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The German Navy tall ship Gorch Fock has anchored in Dublin Bay and will travel up the River Liffey into Dublin Port tomorrow, Thursday, 22nd June 2023, for a visit to the capital, carrying a total crew of 182, most of them naval cadets.

Used as a sail training vessel for the German Navy, the three-mast barque is under the command of Captain Andreas-Peter Graf von Kielmansegg.

Gorch Fock will arrive on Dublin Port's Berth 18 by approximately 10 am on Thursday, where she will be met by the German Ambassador to Ireland, Cord Meier-Klodt.

As regular Afloat readers will recall, Gorch Fock last visited Dublin eight years ago, in September 2015, as Afloat reported here

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The Tall Ship Phoenix has been lying in Belfast Harbour for a year and is now offering the opportunity to take to the high seas on a famous old vessel, reports Belfast Live.

Built in 1929 in Denmark, Phoenix carries almost 100 years of history on its sturdy beams and decks and has hosted some famous faces down through the years. The public is being offered the chance to become a part of that history, with charter trips on the ship being available in May.

One proviso is if you want to get involved with pulling ropes and climbing the masts, you need to be reasonably fit, but otherwise, no sailing experience is required.

The Phoenix has starred in well-known TV series such as Poldark and the 2015 historical adventure-drama film Heart of the Sea.
The tall ship can host 15 people and she has five crew for chartered trips, including a captain, deckhands and a chef. Depending on weather conditions there would be the opportunity for excursions by dinghy ashore.

More information here 

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Friday night's RTE Nationwide Television Programme features three maritime stories at the start of the new year.

Young people learning to sail a Tall Ship on the Irish Sea will be interviewed on the Pelican on Dublin Bay.

Zainab Boladale reports on her day on a Sail Training Ireland voyage and the impact it has on the young people who take part.

There will also be a look back with some unique archive footage on the history of traditional currach building.

Underwater divers cleaning up our coasts also feature on the magazine programme on Friday, 6th January at 7 pm on RTE One and afterwards on the RTE Player.

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The Atlantic Youth Trust Tall Ship Grace O'Malley is now back in Belfast. The charity says will move to the Harland & Wolff shipyard for detailed scoping-out to repurpose the ship that arrived in Ireland this summer.

As reported in numerous articles in for many months now, having been bought in Sweden the 164ft (153ft hull length) three-master has been gradually introducing herself to all of Ireland.

Belfast concludes the round Ireland 2022 tour of the ship, which generated significant public interest. Over 5.000 visitors and youth groups went on board the ship at different harbours, beginning at the Foyle Festival on July 26th, debuting in Dublin on August 18th and Cork Harbour on the 26th.

Rather than rush into any work on the boat at this point, Enda O'Coineen, of the charity, says at this stage "all options are being explored with detailed scoping, costing and planning as our development team explore long term plans and essential core funding etc"

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When we remember that as recently as 1576, the most memorable visit to the Dublin area by the Connacht Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley resulted in her kidnapping of the heir to Howth Castle in a dispute about the hospitality - or lack of it - extended to the O'Malley crew, then perhaps we should be grateful that - so far - the only capturing caused by the arrival in Dublin Port for the first time of the Tall Ship Grace O'Malley has been of the hearts and minds of maritime-minded folk, who hope to see this new Atlantic Youth Trust initiative continue to develop towards complete success.

As reported in numerous articles in for many months now, having been bought in Sweden the 164ft (153ft hull length) three-master has been gradually introducing herself to all of Ireland, via the Foyle Maritime Festival, followed by time in Belfast, and then Warrenpoint last weekend before coming on south this week under the command of Capt. Gerry Burns to Dublin, where she has berthed at Sir John Rogerson's Quay.

It will be 2023 before the ship has been fully re-configured to accommodate a throughput of a thousand trainees annually. Their learning experiences can be adapted to include much more than traditional sail training in a committed acknowledgement by the AYT that nowadays, tall ships have to be multi-purpose in order to earn their keep.

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In recent days, we’ve seen celebrations honouring the super-star young sailors who have brought major international sailing medals of gold, silver and bronze home to Ireland and their rightfully-delighted families and cheering local clubs. These are sailors whose special talent has been identified and encouraged at an early stage in a broadly maritime sociological environment, such that they almost automatically qualify for inclusion and support in what we might call the Fast-Track Flotilla.

But make no mistake about it, there has to be a very special talent present in the first place. And there has to be a preparedness for dedication to a level of hard work at fitness, combined with an almost continuous devotion to practice, which would arguably amount to cruelty were it not for the fact that it is usually the young Special Ones themselves who are setting this personal career pace, and where necessary ruthlessly dragging their supporting circle along with them.

Letting them start young. Laser Gold Medallist Rocco Wright in his Optimist-racing daysLetting them start young. Laser Gold Medallist Rocco Wright in his Optimist-racing days

Nevertheless, there’s no denying that often they start from relatively special positions in the first place, and thus it is timely to take an overview of one of the routes into sailing available to those who may not come from a sailing background or who even - though it is rare in Ireland – live at some distance from a place where sailing is regarded as just one of many parts of the local scene.

While noted sailing schools – of which the all-encompassing Rumball family’s INSS in Dun Laoghaire is the largest – play a very praiseworthy role in bringing people into the sport, as do clubs with an energetic local outreach programmes, there’s no doubt that when the Sail Training Brigantine Asgard II was in her prime, she was uniquely placed to bring young - and sometimes not-so-young folk – into a state of natural sea-awareness.

When the going was good. Captain Tom McCarthy (foreground) with the crew of Asgard II in Coruna in 1990 after being declared overall winners of the International Sail Training Plymouth-Coruna Race. Photo: Ted CrosbieWhen the going was good. Captain Tom McCarthy (foreground) with the crew of Asgard II in Coruna in 1990 after being declared overall winners of the International Sail Training Plymouth-Coruna Race. Photo: Ted Crosbie

For Asgard II ticked all the boxes. She had a natural historical position, she was just big enough to be seen as the national flagship, she was instantly recognised in whatever Irish or foreign port she was visiting, and aboard her there was true equality in shared seagoing experience and the learning process. She was the living breathing camaraderie of the sea in one attractive and accessible package.

So when she sank - for still not really satisfactorily explained reasons - in the Bay of Biscay fourteen years ago, to be followed to a watery grave in Rathlin Sound two years later by the Northern Ireland 80ft ST ketch Lord Rank, despite the absence of any loss of life the Irish maritime community north and south went into a state of grief of such profundity that some of us still haven’t really got through the denial stage.

There are times when we really do believe that it’s all a bad dream, that Asgard II will sail into port in the morning. And beyond that, we find it difficult to accept that it seemed the Civil Service and most of the Government were glad enough to see Asgard II gone in 2008, as running a sail training ship does not fit easily into any Irish government programme, and at a political level there are proportionately very few votes – even in coastal areas – in promising to provide such a service.

But happily there are those who - instead of sinking into gloom – steadily moved into action, and the recent certificate awards ceremony of Coiste an Asgard’s successor Sail Training Ireland reminded us that at a more modest size, there are private-enterprise craft as diverse as the Limerick ketch Ilen, the ex-MFV Brian Boru and the chartered-in Pelican which provide berths for Irish trainees.

The former Brixham trawler Leader is a recent addition to the fleet in IrelandThe former Brixham trawler Leader is a recent addition to the fleet in Ireland

As well, from the north and lately seen in Dublin is the classic Brixham sailing trawler Leader, while for those whose offshore sailing ambitions are very specific, Ronan O Siochru’s Irish Offshore Sailing of Dun Laoghaire provides courses in Sunfast 37s which can culminate in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race, the Round Ireland, and the Fastnet Race, in which in 2021 they were top-placed Irish boat, and second – by minutes – in their class.

But while all this is well and good, the size of vessel in the established Irish-based sail-training fleet means that they’re lacking in what sail-training Dermot Kennedy of Baltimore – one of the original inspirers of the eventual Jack Tyrrell design – described as the “eye-popping” factor.

Way back in 1972 when ideas for replacing Asgard I were being tossed about, Dermot bluntly dismissed those who sought a modest-looking utilitarian craft by declaring their attitude was nonsense - the new ship should be an instantly-recognised clipper-bowed craft of significant size and classic appearance setting as many square sails as possible, and lighting up every anchorage she visited. And in 1981, he got his way. But in 2008, she was gone.

Enda O Coineen understands many things, but he has no comprehension whatsoever of the meaning of the word “No”.Enda O Coineen understands many things, but he has no comprehension whatsoever of the meaning of the word “No”.

However, for some years now a contrarian who could match Dermot Kennedy any day for stubbornness has been beating the drum about a proper sailing training for the whole island, and that is Enda O'Coineen with what was originally the Irish Atlantic Youth Trust, but now seems to be the Atlantic Youth Trust plain and simple, overseen by a Board of Directors well peopled with the great and the good, with Peter Cooke recently succeeding Olympic Gold Medallist Robin Glentoran as President.

Nobody can accuse the AYT of being impatient, as they researched the project for years at every level to come up with proposals which would provide a ship well able to provide useful educational services beyond straightforward sail training. And from time to time, Governments north and south – when approached – made encouraging noises.

The Believer. Peter Cooke has taken on the demanding role of President of the Atlantic Youth TrustThe Believer. Peter Cooke has taken on the demanding role of President of the Atlantic Youth Trust

But in the uncertainties of pandemics and the current political situation, the need for leadership through action became increasingly evident, so when a suitable ship became available in Sweden on the second-hand market, they dropped the idea of building from new, and went for it.

And though pessimists would suggest that we’re probably at the least suitable time in at least ten years in which to bring a proposed all-island sail training vessel to Ireland, there’s something about the Grace O’Malley’s very presence which seems to generate goodwill, and while she looks impressive in harbour, she looks even better under full sail.

All of this you’ll have read in various disparate articles in for several months and more now, but with the 164ft Grace O’Malley cleverly making her Irish debut in the recent Foyle Maritime Festival, the story is gaining momentum, and as’s Betty Armstrong reported yesterday, she has since being making a quiet but favourable first appearance in Belfast.

Grace O’Malley – as seen in Belfast last week – looks very well in port……..Grace O’Malley – as seen in Belfast last week – looks very well in port……

…….but she looks even better under sail and heading seawards…….but she looks even better under sail and heading seawards

Her current duty commander is Captain Gerry Burns, who hails from a fishing background in West Cork but these days lives in County Down. He was a regular relief captain for Asgard II, and his passion for the realisation of the full potential of Irish sail training is a wonder to behold, so there’ll be a fervent atmosphere in Warrenpoint this weekend as Grace O’Malley will be in port.

Thereafter, what could become a circuit of Ireland’s main ports is the planned progression, and it would be only right and proper to include a visit to the Sea Queen Grace O’Malley’s island base of Clare Island, not least because the ship has two O’Malleys from there – Brian and Owen - in her crew, and they don’t deny direct descent from the woman herself.

The circle completed - Operations Manager Brian O’Malley hails from Sea Queen Grace O’Malley’s home place of Clare Island, and is of course descended from the famous mariner.The circle completed - Operations Manager Brian O’Malley hails from Sea Queen Grace O’Malley’s home place of Clare Island, and is of course descended from the famous mariner.

In time, when fully operational next year, the Grace O’Malley will turn heads wherever she goes, and the programme will have developed to have a throughput of a thousand trainees annually. In Irish sailing terms, that’s a lot of potential seafaring talents, so who knows what new names of national and international maritime significance will emerge from the voyaging of the good ship Grace O’Malley. We wish her well.

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Dublin Port and the Embassy of Argentina in Dublin have welcomed one of the world’s largest Tall Ships, the 340-foot-long Libertad, on a two-day visit to Dublin. She is berthed at Berth 18, next to the 3Arena, and will be open to the public, free of charge, on Saturday 30th July, from 2 pm to 6 pm.

The Libertad last visited Dublin in November 2019 and is the first tall ship to be open to the public since before the pandemic.

Libertad lifts her anchor on Dublin Bay and heads into the Port for a two day visitLibertad lifts her anchor on Dublin Bay and heads into the Port for a two day visit Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Having arrived from Baltimore, USA, the Libertad will leave for Saint Malo, France, as part of its 149-day training voyage to 11 ports across nine countries (Brazil, Santa Lucia, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, USA, Ireland, France and Spain). Sailing with the crew are four Irish volunteers from the Atlantic Youth Trust. The volunteers boarded while the Libertad was anchored in Killala Bay and they have travelled with the ship to Dublin.

Libertad on the Liffey - the Libertad on the Liffey - This magnificent 340ft tall ship opens to the public to visit, free of charge on Saturday, 30th July 2022 from 2-6pm Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Led by Commanding Officer Captain Carlos Schavinsky Trinchero, the Libertad is the Argentinian Navy’s sail training ship and travels around the world carrying a message of goodwill. This will be the Libertad’s tenth visit to Irish waters since her maiden call in 1968. She subsequently visited the capital in 2012 as part of the Tall Ships festival and again in 2016 as part of her “bicentennial journey” to mark 200 years of Argentinian independence. This trip will include a trip to Foxford in Co. Mayo, the birthplace of Admiral William Brown, founder of the Argentinian Navy, to mark the 245th anniversary of his birth.

One of the world’s largest and fastest tall ships, the Libertad, arrived in the capital for a visit as part of the Argentinian Navy’s training voyage around the worldOne of the world’s largest and fastest tall ships, the Libertad, arrived in the capital for a visit as part of the Argentinian Navy’s training voyage around the world Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Members of the public visiting the ship on Saturday will be able to get a closer insight into life on board for the 289-strong crew and inspect the fine craftsmanship of the vessel.

Commenting on the tall ship’s visit, The Ambassador of Argentina to Ireland, Moira Wilkinson said; “This is a very poignant visit for everyone in our embassy, following the passing of my predecessor, Laura Bernal who passed away in 2020. For 75 years, Argentina and Ireland have enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations built on a shared sense of history and a mutual desire to strengthen our cultural, academic and trading ties. The arrival of the Libertad reminds us of the deep connection that exists between our two nations and symbolises the hand of friendship from Argentina to Ireland, and it is fantastic to begin another chapter of Argentinian-Irish relations. For most of the cadets on board, it will be their first visit to Ireland, which means it is a special opportunity to visit the birthplace of Admiral Brown and pay tribute to his service to Argentina and the Argentinian navy.”

Encouraging members of the public to visit over the weekend, Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, said; “Dublin Port welcomes the Libertad on her first visit to Irish shores since before the pandemic. The Libertad is a magnificent vessel and one of the finest tall ships at sea. I would encourage people in the city to take a trip to Berth 18 and visit the ship over the weekend. Argentina’s naval history has deep roots in Ireland and the Libertad’s visit provides the public with a unique opportunity to learn more about this fascinating piece of history.”

Moored at Berth 18, Dublin 2, just east of the 3Arena and the Tom Clarke Bridge, members of the public can hop on board and inspect this majestic vessel up close with 289 crew on board.  Pic. Robbie ReynoldsMoored at Berth 18, Dublin 2, just east of the 3Arena and the Tom Clarke Bridge, members of the public can hop on board and inspect this majestic vessel up close with 289 crew on board.  Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Built in the Rio Santiago shipyards in Buenos Aires, the Libertad was launched in May 1956. In 1966, she set a record for the fasting crossing of the North Atlantic using only sail propulsion (with a time of eight days and 12 hours) between Cape Race, Canada and the English Channel – a record that still stands today.

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Grace O’Malley or in Irish, Grainne Ni Maille, was the head of the O Maille dynasty in the west of Ireland. She is a well-known historical figure in sixteenth-century Irish history and in popular culture often referred to as "The Pirate Queen" as she is reputed to be one of the most famous pirates and was considered to be a fierce leader at sea.

Far from being a ‘pirate ship’, the Grace O’Malley is Ireland’s most recently acquired Youth Development Tall Ship and made its first appearance on the island last week at this year’s Foyle Maritime Festival following its purchase by the Atlantic Youth Trust charity.

The Grace O'Malley arriving in Derry Photo: Lorcan DohertyThe Grace O'Malley arriving in Derry. It is hoped the ship can become a floating embassy for Ireland Photo: Lorcan Doherty

She was greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic festival goers on Thursday last and moored alongside Meadowbank Quay.

The Atlantic Youth Trust Charity was set up to connect Irish young people with the ocean and adventure while developing sustainability and supporting and protecting the environment.

It was formed by private individuals and organisations throughout the island of Ireland to offer youths an introduction to life at sea and is chaired by Round the World sailor Enda O'Coineen,

The Grace O’Malley is a 164ft long tradewind schooner purchased in Sweden last month to introduce young people across the island of Ireland to a possible maritime career.

She was built as a timber merchant schooner in Denmark in 1909 and was launched in 1980 to host 100-day guests and 37 overnight passengers.

Trainees on the deck of the Grace O'MalleyTrainees on the deck of the Grace O'Malley

The Grace O’Malley left Sweden on the weekend of July 9th for its maiden voyage with its new owners. “It’s a stunning ship and even people who aren’t sailing enthusiasts will be very interested to see it,” explained Catherine Noone from the Atlantic Youth Trust.

“We’re delighted that the first appearance in Ireland is at an event as large and high profile as the Foyle Maritime Festival”.

The Grace O'Malley at Meadowbank Quay in DerryThe Grace O'Malley at Meadowbank Quay in Derry

“The Grace O’Malley has been bought for the young people of Ireland by the Trust to give them an experience of sailing and create a pathway to a wide range of maritime careers,” Catherine continued.

“We want the ship to be as accessible as possible and that is why events such as the Foyle Maritime Festival are so important in reaching out to young people and giving them their first introduction to life on board a ship. It opens up such a wide range of careers to young people and ten days on board a boat with us can also help develop key life skills and provide a much-needed change of perspective.”

Climbing the rigging of the Grace O'Malley at the Foyle Maritime FestivalClimbing the rigging of the Grace O'Malley at the Foyle Maritime Festival

After six days crossing the North Sea from Western Sweden, with 40-knot headwinds at times, the ship arrived in spectacular fashion in Lough Foyle and was piloted from the village of Greencastle on the north bank by Harbour Master Bill McCann, under the Foyle Bridge, the second longest on the island of Ireland.

O’Coineen asked the question, “ Would we fit under the Foyle Bridge?” With four metre clearance they did!

And the Grace O’Malley did prove a big draw at the Festival with a constant queue of people waiting to go aboard.

The schooner left Sweden on July 15 with 20 crew onboard. The ship was captained by experienced and renowned Irish Captain Gerry Burns for its voyage across the North Sea, North of Scotland and then southbound to Derry.

The Grace O’Malley is a Youth Development Ship for all of the young people of the island of Ireland. Young people will experience sailing, teamwork, a change of perspective and also create a pathway to a wide range of maritime careers. This is a project that can truly change lives. H77

As reported in Afloat in January, O’Coineen, a former Director of Coiste an Asgard, says "we have long since championed the need to replace Ireland’s lost sail training vessel the Asgard II in a dynamic and creative new way". It is hoped the ship can become a floating embassy for Ireland at events home and abroad, ranging from Tall Ships races to trade events while all the time fulfilling her core youth and reconciliation mission. It is understood that a " mini-refit" will be required to suit Irish purposes.

According to O'Coineen, she will need some cosmetic work on deck and will need to be repainted. Much of the running rigging, now several years old, will need replacement.

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Seas Your Future (SYF), the youth development charity and owner of the tall ship Pelican of London that works closely with Sail Training Ireland has acquired a second tall ship, the Fridtjof Nansen, to satisfy the increase in demand in recent times.

Sail Training Ireland has worked with SYF since 2016/17.  In 2022 they are undertaking 13 partnership voyages on Pelican with 300-350 young people from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Having the additional capacity of Fridtjof Nansen means more each year will benefit from their first sail training adventure, opening doors to possible careers in the maritime and environmental sectors.

Described as 'a huge and very historic step' for the charity it more than doubles the capacity for taking young people on sail training, maritime careers and ocean science voyages for personal and character development.

The ship is on its way from Germany to Albion Dock Bristol where it will undergo a refit throughout the Spring.

Daragh Sheridan, CEO of Sail Training Ireland said: “We have been delighted to work in partnership with Seas Your Future for six years. Their acquisition of Fridtjof Nansen will enable many more young people from Ireland to realise the benefits of a tall ship sail training voyage, which can be life-changing in some cases.”

Seas Your Future is a sail training charity founded in 2008 to support the development of young people, building resilience, self-confidence, and independence.

Its tall ship Pelican of London sails for 46-48 weeks each year with up to 35 young trainees and 12 professional crew and volunteers.

Fourteen years on it has purchased the Fridtjof Nansen, a ship of similar capacity and design as Pelican, to meet the growing demand for sail training, maritime careers and ocean science voyages. Sail Training enables young people to discover and extend their abilities, values, passions and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure, challenge and the unexpected. They take responsibility by becoming the ship’s crew, communicating and working together to ensure a successful journey, developing their character, resilience, self-confidence,
and independence.

SYF work closely with several strategic partners, the two most prominent of whom are:

• Ocean College for the 6-month winter transatlantic voyage: our fourth voyage on Pelican ended in Emden, Germany on Sunday 3rd April. The growing reputation of this annual voyage has increased demand massively, and the acquisition of Fridtjof Nansen will enable two ships to sail annually and twice the number of young people benefit from the educational adventure of a lifetime. It will also enable SYF and Ocean College to deliver shorter summer voyages for youngsters who may be considering the 6-month voyage.

• Sail Training Ireland: with whom SYF has worked since 2016/17. In 2022 they are undertaking 13 partnership voyages on Pelican with 300-350 young people from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Having the additional capacity of Fridtjof Nansen means more each year will benefit from their first sail training adventure, opening doors to possible careers in the maritime and environmental sectors.

Since 2018 SYF has offered voyages to young people interested a maritime career, working with training and skills development leaders to provide pathways into employment, and ocean science research voyages of particular interest to students and graduates of environmental and marine science and those who care passionately about the future of our planet.

The Fridtjof Nansen was originally built as a gaff-rigged freight schooner in 1919 under the name ‘Edith’ and has changed both owners and names on various occasions. The ship has a history of different activities, including transporting fresh produce, leisure, and towards the end of World War II the ship was used to transport refugees. In 1992 she was converted into a three-masted topsail schooner christened Fridtjof Nansen at the Peene shipyard by the granddaughter of the Norwegian researcher Fridtjof Nansen, Margret Greve, becoming the ship we see today.

Since 1992 she has delivered sail training for young people, including long term voyages on a tall ship. The first of those consisted of an eight-month world voyage in 1993-94, which was a first for a sailing ship from Germany, since the times of the Pamir and Passat. She sailed through the Panama Canal to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The homeward bound leg went via Cocos Island, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba and Bermuda, crossing the Atlantic via the Azores and returned to Wilhemshaven. 

On the 21st of March 2022 ownership of the Fridtjof Nansen transferred to Seas Your Future, fulfilling the wishes of the previous owners that the charity continues to use her for youth sail training.

Seas Your Future CEO Adrian Ragbourne stated: “We are delighted and honoured to become the new owners of the historic tall ship Fridtjof Nansen, which for 30 years has given thousands of young people the opportunity of a lifetime. We will be welcoming her into Albion Dock Bristol next week for a refit, which will double our previous capacity, enabling Seas Your Future to offer sail training voyages to more than twice the number of young people over the coming years. We have a full programme of sail training, maritime careers and ocean science voyages scheduled for this year, and the Fridtjof Nansen will be sailing for us from July. We are extremely grateful to our strategic clients and funding partners for their financial support, without which this great step could not have been taken. Please come and visit while she is in Bristol, and especially over the weekend of the Bristol Harbour Festival on 16th and 17th July when Pelican will also be there.”

The family who has been looking after the vessel for the last 30 years was looking for a new owner, keen to ensure that the work with young people continues. They were delighted to be approached by Seas Your Future, who have shown through their work with young people on the Pelican of London, since 2008, to be a reliable organisation. Looking forward the family believes this achievement will be enhanced by SYF’s acquisition of the tall ship Fridtjof Nansen. “It is excellent news for everyone, that the ship is doing something again after the long break caused by Covid and we wish Seas Your Future every success and look forward to the coming years with confidence”.

Johan Kegler, CEO of Ocean College, Germany said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for many more young people to experience the educational adventure of a lifetime. Our partnership with Seas Your Future has grown so successfully over five years and the reputation of our six-month winter voyages means that many more ask every year to sail with us. Having the Fridtjof Nansen available means that many more dreams will come true”.

The ship will be sailing into Bristol on 12th April. The Fridtjof Nansen will be located in Albion Dock Bristol next to the SS Great Britain, and at times will be open to the public.

Voyages on the Nansen are currently planned to begin in July with our partners Sail Training Ireland ( and Ocean College (

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Tonight RTE Nationwide will broadcast a feature on a planned new sail training tall ship for Ireland.

As Afloat first reported last October, the new ship is intended to replace the lost Asgard II.  

The 17-minute piece by Donal Byrne documents the first test sail by the Irish group in Sweden.

The Atlantic Youth Trust Charity chaired by Round the World sailor Enda O'Coineen, says the 164ft Tradewind schooner it has identified will act as the new ‘flagship’ for introducing young people across the island of Ireland to maritime and careers.

The ship is to be renamed the Grace O’Malley, after the so-called Mayo ‘Pirate Queen’. Built of steel in a modern structure, and elegant lines of a 19th century Tall Ship, she is considered fit for purpose to high safety specifications.

In addition, the Charity says the tall ship will have a key role to play in the areas of research, innovation, tourism promotion and providing a support outlet for vulnerable young people.

The charity is seeking funding from the British and Irish governments to finalise the purchase of the vessel.

Nationwide is broadcast tonight at 1900 hrs (Monday, 14th March).

Also read: WM Nixon's Ireland’s Hopes for a Tall Ship Are Running High

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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!