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Communities around Cork Harbour have united in opposition to the Indaver incinerator at meetings in the past two nights. The level of anger is intense reports Tom MacSweeney. It is so strong that all political and community opinion has joined in condemnation of what was described at meetings as an attempt to destroy the will of the people and damage the maritime progress and development of the harbour.

Cork County Council management, Bord Pleanala and Indaver have been accused of engaging in an undemocratic attack against the interests of the people.

"We went through the democratic process and won our case three times and yet our properly proven case was overturned by people with no accountability to the public," speakers said at meetings in Carrigaline and Monkstown. More meetings are planned.

"A public inquiry into Bord Pleanala was called for at last night's meeting in Ringaskiddy Community Hall"

"It is people power against the power of money, profits and officials who care nothing for the lives of ordinary people. The treatment of our case shows Bord Pleanala planning inquiries to be a farce," were amongst other comments.

A public inquiry into Bord Pleanala was called for at last night's meeting in Ringaskiddy Community Hall where the huge attendance resolved to "fight Indaver to the bitter end."

Thousands of Euros have already been donated to what has been described as 'the battle of the people to protect Cork Harbour.' Fundraising for legal challenges to the planning approval is continuing.

Published in Cork Harbour

In a 24-hour period last week there was an encouraging sailing advance uniting the three Cork Harbour clubs, but also a warning from the highest political level in Government that the planned maritime developments in the harbour, welcomed by the community, coming close to €200m in investment, were being put at risk.

The sharp contrast between 24 yachts turning out for the first inter-club evening league racing in the harbour, providing a beautiful spectacle of white sails in the evening sunshine and community shock that a hazardous, toxic waste incinerator is to be inserted into this panorama could not be more dramatic.

As I write this where I live in the harbour area. I see out of my window three huge wind turbines generating power for pharmaceutical, chemical and other factories in Ringaskiddy of which I can see five from my window. The noise of the deepwater port at Ringaskiddy, not yet fully developed, can be heard… When darkness comes it will not thoroughly darken this area - powerful lights from the industries will cut their nightly swathe through the darkness and the noise of their 24-hour production will continue….

Harbour residents have had to accept decades of industrialisation dominance, but I had felt that a new era of mutual co-operation was arriving. The State put over a €100m into the National Maritime College and marine research, green-energy projects, heritage potential, tourism, Spike Island development as one of Europe’s top attractions - €70m. to remediate the environmental toxic horror left behind on Haulbowline Island by Irish Steel… a new park is talked about there, as well as other maritime developments on the island.

Then came what widespread political and public reaction has described as a “kick in the teeth” to the community.

Fairness and balance are integral to trust in discussion. As a journalist, I try to see both sides of any debate, but after 17 years of opposition when the harbour communities have won their case at public inquiries when three staff Inspectors of Bord Pleanala have rejected the Indaver case for an incinerator at Ringaskiddy, but all have been over-ruled by the board members of Bord Pleanala, who are unaccountable to the public for their decision, it is hard to locate balance and fairness.

"In 50 years’ of journalism, I have seen my share of stupidity in media releases, but the expressed view of Bord Pleanala that this incinerator will be a tourist attraction is difficult to understand"

In 50 years’ of journalism, I have seen my share of stupidity in media releases, but the expressed view of Bord Pleanala that this incinerator will be a tourist attraction is difficult to understand.

“An inconceivable development,” Tanaiste Simon Coveney, a sailor himself, says about the incinerator … “disfigurement, immense damage…” are other terms used… to which Indaver responded by waving away all criticism and maintaining that it will be good for the area and good for the environment…

The location for the incinerator is at the end of a peninsula …. There is only one road access across a bridge onto and from Haulbowline Island, where the Naval Service is based. This road is adjacent to the incinerator…. The Department of Defence warned that the incinerator had potential to affect Naval operations and this was not acceptable….This it described as a matter of strategic national importance….

When I sought answers, during the planning inquiry, from the Minister for Defence and former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to whether it was acceptable that national defence policy should be affected in any way by any industry or commercial interest…the answer was that operations would be reviewed in the context of the planning decision.

So what now is the future of the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island… and what are the health and safety dangers of putting a public park on an island where there is only a single access and exit …..

The white sails of the inter-club league were a great sight last Friday night and the next race is this Friday….

But I wonder ----- are these “sails in the sunset” of Cork Harbour’s future ……

• Listen to my Podcast here

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Dragon boats, stand up paddle–boarders, coastal rowing skiffs and many more boat types besides came to the line for Cork Harbour Festival's Ocean to City Race and Afloat.ie's Bob Bateman captured the action from the quayside. 

An Rás Mor, now in its 14th year, received a record-breaking entry! Over 200 boats and 600 participants from Ireland, U.S, Holland, Germany, Spain and Great Britain, are set to descend on Cork City for Ireland’s premier rowing race on Saturday 2 June.

Thankfully, all went off well and there was a great race unlike 2017 when, for the first time in its history the race fell to severe weather.

See Bob Bateman's gallery of images below

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Published in Coastal Rowing

A new era of inter-club racing starts tonight in Cork Harbour, writes Tom MacSweeney. The new Great Island Sailing Club, based in Cobh, is to start the Cork Harbour Combined June White Sail League.

First Gun is set for 7 p.m. and the start will probably be in the vicinity of No.9 or 11 buoys off Whitegate, depending upon wind and weather conditions, to give boats from all clubs in the harbour a central gathering point.

The League is being run in association with Monkstown Bay Sailing Club, the Royal Cork at Crosshaven, the Naval Yacht Squadron and Cove S.C.

Johanna Murphy, Commodore at Great Island S.C. said this week that she is “really hoping that it works out as it would be so good for the harbour and all the clubs involved.” Success will depend on the level of support from the clubs, boat owners, Skippers and crews, whether this step in harbour racing succeeds.

Racing will be under both IRC and ECHO handicaps. There will be weekly prizegiving after racing in Cobh and the RCYC will also hold a prizegiving for its club members, after racing. There will be three further Friday night races in in June, organised by GISC. Prizes to be won are the Titanic Trophy for IRC and the Querida Perpetual Trophy for ECHO handicap. The overall presentation night for the league will be on June 29 at Cobh. Monkstown Bay and the RCYC are listed to host racing in subsequent months.

GISC is also encouraging more people to take part, publishing on its Facebook Page a notice asking people who would be interested in crewing to contact them, “as Skippers are short of crew.”

Published in Cork Harbour

Cork Harbour Festival grows each year, and its flagship event Ocean to City - An Rás Mor, now in its 14th year, has received a record-breaking entry! Over 200 boats and 600 participants from Ireland, U.S, Holland, Germany, Spain and Great Britain, are set to descend on Cork City for Ireland’s premier rowing race on Saturday 2 June.

For the first time in its history, the 2017 Ocean to City became a shortened river race due to high winds forecast in the harbour, therefore it is with great excitement to have the full harbour race back for 2018.

Lagan Currachs

Alan MacNamidhe, who lives in Cork, is striving to become the first blind crew member to finish the full race course of Ocean to City. Alan was introduced to currach rowing two years ago during a Saturday public currach row in Cork City, which is facilitated by Naomhóga Chorcaí; and he has been rowing since. He started training for Ocean to City six months ago when the possibility of taking part came up in conversation. Alan will be rowing with Jack O ‘Keeffe, Ed O’Leary, John Tynan and Michael McLaughlin.

Crew members of Lagan Currachs will be travelling from Belfast to Cork to participate in Ocean to City this year in their 10 metre (33ft) currach. Lagan Currachs include members from across Belfast who formed this community group in 2016. A team of almost 80 volunteers helped build this magnificent craft which is crewed by 12 rowers. The currach is rowed weekly on the River Lagan and Belfast Lough.

The furthest travelled crew will be from Albany, the capital city of New York State. Members of the Albany Irish Rowing Club will be borrowing an Irish boat for the race from Jimmy Austin, member of Cork City’s Naomhóga Chorcaí.

Conor O’Geran of Phoenix Kayak Club has completed every race since the first race in 2005. Celine Kavanagh of Cahirsiveen has also never missed a race. Celine has either rowed, paddled or coxed each year of Ocean to City.

The Ocean to City Youth Race starts from Blackrock Harbour, covering a 4km stretch into the city. Youths typically participate in Meitheal Mara’s Bádoireacht programme - a unique boat building and rowing service for young people (ages 14 – 18) - before participating in Ocean to City. This year Linda Zajkiewicz will be rowing in her second Ocean to City Youth Race. Two days after the race she will be heading to Dublin to board the Pelican of London Tall Ship for a 10-day voyage. This voyage will see Linda sail back into Cork Harbour on the weekend after Ocean to City, to be part of Cork Harbour Festival again. The Ocean to City Youth Race will have currach rowers from South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka taking part in the race this year!

This is the 14th year of Ocean to City – An Rás Mor, organised by Meitheal Mara, which since 2005 has brought thousands of rowers and paddlers to Cork to compete, challenge themselves and leave with a memorable experience. Many participants are regular racegoers, while others take part for the fun and challenge of completing the course.

There will be race commentary at the finish line by Cork 96FM Ken Perrott, as well as plenty of family fun featuring music, the festival market and circus street performances from 3.30pm at Lapp’s Quay and Port of Cork. Soak up the buzz, mingle with crews and celebrate the 14th Ocean to City Race, Saturday 2 June!

The full festival programme of over 70 events is available online here.

Published in Cork Harbour

As darkness fell and the lights came on at the RCYC Marina on Friday night I was a happy man. We had sailed our first club evening race in Cork Harbour the UK Sailmakers Ireland League, without any hassle. We were relaxing in the club. Everything had worked after the weeks of preparation in Castlepoint Boatyard in Crosshaven. It had been a good evening as SCRIBBLER was back on the water, in her natural environment.

Sunday morning was our second race, this time in the North Sails Ireland League. While the rest of the country seemed to be revelling in unaccustomed sunshine, it was foggy across Cork Harbour, but after a half-hour postponement the fog cleared and we were racing again out of Crosshaven, with our Sigma 33 performing nicely in White Sail, the class which I helped get going several years ago with the late Jim Donegan.

FOG BANK IN CORK HARBOURFog bank in Cork Harbour

It encourages more people to be able to race their boats, with less crew and this weekend encouragement into sailing will be a big feature of events in Cork Harbour.

A New Cork Harbour Sailing League

At Cobh on Friday night the new club in the harbour, Great Island, will launch its programme for the season, which will highlight a new Cork Harbour League. On Sunday the renowned Rankins will return to the water with a special sailing welcome and on Saturday and Sunday, young sailors in the Topper Class will be competing in their Southern Championships.

"On Sunday the renowned Rankins will return to the water with a special sailing welcome"

There is no doubt that owners of Rankin dinghies love sailing and take huge pride in their boats. I have recorded since last year the restoration and development of these boats over the past few seasons, with their huge connection to Cobh where, this Sunday, they will meet at Whitepoint Slip for their first event of the season. The name of the Rankin dinghies is revered in Cork Harbour and particularly in the harbourside town of Cobh

One of the sailors who has spearheaded the revival, Conor English from Crosshaven, says that this “is an especially exciting event.” His partner in the project has been Maurice Kidney in Cobh.

The reason that Sunday will be a special occasion is that “it will welcome Johnny Horgan’s beautifully-restored Rankin, Freedom V, one of the original boats built by Eric Rankin and will see the three-only cold-moulded Rankins sailing together for the first time.”

The Rankins plan to have their boats in the water for 1 p.m. on Sunday and then sail across the harbour to Spike Island, returning to the Cobh Town Hall Clock slipway for 4 p.m. where the boats will be on display for the public to see.

Great Island Sailing Club

Great Island Sailing Club was formed this year to ensure the continuance of sailing at Cobh, following difficulties which arose in Cove Sailing Club as it attempted to build a marina at Whitepoint. Its calendar includes the new Cork Harbour League, to be raced each Friday night in June under its burgee, continuing on Saturdays in July, run by Monkstown Bay Sailing Club and in August from the RCYC at Crosshaven on Fridays, concluding at the end of that month.

This combined sailing between the three harbour clubs was initially suggested last year.

Johanna Murphy, Commodore of Great Island SC hopes that “all clubs in the harbour sailing together will encourage people to get out sailing” and that by each club running a league each, there will be 20/25 boats out in the harbour at one time.

The success of this approach will depend upon how members in the individual clubs support this joint effort.

The Royal Cork at Crosshaven has the biggest club fleet of Topper dinghies in Ireland, with close to 30 of these solo-sailor boats, popular with young sailors. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, the Topper Southern Championships will be raced at Crosshaven. The 11-foot Topper was designed by the renowned Ian Proctor and recognised as a world sailing class. RCYC members will hope to do well in the
Championships in their own waters this weekend.

• Listen to Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney

The sailing season in Cork Harbour is getting underway - slowly it has to be said - the effects of the long Winter weren’t encouraging owners to get their boats ready…… That is happening and launching is underway, but owners of moorings have received a final warning which has annoyed quite a few of them, to judge from my emails and calls….

If you have a harbour mooring, the Port of Cork is going to remove it in the next fortnight if you haven’t paid your annual fee of €95 to them ….. “and your space will be immediately reallocated” say final warning letters issued at the weekend which have been reaching owners in the past few days.

"If you have a harbour mooring, the Port of Cork is going to remove it in the next fortnight if you haven’t paid your annual fee of €95"

It hasn’t endeared the Port to ‘slow season starters’ who have been complaining to me that the Port could have shown a bit more “cop on” – some said - as the season is only slowly getting underway, “Bad PR … not showing much understanding” have been amongst the comments.

Capt. Paul O’Regan, the Harbour Master, whose name appears on the letters told me the port had to stick to procedures. Invoices were issued at the start of the year and a follow-up ‘reminder’ was sent to those who hadn’t paid. The system is “fair and transparent,” he said and added that if anyone has real difficulties or didn’t get the first letters, they should contact the Port who will be helpful.

There’s a separate charge for using a boat in the harbour, varying with length, to be levied also on non-mooring holders another €95 for a 33-footer for example. Don’t know what the penalty is for not paying that…..

Gas Rigs Race

KINSALE HEAD GAS RIG ALPHAKinsale Head Gas Rig Alpha

And, as the season begins, a major change has been announced on the South Coast… The Kinsale Head Gas Rigs, Alpha and Bravo, are to be removed, though not for a few years yet. Kinsale Energy, the subsidiary of the Malaysian oil and gas company, PETRONAS, which took over the Kinsale Head Gas Field from Marathon has said the natural gas will run out in 2020 so the rigs will be removed after that.

"The Gas Rigs Race dates back to the 80s"

A mark for boats heading outwards or inbound will be no more and one of the most famous of RCYC races may have to find a new name….. The Gas Rigs Race dates back to the 80s when it started on a Friday night to a laid buoy or anchored vessel just north of the rigs. It was a long race, but was reduced in length over the years. The 300th anniversary of the RCYC will be celebrated in the year when the gas runs out… maybe the occasion for the last Gas Rigs Race… Who knows?

Published in Tom MacSweeney

MV Astoria arrived into Cobh today, the first of 94 cruise liners to visit the Port of Cork in 2018, a 30% increase on 2017 calls. The Port of Cork anticipates with 94 cruise calls the total passenger numbers to be 188,844 and 80,000 crew.

Up to eight cruise liners will make their maiden calls to Cork, including Disney Cruise Lines ‘MV Disney Magic’ in September and the largest of the MSC Cruise Lines fleet, MSC Meraviglia carrying a maximum of 4,500 passengers. Royal Caribbean’s MV Royal Princess will call ten times in 2018.

In 2017 the Port of Cork carried out cruise research on both passengers and crew arriving into Cobh and Ringaskiddy. The aim of the research was to get a sense of passengers shore excursions experiences and to determine any areas are in need of improvement. According to the research results many passengers who take the pre-booked shore excursions reported high experiences, while the ‘independent’ passengers seem to be looking for alternative more active experiences in both the City and the County.

The results of the cruise research also highlighted an increase in passenger and crew spend. On average, cruise ship passengers spend €81 during their time in Cork; with 42% of this money being spent on shopping, 32% on excursion travel and 17% on food and drink. Typically crew spend approximately €29, with most of the money being spent on food and drink and/or shopping.

Commercial Manager Captain Michael McCarthy said: ‘We have seen a massive surge in cruise calls for 2018 with a 30% increase in calls. These calls will bring outstanding economic growth to Cork City and County between March and September, with over 180,000 passengers stepping ashore and 80,000 crew.’ 

He continued: ‘We are absolutely delighted with the growth in the cruise sector and so far we are seeing a high volume of calls for 2019 also. It’s very encouraging to see cruise lines bringing their newest vessels to Cork on maiden calls and choosing Cobh as part of their cruising route.’

As well as Cork the Port of Cork also operates Bantry Bay Port Company which will see ten cruise liners calling to the West Cork area this summer. Bantry Harbour and Glengarriff can accommodate the smaller boutique cruise liners whose passengers tend to look for active expedition cruises. In 2017 just five liners called West Cork, showing a 50% increase in 2018 calls.

Published in Port of Cork

Cork Harbour will have a new name in sailing this season - the Great Island Sailing Club, formed to ensure the continuance of sailing at Cobh, following difficulties which arose in Cove Sailing Club as it attempted to build a marina at Whitepoint.

The development is on an amicable basis between the two clubs, according to both.

“The aim is to ensure that sailing continues and develops in Cobh and the new club is open for membership and registration,” said Johanna Murphy, Commodore of the new club where the Sailing Secretary is Pat Coakley

Kieran Dorgan, Commodore at Cove Sailing Club, said that club is continuing to pursue the completion of the marina. “The Committee are working to resolve the situation and wish to support sailing/boating activities in any way it can. We are fully committed to getting the club through the current situation, the marina completed and to continue with sailing/boating in the coming years. The centenary anniversary of the club is due to happen next year and our aim is to have the marina in place for the people of Cobh.”

“Everyone is working together to ensure that sailing continues and develops. That is what we all want for the harbour and for Cobh. Concentrating on that is what the Great Island Sailing Club will be doing,” said the Great Island SC Commodore, Johanna Murphy. “Things are progressing after the difficulties which arose, which it was necessary to resolve to ensure the continuance of sailing activities.”

Meetings were held over the past few months to resolve the situation, when members expressed concern that sailing activities were being affected by the demands of developing the marina.

The outcome is a decision to form the new club, to which cruiser and dinghy sailing is moving, while Cove Sailing Club continues in existence, with its focus on the marina. Cove SC is making its resources of support boats and dinghies available to the new club.

Developing a marina is a challenging and financially demanding business. The plans of Cove SC were hit when an expected and, it is understood, promised financial support grant from the public body, SECAD, did not materialise. The Port of Cork, which encountered public opposition to its own plans for major development at Ringaskiddy amidst concerns, particularly at Monkstown, for its possible impact on sailing, expressed objection concerns about the Cove SC marina plans, apparently because of its own expansion of cruise line berth facilities at Cobh.

A formal launch is planned in May, with a programme for both cruiser and dinghy sailing and the continuance of junior training.

The new club will be involved in joint sailing with the Royal Cork YC and Monkstown Bay SC, the Naval sailing Squadron and Eddie English’s Sail Cork, according to Johanna Murphy.

• Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney

Bord Pleanala has deferred for a tenth time a decision on the Ringaskiddy Incinerator in Cork Harbour. A decision, originally due by July 2016, following nine subsequent deferrals was listed for 28 February 2018.

Bord Pleanala now say that a decision will be delivered within three months.

Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE) Chairperson Mary O’Leary said “CHASE is certain that a refusal is the only correct decision and while we are prepared to wait for that outcome, we believe that decision could have been delivered immediately after the 2016 hearing in time to meet statutory obligations and the July 2016 deadline.

This community engaged in full and in good faith in a process that presented us with brutally incorrect dioxin figures which, if Bord Pleanala is competent, must have been known to them. The Bord needs to understand how very hard it is for our community to maintain faith in this process.”

In a press release CHASE says, with each delay, issues with both the application and the site escalate. The site is no longer zoned for industrial use, having been rezoned for Educational purposes by Cork County Council in Local Area Plans agreed in July 2017. Figures released by the EPA in December 2017 show that Ireland is already meeting its EU Waste framework obligations, so granting permission to build this incinerator would directly contravene recommendations made by the European Commission in it’s January 2017 report on the implementation of a the Circular Economy Plan in which it warns heavily against the construction of new incinerators, to the extent that it recommends the phasing out of public money from incinerators, the introduction of a moratorium on new facilities and the introduction or increase of incineration taxes.

CHASE is writing to Bord Pleanala today requesting justification for the 'endless' deferrals.

Published in Cork Harbour
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