Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Displaying items by tag: Tom MacSweeney

In this week's column: Safety in sailing; ocean wealth in Galway; the US Navy going green; increased shipping in the Arctic Circle; Denis Noonan and the Round Ireland Race; Australia's world ocean reserve and the UK Coastguard suggests offshore sailors use satellite phones.

OCEAN WEALTH IN GALWAY

Rain was lashing against the bridge windows of the Irish Lights' vessel Granuaile in Galway Docks, the wind was howling. Most definitely, it was not a nice day to be on the water when I told the audience listening to me that we Irish people are fortunate to live on an island. I was launching the Ocean Wealth Showcase with Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of the Commissioners of Irish Lights. It will take place at the Volvo Ocean Race Festival from June 30 to July 8 and will be well worth a visit.

yvonneshields

Yvonne Shileds with the new Twitter buoy off Galway yesterday

Driving into Galway you can see that the city has embraced the Volvo Race and, talking to that great member of Galway Bay Sailing Club and one of the men whose determination brought the race to the City of the Tribes, John Killeen, we agreed that the overall result will be decided in the city. Eamonn Conneely, who sailed Patches to international success and Enda O'Coineen, were the other members of the trio which led the Galway Volvo campaign. Well done to them and all those involved, including hundreds of volunteers, who have established Galway on the world maritime map.

State agencies and commercial companies and organisations have put together the Ocean Wealth Showcase. Throughout the week there will be a wide range of exhibits demonstrating the scale and diversity of Ireland's ocean resources and their economic, social and environmental value to our island nation. In addition there will be a range of business and family events throughout the week.

It was a pleasure to launch the Showcase and to see how much commitment is being given to it.

The launch coincided with the placing of the Galway 'Twitter' Buoy in the Bay which will Tweet information about the Showcase as well as navigation and metocean information about the Volvo Race and Galway Bay. Look it up on www.twitter.com/GalwayBuoy.

TO SAIL OR NOT TO SAIL

There has been a lot of heavy weather around to test the ability of sailors. Not surprisingly, the issue of how safe is the sport and in what state of bad weather racing should be held, has arisen. I did not finish the first race of the Union Chandlery evening league at the RCYC in Crosshaven due to prevailing heavy weather conditions. The forecast was not encouraging but it seemed a reasonable assumption that the race could be held before a strong front arrived. Shortly after it began, though, the very heavy weather arrived. Wind strength was 27 knots, with gusts of 34 according to meteorological reports recorded at Roche's Point. With a reef in the main, two rolls of the headsail taken in on the furling jib, the boat still taking a pounding while reaching speeds of 8 to 9 knots at times, I decided it was better and safer for my 33ft. Sigma and crew not to continue to race and withdrew. In Class 3 in which I was competing, six of the seven boats taking part retired. Class 1 and 2 boats raced on to their finish.

Afterwards there was quite a bit of discussion about the conditions. Views ranged from those who thought them too heavy, to others exhilarated by what they had encountered, underlining that individual views differ about conditions. For those who ask when racing should or should not be held, the decision on whether or not to race and responsibility for it must be taken by the Skipper. Clubs will provide racing, but do state in their regulations that the decision to sail is that of the Skipper. Therefore the crew who go with him or her are presumed to support that decision. Insurance companies are careful about stating their position, but my understanding is that they regard the responsible person as the one who has insured the boat.

Experience of heavy weather is necessary for sailors because weather patterns can change quickly in these waters. Leisure sailing, to which I am referring in this regard, is different to professional racing such as the Volvo Round the World Race where conditions far different to club racing are experienced and sailors must be capable of dealing with them.

The second race of the league was cancelled this week because of the very heavy weather conditions, quite rightly in my view. I would be interested to hear views from readers.

NICE DOCKS IN GALWAY

I like the comment which Galway Harbour Master Capt.Brian Sheridan made to me about the new view the people of Galway have of the city docks:

"The people of Galway no longer refer to the 'docks' as a dirty, disliked place. It is now 'the harbour,' a positive part of the life of the city and it will be even more important, because the West of Ireland deserves to have a strong, vibrant port as a major economic contributor to the city and the western region."

He is one of the driving forces in the successful staging of the race. It is on his shoulders that arrangements for the berthing of the race fleet and visitors falls.

DENNIS NOONAN, WICKLOW AND THE ROUND IRELAND

"There were those who thought we wouldn't make it, but again we have," Dennis Noonan told me from Wicklow Sailing Club in that quiet but determined voice of his when we talked about this year's Round Ireland Race which will start on Sunday, June 24 and for which there are 38 entries as I write. The number includes more British than Irish. There are 18 from the UK, just 12 from Ireland, with several other countries represented. Dennis is a legend who has devoted huge energy to the staging of the Round Ireland. 'Fair Sailing' to all competitors.

I hear indications that Green Dragon, Ireland's former Volvo entry may be returning to racing and participate, with plans to use it for offshore training.

US NAVY GOING GREEN

The United States Navy is making a move towards going 'green'. In exercises off the coast of Hawaii next month five warships are to make Stateside maritime history when they become the first to use biofuels to power their turbines, as well as jets flying off a carrier's deck and helicopters hovering overhead. The flotilla will be powered by a mixture of cooking grease and algae oil of which 3,400 tonnes was loaded aboard the Naval fleet oiler, Henry J.Kaiser, this week to supply the ships. This is part of the U.S. Navy's efforts to move away from dependence on petroleum.

AUSTRALIA HAS WORLD'S LARGEST MARINE RESERVE

Australia has created the world's largest network of marine reserves where it will restrict fishing as well as oil and gas exploration to safeguard the environment and access to food the government says. The area covers 1.2 million square miles of ocean, a third of the island continent's territorial waters, which sustain more than 4,000 species of fish.

The environmental group WWF has welcomed the development but the government's conservative opposition has vowed to review the boundaries if it gets into power at elections next year, an outcome that opinion polls indicate is likely!

"I am instinctively against anything that damages the rights of recreational fishing and anything that will further damage the commercial fishing industry and tourism," opposition leader Tony Abbott said. {youtube}KPLvgZa3ltA{/youtube}

MORE SHIPPING USE OF THE ARCTIC

Shipping cargoes moving through Arctic waters are set to rise to their highest this year as companies use the route to cut journey times and fuel usage compared with Suez Canal shipments.

Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S plans to transport about six to eight 70,000 metric-ton shipments of iron ore to China from the Russian port of Murmansk starting next month. Using the Northern Sea Route for the journey instead of the canal is saving the company 1,000 tons of fuel, or $650,000 per journey.

SATELLITE PHONES OFFSHORE

It was interesting to see what appears to be a change of approach by the UK Coastguard this week when it suggested that offshore sailors should carry a satellite phone for emergencies,

Following the helicopter rescue of a solo sailor whose 22ft boat had been knocked flat repeatedly in Force 9 conditions, Falmouth coastguard issued a statement: "For offshore voyages leisure sailors are recommended to carry a satellite form of communication."

"It makes life easier for us if we can be in direct touch, because then we can establish what the problem is," said James Instance, Watch Manager at MRCC Falmouth. "An EPIRB is fantastic, but although it indicates position it doesn't say what kind of distress it is."

To Email your comments to THIS ISLAND NATION: [email protected]

Follow Tom MacSweeney on Twitter @TomMacSweeney and on Facebook

Published in Island Nation
Tagged under

#ISLANDNATION – The effect of six-on/six-off hours of watchkeeping on accidents at sea, boat hooks aboard lifeboats, 67 children drowned in 10 years, a traditional beauty in Cork Harbour and the astonishing discovery beneath the Arctic ice are my topics this week.

SIX-ON SIX-OFF WATCHES AND SEAFARER FATIGUE

Seafarer fatigue and tiredness have been blamed as contributory factors in shipping accidents. Though seafarers and accident investigators have regularly drawn attention to the issue, much of this has been anecdotal. The six-on/six-off watch system has come in for criticism as the cause of stress and tiredness. The Nautical Institute, the professional body for seafarers, says that for the first time scientific proof has established that tiredness levels are the "real issue that seafarers and accident investigators have known it to be for years."

The evidence is in the EU-funded Horizon Project co-ordinated by Warsash Maritime Academy, part of Southampton Solent University with partners in Sweden and elsewhere, which measured the effects of different watch-keeping regimes. It provides advice to relevant authorities on how to address the issues and a fatigue projector tool developed for risk mitigation processes.

BOAT HOOKS AND LIFEBOATS

ACHILL ISLAND LIFEBOAT MECHANIC STEPHEN McNULTY

Stephen McNulty, Achill lifeboat mechanic

"There are two boat hooks on the lifeboat. The starboard one is blue and the port is white and they are the only items on the modern boat which remains as a tradition from the past."

When Stephen McNulty, Achill Lifeboat's Mechanic told me that, I learned something new about maritime tradition. I love visiting lifeboat stations. They are very special places with a strong sense of community spirit, the foundation base for the lifeboat service. I was being shown around the Achill Trent class boat, Sam and Ada Moody, on the pontoon at Cloghmore in Achill Sound, an area of magnificent coastal scenery with the highest cliffs in Ireland. Achill lifeboat crews have received eight awards for gallantry.

ACHILL LIFEBOAT WHITE POLE ON PORT SIDE

Achill lifeboat - white pole on port side

"I saw you looking at the boat hooks and thought you mightn't know their background," Stephen McNulty chuckled as he saw me looking more closely at them and wondering why I hadn't noticed them before on other boats!

"Traditionally on the old rowing lifeboats, when the boats were wood and the men were steel, the oars were blue on the starboard and white on the port side," he said. "It continues the tradition in the way we have them aboard today and they remind us of what those in the past did for the saving of life and the challenges they faced."

67 CHILDREN DROWN IN 10 YEARS

The Irish Water Safety Association has drawn attention to the start of summer holidays for primary school children in a few weeks, "many of whom may lack an awareness of how to stay safe when playing near or on the water."

John Leech, CEO of the Association and a former Naval Service Officer, is a man I have known for many years whose dedication to the concept of safety on the water has driven awareness of wearing lifejackets on leisure craft and urging fishermen to wear personal buoyancy at sea.

"Sixty-seven children aged fourteen and under drowned in Ireland in the last ten years. Responsible parental supervision guarantees child safety yet tragic drownings occur every year when children escape the watchful eye of guardians."

The Water Safety Association's "PAWS" programme (Primary Aquatics Water Safety) is a component of the primary school curriculum teaching children how to stay safe around water.

TRADITIONAL BOATS

The beauty of traditional boats was evident in Cork Harbour when the beautiful craft pictured here sailed past while I was on the water on Bank Holiday Monday. Many more traditional craft will be on the harbour waters next weekend, June 15, 16, 17 when the annual Crosshaven Traditional Sail is held, organised by a local committee in association with Crosshaven Vintners. It is always a great weekend to meet and talk with the owners of traditional boats who are so outgoing with information about their boats, conveying the pride and dedication which are an essential ability of the owners of traditional craft.

TRADITIONAL BEAUTY IN CORK HARBOUR

The beauty of traditional boats in Cork Harbour

Pat Tanner is the event Co-ordinator with the experienced sailor, Dave Hennessy, as Officer of the Day. Boats can register on arrival at Crosshaven Pier. For everyone who turns up, afloat and ashore, adults and children, they are running a "Mad Fish Headgear Competition" – 'Let everything nautical go to your head.'

ASTONISHING ARCTIC DISCOVERY

Scientists from Stanford's School of Earth Sciences in the USA have reported the discovery of a massive bloom of phytoplankton beneath the ice of the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic, which they say challenges long-held assumptions about the Arctic's ecology. The scientists from Stanford's School of Earth Sciences in the USA were researching aboard a Coast Guard icebreaker 200 miles west of the Alaskan coast. It seems the phytoplankton, seen for an estimated 60 miles, are thriving because the Arctic sea ice has been thinning for years, a result of global climate change. Phytoplankton are the crucial diet for many marine organisms. They make up the base of the entire Arctic food chain, supporting fish, walrus, seabirds and more. The ice was between two-and-a-half and four feet thick where the phytoplankton cells were growing and at least four times greater than in open water.

algalbloomarctic

This NASA Aqua satellite image from 2003 shows clouds of phytoplankton off of Greenland's eastern coast (AFP/NASA/File)

To Email your comments to THIS ISLAND NATION: [email protected]

Follow Tom MacSweeney on Twitter @TomMacSweeney and on Facebook

Published in Island Nation

#MARITIME – From Friday, May 4 I will be writing a new weekly page for the Afoat.ie website, covering the maritime sphere in its widest application – marine, shipping, fishing, leisure, research and development.

This will be accompanied by a monthly newsletter which will be circulated to readers of Afloat.ie.

Sign-up detais will issue on May 4.

We have further plans for development of maritime coverage through the Afloat.ie website, providing the widest coverage of the marine sphere.

I look forward to your interest in this new approach and you can also follow this coverage on Afloat Twitter and Facebook and on Twitter @TomMacSweeney and on my Facebook page.

Published in Island Nation

Last month AIB pulled the plug on sailing club fees for staff. Next month the Irish Sailing Association aims to rejig the annual fee it charges to clubs at an egm. They are signs that the necklace of over 70 yacht clubs around the coast and on inland waters are under financial pressure. No wonder as the cost of going sailing, as well as many other sports in Ireland, proves too much to bear for many families.

In his recent column (below) in the Evening Echo Marine Correspondent Tom MacSweeney highlighted the need for Sailing Clubs around the coast to do all they can to help struggling memberships. 

Membership is becoming an issue for sailing clubs to judge from what club officers around the coast have been telling me. It is a sign of the economic times. Families and individuals have to examine closely what to do with the money they have left after the government has raided their incomes.

I have been told that club members and particularly those holding family memberships are looking at how much they pay for an inclusive membership and reducing it to just one individual membership. Others have told me that they are faced with deferring payments or foregoing membership altogether.

Clubs are responding to the situation in different ways.

While the more realistic are taking steps to deal with the issue, there are indications that others are ignoring a situation that, it appears, could affect the popularity of the sport. This may be from an entrenched position or snobbish attitude where they don't want to admit difficulties in public. An inadvisable situation when income is being squeezed and the future challenged.

Payment systems such as monthly standing orders, direct debits, concessions for early payments, have been introduced by those clubs realistically dealing with the situation. Sailing is not the only sporting activity being affected, I hear of golf, rugby, soccer and other clubs feeling the pinch of reduced incomes, soaring taxes and charges levied on household incomes by the government. Something has to give because there is a limit to the amount of money people have. Government politicians seem incapable of understanding that people have not got enough money or sufficient disposable incomes because of the State raping their salaries.

Another aspect of the impact of deteriorating income levels appears to be the demand for marina spaces, with boat owners not as active as they had been in seeking berths and telling me frankly they cannot stretch incomes to afford prices during high season. Some boatyards are feeling the effects also around the country, as are yacht sales. A lot of boats are for sale and replacement plans by sailors who had planned to upgrade have been put on hold.

The oldest yacht club in the world, the Royal Cork at Crosshaven, has been responding to the challenging times. Last season it introduced a monthly membership scheme and a crew membership system as an innovative response to the challenge which the sport faces.

When he took over as the club's new Admiral at its annual general meeting last Monday night in the Crosshaven clubhouse, Peter Deasy acted immediately, announcing that the club would take further steps to address the issue.

He has taken office for a two-year period in succession to Paddy McGlade, a post which follows his successful leadership of the last Cork Week two years ago when he was Chairman. Cork Week will be held again this year, from July 7 to 13.

"There is a membership challenge, it is one facing all clubs in these times and it will be addressed by this club," he said. He stressed the importance of encouraging more people into sailing. The club is to carry out a review of its membership system, amongst other steps. On Monday night members approved an increase in subscription levels for those over 65, who pay a reduced rate as 'seniors,' as is the situation in many clubs.

The RCYC is taking a realistic, determined approach toward what is an issue born of these difficult national economic times. Peter Deasy also emphasised the importance of encouraging young sailors and keeping them within the sport.

This is a topic I have addressed before. Not every young sailor will reach the top competitively, but all are needed to remain in the sport in this island nation. When they emerge from dinghies there is a difficulty, experienced in many clubs around the coast, of maintaining their involvement.

 

Published in Island Nation
Plans are afoot to bring powerboat racing's Harmsworth Trophy event to Cork in 2014 - over 100 years since Cork Harbour hosted the first ever edition of the race.
Regarded as the powerboat version of yachting's America's Cup, the first Harmsworth Trophy was won in July 1903 by Napier, which was allegedly piloted by women's world land speed record holder Dorothy Lewitt.
According to the Tom MacSweeney in the Evening Echo, a consortium is hard at work to bring the race back to its birthplace - coinciding with the Round Ireland Powerboat Race, which will also be held out of Cork in 2014.
Denis Dillon of the Irish Sailing Association commented: "There is a group of Cork enthusiasts interested and is trying to put a consortium together that would also bring back one of the original 1903 boats still is existance which is in the USA.
"It came first in its class and second overall in the race in 1903 and they hope to bring it back for the 2014 race."

Plans are afoot to bring powerboat racing's Harmsworth Trophy event to Cork in 2014 - over 100 years since Cork Harbour hosted the first ever edition of the race. SCROLL DOWN FOR ARCHIVE Footage.

Regarded as the powerboat version of yachting's America's Cup, the first Harmsworth Trophy was won in July 1903 by Napier, which was allegedly piloted by women's world land speed record holder Dorothy Lewitt.

According to the Tom MacSweeney column in the Evening Echo, a consortium is hard at work to bring the race back to its birthplace - coinciding with the Round Ireland Powerboat Race, which will also be held out of Cork in 2014.

Denis Dillon of the Irish Sailing Association commented: "There is a group of Cork enthusiasts interested and is trying to put a consortium together that would also bring back one of the original 1903 boats still is existance which is in the USA.

"It came first in its class and second overall in the race in 1903 and they hope to bring it back for the 2014 race."

Published in Powerboat Racing
The wind was whistling in from the Shannon, kicking the estuary into a lively stretch of water where I wouldn't have liked to be hauling a spinnaker. That comparison sprang to mind while sitting under the canopy in the yard of the lifeboat station where I was about to name the new Kilrush Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

I have been at many naming and launching ceremonies but never before had the honour of being invited to perform a naming ceremony. The spirit of friendship, of commitment to helping others, which is the hallmark of the RNLI, made it a very pleasant occasion.

mcsweeneylifeboat

Kilrush has a strong maritime tradition, Steamers operated from there in the 19th century, towing lighters carrying cattle and other goods upriver to Limerick. A fleet of sailing boats, known as turf barges also carried various goods and vast amounts of turf to the Treaty City. Cappa, nearby, provided the pilot station for vessels entering the Shannon Estuary from the sea. The Royal Western Yacht Club was established in Kilrush in 1828.

The town is the base of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. Whale and dolphin watching is one of the boating attractions of Kilrush.

In recent years a marina built at Kilrush caused major controversy when it over-ran its budget.

"The manner in which the marina project was carried out may have justified criticism, but there was a predictability about it, coming from the national media, from political circles, from urbanites in Dublin and elsewhere who have no understanding of coastal areas," one of the men who campaigned for and defended the marina project, told me. "There are people who don't want the coastal areas to be better than urban centres, who don't want the rural areas to be more attractive than the urban jungles. There are benefits from maritime development, the marina is justifying itself, the yacht club has been revived, young people are taking up water sports, the leisure sector brings money into the town, the boat trips attract tourists."

Kilrush lifeboat station was established in 1996 to provide additional cover on the west coast, particularly on the Shannon Estuary. The boathouse and launching slipway were built facing Scattery Island, with access to the deepwater channel, providing housing for the lifeboat and launching vehicle, a workshop, fuel store and crew facilities.

The new boat is named Edith Louise Eastwick, in memory of the mother of the late Baroness Marjorie Von Schlippenbach. It was built at a cost of €185,000 and has a number of improvements from the Atlantic 75, Kilrush's former lifeboat, including a faster top speed of 35 knots, radar, provision for a fourth crew member and more space for survivors. It can operate safely in daylight in up to force seven conditions and at night up to force six. There is no greater gift that anybody can give than that of saving life.

I was told once by a lifeboat man that the gift they get is to see somebody safely ashore after they have rescued them. Isn't it the greatest gift lifeboat people give, saving someone else's life?

Published in Island Nation
31st March 2011

Cheeky Chinese Challenge?

After their foray into the world of international sailing by joining with the Irish in the Green Dragon project for the last Volvo Ocean Race, China has announced it is going to attempt to win the historic America's Cup when it is next sailed for in San Francisco in 2013.

This is an interesting challenge to the present US holders, computer software billionaire Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing team which decided to have the event hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club, which prides itself as being "the oldest club West of the Mississippi in North America."

It will be the first time the America's Cup has been hosted in the United States since 1995 and it is interesting to speculate whether the Chinese are cheekily challenging the Americans who don't like the Cup going outside of the States.

Racing will be held on the iconic San Francisco City front and be visible from world-renowned tourist destinations such as the Golden Gate Bridge.

"My support for San Francisco hosting the America's Cup goes beyond the opportunity to see our team competing on home waters," said Russell Coutts, CEO, ORACLE Racing. "We are excited to sail for our sport's greatest trophy, on a stretch of water legendary among sailors worldwide."

The China Team has been given the backing of the Chinese Government and has already been designing a boat for the 34th Cup event which will be raced in 72-foot wing-powered catamaran multihulls.

"We have been working with some of the best worldwide designers for hulls and wings for a few months in partnership with top Chinese universities," the Team Leader, Wang Chao Yong, said. "This is an opportunity to showcase Chinese talents at the leading edge in hi-tech areas of both hydrodynamics and aeronautics. Our boat will be built in China."

The Chinese made an unsuccessful attempt on the 2007 America's Cup. While the intention is that most of the sailors on their America's Cup team will be Chinese there is to be, as in the 2007 attempt, a French influence. Thierry Barto has been appointed Chief Executive Officer and given the task of getting top sailors to coach the Chinese team.

It seemed initially that interest might be lacking in the 162-year-old event. However ten teams have signed up to take part in the 34th America's Cup.
Aside from the defender, Oracle, entries include Team New Zealand, Italian syndicate Mascalzone Latino - the official challenger of record - and Artemis of Sweden. Two French teams and the Chinese have also paid their entry fees. America's Cup Racing Management says two other unidentified teams, one of which is believed to be Italy's Venezia Challenge, will take part. Whether all of the existing entries make it to the start line of the challenger elimination series in July of 2013 will be interesting. There was major legal action before the event was re-scheduled for 2013. Oracle and Ellison declared their preference for a defence in San Francisco as the "home club".

Two of the three possible French challengers had talks with the Minister for Sport in Paris last Friday to discuss amalgamation and whether there would be French government support. There is also an "Argo Challenge" from a group of disabled sailors.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation
Taking my grandson to school in Crosshaven he showed me a page of homework which his teacher had said they would be talking about in class. It demonstrated the effect of debris on the oceans and what can happen when litter is thrown into a river or stream or left on the beach.

It was very topical, because this week the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference is taking place in Hawaii, organised jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Nations Environment Programme. This is an attempt to deal with the increasing problem of debris in the oceans of the world.

A United Nations report revealed some pretty frightening facts to the conference. Just two kinds of rubbish make up more than half the marine debris in the world. One is predictable enough – the horror of plastic choking sea life. The other came as more of a shock. The second most abundant kind of marine litter is smoking-related. Cigarette butts and packing account for nearly half of all sea rubbish in some parts of the world, according to the UN.

About 40 per cent of the litter in the Mediterranean Sea comes from this source. In Ecuador, smoking-related refuse accounted for more than half of coastal rubbish.

Ocean debris is a severe threat to the marine eco system. It kills at least 1 million sea birds and 100, 000 mammals each year, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The general prognosis at the conference in Hawaii has been pretty grim. Things are getting worse and it is the fault of humans on land using the oceans as rubbish dumps.

As my grandson's homework showed, it takes two weeks for a bit of fruit thrown into a river or the sea to bio-degrade. It will be two months before a piece of cardboard breaks down, three months for a milk carton and matters get worse where a cigarette butt is concerned. That will take ten years to disintegrate, a Styrofoam coffee cup 50 years, a plastic bag over a hundred and the six-pack ring so often tossed overboard from boats 400 years, with the plastic bottle even worse at 450 years.

The threat and impact of marine debris have long been ignored. Perhaps it is the perceived vastness of the ocean and lack of visibility of marine debris, but the teachers in Crosshaven national school, on the edge of Cork Harbour deserve praise for making their young pupils aware of what throwing litter into a river or dumping it on a beach does.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation
11th March 2011

Marine is Back

I was pleased to hear Simon Coveney tell a presenter on a Cork local radio station that he had not been appointed just Minister for Agriculture but was also Minister for the Marine. He went further to tell the programme interviewer that he had been in boats since he could stand and had a deep interest in and commitment to the marine sphere and followed his father, Hugh, a former Minister for the Marine.

It is a reminder which I hope that the media in general will note and that his tile of Marine will be used as often as agriculture is. The general media has been notorious, in my view, for disregarding the marine sector unless there is disaster, emergency or controversy involved.

The return of the title 'Marine' to a Government Department is, to put it bluntly, a kick-in-the-ass which civil servants needed. It was a betrayal of this island nation's heritage when those in charge of the former Department of Transport held a meeting which decided to remove the title marine from the Department's name, even though the then Minister had been assigned the role of Minister for Transport and Marine. The man in charge of that Department, Noel Dempsey, did not demonstrate a lot of interest in the marine, being more noted for trying to shut down the coastal radio stations at Valentia and Malin, where he was beaten off by public opposition, which also happened when he tried to remove 24-hour rescue helicopter service in the south-east and for his introduction of laws which criminalised fishermen.

Hopefully, the restoration of 'Marine' to a Department's name will be the harbinger of better things for the marine sphere.

I have heard some disappointment expressed that the marine is not a department on its own, but what the Fine Gael and subsequently Coalition Programme for Government agreed by Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore said was: "Marine responsibilities will be merged under one Department, for better co-ordination in policy delivery."

They have been, though some of the finer detail remains to be seen, such as will the ports be moved away from Transport, to where port companies and commercial interests originally campaigned to have them moved? And how will the split of marine tourism work between Agriculture and Marine and the separate tourism department? A similar issue may arise in regard to sailing and sport, but it seems to me a positive step that the disregard which Fianna Fáil and the Greens showed for the marine sector is being changed.

It was also right to end a separate department for defence. With a small army and navy, smaller than the marine sector, it was nonsense that it should have been a department of its own.

Let us therefore, hope for the future and take a positive view of the change as being for the better.

Published in Island Nation
As I write this week's blog there is still no definite word emanating from the closed cloisters inhabited at present by the leading negotiating lights of Fine Gael and the Labour Party on the future governing of this island nation. It is unlikely that the future of the marine sphere is foremost in the minds of the negotiators and I wonder what will be the priority attached to the marine when the new Government is announced.

Fine Gael can, logically from the support which the party garnered in the General Election, be expected to dominate a Coalition Government. In that context, the question arises as to whether they will deliver on their pre-election manifesto commitment to re-establish the Department of the Marine?

The promise to do so was unequivocal, a clear undertaking that the situation created by the former Fianna Fail and Green Party Coalition which had decimated maritime issues by spreading them over several Departments of State, would be changed and all would be contained in one Department.

In the event of a Coalition being formed will we hear that "circumstances" have changed and adjustments must be made in the context of Coalition arrangements?

I had the opportunity to question Joan Burton of the Labour Party, one of the party negotiators, prior to the election at an event organised by the European Association of Journalists. She accepted that politicians had not paid enough attention to the marine sphere and said that this attitude should be changed and accepted that the nation could benefit economically as a result.

I hope that I am not being overly cynical towards politicians, born of long years of journalistic experience, in fearing that pre-election promises may be subjected to change.

• This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Published in Island Nation
Page 10 of 12

About boot Düsseldorf: 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. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting 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.

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.

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating