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Limerick solo sailor Peter Lawless has had further setbacks to his hopes of being the first Irishman to sail round the world non-stop and alone, as he has experienced renewed difficulties with his steering gear and rudder, which necessitated putting into port in Tenerife in the Canaries today with his Rival 41 Waxwing.

However, although he is frustrated in the hope of doing the non-stop from an Irish port, if he can get the necessary repairs made good, it is still possible for him to achieve an Irish “first” with start and finish in Tenerife, and he is determined to continue south when the work has been completed to full seaworthiness requirements.

Tracker chart here

Published in Solo Sailing
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After a three day, no-shore-contact stopover at anchor off Portimao in southern Portugal to sort rudder and electronics problems, Limerick’s Peter Lawless (52) is southward bound again in his Rival 41 Waxwing in his bid to be the first Irishman t sail solo round the world non-stop. Under the accepted rules of such contests, challengers are permitted to anchor in some convenient roadstead, but are not allowed to avail of any shoreside assistance whatsoever.

The problem with the steering was completely solvable, but it took time as it involved the clearing of lockers. However, the masthead units came adrift because of a broken bracket, and they are now operating from a new location at the cockpit. After the frustrations of endless headwinds once the Bay of Biscay had been crossed, the weather has now settled down, and currently there are fair winds the whole way to the Cape Verde Islands.

Track chart here

Published in Solo Sailing

Solo sailor Peter Lawless (52) of the noted Limerick voyaging family has met with mixed fortunes in Week One of his challenge to be the first Irishman to sail non-stop single-handed round the world south of the five great capes. Having taken his departure from Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary on Friday, August 21st with his Rival 41 Waxwing, he had to contend with winds from forward of the beam - sometimes quite strong - for a while, but then he benefitted for a few days from the northeasters which were making things tough for the Figaro fleet slugging their way from the Spanish coast back up to Brittany.

A special feature of his project is that although he has electronic equipment, he is navigating by sextant and paper chart in the classic style. On his way south, though, he particularly noted the high level of shipping on the Transatlantic route westward of the English Channel, and much appreciated the protection provided by the AIS system. But a problem arose when the masthead aerial serving it came partially adrift, and he had a painfully bruising time at the masthead bringing it safely down to deck level for temporary deployment from the cockpit.

The fact that the high-pressure area which normally sits in summer over the Azores has in recent days been settled over Ireland has interfered with the normal wind pattens between northwest Spain and the Azores, and he has been forced onto a more westerly course instead of being helped by the northerlies which usually blow off the coasts of northwest Spain and Portugal.

Waxwing is a well-proven veteran of world voyaging. Twenty years ago, Peter and Susan Gray of Dun Laoghaire were in the midst of a classic global circulation with this rugged little ship, in a venture which took them to many islands. This latest challenge by Peter Lawless is something completely different - more details here

Peter Lawless is facing an eight months solo sailing challengePeter Lawless is facing an eight months solo sailing challenge

Listen to Peter Lawless's recent podcast with Afloat's Tom MacSweeney here

Published in Solo Sailing

Peter Lawless hasn't time for anxiety as he makes final preparations for his solo sail around the world.

He has set Saturday, August 21, for his departure from Kilrush Marina in the Shannon Estuary.

Amongst those giving support to Peter is Cork-based artist Siobhan Fleming who says she was fascinated by his story of how he grew up sailing and describes herself as "artist not in residence" on his journey. She plans to create a series of art pieces in response to Peter's experiences, which he will be detailing via satellite phone and internet for supporters following his voyage.

The first piece, titled "And That Is Why We Go" reflects the journey into the unknown that Peter is taking.

This is the prize of a draw on Peter's website (peterlawlesssolocircumnavigation.com) that will be made on the evening before he leaves, Friday, August 20.

I last talked to 53-year-old Peter in June. He comes from a family of sailors, son of the late Pat Lawless from Limerick. The Golden Globe Race has been focused on by his brother, Pat.

Lawless estimates the trip will take approximately eight months nonstop. His yacht Waxwing is a Rival 41, she is a standard production offshore cruising yacht that he has upgraded for the challenge.Lawless estimates the trip will take approximately eight months nonstop. His yacht Waxwing is a Rival 41, she is a standard production offshore cruising yacht that he has upgraded for the challenge

At that stage, Peter worked hard to prepare his 41ft. yacht Waxwing for the voyage, which he is expecting to take about eight months. He is hoping to become the first Irishman to sail non-stop around the world and, since our last chat, has been putting in long days of preparation, determined to get everything right before leaving, which, he says, " will make life at sea that bit easier."

Lawless at Kilrush Marina in the Shannon EstuaryLawless at Kilrush Marina in the Shannon Estuary

He is my Podcast guest this week.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tagged under

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is backing Limerick sailor Peter Lawlesspending solo, non-stop round-the-world voyage on his Rival 41 yacht Waxwing.

While the charity has sponsored the yacht’s passive self-steering equipment, in return Peter — son of the late solo circumnavigator Pat Lawless — will be testing out the IWDG’s new reporting app for marine wildlife sightings.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, sightings and strandings can be reported on the new app by scientists, researchers, boat operators, wildlife enthusiasts and whale-watchers alike.

And Peter — who sets off from Kilrush on 21 August — aims to take the app into the unknown, potentially recoding sightings and even video updated from parts of the ocean that may have never been visited before.

The IWDG’s chief Simon Berrow recently caught up with Peter on Waxwing as he makes his final preparations for his remarkable unassisted voyage:

Published in Solo Sailing

A second son of the late solo circumnavigator Pat Lawless from Limerick has announced plans to follow in his father's wake and sail solo around the world.

Peter and his brother Pat, both based in County Kerry, are embarking on separate solo circumnavigation over the next two years emulating the world-girdling exploits of their father in 1997.

It's a feat that could see the siblings achieve the feat of being the first Irish sailors to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigations of the world.

Peter Lawless - solo voyage

Peter (52) will begin an eight-month voyage in August 2021, such timing that will mean he will be should be home before his older brother Pat departs for France and the start of the 2022 Golden Globe Race in September 2022.

In August Peter, who lives in Annascaul near Dingle, plans to sail solo, non-stop, unassisted around the world from Ireland back to Ireland via the five great capes, using a sextant and paper charts as his primary navigation tools.

Peter estimates the trip will take him approximately eight month's non-stop in the Rival 41, Waxwing, a standard production offshore cruising yacht that upgraded for the challenge. Check out his video below.

Peter Lawless on his Rival 41, WaxwingPeter Lawless on his Rival 41, Waxwing

As regular Afloat readers will recall, this will be the second circumnavigation for Waxwing. It was the boat used by Peter and Susan Gray two sailing adventurers of the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire who completed an eight-year trip around the world in the yacht in 2003.

Pat Lawless - Golden Globe 2022 Race entrant

As Afloat previously reported, Pat (66), from Ballyferriter, will be following Dublin sailor Gregor McGuckin, a competitor in the 2018 Golden Globe race, when he crosses the line of the 2022 race.

He aims to finish what McGuckin started in the 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe Race and become the first Irishman to complete a non-stop, unassisted solo circumnavigation of the world. 

Pat revealed the depths of his ambition when he told Afloat over the Christmas "I would not sail solo nonstop around the World, unless it was a race, that I had a fair hope of winning".

He says he is 'delighted' with his Saltram Saga 36, a 'safe and fast' boat, currently on the hard in Dingle Harbour, County Kerry.

Saltram Saga 36Pat Lawless's Saltram Saga 36 is craned out at Dingle Harbour in County Kerry. A lot of work done has been done to prepare the boat for the 20202 Golden Globe Race, but there is plenty left to do, says the Kerry skipper

Over the last six decades, Pat has amassed around 150,000km on the water between sailing and fishing. In the build-up to the GGR, Lawless is planning a voyage to Iceland this summer. 

"I will sail to the island of Jan Mayen in the Arctic next year, Going around Iceland on the way. Been over 25 years since I sailed there" he told Afloat.

"Hopefully, if COVID-19 permits I will sail around Ireland also, stopping in many ports," he adds.

Published in Solo Sailing

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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