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Baltimore Resident Donna McCarthy was angered by Afloat's article West Cork Sailing Dreamtime – Some Day, Summer will Come Again

Dear Editor,

This is my first time writing to you, though I enjoy reading the articles in Afloat on a regular basis. When I received the regular update by email this morning, I opened it with interest as usual. My interest quickly turned to surprise and then anger when I read the “Coastal Notes” by WM Nixon.

As a Baltimore resident, I am highly insulted at the inaccurate condescension that was published in the aforementioned article. While we are a coastal village that enjoys the maritime recreational activities written about in your magazine and welcome our seasonal visitors with gusto each year, we are not all dependent on the sailors that visit during the summer months to entertain us and keep us occupied.

I feel it was highly inappropriate that during a national and global health crisis, Mr Nixon felt he should belittle the excellent efforts the residents of our community are making to stem the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19. People’s lives are at risk and he writes, and you publish, in a national magazine that the Baltimore residents have nothing else to do but watch dogs defecate. I am confused as to why Mr Nixon feels the need to write an article about the fact that Baltimore residents are complying with Government Guidelines by staying at home, as are one-third of the global population at this time. Also, why is it that a journalist that writes about maritime matters feels he is suitably qualified to write a sociological study of a village, during a time he hasn’t even visited it himself (note this is an assumption that he is abiding by the rules and not travelling more than 2 km from his home).

I appreciate under the current circumstances of physical distancing it may be difficult for Mr Nixon to undertake the fact-checking that is required of journalists in this country, however, I would like to remind him, through you, of his obligation under the Code of Conduct adopted by the NUJ that “A journalist shall strive to ensure that the information he/she disseminates is fair and accurate, avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as established fact and falsification by distortion, selection or misrepresentation”. (This is assuming he has agreed to conduct his journalism in accordance with this code.)

To assist with offering a “fair and accurate” reflection of the activities of the residents in our village, I have set out a number of other activities that are currently taking place here:

  1. I am a solicitor working for a global financial services company and completed substantial multi-jurisdictional agreements while working from home in the centre of Baltimore village;
  2. My husband is a network design engineer for a UK telecoms company ensuring networks, including those required for the essential services, are continuing seamlessly;
  3. Parents are home-schooling their children while working full time remotely;
  4. Restaurants have adapted processes and are offering take away menus and delivery services, even where it was not provided for previously;
  5. Local crafts people are continuing to develop local art and crafts that will be sold online, and in physical shops when they re-open;
  6. The local grocery shop is remaining open and ensuring the village has sufficient food, fuel, and other household supplies;
  7. People are taking regular exercise within the permitted 2km area from their homes. This includes running, walking, swimming, cycling;
  8. Neighbours are delivering meals and grocery shopping to neighbours in need.

I could continue the list, but as I only have my short lunch break to write this email as I am extremely busy at work, I believe I have made my point on this matter. Suffice to say, daily activities of the people of Baltimore pretty much mirror those in other villages, towns and cities of this country, except for maybe we continue life with a better sea view than most.

On a final note, while I am not an animal expert but am the proud owner of a fourteen-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, I would just like to highlight that I am not aware of anything unique about the bowel movements of our canine pets in this village, and if Mr Nixon’s contacts in the village have the time to make online wagers on the matter I would suggest they find a new hobby to make better use of their betting skills.

As a responsible editor of a well-respected magazine, I would hope you are now considering retracting the published article, offering an apology or at a minimum requesting the author to correct the inaccuracies. If you would like to include my concerns and this email to you in the publication, in particular, to be able to give a balanced and true reflection of the facts, I give you my permission to do so.

Yours etc

Donna McCarthy
Baltimore Resident

Editor's note: WM Nixon made no reference to defecating dogs in his original article. However, we regret the offence caused to readers in Baltimore by the piece, which was intended to be a light-hearted reminiscence about Baltimore, a town described by the writer in his earlier, linked article as a "sailing paradise". Clearly, it touched a raw nerve in these difficult times and we apologise to all who felt offended by it.

Published in Coastal Notes
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In locked-down Baltimore in West Cork, the word is that in current circumstances, the most exciting thing that happens during the day is when a dog walks past, taking its sniff-busy morning walk up the empty street. Everybody goes to their window to watch this major event until the canine inspector has disappeared from view, and then they return to the task in which they’d been engrossed.

Those who are making some semblance of working from home for the first time are learning that for most folk, it ceases to be home once you have to do some supposedly income-generating task within its walls. Those social commentators who are predicting that our ways of working will see a marked change once the current situation has got back to something approaching normality seem to be unaware of this inescapable fact. Completely separate work-places are necessary for most people to work. That’s all there is to it.

bustling baltimore2Baltimore in more normal times on a sunny summer evening. Currently, the height of the locked-in day’s excitement is when a solitary dog walks up the road
For sure, there are those of us who have always worked from home, but as one of them, I can assure you that it’s not a way of life for everyone. And the basic reason we earn a meagre crust in this way is that we probably lack the social skills to function in an interpersonal situation at some sort of work-station with anyone within anything remotely approaching today’s mandatory two-metre social distancing.

"the most exciting thing that happens during the day is when a dog walks past"

In fact, we don’t want anyone in the same room, and one other inhabitant within the same building is all that is required to hope that from time to time, a cup of coffee or tea might appear, or a clever light lunch gets effortlessly rustled together with a chance that it might be enjoyed in the suntrap down the garden.

That said, we’re lost in admiration for those techno-whizzes who have invented ways of making the whole business of being house-bound more entertaining, and it’s said that in Baltimore they’ve now got an online sweepstake running as to when certain dogs will take their daily dander up the street. I’ve no idea if it’s true that some rogue elements have taken to releasing cats into the empty streetscape in order to upset some gamblers’ carefully made observations and closely-calculated predictions. But in times like this, all’s fair for a spot of entertainment and distraction.

Because with Easter plumb in the middle of April where it should be on a permanent basis, and with good weather a real possibility, people are going up the walls in holiday sailing places which would normally be springing to fresh life this Friday. So just to sharpen the exquisite torture, at the end of this piece there’s a link to a Sailing on Saturday blog from 2014 which seemed to succeed in capturing the flavour of Baltimore on a sunny sailing weekend, for it received a gratifying global response.

start round ireland3Typical start for the biennial Round Ireland Race from Wicklow. With nearly everything else announcing early cancellations for major events because of COVID-19, Wicklow SC are quite right to stay on track until the end of April, for it’s not as if anyone else will have an alternative programme in mind for June 20th
But before we go to it, let me just say that I think Wicklow Sailing Club is absolutely right in postponing until the end of April any decision on cancelling their 20th June Round Ireland Race. With every other major event falling over itself to cancel early, what alternative programme would potential Round Ireland Racers have in mind?

But enough of that – here’s Baltimore and West Cork in the summer of 2014, and though some things have changed, others are eternal in their charm.

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

Baltimore RNLI was called out yesterday afternoon (Friday 20 December) to assist a fishing vessel in difficulty off the coast of the West Cork village.

The all-weather lifeboat was launched at 1.16pm at the request of the Irish Coast Guard to assist an 18m fishing vessel with two people onboard, that was experiencing engine problems some two nautical miles south of Baltimore Harbour.

Conditions at the time were moderate, with a south south-westerly Force 3-4 wind, two-metre sea swell and good visibility.

The lifeboat with six volunteer crew onboard reached the casualty vessel just over 20 minutes later. Once the crew had assessed the situation, they established a tow and brought the vessel back to Baltimore.

Baltimore’s inshore lifeboat launched with four crew members to assist with berthing the vessel at the north pier once they had entered the harbour.

Speaking following the callout, press officer Kate Callanan said: “Whilst there was no immediate danger to the crew on board, the skipper of the fishing vessel did the right thing in calling for assistance from the Irish Coast Guard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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16-21 February are the dates to save for Optimist Spring Training at Baltimore Sailing Club in West Cork.

This year the class has teamed up with freelance dinghy performance coach Thomas Chaix to work collaboratively on training sessions to kick off the season — riding high on the international success of Oppy helms like Rocco Wright.

And at the end of the week the assembled Optimist sailors have their pre-trials regatta.

On the social side, IODAI has organised a movie night at Casey’s Hotel and an end-of-week disco with the opportunity for parents to relax and meet up for a meal.

Registration for 2020 Spring Training is now available online. For more details contact Mandy at [email protected] see the IODAI website.

Published in Optimist

RTÉ’s Fergal Keane will be at Baltimore Sailing Club next Saturday 7 December for the launch of a new book celebrating 100 years of the West Cork village’s RNLI lifeboat service.

Baltimore Lifeboat: A Community Story by Éamon Lankford is now available, priced €16, with all proceeds going to Baltimore RNLI.

Seascapes presenter Keane will be in attendance to host the official launch from 8pm next Saturday, and all are welcome to attend — while the author will be signing copies earlier that afternoon from 3pm to 4pm at Hickey’s newsagents in Skibbereen.

For details on how to get a copy of the book, contact [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Following last Thursday’s launch to a sailing dinghy aground on an island near Baltimore Harbour, the local RNLI crew were called out twice on Sunday (22 September), with the first to other boat aground in the harbour.

The inshore lifeboat was on scene in a matter of minutes after they were notified that the 14m sailing boat had run up on rocks at the harbour’s edge.

Volunteer crew set up a tow line to return the vessel to deeper water and, once it was checked over for damage, the lifeboat towed the yacht head to wind to let its crew set their sails.

Baltimore’s inshore lifeboat launched again at 3.36pm to assist a RIB with five people on board which broke down and was at anchor off Castle Point, near Schull Harbour.

However, while en route the lifeboat was stood down after word came through that the RIB’s occupants had managed to get themselves under way.

Elsewhere, in West Cork, Courtmacsherry’s all-weather lifeboat launched on Saturday evening (21 September) as bad weather unfolded to rescue a surfer in difficulty off Inchydoney.

As the lifeboat was speeding across Clonakilty Bay to the reported location, its crew were informed that the surfer had managed to get ashore safe and well.

Deputy launching authority Diarmuid O’Mahony praised those on shore who called for help for their quick alert: “Vital minutes today could have been so important in sea conditions that were very poor.

“I also want to commend all the volunteer crew who responded so quickly in coming to the lifeboat station in the knowledge that they were going to face some mountainous seas and difficult conditions off the coast.”

As previously reported, Crosshaven RNLI also launched yesterday to two sailors whose catamaran dinghy capsized in Cork Harbour yesterday evening.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Two people were rescued by Baltimore RNLI yesterday afternoon (Thursday 19 September) after their sailing dinghy was stranded ashore on Spanish Island near the West Cork harbour.

The inshore lifeboat was on scene within minutes, and quickly established a tow to take the 14ft vessel off the rocks, Baltimore RNLI says.

After checking for damage, the sailboat and its sailors were bought back to the safety of the pier in Baltimore.

Speaking after the callout, Baltimore RNLI press officer Kate Callanan said: “The sailors did the right thing in asking for assistance as they were unsure of how to proceed once the boat had gone ashore.

“They were both wearing lifejackets and were carrying mobile phones which they used to call the coastguard to alert them of their situation.

:If you get into difficulty on the water or along the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A motorboat that became propped up on pot buoys in Baltimore Harbour at the weekend made a direct call for help to the local RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat which was returning to base nearby.

The incident occurred on Saturday evening (7 September) after the Baltimore lifeboat had just completed a training exercise with the Irish Coast Guard’s Waterford-based helicopter Rescue 117.

Lifeboat press officer Kate Callanan said: “The skipper of the motorboat realised immediately that he needed assistance and as he had been watching the lifeboat and helicopter demonstration minutes before, he knew that the quickest way to alert the lifeboat was to call them directly on channel 16 on his VHF.”

Within minutes the all-weather lifeboat — with coxswain Kieran Cotter, mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Emma Lupton, Ronnie Carthy, David Ryan, Jim Griffiths, Ryan O’Mahony and Eoin Ryan — was alongside the 33ft motor vessel.

Another motorboat skippered by former lifeboat crewman Torsten Marten was also nearby at the time, and he was drafted to assist in transferring two lifeboat crew to the casualty vessel rather than having to launch the lifeboat’s Y-boat.

The casualty boat was then secured alongside the all-weather lifeboat and brought to the safety of Baltimore’s North Pier.

Callanan reminded all boaters: “It is vital for anyone going to sea to always carry a means of communication such as a mobile phone or VHF in order to raise the alarm should they require help.”

The callout came on the eve of Baltimore RNLI’s centenary celebration yesterday (Sunday 8 September), at which it named its new Atlantic 85 inshore vessel 100 years to the date since the arrival of its first ever lifeboat.

Elsewhere, Skerries RNLI launched on Thursday night (5 September) to tow a razor fishing boat with two on board that struck rocks off Red Island and damaged its steering.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI’s new Atlantic 85 lifeboat will be officially named Rita Daphne Smyth during a ceremony at the North Pier at 3pm this Sunday 8 September.

As part of the station’s centenary celebrations, the lifeboat, which was placed on service earlier this year, will be officially named exactly 100 years on from the day the first lifeboat, The Shamrock, arrived in the West Cork coastal village.

The RNLI says the new lifeboat has been funded by a generous legacy from the late Rita Daphne Smyth and replaces the station’s Atlantic 75 class lifeboat Alice and Charles.

The Atlantic 85 is the latest version of the B class, introduced into the fleet in 2005 — powered by two 115HP engines and with a stronger hull and greater top speed.

The self-righting vessel comes with radar and a full suite of communication and and navigation aids, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and flares for night-time operations.

Tom Bushe, Baltimore’s lifeboat operations manager said that to receive and name a new lifeboat during the station’s centenary celebrations was something special.

“Our volunteers and the Baltimore community are delighted and excited to name our new inshore lifeboat exactly 100 years on from the day the very first lifeboat arrived at our station. We are most grateful to the late Rita Daphne Smyth for her generous legacy which has funded our lifeboat.

“Volunteers from the local community have been crewing a lifesaving service here for 100 years and we will be proud custodians of this new lifeboat, which will go on to rescue and save many more lives in the years ahead.”

When Baltimore saw The Shamrock begin service in 1919, it was the fourth lifeboat station in Co Cork. Since then, Baltimore RNLI’s lifeboats have launched more that 940 times and their crews have rescued 867 people including 280 lives saved.

The Shamrock remained in service until 1950 when a new Watson class lifeboat, Sarah Tilson, was placed on service. In 1978, the Sarah Tilson was replaced by another Watson class lifeboat called The Robert, which was replaced six years later was replaced by an Oakley class lifeboat called Charles Henry. In February 1988, a new Tyne class lifeboat, Hilda Jarett, was placed on service.

In April 2008, a second lifeboat, an inshore Atlantic 75 called Bessie, joined the station to complement the existing all-weather lifeboat. In February 2012 a new Tamar class lifeboat, Alan Massey, replaced the Hilda Jarrett.

In July the following year a complete refurbishment of the lifeboat house was finished, leaving the station with state-of-the-art facilities.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A revival of interest in the traditional working craft of West Cork started in Baltimore in 1997 with the construction of the Noble Shamrock, a 33-foot long mackerel yawl built by Hegarty’s Boatyard at Old Court.

This was done from measurements taken from one of the last surviving hulls of her type, the Shamrock that was built in Baltimore in 1910. Three other craft of this type were built over the next few years.

Traditional 25-foot Heir Island Lobster Boats have also been built. In 1999 the last remaining boat of this type, the Hanora, built in 1893, was rescued, restored by Hegarty’s yard and re-launched in May 2014. Hegarty’s is the yard which restored the ILEN, Ireland’s last trading schooner, that recently sailed to Greenland.

BALTIMORE DISUSED RAILWAY STATIONThe disused Railway Station at Baltimore

Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival has become a national success. It includes shipwrights and maritime archaeologists amongst its organising committee.

With this has come the plan by CUAS, the West Cork Maritime Heritage Company formed by the village community, to turn the disused former railway station into a Museum of Maritime Heritage, with hands-on activities, teaching traditional boat building and sailing skills, maritime archaeology and rescuing and conserving traditional West Cork craft.

BALTIMORE RAILWAY SIGNBaltimore Railway Station sign

That station, a brick building, was once the most southerly railway station in Ireland when it served the thriving fishing village that Baltimore was. It opened in May 1883, but was closed in April 1961.

It was a base for Glenans sailing operation until 2013 but, unused since, has become the target of vandalism.

BALTIMORE WOODEN BOATS FESTIVALBaltimore Wooden Boats Festival

It is owned by Failte Ireland, but the local community group is frustrated. At first large amounts of money were being sought for the building. It managed to stop attempts to sell the station, pointing to the benefits which its plan to preserve West Cork’s maritime heritage would have.

Falite Ireland eventually agreed to hand over the building to Cork County Council, with the intention that the community group, CUAS, would turn it into the centre. CUAS says it is confident it can do this. But Fáilte Ireland has still not given a date when it will hand over the building.

A request to Fáilte for information was not answered.

CUAS says they are showing commitment by local people to their area and its maritime heritage in a “determined, positive way”.

It seems time that Fáilte Ireland would respond equally positively.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Page 1 of 16

 

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