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Displaying items by tag: European Union

#Fishing - Marine Minister Micheal Creed yesterday (Tuesday 28 June) met with EU Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella at the Fisheries Ministers Council in Luxembourg.

This was the first formal meeting between the two men since Minster Creed's appointment.

The minister described the meeting as "very useful and cordial and it gave me the opportunity to outline some of Ireland’s key fisheries concerns to Commissioner Vella, who has a very good understanding of Ireland's interests and issues”.

Minister Creed and Commissioner Vella exchanged views on a range of current topical fisheries issues and in particular the discussions around fishing opportunities for 2017.

“I wanted to take the opportunity today to impress upon the commissioner the need for a sensible approach towards the implementation of the policy of maximum sustainable yield," said the minister.

"I made the point that, in some cases, it may be necessary to delay reaching that target by a year or two. This will be vital for some of our important whitefish fisheries off the south coast.”

Minister Creed was attending the Agriculture & Fisheries Ministerial Council in Luxembourg where the main fisheries item on the agenda was the Commissions Communication of Fishing Opportunities for 2017.

This is the first step in the process of negotiation that will establish Ireland's fishing quotas for next year.

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#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney will present a revised comprehensive compromise Irish EU presidency text to the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers on Monday 13 May seeking a new mandate to re-enter final negotiations with the European Parliament on a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Minister Coveney said that these decisive negotiations for agreeing a comprehensive reform of the CFP in Brussels on 13-14 May are likely to be very difficult given the significance for the next decade of what may be decided at the meeting.

“An enormous amount of work has gone into progressing the reform with council, commission and parliament during the Irish presidency," he said. "We now have an Irish presidency substantially revised set of compromise proposals which I believe give us a sound basis for positive engagement at council.

"Agreement at council on this presidency compromise package would support an ambitious reformed CFP which would secure a better future for our fish stocks and for the fishermen and coastal communities who depend on them."

The minister emphasised that there is a "very short window of opportunity for council and parliament to agree and deliver an effective reform of our fisheries policy and the Irish presidency is doing all it can to bring the institutions together to take this historic opportunity.

"I believe that if all parties focus on the critical elements of a reformed CFP, we can by working together reach realistic and substantial agreement through the co-decision process during the Irish presidency.”

Formal negotiations with the European Parliament have resulted in the Irish presidency drawing up a revised compromise 200-page legal text, which Minister Coveney, as president of the council, will use as the basis of negotiations with EU fisheries ministers.

The objective is to get political agreement on a final compromise package to enable conclusion of negotiations with the parliament and the commission on CFP reform during the Irish presidency, which concludes at the end of June.

Minister Coveney will also update EU ministerial colleagues on progress made to date by the Irish presidency during the ‘trilogue’ process where EU presidency (council), commission and parliament have been engaged in complex discussions on refining proposals for CFP reform.

Published in Fishing

#Coastguard - Dublin MEP Gay Mitchell has called for the formation of a Europe-wide coastguard to tackle the scourge of drug smuggling, as Herald.ie reports.

The Fine Gael MEP said that cocaine in particular "is still entering the EU from South America" through the larger commercial ports in Belgium and the Netherlands.

He also claimed that Ireland "is losing €526m per year in revenue" due to tobacco smuggling.

His comments come as Justice Minister Alan Shatter outlined Ireland's determination to address the potential for collaboration by enhancing maritime safety, security and surveillance in the EU during the State's EU presidency.

These moves come a year after the director of the Irish Coast Guard said greater co-operation between Europe's coastguard organisations is inevitable.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, IRCG chief Chris Reynolds told the audience at the Search and Rescue 2012 in Dublin that Europe's governments needed to develop a "sense of urgency" on the issue to deal with disasters such as the Costa Concordia tragedy.

Published in Coastguard

#CFPreform - RTÉ News reports that up to 200 conservation groups in Ireland and abroad have written to Marine Minister Simon Coveney and his EU counterparts urging his support for an end to overfishing in European waters by 2015.

The groups claim that mismanagement of EU fisheries under the Common Fisheries Policy has resulted in significant overfishing, particularly in the Mediterranean where as much as 80% of fish stocks are fished far beyond sustainable levels.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Minister Coveney - who is President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers - welcomed a vote in February on a reform agenda for the CFP, which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency before the six-month term concludes at the end of June.

Published in Fishing

#CFPReform - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, in his capacity as President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers, last week welcomed the vote by the European Parliament on the reform agenda for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency.

The vote, which is seen a major step forward in the CFP reform process, follows the minister’s address to parliament on Tuesday last. At the address the minister appealed for all parties to work together towards an agreed CFP reform package to be delivered during the period of Ireland’s presidency.

These reforms, which prioritise long term sustainability of fishing stocks, elimination of the controversial practice of discards (dumping at sea) and a switch to long-term (scientifically based) planning for fisheries, were  approved by the parliament on Wednesday 6 February.

The decision of the parliament follows the minister’s address last Tuesday during which he identified the reforms as a major priority on the Irish Government’s EU presidency agenda.

Minister Coveney stated: “I am delighted that the parliament has today decided to back these necessary and timely reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and that the case for reform outlined in my recent address has been accepted in an agreed manner.

"I am particularly encouraged that this vote has occurred during the Irish EU Presidency. This shows the pivotal role which Ireland can play in influencing broader European Policy and in bringing together divergent views towards an agreed reform package for the CFP.

"Ireland has set out an ambitious work programme aimed at delivering an agreed reform package for the CFP by the end of June. This objective can only be realised if [European] Parliament, Council and the Commission work together focusing on the bigger picture of an agreed reform agenda to benefit all of Europe’s citizens.”

During his address to the plenary session of European parliamentarians, Minister Coveney expressed his view that a momentum was now gathering behind the drive to deliver an agreed reformed CFP package by the end of June.

Acknowledging to the parliament that he had set out an ambitious work programme for his presidency, the minister accepted that differences remain between the European Council and Parliament, particularly on the question of multi-annual fisheries plans.

Minister Coveney emphasised the significant areas of common ground between both institutions and his belief that this would eventually lead to an agreed way forward on most aspects of the reform package. He stressed that it was only in a framework of mutual cooperation and flexibility that the objective of a reformed CFP which prioritises long term fisheries sustainability could be delivered in the lifetime of the current Irish Presidency.

The minister acknowledged the challenges ahead and emphasised the importance for the EU Parliament, Council and Commission to work together on all the issues including delivering on maximum sustainable yield, the elimination of discards and regionalisation.

Following an exchange of views, the minister sought support for his objective of achieving political agreement by the end of June in addition to acceptance of the need for a different and more effective way of working to deliver on what is a commonly held objective. He committed to working constructively with the parliament on all outstanding issues.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Important talks on EU fisheries reform are continuing in Brussels after progress in Clonakilty recently, according to RTÉ News.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Marine Minister Simon Coveney welcomed a deal signed on Friday 18 January between the EU and Norway on allowable catches and quotas.

The agreement was seen as a positive move at the end of a week of talks at the National Seafood Centre, which followed a number of false starts due to difficulties in balancing mutual access and management arrangements.

Minister Coveney said that meetings taking place in Brussels today (28 January) are "about setting the scene for six months of intensive work" to produce dossiers for both the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, for which he hopes definitive reforms can be achieved by this summer.

Both the CFP and CAP account for 40% of the European Union budget.

Published in Fishing

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Globe and Mail reports that Canada is keeping tabs on an EU plan to "manage" Europe's seal population amid growing controversy over the issue.

Last month the European Parliament approved a resolution on the Common Fisheries Policy that called for the European Commission to investigate the impact of "natural predators such as sea lions, seals and cormorants" on the reduction of fish stocks and draw up plans to regulate their numbers.

Canada's sealing industry claims this about-face in EU policy is hypocritical considering Europe's ban on commercial seal products three years ago, as well as its longstanding criticism of the Canadian seal hunt.

Already Scotland has approved a cull that has granted licences to kill over 1,000 seals on its coastline this year alone. And fishermen in Ireland, particularly on the west coast, are calling for the Irish authorities to take similar action.

Afloat.ie has previously reported on the tensions between fishermen and marine wildlife campaigners over the impact of protected seal populations on fish stocks.

Over the summer, the Dingle Seal Sanctuary claimed that a number of horrific reports of illegal seal killings committed by culprits unknown are part of a "swing in activity" since the start of the year - although the National Parks and Wildlife Service said it has not recorded any increase.

Fishermen in Kerry have come out in condemnation of these illegal killings, in particular the barbaric scene in which two baby seal heads were nailed to signs outside the Dingle sanctuary in early June.

However, they maintain that a cull of the local grey seal population is necessary, claiming they are "over-protected" and can consume as much as 10kg of fish each per day, resulting in depleted stocks of hake and haddock, as well as posing a threat to salmon conservation measures.

The Globe and Mail has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#COASTGUARD - Greater co-operation between Europe's coastguard organisations is inevitable, according to the Irish Coast Guard director.

Chris Reynolds was speaking at Search and Rescue 2012, the EU Heads of Coastguard conference in Dublin last Thursday, at which he outlined a feasibility study being conducted by the European Commission on a standardised coastguard service across Europe.

As Shephard Media reports, Reynolds admitted that some challenges stood in front of any effective change in the sector, noting that SAR policy at member state level is often spread across many departments.

But the Costa Condordia disaster off the Italian coast recently may focus governments to develop a "sense of urgency" on the issue, he said.

In the keynote address at the conference, Italian coastguard chief Giuseppe Troina said it was fortunate that the death toll in that incident had not been much greater, emphasising that more than 4,000 people survived the cruise ship's sinking.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

#FISHING - The Guardian reports that an alliance of EU member states plans to "hijack" a council meeting of the union's fisheries ministers today to prevent a ban on fish discards.

EU maritime affairs commissioner Maria Damanaki has stated her commitment to ending the practice, describing it as “unethical, a waste of natural resources and a waste of fishermen’s effort.”

Half of all fish in the North Sea - and up to two-thirds in other areas - are thrown back under the quota system implemented under the EU's common fisheries policy. The practice was recently highlighted by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Fish Fight' campaign.

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney has called on EU states to support Ireland's effort to deal with fish discards, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

But some member states, led by France and Spain, have dismissed the proposed ban as "unrealistic" and "too prescriptive", and will attempt to pass a declaration to allow the practice to continue indefinitely.

According to the Guardian, the charge is being led by industrial-scale fishing enterprises who want to retain the permission to discard lower value fish in order to maximise profits.

Brussels insiders say that if the declaration were to pass it would "kill the reform".

Published in Fishing

#NAVAL SERVICE - Ireland could soon join the fight against Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, the Irish Independent reports.

Minister of State Fergus O'Dowd confirmed that the Department of Defence was considering sending a personnel detachment to assist the EU's naval mission in the area west of Africa.

The region has been blighted by pirate attacks on merchant vessels and pleasure cruisers for a number of years.

Most recently, as reported on Afloat.ie, the situation prompted an interruption to the Volvo Ocean Race - with the six yachts shipped on a secret route to the United Arab Emirates under armed guard.

Ireland's potential contribution to the EU's Operation Atalanta is known as an autonomous vessel protection detachment (AVPD), and would be used to protect the likes of food aid ships from the World Food Programme that sail without a naval escort.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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