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Dublin Bay Boating News and Information

Displaying items by tag: Rathlin Island

Santa Claus had to make his own way back from Rathlin Island yesterday afternoon (Sunday 19 December) after the volunteer lifeboat crew from Red Bay RNLI were diverted to go to the aid of a fishing trawler.

The 25-metre trawler with six crew on board was six miles northeast of Rathlin Island off the North Antrim coast in Northern Ireland when it requested assistance after its propeller became snagged in nets.

Thankfully the lifeboat crew were nearby as they had delivered Santa to Rathlin Island during their weekly training exercise.

Unfortunately, it meant that Santa had to take the ferry back to Ballycastle as the lifeboat crew immediately made their way to the trawler and carried out the rescue mission.

As the trawler had snagged its nets round its propellor, the lifeboat crew took the vessel under tow to Ballycastle in a four-hour operation.

Commenting on the callout, Red Bay RNLI coxswain Joe McCollam said: “We were sorry to leave Santa to make his own way home from Rathlin but we knew we were leaving him in very good hands with the local ferry crew.

“The snagged trawler was in some difficulty and the crew were not able to move the vessel. That area can be quite treacherous, and they needed to be brought to a safe harbour.

“Thankfully the lifeboat crew were nearby and able to bring them to Ballycastle. We also heard that Santa had a safe and enjoyable journey back from Rathlin and is looking forward to Christmas.”

Meanwhile, a Glasgow native who moved to Cushendall three-and-a-half years ago and has since joined the lifeboat crew at Red Bay RNLI is preparing to drop everything this Christmas if her pager sounds and there is an emergency at sea.

As the charity launches its Christmas Appeal, Hazel Imrie —who runs a hardware store in the town — is urging people across Co Antrim to help her fellow crew at Red Bay, Portrush and Larne and the thousands of other volunteer crews carrying pagers over the festivities to continue their lifesaving work.

Red Bay RNLI crew member Hazel Imrie with the station’s inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLIRed Bay RNLI crew member Hazel Imrie with the station’s inshore lifeboat | Credit: RNLI

“I joined the crew at Red Bay in February 2020 just before COVID hit,” Hazel says, “so unfortunately with the pandemic and restrictions, my training was disjointed, and it wasn’t until this year that I could focus on completing my assessments.

“I have always had an interest in the work of the RNLI and I knew when I moved here with my partner, who is from Cushendall, that I wanted to get involved because I could see how integral the service is to a coastal community. I wanted to give something back to the community that I was living in.”

With no prior maritime, sailing or boating experience, Hazel fully immersed herself into the rigorous training involved in becoming a crew member.

“I have valued the support of an experienced team and I have learned so much from others. Everyone has been so welcoming, and the training has been hands on, practical and a really enjoyable experience.”

Now as Hazel prepares for her pager to sound, she says there is a mixture of emotions involved ahead of her first callout: “I am excited but there is also anticipation and concern because you are going into the unknown, but I am also reassured because I know when that call does come, everyone else who turns up is experienced and will support me.”

Like Hazel, thousands of volunteer crew members around Ireland and the UK sign up to save every one from drowning — it has been the charity’s mission since 1824.

This Christmas many will leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble on the water safely returned.

Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period. But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

Hazel says: “This is my first Christmas on call and I know even over the festive period, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather can be at its worst and lives can be on the line.

“We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. We hope that this year’s Christmas appeal will show people just how tough it can be, but also that with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.”

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Rathlin is Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island. It has a population of about 150 and lies opposite Ballycastle on the world-famous North Antrim Coast.

Today (9th June) the marina in Church Bay is buzzing with yachts raring to start tomorrow (10th) in the 2021 St.Kilda Challenge organised by Ocean Sailing Scotland, Comann na Mara (Society of the Sea) and the Clyde Cruising Club.

This passage race of almost 200 miles will start five miles off Rathlin, renowned for its strong tides, and finish at the entrance to Village Bay on St.Kilda. The fleet will head out into the Atlantic, keeping the Scottish west coast Islands to starboard, with an option to divert inside if weather requires it. Keeping the UNESCO World Heritage site also to starboard, the passage race will round the archipelago and finish in Village Bay.

St.Kilda lies 40 miles west-northwest of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

The fleet is Golden Fox, Contender, InTuition, Polished Manx, Shenavall, Chorus and Clockwork. After the race, they will move on to Loch Maddy North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

Tagged under

The Rathlin RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds) has announced the Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre will re-open on Saturday 29th May in line with the NI Executive's indicative date for visitor attractions. This, of course, may be subject to review.

Rathlin lies about six miles off the North Antrim coast opposite Ballycastle and is reached by the Ballycastle -Rathlin ferry.

The Seabird Centre is four miles west of the Harbour on the site of the unique 'Upside Down' lighthouse. It can be reached by private bus, bicycle or on foot.

There are unrivalled close-up views of Northern Ireland's largest seabird colony and a chance to explore the lighthouse, part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland Trail. There is a 158-step descent to the viewing platform and lighthouse.

The centre is open daily until 19th September from 10 am – 5 pm (last entry 4 pm).

Published in Marine Wildlife

The good news for lovers of Rathlin is following the latest easing of restrictions by the Northern Ireland Executive, visitors are allowed to travel to the Island from Friday 23rd April.

Rathlin lies nine kilometres across Rathlin Sound from Ballycastle on the north Antrim coast and is Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island. The reverse L-shaped island is six kilometres from east to west and four kilometres from north to south. A small 40 berth marina lies in Church Bay on the south side.

Because of its geographical position, Rathlin has long associations with both Ireland and Scotland, and it once lay at the heart of the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada.

Whilst hugely crucial for breeding seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars, and more recently corncrake, Rathlin Island is also home to a unique 'upside-down' lighthouse at the western end. There are also many and varied walking trails.

Rathlin Ferry

For details and bookings for the Rathlin Island Ferry, contact 028 2076 9299 or email [email protected] between 08.30 – 12.30 and 13.30 – 17.00.

The winter timetable will be in operation until 28th May, and bookings can only be accepted. Information on businesses on the island can be found here

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Portrush RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched to reports of a yacht in difficulty off Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland last night (Friday 2 October).

The volunteer crew were in the water just before 9pm, half an hour after paging, and headed to the location of the single-handed yachtsman four miles north-west of Rathlin in moderate to rough seas.

Cox Dave Robinson and his crew arrived on scene at 10pm and established that the yachtsman was able to manoeuvre himself into Rathlin Harbour, on the island off mainland Co Antrim, but requested their guidance.

“The yachtsman did the right thing in contacting the coastguard as he was experiencing some difficulties getting into harbour, and we were glad to provide the support,” said Portrush’s new lifeboat operations manager Beni McAllister.

“We would prefer that people were safe than sorry and would ask that they dial 999 and ask for the coastguard if help is required.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Island of Rathlin in the Sea of Moyle off Ballycastle is now open to resident and visiting boat owners and overnighting is allowed. The ferry is also operating.

This popular destination is six miles long, one mile wide, "L" shaped and home to a slowly increasing population of around 140 people. Very strong tides surround the island. The pontoons in Church Bay will take up to 40 visiting boats. Water depth is good alongside but contact the Harbour Master directly for particular up to date hydrographical information.

Harbour Master John Moreton says that “ all visiting vessels must book in advance and will be asked to pre-pay, prior to arrival. This will secure a suitable berthing space and avoid disappointment. Anyone requiring fuel must also book in advance. Visitors are asked to adhere to current social distancing guidance and be aware of other users. Good hand hygiene will be essential, especially around common contact points such as handles and railings”.

A short walk from the harbour is the Boathouse Visitor Centre, where visitors can discover some of the exciting history, learn about present-day island life and see some artefacts from shipwrecks around the island. There are many enjoyable walks including along the shore to Mill Bay where you may see some of the resident seals basking or at play. Cycle hire is another way to enjoy the island or take a bus trip.

From April to July is puffin season so take the opportunity to see them along with many other sea birds.

The Harbour Master can be contacted for bookings at Rathlin on 07724594118 or at Ballycastle Marina on 028 207 68525/ 07803 505084

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Five people were rescued off North Co Antrim yesterday afternoon (Friday 30 August) when their 33ft yacht got into difficulty near Rathlin Island.

Red Bay RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat 1.20pm following a report that the yacht was struggling to make headway in difficult conditions at sea some five miles south-east of Rathlin.

Two of the crew onboard the yacht — which was on passage to Carrickfergus — were also suffering from seasickness, Red Bay RNLI says.

The lifeboat crew set up a tow and brought the vessel to Ballycastle. Speaking later, Red Bay RNLI press officer Paddy McLaughlin said: “Conditions at sea were challenging this afternoon and the crew made the right decision to call for help.”

Elsewhere, Clifden RNLI in Connemara launched its new all-weather lifeboat for the first time on Thursday afternoon (29 August) to reports of a RIB adrift and in danger in Ballinakill Bay between Letterfrack and Renvyle.

However, it was the D class inshore lifeboat Celia Mary which was first on the scene — where volunteers found two people on a 5.5m RIB with engine failure that was very close to the rocky shore in worsening weather conditions, with a Force 6 wind at the time.

Lifeboat helm Thomas Davis agreed with the two people on board the RIB that the vest course of action was a tow back to shore, which was safely completed.

Davis said: “We were glad to be able to help these people recover their boat today.

“We also wish to remind all water users in Connemara to contact the coastguard or emergency services at the earliest opportunity when things go wrong — we would always rather launch and be stood down than risk other possible outcomes.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A group of divers were rescued from their sinking boat by the Rathlin Island Ferry yesterday afternoon (Sunday 23 September).

Ferry skipper Michael Cecil told the Belfast Telegraph how he responded to the divers’ distress call while on his regular route from the Co Antrim island to Ballycastle on the mainland.

The divers were split between two boats separated by half a mile, one of which was filling quickly with water.

Cecil described “tricky” conditions trying to move his ferry alongside as even his own passengers lent a hand to the divers on board.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
Tagged under

#Shipping - The captain of a cargo ship that ran aground on Rathlin Island last week has been fined £1,000 over his negligence at the helm, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The MV Ruyter, which was en route from Russia via Denmark and Scotland, sustained extensive damage to the front of its hull after running aground on the north side of Rathlin Island on the night of Tuesday 10 October.

However the damage was not noted till the vessel arrived at Warrenpoint in Carlingford Lough the following afternoon.

At a sitting of Armagh Court, Judge Paul Copeland found that Aleksandr Iakovotsov had broken international shipping codes over failure to keep a lookout to judge risk of collision, and a separate charge of failing to provide sufficient lookout “during the hours of darkness”.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#EntersService – The new custom-built car ferry Spirit of Rathlin has finally entered service with a first scheduled sailing today on the Rathlin Island link with Ballycastle on the Antrim mainland, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Spirit of Rathlin built by Arklow Marine Services at cost of £2.8m entered the route which caters for 6 vehicles and 140 passengers. The 28m long newbuild directly replaced the ageing Canna which performed a final crossing last night concluding two decades of loyal service.

The introduction of Spirit of Rathlin is based on a 10 year contract to Rathlin Ferry Co. This was awared to the ferry company following a tender process from Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure (dfi) that funded the ferry. 

Spirit of Rathlin is a boost to islanders and tourists alike as the new ferry offers better accommodation in the form of a saloon lounge area (seating 42) on the main deck. On the above decks 1 and 2, there is additional seating outside to take in the scenic views across Rathlin Sound.

In terms of freight he ‘Spirit’ will have the ability to convey an articulated truck and the newcomer will not be alone as the is also the passenger-only fastcraft Rathlin Express.

Prior to today’s opening, as previously reported on Afloat the new ferry had undergone further works at Mooney Boats, Killybegs. The work involved the use of the Donegal yard's syncro-lift. 

In recent months, essential crew training was carried out before the Spirit of Rathlin was permitted a MCA certification. Also improvements to berthing infrastructure had to be completed in Ballycastle Harbour to accommodate the new ferry.

Published in Island News
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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