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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: Befast lough

The 18-foot Waverley open racing yacht has for many years been a Ballyholme Yacht Club class, and those which are still sailing have been berthed in Bangor Marina, which from when it was opened in 1989 proved to be something of a haven for boats traditionally moored in Ballyholme Bay which occasionally over the years were subject to being hurled onto the beach by the big seas of a northerly gale.

But now they are leaving Bangor (albeit for a trial season) for Strangford Lough Yacht Club at Whiterock on the Lough's western shore, as their owners are finding berthing costs more than they feel they want to pay, coupled with the fact that they have no engines and moving in and out is tricky. They will be kept on moorings in Whiterock Bay.

Waverley IvanhoeWaverley Ivanhoe

The Waverley was designed by a complete amateur, John Wylie, who was a technician at Queen's University Belfast and Captain of the newly formed County Antrim YC at Whitehead on the north shore of Belfast Lough. The first three Waverleys were built in Carrickfergus, and first raced in 1903 at the opening of the new clubhouse.

The Centenary Regatta at Ballyholme was held in 2003 with eight boats taking part.

Over the years 18 were built, gunter rigged, and all named after characters and places in Sir Walter Scott novels. By 1907 there was a fleet of eight, two of which two still sailing today, Waverley no 5 and Lilias no 7.

 Waverley launch at Ballyholme YC circa 1973A Waverley launch at Ballyholme YC circa 1973

In 1962 the boats relocated to Ballyholme, by which time the fleet had doubled in size. Those joining the owner of Waverley, Mike Stevens, a former member of Ballyholme YC and now a member of SLYC at Whiterock, are Lilias owned by Jeff Gouk, Ivanhoe (John McCrea), Fair Maid owned by Ben Gouk and Steve and Anne Allen's Durward, which was built with a Bermudan rig in Bertie Slater's Shipyard in Bangor in 1948 and is perhaps the most celebrated of all. For as you can read here as told by WM Nixon in 1961, the MacLaverty brothers of Belfast – Kevin and Colm, both alas no longer with us – sailed around Ireland in Durward crewed by Mick Clarke from Lough Erne Yacht Club.

The Waverley Opening Day at Ballyholme makes headlines in the local newspaperThe Waverley Opening Day at Ballyholme makes headlines in the local newspaper

The then owners of Durward seemed to have a penchant for cross North Channel voyages as well, for in the same year (1961) after Winkie Nixon sold his Skal, and was taking part in the Schools and Universities racing based at McGruers of Clynder on the Clyde, Durward turned up and provided for McLaverty and Nixon the perfect ferry substitute for the trip back to Bangor though it was a beat all the way - a lot of windward work for an 18-footer.

There are now no Waverleys in commission in Ballyholme Yacht Club, and about those leaving the club Commodore Aidan Pounder said, "The Waverley class are very much part of our history, not just at Ballyholme but in Belfast Lough and will be sadly missed. We hope that their departure is temporary and very much look forward to their return to the shores of Bangor in the very near future".

And Kevin Baird, Marina Manager, said, " The Waverly class will always be welcome at Bangor Marina, and we wish those moving to Whiterock fair winds, following seas and a safe voyage".

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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