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#RNLI - While on exercise yesterday afternoon (Sunday 2 September), the volunteer crew Crosshaven RNLI overheard a radio transmission to the coastguard explaining that a 23ft angling boat was aground on Black Rock near Whitegate oil refinery in Cork Harbour.

As it happened, the lifeboat was close by and immediately responded to the angling boat, with two persons on board, which had run hard aground.

Trying to tow the vessel would have caused damage. Instead, the crew were taken off and an anchor set on the casualty boat before it reflected on the next high tide. The anglers were then transferred to Aghada Pier.

The callout came just a day after Crosshaven’s lifeboat volunteers launched on a medevac to a Belfast angler bitten by a blue shark off Roches Point.

Elsewhere, Skerries RNLI rescued a man and two children on Saturday evening (1 September) after their motorboat suffered mechanical failure.

Skerries RNLI were tasked after Dublin Coast Guard received a 999 call from a member of the public that there were an adult and two children in difficulty in a personal watercraft off the south strand in Skerries.

The volunteer crew launched their Atlantic 85 Inshore lifeboat Louis Simson and made their way towards the area indicated by the caller.

Once on scene, the crew began a quick search of the area and quickly ascertained that the vessel in difficulty was in fact a small motorboat rather than a personal watercraft.

The boat had suffered mechanical failure and was unable to make their way ashore. A tow was set up and the boat was brought safely back to the slipway in Skerries. Conditions at the time were fair with a force one to two southerly breeze.

“It was great to see everyone on board the vessel wearing good lifejackets,” said Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning. “Also, the person who called it in wasted no time in dialling 999 and asking for the Coast Guard once they spotted someone in trouble.

“It’s great to see that people are taking the safety messages on board and are all playing their part in helping us save lives at sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - The hugely successful Cork RNLI charity lunch and auction is set to return after an absence of five years.

The revamped fundraiser for Baltimore, Crosshaven and Kinsale’s RNLI lifeboat stations will take place in the 18th century mansion now home to the Maryborough Hotel in Douglas on Friday 5 October.

Cork has a long and proud association with the RNLI which goes back generations. The men and women who volunteer as lifeboat crew come from local communities and give hours of their time and dedication to the charity.

From the rescue of the Rambler crew by Baltimore RNLI during the Fastnet Race, to rescues of fishermen, divers, swimmers and boaters, the lifeboats and their crew provide an invaluable service.

Last year the Baltimore, Crosshaven and Kinsale RNLI lifeboat stations launched 86 times and brought 116 people to safety. Not every callout is life and death, but to the people involved in every mission, the lifeboats are their lifeline in times of trouble on the water.

The lunch and auction will get underway at 12.30pm with guests welcomed in the Orangery to the accompaniment of live music from Conor Ocean. This will be followed by a three-course lunch in the Sherrard Suite at 1.30pm.

Master of ceremonies Alan Shortt will provide the entertainment and lead the post-lunch auction and draw. The event will finish at 4pm.

RNLI fundraising committee members Avril O’Brien and David Doherty are looking forward to what promises to be an event to remember.

“We are delighted to reintroduce the RNLI lunch and auction,” Avril said. “It was always a popular occasion and as well as raising vital funds it became a highly anticipated social and networking event.

“Volunteer lifeboat crew give so much to the RNLI in terms of their time and dedication to the service and they need to be supported with the best in kit and equipment. Every person who buys a ticket to the fundraiser or bids on an auction item will have the knowledge that they are helping save lives at sea.”

Tickets priced at €65 are now on sale online via Eventbrite and will be sold in tables of 10. For more information about the event contact RNLI Munster community fundraising manager Mary Creedon at [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Safehaven - Safehaven Marine’s latest projects include a pilot boat for Malta and a survey catamaran for the UK's Royal Navy.

The Interceptor 48 pilot boat currently in production at Safehaven’s Cork Harbour boatyard is their third boat supplied to Malta Maritime Pilots in Valletta.

The all-weather vessel will add to a number already in service for ports in the Mediterranean.

The performance boat builder has also posted video of construction on their Wildcat 60 order for the Royal Navy, showing the installation of its Volvo D16 750hp engines and jets.

Earlier this year, the Geological Survey of Ireland took delivery of their own Wildcat 60 for offshore and shallow water coastal surveys, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Boatyards
16th September 2017

Pat Lake RIP

The death has occurred unexpectedly in Cork of one of the most respected figures in boat building in Pat Lake, who led Castlepoint Boatyard in Crosshaven for many years before his retirement a decade ago.

Pat had been a major figure in boat building and the maritime scene. His record includes many achievements, not least of which was his involvement in the building of the leather boat at Crosshaven Boatyard for the famous St Brendan recreation voyage in 1976.

Pat Lake died at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork. He is reposing at Forde’s Funeral Home, Old Waterpark, Carrigaline. Removal tomorrow (Sunday 17 September) at 5pm to St Brigid’s Church, Crosshaven. Requiem Mass on Monday (18 September) at 11.30am; funeral afterward to St Patrick’s Cemetery.

Published in News Update

#Tourism - The Port of Cork, Bantry Bay Port Company and the Royal Cork Yacht Club are joining forces to promote marine leisure in Cork at the Southampton Boat Show.

The three organisations are in attendance at Stand J047 from today Friday 15 to Sunday 24 September tasked with promoting their marina facilities to potential visitors.

They will also be targeting the luxury cruisers and motor yacht market to entice further calls to Cork, Crosshaven and Bantry.

In 2009 the Port of Cork implemented the Leisure and Recreation Strategy for Cork Harbour, with the primary focus of the strategy on water-based leisure and recreational activities in and around the harbour.

Speaking about attending the boat show, Sara Mackeown, commercial marketing executive for the Port of Cork, said: “This is great opportunity to showcase Cork as an ideal destination for marine leisure users.

“Our marina facility in the heart of Cork City is unique and having just completed the new Bantry Harbour Marina there is a great connection now between Cork and West Cork. We are delighted to work closely with the Royal Cork Yacht Club, who have huge experience in the field.”

Cork Harbour offers significant potential for further development of the marine recreation sector as an important source of enjoyment and economic gain for the local residents and visitors, and it is anticipated that attending the Southampton Boat Show will help to promote the marine facilities directly to the desired market.

Gavin Deane, general manager of the Royal Cork Yacht Club said: “The Royal Cork Yacht Club are delighted to be collaborating with both the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay Port Company in promoting the region.

“This year we have seen a significant increase in the number of visiting boats to our marina, the majority of whom have travelled from the south coast of the UK.

“We feel that with this growth in visitors, now is the ideal time to showcase everything that Cork has to offer and Southampton Boat Show 2017 is the place to do it.”

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Yesterday’s report on Afloat.ie of the major changes shaping up in the ownership structure of the UK/McWilliam Sailmakers business in Crosshaven clearly rings a bell with many in the sailing community at home and abroad. The remarkable response has reinforced the notion that the story of the McWilliam family’s involvement in Irish and international sailing is in many ways a story shared and lived by everyone with a genuine enthusiasm for our sport. W M Nixon reflects on its broader implications.

The past is only really of value when we can relate it to a vibrant present and an interesting future. For sure, history has its own special allure. There may be many different interpretations of what happened and how it happened. But if we ruthlessly pare it down to the most basic timeline, the reasons for argument melt away in face of a short list of inescapable facts. And there’s something very reassuring in a short list of inescapable facts.

But when history is allowed to be more complex, there’s an element of the comfort blanket in immersing ourselves in it. By all means do so if you wish. But life will soon be passing you by if historical obsessions are allowed to dominate your view of the world. Closetted historians – if they emerge from their closed little worlds at all – very quickly discover that other folk are only mildly interested in history as a point of reference against the here and now, and what might be happening tomorrow.

Thus in anticipating what the new team of Barry Hayes, Claire Morgan and Graham Curran will be bringing to Crosshaven at the heart of their new hub of creativity, we’ve been trying to get the proper perspective. In addition to providing their own special skills, they’re able to draw on the shared experience and technologies of their colleagues at almost 50 sail-lofts worldwide.

McWill e news webDes McWilliam's retirement and the new team at UK McWilliam in Cork of Barry Hayes, Claire Morgan and Graham Curran featured on Afloat.ie yesterday

While Graham is a fast learner who has ascended the rising path in Crosshaven in just three years, and Claire has formidable business and financial skills, it is Barry who is most truly representative of the UK International Sailmakers ethos.

Orginally from Schull, he started in the McWilliam’s Crosshaven loft in 1999 just three years after they’d become associates of UK Sailmakers. Yet within three years he had been invited to join the “mother loft” in New York run by Butch Ulmer, and there he rose to become loft manager.

Then he was recruited from the mother loft to the group’s biggest loft of all, in Hong Kong run by the legendary David Yeung. In his fourteen years there, he has learned everything that David Yeung could teach, and when the great sailmaker finally retired a couple of years ago, it was the young Irishman who took on the role as manager.

hong kong loft2The Hong Kong loft of UK Sailmakers is very typical of the city in which it is located.....

crosshaven aerial3...which is very different to Crosshaven. Photo: Robert Bateman

During his time in Hong Kong, Barry Hayes had been at the heart of the loft’s development of titanium sails – among many other projects – so it will be fascinating to see what fresh vistas of development he opens up back in Crosshaven. In other areas of advanced technology, you’d be surprised by the number of specialised Irish outfits – some of them quite small – which are in the forefront of research and development in their own field, so why not Crosshaven and sailmaking?

At the same time, as a sailmaker pure and simple, Barry Hayes has the reputation of being a man who’ll stay up all night beavering away at repairs on your torn mainsail in order that you can sure of getting racing next day, so it’s clear that the loft’s regular everyday customers need not worry that arcane research experiments and developments will distract from the need for traditional sail making and repair services.

And with their considerable combined experience of the McWilliam ethos, and the collegiate outlook of the UK Sailmakers organisation, the new owners will be well aware that the hours will be ridiculous, the miles travelled absurd, and the challenges faced infinite in their variety.

Thus one of my favourite Des McWilliam yarns is of the time he was asked to make sails for the traditional boats of the Achill Yawl type which sail and race on Achill Sound and the nearby waters of Clew Bay. That hero of the Mulranny area, Dr Jerry Crowley, reckoned that a healthy class of Achill yawls regularly sailing in summer would be good for everyone and for community spirit, so he gave every encouragement to getting the fleet into proper action.

Achill yawls4Traditional Achill yawls racing in Achill Sound. With their potentially very powerful rig, when Des McWilliam turned up with new sails, he said it was like putting a Ferrari engine into a Mini

The upshot of it was that as the Celtic Tiger years began to build up a head of steam, every pub along the shores of Achill Sound and anywhere close to the coast nearby found itself sponsoring an Achill Yawl to swell an already considerable privately-owned fleet.

It became increasingly competitive, so inevitably an enquiry was put through to Des McWilliam about making a suit of racing sails, and with one order, others followed. As the Achil yawl sets a powerful lug rig which is as near as you can get to actually being an even more powerful and efficient lateen rig, when Des turned up with a load of max-sized sails at Achill Sound, he asked Jerry Crowley was he aware this would be the equivalent of putting a Ferrari engine into a little old Mini, or even Morris Minor?

This was exactly the impression the owners and skippers wished to make, so the bould Des went off for his first race with the Achill Yawls. They were reaching along in a bunch, and the boat to weather bore down on them until the hulls thumped, and then hauled her wind only the slightest amount.

At the impact Des had called across to the other helmsman: “You can’t do that”. Back came the unanswerable reply: “I just did”. End of conversation.

Within the UK Sailmakers group, Des acquired something of a reputation as an ace specialist in spinnakers, so when America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner out in San Diego asked his local UK Sailmakers loft for a new spinnaker for his personal IRC 50, manager John Bennett passed the order on across America and across the Atlantic to Crosshaven. As Des says, it’s not every day you get an order for a special spinnaker for Dennis Conner, and they gave it the best they could.

cotton blossom5Dennis Conner’s classic Q Class sloop Cotton Blossom II, restored by Johnny Smullen, makes her debut at the San Diego YC. The local UK Sailmakers loft passed along the specific request that Des McWilliam design the spinnakers for the boat

It seems it worked, for when Dun Laoghaire’s own Johnny Smullen restored the classic Q Class Cotton Blossom II in San Diego for Conner, the request came through to Crosshaven for the spinnakers for the re-born boat. It was quite a tricky one says Des, as we had to shape the panels in classic original style.

So the default position in the Crosshaven loft is that the unusual order is the norm. They’re delighted to take on all sorts of challenges, and as founder John McWilliam was originally a fighter jet pilot, in his busiest years with the loft he put his flying skills to good use by having a company plane - a PA 23 Geronimo - for which they didn’t need to hire a pilot to get sails and services as rapidly as possible to customers near and far.

downtown flyer6Dick Newick’s plans for Downtown Flyer, built in a shed in Lisburn, County Antrim

However, even by McWilliam standards, the liberation of the trimaran Downtown Flyer from a hidden berth in France was in a league of its own. Downtown Flyer was a 38ft Newick tri built by Brian Law and Dickie Gomes in a shed in Lisburn in Northern Ireland for the 1982 Round Britain and Ireland two-handed race, in which they did mighty well. In fact, they did mighty well in just about every event they entered, and put in such a spectacular showing at the Speed Week in La Trinite in France that when, after a couple of years of very intensive campaigning, they decided to sell, Downtown Flyer was quickly snapped up by a young French skipper who very promptly paid 50% of the purchase price.

downtown flyer7Downtown Flyer under construction in 1982. Her beam was nearly as great as her overall length. Photo W M Nixon

He was so keen to be in place for the next big race in France that the two lads allowed him and his crew to sail the boat away with the promise that the rest of the money would be paid the following week. Weeks passed. Months passed. But money came there none. Recourse to lawyers failed too. They were getting nowhere. But as Johnny McWilliam had made sails for them for a number of craft, he was aware of their predicament, and enthusiastically joined in a project to re-possess the boat.

She was berthed in the heart of a sort of Navy yard in Lorient. But the guys worked out that if they could fly in Johnny’s plane to a little local airfield and implement the plan once night came on, it might just be managed. So they flew down to Brittany and after helping Johnny re-fuel for his fight home by using a local garage and portable tanks so as not to attract official attention, the Liberation Team got to the boat without being noticed as night drew on.

mcwilliam geronimo8The McWilliam Sailmakers’ PA 23 Geronimo was useful for many tasks, not least a surreal boat liberation

They got away by paddling Downtown Flyer as quietly as possible the length of Lorient Harbour, where they sped away once sail was set. But instead of heading straight for Ireland as any search ship would have expected, they sailed due west into the middle of the Bay of Biscay before turning north for a safe return.

They kept the boat for sale to another purchaser, and in due course the French skipper was given his deposit back. But to receive it, he had to take the Roscoff ferry to Cork to meet the Downtown duo, as they had to return extra equipment that had somehow been added to the boat despite the potential buyer’s supposed penniless state.

In his retirement Johnny has devoted himself to glider flying a a very advanced level, while Des looks forward to getting in some sailing just for fun - he much enjoyed a recent outing with the new sails he made for Guapa, the Bill Trafford-reworked Etchells 22.

des mcwilliam on guapa9Making a classic suit of sails for the uniquely re-configured Etchells 22 Guapa a month ago was a special pleasure for Des (right) But there’s no doubt that Des’s passion for vintage and classic cars can now come centre stage. It started with a hectic youthful career with vintage motorbikes, but these days he has a sort of compromise with a 1934 Morgan F4 three-wheeler in which he and his wife Sue can take on hill climbs and other vintage car trials with eccentric style.

des and sue mcwilliam10Des and Sue McWilliam in their 1934 vintage Morgan three-wheeler

In fact, in this little machine, there’s little enough for their comfort when they’re undertaking challenges like the Tim Healy Pass which snakes over the mountains between Bantry Bay and the Kenmare River, but they’re seen doing it with style in this short vid from Easter last year:

The virtue of the Tim Healy event is that afterwards everyone winds their way down from the mountain to the comfort of that noted cruising enthusiasts’ pub, Teddy’s at Kilmakilloge, and the event concludes with a dinner where the attendance on this occasion included nine former Circuit of Ireland winners. But the real winner of the evening was Sue, as she received the Trophy for the Bravest Participant – as that little vid reveals, it was well earned.

Unfortunately, a couple of weeks later while on their way to another vintage car trial, they were the victims of an absent-minded tourist who forgot that we drive on the left in Ireland, and in a serious smash Sue was badly injured. But she’s on the mend, and is looking forward to sharing Des’s new availability for their many interests and family gatherings.

Meanwhile at the Crosshaven loft, the new order of management is already moving into place, and next week will see the UK Sailmakers Crosshaven team present in full strength at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. These are very interesting times in sail-making, and the hothouse of competition that Dublin Bay will provide next week is just what’s needed to get fresh ideas to take shape.

1720 UkMcWThis is what we do. One of the O’Leary Clan’s 1720s burning it up under a new UK Sailmakers asymmetrical kite

Published in W M Nixon

Preserving traditional boats is very important, using them even more so and racing them a sight to behold writes Tom MacSweeney. All can be seen this weekend at Crosshaven in Cork Harbour where vintage boats of all types, shapes and sizes will gather for the annual Crosshaven Traditional Sail.

It begins this evening with the official opening at the Oar Bar in the village at 7.30 p.m. Boats will be at the Hugh Coveney Pier where Skippers will be briefed at 1230 on Saturday about the first race, scheduled to start at 2 pm off ‘the Grassy,’ traditional sail race starting point for generations of sailors.

There is another race scheduled for Sunday, again at 2 p.m., with a Parade of Sail afterwards.

What I particularly like about the traditional boat people is their ‘relaxed’ approach to sailing. They make it a strong social occasion when they gather. They are a magnificent sight racing in the harbour, boats of many kinds, and sails of several colours.

There will also be a ‘Pirates Trail’ and a ‘Seafood Trail’ to be followed.

“Our purpose is to make sailing enjoyable and show how valuable it is for our maritime heritage and culture not only to preserve the traditional boats, but to keep them in use. That’s the purpose of a boat, to use and enjoy it,” the organisers say. There will be prizes for the racing, for the best dressed boat, best dressed crew, oldest and youngest crew and the boat which travels further to reach Crosshaven.

Published in Historic Boats

As Johnny Smullen, boatbuilder to America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner has put it, the transformation job on a tired old Etchells 22 is simply amazing writes W M Nixon

The well-worn white hull of a standard Etchells 22 went into Bill Trafford's shed near Skenakilla Crossroads in March last year. And this week, the gorgeous dark blue cruising sloop Guapa (it’s Spanish for beautiful) emerged. See our April progress report here.

etchells22 cruiser2Elegance is the hallmark

Next Wednesday she’ll be arriving in Crosshaven for her mast to be stepped and new sails fitted from Des McWilliam. But the boat is so utterly transformed, with judiciously-raised topsides and an extremely elegant Scandinavian-style coachroof and comfortable accommodation within, that Bill naturally wondered if his calculations as to the new location of the waterline were accurate.

Indeed, like every boat-transformer, he wondered if she’d float. So rather than give her a totally-untested debut at Crosshaven, Guapa was quietly towed up the road to Doneraile, where the equipe stopped outside the Townhouse Tea Room for some sustenance, as Bill’s wife works there (and it’s Georgina Campbell-recommended).

etchells22 cruiser2Quick sustenance stop as viewed from the Townhouse tea Room in Donraile

Then it was on up the road to Adare and down to Askeaton off the Shannon Estuary, where Cyril Ryan at his boatyard had the crane ready, and Guapa had her first splash in complete privacy. No leaks. And she floated perfectly on her marks. All being well, next Wednesday in Crosshaven, you’re in for a treat.

etchells22 cruiser2At Askeaton, Guapa floats to her marks

Published in Etchells

#RNLI - Red Bay RNLI’s lifeboat was launched yesterday afternoon (Sunday 5 February) to locate and rescue three people on board a 13ft boat off Glenarm Bay.

The lifeboat crew located the vessel, which had suffered engine failure, three miles east of Glenarm Marina.

Two people on board the boat were transferred to the lifeboat before the vessel was taken in tow to Glenarm.

The three men were on a fishing trip and contacted Belfast Coastguard by mobile phone to raise the alarm. Sea conditions were calm with freezing temperatures.

Around the same time, the volunteer lifeboat crew at Crosshaven RNLI in Cork Harbour launched to assist a grounded yacht.

On arrival, the lifeboat transferred a crew member to the yacht and made good a towline. Before the tow commenced the yacht's integrity was checked.

After successfully towing the vessel into deep water, another check for leaks was made before the yacht and its crew were happy to make their own way to East Ferry.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#CorkHarbour - Doyle Shipping Group will concentrate its core stevedoring business in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere in Ireland as it prepares to offer Crosshaven Boatyard for sale as a going concern this year.

That’s according to yard manager Matt Foley, who confirmed plans to the Irish Examiner upon speculation that the established Cork Harbour fixture would go on the market in the coming months, potentially asking in the region of €4-5 million.

Though the yard left the boatbuilding trade many years ago — with a legacy that includes Denis Doyle’s Moonduster yachts, Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth V and Tim Severin’s St Brendan replica — it continues as a storage and servicing facility, employing seven.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Cork Harbour
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