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Displaying items by tag: Galway Harbour

In ancient Greece, the Halcyon days of calm in time-honoured mythology occurred at the mid-winter solstice. Yet after Galway Port received such a battering from Storm Elsa as recently as last Wednesday night, most folk would have been more than content with a period of only reasonably normal wind strengths on this weekend of the Winter Solstice.

But the ancient traditions had their way - as is so often the case in the West of Ireland. As the turning of the astronomical year approached, a total calm came over the dock to provide mirror-like reflections of floodlit waterfront buildings and the seasonal decorations on boats in the marina.

We’re told that by Christmas Day itself, there’ll be more boats fully decked out with festive lights. But for now, the fact that it was flat calm on December 21st after they’d been experiencing winds of up to 73 knots on the night of December 18th is something of a miracle in itself.

Published in Galway Harbour
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There were severe gales around much of Ireland on Wednesday night, but at Galway Docks, in particular, the localised effects of a storm surge on extreme high water – with southwest winds of more than 70 knots - caused the Aran ferry to break some of its mooring lines at its berth outside the dock gate at the Fishermen’s Layby, with the ship finally coming to rest across the RNLI launching berth, effectively closing off the rescue services until the vessel could be re-floated this morning.

As Afloat reported earlier, the situation prompted Galway’s Harbourmaster to hit out at the lack of a storm warning

Tweet GalwayPrecision measurement of a storm – in Galway Bay last night with south to southwest winds hitting 73 knots, the steep short waves on a period of 5 seconds were peaking at 4.1 metres.

Conditions were such that the lock-gates themselves could not be closed until two hours after high water, while the ferry – having been freed today (Thursday) with the use of two mechanical diggers required to demolish part of a wall – has sustained quite substantial damage.

Experienced local sailors are saying that the night’s damage proved yet again that serious money needs to be spent, both to improve shelter and access to the entrance to Galway Docks, and provide better berthing generally for the most important port in Connacht.

Ship aground galwayThe Aran Islands ferry broke adrift from its alongside berth just outside the dock gates, and ended up aground across the entrance to the RNLI launching berth, with considerable damage sustained by the time the ship was refloated today (Thursday). Photo: Courtesy Pierce Purcell
Galway docksCollateral damage……some of the area immediately around the docks was flooded. Photo: Courtesy Pierce Purcell

Published in Galway Harbour
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Galway’s harbourmaster has hit out at the lack of warning for a severe storm which caused flooding in parts of the city and Salthill last night writes Lorna Siggins.

The city’s emergency plan was invoked after southerly winds forecast at 40 to 45 knots hit 73 knots, and there was a sea surge over quays in the docks and in Salthill.

A cargo ship making regular deliveries to the Aran Islands was thrown up on rock armour when it broke one of its moorings. The 39-metre Saoirse na Mara sustained considerable damage during the height of the winds at around 8 pm.

Capt Sheridan said Valentia Coast Guard had been informed last night, and there was no pollution from the ship and no injuries to crew. Efforts would be made to refloat the vessel at high tide this morning, he said.

Capt Sheridan said the city had “only dodged a bullet by a miracle”, but said he was furious at the lack of warning.

“With climate change and sea-level rise, we are only going to have more of these events and we need to be prepared,” he said.

“This inaccuracy of forecasting highlights our lack of ocean literacy and our need to focus on understanding what is actually going on in the ocean,” he said.

“We need to remind ourselves that the planet is 70 per cent water, and the ocean controls so much of our daily lives. Climate change is here and now,” Capt Sheridan emphasised.

The port had hosted an emergency training exercise for staff yesterday afternoon, and so Capt Sheridan said he had been particularly vigilant about weather forecasts.

“That exercise went off well, but at 3 pm it was forecast for 40 to 45-knot winds on Wednesday night. It reached 73 knots and was off the scale.”

The gusts caused widespread damage to trees on routes in and out of the city.

Published in Galway Harbour
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High winds played there part in determining cruiseship destinations among visiting vessels that were scheduled to call to Irish and Welsh ports, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Most recently to become subject to the conditions involved Princess Cruises smallest ship, the 670 capacity Pacific Princess which was unable yesterday to anchor safely offshore of Milford Haven in south Wales.

The Bermuda flagged cruiseship continued a passage to Dublin Port and where the 30,000 gross tonnage vessel arrived today. A fleetmate, Crown Princess is also today visiting the Irish capital but unlike the 'Pacific' is to remain in port overnight. 

The cancelled call by Pacific Princess to the port in Pembrokeshire had prematurely ended a season which saw three ships visiting. Silverseas Silver Cloud called twice, once in May and June and Hapag Lloyd's Europa made an appearance last month.

A Silverseas fleetmate the 294 guest capacity Silver Wind was the other aptly named cruiseship affected by such weather conditions but which took place in Irish waters.

Silver Wind had arrived in Galway Bay in the early morning of last Friday and sheltered in the lee of Black Head, Co. Clare. Due to the prevailing winds, tenders could not take guests ashore to the Port of Galway forcing the 17,400 gross tonnage vessel to cancel the call.

Instead the Bahamas flagged Silver Wind proceeded to Lisahally (Foyleport) followed by Greenock, Scotland. By coincidence, Silver Wind is today also docked in Dublin Port having previously called to Belfast Harbour.

Despite the cancellation to the Port of Galway a further four cruiseships is scheduled with Fred. Olsen Lines Black Watch ending the season early next month. 

Published in Cruise Liners

The veteran Volvo Racer Green Dragon (back mast-less in her old home port of Galway since Sunday) has been sorted. Her spare mast will be stepped today, with the port’s adopted French supersailor Yannick Lemonnier playing a key role in getting this nautical heroine of many a campaign back in full seagoing trim.

Meanwhile, the exceptionally summery weather has provided a warm and welcoming mood for the assembly of fourteen-plus Galway Hookers of various sizes for the Claddagh Festival (which continues until Sunday). The two Viking longships from Ardglass have arrived and been put into full warship mode, the highlight of their visit being the Salthill Raid on Saturday, when they’ll be accompanied by the hookers and a fleet of local yachts.

galway hookers2The standard of maintenance in the fleet of traditional craft gathered in Galway this weekend is impressively high. Photo: Pierce Purcell

Afloat.ie’s man in Galway reports that huge credit is due to anchorman Peter Conneely and his team, led by Colin Hermon, who have put in a massive amount of behind-the-scenes work to bring this very special and successful show together. With the quayside thronged last night with Galway, Connemara, Claddagh and Ardglass folk, the festival mood was running very well.

ardglass longships3In the summery weather in Galway, the “raiding” Ardglass Viking longships from County Down seem to exude nothing but goodwill Photo: Pierce Purcell

Published in Galway Harbour

#GalwayPort - The Port of Galway has tweeted a time lapse video of an enormous turbine blade being manoeuvred into position for transport to the new Galway Wind Park project last week.

Galway Harbour is playing a key role in the two phases of the wind energy project, receiving the turbine tops, hubs and blades before they’re moved by road to the wind farm cluster between Galway city and Connemara.

SSE Ireland has much more on the Galway Wind Park project HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

In my last Podcast, I expressed the opinion that it is strange how things happen. This was again underlined for me as I prepared the new edition of my maritime programme which you can listen to below.

Galway Port Company has an ambitious €120m. plan for the future. It is going through the planning process at present, which has delayed it with various checks and examinations of what is proposed.

But the port company is determined to push the process forward and to achieve its goal in creating a modern port with the best of facilities on the Western coastline.

Galway is ideally placed to be a TransAtlantic port, so it has been said many times, but why has this not happened?

Is it possible that, as the business and economic leaders of the city tried to establish a TransAtlantic shipping line, their efforts were deliberately sabotaged by non-Irish ports which did not want Galway to command this trade?

Was the first ship chartered to run such a service, which had been given permission to carry what was then a valuable mail service in financial terms for the shipping service, deliberately sabotaged?

How could it strike the only rock in Galway Bay as it sailed in for the start of the service, leading to huge controversy and damaging the western port’s future?

The story, still an unsolved mystery, is told on THIS ISLAND NATION by author, journalist and Galwayman, Ray Burke. It is a fascinating story, well worth listening to and reading about. He links it into Ulysses, Nora Barnacle and James Joyce in his book ‘Joyce County – Galway and James Joyce’.

Click below to hear the story of how the voyage of the Indian Empire, intended to start Galway’s first TransAtlantic service, suffered a bad start in Galway Bay.

 

Published in Island Nation

#AranIslands – As talks today to resolve the ongoing Aran Islands ferries dispute over passenger levies with Galway County Council, Afloat.ie takes a snapshot of a separate but freight-only operator providing vital supplies to islanders, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The affected Island Ferries Teoranta passenger ferry service: Rossaveel-Kilronan on Inis Mór, the largest of the Oileán Árann / Aran Islands was due to end last week, however, as Afloat previously covered the service is still operating as “a gesture of goodwill to the Islanders”.The ferry service will remain in place until 17 January 2017 however this date remains under review subject to how the discussions progress on the council-imposed passenger levy for the non-PSO ferry route to Inis Mór. In recent years this route has been subject to a sharp rise in fares.

As for the freight-only operator, Lasta Mara Teoranta, the company since 2005 has the Government contract to carry cargo not just serving Inishmor but also Inis Meain and Inis Oirr. These services are an essential lifeline for islanders. Lasta Mara is the main cargo company serving the Aran Islands by operating from the mainland based in Galway Port using MV Bláth na Mara (1983/330grt).

All the daily needs of the islanders are carried in containers on board Bláth na Mara from food stuffs (chill and frozen), to household goods, furniture and fuel. As for larger items such as vehicles and old fashioned form of transport that includes horses (given the tourist jaunting carts) and other lifestock are also conveyed on the coastal freighter. 

A ‘roll-on roll-off’ i.e. ro-ro service from Rossaveel, Connemara is also provided by Lasta Mara using the MV Chateau-Thierry (see report photo) a former US Army tank landing craft. As previously reported the vessel brought emergency electrical generators due to power-cuts earlier this year.

Otherwise Chateau-Thierry's routine heavy goods cargoes are in the form of trucks, diggers and heavy plant and machinery. Such construction related vehicles were transported by Chateau Thierry from the mainland to Kilronan Harbour during the building of the new harbour. These vehicles rolled off the bow loading ramp onto the sandy beach at Kilronan, the capital of the Aran Islands. 

The costs to pay for Kilronan's new outer harbour (see engineering award) are derived through the passenger levies which are at centre stage of the ferry dispute.

As for the cargo service in order to maintain all perishable cargoes remain frozen before departing Galway Port, the outer pier is where a warehouse is equipped adjacent to where Bláth na Mara berths. The Galway-Aran Islands routes should also be noted as Ireland’s longest distance domestic (island serving) commercial cargo service.

It is on such trading routes that the old traditional joint passenger /cargo service had run up to 1988. This was carried out by the State owned Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE) group’s vessel Naomh Éanna.

The veteran vessel built by Dublin Liffey Drydock Company in 1958 ran on the route for four decades. Since the service closed Naomh Eanna has remained languishing in the capital’s Grand Canal Dock Basin. In recent years she was transferred to a disused graving dock having been saved from scrapping. Against this backdrop there have been plans to restore the historic Irish built ship. 

 

Published in Ports & Shipping

#GalwayAnchorage – Holland America Line’s Prinsendam continues her 28 Day Celtic & Bourgundian Explorer Cruise with an anchorage call on Galway Bay today, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Prior to the cruiseship's arrival off Galway Port, Prinsendam so far has visited Dublin, Belfast (as reported), the Scottish western isles and Killybegs yesterday.

She has a capacity for 766 passengers and 460 crew and in which cruisegoers are been tendered ashore to the City of the Tribes. The US company founded in 1928 has a history of trans-Atlantic 'liner' calls taking anchorage in Galway Bay.

During the careers of their Maasdam and Ryndam this required the use of a dedicated liner tender, Calshot which HAL purchased in 1964 through a subsidiary, Port & Liner Services (Ireland) Ltd.

Prinsendam is the final caller out of six cruiseships this season, however Galway Harbour Company have scheduled in for 9 calls in 2017. Again this will include HAL's Prinsendam, at 38,848 gross tonnage which is deemed small these days. Much larger cruiseships are planned as the port have proposed an outer deeper water port which would not require anchoring off Mutton Island. 

In the meantime, at the entrance to Galway on the outer pier is where a fleet of the cruiseships tenders are ferrying visitors back and forth. On the adjacent berth is LastMara Teo’s freight-only Aran Islands serving vessel, Bláth na Mara, whose fleetmate Chateau-Thierry transported generators from Rossaveal during power cuts on two of the three islands. 

Also berthed but alongside the quays of the Claddagh area is the former Commissioners of Irish Lights Dun Laoghaire Harbour based buoy-towage tender Puffin.

The Bristol built tug retains its original name having been acquired in 2011. Afloat two years later made a trip on board Puffin, which also carries out ship mooring lines-boat duties along the Shannon Estuary. On that occasion, this involved a repositioning passage from the Rusal Aughinish Alumina plant jetty to the Port of Foynes.

Published in Cruise Liners

#OurOceanWealth - Registration is now open for the 2016 Our Ocean Wealth Conference at NUI Galway on Friday 1 July.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, this year's conference will again take place alongside SeaFest, Ireland's national maritime festival, hosted this year in Galway Harbour from 2-3 July.

The full conference agenda is yet to be announced but items of focus will include:

  • Progress on the implementation of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth - Ireland's Integrated Marine Plan
  • Into the Blue: Economy and Growth
  • Map, Observe, Predict: Innovating Across the Atlantic
  • Our New Relationship With the Sea

For more information or to register for the conference visit www.ouroceanwealth.ie.

Published in News Update
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