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#RNLI - Both Wicklow RNLI lifeboats launched after 7.20pm on Sunday evening (22 May) to assist two men in a small motor cruiser near Wicklow Head.

A member of the public contacted the Irish Coast Guard after seeing the men bailing water out of the vessel.

The motor cruiser was located about a half-mile northeast of Wicklow Head a short time later.

Weather conditions on scene were described as having a moderate sea state with north-easterly Force 3 winds and good visibility.

The boat was taken in tow by the all-weather lifeboat back to Wicklow Harbour, where the two occupants were taken ashore safe and well by the inshore lifeboat crew.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman’s mountain travel philosophy, rooted in Africa and the Himalaya and further developed in his early sailing adventures in the southern hemisphere, was honed to perfection with his discovery of Greenland as the perfect sailing destination. His Arctic voyages in the pilot cutter Mischief proved no less challenging than his earlier southern voyages. The shorter elapsed time made it rather easier to find a crew but the absence of warm tropical passages meant that similar levels of hardship were simply compressed into a shorter timescale.

First published fifty years before political correctness became an accepted rule, Mischief in Greenland is a treasure trove of Tilman’s observational wit. In this account of his first two West Greenland voyages, he pulls no punches with regard to the occasional failings, leaving the reader to seek out and discover the numerous achievements of these voyages.

This extract is taken from Chapter X11: To Godthaab and Evighedsfjord, which sees Mischief sailing through pack-ice en route to Cape Farewell.

Cape Farewell, so named by John Davis, is the southern extremity of an island 2700 feet high. Surrounded as it is by high mountains it does not stand out prominently, but like most capes that mark the culminating point of large masses of land it is noted for stormy weather. In addition much ice accumulates round it, sometimes extending as far as 150 miles seaward. But the average distance is seventy miles in April, decreasing in August to thirty miles. For our part we could not have rounded it in fairer conditions. Sailing west-northwest parallel to the coast, mountains glistening all along our starboard hand, we romped along at five knots over a sparkling blue sea on a day of brilliant sunshine. And what fascination there is in the sight of this Greenland coast; how bracing the austere beauty of sea, snow mountains, and ice! In the morning we sighted only one big solitary berg and in the afternoon passed another close enough for us to take photographs. In order to have the best light we passed it on the wrong side, that is to leeward, where we had to dodge a number of bergy bits or growlers which had broken off. A German stern-trawler from Kiel altered course to have a closer look at us and greeted us with three blasts of his siren. The air temperature that day was 36° F. and the sea 42° F.

greenland

Kangamiut (left) and Evinghedsfjord

Next day we lay becalmed. It was an equally brilliant day and the few icebergs scattered about were curiously distorted by mirage. On this account, too, we could not make out whether a white bank all along the horizon to starboard was fog or ice. At the same time we were much puzzled by a low, rumbling noise. Some thought there must be a fishing boat about, others an aeroplane. True we had a bottle-nosed whale close aboard at the time but we could not hold him responsible for a noise like that. When a breeze sprang up we closed with this white bank and found it to be heavily congested pack-ice so distorted by mirage as to appear twice its height. It was this pack-ice that in spite of the perfectly smooth sea maintained the low menacing growl which we had heard from miles away. In similar circumstances John Davis and his company had been confounded by the noise of the pack: ‘Here we heard a mighty great roaring of the sea, as if it had been the breach of some shoare, the ayr being so foggie that we could not see one ship from the other. Then coming near to the breach, we met many islands of yce floating, and did perceive that all the roaring that we heard was caused only by the rowling of this yce together.’ We sailed to within a hundred yards of the pack to take photographs before standing out to sea. From so low a viewpoint as our deck photographs of pack-ice proved singularly unimpressive. In the vicinity of the pack the sea temperature was down to 34° F.
All next day as we drifted and sailed up the coast we had the pack in sight, for apparently it filled the whole of the Julianehaab Bight as far north as Cape Desolation. Ghosting along all night we tacked once to avoid a raft of small floes covering a mile of sea. The morning broke clear and sunny and again we found ourselves surrounded by floes with just enough steerage way to avoid them. A seal lay basking on a floe but when we tried to edge close the whisper of wind failed altogether and when we started the engine he dived into the sea. In the afternoon we ran into fog. The air temperature fell to 36° F. and the moisture on the ropes froze. By evening, the fog still persisting, we found our way barred by a narrow belt of pack-ice. Although the water beyond appeared to be clear of ice we hesitated to break through and coasted westwards alongside the ice searching for an opening. For four hours we motored at four knots, dodging loose floes, and still having the more solid ice about fifty yards away on our starboard hand. At length at ten o’clock, tired of dodging stray floes and thinking I saw an opening, I turned her head towards the ice. We were nearly through when in making a tight turn to avoid a floe on the port side we suffered a frightening blow below the water-line from a tongue of ice projecting from a floe on the starboard side. Those who were below were more than a little startled. As one man they rushed on deck to see what had hit us such a sickening thud. Assuming a calm which I was far from feeling I told them we had just grazed a bit of ice, that the ship appeared not to be sinking, and that at least we were through the ice and able to resume our proper course.

The book can be purchased directly from Afloat's Marine Market at €15.67 here

Published in Cruising

#Coastguard - Two people on board a 30ft cruiser were rescued by the Irish Coast Guard's Killaloe unit yesterday evening (Monday 23 May), as the Irish Examiner reports.

The coastguard team towed the boat into deeper water after it ran aground on Lough Derg before 6pm - and an ROV was used to confirm there was no damage to the underside of the vessel.

Published in Coastguard

#CoolRoute - With their city's namesake yacht's performance in the Clipper Race firmly in mind, Derry officials met with fellow Cool Route partners in Glasgow last week ahead of hosting their own project meeting this October.

As Derry Now reports, the recent two-day gathering allowed partners in the Cool Route cruising initiative to discuss various aspects of the project, with Derry leading talks on IT and online booking.

Cool Route partners – which include Cork Institute of Technology and Donegal County Council – also met with marine leisure industry stakeholders to share insights and feedback.

Derry Now has more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - Places are going fast for a special cruise on board the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's Celtic Mist to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ireland's whale and dolphin sanctuary.

Celtic Mist will depart Fenit, Co Kerry next Saturday 7 May with a team of IWDG members and marine science experts on an almost three-month circumnavigation of Ireland, first heading north along the Wild Atlantic Way and around to the Irish Sea, calling on Dublin on 7 June to mark the 25th anniversary of the Irish Government's official declaration of this island's waters as a sanctuary for cetaceans.

The declaration came only three months after it was proposed by the then newly formed IWDG, and both have been instrumental in raising awareness of the bounty of marine wildlife in Irish waters.

Though berths on the voyage are filling fast, everyone will have the opportunity to participate by assisting in outreach events along the cruise route, or by tracking its progress online. Details on how to get involved can be found on the IWDG website HERE.

Along the way passengers on Celtic Mist may be treated to some of the incredible wildlife the sanctuary was created to protect, such as humpback whales – a number of which were spotted on an early visit to West Kerry earlier this month, likely attracted by schools of sand eels, as the IWDG reports.

In other marine wildlife news, locals near a beach close to Ballyshannon in Co Donegal have complained after a whale carcass was left rotting on rocks three days after it was reported to authorities.

According to the Irish Mirror, successive high tides had failed to shift the 25ft minke whale, though Donegal County Council says it is arranging for the animal's disposal.

Published in Marine Wildlife

We don't really think about it on a daily basis, but the Earth is still changing all the time. It just happens so slowly that we can't really perceive it. But every now and then, things speed up… a lot. Check out these photos below to see what a cruising yacht in the South Pacific witnessed.

As they got closer, what they had taken to be a sandbar revealed itself to be something else entirely.

A huge amount of pumice stone was floating to the surface of the water. It looked like a beach.

They decided to get a closer look and redirected their yacht towards it.

It looks like a beach in the middle of the ocean!

The crew decided to sail through it, leaving a break in the stone behind them as they went.

They wondered what could have caused this expanse of stone to suddenly appear.

The field of pumice was getting even larger as they passed through it. The crew had an uneasy feeling and upped their speed.

Once they were a safe distance away, they heard a faint rumbling. Looking back they saw water bubbling from the surface.

The source of the pumice stone was an underwater volcano that was actually erupting at the time!

They anchored to watch this tremendous event. Massive plumes of smoke filled the sky.

As the smoke cleared, they noticed something strange just at the water's surface...

It was land!

The stunned crew couldn't believe what they were seeing: It was the actual birth of a new island.

They sailed a little bit closer to see if their eyes were playing tricks on them.

But it was real. The peaks of this new land mass were already taking form.

It was one of the rarest events imaginable!!!

They were able to witness such an impossible sight… and also they apparently very narrowly escaped with their lives!

Published in Cruising
Tagged under

#CoolRoute - Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) is inviting alumni and friends – especially those with no previous experience – to 'Try Sailing' at a yacht club near you.

The drive comes from a partnership between CIT, the Royal Cork Yacht Club and the Irish Sailing Association and falls under the remit of CIT's Cool Route Project, which aims to attract business to peripheral locations by promoting yacht cruising on the scenic coastline of North West Europe.

Capitalising on the current big push to attract young people to sailing and cruising, 'Try Sailing' developed as a result of discussions with with ISA and RCYC via the CIT Cool Route team.

Individuals and groups alike are encouraged to head to Crosshaven – one of many other participating clubs around the coastline – to take out a 1720 class racer with an instructor for three hours, all necessary safety gear provided and no previous experience necessary.

While there is a small fee involved, there are possible group discounts for CIT alumni and friends.

For more details visit the Try Sailing website, follow the hashtag #eucoolroute on social media or visit Facebook.com/eucoolroute

Published in Cruising

From across the globe, members of the Cruising Club of America (CCA) assembled at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan to recognise their outstanding sailors of 2015 during the international organisation’s Annual Awards Dinner earlier this month.

Representing a broad array of sailing achievements, the recipients of the 2015 Blue Water Medal and the Blue Water Medal “Without Date,” Far Horizons Award, Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship and the Richard S. Nye Trophy were celebrated for their accomplishments.

2015 Blue Water Medal and Blue Water Medal “Without Date”

The Cruising Club of America presented British sailors Tom and Vicky Jackson its 2015 Blue Water Medal, established in 1923 to recognise examples of meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the seas. The Jacksons were rewarded for their extensive racing and cruising, over more than 34 years aboard their 40’ Sparkman & Stephens-designed Sunstone.

The Cruising Club of America presented Jon Sanders of Perth, Australia, its Blue Water Medal “Without Date.” The medal recognises examples of meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the seas and has only been awarded seven times to recognize a variety of achievements. Sanders has made nine circumnavigations – eight of them solo, including a single “three times around” voyage, and one crewed – and has made a lifetime of significant contributions to sailing.

Far Horizons Award

The 2015 Far Horizons Award was presented to Kaspar and Trisha Schibli, of Victoria, British Columbia, in recognition of their extensive offshore cruising, especially their current multi-ocean cruise. 

Richard S. Nye Trophy

The 2015 Richard S. Nye Trophy was presented to John E. Sanford of Tiburon, Calif., for meritorious service to the CCA and the San Francisco Station over a period of 34 years. 

Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship

The 2015 Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship was presented to Canadian cruisers George Juri and Grit Chiu for their lifesaving rescue in critical conditions of a man found floating offshore who had been in the water for four days following the sinking of a work barge off Phuket. 

Published in Cruising

The ultimate dreamworks for those who cruise the Irish coast, or indeed those who just hope to do so one day, has been reaching distributors and subscribers this week with the 14th Edition of the Irish Cruising Club’s Sailing Directions for the South & West Coasts of Ireland coming hot off the press writes W M Nixon.

It’s only three years since the 13th Edition was published, but as Ireland emerges from recession, new harbour developments are taking place. And as well, Honorary Editor Norman Kean, ably assisted by his wife Geraldine Hennigan, is constantly up-dating information, and receiving input from ICC members and other interested folk in all sorts of out of the way places, adding to the already enormous shared stock of top class local knowledge about harbours and anchorages large and small.

The book is available to purchase directly from distributors Todd Navigation via the Afloat marketplace here.

In this age of electronic navigation, it may surprise some that there is a continuing demand for new editions of a book which was first compiled by the great Harry Donegan of Cork in 1930, and he in turn had been collating information, and making harbour charts aimed at the needs of cruising enthusiasts, since 1912.

golam harbour2
With clear chartlets like this, the ICC makes secret anchorages such as Golam Harbour on the south coast of Connemara accessible to cruising folk from other areas. Courtesy ICC

But in fact this history going back more than a hundred years is part of the book’s attraction. And despite today’s gadgetry, no serious cruising person would contemplate heading off for a detailed venture along the Irish coast without a copy of it on board.

The mixture of technical information well leavened with clear charts and evocative photographs has improved steadily over the years, and the Foreword from Roger Millard, the recently-retired Regional Geographic Manager at the Admiralty Hydrographic Office, neatly encapsulates the high regard in which the ICC Directions are held, as he comments: “Although aimed at small-craft users, it has many admirers from major maritime institutions”.

His Foreword’s conclusion provides a warmth of support beyond professional admiration. Having listed the Directions’ special features of invaluable assistance to small craft users, he concludes: “On top of these advantages, I find it a fascinating read, and I am sure you will enjoy it”.

goleen harbour3
Goleen in far West Cork is known as a port of call to very few, even though the holiday traffic to Barleycove and Crookhaven barrels through the village every day. Courtesy ICC

While those of us who have cruised the coastlines involved many times will find pleasure in visiting old haunts as they now appear, one of two places where the new book has seen detailed fresh research have been that strange unknown area between Achill Island and Belmullet, a large yet secret location where the noted smuggler Captain James Mathew from Rush in Fingal used to anchor his ship in the 1830s, and small craft would emerge from every nook and cranny nearby. Those aboard each currach would be carrying dockets bought from Mathew’s agents ashore which, once they reached the ship, they could exchange for punitively taxed goods without any money actually changing hands. It was all extremely businesslike, yet the legendary Captain Mathews was chased to his destruction by the Revenue cutters off Donegal in an October storm.

achill sound4
The northern area of Achill Sound is one of the areas re-surveyed for the new Sailing Directions, and some previously unlisted anchorages have been detailed. Courtesy ICC

The other area getting the special Keane-Hennigan update is the south coast, eastward of Cork. Regular Afloat.ie visitors recently will be aware of the remarkable photo of Blind Harbour on the Waterford coast which they obtained with their Warrior 40 Coire Uisge anchored in this extraordinary gap in the cliffs. But as this coastline is much transitted by the large fleets from the East Coast trying to reach the promised cruising land of the Southwest, the good news is that Dunmore East is dredged and looking forward to further developments which will be more friendly to recreational boat users, Kilmore Quay is better run than ever, a real trophy facility for Wexford County Council, and even the utterly utilitarian ferry port of Rosslare – sometimes a crucial facility for small craft trying to negotiate Ireland’s tricky southeast corner – has been showing a friendlier attitude to boats in need in recent summers.

And yes, I know that strictly speaking Rosslare is not on the south coast, let alone the west coast. But the fact that it gets included shows the generously informative approach which the Editor and his team have taken with this fine book, which retails at €33.75. 

Buy the book HERE

Published in Cruising

Rugged Donegal in the far northwest of Ireland is unknown territory for many Irish people whether by land or sea - and even more so for people from further afield writes W M Nixon. Yet for people who live in this picturesque but challenging region, it’s the hub of the universe, and for Donegal-located sailing enthusiasts, it can be a cruising paradise.

This was brought home to the rest of us at the recent Irish Cruising Club prize-giving, when the Glengarriff Trophy for the best cruise in Irish waters went to Dr Paul McSorley, who sails from Lough Swilly. Despite 2015’s mixed weather, he made a very detailed cruise of the Donegal coast with his daughter Eimile in the 27ft International H Boat Wild Cat. While the H Boats were developed in Finland as a fast weekend cruiser with genuine race potential (they’re now an International Racing Class), it’s unlikely that designer Hans Groop envisaged them cruising the monumental Donegal coast with its challenging location on the Wild Atlantic Way.

don1aAn H Boat in cruising mode. Paul & Eimile McSorley’s cruise in Donegal in 2015 with with the H Boat Wild Cat was awarded an ICC Trophy

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A Land Apart – Donegal is Ireland’s ultimate cruising challenge

Yet on a good day, you could see resemblances between the myriad of islands on the Finnish coast and the maze of islands north and south of Arranamore between Dawros Head and Bloody Foreland, the area on which Wild Cat’s cruise was concentrated. The difference, of course, is the tide. But Donegal aficionados reckon that the tide adds a special spice in which the Baltic is woefully lacking……

Whatever, there’s no doubt that Donegal is a special place for many cruising folk, and in recent days the ever-curious Norman Kean and Geraldine Hennigan of Courtmacsherry, who edit the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions, have been in Donegal sussing out welcome new developments. In a sense, it was something of a home-coming, for when Norman first came from Scotland to settle in Ireland to work in a chemical plant in Derry, Lough Swilly Yacht Club became his home base, and it was a cruise from there to the Faroes in an own-built Sadler 25 which first put him on the cruising map.

don3
This is the start of something very worthwhile – the first pontoon berths in place in Killybegs in Donegal last week. Photo: Geraldine Hennigan

In Donegal in late February 2016, they found that the further you go south, the more promising are the developments. Best of all is the mighty fishing port of Killybegs on the south coast facing into Donegal Bay, a wonderful natural harbour for a bustling place which is said to be a town of 23 millionaires. For although not everyone does well in the fishing, some busy and innovative types do very well indeed.

For quite some time there’s been talk of the provision of pontoon facilities in Killybegs, but for 2016 Donegal County Council - where Cathal Sweeney has become the enthusiastic harbour engineer - have just gone ahead and done it with a minimum of fanfare, installing a 63-berth pontoon setup with plenty of room for expansion. (As first reported by Afloat.ie in March 2013). The pontoons were supplied and fitted by Oliver Shortall's Inland and Coastal Marinas Ltd of Banagher in County Offaly.

At present it’s called a “Small Craft Harbour”, which at first you might think reflects the reluctance of local authorities, the further north you go in Ireland, to describe a new amenity of this type as a “marina”. A case in point is Ardglass in County Down where the excellent little marina – one of the greatest boons to East Coast cruising – is still referred to as the “Phenick Cove Boat Park”.

On the other hand, Cathal Sweeney sounds a no-nonsense kind of guy, so maybe he won’t describe the very welcome new facility in Killybegs – which will transform Donegal as a cruising ground in providing a convenient base where a boat could be confidently left with good if distant communications with the rest of the country –  as a marina until it has the full shoreside facilities.

Then the cruising options from Killybegs have been improved too, as to the westward a fine big pontoon has now been provided at the west pier in the lovely inlet of Teelin right beside the majestic cliffs of Slieve League. But then as we head north along the massive Atlantic seaboard, proper facilities are sparse enough, though in the case of both Burtonport and Bunbeg, it’s surely only a matter of time before a proper recreational-use pontoon or two gets installed.

don4
Bunbeg on Donegal’s northwest corner is a little port which would benefit from a modest pontoon facility. Photo: W M Nixon

Cruising Donegal’s north coast, it still remains a source of wonder and delight that Tory Island now has a proper pier, albeit a tiny one, at which a cruising yacht can confidently overnight. And further east we hear that the most sheltered anchoring spot on the entire north coast, Fanny’s Bay on the west side just inside the entrance to Mulroy Bay, is a real possibility for a small marina facility.

Nevertheless in cruising Donegal, your first requirement is for your vessel to have her own fully operational and very substantial ground tackle, for apart from this being the seamanlike approach, the choice of anchorages which opens up when you know you’ve an anchor which will hold, and a windlass which will retrieve it, is almost boundless.


don4a
After many years, the shoreside cohesion of Fahan Marina on Lough Swilly with its landward neighbourhood south of Buncrana still seems a long way off. Photo Kevin Dwyer/Courtesy ICC

In the northeast of this enormous county of Donegal, there has of course long been a convenient if somewhat tide-ridden pontoon at Rathmullan on the west shore of Lough Swilly, but across-lough at Fahan, the marina – the great white hope of Donegal sailing – continues in a sort of semi-functional limbo, an unfinished, disconnected piece of work which nevertheless gives enough hint of what might be, if only someone could find a way through various legal and commercial impasses.

don5
The berthing facility at Bunnagee near Culdaff took a battering in the winter storms. Photo: Geraldine Hennigan

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Storm damage to one of the Bunagee pontoons. Photo: Geraldine Hennigan

Up to the north of Inishowen, what was hoped to be a “marina” at the lovely little bay of Bunagee at Culdaff has seen its pontoon damaged in winter storms, for even in summer this is a restless if attractive anchorage. But on the east coast of Inishowen the Greencastle-Moville area has seen significant improvement with summer harbour for Moiville Yacht Club close south of Greencastle, where the main harbour itself has seen work resumed on some improvements.

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Greencastle is a fishing port where occasionally working boats and leisure craft can become very crowded……Photo: W M Nixon

don8….but immediately south of Greencastle this new pontoon facility provides a summer berth for local craft. Photo: W M Nixon

don9
The new Greencastle pontoons looking east across Lough Foyle. In time, an additional sheltering pier may make this a more attractive proposition for visiting cruising boats. Photo: W M Nixon

So Donegal calls. It may get some of the roughest weather in Europe, but when summer comes to stay for a week or two, it’s a cruising paradise.

Published in Irish Marinas
Page 6 of 20

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