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It's 7000 km from the Caribbean island of Grenada to London and somewhat farther if you travel via Den Helder in the Netherlands, Carlingford Lough, the County Down village of Killowen and Bangor in North Wales. And this is how the Chocolate Maker NearyNógs on the edge of the Mourne Mountains forged close ties with Fortnum & Mason of Piccadilly in London, one of the oldest and most luxurious department stores on the planet, to help produce a 99% emission-free sailboat chocolate.

It is thus named because to transport the 25kg blocks of chocolate in a sustainable way as possible, the company looked back to its early 18th century roots and combined some old methods with modern green thinking to enable the 99% emission-free chocolate to be carried that 7,000 km. The chocolate's epic journey begins in the Grenada Chocolate Company's solar-powered factor in the West Indies, where the Trinitario cocoa beans are processed using zero emissions.

The Tres Hombres Tall ShipThe 30-metre engineless brigantine, the Tres Hombres Photo: courtesy Fair transport

So the first stage across the Atlantic used a 30m engineless brigantine, the Tres Hombres to carry the 350kg of chocolate, in 25kg blocks The ship is owned by Fair Transport. This company carries sustainable and organic cargo between South, Central and North America and Europe. Tres Hombres has become a shining example of the existing possibilities for alternative shipping methods, and she is the ambassador for sail-powered cargo shipping worldwide. Its destination was Den Helder in the Netherlands from where the chocolate began its second voyage on the T/S Britta, with Silvery Light Sailing under Capt Chris Wren, to Carlingford Lough on the east coast of Ireland where it moored close to Killowen on the northern shore.

But that was only part of the story. How to get the chocolate to NearyNógs? Now a team of volunteers heeded the call to transport the chocolate to the Neary family factory. The name NearyNógs comes from children's stories written by Johnnie Neary. Neary is the family name, and Nógs comes from the Irish Gaelic word Tír na nÓg, which means the land of the youth. This passionate team of volunteers used a Boyne Currachs Heritage Group's traditional open-ended clinker-built Drontheim rowing boat. After several trips ashore with the 48 boxes of chocolate, it was a bumpy 9 km by horse and cart to NearyNógs. There the chocolate was broken down into slates, tempered and packaged in recyclable, biodegradable packaging before the final leg of its adventure to Piccadilly.

Danish built ketch the Klevia The Danish built ketch the Klevia Photo: courtesy Anglesey Traditional Sail

The crew of the TS BrittaThe crew of the TS Britta

That final leg began with return horse and cart, and Drontheim trips to another boat, the Danish built ketch the Klevia skippered by Scott Metcalf, which transported the cargo to Port Penrhyn, in Bangor, North Wales. And to complete the virtual emission-free the final leg of this sustainable journey was entirely on land, using Fortnum & Mason zero-emission electric vans to Piccadilly.

Shane Neary, Neary Nógs chats to Gerry Brennan, Silvery Light SailingThe rowers (and the ship's dog) get ready to deliver another load of Chocolate slabs bound for NearyNógs Photo: Columba O’Hare

The mission was made possible with the help of the local charity Silvery Light Sailing and a hard-working rowing crew at Killowen. Silvery Light Chairman Gerry Brennan was delighted to help in the arrangements. "As a Newry based sailing charity, we were pleased to be asked help local Mournes business NearyNógs organise the emission-free transportation of their chocolate using traditional sailing ships. Being a part of the story of the journey from the Caribbean to the shelves of Piccadilly is beyond our normal outreach. Still, it was great to help promote the maritime potential and scenic beauty of Carlingford Lough and the Mournes."

Shane Neary, Neary Nógs chats to Gerry Brennan, Silvery Light SailingShane Neary, (right) of NearyNógs chats to Gerry Brennan, Silvery Light Sailing Photo: Columba O'Hare

President Michael D Higgins was welcomed onboard one of the world’s largest Tall Ships, the 270-foot-long Cuauhtémoc, which sailed into Dublin early this morning for a five-day visit to the capital. 

As Afloat reported earlier, the ship is berthed at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay for the duration of her stay, and open to the public to visit, free of charge, on the following dates and times:

Having arrived from Hamburg, Dublin is the second-last stop on the ship’s 250-day training voyage of Northern Europe involving visits to 15 ports in 10 different countries (Canada, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Colombia).

Led by Commanding Officer Captain Carlos Gorraez Meraz, the Cuauhtémoc is an official sail training vessel of the Mexican Navy which travels around the world carrying a message of friendship and goodwill. This is the Cuauhtémoc’s fifth visit to Irish waters since her maiden call in 1998. She subsequently visited the capital in 2008, in 2012 as part of the Tall Ships festival and again in 2015.

The Mexican tall ship opens to the public to visit, free of charge, from Friday 6th to Monday 9th September at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay (11am to 8pm daily). See more here

Members of the public visiting the ship this weekend will be able to get a closer insight into life on board for the 257-strong crew and inspect the fine craftsmanship of the vessel which has trained more than thirty generations of officers, cadets, petty officers and sailors, both Mexican and other nationalities.

Commenting on the tall ship’s visit, The Ambassador of Mexico to Ireland, H.E. Miguel Malfavón said; “For over 40 years, Mexico has enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations with Ireland built on a shared sense of history and strengthening cultural, academic and trading ties in the present day. The arrival of the Cuauhtémoc reminds us of the affinity and friendship that exists between our two nations and symbolises the hand of friendship from Mexico to Ireland. For most of the crew on board, this is their first visit to Ireland, marking a new generation of Mexican-Irish exchange.”

Encouraging members of the public to visit over the weekend, Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, said; “Tall Ship visits to Dublin are always a highlight and the Cuauhtémoc is no exception. This is a spectacular vessel and one of the finest working tall ships at sea today. I would encourage people in the city to take a trip down to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay to explore the Cuauhtémoc over the weekend and show her a warm Irish welcome during her stay. She brings a little piece of Mexico to our doorstep and it’s an opportunity not to be missed.”

Published in Tall Ships
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Dublin Port Company and the Mexican Embassy in Dublin have welcomed one of the world’s largest Tall Ships, the 270-foot-long Cuauhtémoc, which sailed into Dublin early this morning for a five-day visit to the capital. She is berthed at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay for the duration of her stay, and open to the public to visit, free of charge, on the following dates and times:

  • Friday, 6th September, from 11.00am to 8.00pm
  • Saturday 7th September, from 11.00am to 8.00pm
  • Sunday 8th September, from 11.00am to 8.00pm
  • Monday 9th September, from 11.00am to 8.00pm

Having arrived from Hamburg, Dublin is the second-last stop on the ship’s 250-day training voyage of Northern Europe involving visits to 15 ports in 10 different countries (Canada, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Colombia).

Led by Commanding Officer Captain Carlos Gorraez Meraz, the Cuauhtémoc is an official sail training vessel of the Mexican Navy which travels around the world carrying a message of friendship and goodwill. This is the Cuauhtémoc’s fifth visit to Irish waters since her maiden call in 1998. She subsequently visited the capital in 2008, in 2012 as part of the Tall Ships festival and again in 2015.

ShipShape6The Mexican tall ship opens to the public to visit, free of charge, from Friday 6th to Monday 9th September at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay (11am to 8pm daily). Photo: Shane O'Neill

Members of the public visiting the ship this weekend will be able to get a closer insight into life on board for the 257-strong crew and inspect the fine craftsmanship of the vessel which has trained more than thirty generations of officers, cadets, petty officers and sailors, both Mexican and other nationalities.

Commenting on the tall ship’s visit, The Ambassador of Mexico to Ireland, H.E. Miguel Malfavón said; “For over 40 years, Mexico has enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations with Ireland built on a shared sense of history and strengthening cultural, academic and trading ties in the present day. The arrival of the Cuauhtémoc reminds us of the affinity and friendship that exists between our two nations and symbolises the hand of friendship from Mexico to Ireland. For most of the crew on board, this is their first visit to Ireland, marking a new generation of Mexican-Irish exchange.”

Encouraging members of the public to visit over the weekend, Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, said; “Tall Ship visits to Dublin are always a highlight and the Cuauhtémoc is no exception. This is a spectacular vessel and one of the finest working tall ships at sea today. I would encourage people in the city to take a trip down to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay to explore the Cuauhtémoc over the weekend and show her a warm Irish welcome during her stay. She brings a little piece of Mexico to our doorstep and it’s an opportunity not to be missed.”

Built in the Celaya shipyards in Bilbao, Spain, the Cuauhtémoc was launched in July 1982. She was the last of four windjammers built by Bilbao shipyards and is named after the last Aztec Emperor who was imprisoned and executed by the conquistador, Hernán Cortés, in 1525. This is her fifth visit to Irish waters.

Published in Dublin Port
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A presentation ceremony took place in the Port of Cork to celebrate the achievement of 26 young people from all backgrounds and a range of abilities across Cork City and County who completed voyages aboard the Cork-Based Vessel Spirit of Oysterhaven and the Tall Ship Pelican of London during the 2017 season. These voyages were made possible by a group of generous sponsors including Port of Cork, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Dell, Ardmore Shipping, Enterprise System Partners, The Institute of Master Mariners and the National Maritime College of Ireland.

Four trainees from the City and County crewed the Pelican from Dublin arriving in Belfast after 12 days exploring around the Irish sea. The Pelican was due to call to Cork during this voyage but unfortunately was forced to turn back due to adverse weather. Another two Cork trainees sailed from Belfast to Liverpool and on to Dublin over 10 days. These trainees formed part of groups with up-to 28 trainees and mentors on each voyage which were part funded using EU “Erasmus +” funding and involved active educational programmes of youth development as part of “Youth Exchange” projects.

In addition 20 Cork based young people took part on two six day voyages on the gorgeous local vessel Spirit of Oysterhaven. These lucky trainees enjoyed the beautiful coastline scenery while sailing between Glandore and Cork.

The Cork Sail Training Bursary Scheme was established in 2014 to provide access to Sail Training voyages on tall ships and large sailing vessels for young people from the region. Now in its fourth year the scheme is one of the largest and most active on the Island of Ireland and runs in parallel with similar schemes now in operation under Sail Training Ireland in Belfast, Drogheda, Dublin, Waterford, and Galway. The participants are nominated through a network of youth and community groups in Cork and places are available to young people from all backgrounds and with all abilities. The scheme has supported approximately 80 trainees since 2014 and looks likely to grow from strength to strength over the coming years.

Also present on the day were trainees straight off the “Spirit of Oysterhaven” having finished their recent voyage today (day of event 1st of September), following 6 days at sea beginning in Glandore County Cork. The vessel was alongside in Port of Cork during the event and opened to visitors afterwards.

“Our young people returned to us not just with new experiences but new skills, new friendships and new directions for the future.” Cork Life Centre.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Brendan Keating Chief Executive said: ‘The Port has been involved with Sail Training Ireland for a number of years now and has supported many voyages for young adults. We feel this is a very worthwhile initiative for the Port of Cork which teaches seamanship, teamwork, personal development and importantly gives them an awareness of life at sea. We would like to commend all 26 of the young trainees today and wish them the very best for their futures.’

MC for the event was former RTE Radio “SeaScapes” Presenter Marcus Connaughton (Goodwill Ambassador for Sail Training Ireland) and the certificates were presented to trainees by Lord Mayor of Cork City Tony Fitzgerald, County Mayor Declan Hurley and Commodore Hugh Tully Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service (F.O.C.N.S.). The Naval Service is a strong supporter of Sail Training for young people as a stepping stone into maritime careers.

Published in Tall Ships
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Back in June I asked if there was sufficient joined-up thinking about the project for a new Irish tall ship – and why the Naval Service hasn’t taken a more active role in Irish sail training over the years, with advantages to itself, comparable to what the Royal Navy does in Britain…you can read that story here.

Neil O’Hagan, Executive Director of the Atlantic Youth Trust, organisers of a new national tall ship project, sent me an email saying that it is good to see discussion about the project so that it gets attention… but that “there is more going on than meets the eye…”

On this week’s Podcast, I indicate that I am glad to hear that, but I have reservations and will be convinced about actual Government support when I see it delivered…

Listen to the Podcast below…

Published in Tom MacSweeney

The up-beat mood of the weekend’s Galway Seafest was moved several notches higher by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, when he revealed at Galway Port that his government is broadly in favour of the concept of an all-Ireland sail training ship, which is promoted by the Atlantic Youth Trust writes W M Nixon.

The recent turbulence in Irish politics had induced a mood of pessimism about any implementation of this complex project, with some of the difficulties involved being outlined recently in Afloat.ie. However, we indicated the likelihood that, if such an idealistic scheme were ever to achieve fruition, then it would most likely be through the Enda O’Coineen-inspired Atlantic Youth Trust, whose Chief Executive, the popular Neil O’Hagan, has been quietly beavering away lobbying on the project’s behalf on both side of the Irish border.
neil ohagan2Neil O’Hagan of the Atlantic Youth Trust has lobbied tirelessly for a Tall Ship to Governments on both sides of the Irish border
For O’Hagan, the story from Galway by Lorna Siggins in the Irish Times is well-earned encouragement in his challenging quest. The Taoiseach said that sail training was “one of the areas where we could have North-South co-operation, and also very important cross-community co-operation”.

He acknowledged that many people deeply regretted that the sail training brigantine Asgard II was no longer available, but indicated that his government is well aware of the €16 million cost of a replacement. Nevertheless his own enthusiasm for the concept was in evidence, and he clearly stated that discussion about the new ship “’is certainly something we can engage in”.

varadkar ohagan3On board together. Aboard ship in Galway, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, Hildegarde Naughton TD, and Neil O’Hagan of Irish Atlantic Youth Trust discuss the possibilities for Ireland’s 40-metre Sail Training Barquentine

Published in Tall Ships
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Hello and you’re welcome to my weekly podcast on Afloat, based on my This Island Nation radio programme.

While debate continues – and so do efforts – to get another Tall Ship for Ireland – that would provide sail training at a time when there are some people questioning whether it is worth the trouble ... and at the same time Sail Training Ireland, as the National Sail Training Organisation, provides opportunities for sail training, I had a very interesting discussion aboard a 24-metre vessel which carries out this task, was built at a cost of stg£2.6m and was launched eight years ago with a 25-year lifespan.

This is the TS Jack Petchey where, through the good offices of James O’Brien who runs Monkstown Marina in Cork Harbour where the vessel was making a crew and trainees change/over, I had an interesting chat with Royal Navy Lt.Tom Forster in command.

You can hear him on my Podcast below as he explained how the vessel is operated by the Sea Cadet Corps, a national youth organisation sponsored by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy. It is the UK’s largest naval cadet force, with over 19,500 cadets and adult volunteers. It was founded back in 1856 and also operates the Tall Ship Royalist and other vessel.

Tom Forster told me about the vessel:

Now, why does our Department of Defence and the Naval Service not have a similar involvement with sail training? Wouldn’t a sea cadet corps, with a focus on the Navy be a valuable potential recruiting source?

Published in Island Nation
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The Irish Maritime Festival sails back into Drogheda Port this weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June) bringing its largest ever flotilla of Tall Ships including the Russian frigate Shtandart and the Earl of Pembroke.

Keen photographers can see the ships muster at the mouth of the Boyne (Maiden Tower, Mornington) at 11.30am on Friday morning, 9th June. The parade of sail will reach Drogheda’s iconic Viaduct around noon. Donor’s Green on the north strand is the ideal vantage point for photographers at this time.

Maritime highlights for 2017 include:

• The annual Boyne Swim takes place on Saturday 10th June. Starting at 12.50hrs, this challenging 2.7km tidal river swim is a hard fought contest for glory. Cheer on the 200+ swimmers as they race past the Tall Ships docked at the Maritime Festival.

• Perhaps the world’s most iconic fiddle player, Steve Wickham, will officially launch Fiddle Case Pier, a new pier that will allow recreational vessels to sail up and berth on the River Boyne.

• Howth Yacht Club have, once again, joined forces with Drogheda Port to stage the Howth-Drogheda Yacht challenge. Starting from Howth at 10.00hrs on Saturday, yachts are expected to arrive in Drogheda by 14.00hrs. This fun-filled race challenge is always followed by a weekend of fun and festivities for sailors visiting Drogheda.

• The largest ever crew of trainees to take part in the Drogheda Sail Training Bursary. The Bursary provides valuable opportunities for young people (16 and 17 years old) from the Louth and Meath to experience sailing. Exposure to sail training opens up career and leisure opportunities for life.

The award-winning festival, now in its fifth year aims to promote Maritime history and heritage in the north east. The festival also boasts a fabulous on-shore programme including live music, kids stage, food tastings and cookery demos and a whole lot more. Hosted by Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company, the Festival is proudly sponsored by Virgin Media. Visit MaritimeFestival.ie for the full festival programme.

Published in Drogheda Port

The Irish National Sailing School (INSS) welcomed their old friends on the Tall Ship Phoenix back to Dun Laoghaire Harbour today.

The Phoenix, operated by film production facility Square Sail, participated in last weekend's Dublin Port Riverfest on the River Liffey.

The two–masted brig is currently along side at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire for maintenance work to bottom timbers.

'It's 20 years exactly since INSS and Square Sail worked together on the D–Day beach scenes on the film 'Saving Private Ryan' in Wexford', INSS's Alistair Rumball told Afloat.ie

INSS provide marine production faciliies in Ireland and Rumball is currently working on the TV smash–hit The Vikings, as Afloat.ie previously reported.

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Drogheda Port's Captain Martin Donnelly have invited a wonderful new fleet of ships to visit Drogheda for the Irish Maritime Festival 2017 on 10-11th June.

“The visiting ships are the focal point of The Irish Maritime Festival and it is always wonderful to see people of all ages climbing aboard to explore these magnificent vessels. It’s so important that we offer a selection of ships each year to interest and excite our audience and this is our biggest offering of Tall Ships yet.” explains Capt. Donnelly, Harbourmaster of Drogheda Port.

He was speaking this week as he unveiled the line-up of ships visiting Drogheda this year.

“We’re delighted to welcome the Brian Boru, a sail training vessel based in Waterford. Drogheda’s first crew of sail trainees will arrive at the end of their voyage on Friday while the second crew will depart Drogheda on Monday.”

Perhaps the most impressing of all the ships sailing into Drogheda this summer will be the “Shtandart”. Commissioned by Tsar Peter I of Russia in 1703, the modern day “Shtandart” is an exact replica. Built in 1999, this magnificent 128m long vessel carries 10 officers and 30 trainees. The elegant masts will play host to the Peter Pan aerial acrobatic show during the Irish Maritime Festival.

He continued “We’ve an unusual new addition to the festival for 2017. Coming into service in 1965, the motor tug “Brocklebank” served for 23 years as a tug assisting cargo ships, passenger liners and naval vessels to their berths. She really has been a workhorse of the maritime industry. Now, in retirement, she resides at Albert Dock as part of the Liverpool Maritime Museum and we’re delighted that she’s making the journey to Drogheda for the festival.”

Captain Donnelly concluded “Others visiting Drogheda for the festival include “La Malouine”, an elegant Polish brigantine, the Danish schooner “Soteria” and the stunning “Phoenix”. “The Earl of Pembroke” a magnificent three-masted sailing ship will also dock at Drogheda Port and play host to the Stowaway Sessions, two intimate music gigs on Friday and Saturday night.”

Keep your eye out for the beautiful tall sailing ship “Maybe”, which was built in 1929, which will make a short appearance with another crew of sail trainees. This year there is a big focus on sail training at the festival with no less than three vessels carrying trainees. A special gathering and presentation is taking place at 6.00pm on Friday 9th June at Millmount Tower. Anyone interested in future voyages is welcome to attend.

Find out more about each of the ships by visiting www.MaritimeFestival.ie/Ships. The Irish Maritime Festival is hosted by Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company in association with Virgin Media. Find out more by visiting www.MaritimeFestival.ie and follow on Facebook and Twitter for competitions, news and festival updates.

Published in Tall Ships
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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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