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#Rescue116 - A lifejacket and helmet washed up on a beach near Blacksod in Co Mayo this weekend may belong to one of the two missing crew from the Rescue 116 tragedy earlier this year, as RTÉ News reports.

The items, which were attached together, were discovered on the shore near An Clochar yesterday morning (Saturday 30 September).

A detailed search of the area has been hampered by poor weather, with no other items found.

Winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith have been missing since the Irish Coast Guard helicopter went down at the island of Black Rock, west of Blacksod, on 14 March.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered at the scene but was pronounced dead in hospital shortly after. The body of Capt Mark Duffy was recovered some days later.

Elsewhere, the body of a middle-aged man was found washed up on Inis Meáin in Galway Bay last night.

RTÉ News says the discovery comes almost a fortnight to the day after a Russian national was swept into the water while sea angling near Doonbeg, some 36km south of the Aran Islands.

There was better news for the families of two fishermen feared missing in Galway Bay overnight, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Aran Islands RNLI and the Shannon-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 115 were involved in the search last night and early this morning for the pair when they were reported overdue.

But the search was called off around 10.30am when the small fishing boat, which has suffered technical issues in “challenging” conditions, returned to port under its own power.

Rescue 115 was earlier requested for a medevac from Inis Mór to University Hospital Galway.

Published in Coastguard

#islandnews - Tenders for the provision of an Aran Islands-Ros a Mhil passenger ferry service are been requested from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

The contract according to Galway Bay fm would be for the period – November 1st to October 31st for ferry services from Inis Mór, Inis Oírr and Inis Meáin.

Providers who want to submit a bid must contact the Department by 2p.m on October 12th.

Earlier this year, Galway West T.D Seán Kyne, who was Minister of State at the Department of the Gaeltacht at the time, said he was committed to ensuring that Inis Mór in particular would be covered by a long term contract.

 

Published in Island News

#WIORA - With the forecast of light winds looming over the weekend, PRO Alan Crosbie opted to run three races on the second day of the Volvo WIORA Championships. 

Racing started at a steady 10 knots which built to a perfect 15 knots as the day progressed. Class 1, 2 and 3 raced windward leeward courses again with the windward mark tucked in off Straw Island lighthouse out the tidal channel between Inis Mór and Inis Meáin in the Aran Islands

In IRC 1, Liam Burke on Tribal continues to dominate the class with four straight winds ahead of Glen Cahill’s Joie de Vie in second. Lauren Heskins Dubois 33 Now What is looking comfortable in third.

In ECHO 1, Enda O’Coineen’s Kilcullen Flyer leads the way with Tribal and Joie de Vie in second and third respectively. 

In IRC 2, John Callanan’s Stonehouse Racing is at the top of the pile with Aidan Breen’s Dehler 37CW in second and Smile in third. ECHO 2 sees Pat Aylwards Elixir leading from Port of Galway with IRC leaders Stonehaven in third overall.

In IRC 3, Gala Racing port tacked the whole fleet in the first race of the day going on to take the win but it’s Brian Raftery’s J24 Gossip from Sligo Yacht Club that’s leading with Gala Racing in second and Aaron O’Reilly’s Beneteau First Class 8 in third. 

Gala Racing from Foynes leads ECHO 3 with Galway Bay boat Rhocstar owned by Aine Nolan in 2nd and the first class 8 in third. 

The White Sails course took the fleet to a mark off Inishmann with Frankie Leonard’s Roamar leading progressive ECHO, Owen Cunningham’s Woofer in second and Simon Trezise’s Leonidas in third. 

Full results can be found HERE.

Published in WIORA

Day one of the Volvo WIORA Championships dawned with a final entry of thirty nine boats and was to begin with one race and an afternoon start to facilitate crews arriving to the island of Inishmore on the morning ferries. The midday briefing was a straightforward affair with PRO Alan Crosbie, in his twelth year with the West Coast Championships.

At the briefing Jack Roy, President of Irish Sailing spoke about volunteerism and participation and gave credit to event organisers Cormac MacDonnacha and Míchéal Gill of Club Seolteoireachta Arainn for bringing the event to the island for the first time.

Not only is the scenery idyllic but the weather was also playing ball with a light southerly breeze and a windward leeward course was chosen.

In IRC 1 and ECHO 1, Liam Burke’s ‘new’ Tribal Farr 31 was to the fore with Galway Bay Sailing clubmates Glen Cahill on Joie de Vie and Now What hot on their heels after an hour and twenty minutes of racing.

In IRC 2 it was the young guns from Galway Bay Sailing Club headed up by Aideen Breen sailing Port of Galway, the Dehler 37CW owned by well-known Martin Breen. The two Corbys, Thomas Whelan of the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland on Stonehouse Racing& representing the Daffodil Foundation and Rob Allen on Smile filling the other spots on the podium. Ray McGibney’s Dis-A-Ray was also in the hunt finishing third in ECHO.

In IRC 3 and ECHO 3 the class is headed up by Brian Raftery’s J24 Gossip with Foynes’ J24 Gala Racing in second and the Club 8 from Galway Bay Sailing Club in third.
White Sails which has been sailed on progressive ECHO has Simon Trezise on Leonidas in first, Frankie Leonard on Roamar in second and Euphanzel III sailed by Gerry Morgan in third. 

The fleet is also joined by a mini transat class with two mini’s match racing with Yannick Lemonnier to the fore.

Published in WIORA

#MarineWildlife - Dusty the dolphin earned a measure of infamy in previous years after attacking a number of bathers at her former home in Doolin.

But the Wild Atlantic Way’s other resident bottlenose – after Dingle's celebrated Fungie – was in a much more agreeable mood in recent days, as a new video captured by visitor Elaine Farrell shows her adorable encounter with a snorkeller at Inis Oírr.

Dusty appears perfectly calm as she rolls over in the water for a belly rub from the diver, who was perched at the stern of a boat moored in the Aran Islands harbour.

However, as cute as that encounter might be, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s Dr Simon Berrow warns that Dusty and other dolphins like her are still wild animals — and getting close to them can be dangerous.

“Our advice would be: don’t swim with the dolphins,” he said, adding: “Respect their distance and don’t do anything stupid. It’s hard to know what will set off aggressive behaviour.”

Elsewhere, video from the Copeland Islands off Donagahdee show a lazy seal taking it easy on a dinghy moored off the Irish coast recently.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#CliffDiving - World famous Olympic diver Greg Louganis will attend the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series event in the Aran Islands later this month as the competition’s new sports director, as Galway Bay FM reports.

The five-time world champion and four-time Olympic gold medallist will arrive on the island of Inis Mór ahead of the globe’s cliff diving elite, who make their return to Poll na Péist — also known as the Serpent’s Lair — on the first stop of this year’s world tour, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

All tickets for live spectators have been snapped up for the contest on Saturday 24 June, but the action will be livestreamed online via Red Bull TV.

Published in Island News

#Aran&Arran – A passenger freightship that served the Aran Islands notably from Galway and a present day car ferry running to Arran, Scotland have similarities, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The custom-built Oileáin Árann (see photo) completed in 1991 at James Miller of St. Monans, on the Firth of Fife, served the Galway-Aran Islands route. The 416 gross tonnage vessel became the last ship to offer a 'direct passenger route' to and from the mid-west city, previously run by CIE’s Naomh Éanna.

Operator, O’Brien Shipping as previously reported sold the almost 40m long Oileáin Árann in 2006 to Icelandic owners Samskip. They converted the small ship to emerge as the ro-ro ferry Sæfari that trades in coastal waters to islands in northern Iceland.

As for the current car ferry operating to Arran, on the Firth of Clyde, the also custom-built Isle of Arran was too built in Scotland but on Clydeside at Ferguson Ailsa Ltd, Port Glasgow. The 3,296 gross tonnage relief ferry operates Ardrossan-Brodick (Arran: see Scotland in miniature) during the summer months. In addition Caledonian Isles operates year round for Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac).

Towards the end of last month, the almost 85m Isle of Arran resumed seasonal Ardrossan-Campbeltown sailings on the Mull of Kintyre. This is the second year since the most southernmost CalMac route was given permanent status following a three year pilot trial. This was to develop traffic and boost tourism to the isolated peninsula a mere 11 nautical miles from Northern Ireland.

Likewise of the former Oileáin Árann, the CalMac pair feature twin funnels and have their names in Scots Gealic. Isle of Aran is translated to Eilean Arainn and as for Caledonian Isles this is Eileanan Chaledonia. The English names are displayed on the hull, while the bi-lingual versions are to seen on the superstructure.

Both these car ferries are to be replaced when the first of a pair of 102m dual-fuel (diesel and LPG) ferries are planned for year-round service for Arran and the Uig Triangle. Construction of the €97m newbuilds is taking place in Port Glasgow at the Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited’s (FMEL) shipyard. The design of these sleek looking newbuilds will again feature twin funnels.

The first newbuild is expected to enter service in early 2018, with the sister following a few months later. Each ferry will carry 127 cars or 16 HGVs or a combination of both and up to 1,000 passengers. 

Published in Ferry

#ÁrannSæfari - The return of Ireland's largest domestic freighter, Bláth na Mara, this week on the Galway-Aran Islands routes recalls memories of a predecessor that remains in service albeit in Icelandic waters, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The predecessor is not to be mistaken for the Naomh Éanna, the veteran vessel dating to 1958 was decommissioned on the CIE operated service that closed in 1988. Unfortunately, the Dublin built ship remains languishing in the capital despite plans to bring her back to Galway. As previously reported she again faces the threat of scrapping!

In fact the last such ship serving scheduled Aran Islands services from Galway Port was the Oileáin Árann. Notably, this vessel was also the final ship to carry ‘passengers’ from the city on a service that combined freight when operated by Doolin based O’Brien Shipping.

At 416 gross tonnage Oileáin Árann (photo) is larger to the Bláth na Mara with a tonnage of 330. This 36m freight-only vessel operates Ireland’s longest distance domestic freight route run by Lasta Mara Teoranta that took over the Government contracted service in 2005. In the following year Oileáin Árann was sold to the then Icelandic owned operator, Samskip which renamed the ship Sæfari.

The almost 40m Sæfari, is part of a giant global logistics company based in Rotterdam from where subsidiary Samskip Multimodal BV operate lo-lo container feeder services to the island of Ireland. Tonight in Dublin Port is berthed their Samskip Express which arrived from Rotterdam. The next port of call is Belview, the main terminal for the Port of Waterford.

On introduction to Irish owners of the Oileáin Árann in 1992, the vessel presented a rather unusual looking appearance on the Aran run given a forward superstructure accommodating passengers complete with a tower-like wheelhouse a deck above. This deck arrangement resembled that of an offshore oil supply support /standby ship and as if based out of Aberdeen to serve in the North Sea.

Oileáin Árann was a custom-built passenger freight ship ordered in the UK, that firstly involved Brombrough based McTay Marine, England, to build the hull. As for the balance of work this was contracted to their then Scottish associates James Miller of St. Monans, Fife. Both these firms are no longer in business but perhaps there is some merit to my theory as to the background of the Fife yard's naval architecture given the Forth of Fife remains synonymous with the oil sector. This is where anchored inactive North Sea rig platforms can be found and BP’s (Crude Oil) Hound Point Marine Terminal.

The Oileáin Árann loaded cargo on board using a deck-mounted crane located on the aft freight deck. Also located here are twin funnels lining along the ships side. It was during a visit to Galway Port, that I observed from the outer pier the dual-purpose vessel depart through the Dun Aengus Dock. These days such services (freight-only) take place at the outer pier.

Under current owners, Samskip undertook rebuilding the vessel that involved an enlarged superstructure. The conversion included work at the aft deck with the fitting of a stern-loading vehicle ramp and a side-loading door for additional ro-ro access.

So the former Aran Islands ship now car-ferry Sæfari operates scheduled trips from Dalvík to Hrisey and Grímsey, Iceland´s northernmost inhabited island of around 100 persons. Most of whom are employed in the fishing industry. Asides the attraction of wildlife for tourists, the Arctic Circle runs right through the middle of Grímsey. Those who enter the Circle receive a special illuminated certificate to confirm their adventure.

As far as current Irish operations are concerned, the recent relief ro-ro ferry Chateau-Thierry (that stood in for Bláth na Mara) has a bow-loading vehicle ramp and a deck mounted crane. Galway port however does not feature a slipway nor indeed a linkspan for more conventional tonnage such as the Sæfari.

Published in Ferry

The grandnephew of an RNLI bowman who was awarded the charity’s bronze medal for gallantry for his part in the daring rescue of 12 people from a Greek freighter back in 1938, has made a visit from the UK to Galway this week to present the Aran Islands lifeboat crew with a precious gift.

John Harwood’s grand uncle Patrick Flaherty was the bowman of the Galway Bay (now Aran Islands RNLI) motor lifeboat which was called out on the night of the 16-17 August 1938. He was subsequently awarded in recognition of his meritorious conduct when together with four other men he courageously manned a small boat and rescued the crew of 12 of the steam trawler ‘Nogi’ which had run aground near Straw Island Lighthouse, Aran Isles, during a strong westerly-south westerly wind with a very heavy sea.

An online article describes how a boat from the Hatano with four men went to her rescue and at once got into difficulties. The lifeboat went first to the small boat, the rowlock of which caught in the fender of the lifeboat, and there was danger of a serious accident. The motor mechanic jumped aboard the boat and smashed the rowlock with a hatchet. The four men were rescued and their boat towed away. It was impossible for the lifeboat to get alongside the Nogi but five of her crew manned the small boat; it was lowered by a rope down to the Nogi and in two journeys rescued the 11 men on board her. A member of the Nogi's crew had been swept away in the trawler's boat when she struck. His boots were found on an island, but it was only after eight hours' search that the man was found dazed and exhausted. The whole rescue had taken over 14 hours.

When John’s uncle Paddy who lived in the north west of England and worked most of his life as a miner, died in 1998, he left John his father’s citation for the bronze medal which is written on vellum.

Vellum RNLIHistoric Vellum returned to the Aran Islands

‘This always had pride of place in my uncle’s house,’ John explained, ‘and as a child he often told me the story about how his father and I think his older brother took part in the rescue. He also regaled me with tales of his life on Aran, particularly his connection with the sea. This influenced me in later life to love the sea and along with my wife I have had a 30 year passion for the sea as a diver and yachtsman.’

John’s visit to Galway yesterday evening (Wednesday 19 April) follows his decision to return the citation to Aran Islands RNLI.

‘As time marches on, I realise that there will be no one to appreciate the award when my wife and I are no longer here, so I think it is high time that the award is returned to the Aran Islands where it belongs. I believe that my uncle may still have family on the Islands. I think the award should lie with them or with the lifeboat station.’

John and his wife Mary met members of both Aran Islands and Galway RNLI in Rosaveal yesterday evening before John presented the citation on vellum to Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O’Donnell.

‘We are extremely touched by John and Mary’s generous gesture to place what is their precious heirloom into the care of Aran Islands lifeboat station. RNLI medals for gallantry are rare and are presented for acts of bravery and this was certainly the case on the night the lifeboat carried out the rescue of the Nogi in 1938. We are very grateful to receive this award from John and Mary and can assure them it will take pride of place in his granduncle Patrick Flaherty’s lifeboat station.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#AranFreighters - Ireland’s Iargest domestic coastal cargoship that returned from hull works carried out in Co. Donegal earlier this month has yet to re-enter Galway-Aran Islands services, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 330 gross tonnage cargoship Bláth na Mara normally serves as an essential life-line providing supplies to island communities of all three Aran Islands, Inishmore, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr.

Instead Chateau Thierry which has a roll on / roll-off capabilities is currently covering in as relief cargoship on the Galway route. As there is no slipway facilities, cargo loading will involve use of a deck-mounted crane. In the meantime this replacement vessel has allowed ongoing maintenance work to continue on Bláth na Mara while docked in Galway Docks.

Operators of both freighters, Lasta Mara Teoranta normally deploy Chateau Thierry, a former US tank landing craft (see report photo) on a second service to Aran Islands from Rossaveel. This service conveys trucks, excavators and heavy plant and machinery.

The Government contracted service to the Aran Islands have been operated by Lasta Mara for almost two decades. As the sole operator of freight-only vessels this involves carrying a diverse range of cargoes: from all kinds of food, household items, furniture, coal and vehicles hoisted on board and also livestock. This leaves several other passenger-only operators to serve the islands.

The Galway registered Bláth na Mara based out of the mainland homeport had works completed at Mooney Boats in Killybegs. The call to the yard involved Bláth na Mara using the boat-lift raised to the top of the quayside from where the 36m freighter was transferred on a rail-system to the workshop. This enabled shot blasting and painting of the hull. The works also saw anodes supplied and fitted to the hull.

Cargo loading in Galway Port takes place at the outer pier where Lasta Mara Teo has a warehouse. This is from where the 28m Chateau Thierry departed this morning on the islands cargo feeder service. 

Otherwise the routine use of Bláth na Mara involves a single cargo derrick swung from an A-frame foremast. Containers are stowed onto the aft-deck. This layout gives the ship a distinctive profile as the wheelhouse is located at the bow unlike the vast majority of cargoships.

On completion of loading the hard-working coastal freighter heads first to the largest island, Inishmore at Kilronan Harbour. Having discharged cargoes on Inis Mor the service continues to neighbouring Inis Meain and Inis Oirr.

 

Published in Island News
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