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Displaying items by tag: North Channel

Anyone who has sailed regularly in the tide-riven and often stormy North Channel between Scotland and Ireland will have long realized that creating a permanent link – whether bridge or tunnel – would be one of the most demanding engineering challenges imaginable. Add to that the extreme depths in the mid-channel Beaufort Dyke - which happens to be filled with dumped World War II explosives – and you’ve something which would need thousands of fearless stuntmen to complete.

That said, longer bridges and tunnels have been constructed elsewhere. But those who enthuse about the North Channel link tend literally to look only at the surface, whereas those experienced in bridging and tunnelling will look underneath before they look at anything else.

So when the idea surfaced again a year or so ago as central to the new London government’s enthusiasm for an all-UK infrastructure improvement programme, the surface observers were all for it, but those who looked underneath to the sea bed anticipated that, in the end, the only beneficiaries would be the always-thriving Feasibility Studies Industry.

Tunnel vision? The assumption that any fixed North Channel link would automatically go through the established ferry port of Larne ignored the fact that the route through Donaghadee to Portpatrick was significantly shorter. Tunnel vision? The assumption that any fixed North Channel link would automatically go through the established ferry port of Larne ignored the fact that the route through Donaghadee to Portpatrick was significantly shorter. 

Part of the problem was that the bridge or tunnel proponents seemed to assume - through tunnel vision presumably - that it would start from the Irish side near Larne in County Antrim, which for decades has been the principal ferry port, whereas on the main corridor the significantly shortest route to Portpatrick in Scotland is through Donaghadee and Great Copeland Island in County Down. But using that would - like the troublesome new HS2 rail route in southern England - cut straight through some of the choicest real estate, aka The Gold Coast, in Northern Ireland. So it was a non-starter, for even if the docile English will allow HS2 to desecrate some of their most cherished countryside, in North Down “Not An Inch” means just that.

Either way, the estimated costs of this idea were sky-rocketing by the minute, so the inevitable Feasibility Study was commissioned from some very respected transport executives, consultants and academics, and some time ago they regretfully concluded that even with the best of today’s technology, the cost would be prohibitively expensive, both now and for the foreseeable future.

Then yesterday, with much political brouhaha on other topics in London and Belfast as a distraction, the actual cost of that Feasibility Study was slipped under the radar into the public domain. It was £896,681, or €1,072,512 in real money, and it got some Scottish politicians ever so cross, as most of them have made clear their opinion that the whole idea was a serious waste of money at every level.

Scottish politician Willie RennieScottish politician Willie Rennie

Thus the Scottish Liberal Democratic economy spokesman Willie Rennie let fire with both barrels: “This is a gob-smacking sum to have spent on a PR stunt” said he. “It sounds like something that the Prime Minister came up with at 2 am at a Downing Street Party”.

Tagged under

Six sea swimmers from Ireland have succeeded in their attempt to cross the North Channel in winter — setting a new record in the process.

According to RTÉ News, the members of the Walrus Swim Team completed the 35km relay swim from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland to Portpatrick in Scotland in just under 13 hours on Friday (14 January).

And what makes their achievement even more remarkable is that the sextet — who met while swimming at the Forty Foot in Dublin — took to the chilling waters of the North Channel without the protection of wetsuits.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim

The next SeaMonitor survey will be carried out by the RV Celtic Voyager in the North Channel from tomorrow, Wednesday 29 September.

This latest stage of the project aims to deploy 80 acoustic listening stations (ALSs) across the North Channel from Malin Head in Ireland to the Isle of Islay in Scotland between over four days, concluding on Saturday 2 October.

These stations will allow recording the presence of tagged marine wildlife including salmon, seals, cetaceans, basking shark and skate species, and provide evidence for conservation measures.

The SeaMonitor project is already ahead of schedule, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, with researchers from Nova Scotia in Canada carrying out expert field work using large-scale acoustic telemetry equipment.

This week’s survey operations will be carried out during daylight hours to facilitate a safe deployment of acoustic receivers on the seabed. The RV Celtic Voyager (callsign EIQN) will display appropriate lights and signals throughout.

For details on relevant locations and contact information, see Marine Notice No 54 of 2021 which can be downloaded below.

Published in Marine Science

Ferry services run by Stena Line have resumed between Scotland and Northern Ireland, which were earlier disrupted due to a positive Covid-19 test among its crew.

One crew member on the Cairnryan to Larne ferry received a positive result from a lateral flow test, causing the company to take action on Wednesday.

It cancelled a number of sailings on Wednesday night and Thursday morning while the whole crew were tested.

No further cases were identified and sailings resumed with knock-on delays.

More from BBC News.

Published in Stena Line

#ferries - A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine has been involved in a near-miss with a ferry in the Irish Sea.

An investigation writes The Irish Times, has been launched into the previously unreported incident, which occurred on November 6th.

The ferry was Stena Superfast VII, which operates between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

It has a capacity for 1,300 passengers and 660 cars.

The submarine was submerged at the depth needed to extend its periscope above the surface of the water.

The Royal Navy would not confirm which of its 10 submarines was involved.

They are all nuclear-powered but only four carry Trident nuclear missiles.

A spokesman for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said: “In November, we were notified of a close-quarters incident between the ro-ro [roll-on/roll-off] ferry Stena Superfast VII and a submarine operating at periscope depth.

To read more on the incident involving the ferry that operates Belfast-Cairnryan (not Stranraer as published) in the newspaper click here.

Published in Ferry

#DivingBell - Engineers worked 82 feet beneath the surface of the North Channel to repair a seabed cable linking Northern Ireland's power grid with Scotland.

According to HeraldScotland, the repair crew used a diving bell style device to safely reach the site some 4km from the Scottish mainland and fix the break in the Moyle Interconnector.

The N-Sea 'incubator' design is a more modern version of the diving bell design used in the construction of Dublin's deep-water quays between the 1870s and 1950s.

Published in Diving
Tagged under

#RNLI - Stranraer RNLI's lifeboat was dispatched by Belfast Coastguard on Friday evening (7 June) to rescue men from a stranded personal water craft on the rocks at Corsewall Point.

The men had been travelling on the water scooter across the North Channel from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland to Campbeltown in Scotland and back - a round trip of some 130km - but ran out of fuel on the return leg, and drifted to Corsewall on the north point of the Rhins of Galloway.

The RNLI Stranraer lifeboat launched at 5.20pm from Lady Bay and 20 minutes later arrived on scene, where they discovered that two of the men were cold and one had an ankle injury - although a conflicting report via the Belfast Coastguard says only two men were found.

The men were transferred safely on to the lifeboat and taken to Dally Bay, from where they were taken by road to Stranraer Accident and Emergency Hospital.

But as BBC News reports, they were beset by further problems on their return trip to Northern Ireland later that evening, when the private vessel on which they were travelling also ran out of fuel and had to be towed to Red Bay in Co Antrim.

Belfast Coastguard confirmed to the BBC that the men had been travelling on their water scooter with "no navigational aids" and that "they could not get a signal from their mobile phone".

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#FarewellHSS- A fast-ferry that served the Belfast-Stranraer route, which no longer exists, departed Belfast for the final time at the weekend. The ferry HSS Stena Voyager is bound for Sweden where she is to be scrapped, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 19,000 tonnes Stena Voyager is under tow to the Öresundsvarvet shipyard in Landskrona, where she will be recycled by a subsidiary of the ferry company, Stena Recycling.

All of the vessels various components will be recycled, as far as is possible, to maintain the company's environmental reputation. Some of the materials will even be reused in the form of car parts or furniture.

Stena Voyager was displaced on the Northern Channel route in November 2011 following the change of Scottish port, from Stranraer at the end of the lough to Cairnryan which is closer to the open sea.

In addition a pair of conventional yet fast ro-pax 'Superfast' ferries were introduced bringing superior facilities coupled with greater freight capacity.

These factors combined with a shorter passage time between Belfast and Cairnryan and rising fuel costs over several years saw the writing on the wall for the HSS craft, which when introduced in the mid 1990's were the pride of the Stena Line fleet.

The Swedish ferry giant commissioned a trio of HSS (High Speed sea-Service) fast-craft, whose futuristic appearance and technology was adopted from the world of aviation that included gas-turbine engines to power water-jets producing up to 40 knots.

Stena Voyager carried 1,500 passengers and 375 cars and she was launched onto the North Channel route in 1996, since then the fast-craft has carried more than 17m passengers and over 45,000 sailings.

"Whilst the HSS class was a unique and highly innovative development for Stena Line, unfortunately the spiralling costs of operating the Stena Voyager have become all too high. When the Voyager was first put into service fuel was approximately $20 per barrel and now the price is around $110 dollar, for a fuel hungry vessel this is simply untenable," said Michael McGrath, Stena Line's Chief Operating Officer.

The first of the revolutionary craft was HSS Stena Explorer which currently maintains the seasonal-only Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead having been also introduced in 1996. Final member of the class was HSS Stena Discovery which served Harwich-Hook van Holland from 1997, however she was the first to go and now serves operators out of Venezuela.

The concept of the HSS craft were also to compete with air-travel on the short hop between Northern Ireland and Scotland. In tandem the HSS ran alongside older conventional ferries, among them Stena Caledonia, which was sold last year to Indonesian operator ASDP and renamed Port Link.

 

Published in Ferry

#Coastguard - For Argyll in Scotland reports that Richard Newell has resigned from his post as rescue co-ordination centre manager at Belfast Coastguard.

The news comes some weeks after the command base took on extra responsibility with the permanent closure of the Clyde coastguard station last month.

Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) confirmed to the website that Newell resigned from his position around two weeks ago - and that he has assured the agency that his decision has no connection with the streamlining plans being undertaken across Britain's coastguard network.

However, For Argyll alleges Newell had made it known locally that "if he considered the future [of the coastguard service] was becoming dangerous, then he would go".

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, campaigners for the Clyde coastguard station in western Scotland were taken aback by the early transfer of helicopter dispatches to Belfast and Stornoway in November, ahead of the base's permanent closure on 18 December last.

More than 30 jobs were lost with the scrapping of the Clyde control centre at Greenock, with much of its role now being taken up by the Belfast command centre at Bangor across the North Channel - a change to the original plan for Scottish stations to share the load till 2015.

Published in Coastguard

#COASTGUARD - Campaigners for the Clyde coastguard station in western Scotland have suffered a blow with the news that all calls are now being routed to Stornoway and Belfast as of last night.

BBC News reports on a document leaked to the Coastguard SOS Campaign, which outlines that while the Clyde station itself is scheduled to close on 18 December, control of aerials (ie helicopter dispatches) to the stations at Stornoway and Belfast was on schedule to be completed by yesterday evening (Friday 16 November).

Campaigner Dennis O'Connor said this move meant that "Clyde will cease to exist operationally" from last night.

He also described it as a "direct challenge" to concerns from the Transport Select Committee in Westminster that the closure programme had started early with the closure of Forth coastguard in September "despite assurances that the replacement system of operation would be fully tested before any closures took place".

However, a spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that the handover period "has been planned for some time. All the staff have been informed well in advance."

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the scrapping of the Clyde control centre at Greenock will see the loss of 31 jobs, with much of its role being taken up by the Belfast coastguard at Bangor across the North Channel - a change to the original plan for Scottish stations to share the load till 2015.

Published in Coastguard
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boot Düsseldorf, the International Boat Show

With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. Around 2,000 exhibitors present their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

boot Düsseldorf FAQs

boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair. Seventeen exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology.

The Fairground Düsseldorf. This massive Dusseldorf Exhibition Centre is strategically located between the River Rhine and the airport. It's about 20 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the city centre.

250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair.

The 2018 show was the golden jubilee of the show, so 2021 will be the 51st show.

Every year in January. In 2021 it will be 23-31 January.

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH Messeplatz 40474 Düsseldorf Tel: +49 211 4560-01 Fax: +49 211 4560-668

The Irish marine trade has witnessed increasing numbers of Irish attendees at boot over the last few years as the 17-Hall show becomes more and more dominant in the European market and direct flights from Dublin offer the possibility of day trips to the river Rhine venue.

Boats & Yachts Engines, Engine parts Yacht Equipment Watersports Services Canoes, Kayaks, Rowing Waterski, Wakeboard, Kneeboard & Skimboard Jetski + Equipment & Services Diving, Surfing, Windsurfing, Kite Surfing & SUP Angling Maritime Art & Crafts Marinas & Watersports Infrastructure Beach Resorts Organisations, Authorities & Clubs

Over 1000 boats are on display.

©Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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