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Galway Sea Scouts Represent Ireland at Dutch National Sea Scout Festival

27th August 2022
Galway Sea Scouts at Nawaka, Zeewolde, Netherlands
Galway Sea Scouts at Nawaka, Zeewolde, Netherlands

The Galway Sea Scouts took a trip to Nawaka, the National Sea Scouts Festival in Netherlands as Damien McCoy reports

Like Disneyland for Sea Scouts is how one of our Sea Scouts described Nawaka, the National Water Camp they attended in Zeewolde, Netherlands. Held every 4 years and running for 10 days, the Sea Scout festival is one of the largest of its kind and this year, Port of Galway Sea Scouts returned with 27 Scouts and 8 Leaders to represent Ireland at the event.

With 7,000 Scouts and Staff on site, the Nawaka village had a real festival feel, complete with popup shops, exhibitions and activities to keep everyone entertained and provided for. The opening ceremony saw the entire festival flotilla descend upon the local harbour of Zeewolde, which was awash with the brightly coloured Lelievlet Boats that each Sea Scout group paints in their group colours.

Nawaka 2022 Opening ceremony, Zeewolde harbour

The Lelievlet has been the standard boat of the Dutch Sea Scouts since the 1950s, with its steel hull providing lower maintenance than wooden predecessors and its 6 person capacity ensuring that younger scouts have the opportunity to sail with and learn from their older crewmates. Its design also offers the opportunity for Scouts to gain proficiency in sailing, rowing and stern sculling all in a single vessel. Stern sculling was the required way to enter and leave port and it was amazing to see very young scouts powering boats out of harbour using this technique.

Galway Sea Scouts aboard Barbarossa and Grace O’Malley - Dutch Sea Scout Lelievlets

There was a previous effort to introduce Lelievlet’s into Irish Sea Scouting, but to our knowledge only two of the boats remain operational and are now based on the Shannon in Limerick City with 25th Limerick Scout Group since the withdrawal of sailing from the Killaloe Scout Centre. Given the suitability of this boat type for youth mentoring and participation in sailing, we’re now investigating how we can revive their use in Ireland.

The generosity of numerous Dutch Sea Scout groups also ensured that we got the use of Lelievlets for the duration of the festival, with many of the Galway kids electing to join Dutch crews, enabling them to learn the best way to rig and handle these unfamiliar boats.

Mixed Irish & Dutch crew aboard a Dutch Sea Scout Lelievlet

The exchanges went beyond nautical knowledge however, with our Scouts also learning about Dutch culture and building new friendships which will endure long after Nawaka is over. We’re expecting a few of the groups to visit Galway over the next year so that we can return the hospitality they extended to us and give them a chance to experience the mountains and ocean which is not part of their usual scouting program.

We also had a fantastic opportunity to provide the Dutch a taste of Irish nautical heritage as we brought Loveen, the Port of Galway Sea Scout Gleoiteog to Nawaka this year. Supported by a crew from Galway Hooker Sailing Club we were able to ensure that many of our new Dutch friends had the opportunity to experience sailing in the traditional Galway Hooker.

Aboard Loveen the Port of Galway Sea Scout Gleoiteog at the Nawaka 2022 Parade of Sail

An interesting feature of Sea Scouting in the Netherlands is the use of large barges, tugs and other retired commercial vessels by Groups as their Scout Den, many of which had made long trips through the canals and waterways of the country to bring the sailing and camping equipment required by their team. 

Dutch Sea Scout Tug boat, which serves as their Scout Den

Sailing events during Nawaka included the Vlettenrally, where Sea Scouts are challenged to sail the greatest distance in 8 hours, resulting in one crew taking the directions literally and making it half way to Belgium before being intercepted and brought back late at night by powerboat. Other days were spent by the kids honing their tacks, jibes and reaches, while other times they simply enjoyed the freedom of swimming off the side of the anchored boats as a way to cool off from the high temperatures. For many of them it was the first sailing experience outside of Galway Bay and the absence of our usual wetsuits, hats and gloves was welcomed by all.

The parade of sail towards the end of the festival involved the entire flotilla of Nawaka craft making their way up to Zeewolde for a night time display of lights, decorations and music for the families of Scouts and local residents who had assembled on shore to watch. Explorers Scouts, the equivalent of our Venture Scouts, provided entertainment on barges as we paraded past, including a rock band and disco.

Irish & Dutch mixed crewed Lelievlets, under tow for the parade of sail

Sunset at the Parade of Sail in Nawaka 2022

 Lelievlets under tow to join the Nawaka flotilla

 The 27 Sea Scouts who attended have all vowed to return in 2026, either as Scouts again, or in the case of the older ones as leaders and staff volunteers. Nawaka 2022 has ensured that they have not just expanded their knowledge of sailing and scouting and gained an appreciation of Dutch culture, but have also grown and developed the life skills they will need as they become young adults.

Flying the Ireland & Scouting Ireland flags at Zeewolde Scout Centre Marina

The trip would never have happened without the dedication, time and efforts of the Leaders and parents of the Port of Galway Sea Scouts, with Denis Murphy who worked tirelessly during COVID to ensure we made it to Nawaka worthy of a special mention.

Denis Murphy, Nawaka 2022 Camp Chief for Port of Galway Sea Scouts

If you’d like to find out more about Nawaka, please visit nawaka.scouting.nl and to learn about Port of Galway Sea Scouts you can find us at galwayseascouts.com

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© Afloat 2020

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