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Displaying items by tag: Kayaking

“Stop for a quick apple and orange drink. Paddle on in flat water. Stop for cake and try throwing a lifebelt onto a beach...”

“ Arrive Courtown at about 11.15 to champagne and a congratulations cake reception! A lifetime trip was over....”

Timmy Flavin’s understated diary entry on June 16th, 1991 was recorded after a 942-mile paddle around the coast of Ireland with his fellow kayaker Donal Dowd.

Enduring stinging armpits, swelling fists, cracked lips, missing Raybans, endless storms and unplanned capsizes, the pair set out from Courtown pier, Co Wexford on May 11th, 1991.

After paddling through phosphorescent waters to the Saltee islands, they spent their first night with an orphaned chick in a nestbox provided by the Irish Wildbird Conservancy – as Birdwatch Ireland was then.

The pair paddled an average of just over 31 miles a day until they reached Courtown again four weeks later. The log kept by Flavin - in his best broad Cork accent- has now been published as an illustrated book by his wife Bríd Farrell as a tribute to her late husband’s epic adventure.

Flavin records both indispensable details for the kayaker contemplating a similar circumnavigation, and memories of people that he and Dowd met along the route. As Dowd says, “the ever-changing sea provided us with both tranquillity and white-knuckle fear..”

There are the peaks and troughs of an Atlantic swell, and there is also much humour. Leaving Ballywalter for Annalong, Co Down, on the final leg down the Irish Sea, Flavin reached for his Raybans, couldn’t find them, “and nearly collapsed with shock...” Somehow he survived squinting in the bright sunlight. By the time they pair reach Howth, north Dublin, their fragile hands could grip a paddle but could barely hold a litre of milk or orange juice.

The log includes an equipment list with useful comments on what was and wasn’t required. A silk scarf was “invaluable and essential, while a helmet “ was never used, not carried from Malin onwards”.

“Loose leaves” from a diary were “posted home regularly”, Flavin wrote, and “postage-paid cards were used”, but there was no reading material packed – “no book, no space”. There is also advice on food in the “menu” section, where the nightcap was “white coffee, sugar, Ovaltine, biscuits..”

Timmy Flavin died four years ago of cancer, and the book includes moving tributes to him penned by Donal Dowd, Tony Noctor and by Michael O’Sullivan, a colleague in the ESB where Flavin worked.

“A gentle quiver of a breeze must have passed over the MagGillycuddy’s Reeks and across the Atlantic waters to the Sceiligs, Blaskets, Bull Rock and down the channel of the Blackwater on the 28th May 2015, when Timmy Flavin took his last breath on earth,” O’Sullivan writes, charting the career of a “giant of a man”, proficient at both kayaking and orienteering and a volunteer instructor at Cappanalea outdoor pursuits centre in Co Kerry.

It was at Cappanalea that his future wife, Bríd, met him. All profits from her late husband’s log are being shared between the Kerry University Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit, and the RNLI Valentia lifeboat station, in Co Kerry.

At the Water’s Edge: Two Boats – Around Ireland by Kayak by Timmy Flavin is priced €15 and copies are available directly from Bríd Farrell at email address: [email protected]

Published in Book Review
Tagged under

The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School is hosting its annual Open Day this Sunday 5 May with opportunities to try sailing, kayaking or paddleboarding for only €10.

Children aged 7 and up and their families can get to grips with the INSS’ fleet of 1720 Sportboats, as well as easy-to-master sit-on-yop kayaks and popular stand-up paddleboards, guided by the school’s experienced instructors.

Waterproof overalls and lifejackets will be provided for sailors, wetsuits and buoyancy aids for kayakers and paddleboarders, and hot showers will be provided after your fun on the water — so all you need to bring is your enthusiasm!

Three times slots are available on the day (10am-12pm, 12.30pm-2.30pm and 3pm-5pm) and booking must be made in advance. For more details see the INSS website HERE.

Published in INSS

#LoughRee - RTÉ News reports that a man has died after an incident while kayaking on Lough Ree yesterday afternoon (Saturday 4 March).

Coastguard and RNLI teams recovered the casualty, believed to be an experienced water sportsman, after he went missing between Hodson Bay and the village of Lecarrow. He later died at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe.

Published in News Update

#RNLI - Youghal RNLI has rescued a man who was found clinging to his kayak yesterday afternoon (Sunday 19 February) after he was in the sea for up to 45 minutes.

The volunteer crew was requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 2pm after a member of Youghal Coast Guard who was driving past Redbarn beach observed what he thought to be someone in trouble in the water.

The lifeboat, helmed by Patsy O’Mahony and with crew members John Griffin, Eddie Hennessy and Martin Morris onboard, launched at 2.08pm and arrived on scene four minutes later, where they found the kayaker had got into difficulty one mile from the beach.

Weather conditions at the time were described as good, with a Force 2-3 north-westerly wind. The tide was falling and the water while calm was cold.

On scene, the lifeboat crew observed the kayaker clinging to his board. He had been unable to get back into the seat on top of the kayak and was showing signs of hypothermia after being immersed in the cold sea for up to 45 minutes.

The casualty was quickly recovered from the water and administered casualty care on the lifeboat and back at the lifeboat station until a doctor from the East Cork Rapid Response unit arrived. The kayaker was then transferred by ambulance to Cork University Hospital.

Speaking following the callout, Youghal RNLI lifeboat operations manager Derry Walsh said: “The kayaker, who was wearing a lifejacket when he got into difficulty this afternoon, had been in the water for a long time before he was spotted and he was suffering from hypothermia when we reached him. Time was of the essence and I have no doubt that a life was saved.

“I would like to commend the member of the public and the member of the coastguard unit here in Youghal who spotted the kayaker in difficulty and raised the alarm. Our crew responded rapidly and used their skills and training to administer casualty care. The kayaker was lucky today and all at Youghal RNLI would like to wish him a speedy recovery following his ordeal.”

Walsh added: “We would always encourage everyone taking to the sea to respect the water. Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. Wear a personal floatation device. Check the weather and tides. Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and your trip.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Kayaking - A Cork man is in the midst of an epic kayaking expedition along the Persian Gulf to raise awareness of the region’s marine environment, as the Evening Echo reports.

Colin Wong from Bishopstown is close to Abu Dhabi as part of a three-man team that set off from Kuwait over two months ago, and by the time they reach Muscat in Oman they will have covered more than 2,000km along the Gulf’s western coast.

The trio are paddling under the banner of Kayak4Kuwait, with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of the sea to the countries of the Persian Gulf.

While the journey is Wong’s biggest and most demanding expedition, the 32-year-old is no stranger to long stints on the water, kayaking the River Nile in Uganda last November after placing second in the Liffey Descent marathon.

The Evening Echo has more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI was requested by Belfast Coastgaurd to launch to the aid of what was believed to be a dinghy in trouble a half-mile south of Newcastle Harbour on Saturday afternoon (31 December).

However, when the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene, the crew discovered that the callout was to three kayakers in trouble, with one man found clinging to his kayak in the freezing water and unable to get to safety.

The lifeboat volunteers observed one kayak being towed by another but only one person was visible. On further investigation it was established there was one person in the water further along the shoreline.

Proceeding further south, the lifeboat crew located a male clinging to the front of his kayak, unable to get to safety.

The person was recovered from the freezing water onto the lifeboat and the crew carried out the RNLI’s ‘casualty care’ before returning to Newcastle Lifeboat Station to await the arrival of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

The lifeboat then went back to the scene to rescue a further kayaker and his kayak while Newcastle Coastguard recovered the third casualty from the shore line. The casualties were transferred into the care of paramedics.

“Another five minutes and we could have been dealing with a completely different outcome,” said Newcastle RNLI lifeboat helm Alan Jones. “The water is absolutely freezing at this time of year.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Rescue - Howth’s coastguard and lifeboat teams launched to the rescue of a lone kayaker off the North Dublin headland yesterday morning (Wednesday 28 September).

After a concerned onlooker called 999 when spotting that the kayaker was on the water with no life jacket, Howth Coast Guard and Howth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat were both tasked to the scene near Ireland’s Eye.

In the meantime the kayaker had proceeded around the back of the island and out of visibility from the caller on land. While the kayaker didn’t appear in difficulty, there were concerns for their safety.

A coastguard mobile unit proceeded to the end of the pier while the lifeboat launched on service to the far side of Ireland’s Eye, where the crew located a female on an open-deck kayak struggling in the water. She was brought back ashore by the lifeboat without incident.

“If she fell in the water, she had no means of staying afloat as she had no life jacket and only had a phone to call for help, there can be very limited if any phone signal once you go on the water,” according to an Irish Coast Guard spokesperson.

“The kayaker hadn’t checked the weather, which was unsuitable for the craft she was in. The lessons learnt are you need to have an emergency plan if going on the water – VHF radio, flares, whistle, weather information.

“Equally if not more important, you need a life jacket, no excuse.”

The rescue came just hours after Larne RNLI launched to assist two kayakers in difficulty off the Co Antrim coast, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Rescue

#RNLI - A group of kayakers were brought to safety on Thursday night (18 August) by Union Hall RNLI after they got into difficulty during a night-time kayaking expedition off Castlehaven in West Cork.

The alarm was raised by one of the kayakers after two of the party became separated and the group requested assistance to make their way back to shore.

Union Hall RNLI's inshore lifeboat was launched at 10.45pm and proceeded to the scene, where they learned that the two kayakers originally thought missing had made it to safety on shore and the rest of the group requested assistance to get back to land.

It was decided to take the group off their kayaks and bring them onto the lifeboat before bringing them the short distance to Reen Pier.

The 15 people were helped onboard the Atlantic 85 lifeboat while their kayaks were towed back to shore.

"This was a large group for our inshore lifeboat to assist and our volunteer crew did well in ensuring that everyone was taken onboard quickly and safely," said Union Hall RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Kelleher.

"The weather conditions were challenging for the lifeboat crew to get from their base in Union Hall over to Castlehaven but thankfully conditions on scene were much calmer.

"With the call for help coming in quite early and the lifeboat crew on scene quickly, we were able to get the situation under control in a short time with everyone accounted for and safely brought ashore."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Blueway10k - Places are still open for experienced kayakers to sign up for this weekend's Blueway 10k Challenge, as the Nenagh Guardian reports.

Organised by Canoeing Ireland and the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland with Waterways Ireland, the nine events taking place simultaneously across the island this Saturday 20 August will see novice paddlers put their skills developed over the last 12 weeks of training to the test.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the initiative aims to take the hassle out of kayaking or canoeing on Ireland's inland waterways, showing that access to watersports is quicker and easier than many people think.

Three-time Irish Olympian Eoin Rheinisch gives an overview of the final week of training ahead of this weekend's challenge:

Published in Canoeing

#RNLI - Three kayakers who got into difficulty in Dungarvan Bay on Sunday evening (7 August) were assisted by the volunteer crew of Helvick Head RNLI.

The inshore lifeboat Robert Armstrong launched just after 6.30pm following a report that three people in kayaks were struggling in strong winds and currents in the Ballyvoile area of Dungarvan Bay.

One kayaker had made his way ashore but was stuck on rocks and was in need of medical assistance. He was airlifted by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter to Waterford Regional Hospital.

A second woman was helped from her kayak by the lifeboat crew and brought ashore at Clonea Beach close by. The third person was successful in reaching the shore.

The lifeboat, helmed by John Condon and with crew members Shane Walsh and Joe Foley onboard, later returned to the scene to recover a kayak from the rocks.

"Strong winds and the tide made it difficult for the casualties to get ashore and they were struggling," said Condon after the callout, "so the lifeboat was essential in ensuring the safe recovery of the second kayaker as well as in assisting the helicopter. We would like to wish all three kayakers well after their ordeal."

The incident came on the same day that a group of 12 kayakers was rescued in Dublin Bay after failing to heed the small craft warning in place due to forecast high winds, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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