Displaying items by tag: Tom MacSweeney
#thisislandnation – The future of shipping fuels, Ireland's last engineless sailing schooner, galley slaves in Russia, locating the newest lifeboats and GPS disruption all in This Island Nation this week.
A FUTURE IN ALGAE
The United States Navy uses 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The total fuel consumption of world shipping is not known, but several shipping lines have introduced 'slow steaming' to reduce oil usage because of increasing costs. Maersk, one of the world's biggest shipping companies and the US Navy have been jointly exploring the possibility of developing 'green fuels'. Maersk has 1,300 vessels in its fleet. This year the Maersk Kalmar, a 300 metre-long container vessel completed a 6,500 nautical-mile voyage from Germany to India burning 30 tonnes of a fuel developed from algae in an its auxiliary engines under test by engineers. Fuel properties were similar to marine gas oil according to Maersk engineers carrying out experiments on board.
Two years ago the US Navy tested its first algae-based fuel and has been engaged in research for several years. In the UK researchers at the University of Bath have been experimenting on the commercial production of biodiesel from algae. Maersk, a Danish company, has been given a grant of 112 million Kroner by the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation for continuing research into the production of bio-based fuels for the global shipping industry.
IRELAND'S LAST SAILING SCHOONER
The last sailing schooner to trade in Irish waters was the Brooklands which operated without an engine and was a familiar sight in Cork Harbour as she emerged from her home port in the north-eastern corner of the harbour, heading for the open sea. The Creenan family owned Brooklands and sailed her out of Ballinacurra which closed as a port for commercial operations in the early 60s. Brooklands and the Creenans will never be forgotten in the maritime annals of Cork Harbour.
She was originally known as the Susan Vittery and traded along the Irish South coast. At the age of 43 John Creenan of Ballinacurra became her Master. In July of 1920 her name was changed to Brooklands. She was bought by John Creenan for £1,300 in the currency of the time and noted as a three-masted double topsail schooner, capable of carrying 226 tons of cargo.
Richard Scott's new book on the last of the Western Sea Traders
"Captain John liked her and reckoned on making her pay, even without an engine," writes Richard Scott in a new book which was launched in Creenan's family pub in Ballinacurra that was packed with a big attendance from all over the country for the occasion. "Irish Sea Schooner Twilight" is the story of the Western Seas Traders and their last years. These were the vessels which saw the end of sailing traders, as steam and engine power replaced them. They traded coastwise around the Bristol Channel, some across to France, mostly between Ireland and Britain and began to disappear from the seas around the late 50s. Life was tough and dangerous for the seafarers who sailed these vessels.
Dick Scott shipped aboard Brooklands and was the man who wrote the definitive book about the Galway Hookers. He died at the age of 81, so this new book for which he had carried out meticulous research over very many years is also a posthumous tribute to a great marine writer.
He recalls sailing the ship up to Penrose Quay in Cork City to discharge cargo: "Christie knew his vessel well and every detail of the narrows past Fort Camden and Carlisle. We were on the living deck of a remarkable schooner that had first sailed these same waters over ninety years earlier. After discharging cargo the Skipper of a steam collier offered Christie a tow downriver. Off Whitepoint we heaved in our warp as our friends on the collier blew farewell on their ship's hooter and we were on our own, sailing past Cobh, surprising a fleet of yachts as they gave way for the passage of this great sailing vessel, Christie at the wheel, calmly taking the Brooklands towards Ballinacurra where we were to load silica clay for transport to Dublin.'
The days of being without an engine meant that, without a favourable wind, they had to anchor for the night before they could get to Ballinacurra!
"Off the north east corner of Great Island we rounded up at the Crab Hole and dropped anchor for the night. Next day we took assistance from a small motorboat to work the tide two miles up the Ballinacurra River narrows to our berth near Bennett's malt stores as Cecil Gregory's Arklow schooner Venturer passed outward bound."
What an amazing vision of other times, two schooners passing each other in the river between Ballinacurra and East Ferry.
The book is published by Black Dwarf Publications.
PUTIN - BOSS, GALLEY SLAVE AND FOUR MASSIVE YACHTS!
Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared ruling Russia to being a "galley slave", but his job comes with four luxury yachts, top of the range of which has five decks, a huge bathroom in marble, jacuzzis and other opulence. Another yacht of the fleet is 53.7 metres long has a spa pool and a wine cellar.
Russian Opposition Leader, Boris Nemtsov, said that it was "no wonder that Putin wanted to hang onto the Presidency!" The office also has a fleet of 58 planes and 20 homes. Nemtsov has listed the details in a report titled, rather ironically, "The Life of a Galley Slave!"
Baltimore's new lifeboat, RNLB Alan Massey, will be named and dedicated at a ceremony in the West Cork village on Saturday afternoon, September 22.
On Tuesday, September 25, at its Poole headquarters in the UK the RNLI will reveal its most advanced class of lifeboat – the Shannon, the first RNLI all-weather lifeboat to be powered by water jets instead of propellers and capable of a speed of 25 knots - 50% faster than the lifeboats it replaces. The Shannon class follows a 45-year tradition of naming RNLI lifeboats after rivers or stretches of water. This is the first time that the name of an Irish river has been used.
It is planned to build fifty of the new boats over the next ten years. It will improve the safety and welfare of the volunteer crews, with shock-absorbing seats and computer monitoring and operating system. The RNLI has so far named only UK stations to receive Shannon class boats. They are: Dungeness, Hoylake, Ilfracombe, Llandudno, Lowestoft, Montrose, Scarborough, Skegness, Selsey, St Ives, and Swanage. Other stations are to be confirmed.
SOLAR GPS DISRUPTION
The Chairman of the international shipping offers' union, Nautilus, has warned that GPS electronic navigation could be lost for "months at a time" during the next two years. Ulrich Jurgens claims that high levels of solar activity could add to the problems already being experienced from attempts to jam GPS signals, which are being increasingly reported by criminal gangs involved in drug-running trying to frustrate security forces. Mariners could suddenly be looking at blank electronic screens, he has said, advising that "paperless vessels," without older-style charts, could be "lost at sea," unable to identify their position if depending totally on electronic navigation.
An amazing sea rescue, NAB-ing change, UK politicians support what Ireland's will not, sailing in Galway and Mayo and much more in your TIN this week.....
AMAZING SEA RESCUE
A 31-year-old seafarer has survived ten hours of swimming after ships in the Atlantic Ocean 525 miles offshore shouting to be rescued. It has been described as one of the most amazing sea survival and rescue stores. He fell off his ship after feeling faint when he leaned against a railing but blacked out, collapsed and fell overboard. The crew of the Maersk Bintan did not miss him for 2 hours after he had fallen off at 0715 hours. At that stage Tanawoot Pratoom, who came back to consciousness when he hit the water, had been swimming after ships he saw and shouting for help. The ships' crew had called a distress alert. Five vessels as well as a search-and-rescue plane were involved and the US Coast Guard was using drift simulation technology to locate his position. His own vessel doubled back on its course. He was spotted by another vessel involved in the search, the bulk carrier, Stalo. After ten hours he was pulled from the water by crewmates of his own ship. He said he had followed safety procedures by removing his boots and overalls in the water and had spent the ten hours swimming towards passing ships until he was sighted. His ship was en route from Panama to Algeciras where the seafarer was repatriated to his home in Thailand. He is married and has two children, an 8-year-old daughter and a three-month old son.
REFITTING THE NAB
The NAB Tower
The NAB Tower is a vital aid to navigation in the Solent but the structure has been deteriorating and is being restored by Trinity House, the UK lighthouse authority. It was originally built as a British defensive structure for the Admiralty in 1918 and has been used as a lighthouse since 1920 replacing the previous NAB Lightvessel. It was staffed by Lightkeepers until automation in 1983. At present the helicopter pad atop the lighthouse cannot be used and boat access has been difficult due to the deteriorating condition of the external superstructure. Trinity House is to extend the lifespan of the NAB Tower by up to 50 years. The height will be reduced and all external steel and cladding will be replaced by concrete. Work is scheduled to be completed in the summer of next year. It will be suspended during the winter due to difficult seasonal conditions.
YOLING IN GALWAY
The Ness Yoal
The little beauty pictured here visited Galway Bay Sailing Club from France, but originated in Norway, were exported to the Shetlands and are now active in France, demonstrating the great linkage internationally through traditional sailing boats. The 'Yoling Club Peillac' is based in the village of Peillac, in South-East Brittany. It was created to promote traditional sailing amongst youth and especially the practice of navigation on the Ness Yoals, following the construction of three of these boats in 2000. The club aims to connect with other associations sharing similar interests in 'sail and oar' boats and to encourage the construction of traditional yachts and organises events to promote cultural heritage related to traditional sailing.
Ness yoals are wooden open boats of 6.90 m in length, rigged with a sail to the third of mahogany colour. The crew is composed of 7 people (six rowers and a coxswain). The Ness Yoals originated in Norway hundreds of years ago and were exported to the Shetland islands in Scotland, where it has a special place in the history of inshore fishing. It was considered a very seaworthy vessel and the seamanship of the men who crewed them, made the
difference between survival and starvation for many families there. Despite the development of commercial fishing, which favoured larger-decked boats, the Yoal has survived into the 21st century, due to the interest in Yoal-rowing as a sport and the craftsmanship of boat-builders like Tommy Isbister and Ian Best who still produce these craft.
UK POLITICIANS BACK SAIL TRAINING
Renowned naval architect Colin Mudie has designed a proposed new UK sail training flagship. Riding on the tide of successfully staging the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee celebration a charitable trust has been set up called – UK Flagship – to promote the concept of a 650-foot tall ship which would be the largest and most advanced square-rigged vessel in the world. It is envisaged as a sail training ship with the additional role of being a 'floating ambassador' for the UK promoting trade and scientific research, with facilities aboard including conference rooms, oceanography and marine biological study resources and could carry up to 200 trainees. The cost is put at stg£80m., to be raised without State support. Launch of the ship is targeted for 2016 and stg£15m. has already been raised according to the backers, of which the Principal Trustee is Royal Navy Rear Admiral David Bawtree. UK sailing journalist Libby Purves is also involved in the project. The Daily Mail
Newspaper has launched a fundraising campaign for the vessel.
While not allocating any funding, leading UK politicians have pledged support and backed the project, showing at least an interest in sail training which their Irish counterparts lack. Deputy UK Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the project provided "a brilliant opportunity to promote the marine world and life at sea" while the UK Labour Party Leader, Ed Milliband, said it was a cause which deserved support because of its aim of "giving opportunity to youth."
The tall ship will feature four masts acting also as solar panels. Colin Mudie designed the sail training ships Royalist and Lord Nelson.
Operating tall ships is difficult in current economic times although the South African Government approved the conversion of a former research vessel by the country's Maritime Safety Authority to carry 50 cadets for sea training. The country has less than 2,400 seafarers and the government has adopted a policy to increase annual officer cadet intake for training which at present is 120 per year.
MAYO SAILING CLUB
When in Mulrany, Co.Mayo, this summer I enjoyed the idyllic view of Clew Bay and the 365 islands, one for each day of the year as local people proudly claim. Mayo Sailing Club was founded in 1982 and has this area as its immediate sailing grounds.
This is a thriving vibrant club, based at Westport, with a diverse range of sailing activities throughout the season - cruiser racing on Thursday nights, junior and senior dinghy racing on Tuesdays and cruising voyages.
Thirty-six trainee sailors from the club had an overnight sailing trip from Rosmoney Pier to Inishoo Island in Clew bay. It concluded the Adventure Module of the ISA Small Boat Sailing Scheme and also marked the end of the Junior Sailing course. The return voyage involved the trainees sailing a challenging beat home on a route through around many of the islands before arriving at Mayo Sailing Club.
FISHING LEADER HONOURED
In London this week Sean O'Donoghue CEO of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation was presented with the Fishing News International magazine's Person of the Year award. The presentation was made by IntraFish Fishing Publications Editor Cormac Burke who is originally from Killybegs.
The Rambler Crew thank Valentia Radio for saving their lives in the Fastnet Race, but Coast Guard management wants to shut the station .... My story of two vessels ... John Twomey's Parlaympian achievements ... Cork gets a new Pilot Boat and ... trying to make ship-boarding pilot ladders safer ... There's a lot about boats in this week's TIN ..... Read on ....
SAVING LIVES MATTERS MOST – NOT FINANCIAL CUTBACKS
August 15 this year marked a very special day for the crew of the yacht Rambler 100 – they were still alive and they celebrated that fact – and they sent from New York an Email to the staff of Valentia Radio Coastal Station in Kerry. Coast Guard management in Dublin has a proposal to shut down the station and transfer its work to Dublin, to the constituency of the Minister for Transport, as a support station to the main Dublin base!
On August 15 the Rambler 100 crew Emailed to the staff at Valentia Island Maritime Radio Station:
"Today marks the one-year anniversary of our unfortunate accident during the Fastnet Race. Each Rambler crew member has his own story of what happened during this time of distress, however, the one thing that we share is the gratitude we feel for the Valentia Island Coast Guard. The professionalism of the Valentia crew and the diligence in alerting all authorities for our successful rescue is the reason we are here to share in the celebration of survival today. Tonight at 5.42 p.m. New York time the Rambler team will gather together and raise our glass to the sea and send out our thanks to our new friends in Ireland. Gratefully yours, Wendy, George and the Rambler 100 Crew."
Not much more needs to be said about the importance of Valentia Island Coastal Radio Station and its continued operation. It has a long history of saving life at sea in addition to its other operations.
I have asked for an interview with the Director of the Coast Guard Chris Reynolds, to find out exactly what is going on with the management proposals and why they want to centralise operations in Dublin. One proposal is that a support base to the national centre in Dublin should be located Blanchardstown, which just happens to be in the constituency of Minister for Transport Leo Varadakar who will have the final decision to make on the future of the coastal radio stations at Valentia and Malin and who has already indicated that "tough" decisions will be taken.
Again, the question has to be raised, as it was when then Minister Dempsey sought to close Waterford SAR rescue station – How much is a life worth?
TWO BOATS – TWO STORIES
Asgard I pictured above, Celtic Mist in main image
Two boats, part of the Irish maritime scene in years past, are back in public – Asgard 1 and Celtic Mist – one ashore, the other afloat.
I was in the National Museum at Collins Barracks in Dublin when the historic ketch of Erskine and Mollie Childers went on exhibition after a five-year restoration project. It will be a permanent reminder of how the marine sphere was central to the formation of this Republic. Asgard looks superb. There was a lot of controversy over whether she should be restored or put to sea again, but the right decision has been made to conserve her ashore. The exhibition is open free-of-charge and worth seeing.
The second vessel, Celtic Mist, is the motor-sailing ketch of Charlie Haughey which his family donated to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. I was asked to re-dedicate it to its new role as a research vessel and did so on Sunday at Kilrush Marina, where hundreds watched the ceremony. I talked to Conor Haughey who told me: "They have rejuvenated her. She was getting old and tired and it would have been a shame if she rotted away rather than going to sea again. The boat was very important to my father. It has great family memories."
Onboard, Charles Haughey's cabin has been dismantled, including the bath and double berth and several bunks built instead for researchers who will track whales and dolphins and carry out other maritime research. Much of the eight-month refurbishment work was done by IWDG volunteers, with some contractors and financial assistance from the Clare Leader organisation and other supporters.
Despite all the controversy surrounding Haughey, as IWDG Director Simon Berrow said, getting the boat was a major benefit and came in the 21st year of its existence. In government Haughey had declared Ireland's waters a whale and dolphin sanctuary and Dr.Berrow said this should be followed by a
similar "pan-European designation" of EU waters. The Celtic Mist will provide a platform for finding out more about whales and other marine life off Ireland, he said.
JOHN TWOMEY AND THE IRISH PARALYMPIAN SAILORS
Irish Sonar Team
Kinsale Yacht Club member John Twomey is leading his crew into his tenth consecutive Paralympics, a magnificent achievement for the 57-year-old sailor. He will Skipper the Sonar, Ireland's only sailing entry, with crew Anthony Hegarty and Ian Costelloe. Sailing will be in the testing waters of Weymouth Bay on the south coast of England where the Olympic events were also held.
For the past three and a half decades he has been one of Ireland's most consistent and successful performers at the Paralympic Games. John is already the holder of Paralympic medals, won prior to his sailing career in the discus event - bronze in 1984 and gold at Seoul 1988. He also competed in table tennis before his transition to sailing, winning silver in the team event at Arnhem in 1980. Before moving to the three-man Sonar keelboat he sailed with Amy Kelleher in the mixed SKUD18 event at Beijing 2008, finishing tenth with a score of 75 points.
In preparing for this year's Paralympic John, Anthony and Ian were 7th in the World Disabled Sailing Championships in Florida and have been practising intensively off Kinsale over the past few weeks.
I met him at Kinsale YC and he was hopeful about their prospects:
"Tough waters in Weymouth, but with the experience of the past few months, particularly in the world championships we are well prepared."
John is from Ballinhassig, has represented Ireland more times than any other Olympic or Paralympic athlete. He is involved in sailing courses in Kinsale for people with disabilities where up to 30 sailors with a wide range of physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities go sailing every Saturday.
In Paralympic Sailing, three medal events feature one, two and three sailors per boat, respectively. All events consist of nine separate races with one point for first, two for second and so on, the same as in Olympic sailing. The winner has the lowest points total at the end of the nine races.
John's crew mates are 42-year-old Anthony from Mallow and 24-year-old Ian from Killorglin in County Kerry. Both are both amputees. John introduced Anthony to sailing seven years ago. He works as a software developer for Core International and has represented Ireland on several occasions. He is also a member of Kinsale Yacht Club.
Ian also sails out of Kinsale YC and will be making his first appearance at the Paralympic Games.
Paralympics Ireland CEO and Chef de Mission for the Irish Team, Liam Harbison, said there has been tremendous preparation, co-ordination and management of the Irish Team. "It's time for us to make a return on the faith and investment placed in us – we aim to deliver."
From left: John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Anthony Hegarty.
NEW PILOT BOAT IN CORK
Cork Pilot Boat Crew
Cork Port has a new pilot boat. 'Failte' was built by Safehaven Marine and replaces 'Sonia' which has been in service for 14 years. Safehaven Marine is a Cork -based company, employing 25 staff in Little Island and Youghal. Since the company was founded in 1998. They have supplied pilot boats to countries from Scandinavia to the Middle East and are one of Europe's leading manufacturers of GRP pilot boat.
There are eight full-time crew, six of them pictured here – L to R: Ron Randalls, Carl Randalls, Gerry Moran, George Norris, Con Crowley and Keith Ryan. (Two were on holiday when the photo was taken.) The boat is an Interceptor 48 with two Volvo D13 engines, 600 hp each.
Cork pilot boats undertake in excess of 3,000 services per annum to vessels of all types including cruise ships and cargo vessels, according to the port company.
MAKING PILOTING SAFER
The International Maritime Pilots' Association and the International Chamber of Shipping have joined forces to update a brochure aimed at shipping companies and seafarers to ensure that ladders used for pilot transfers are safe and always rigged correctly.
The revised brochure – 'Shipping Industry Guidance on Pilot Transfer Arrangements' – is supported by a wide range of other international shipping bodies. It takes account of the latest amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) concerning pilot ladders, which came into effect on 1 July 2012.
IMPA Secretary General, Nick Cutmore, said: "Pilots continue to lose their lives as a result of accidents while boarding or disembarking from ships, and many more have been seriously injured."
ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe, added: "Some common causes of accidents still appear to be defects in the structure of the ladder treads or ropes, or a lack of a proper securing of the ladder to the ship."
An electronic copy of the IMPA/ICS brochure can be downloaded from the IMPA and ICS websites.
New Pilot Boarding Advice
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Tomorrow 12 August will see the ketch formerly sailed by late Taoiseach Charles Haughey officially begin its new life as a research vessel for the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
Apart from extensive work to the interior of the vessel to transform crew accommodation and make space for scientific instruments, the hull of the Celtic Mist has been beautifully repainted in different shades of blue, with details such as a dolphin on its bow and a fun whale along the beam contributed by Kerry artist Michael O'Leary.
Conor Haughey, whose family gifted the yacht to the IWDG for its marine wildlife conservation work, is expected to attend the relaunch ceremony at Kilrush marina at 2pm, hosted by Afloat.ie's own Tom MacSweeney with a blessing by Fr Michael Sheedy of Kilrush.
ASGARD rises again .. Can you help to find goose barnacles? ... Irish brothers wrap up the 18s in Scotland... Commercial fishermen want bass fisheries re-opened.... The weather hasn't really been so bad – do you believe that? The Channel Tunnel buys ferries ... Lusitania artefacts are assigned to the States and the oceans are saving humans ashore. That is the TIN mix this week.... Read on ....
ASGARD IS MAGNIFICENT
I have reported the conservation of Asgard since it began five years ago under the leadership of John Kearon from Arklow who formerly headed up restoration work at Liverpool Maritime Museum where I saw him direct the refurbishment of the Wolfe Tone Bantry Longboat. Both are now on public display at the National Museum in Collins Barracks, Dublin. Asgard looks magnificent, painted on the port side, the varnished hull gleaming on starboard. Standing under the port side at the opening ceremony as she went on public exhibition, I remembered how she had looked when I first saw her, raw, much in need of attention so many years back when John told me with confidence that she would be restored to what she had originally looked like. There was painstaking tracing of artefacts, of locating many items which had been removed from the vessel in previous years. There was a lot of controversy and opposition to the restoration from those who wanted her to go afloat again. They opposed the concept of a vessel being preserved ashore, out of her natural environment. There is no doubt in my mind that the correct decision was taken, to make her a national treasure, on display, open for viewing free-of-charge to the public, a reminder of the birth of our nation and her pivotal role in the 1914 Howth gun-running from which weapons unloaded were later used in the Easter Rising. She will also be remembered as Ireland's first national sail-training vessel. All those memories flowed from the large attendance present when she went on display. I met many friends from the maritime sphere. A common comment was the regret that there is not an Asgard 3 to carry on the great tradition of this name in Irish sail training. The former government and Minister responsible at the time, Willie O'Dea, destroyed Irish sail training, a denial of Ireland's maritime role and of the educational and cultural, formative role of young people through the sea. Is there anyone, any wealthy Irish businessman or business group, who would provide the funding for an Irish sail training vessel. It would have been possible to purchase a new vessel for the €3.8m. compensation paid for the sinking of Asgard 2 but Willie O'Dea handed over that money to the Department of Finance, a blow against Ireland's maritime sphere.
COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN WANT BASS FISHERIES OPENED
The Irish Fishermen's Organisation has called on Marine Minister Simon Coveney to re-open bass fisheries to commercial fishermen. They have been closed for several years but that may lead to Ireland being excluded forever from fishing bass, while foreign vessels in the EU can catch the fish in Irish waters. The EU has begun a process to put controls on the catching of bass by commercial boats, known as the TAC - Total Allowable Catch. Officials have proposed that this be based on commercial landings of bass over a ten-year period. But Ireland will have no adequate record to claim part of this TAC, so once again the Irish government approach will damage the Irish fishing industry and allow foreign nations to continue catching in Irish waters, while Irish boats cannot. The leisure angling industry demanded and got the ban and has benefited from non-commercial catches. While Irish fishermen are banned from catching bass, foreign boats have targeted the species off the South coast and will be allowed continue, even if a TAC is imposed because they have a catching record. "The Irish Government is again handing national resources to foreign usage," said the commercial fishermen's organisation. Anglers are only allowed to have two bass in their possession in any one 24-hour period and they must be over 40 cm. in total length.
CAN YOU HELP RESOLVE A STICKY SITUATION?
Humans have not managed to create glues that can be used successfully in wet environments, but sea creatures have and Irish marine researchers are trying to find out how they do it. The secrets of the goose barnacle are being sought so that a synthetic version of their natural underwater glue could be used in surgery and dentistry. This barnacle is mostly at sea so examples are difficult to find ashore. Although goose barnacles look like giant shellfish attached to a long neck, they are in fact filter-feeding creatures.They have an ability to attach themselves to practically every surface and researchers have found they can even do so to non-stick frying pans! The glue-like substance they emit, which hardens into a strong "cement", consists of several proteins. Scientists based at the Martin Ryan Marine Institute in Galway hope to study the glands emitting the glue and the protein composition. The team needs a large supply of goose barnacles and has asked for public help from people on the beaches, swimming, surfing and from divers. The barnacles sporadically wash ashore in Summer along the Irish coast. "It might seem perfectly ordinary that a sea creature can stick to a surface, but if you stop to think about it, it's actually quite an incredible innovation by nature," say the researchers. "Humans haven't managed to create glues that can be used successfully in wet environments, but nature has done it over and over again."
TUNNEL BUYS FERRIES – UK GOVERNMENT WANTS TO KNOW WHY
Eurotunnel, the company which operates the Channel Tunnel, has bought three of SeaFrance's former vessels. The move surprised the UK Government where the Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation to decide whether the purchase is in contravention of merger rules. Eurotunnel Chief Executive Officer Jacques Gounon Jacques Gounon said: "There's an evolution in traffic, notably towards heavy goods vehicles, which can't be fully captured by the Channel Tunnel."
CORK BROTHERS WRAP UP THE 18S IN SCOTLAND
Cork Harbour Monkstown Bay Sailing Club members, brothers Ewen and Colin Barry won nine of the ten trophies up for competition at the National 18 Class Championships in Findhorn in Scotland, a stunning achievement.
Colin is the Club's Rear Commodore and Ewen is Hon.Treasurer. Another MBSC member, Dave O'Connell, a long-time stalwart of the Class was fifth overall in a fleet which included entries from the Scottish host club, from Temasis Yacht Club in London, the Isle of Man YC and the Royal Cork.
Ewen and his crew were sailing 'Good Bad & Ugly' and were top overall boat on nine points, six clear of brother Colin and his crew sailing 'Purple Warriors' on 13 points in second place. They finished on the same number of points as Colin Chapman from the RCYC. A tie-breaker, used in sailing to establish final positions from the best individual race placings, favoured the Monkstown crew. The National 18-foot dinghy has survived several assaults on its popularity, one of which was from the development of the 1720 Class, named after the founding year of the Royal Cork and which it was once thought would replace the 18. That did not happen and, after a surge of popularity, the 1720 declined for a number of years locally though gaining a lot of support internationally. It is now regaining popularity as a sportsboat.
STATE GETS LUSITANIA ITEMS
Items recovered from the last survey of the wreck of the Lusitania have undergone conservation and maintenance in Ireland and been assigned to the State. They include part of the steering mechanism, a bronze telemotor, four portholes, two of them from the first-class passenger area and an indicator used for finding the ship's direction. The items were recovered during the filming of the recently-transmitted National Geographic Channel television documentary. The company sponsored the last survey carried out a year ago.
There have been legal disagreements between American millionaire Greg Bemis who owns the wreck and the State, but there were negotiations involving the National Museum, the National Monuments Service and his representatives after the survey in which Irish maritime archaeologists were involved.
A BAD SUMMER - BUT IT COULD BE WORSE!
It has been a bad summer but history shows that there have been much worse! 1783 for example when there was so much volcanic activity around the world and a fog that lasted most of the summer in England, leading to predictions that it was the end of the world! Between June 23 and July 20 of that year the skies over the UK were covered by a smoky fog and there was regular thunder and lightning which terrified people. There were volcanic eruptions in Italy and Japan and a massive eruption on Skaptar Jokull in Iceland where 9,500 people were reported to have died after being smothered by the immense dust cloud which drifted south and covered much of Europe.
Remember the last Icelandic cloud?
OCEANS ARE SAVING US
If the oceans were not soaking up carbon dioxide from land, global warming would be much worse. A new report this week shows that industrial production and human living requirements on land are now creating so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the oceans and plants ashore are having to absorb more than twice the amount they previously soaked up. They are the only brake on global warming, but having to absorb so much CO2 is changing seawater, a process called ocean acidification. "This change will have profound effects on life in the ocean and those who depend on it," according to the report from the University of Colorado in the USA which confirms data from the Global Carbon Project, linking scientists around the world. Carbon soaked up from the atmosphere by the seas has risen to 5 billion tonnes. Twenty years ago the figure was 2.4 billion.
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Another attempt is being made by Coast Guard management in Dublin to close the coastal radio stations at Valentia and Malin Head and centralise operations in Dublin. That, the poor quality of television coverage of sailing at the Olympics, the future of the State's national fishing board and the launch of the national maritime plan, are amongst my topics on this week's THIS ISLAND NATION.
RESPECT FOR VALENTIA RADIO
Sailing the West Cork coastline last week Valentia Radio was a welcome companion. I listened to their regular sea area weather forecasts on VHF. They also provide the added service of message 'traffic' for vessels at sea, and advisory warnings about hazards, amongst their service. In addition to VHF Medium Frequency transmission covers a wider maritime area. The voices of the station staff become a familiar and welcome part of one's voyaging. You know they are there, a source of help and support if needed. During the week I heard them involved in search and rescue work, using their local knowledge.
On the North-Western coastline they are partnered by Malin Head Radio, providing a similar service. The staff of both have that vital component not available anywhere else, of local knowledge of their sea areas. The central base is in Dublin where staff can concentrate on the East Coast.
The service works well but high-level Coast Guard officials have been attempting for several years to centralise operations in Dublin and close Valentia and Malin. Previous attempts to do this were defeated when Coast Guard Management proposals were shown not to be in the best public interest.
I feel a sense of anger and annoyance that another attempt is being made to target the stations, emanating from the Department of Transport where a reliable source has given me details of a study on which Minister Leo Varadkar has told officials to prepare proposals which will propose what are termed 'hard decisions' before the Cabinet in October. It appears to me that Coast Guard management want one station, in Dublin, to control all output and, I am told, have repeatedly sought the adjustment of consultant reports to achieve this end. It could be done technically, but would exclude the vital aspect of local sea area knowledge which, in both Valentia and Malin has several times saved lives. It is an approach to safety which is not acceptable, with which there should be no compromise. When then Minister Noel Dempsey attempted to close the helicopter base at Waterford I raised the question – what is the value of one life? I do so again now.
NEW STATION EQUIPMENT
New equipment assigned to upgrade Valentia after the last controversy in 2009 is only due to be installed this month or next, a wait of three years!
New equipment is also being installed at present in Malin. One of the proposals by Coast Guard officials is that if a second station is needed to back-up and support the Dublin central base in case of any fault developing there and threatening a blacking-out coastal communications it should be in Blanchardstown, which just happens to be the Minister's constituency!
A new engine room, new boiler room, new security system, new generator, new operations room, an upgraded transmitter room and a helipad are due for installation in Valentia, so where is the justification for now considering closure – and at a time when other general Coast Guard stations, not radio stations, are and have been built around the country at considerable expense? Where is the logic in this?
THIRD LARGEST COASTAL STATION
Valentia is the third largest coastal marine station in Ireland and the UK. It covers the most turbulent seas in Western Europe and the roughest inland terrain in the country, where it also helps with search and rescue and deals with two-thirds of all 'Mayday' emergency calls around the coast of Ireland.
The station employs 16 people.
At present the Departmental-Coast Guard budget is putting money into a move away from the Eircom fixed line network to an independent contracted microwave network, configured to enable the coast to be covered effectively for marine radio, search and rescue, assistance information by three stations. If this was to be changed to any other configuration, if a one-centre option is chosen in Dublin, there would be an extra cost of around €10m. I have been told. Adding the €5m. already spent on the government decision to improve Valentia and Malin, I wonder what the point of all of this is? Why is Coast Guard management opposed to the costal-based marine radio stations, at the same time as building other Coast Guard bases around the coast. There seems a lack of logic in this approach.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A LIFE ?
In safety-at-sea terms the present maritime coastal radio station configuration of Valentia and Malin will always be required, as long-range Medium Frequency communications will stay there, used in addition to VHF to cover wider areas of reception. So even if a one-centre manned set up was followed, with an unmanned centre duplicate in case of Dublin breakdown, there would be two additional unmanned sites at Valentia and Malin to be maintained for long-range communications with attendant costs.
Dublin operates three 8-hour watches while Malin and Valentia have operated a 12-hour shift pattern with the effective saving of 2 staff positions without the requirement for overtime.
Coast Guard officials and the Minister for Transport should back away from proposals to do anything which would reduce the effectiveness of safety at sea.
They would be well advised to do so.
THE FUTURE OF BORD IASCAIGH MHARA
The Chief Executive of the national fisheries board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, has told me that: "If you look at where the economy is at now, the need for a standalone agency dealing with seafood development makes sense more than at any time in our economic development. The case is stronger today than it has been for many a long time."
Jason Whooley was speaking to me about suggestions that BIM should be abolished and its functions absorbed elsewhere:
"I hope and would expect the review of BIM will come to the conclusion that it is vital to the seafood sector, to the fishing industry, to maintain BIM, but equally it is up to us as an organisation to constantly review ourselves and our services and deliver for the industry. People may see us as a State agency, cushioned from the wider economy and that an organisation needs a jolt. Perhaps that keeps us on our toes, because we are looking at ourselves constantly to improve our services, so I do think BIM has a strong future."
Closing BIM would, in my view, indicate disregard for the role of the marine sphere in government. The opinions of economic consultants are too easily accepted without challenging the damage they could do to the nation's future.
NATIONAL MARINE PLAN
"For too long we have turned our backs on the sea. It's time now to look to our ocean as a national asset, to harness the opportunities for economic recovery. We need to treasure what we have and protect it for future generations. We also need to build on the potential of our ocean wealth and what it can give back to its people. 'Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth,' the title of this plan, puts a structure in place to make that happen".
That was the opinion expressed by Marine Minister Simon Coveney when he launched the national maritime development plan with the Taoiseach in Galway. It proposes that the value of Ireland's ocean wealth could be doubled to 2.4% of GDP and the turnover from our ocean economy be increased to more than €6.4bn by 2020.
It is a long-term outlook, but one to focus on, for seafood, fishing, marine tourism, shipping, oil and gas, renewable ocean energy and new applications for health, medicine and technology. It sets out goals to achieve a thriving maritime economy, healthy ecosystems and to increase the nation's engagement with the sea, focussing on the State creating the right conditions to promote investment and enable growth.
POOR OLYMPIC COVERAGE
I have had quite a few calls and Emails complaining about television coverage of sailing at the Olympics. It has been poor. TV coverage for the Games is provided by t Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS), an agency of the International Olympic Committee and prevents other broadcasters from covering the events. In sailing coverage has not been satisfactory and at times is done on a single camera which is not acceptable at this level of the sport. The IOC has treated sailing badly in television coverage. For a link to all the latest Irish Olympic sailing news click here.
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#thisislandnation – Six thousand milk bottles in Bantry's inner harbour, Barryroe Oil progress, what will ships look like in 2020, disappearing manta rays, a new book scheme for seafarers, emotion in Union Hall, and the future of navigation and visual aids. Read on for this week's Irish and world maritime news developments.
SIX THOUSAND HARBOUR MILK BOTTLES
Diarmaid Murphy Bantry Atlantic Challenge organiser with schoolchildrens images of the event
The schoolchildren of Bantry created an impressive sight in the town's inner harbour where they used 6,000 two-litre milk bottles to build a replica boat for the Atlantic Challenge. Their project underlined the community-wide support for the event which brought hundreds of young sailors to the town for the past week.
Diarmaid Murphy, who led the event's organisational team, told me that the townspeople would like to see the inner harbour developed.
"It has considerable potential for marine leisure. The Challenge is a great event and we have been involved with it since 1988, so there is strong community support for what has been achieved here and the benefits the event, including taking part at home and abroad which has benefited our young people. The event also highlighted the potential of the inner harbour for the town."
The increase of interest in the Bantry Longboats which are used for the event is good to see. There are plans to build a new boat in Tullamore, so perhaps the inland waterways and the Shannon may see a longboat afloat.
BARRYROE OIL PROSPECTS
Last week I wrote about holding a vial of Barryroe Oil in my hand, pictured here and this week Provident Resources confirmed reports that the find has strong prospects. Its announcement will increase interest by the 'majors' in oil production and this is normal at this stage of the find. What benefit will Ireland get from the find? That question has been raised. The present situation is that 25 per cent of the net profits of a developed find, but note that is 'net' after exploration and development costs have been deducted, go to the State. Taxation changes could only be implemented for new investment. Don't expect, at least for the present, that Ireland is going to become as rich a country as Norway!
THE SHIP OF 2020
Technology has made major changes in ship design and operations, but reliance on modern electronic aids and monitoring and control systems will place extra pressure on watchkeepers who will have to avoid complacency in depending upon instrumentation and ensure that the shipboard "man-machine" interface works.
That observation is made in the International Journal of the Nautical Institute, Seaways. The Institute is the professional body for mariners. Rod Short who is Executive Secretary of GlobalMET Limited, writes: "Technological development and its impact on ship operations will continue and probably accelerate. On-board operational roles will have an increased element of systems monitoring and on-board management roles will move towards the building of leadership and teamwork, in particular developing teamwork among multi-cultural crews who may have varying standards of education and training."
He maintains that it is likely that a new ship in the 2015-2020 period will be "extensively automated with extensive use of electro-technology for all critical operations and will be more efficient, more economical and more environmentally friendly."
EMOTION IN UNION HALL
Marine correspondent Tom MacSweeney on right who unveiled the commemoration plaque and officially opened Union Hall Memorial Garden on Sunday July 22nd. On left is Mr Paddy O'Donovan, MC for the occasion and founder of the local community council.
The community of Union Hall have built an impressive memorial to the memory of seafarers at the entrance to the village which was the centre of the Tit Bonhomme trawler tragedy search last January. It is dominated by a 23ft. high anchor.
"On the plaques are recorded the drowning of 99 people, 76 who are named and the majority of whom came from three parishes around Union Hall," community leader Paddy O'Donovan told me. "The other 23 are unknown to us but would have been either Italian or English."
Some lost their lives while earning their living in fishing boats, others drowned in foreign waters in both World Wars, some were strangers whose cargo ships foundered off the coast, others drowned while engaging in watersports. The earliest tragedies recorded date back to February 1874. The memorial has been part-funded by Cork County Council, the rest raised by the community, many of whom I met, including relatives of those who died in the tragedy and the only Egyptian survivor, when I was honoured to unveil the memorial.
BOOK SCHEME FOR SEAFARERS
The Marine Society of the UK has launched a new crew book service for seafarers and ship operators. [email protected] will equip ships with new paperbacks for seafarers. It is a new crew library service built on the experience gained by the Marine Society over many years.
"It offers a means of relaxation for seafarers and is a positive contribution to a safety culture at sea," said Captain Andy Winbow, Assistant Secretary of the International Maritime Organisation, at the launching of the service in London.
More information on: www.marine-society.org
The Commissioners of Irish Lights will be working with user groups and stakeholders in the coming year to define how e-Navigation should be implemented in Ireland.
Captain Robert McCabe, Acting Head of Marine at CIL, believes that the role of visual Aids to Navigation will "undoubtedly decrease and radio navigation will come to the fore." In The Beam magazine of the Commissioners he indicates that 'Visual AtoN will still have a role 'for spatial awareness and the marking of some dangers' but they will reduce in both number and range.
"The risks of 'heads down' navigation (looking at the screen) are obvious. The challenge is to significantly improve 'heads up' navigation (looking out the window) and to continue to engage navigators with their surroundings while taking advantage of improved positioning, communications and charting. In the coming year we will work closely with user groups and stakeholders to define how e-Navigation should be implemented in Ireland and how we can maximise the benefit."
GENTLE GIANTS UNDER THREAT
The ocean's "gentle giants" as they are known, manta rays, are under threat because of increased fishing in Asian and South American waters to catch and kill them for their gills, used in soups and other dishes in Asia and traditional Chinese medicine.
The rays are pulled from the ocean, using either fine gill nets or spears. They are easy targets as they move slowly through the water. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says catches have quadrupled and the International Conservation for Nature has now classified the species as 'vulnerable.' They are in particular danger because they produce few young.
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#island nation – Barryoe Oil from West Cork; can Irish civil servants co-operate in the interest of the marine sphere; more signs of the difficult economic times with sailing cutbacks; deciding whether the white shark should continue to be protected; Ireland winds the British School Sailing Championships; consumers are using ecolabels to decide their fish-buying habits, the Atlantic Challenge and the continuing mystery of the Lusitania, are my topics this week.
OIL FROM WEST CORK OFFERS PROSPECTS!
I held a phial containing Barryroe Oil in my hand on Saturday, the first time I have seen an example of this discovery off West Cork.
John O'Sullivan of Providence Resources
John O'Sullivan, Technical Director of Providence Resources, was outlining the find at the Glandore Maritime Summer School which was discussing Ireland's Ocean Wealth.
He said the oil is of good quality and during the initial testing had flowed at 1,500 barrels a day. The find has great potential, he said and told the audience that the company was considering Irish facilities to bring it ashore and there will be drilling in other areas, including off Spanish Point.
It was an encouraging description of the resources off our coast.
CAN CIVIL SERVANTS CO-OPERATE IN MARITIME DEVELOPMENT?
I chaired the Saturday afternoon session at the summer school where fundamental questions were raised about government and civil service commitment to the marine sphere. The Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Mark Mellett, a courageous speaker, made the case that the Navy can contribute a wider role to the national economy than just that of a defence force. Micheal O Cinneide, formerly with the Marine Institute and now with the Environmental Protection Agency highlighted lack of co-ordinated decision-making amongst Government Departments.
Glandore Summer School 2012
The level of actual sea-going experience amongst civil servants forming the government's Marine Co-ordinating Group which is drawing up the national maritime development plan was discussed. Many people at Glandore had never heard of this Group, though the plan they have been preparing is due to be launched later this month. The issue of whether the nine government departments on the Group, competing against each other for scarce resources, can co-operate in the interest of advancing the marine sphere as a major national economic resource, was raised. The school was told that top civil servants regularly go to the high-powered Harvard Business School in the USA to hone their skills and are top of the class in administration, but regularly fail to show that they can co-operate or work together. An interesting reflection!
Marine Minister Simon Coveney maintained that they can and are co-operating and that the plan will point to an exciting future for the marine sphere, establishing it as a major economic sector. He said there had been strong public interest in making submissions.
Alan Dwyer the Commodore of Schull Harbour Sailing Club in West Cork has been telling me of another sign of the difficult economic times - Calves Week will be a different event this year.
"We have made major changes to what was an event which had grown with time and tradition to lasting almost two weeks. That grew with the holiday season in Schull but as people have come under more time and economic pressures, those who took part told us they wanted a shorter and less expensive alternative."
The club has responded by cutting the event back to a four-day Calves Week Championships which will start on Tuesday, August 7 and run until Friday, August 10. Schull will have a sailing festival with the village decorated in a maritime theme by local businesses and events for all the family. The traditional regattas in Baltimore, Crookhaven and Schull will continue as stand-alone events with their own courses and prizegivings, organised by the local clubs.
Schull Harbour SC was founded in 1977 as a summer sailing club and from its inception has actively promoted leisure and competitive sailing in the West Cork harbour. The first commodore was Billy Pope who had sailed in the area from the fifties in his yacht Pendua.
SCHULL REVENGE IN BRITAIN
The Fastnet International Schools Regatta is being revived in Schull this month following the hosting of the World Team Racing Championship there last year and will be held from Monday to Thursday next week, July 23-26. Gold Fleet Racing will take place in the TR3.6 dinghies which were designed and built for the world championships. Handicap Racing will take place in both silver and bronze fleets with class racing where sufficient entries are received.
The success of what has been achieved by the concentration which Schull Community College has placed on sailing as part of the sports curriculum is shown by the College winning the British Schools Dinghy Team Racing Championships for the second time in 3 years. Racing was at Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent. The students of Schull Community College beat Magdalen College, Oxford, by 2 races to nil in the final. The Schull team crews were: Oisin O'Driscoll/Katie Moynihan; Connor Millar/Ellen O'Regan; Fionn Lyden/Mark Hassett.
Next week also, this time in Bantry, young sailors from 16 nations will be taking part in the Atlantic Challenge. Competitions involving sailing and rowing the Bantry Longboats which are replicas of the Wolfe Tone Expedition and the French Armada dating back to 1796. There will also be seafaring competitions.
I once sailed in one of the boats and, as they are also rowed, they do not have the traditional keel which keeps sailing vessels upright, so they are balanced by the weight and positioning of the crew. That keeps you on your toes, but it is exhilarating and challenging sailing.
REVIEWING PROTECTION OF WHITE SHARKS
Continuing the protection of white sharks is being questioned in Western Australia after a fifth fatal attack on humans since September of last year. The State's Fisheries Minister, Norman Moore, said that the level of attacks on humans by white sharks was higher there than documented anywhere else in the world and action would have to be taken to deal with the situation.
White sharks have been a protected species for more than a decade, since the International Union for Conservation of Nature identified them as vulnerable. The Federal Government's White Shark Recovery Plan was released in 2002 and reviewed in 2008. That review found insufficient evidence to confirm an increase in the species. He wants the Federal Government to discuss the research data on which the protection of these sharks is being maintained and whether that status should be reviewed.
BUYING FISH BY LABEL
Consumers around the world, particularly in Northern Europe, are using ecolabels to find out if fish they buy come from sustainable stocks, according to the Marine Stewardship Council. It commissioned an independent study which found that label recognition was highest in Germany and lowest in France.
LUSITANIA MYSTERY CONTINUES
The underwater footage of the Lusitania wreck shown on the National Geographic Channel was very impressive and concluded with a US government weapons research centre testing the theories about a second explosion after the liner had been torpedoed.
The conclusion was that this was a boiler explosion and that only the German U-boat torpedo sank her. Greg Bemis who owns the wreck disagreed and says he will continue to explore the second blast theory.
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#islandnation – A great maritime show in Galway, controversy after the Round Ireland in Wicklow, honouring the community of Union Hall, tougher inspection of cruise ships visiting Irish ports, hogging moorings on the inland waterways, aliens in the Royal Canal, a new fleet of currachs in Killybegs, the wearing of lifejackets and Cork Week, seafood and seaweed sausage and a Howth Lifeboat retirement - it is a busy time on the marine scene!
HONOURING THE PEOPLE OF UNION HALL
You could feel emotion in the fish auction hall on the quayside in Killybegs when the dark days of last January were recalled on Friday morning as Bill Deasy, one of the West Cork fishing village's community leaders, stood in front of compatriots from coastal areas all around Ireland. A few tears were quietly shed as the tragedy of the Tit Bonhomme trawler was recalled, but shining above it all was the memory of how the people of Union Hall rallied around those families from Ireland and Egypt in the search for bodies and showed what a maritime community can do.
The occasion was the presentation of the first 'Spirit of the Sea' Award, recognition of the "inspiration and selfless commitment" of the people of Union Hall in the dark days of the Tit Bonhomme trawler last January.
"Grief and sadness was palpable across the country with the tragedy resonating amongst the coastal communities. The inspiration provided by the people of Union Hall in pursuing the search to a successful conclusion was something that we should all be proud of," said the Editor of the national fishing paper, The Marine Times, when he presented the award to Bill Deasy at the Fish Ireland Exhibition who accepted it on behalf of Union Hall.
"The dedication and compassion of the community inspired the creation of the award for which there was unanimous support from fishing ports all over Ireland," said Mark McCarthy. "It is not only dedicated to them but was inspired by them."
Later this month the Union Hall community are to unveil their own memorial in the village to all who have died at sea.
The concept of national awards in the maritime sphere is, I think, worth pursuing to raise public awareness of marine matters. It was good to see the Union Hall community honoured.
A GREAT SHOW IN GALWAY
The people of Galway have once again shown that their city deserves to be a maritime capital. It would have been hard to imagine that they could surpass what they did the last time the Volvo Ocean Race called, but they did. Despite the bad weather which has dogged Ireland this summer 20,000 people was the number put on those who, in the early hours of the morning, welcomed the Volvo Race fleet. It can be truly said that no other city has shown the backing to this event as has the City of the Tribes.
I am delighted that the mainstream general media has at last recognised Damian Foxall from Kerry as an international sporting icon. After fifteen years and four attempts in the Volvo Race, he has earned the overall winners' podium on the crew of the French yacht, Groupama. It was appropriate that his colleagues stood back to let him take the plaudits from the attendance in Galway.
Let us also not forget our other Irish sailing icon, Justin Slattery from Cork, also an overall Volvo winner as bowman on the Dutch entry ABN Amro One which was the overall victor in 2005-2006.
It is time that there was public appreciation in Ireland of these sailing stars who are far more deserving, in my view, than the approbation given to overseas footballers' and who are also far more approachable, courteous and personable. Well done to Damian, to Justin, to all the sailors in the Volvo Race and all those behind the great show in Galway.
Driving back from Killybegs I stopped in Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday afternoon, which was a revelation of how busy the maritime sphere can be inland. It was throbbing, busy, boats moving, lots of people around strolling along the riverbank on what was, for once, a nice sunny afternoon which would make you want to be on the water. It was good to see. Carrick-on-Shannon is a town which has paid attention to its maritime resources and is benefiting from that.
I hired a boat a few years ago there for a week on the inland waterways and thoroughly enjoyed. In most weather conditions you could move and the riverside towns and villages were always welcoming.
However, sometimes boat people are not welcoming to others and this is a disappointment. Waterways Ireland is getting tougher about "mooring hoggers" who have blocked up harbours and denied visitors access. It has been successful in prosecutions for breaches of a 48-hour mooring Bye-law in Lough Erne. I was told in Carrick-on-Shannon of instances where visiting boats at different locations along the waterways had alleged they had been denied the facility of mooring alongside boats already in harbour and that some had thereby felt forced back out into unsuitable weather. That this should happen is appalling and creates a potentially dangerous situation.
ROUND IRELAND PROTEST
Galway added to its sailing prowess when the Clifden Boat Club was declared overall winner of the Round Ireland Race in which members had sailed a Ker 39, Inis Mor. With the students of NUI Galway winning Class 1 that made a dual success for the West in the week in which Galway has taken centre place in the sailing world.
There is controversy about other aspects of the race, though it will not affect the overall winners. This will have to be resolved at a hearing after the organising race committee from Wicklow Sailing Club lodged a protest against Green Dragon, the former Irish entry in the Volvo Race, under sailing's Rule 47. This requires a yacht to start and finish with the same number of crew.
The race committee told me that the listed Skipper, well-known sailor Enda O'Coineen left the yacht at the Fastnet. It was first back to Wicklow, followed by the Dutch entry Tonnerre de Breskens, sailed by Piet Vroon who was defending his title. Explanations given by Green Dragon for the departure of the Skipper during racing didn't satisfy the race committee. There are provisions for a crew member to leave and I am told that Enda O'Coineen has indicated he will be defending his situation. A protest date has not yet been set.
ANOTHER SUCCESS FOR BARRY
Amidst all the coverage of the Volvo Race in Galway, another great achievement by Cobh sailor Barry Hurley did not get a lot of attention. Sailing alone in his JOD 35 Dinah, the accomplished single-hander won the first Round Rockall race from Galway. It was a tough 750-mile voyage to be on your own. Barry who takes pride in his native 'Holy Ground' in Cork Harbour sent this self-portrait from Dinah having rounded Rockall. Two years ago he won the transAtlantic OSTAR Race to America.
BLESSING THE CURRACHS IN KILLYBEGS
The most unusual thing I have been asked to do as a Marine Correspondent is to bless boats! This happened at Killybegs on Saturday afternoon when I was handed a bottle of holy water to bless the boats and wish them a safe future as the fleet was launched from the pier in the fishing town. Built in a community project they are very impressive. As I have been writing in this column, the currach is a superbly designed boat. Neily Gallagher who ran the project told me all about it and I also met the great builder and expert on currachs Owny Diver from Gola Island. A lovely occasion to be involved with.
CRUISE OPERATORS CONSIDER IRISH THREAT
Cruise ship visits are an important economic tourism boost to several ports including Cork, but there are indications that operating companies are examining what effects will result from the statement by the Maritime Safety Office that safety checks on their vessels are to be intensified when they call to Irish ports. This is in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster. According to reports this week checks of safety and crew ability to handle evacuation will be stepped up. They are already regarded as quite tough here. While there should be no compromise on safety, it is to be hoped that there will not be an over-zealous approach which might damage this valuable shipping business.
An inquiry report into the Costa Concordia disaster is due in the middle of this month. There are unconfirmed reports about equipment not being in proper working order aboard the ship, including the 'black box' which should record conservations amongst officers on the bridge and navigational equipment, as well as suggestions that safety doors were left open rather than being closed at sea. The company has denied the Italian newspaper reports, so the release of the investigation report will be interesting to see.
As I watched the photographs of trawlers which had sunk with loss of life, washed up on rocks, or just disappeared, I looked at the faces of others watching the screen display, fishermen who go to sea in this most dangerous and challenging of occupations and women and children of fishing families. It was a reminder that the sea can never be taken casually.
John Leech Chief Executive of the Irish Water Safety Association was making a compelling, thought-provoking presentation at the FISH IRELAND exhibition in Killybegs where I interviewed him as part of a public series. He showed slides of the various fishing accidents and spoke about the subsequent loss of life over recent years. Very direct in pointing out to fishermen and their families the tragic consequences of not wearing lifejackets, he stressed how much more user-friendly they are these days. John's message, for all leisure boat users as well as fishermen is - be safe on the water - think of the family and wear a lifejacket. There are reminders of fishing tragedies all over the coast.
The overall entry for Cork Week is smaller than in previous years, 105 boats at the time of writing, an indicator of the economic times. The RCYC organisers have responded with some new courses, a new layout for the Race Village and say the entry may be smaller but the quality is good.
Next Friday will provide a nice public spectator opportunity for the "Cobh race" as it is known during Cork Week. All classes taking part will be combined to race around a turning mark off Cobh which, allowing always for the weather, will be a good opportunity for spectators to see sail racing and, hopefully, lots of spinnakers being raised to add colour to the spectacle.
MY FIRST SEAFOOD SAUSAGE
This week I ate my first seafood sausages of salmon and haddock which came from Kilmore Quay and were bought on their first delivery to a Cork supermarket! Very tasty. Four big sausages for €4.99 and well worth the price. I am told, if ever I get the chance, to try seaweed sausages that are
"amazing" and are in some shops, though I haven't seen them yet.
HOWTH RNLI RETIREMENT
The maritime community in Howth have paid tribute to George Duffy who has retired after 44 years with the RNLI where he was Mechanic for 25 years and also had been Deputy Coxswain to his younger brother, Robert. There is a strong family involvement with the Howth lifeboat. His youngest brother, Michael, is also an RNLI volunteer.
SCOTLAND SHOWING THE WAY
The UK Government has done an about-turn on its decision not to provide funding for an emergency towing vessel in Scotland after pressure from the Scottish Parliament. Under new arrangements a Scottish ETV will work with the UK Coastguard. The Scottish are really pushing forward the maritime aspect of their governmental responsibilities. They have also made big advances in getting back some of their fisheries controls. The provision of emergency towing vessel facilities in Ireland does not bear comparison, nor does the approach to protecting and developing our own fisheries. The UK Government in London may be taking an example from the Scottish in maritime initiatives. It has pressured the EU Commission into examining funding support for the development of British inland waterways for use by commercial freight traffic.
ALIENS ON THE ROYAL CANAL
Inland Fisheries Ireland has removed a turtle from the Royal Canal near Mullingar in County Westmeath. It seems the 30 cm. red-eared slider turtle may have been around for some time and been a nuisance to anglers by persistently taking their bait! This species is native to southern USA waters apparently and how it got to Mullingar is unknown so far, but there is suspicion that it may have become an unwanted pet that was dumped.
IFI is monitoring the stretch of the canal involved, though it is hoped this may be a one-off instance. If not there could be other repercussions for marine life there. The turtle has been removed to "another suitable location."
YOUTH SAILING AND ATLANTIC CHALLENGE
After the Volvo and Cork Week, young sailors will dominate the sport at Dun Laoghaire from July 12-21 at the International Sailing Federation's Youth World Championships and the Fastnet International Schools' Regatta will follow at Schull in West Cork from July 23 to 26.
Also in West Cork young people will take centre stage in Bantry from July 21-29 at the Atlantic Challenge.
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#islandnation – THIS WEEK : Smelly humans, the pace picks up in Galway, pirates in Baltimore, the response of fishermen to the condescending RNLI and a Cork beauty are amongst my topics this week, read on .....
GALWAY PACE PICKS UP
There is an increasing buzz of excitement in Galway where the pace has picked up notably this week with work well underway on constructing the Volvo Ocean Race Village and increasing hope that Damian Foxall could be representing Ireland on the overall Volvo winners' podium in the City of the Tribes. It is still disappointing that the general media is not focussing attention on Ireland's two top international sailors in the race - Damian from Kerry and a member of Kinsale Yacht Club who is aboard the French entry Groupama and Justin Slattery from Cork who is with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
The boat hook on Achill lifeboat
FISHERMEN TELL OFF THE RNLI
Dick Robinson, former lifeboat crewman from Valentia Island and author of several books about the lifeboat service, has written to me about my visit to the Achill Island lifeboat when I said I had learned that the two boat hooks on modern lifeboats are the only items remains as a tradition from the past."
Dick confirms that this is a reminder of the rowing lifeboat days:
"The RNLI at that time issued a rather condescending circular that white oars were to be used to starboard and blue to port, as 'the orthodox terms, starboard and port are rarely used in lifeboat work since many lifeboatmen are unaccustomed to nautical phraseology.' The Penlee crew reversed the placings as a protest against the tone of that circular.
"The orders from the Coxswain would be 'Forward the white, Back the blue' or reverse as appropriate. The boats would have no steerage way working in close, so the rudder would not be effective and so oars had to be worked all the time. The oars were the subject of considerable research as oars breaking during beaching or launching operations could be fatal. In 1866 trials were carried out involving 38 different types of wood. The best oars were found to be made from young trees in Norwegian and Baltic Wood, followed by oars made from planks of the same woods. Oregon Pine was also good. A balance had to be struck between oars which would break under ordinary conditions and ones which would not break if the lifeboat struck bottom in shallow waters and thereby might capsize her. Later oars were balanced with lead inside."
Thanks Dick for this information on a fascinating topic.
PIRATES IN BALTIMORE
The sacking of Baltimore village, a very popular sailing destination in West Cork, is the topic of a 'PIRATE SEMINAR' – an unusual addition to the list of maritime events this summer. It will be held next weekend, starting on Friday night, June 29 and running until Sunday, July 1, including events for all the family.
The Schull – Baltimore – Cape Clear ferry departs Baltimore
Des Ekin, Assistant Editor with the Sunday World and author of the book – 'The Stolen Village' will discuss the 'Sack of Baltimore' in 1631 when inhabitants were taken off to slavery in Algiers. Connie Kelleher, Underwater Archaeologist with the Dept. of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht's Underwater Unit will discuss piracy in southwest Ireland in the seventeenth century.
New to Baltimore is a permanent 'piratical exhibition' at Dún na Séad castle, with details of the raid on the village and copies of rare graphics from the seventeenth century depicting the story of the Baltimore captives who were taken into a life of slavery. Details are also shown of the activities of the O'Driscoll clan and their notorious involvement with the men of Waterford during the middle ages. A depiction of Thomas Crooke, the English 'pirate/planter' is also featured. An accompanying feature of the exhibition is a new book by Bernie McCarthy called 'Pirates of Baltimore,' containing images of lifestyles and events associated with the piratical history of the village. Did you ever imagine the respectable Baltimore of today to have such a history!
The exhibition is open daily 11am – 6 pm.
THE BEAUTY OF TRADITION
There is a great beauty in traditional boats and the one pictured here, the Peel Castle, was for me the star of this year's Crosshaven Traditional Boats Gathering. She is owned by Graham Bailey and deservedly won the top prize at the event. A fishing lugger she was built back in 1929 at Porthleven in Cornwall, carvel, pitch pine planking on oak frames and her original engine power was 2 x 25 hp Alphas - currently 120hp Ford D series.
The Peel Caslte racing off Crosshaven
She was registered PZ17 at Penzance, later BM17 Brixham, Devon. She also fished out of Fleetwood from1968 and finished fishing in 1977 when she was de-registered. Re-registered in Skibbereen in 2008, she has sailed extensively in European waters. Restoration work was done at Hegarty's Old Court Boatyard and is impressive. Graham, a shipwright, also restored her internally. Visitors aboard were very impressed.
Human-produced gas emissions are a significant cause of ocean warming!
Average ocean temperatures have been rising by 0.045 degrees per decade for the past half-century and natural fluctuations alone "do not explain warming in the upper layers of the planet's oceans," according to the Lawrence Livermore National USA National Laboratory. "Human greenhouse gas emissions are an added ingredient and strengthen the conclusion that most of the global ocean warming over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities," according to Livermore climate scientist Peter Gleckler.
The Californian Laboratory which made these findings in a desktop computer modelling study of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans also researches protection against weapons of mass destruction!
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