RNLI “ I was at sea in a big cargo ship on the night of 9 December 1981 when the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne and her crew perished. It was one hell of a night. We made a collection from all onboard and sent it to Penlee. The tragedy also inspired me to become an Offshore RNLI member. 

Then 14 years later, on 16 November 1995, I was driving home from Belfast after spending a week on a ferry as senior officer. As I was coming into Howth, I could hear a helicopter. I drove along the harbour and saw the trawler Scarlet Buccaneer being thrown up and down the harbour wall and the lifeboat crew trying to save the fishermen onboard. It was horrendous. There was a full gale blowing. The next day I saw the wreck of the Scarlet Buccaneer in two halves. Thankfully, the lifeboat crew managed to rescue all four fishermen but sadly one died on the way to the hospital. I decided there and then that if I ever got a shore job, I would become an RNLI volunteer.  

More of the interview with John McKenna is here

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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If you think that life is tough under the current pandemic, then the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association has just the thing to put current national and personal problems into perspective, with a comprehensively illustrated Zoom talk by noted maritime historian Cormac Lowth on the tragic Palme Shipwreck and the Dublin Bay Lifeboat Disaster of Christmas 1895.

On Christmas Eve 1895, the sailing ship 'Palme' was wrecked in Dublin Bay. A lifeboat from the Dun Laoghaire Harbour station set to try to rescue the crew of the wrecked ship.

The lifeboat overturned and all fifteen of the crew were lost, with Christmas Eve 2020 being the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the tragedy. It is essential that we remember the sacrifice of these heroic men in their attempt to save the lives of their fellow seamen, and to appreciate the efforts of lifeboat-men everywhere, who go out - whenever the call arises - to help those who are in peril on the sea.

Cormac F. Lowth with be giving a profusely illustrated and detailed account of the shipwreck and the tragic events that followed on Thursday, January 14th 2021 at 8.0pm – please check-in at 7.30 pm, clicking on this link to join the meeting.

Lifeboat donations can also be made here

Two of 2021's early-season cruiser-racer sailing fixtures on Dublin Bay are up in the air due to January's lockdown restrictions. 

A new ISORA 'Early Season Series' originally planned for this month was to continue the offshore's body's successful 2020 coastal racing out of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. However, the current lockdown has put paid to those plans, leaving ISORA boss Peter Ryan to reschedule.

"We had planned for January but that's not going to happen. So, rather than cancel, we will reschedule those races into a potentially tighter programme as soon as possible", Ryan told Afloat.

The 2020 ISORA Coastal Series attracted a dozen or more entries and typically involved a race using virtual marks along the County Dublin and Wicklow coasts.

Ryan's offshore enterprise won him an end of the year gong. The NYC sailor took an Afloat Sailor of the Month Award in December for his success in staging an ISORA series in lockdown in 2020.

DBSC Spring Chicken

Meanwhile, following the total abandonment of its popular Turkey Shoot pre-Christmas event, the hope is that Dublin Bay Sailing Club will be in a position to run its Spring Chicken Series that starts traditionally in the first week of February. 

The series of six races are held on Sunday mornings and organised by DBSC attracting as many as 40 boats.

However, as COVID lockdown restrictions are set to continue nationally until January 30th, fears are that there is now every chance that restrictions could also impact DBSC's spring fixture too.

The popular Spring Chicken format features short, sharp races typically of around one hour in duration.

In a new year announcement, DBSC was named as 2021 Sailing Club of the Year for its achievements in keeping sailing going on Dublin Bay during the lockdown in 2020.

Published in ISORA
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Boaters in the capital's waters celebrated a bright but cold New Year's Day with several sailing cruisers taking a tack on Dublin Bay yesterday, empty except for three or four Dublin Port bound cargo ships moored in the southern bay anchorages.

There was some small dinghy activity too in and around Dun Laoghaire Harbour with a number of single-handed Laser sailors enjoying the chilly but good sailing breeze of ten to fifteen knots. 

Motorboats, including several RIBs and smaller sized runabouts, also took advantage of the winter sunshine and headed south from Dun Laoghaire Marina to nearby Dalkey Island for a quick spin, passing a steady stream of sea swimmers at the Forty-foot bathing place.

Boating Lockdown 

New Level 5 COVID-19 lockdown measures mean all organised sailing activity nationwide has been stopped.

In Dun Laoghaire, this led to the cancellation of DMYC's Christmas Cracker event and even January's RS Aero training at the National Yacht Club has been scrubbed in line with  Government guidelines.

Elite sport, however, is permitted and in sailing's case this is based at the Irish Sailing's High-Performance HQ but it is unclear how much training there will be at Dun Laoghaire with some of the squad scheduled for a critical winter camp in Portugal.

Live Dublin Bay webcam here

Published in Dublin Bay
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A “giant-size” towel collage has been spread out at Blackrock’s Seapoint shoreline in Dublin Bay on Saturday to highlight the need for action over Dublin Bay water quality.

Open water swimmers suspended hostilities over whether dry robes or towels were more socially acceptable to participate in the peaceful initiative - at a social distance.

SOS Dublin Bay, which organised the gesture, is calling for increased testing of bathing water quality.

It is seeking real-time reporting of results “in recognition of all-year-round bathing which has become more common in Dublin”.

SOS Dublin Bay chairman Gerry Jones said record numbers of people were now swimming in the bay all year round.

He said that “local authorities need to recognise this reality by ensuring that bathing water quality readings are provided on an ongoing basis to the general public”.

He said there should be regular publication of all appropriate public health guidance particularly when the water is polluted.

“Thousands of people are now taking to the waters in Dublin Bay every day, yet we are simultaneously witnessing the appalling spectacle of raw sewage being dumped into the bay at Ringsend after heavy periods of rainfall,” he said.

A scene at the Forty Foot bathing place during Winter 2020A scene at the Forty Foot bathing place at the southern tip of Dublin Bay during Winter 2020

“We can’t put people’s health on hold while we wait for a promised upgrade of the Ringsend sewage treatment plant which won’t happen till at least 2025,” he said.

There are “ creative interim solutions” at to prevent Irish Water dumping sewage into the Liffey estuary and onward into the bay, he said, and SOS Dublin Bay aims to publish several proposals in the new year.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acknowledged the risks to water quality after periods of heavy rainfall which result in overflow from storm drains and from the Ringsend sewage treatment plant, among other sources.

Rainwater run off at Sandycove Point on Dublin Bay from Afloat Magazine on Vimeo.

However, it says it is awaiting a review of the EU Bathing Water Quality directive before recommending any legislative changes to allow for greater frequency of , and more detailed scope of, testing here.

Under current regulations, local authorities are only required to test bathing water quality once a month between May and September. Some local authorities test more frequently, but results are slow.

The tests under the EU bathing water quality directive are limited to E.coli (EC) and Intestinal enterococci (IE), based on World Health Organisation research.

Dublin Bay Swimmers Call Truce in Dry Robe Wars in Support of a Cleaner Dublin BayDublin Bay swimmers call a truce in Dry Robe wars and lay out their towels in support of a cleaner Dublin Bay  - 18611 is the current number of signatures to the online petition for a cleaner bay Photo: One minute forty

University College Dublin (UCD) microbiologist Prof Wim Meijer explains that most E.coli are harmless.

However, VeroToxigenic E coli strains, contracted from ingesting water contaminated with animal faeces or from undercooked meat or contaminated salads, produce a powerful toxin which can cause “a range of symptoms, from bloody diarrhoea to kidney failure and may cause fatalities”

Prof Dearbháile Morris, director of NUI Galway (NUIG) Ryan Institute’s Centre for One Health, said current testing systems are outdated, as they only look for the total number of e-coli in a 100ml sample and not the detail.

A system for live bathing water monitoring named EU SWIM is at an advance stage, co-ordinated by UCD computer scientist Prof Gregory O’Hare and involving Prof Meijer.

The SOS petition is here

Published in Dublin Bay

The Irish Defence Forces say they will be conducting a military exercise in the Poolbeg area of Dublin Docks tomorrow morning between 6 & 9.00 am 

The exercise aims to test junior leaders in a Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) environment & will involve low flying helicopters, boats & pyrotechnics.

The 'public notice' was posted via the Defence Forces Facebook page.

Published in Navy
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There was plenty of sailing at Dun Laoghaire Harbour today as Laser, RS Aeros, Toppers and Optimist dinghy fleets enjoyed some great breezes even if a sea-fog reduced visibility for a time even within the harbour confines. 

Up to 30 dinghies were afloat at the venue for the ideal 16-knot north-westerly training sessions that also saw the National Yacht Club's Elliot six-metre match racing keelboats on the water as well Flying Fifteens.

The much-anticipated DBSC Turkey Shoot training for cruiser-racers did not take place on the Bay due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A safety RIB on patrol in Dun Laoghaire Harbour as Optimist dinghies are shrouded in mistA safety RIB on patrol in Dun Laoghaire Harbour as Optimist dinghies are shrouded in mist

The scene in nearby Scotsman's Bay with a view of Sandycove HarbourThe scene in nearby Scotsman's Bay with a view of Sandycove Harbour

Flying Fifteens sailing at Dun Laoghaire HarbourFlying Fifteens sailing at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Chris Doorly

Laser dinghies in the winter sunshine and mist at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Janet ThompsonLaser and RS Aero dinghies in the winter sunshine and mist at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Janet Thompson

Last night Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI lifeboat station’s inshore lifeboat was requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard to respond to reports of two missing divers near Bullock Harbour

The volunteer crew of three launched swiftly into the darkness at 11:06pm and made their way in the direction of Bullock Harbour arriving on scene at 11:15pm. The crew quickly assessed the situation and started to search the area around the outside of the harbour. The two casualties, who had been carrying out night diving training, were quickly located exhausted and trying to make their way back to shore having been caught by fast flowing currents.

The two divers were transferred on board and casualty care assessed by the volunteer crew. They confirmed that they were both very cold but in good health, they were taken ashore in Bullock Harbour aided by Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard Unit and then taken into the care of the National Ambulance Service.

Weather conditions at the time were described as calm with good search visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Nathan Burke Dun Laoghaire RNLI Helm said: ‘It has been Dun Laoghaire lifeboat stations busiest year to date, having been launched over 90 times with a dedicated crew turning up in numbers to every request. Tonight, was no different and our crew’s speedy response was a major factor in ensuring the outcome of this situation was a positive.’

‘The two divers and the other members of the group who were on shore did the right thing tonight by quickly contacting the Coast Guard when the two divers did not return to shore. The group also had the correct equipment for their training. Fortunately, both casualties are in good health. Our crew are very pleased with the outcome and happy to have safely returned them to shore’.

Richard Brydges-Beechey was one of those multi-talented people that the 19th Century produced in droves. Maybe they’d the time to be multi-talented because they didn’t have to spend time watching TV or using mobile phones or commuting or whatever, but the Monkstown, Co Dublin resident was such a good sailor and marine surveyor that he rose to the rank of Admiral in the Royal Navy, and he was such a dab hand with the artist’s paintbrush that he was elected to the Royal Hibernian Academy.

Noted Dublin maritime lore specialist Cormac Lowth is a Beechey fan, and he hopes to convey his enthusiasm in a zoom talk with the Howth Peninsula Heritage Society tomorrow (Tuesday) evening, but you’ve to be signed up by this evening – it's time to get the skates on.

Richard Brydges Beechey lecture

Published in Dublin Bay
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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.

© Afloat 2020

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