Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough
In what will be a welcome decision by the Ballyholme Yacht Club, members will now be able to proceed, albeit slowly and patiently, towards a return to watersports.
Commodore Aidan Pounder has emailed members with the news that SportNI has specified in its Framework to guide progression towards a resumption of sport and physical recreation in Northern Ireland, that this includes swimming in open water and all forms of water - sports practised on open waterways – sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle - boarding and the use of motorised craft (in line with navigation authority guidance. He goes on to say “ I and indeed your Executive Officers fully appreciate that everyone wants to get back to some form of normality, but unfortunately, I don’t envisage this for some time. In the interim we will be embarking on a start towards this new normality with small steps, starting tomorrow (24th May) at 0900 hrs with the opening of our grounds and slipways”.
"A booking system to limit the number of sailors at the club has been implemented"
In order to make this safely workable, a booking system to limit the number of sailors at the club has been implemented within this link for 24th May, Monday 25th May and Tuesday 26th May. And within this document is the ability to book for other watersports sessions such as sea swimming, paddleboarding and windsurfing at specific times on Monday 25th and Wednesday 27th May.
In particular, sailing will be available for small groups in sessions, up to 12 can book per session, to be split between North and South parks and slipways. This is required in accordance with NI Executive guidelines. There will be no safety cover for the session
The Commodore continued “I must reiterate the guidance from the RYANI, who are correctly advocating patience to allow the necessary actions as required to be taken so that the environment is as safe as it can be for our Members, Staff and visitors”. And concludes by saying that “The Return to Water Team and Executive Committee are working hard for you and I hope that you can be patient with us as we move forward”.
A good news story tonight for berth holders in Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough. In a Notice to Mariners issued this evening (Monday 18th May), Harbour Master Kevin Baird has stated that it is planned to open Bangor Marina tomorrow, Tuesday 19th May at 1200hrs BST.
This follows today’s statement by First Minister Arlene Foster that the following is allowed:-
Outdoor activity where social distancing can occur, and people do not touch shared hard surfaces can also proceed’
It goes on to state that as the safety of berth holders, contractors, and the Marina team is absolutely paramount; to keep everyone safe and protect life, strict safety protocols will be followed. As previously mentioned in afloat.ie on 16th May, measures have been put into place to allow Bangor Marina to open safely. These protocols will be revised over time along the pathway to recovery.
Social distancing - practice and maintain 2m social distancing at all times. Please pass port to port on the pontoons, using the finger berths to get that extra clearance distance.
Access to the Marina is by fob only – priority must be given to those coming up the ramp and exiting the Marina. Please hold at the white lines and observe social distancing at all times.
To comply with Government guidance on not touching shared hard surfaces:-
Toilets & the Marina Reception will remain closed.
- Trolleys will not be available.
- Water Taps – Do not use the water taps.
- Do not stay overnight on board your vessel.
- Refuelling is by prior appointment only. Please adhere to the strict social distancing rules in place and ensure good hygiene practices including the use of gloves whilst handling fuel pump equipment.
It goes on to advise action to be taken if you or any member of your household is presenting with any symptoms of Covid-19 and what the quarantine requirements are.
It is stressed that other local harbours and marinas may not be open. And most importantly, the Notice states “We would strongly recommend that you do not undertake sea voyages at this time”.
The Notice to Mariners will be reviewed daily and the protocol will be updated when the time is right.
Mr Baird goes on to say on behalf of Boatfolk Marinas Limited “Your efforts, patience, and commitment to staying away from your boat throughout this unprecedented period have undoubtedly helped save lives and protected the NHS; and we thank you for that".
Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough may be closed but the Harbour is certainly not out of bounds to commercial traffic and the 120-ton displacement tug Coastworker arrived yesterday afternoon. She will tow the modular barge currently berthed alongside the commercial pier to the Clyde.
The barge was on charter to ABCO, a Lisburn based specialist marine civil engineering service working throughout Ireland, the UK and continental Europe. It was used in their dredging operation of the River Lagan.
It was demobilised at Bangor Harbour as part of a long-standing working relationship with ABCO.
Harbour Master Kevin Baird points out that “not only do we offer a sheltered and safe haven but provide essential services like fuel to Lifeboats, Police, Border Force, Royal Navy, Commercial Fishing Vessels and Pilot Boats.
The Coastworker is 19.5m long with two Caterpillar engines, a maximum speed of 11 knots and a bollard pull of 13 ton.
For those boat owners in Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough itching to have access to their boats and get afloat again, the latest communication from Dean & Reddyhoff and Quay Marinas will give some hope. They say that “we’re starting to hear whispers of positive news coming from the UK government. This means we can start firmly looking towards the future”.
Since closure on Tuesday 24th March, staff have been busy looking after the boats and working hard to keep the facilities and equipment in peak condition so that things are shipshape for the return to boating.
As soon as the lockdown is lifted, there will obviously be a huge demand for boat owners to undertake maintenance and repairs. The team at Bangor Marina understand the concerns of berth holders and have put in place a number of additional safety protocols that will allow authorised contractors to work on boats from Monday 4th May 2020.
Dean & Reddyhoff and Quay Marinas have said “ We’re acutely aware of how frustrating the current position is, with boat owners desperately wanting to gain access to their pride and joy. Please rest assured that we will be monitoring government directives on leisure boat owners closely so that we can reunite you with your boats just as soon as is safe to do so. In the meantime, we are continually checking and making sure everything is okay with all boats at our marinas, and we will continue to keep you updated”.
Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team on Belfast Lough was tasked on Friday afternoon after a member of the public contacted the Belfast Coastguard Operations Centre raising concern about an inflatable canoe with two people on board.
The team arrived on scene at the 'Long Hole' to meet the two young men and gave them advice.
The Long Hole is a disused harbour near the Eisenhower Pier, which practically drains out at low tide but fills to about two metres at high tide.
They had just taken ownership of the canoe and with the weather being sunny and warm, they thought it would be a good opportunity to try out their new purchase.
It was pointed out that they had little experience and had no lifesaving equipment. The rescue team thanks CGOC Belfast and to the member of the public for reporting it.
In this present COVID-19 situation whatever the activity on the water, there is the additional concern that if something goes wrong, however unlikely that may seem, there is the potential that it will put further and avoidable pressure on the emergency services.
Recent sightings include about eight dolphins (likely bottlenose) off Orlock Point near Groomsport on the North Down coast, heading north-west, and of harbour porpoises at Black Head opposite on the Co. Antrim coast.
You can watch the dolphins in the video below
A dozen porpoises were sighted in calm conditions, feeding, travelling and resting and heading northeast.
And had boat owners been able to go down the pontoons at Bangor Marina last Saturday they might have had a treat. The duty berthing master watched a mother otter and two pups playing on a pontoon.
The recent Notice to Mariners issued by the Harbour Master Kevin Baird states that the launching and recovery of paddleboards, jet skis, canoes, and kayaks are forbidden. The slip is to be used only by the Bangor Lifeboat.
The recent paddleboard launchings triggered the Notice to Mariners.
Kevin Baird said that “ when this terrible pandemic virus has passed, we'll be walking past people in the street whose very lives have been saved by our own sacrifices and our actions collectively” and in the Marina’s Facebook page the message is clear: “Please, please stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Keep those paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks dry until this terrible virus pandemic has passed.
No matter how calm the sea and no matter experienced you are, there is still the potential for disaster to strike or for an accident to happen. You will be putting our emergency services and our lifeboat crews into harm's way.
Don't be selfish, stay home, stay dry, by doing so you will protect the NHS and save lives”.
Betty Amstrong explores past boatbuilding ventures in Ballyholme in the seaside town of Bangor on Belfast Lough.
Did you know that before Enrico Caproni built his famous ‘Palais de Dance’ in 1928 on Seacliff Road that there was a shipyard on that site on the corner of Seaforth Road?
In fact, there were two businesses carrying out shipbuilding and associated work in Ballyholme. In March 1919 Chesney McCormick and Francis J B Connolly together applied for permission to build a ‘Workshop or shed of brick, roofed with slates’ on the west side of Seacliff Road. Connolly was an architect and civil engineer and the 1911 Census shows he lived on Bryansburn Road when he was 23. There are also reports of him being elected as a student member of the Ulster Society of Architects in 1906. In December 1919 McCormick lodged plans for a temporary ‘Boat house and Spar shed’ on Seacliff Road near College Gardens, a terrace part of which became the Ballyholme Hotel.
In 1920 and 1921 Connolly was advertising under the name Bangor Boat Building Works and in April 1923 McCormick and the Bangor Boat Building Works applied to build a ‘Wooden shop and dwelling’ on the south side of Seaforth Road. The launching slip for the yard was opposite and can still be seen today beside Ballyholme Yacht Club.
Pictorial records show that McCormick & Co had a shed where Kingsland Nursing Home is today, and this appears to be the location where the Shipyard business carried on into the future. It provided winter storage for the local racing yachts such as Dancers and Rivers and for yachts and motorboats up to 20 tons and built a launching slip opposite. It had a distinctive curve and is still there today. McCormick & Co didn’t last long and on 30th October 1924, the business was advertised for sale. The reason for the demise can be seen in a letter of reference from McCormick & Co in the Public Record Office in respect of a Robert Eddys of Ballymagee Street (High Street) Bangor, which shows that he was an ex-seaman and a rigger and was dismissed owing to shortage of work. The date is 24th October 1924.
Enrico Caproni may have foreseen the demise of the business on the corner of Seaforth Road for in June 1923 he submitted plans for ‘Refreshment Rooms and a temporary shop’. The Bangor Boat Building Works faded from record, but it is known that the slip was transferred to the sailing club at Ballyholme which at the time met in the clubhouse on Kingsland which is now the Table Tennis club. The slip can still be seen today at low tide.
The McCormick business was bought by a Mr. W J Lovett, who was one of the Senior Naval Architects and a Director in the Workman Clark & Co shipyard in Belfast. He called the business The Shipyard Company Ltd and in 1925 added a store. By this time Caproni had his café which he called the Mirimar.
In 1926 Mr Lovett asked Robert (Bertie) Slater, a naval architect in Workman Clark’s, to manage the yard. Prior to the liquidation of the company McCormick was building yachts of the Dancing class for Royal Ulster Yacht Club.
The completion of two Dancing Class yachts which had been abandoned was Bertie Slater’s first job. The yard also built ships lifeboats for the Port Line whose liners were being constructed by Workman Clark.
In 1930 the yard built one of the largest boats, a 50 ft passenger-carrying cabin launch for the Lough Erne Boat Co. It made the passage to Belfast under its own power and was then lifted onto a special railway truck and transported to Enniskillen where it was launched into Lower Lough Erne. The shipyard also built six-cabin cruisers for Hyland Ltd and in 1934 a 35ft Motor Yacht, the Moya, for Mr Lovett and to his own design.
In 1932 Bertie Slater lodged plans for an ‘Iron Shed’. He had married and settled in Ballyholme in 1928 and by 1937 he owned the yard. The late Thirties was a time of slump and little money and the yard struggled to survive. During the war, the yard was very busy with Admiralty work. In addition to maintaining a large fleet of patrol boats and trawlers, the yard built Torpedo Recovery Boats for Lough Neagh. Some of the boats in Bangor had escaped from occupied Norway, Holland, France and Belgium.
Towards the end of the war, Slater built 50-foot-long flat-bottomed Scows for magnetic minesweeping and 36-foot Harbour Launches, some of which were used at Arromanches, one of the D Day beaches. He was also asked by the Admiralty if he could build 112-foot wooden Minesweepers. For this, he identified a suitable site at nearby Groomsport and requested a grant of £10k for a slip, shed, winch and machinery, but was refused. Years later he was told if he had asked for £100k he would have got it!
Slater’s upper yard had a large shed for boat building and repairs. The rest was used for Winter storage and Spring fitting out of yachts and motorboats. The fact that boats could be driven ashore from their moorings in the Bay in onshore gales, provided the yard with extra business for repairs.
Slater subsequently built a sheet metal workshop to cope with Ventilation Trunking for mills and factories. The shipyard installed the ventilation ducting in The Tonic Cinema in the late Thirties. A second building shed was constructed alongside the original shed to cope with RNLI repairs and maintenance.
After the war Slater designed the S Class cruiser, a superb affordable sailing yacht built in the traditional way by skilled craftsmen. The S-class boats are sturdy cruisers, well suited to Irish and Scottish waters. Many of these yachts are still sailing today.
In 1958 Bruce Cowley, who had retired from HMRC, bought the yard. Cowley continued the S Class production, making a total of 22 built in Bangor between 1946 and 1964. He also built well-known large cruising yachts; Jaynor for Ivan Selig built with the Fastnet race in mind, the famous Duncrue for Sean McNeill, and Trasna of Ely for the Duke of Westminster on Lough Erne.
In 1969 the yard was in receivership and Frank Smyth, who at this time owned a small boatyard in Donaghadee and a chandlery in Bangor, bought the business and for a time traded as Bangor Yacht Supply Co. In 1975 it became Bangor Shipyard Ltd. When Frank started the workshop had an earthen floor and very old equipment which he replaced with gear from the Donaghadee workshop.
His venture into boat building began with three small wooden punts and then with the introduction of fibreglass, Smyth made his own small dinghy moulds and began producing them. He subsequently shipped in fibreglass hulls from England and fitted them out. These he sold in the small chandlery in Bangor. The first big job in the Shipyard was repairing Velia for the well-known hotelier, George Ralston and the yard was also recognized for the repair of the Donaghadee, Aranmore, Cloughey and Portrush lifeboats. The lifeboat work was suspended by the RNLI for fear of terrorist action (this was during the Troubles) but Smyth grasped the opportunity and obtained the contract for repairing two pilot boats from Carrickfergus which were damaged by an explosion.
Up until this time Smyth had to lay rails in sections on the road on which to make the transfer from the yard to the slip, which took at least an hour. Frank approached the then Town Surveyor, Martin Gray, who persuaded the Council to allow rails to be embedded in concrete in the road to make the movement smoother and easier. On one notable occasion, the Seacliff Road had been blocked when the concrete rail bedding collapsed due to the fishplates not having been fitted properly!
Another improvement resulted from the purchase of a secondhand winch (which was to have been scrapped) from the Belfast aerospace company Short Bros for £25 and an ex RAF tractor bought in an auction for £100. Frank also acquired a hydraulic crane and for several years, Fred, the crane driver was in demand across the country for lifting boats.
Building and repairing fishing boats formed a substantial part of the business. This developed into a full-blown boat building business with a sizeable workforce. Many of the names will be familiar to seafarers – Elias Scott (Scottie) who was awarded a BEM, Willie Harvey, Ken Bewley, Jimmy Hamilton and Norman Henry. Government grants for fishing boats made the financial situation easier and this part of the yard flourished for about ten years. At this point Smyth was building larger fishing boats of 70 feet in length and to accommodate these he demolished the old shed and built a larger one. The maintenance and refurbishment of RNLI lifeboats also formed a large part of the business.
Among the many fishing boats Smyth fitted out was the 30-ton Ros Mor for local fisherman, the late Jack Miller. The Fragrant Cloud, Xmas Star and the Jubilee Star, the Sarna and the Iona were other craft among many. The latter was built for Tommy Cecil of Rathlin. It was the first fully decked ferry boat built for trade between Ballycastle and Rathlin. Subsequently, to Frank’s surprise, Tommy asked for the decks to be strengthened. It turned out he was carrying cattle, cars and caravans!
By this time the Government had built sophisticated slips at Kilkeel and Portavogie, wooden construction was diminishing, and grants were cut, all making boatbuilding difficult. Then came Bangor Marina. Smyth was invited to tender for the Bangor boatyard contract, but for him this was unworkable and as boatbuilding at Ballyholme was no longer viable and the yard closed in 1991.
The author acknowledges the help in gathering this information of Ronnie Slater, son of one of the owners and Frank Smyth, the last owner of the yard. Also, of Leanne Briggs of North Down Museum, and of the Public Record Office
The clapping for carers expression of support during the COVID-19 emergency was repeated at 8 pm last night across Northern Ireland and included applause for NHS workers, as well as the frontline staff who work in the docks – hauliers, stevedores and harbour police.
Ships sounded their horns, boosting the noise and Titanic Belfast, in its prominent location beside the River Lagan, and the City Hall were lit up in blue as a tribute the healthcare workers. It looks as if this expression of appreciation will be repeated weekly.
More from the Irish News here
The second Women on Water Festival will take place at Carrickfergus Sailing Club with Belfast Lough Sailability on 6 June 2020, bringing together women from right across NI as they take to the water.
The first festival was held in September 2019 and was a huge success. Around 50 women gathered at Strangford Lough Yacht Club, from first-timers to lifelong sailors.
The festival is open to like-minded women who have been involved in sailing from a young age or as part of the recent Women on Water programmes.
The Women on Water programme runs at clubs across Northern Ireland and sees women taking part in a four-week programme to learn the basics of sailing, as well as making new friends along the way. It is a low cost programme and is open to women of all abilities.
RYA Northern Ireland’s Active Clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey explains: “It is fantastic to now have the date for the next Women on Water Festival marked firmly in the diary. Last year was an uplifting and inspirational day with women coming together to share memories of their times on the water, and to make new ones.
“It is a fantastic way for women to try out sailing and to get involved in something which is not only good for physical health but also for mental health and for creating a new social circle with like-minded people.”
Feedback from last year’s festival was positive, with one participant stating: “Women on Water has been a changing point for me and is an amazing project. I’m heading out today with another Women on Water participant and I’m handing my membership papers into my club. I’m definitely at the start of something new.”
Lisa McCaffrey comments: “Following the feedback from last year’s festival, there was no option but to run another festival this year and we are looking forward to welcoming new and returning participants. We have decided to run it over summer so that the participants can return to their local club and get some more sailing done before winter.
“This programme breaks down many barriers and it is so good to learn about our participant’s stories, we are so glad that Women on Water has been an avenue for them to accomplish their goals.”
Debbie Nelson from Carrickfergus Sailing Club comments: " Carrickfergus Sailing Club and Belfast Lough Sailability are absolutely delighted to be hosting the second Women on Water festival. We have always thoroughly enjoyed past Women on Water sessions. This will be a fantastic opportunity for like-minded women to get together, experience sailing, meet new friends and most importantly laugh until our tummy’s ache!"
The Women on Water programme is the first step of the sailing pathway for females in Northern Ireland. Previous graduates are now part of their club committees and some are on the pathway to competing at national and world events.
There are a number of clubs running Women on Water programmes. For more information contact [email protected]