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One of Ireland’s longest one-day sea swimming events will extend over a month this year, as the annual Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim goes “virtual” again.

The event in aid of Cancer Care West, which is now in its 16th year, raised a record-breaking 185,000 euro in 2020 when it was re-imagined to meet Covid-19 restrictions.

It would normally see 150 people crossing the bay one day in July, swimming 13km solo or in relay teams from Aughinish, Co Clare to Salthill’s Blackrock diving tower.

Since the swim began 15 years ago, a total of 740 people have transited the bay.

As with last year’s format, participants are encouraged to swim a total of 13km during the month of August – which can be broken up, and can take place anywhere in the world.

“The swim is much more than a fundraiser; it's the swimming highlight for so many across Ireland,” Cancer Care West director Brian Thornton has explained.

“Last year, the swimming community in Ireland and swimmers around the world as far as Australia took to the water and made the 2020 Galway Bay Swim one we truly will never forget, for all the right reasons,” he says.

“ We would naturally love to be swimming the bay in one day but until we can do this safely, this month-long event allows everyone to be part of something so positive,” he says.

"The monies raised will help fund support services for cancer patients and their families through our support centres ” he adds.

All year round swimmer Paddy McNamara says the event gives an opportunity to swimmers of all abilities to do something special for Cancer Care West.

“This challenge can be completed anywhere in the world so it would be great to see a local and international element to the event," he says.

Participants are asked to raise €100 for Cancer Care West and those who complete the challenge qualify for a Galway Bay Swim t-shirt and a branded swim cap.

Registration is open now here

Published in Sea Swim
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Galway City Sailing Club started in 2011 with two boats writes Sharon De Bhaldraithe. Now in 2021, as they celebrate its tenth year of sailing in the city, its fleet of modern boats include Argos & Picos, Optibats, and a host of boats owned by members with a dinghy park in the harbour to store them plus three supporting ribs in a hanger and a tractor for launching and recovery!

The club was founded by a group of dinghy sailing enthusiasts from Galway Bay Sailing Club and others who wished to bring sailing into the heart of Galway and who were encouraged and supported by the late Bobby Molloy and by Paul Colleran in the 10 years it took to realize their vision. The Harbour Master; Brian Sheridan, the Harbour Board, and John Killeen of Cold Chon generously provided the facilities to give the club a start. Because of this, the club has given many adults and children the opportunity to learn to sail over the past 10 years.

Furthermore, central to the ethos of the club has been the emphasis on the preservation of the marine environment and the instruction of the children on the importance of marine ecology. The aim and vision of Galway City Sailing Club continues to be making sailing accessible in the heart of Galway City, a city with a rich sailing heritage.

The club sees itself as an integral part of the development of Galway’s marine future with enhanced activity on the sea in the heart of Galway, providing sailing for all including for those with disabilities, and providing an attractive spectacle as well as serious training for the city's keen sailor. 

2021 has been exciting already with one of our founding members Nancy Roe getting the inaugural Irish Sailing Leadership Award, a brand new award to recognise leadership and vision. Nancy won the award on the basis of her long term commitment to making sailing accessible to all. Galway City Sailing Club will host (within covid restrictions) lots of activities on and off the water this our 10th year sailing in the city.

The Mayor of Galway Cllr. Colette Connolly attended our 10 year BBQ on the 10th of July and going out to 'try' sailing on one of our Argos, The Mayor was a great helm!

Surrounding clubs, CRYC, Galway Hooker Sailing Club, GBSC, Nuig Sailing Club were all in attendance to support our 10 years of sailing in the city for everyone!

Published in Galway Harbour

Galway Bay Sailing Club is expecting 50 boats or more to participate in the club's August's Lambs Week event that features sailing around the Aran Islands with stopovers in Rossaveal, Kilronan and Roundstone.

The event runs from August 19th to 23rd.

A group of Galway Bay volunteers are working on mooring blocks, berthing arrangements, racing handicaps and schedules, food and refreshments, safety, and fashion (polo shirts!).

More here

Published in Galway Harbour
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A Galway hooker restored with the support of a city publican has joined the local traditional fleet on Galway bay.

Réalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south Connemara, by the Cloherty boat builders in 1910.

It has been restored by Bádoirí an Chladaigh, one of the two clubs dedicated to Galway hookers in the city, with the help of Johnny Duggan of Taylor’s Bar.

Bádóirí an Chladaigh has been given the full use of the boat to add to a fleet of 14 traditional vessels.

Taylor’s Bar owner Johnny DugganTaylor’s Bar owner Johnny Duggan

“Since 2008, Bádóirí an Chladaigh has been given trusteeship of seven traditional Galway sailing boats within the community boat club,” the club’s secretary Peter Connolly says.

“ Of these, five have been built or restored or are in the process of being brought to full sea-worthiness,” he says.

Réalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south ConnemaraRéalt na Gaillimhe or Star of Galway was built in Indreabhán, south Connemara

“These seven traditional boats will be joined by seven private boats to create a fleet of 14 boats, and each will represent one of the Galway tribe families,” he says.

“The community of traders in Galway's West will be responsible for the yearly upkeep of the Galway Hooker,” Taylor’s Bar owner Johnny Duggan says.

“ There is a massive natural respect here in Galway’s for the sea and this age-old tradition, but this will help to reaffirm and re-establish these links again,” he says.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Porpoises, dolphins, fin whales, puffins and guillemots near the Cliffs of Moher...master of the new Aran island ferry Shane McCole promises much marine life on the new direct run between Galway city and Inis Mór.

The 40-metre vessel Saoirse na Farraige, commissioned by the O’Brien family of Carraroe, began its 90-minute sailing schedule last month as Afloat reported here.

Passengers leaving from Galway docks in the morning have the option of a return journey via the north Clare cliffs.

The 40-metre vessel Saoirse na FarraigeThe 40-metre vessel Saoirse na Farraige

Saoirse na Farraige claims to have “ the cleanest exhaust emission” of any ferry on Irish waters.

The vessel built in Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Hong Kong has a speed of 20 knots, and can carry 394 passengers – as in 306 passengers on the main deck, and a semi-covered space for 88 passengers on the top deck.

Shane McCole at the helm of the new Aran Islands direct ferryShane McCole at the helm of the new Aran Islands direct ferry

It is fitted with leather seating, a wheelchair lift, charging points and plasma screens – earning it the local nickname of “GoBus sur mer”.

It is almost 150 years ago since the paddle tug Citie of the Tribes run by the Galway Steamship Company took the same route from the docks to Cill Rónain.

The O’Briens of Carraroe, who took their first passengers to the Aran islands on the Galway hooker An Tonaí almost four decades back, are reporting brisk interest in the route. They are continuing the ferry service between Ros-a-Mhíl in Co Galway and all three islands.

Wavelengths took a run on the vessel and spoke to Shane McCole. Listen to Wavelengths here

Published in Wavelength Podcast

Tributes have been paid to the quick thinking of a Galway Bay Sailing Club instruction team for their rescue of a man from a car in the water at the weekend.

As Afloat reported previously, a senior instructor at GBSC worked with a 15-year old powerboat driver to pull the man from a vehicle.

The incident occurred at the club at Rinville pier near Oranmore on Saturday afternoon.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, the pair had been among a team tutoring local sea scouts on the water, and had been bringing two groups of the scouts ashore when the incident occurred.

“Callie and I were on the slip and showing the scouts some sailing knots, when we heard something smash through the railings and a car flew into the air and hit the water,” powerboat driver Cormac Conneely said.

“Callie immediately jumped into the rigid inflatable boat (rib) with me, shouted to the group leader to call 999, and I called to the rest of the team to get the scouts inside the club,” he said.

“The car was still floating and Callie got her sailing knife and jammed it into the driver’s window to stop it from closing,” he said.

“She then cut the driver’s safety belt, and we pulled him out through the car window and into the rib,”Conneely continued.

Fortunately, a separate first aid course was being run in the sailing club at the time.

A paramedic instructing on the course treated the man until the Galway fire and ambulance service and Galway RNLI arrived on scene.

The Shannon-based Rescue 115 helicopter had also been alerted after the emergency call.

The senior instructor threw her grapnel anchor and chain in the front window of the car to secure it.

With the assistance of a local Galway hooker sailor Sean Furey, who was on the water in a currach, they then towed the car ashore.

The 15-year old, who is a pupil at Coláiste Iognaid or “the Jez” in Galway, learned to sail with Robert McInerney on Inishbofin, and undertook a number of sailing and powerboat training courses.

Conneely’s dream is to join the Naval Service on leaving school, and to volunteer for the RNLI Galway lifeboat crew when he is old enough.

He emphasised that fellow GBSC instructors and assistants onshore, including Tom Ryan, Ben Schumaker, Ella Lyons, Veronica O’Dowd and Mattie Kennedy, were vital in dealing with the rescue effort.

His mother Teresita Nugent said she was very proud of her son, who had a long-held passion for the water.

Gardaí and fire brigade staff praised efforts of the instructors, as did experienced Galway sailor Pierce Purcell, who has had many years of involved with the Irish Sailing Association.

“ Having been involved with Irish sailing for some 50 years, I am very conscious of the contribution that it makes throughout the island of Ireland - not only with sailing clubs and training centres but scouting and disadvantaged groups,”Purcell said.

Read The Times here

Published in Galway Harbour

In the UK plans to save a "unique" D-Day historic vessel moored in Southampton have been unveiled - ending years of anxiety over its future, having as Afloat reported also spent a career tending to trans-Atlantic liner passengers in Galway Bay.

According to the DailyEcho, the tug tender Calshot has been bought by a maritime restoration company, which is drawing up proposals to restore the vessel over the next three years.

Tomorrow Calshot (was towed on 25th May) from Southampton docks to James Wharf at Ocean Quay at Belvidere Road.

(Afloat adds another former Aran Islands ferry, Naomh Éanna (see story) still remains languishing in a poor state in one of Dublin's Grand Canal Docks Basin's notable Georgian built dry-docks).

The Calshot was launched in 1929 and helped manoeuvre the world’s greatest ocean liners as they either entered or left the port.

In 1944 she was one of more than 7,000 vessels which took part in the D-Day landings.

She transported sections of the famous Mulberry harbour across the English Channel to France and also served as a “non-assault HQ ship”.

But the Southampton-built vessel was declared unseaworthy by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in 2017.

For years she was owned by the Tug Tender Calshot Trust (TTCT), which warned she was slowly deteriorating and should be moved ashore in a bid to preserve her for the nation.

For much more on this historic vessel, click on the story here

Published in Historic Boats

The Connaught Telegraph reports that Galway city councillors are tendering for a study on the feasibility of a new blueway for Galway and Mayo.

According to details on the State’s eTenders website, the proposed blueway would extend from Lough Mask to Galway Bay along the River Corrib and associated inland waterways, and include a zone some 5-10km inland.

The deadline for submissions is noon next Friday 11 June with the prospective contractor expected to conduct an analysis of the potential economic and social benefits of such a blueway, among other requirements.

Published in Inland Waterways

RTÉ News reports that gardaí in Galway are examining a list of missing persons in the city after the discovery of a body in the waters of Galway Bay yesterday (Saturday 10 April).

The grim discovery was made by a walker on the causeway to Mutton Island. It’s understood that the body, which was recovered in a multiagency response, had been in the water for some time.

Published in Galway Harbour
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With its new format and course recently announced, RWYC Round Britain & Ireland Race that calls to Galway Bay next summer entry opens this Friday.

Commodore of the Royal Western Yacht Club, Chris Arscott, said, “The new format now allows for either double-Handed or four-handed crews. As the RWYC was the first club to introduce shorthanded offshore racing in the world, it is in our DNA to continue to develop and support this discipline. We are introducing a 4-handed class to offer a step-change from fully-crewed to perhaps tempt others to join the ever-growing double-handed and solo racing world. Partial crew changes are also allowed in each stopover, allowing for more crews to enjoy this amazing race, if not in its entirety but to be part of a Round Britain and Ireland team.”

The course has also been revised to three stopovers which will offer a more balanced, accessible race both to the sailors and supporters alike. From starting in Plymouth, the venues have been announced as Galway, Lerwick and Blyth. The compulsory stopovers will remain at a minimum of 48 hours, allowing crews to rest, repair, replace (whether that be kit or crew), refuel and finally return in top shape to take on their next leg. Lastly, the race will do away with IRC certified handicaps and will instead revert to class splits on length overall.

"The race will do away with IRC certified handicaps and will instead revert to class splits on length overall"

Race Director Adrian Gray said, “Besides crew work, navigation is key to success in these races, so we are moving away from the IRC mentality and returning to our original format of classes based on Length overall as well as multihull and of course monohull. It is a format that we feel will attract real interest. We are also balancing the course to make the race more accessible, more comfortable and less of a time draw to the teams generally.

We have also received some interest from the 2 handed Olympic offshore hopefuls to join us.

After all, this is a race of 4 stages, all of similar leg lengths to that which will be on offer in FRANCE2024.”

The race starts on the 29th May, 2022.

Spaces are limited so do not hesitate in getting in touch with the RWYC team and express your interest to enter here

Published in Galway Harbour
Page 1 of 26

Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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