Displaying items by tag: Cruising
#Navigation - The United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that it will cease publication of paper nautical charts in six months' time, according to Sail magazine.
Since the first maps charting the US coastline were published in the 1860s, the NOAA's Office of Coast Survey has been producing accurate and highly detailed charts to help all kinds of mariners find safe passage through American waters, from fishing vessels to merchant ships to cruising yachts.
But with the majority of ocean-goers now relying on GPS and other modern technologies, the use of paper nautical charts was seen as falling by the wayside by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which took over the production of US charts in 1999.
Yet while printed nautical charts may now become the preserve of specialised cartographers like Bobby Nash, who designed a special classic chart for the Volvo Ocean Race finale in Galway last year, the NOAA will still be providing its ocean maps by electronic means via data or high-res PDFs.
Sail magazine has more on the story HERE.
#circumnavigation – Having completed a nine year sailing circumnavigation Pat and Olivia Murphy of Howth Yacht Club have been giving talks to clubs, groups and organisations throughout the country. These have proven to be very popular and always result in follow up talks. Being a 'double act' and designed for a general audience makes these talks entertaining for sailors and non-sailors alike. For schools the presentations are specifically designed as educational.
If your club is interested or if you know of an organisation or combination of groups that might be interested you ccan contact Pat Murphy on 353 1 8322 312 for more details.
Pat and Olivia Murphy Talk Desciptions
Part 1. Ireland to New Zealand via Atlantic Ocean, ARC Rally, Caribbean, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama Canal, Galapagos, Pacific Ocean, French Polynesia, Cook Islands and Tonga. The 4 years planning the adventure, searching and finding the suitable boat, the departure, two close encounters with crocodiles and a night spent turtle watching are an example of the many stories included in this talk.
Part 2. New Zealand to Australia via Fiji, Vanuatu (New Hebrides) and New Caledonia. 9 days storm bound in the remote Minerva Reefs, Pat's initiation into a tribal family during a pig killing ceremony, Olivia's medical emergency etc. etc... Ends with a very unique 30 min. DVD Pat made of local tribal customs and traditions.
Part 3. From Brisbane through the Great Barrier Reef to Darwin, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Avoiding crocodiles off Northern Australia, Komodo Dragons and Orangutans in Indonesia and Borneo, being lucky to avoid serious damage to Aldebaran in Malaysia, losing our dinghy and outboard are only a small portion of the stories and experiences in this talk.
Part 4; Sailing and back-packing in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma) & Vietnam. If you have never been or plan to go to any of these Asian countries we promise our stories with high quality slides will whet your appetite. The restoration of the 118 ft ketch Cariad built in Southampton in 1896 is part of this talk.
Part 5. NEW: Covers our experiences sailing from Thailand to Galle in Sri Lanka where we were escorted by armed guards, Cochin in India, The Indian Ocean, Salalah in Oman, 5 nervous days transiting "Pirate Ally" off Somalia, Aden in Yemen, the good and the bad of the Red Sea, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, the Suez Canal and Cyprus to Turkey.
#arcticcircle – The Irish 'North of Disko' expedition, organised by Killary Adventure Company, returned last week from its ten-week voyage to the Arctic Circle and the west coast of Greenland. Stunning images of ice and film footage from the adventure are currently being collated for exhibition and a feature length documentary. The crew sailed from Galway on the 14th June and battled some wild weather on their Atlantic crossing, before reaching their destination and exploring Greenland's spectacular coastline, ice fjords and glaciers.
The crew sailed over 2000nm to Upernavik in Greenland, well inside the Arctic Circle, from where a team of four kayakers set out on a 300km unsupported sea kayak south, navigating through fjords and ice fields, while the team of three climbers tackled a series of first ascents, as they followed the kayakers south, on board the 49ft, ex admirals cup racing yacht the 'Killary Flyer'.
Adding a further dimension to the expedition, photographer Daragh Muldowney has captured some spectacular images of the disappearing ice and will be hosting an exhibition in the coming months.
The expedition was led by Jamie Young, MD of Killary Adventure Company, whose previous expeditions include the successful Irish Cape Horn Sea Kayak Expedition in 1989, the Guinea Bissau Sea Kayak Expedition in 1992, and the 'South Aris' expedition, which attempted to re-enact Shackleton's epic boat trip from Elephant Island to South Georgia, in 1997.
The crew arrived into Killary Harbour on the morning of Thursday 15th August and are currently readjusting to life ashore.
The London-headquartered organisation has set 19 October as the launch date for the new 'Celtic Seas' section, which will comprise the whole of Ireland plus the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Man and the west coasts of England and Wales.
As Sail World reports, the proposed new section would complete the CA's coverage of the British Isles, along with the North Sea and Channel sections. Events and cruises-in-company would be arranged, not to mention the creation of a 'CelticNet' online forum for section members.
It's hoped that the Celtic Seas section would work together with existing cruising clubs and associations using the waters around Ireland - the Atlantic, North Channel, Irish Sea and Celtic Sea - to organise joint events, expanding on the CA's current presence in Ireland via honorary local representatives.
The first meeting of the Celtic Seas section will take place on Saturday 19 October at CA House in Limehouse, East London, where members of existing Irish and British west coast associations - and non-members with an interest in cruising - will be invited to discuss motor cruising and sailing in the region.
#hebrides – August is almost upon us. The heat has been fierce, and the summer season has been busy. Despite some blips in the weather, civilised folk will be thinking of sailing away from it all for a while. North and west perhaps, in the hope of finding uncrowded and beautiful places which may be cooler. The Western Isles, the Outer Hebrides, are calling us away.
Certainly they did so in August last year, but not for reasons of heat. On the contrary, the jetstream lay persistently along Ireland's south coast, and July's weather here was appalling. But the word came back that up in the Hebrides, they were already thinking of water shortages as the sun shone on and on.
We had contemplated taking the 1912-built 36ft Kearney yawl Ainmara to southwest Ireland for her Centenary cruise. But as owner Dickie Gomes is an enthusiast for the west coast of Scotland in any case, it was no contest. Twelve days in mid-August were allocated to celebrating the old girl's emergence from a 27-year restoration with some Hebridean island-hopping. And I became so taken with the idea that I made an offer that if we could get to the remote little pool of Rodel at the southern tip of Harris, I'd stand my two shipmates the Centenary Dinner at the inn beside that enchanted anchorage.
Rodel is a real honey-trap, as you need a good rise of the tide to get through the drying channel into the deep pool, and there you are - whether you like it or not - until the tide returns. But it's no hardship, as the place is beautiful, the inn is welcoming, and for a thoughtful insight into times past in the Western Isles, just up the road is the restored late mediaeval church of St Clement, complete with the famous MacLeod tomb with its carving of a sailing vessel, the inspiration for Wallace Clark's building of the Lord of the Isles galley with which he voyaged from Connacht to Stornoway.
The Centenarian on a silver sea – after a restoration lasting 27 years, Ainmara deserved to spend her hundredth birthday at a very special place Photo: W M Nixon
The cruise objective – Rodel is exactly in the middle of the long necklace of the Outer Hebrides
It's the sort of place that everyone thinks they are the first to discover, and my own first discovery of Rodel came in 1977 when we sailed in aboard Johnny Roche's 26ft South Coast OD Safina. The party in the inn was mighty, and dawn was already hinting when we struck a deal in the old kitchen to buy a bolt of Harris tweed, woven within sight of the anchorage. We sailed home with the tweed in a sailbag in the foc's'le, and two of the crew then commissioned that great Dublin tailor Jack O'Rourke (father of current Mermaid National Champion Jonathan O'Rourke) to make them up a couple of suits from our seafaring cloth.
Although they both were of much the same age, one was an old fogey from birth, while the other was a permanently young trendy. So when Jack finally produced the suits to their two very different and clearly defined specifications, it took a real effort to realize that both outfits were cut from the same piece of tweed, as one was a very sharp and fashionable bit of work, while the other had all the timeless style of a sack of potatoes.
Next time back to Rodel was six years later with my own Hustler 30 Turtle, and some of those good folk of Rodel with whom we'd partied in '77 had since gone to the great weaving mill in the sky, while the inn was running out of steam. It still clung to some semblance of gentility with immaculate table linen, but portions for dinner were of such modest size that we simply had two dinners apiece, one after the other.
That was all of thirty years ago, and since then the word was the inn had closed down completely. But a few years ago there was a welcome whisper of a restoration under completely new ownership. So when Ainmara's centenary came up the agenda, it seemed the perfect setting for a mid-cruise Centenary Dinner, and we departed from Ballycastle towards the sunny Hebrides with this interesting cruise objective in mind, while astern the Irish coast continued to lie under cloud.
Despite his impressive record of international long distance offshore racing, these days Dickie Gomes takes care to avoid unnecessary nights at sea, so our progress towards Rodel was gentle yet effective, hopping our way via Port Ellen and Ardbeg in Islay, then on to Scalasaig in Colonsay, and then out to Tiree to be nicely placed for the passage across the Sea of the Hebrides to Barra.
There'd been only one other yacht in Gott Bay in Tiree when we arrived, but there were half a dozen getting under way in leisurely style that morning. Ainmara was the only boat to head west out through Gunna Sound between Tiree and Coll into the Sea of the Hebrides, shaping our course for Barra and motoring gently through a large shoal of basking sharks going about their leisurely work. There was a strengthening breeze from the northeast and the soft grey cloud cover was melting away. It may have been three days already since leaving Ballycastle, but coming out through Gunna Sound gave a special feeling of the cruise really getting under way, and it settled into a perfect 40 mile passage, beam reaching in sunshine with everything set to the jib tops'l on its first outing, and the distinctive peaks of the southern outliers of the Western Isles starting to rise above the horizon while still thirty miles ahead.
First port in the Outer Hebrides - Castlebay in Barra revelled in the August sunshine Photo: W M Nixon
Castlebay basked in the sun, the heat was solid, and the tarmac on the quayside road was soft in the sun. At first we were in solitary splendour on the visitors mooring nearest Kisimul Castle, that ancient fortress of the MacNeils, but some other boats came in later in the evening. Up in the cool of the pub, glad to be out of the fierce sun, our gallant skipper met so many interesting folk that we were too late to get a booking at the funky little Café Kisimul on the quay, but had a reasonable meal in the hotel above the boat and retired aboard in a state of enchantment at being in the Outer Isles.
The morning brought a crisp easterly and hazy sunshine, so we were away early to make northing through the Sea of the Hebrides. We'd thought to drop into Eriskay for a lunch break, but the sailing was just too good, this was what we'd come for, we just kept going, and began to think that in a day or two we might even get to Rodel. Once the southeasterly headland on South Uist was astern, the sheets were eased and Ainmara settled into her stride with the jib tops'l pulling well, and the ancient mizzen staysail in its Killkenny colours of black and gold making its first appearance after a very long time in storage.
This is what we came for – glorious sailing in the Sea of the Hebrides with the ancient mizzen staysail (in the Kilkenny colours) pulling well. Photo: W M Nixon
God be with the days.....Ainmara alongside the cliff at Loch Boisdale in June 1963 to collect a bunch of heather for the bowsprit end Photo: W M Nixon
With progress like this, where on earth were we going to stop? Northward she romped, passing Loch Boisdale almost without a thought. Back in 1963 on our first cruise to the Outer Hebrides with Ainmara (when I already thought she was rather an old boat), one fine June morning we were gliding seawards down Loch Boiusdale, and noticed a healthy growth of heather on the nearby cliff. Once you've got north of Ardnmurchan Point, Scotland's Cape Horn, you're entitled to have a bundle of heather on the stemhead or bowsprit end. We hadn't yet got around to this back in 1963, but on that blissful morning we simply came alongside the steep shore, and nipped up the cliff to get the heather. It was Monday June 10th 1963. It was with some relief at the end of June that we noted the exact Golden Jubilee of that magic morning on Monday June 10th 2013 had passed entirely unmarked. You can have enough of Golden Jubilees.
Onward we sailed in August 2012 with gems of lochs like Eynort, Skipport and Uiskkevagh slipping by as this perfect day progressed. Flodday likewise was missed with cavalier disregard, then by Eport the wind was gone, but we motored on to Loch Maddy (48 miles from Castlebay) as we'd never been there before, and it left barely a dozen miles next day to Rodel.
We liked Loch Maddy, it's very Western Isles with the pier in one place and the village in another, and in the morning there was time for an heroic breakfast before heading down the loch in bright sunshine. There was a fine easterly breeze, and out in open water all plain sail was set and we started making impressive knots towards Rodel. I foolishly remarked that this looked like being the best sail of the cruise. Within minutes, it was as if somebody had knocked off a switch. We'd to motor for a while, then a gentle nor'easter had us beating in very leisurely style, and in mid-afternoon we were off Rodel with an hour or so to go to high water.
While Loch Rodel itself provides only limited shelter, the pool behind Vallay Island is snug
The tidal entrance looks tricky enough, but it's worth it for the perfect anchorage within
The shoreline begins to take shape, with St Clements Church clear above the hotel at Rodel Photo: W M Nixon
Ainmara is lining up for the Bay Channel into the pool Photo: W M Nixon
The seabed is clearly visible as you pass through the channel close to the port hand marker Photo: W M Nixon
A very relieved skipper as we start to find deeper water in the pool Photo: W M Nixon
Mission accomplished – Ainmara in Rodel to celebrate her Centenary Photo: W M Nixon
But as tides were neaps, the skipper was a bit nervous as we found our way through the shoal entrance in gentle style. You really do pass very close to the port hand marker. Yet once within the pool, my shipmates saw why I was so keen about this enchanting place, and we happily slowed down to Rodel speed for the rest of the day.
St Clement's Church at Rodel is one of the Outer Hebrides more significant buildings Photo: W M Nixon
The historic Macleod tomb in St Clement's Photo: W M Nixon
The stone carving on the MacLeod tomb which inspired the Lord of the Isles galley to be built in Greencastle in Donegal Photo: W M Nixon
Ashore, a visit to St Clements Church fitted the mood perfectly. There is a genuine sense of the past, and of the turbulent history which had once been the lot of this sleepy and now remote place. Down at the restored inn (it's called the Rodel Hotel these days, but for me it will always be the inn), we found the sympathetically-renovated establishment had a new dining room beside a new bar – the old rough bar out the back where we'd started negotiating for the tweed was long gone. And though the Countess of Dunmore's drawing room cum dining room where we'd enjoyed fine linen still exists, it is boarded up. But everything else is very much alive, we were able to have luxurious baths in Jock's Room (thanks Jock) and the setting was perfect with the evening sun still bright on the Centenarian sitting gracefully on her mooring and well visible through the restaurant windows, while the food aspirations were up to speed with a German chef and a friendly and obliging Spanish husband and wife couple front of house.
The Rodel Hotel has been restored in a manner which respects its original style. Photo: W M Nixon
Appropriately, the skipper had the best of it - he went for the surf'n'turf option which was far from your usual beef and salmon, it was Pabbay venison from the second-last island before St Kilda, combined with Sound of Harris hand-caught scallops. It sounds a bit overpowering, but worked very well, and kept himself in the best of spirits. Denis our third crewman being a sports addict, he was keen to see the Olympics Closing Ceremony on television after dinner, and we were invited to use the Residents' Lounge to do so in comfort. While the lads were settling themselves in there with the coffees and digestifs, I nipped furtively up to the bar to settle the bill - the other two hadn't really believed my "get to Rodel and I'll pay for dinner" proposal - and found what was clearly the man himself running the bar and everything else.
"Would you be our host?" I enquired. "I am indeed," said he, "for my sins I'm the proprietor of this place. Welcome to Rodel. I'm Donald MacDonald".
Such is life. We go all the way, nursing an old boat across hundreds of miles of potentially very turbulent water to Rodel in the Western Isles in order to celebrate her Centenary Feast in the Great Hall of the MacLeods of Harris, only to find it has become a MacDonald's.
A MacDonald's with a difference – Ainmara serene in the evening sunshine at Poll an Tigh-Mhail, seen from the dining room in the Rodel Hotel. Photo: W M Nixon
Along the way they will be recording any sightings of whales or dolphins along the way using forms supplied by the IWDG.
And the IWDG is currently offering places on board to all members for both week-long legs of the cruise.
The vessel has eight berths that will comfortably sleep a team of one skipper and seven crew - indeed, anyone taking up this offer will be expected to prepare meals and perform other sailing duties!
For more details on how to join The Gathering Cruise on board Celtic Mist, see the IWDG website HERE.
In the meantime, Celtic Mist is offering all IWDG members a chance to sail on day trips from Dun Laoghaire this week - email [email protected] for details.
#Shannon - Passages on the River Shannon in 2013 so far have fallen more than 50% compared to numbers for the same period a decade ago, according to the Irish Waterways History blog written by Afloat's inland correspondent, Brian Goggin.
Using statistics supplied by Waterways Ireland, the site plotted a graph that shows an overall decline in lock and bridge passages on the Shannon in the months from January to May each year since 2003, with a slight spike in 2007 the only buck in the downward trend.
Though the figures do not record all uses of the waterway (such as sailing, angling and other watersports) and do not account for variables such as the weather, they are indicative - the site claims - of "the Shannon's most significant tourism activity, the cruiser hire business".
Indeed, the figures apparently show that boat hire passage numbers have fallen from 11,440 in January-May 2003 to just 4,781 in the same months this year.
Even private boat passages have been falling from a peak in 2009 to just below their 2003 numbers, if the site's interpretation of the stats is anything to go by.
However, a source close to Afloat.ie says that the falling numbers may be skewed by a growing emphasis on larger-capacity vessels on Ireland's inland waterways, with eight- and 12-berth boats supplanting older four-berth vessels, and families and groups consolidating their recreational boating.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year turns out, and whether the overall numbers from January to December will tell a different story of the state of the Shannon and other waterways.
#baltic – Cruising rally specialists World Cruising Club (WCC), have announced an exciting new addition to their rally programme, with the first ever ARC Baltic Rally planned for summer 2014. Billed as "six capitals in six weeks" the new rally will offer a different focus from the trans-ocean events, for which WCC is best known. A combination of days cruising at sea, combined with an exploration of the region's fascinating culture and history, will take cruisers on a 1,500nm voyage of discovery through Europe's "east sea".
Andrew Bishop from World Cruising Club commented on the new rally. "We've often had requests from previous ARC participants for a Baltic cruise. Now, having proved with the popular Malts Cruise in Scotland, that the rally format of easy cruising, cultural and social activities, together with a lead-boat works well, I felt the time was right to go further east. The Baltic is a vast waterway which offers some superb sailing, and the added attraction of a unique and varied history, makes it a perfect place to cruise." Discussing the organization of the route, he continued "By having a lead-boat with an experienced Baltic sailor aboard, we can provide guidance and assistance all the way along the route, right into St. Petersburg!".
Starting from the Baltic port of Kiel, the home of German sailing, the ARC Baltic itinerary will include the Estonian capital Tallin, the former Russian Imperial capital St. Petersburg, the Finnish capital Helsinki, the Finnish provincial capital Mariehamn, the Swedish capital Stockholm, and the Danish capital Copenhagen. En route, the rally sails through some of the most beautiful and interesting sights in the Baltic. The rally format will be adapted to the Baltic and the individual legs will be short, one to two days, with the focus being to experience the cultural history of the region and enjoy the stunning beauty of the Swedish and Finnish archipelagos. Over six weeks the rally will sail close to 1500 nautical miles, with an itinerary that allows flexibility for the prevailing weather encountered. The start is planned to be in mid-July to be finished by late August, allowing yachts from further afield to be back to their home ports by the end of the month. World Cruising Club will lead the rally from onboard a yacht sailing with the fleet, with an experienced Baltic sailor and historian as guide.
At this stage World Cruising Club is taking expressions of interest for the first rally to be run in the summer of 2014.
#Safety - The deaths of a mother and daughter in Britain's Lake District have highlighted the need for awareness of the risk of carbon monoxide leaks on cruisers and other vessels with sleeping berths.
As The Guardian reports, 36-year-old Kelly Webster and her 10-year-old daughter Laura Thornton died in their sleep on board a moored motor cruiser in Lake Windermere over the Easter bank holiday.
The interim report into the incident by the UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) released this week confirms that fumes from a jury-rigged generator exhaust spread into the cabin of the boat belonging to Webster's partner Matthew Eteson, who survived.
It was also pointed out that the boat's carbon monoxide sensor did not set off an alarm because it was not connected to a power supply.
The boat had been installed with a portable petrol-driven generator of the kind normally only intended for use in the open air.
"The use or permanent installation of these engines on boats, particularly in enclosed spaces or below decks, increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning," the report added.
Just a week after the tragedy, BBC News reported that a woman and two children were taken to hospital to be treated for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning after a similar incident on a boat on the same lake.
Following the latest news, Bord Gáis Networks has provided guidance for keeping aware of the dangers of fumes from gas or fuel-powered generators, heaters or cookers.
Boaters are urged to think of the appliances on their vessels and whether they burn fuel oil, gas, LPG, wood or coal, which all produce carbon monoxide by burning.
Carbon monoxide becomes a hazard when there is not enough air flow to burn the fuel properly - more likely in an enclosed space such as a boat cabin - so ventilation is very important.
Make sure all flues and exhaust outlets are clear and ventilated, and ensure any appliances used are suitable for boats and serviced annually by a qualified agent.
Boat-owners are reminded of the good practice of installing a carbon monoxide alarm, and to know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning - which include headache and dizziness, leading to loss of judgement, nausea, possible convulsions and elevated heartbeat.
From the pre-departure programme ensuring crews are relaxed and prepared, to the friendly welcome each boat receives on arrival in Saint Lucia, the unique spirit that surrounds the ARC each year has meant the Rally is firmly on the 'bucket list' for cruising sailors. Since its creation almost 30 years ago, World Cruising Club has built on these key strengths and provides a safe and social event that annually attracts hundreds of cruising boats to cross the Atlantic with the help of their expert organisation.
In 2013, demand to join the ARC has been unprecedented and World Cruising Club have announced the addition of a new route option for the world's most popular cruising rally, to give even more dedicated cruising sailors the chance to join the transatlantic rally of choice and offer a new experience for returning participants keen to expand on their previous crossings. ARC+ Cape Verdes will depart Las Palmas on 10 November, 2 weeks earlier than the traditional start, and feature a 3-5 day stopover in Mindelo, Sao Vincente, before continuing with the trade winds to Saint Lucia. The rally has already proved extremely popular and entries are expected to reach capacity 50 boats in the coming weeks.
The new route retains the pedigree of the ARC whilst offering a new adventure. "We feel like pioneers!" said Gill and Colin Nobbs who quickly signed up their Moody 42 Resolute of Thames to join the first ever ARC+, and many returning crews have welcomed the stopover in the Cape Verdes as a chance to explore somewhere new. The islands are perfectly placed to 'sail south until the butter melts' and an exciting programme of events will be arranged during the stopover to introduce crews to the Cape Verdes culture and scenery. The earlier departure from Las Palmas means that despite the stopover, ARC+ boats are due to arrive in Saint Lucia during the first week of December, allowing time for crews to enjoy the famous welcome celebrations and parties before some extended Caribbean cruising.
Each year, World Cruising Club ensure hundreds of yachts enjoy a safe passage across the Atlantic providing advice and support for skippers and crews from the moment their preparations begin. ARC participants become a family before the pre-departure schedule even starts; often meeting one another in marinas on the way to the Canaries, where significant discounts are available, or introducing themselves through the radio net, online blogs and dedicated facebook page. The Rally Handbook, available to skippers and crew six months prior to departure, combines cruising and safety knowledge gathered from over quarter of a century of running transocean rallies and the World Cruising Club team, all of whom are passionate sailors, are always happy to talk about any aspect of life at sea at seminars, boat shows and from our offices across Europe, in the USA and Australia.