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Displaying items by tag: Safety

The UK’s coastguard is warning people of the dangers of jet skis, personal watercraft (PWC) and motorised recreational craft after a spate of incidents in recent weeks around the south west coast of England.

Many were breakdowns, but these incidents also included jet skis and motor boats overturning in the water, getting too close to other vessels, collisions and conflict between users of these craft and other sea users, such as swimmers.

Sadly, two incidents resulted in fatalities.

Richy Williams, senior coastal operations officer for the area with HM Coastguard, said: “The majority of PWC and motorcraft users operate their vessels responsibly but there are some who don’t respect the water, the capabilities of their vessels and other water users.

“We want people to enjoy themselves at the coast, but also to make sure they’re staying safe.

“Jet skis, PWCs and motor vessels can be powerful machines, so always operate your vessel within the limits of your, and your vessel’s, capabilities. Be aware of the presence of other water users and ensure that you are aware of the impact your activities have on others.

“Ensure you have a means of alerting the coastguard if you get into difficulties such as a VHF, handheld VHF or mobile phone in a dry bag.

“A personal locator beacon (PLB) may be useful for more remote locations, along with flares and, where possible, always wear a kill cord which will cut your vessels engine should you move away from its controls or become detached from your vessel.

“Know the bylaws that are in place in the location you are operating your vessel, stick to them and be respectful of other water users. If you see anyone putting others at risk or in difficulty at the coast, call 999 [or 112 in Ireland] and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in Water Safety
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RNLI fishing safety manager Frankie Horne has urged the fishing community to avail of safety training that is on offer for their crews and to ensure that their safety equipment is up to date.

It comes after the skipper of a fishing vessel that sank late last year off the Isle of Man has attributed their rescue to the safety training the crew had undertaken previously and to their lifejackets, which were fitted with personal locator beacons (PLBs).

On the evening of 23 November last year, the fishing vessel Polaris suffered a catastrophic hull failure in the Irish Sea off the west coast of the Isle of Man.

The vessel sank so rapidly that the skipper only had time to send out a Mayday to the coastguard and other surrounding fishing boats before the vessel became submerged.

The coastguard immediately launched two RNLI lifeboats, from Port St Mary and Port Erin, and a rescue helicopter. However, it was a local fishing vessel, Lynn Marie, which arrived first on scene.

The skipper and a crew member from Polaris had been in the water for at least 15-20 minutes before help arrived.

The skipper of the Lynn Marie feared the worst on arriving at the scene as the Polaris had already gone below the water. The skipper stopped his engine to listen for the crew of the Polaris, which proved a wise decision as he heard two men in the water shouting. The Lynn Marie crew located them with a search light and recovered them from the water.

‘I can tell you that there is no doubt that the lifejackets saved our lives’

Commenting on the rescue, Horne said: “After speaking with Gordon Mills, the skipper of the Polaris, and the crew of Lynn Marie on their arrival at Peel, it was quite clear that this could have been a very different story had the crew of both vessels not acted so professionally.

“The crew had attended safety training and wore lifejackets fitted with personal locator beacons which had increased their chances of survival.”

Gordon Mills, skipper of Polaris, added: “At no time did I feel our lives were in danger due to our training and equipment.

“We had a policy of wearing lifejackets on the working deck since attending refresher training, where I was shown a film involving fishermen wearing their normal working clothes, being put through their paces in the RNLI Survival Centre Environmental Pool, both with and without lifejackets in cold water with wave movement whilst attempting to recover themselves.”

Mills added: “To see fishermen struggling in a controlled environment and only lasting a few minutes or in some cases a few seconds without the lifejacket makes you think about your own safety.

“I can tell you that there is no doubt that the lifejackets saved our lives. We wouldn’t have even been afloat for the crew of fishing vessel Lynn Marie to recover us from the water had we not been wearing them.

“I would encourage all fishermen to start wearing their lifejackets while on deck — you just never know when you might need it.”

Published in Water Safety

With most boats either safely ashore or secured in safe mooring berthages, this is a month to prepare for the season ahead and one of those aspects, about which I feel particularly strongly is safety on the water. There is an obligation on all of us who enjoy watersports to exercise responsibility, to be able to look after ourselves and to ensure our crews do likewise. We also have a responsibility not to be the cause of unnecessary call-outs to the rescue services.

To underline these points, I have the story this week from a lifeboatman with 32 years’ experience at Youghal on the East Cork coastline.

During the 17th century, Youghal was one of Ireland's main ports, far more important than Cork Harbour, which was described officially then as “a port near Youghal.”

Yuoghal lighthouse and Harbour entranceYoughal Lighthouse and Harbour entrance

That historical record of the respective ports may have some association with the confusion of two-speed boat crew to whom navigation was an art they did not have the knowledge or the resources to understand when the Youghal lifeboatman came upon their confusion.

The story is told by John Innes who has retired after 32 years’ service with Youghal lifeboat. He was Helm of three Atlantic class lifeboats at Youghal - the Atlantic 21 Marjory Turner; the Atlantic 75 Patricia Jennings and the Youghal station’s current Atlantic 85 Gordon and Phil. He also served as Lifeboat Training Co-ordinator from 2001-2009 and again between 2016-2017. During his RNLI service, John was involved in saving 34 lives at sea.

Doing a bit of research about Youghal in preparing this week’s Podcast I discovered that nuns once made sure that the light was maintained on Youghal Lighthouse. It was a duty of the nunnery of the Chapel of St. Anne’s from 1202 until the Reformation in the 1530s when the nunnery had to be abandoned as was the light. Construction of the present lighthouse, designed by George Halpin, began in 1848 and it was brought into operation in 1852.

I also discovered that there was a climate incident described in the historical records as a "great convulsion of nature" in the province of Munster in the year 830, in which over a thousand people were killed in a “fierce storm.” One of the storm’s effects was to change the flow of the famous River Blackwater which flows through Youghal. This formed a new entrance to Youghal Harbour, the current one – which confused those two speedboat men!

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tagged under

#FastnetRace - With the days ticking down till the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race, Ocean Safety has published its free Fastnet Safety Checklist to ensure your yacht is ready for the rigours of the challenging seas around Fastnet Rock.

One of the most important items for the race for the race undoubtedly the liferaft, which will need a service before setting out from Cowes on Sunday, 6 August.

Ireland's CH Marine is a leading supplier of liferafts and services, hires and sells rafts. Both for leisure and commercial vessels.

Published in Fastnet

#WaterSafety - The Irish Coast Guard has once again warned the public to stay back and say safe in coastal areas during severe weather after video emerged of a young child swept off their feet by a surprise wave.

Independet.ie has video of the recent incident in Portstewart on the North Coast, where a man and the child are filmed walking along the promenade as large waves lap over the edge at high tide.

Published in Water Safety

#MCIB - Basic water safety precautions were not taken before a canoe capsize incident that led to the drowning of a man off Kenmare almost a year ago.

That’s the main conclusion of the official report into the tragedy in Kenmare Bay in which local man Bill Topham died, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Topham had been canoeing to islands in Kenmare Bay with a friend for a duck shoot when their two-man vessel overturned in high winds on the afternoon of 31 January 2016.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board report identified that neither passenger on the canoe was wearing a personal flotation device.

It also concluded that their decision to undertake their trip amid adverse weather conditions with a fully laden canoe, including two boisterous dogs, greatly increased the “inevitable element of natural risk” involved.

The full MCIB report into the incident is available to download below.

Published in MCIB

#Coastguard - Stay Back, Stay High, Stay Dry is the message from the Irish Coast Guard to the public over the Christmas holiday period.

Many people will be engaging in outdoor activities along the coastline, be it on exposed coasts, cliffs, piers, harbour walls, beaches, promenades or other coastal areas.

And with the risk of stormy weather returning for Christmas Day tomorrow, after yesterday’s blustery conditions from Storm Barbara, the coastguard asks that anyone planning activities on or near the water to first check that it is safe to do so, and to be mindful of the risks and life threatening dangers that can arise without warning.

Christmas Day swims are a popular pursuit, and the coastguard is urging the public to only participate in organised swims where medical support and lifeguards are available.

Lone swimming should be avoided and all swimmers should be cognisant that time in the water should be kept to a minimum as even the most experienced of swimmers can easily succumb to cramp or cold water shock.

A general improvement in weather conditions is forecast from St Stephen’s Day — but spring tides that generate higher tides will peak in the latter part of the week and pose an additional risk.

The three Coast Guard Rescue Co-ordination Centres based in Malin, Valentia and Dublin, along with the coastguard helicopter service and volunteer units, will remain operational over the holiday period.

The Irish Coast Guard wishes to remind the public that if you see anybody in danger at sea, on the coast or on cliffs, call 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Anyone finding themselves involved in an emergency can use phone apps to help give their location to rescue personnel, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Coastguard

#Maritime - ‘Safe and sustainable’ marine transport and ‘delivery of emergency management services’ have been made a high level goal in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s Statement of Strategy 2016-2019, published this week.

Identifying Ireland’s maritime sector as “a critical gateway” for trade and tourism, the statement calls for “an efficient and effective competitive ports sector [that] can foster job creation” via trade, infrastructure developments and “opportunities in other areas such as offshore energy, cruise and marine leisure and recreation.”

Reduced ship emissions and safety at sea are also priorities within the Maritime Safety Strategy, which “includes a range of actions to be implemented or begun by 2019” such as flag state and port state regimes, and the IMO’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.

Key services in this strategy include the delivery of a 24/7 marine emergency response and management service by co-ordinating the response to SAR incidents and pollution threats at sea.

Progress on these goals will be monitored by various indicators, such as the transfer of regional ports to local authority control by the end of 2018, the imposition of a new ‘ports performance’ measurement system by the end of 2017, the development of a web portal for SeaSafe Ireland by the middle of next year, as well as a minimum 90% availability of Irish Coast Guard units ahead of “full interoperability” of marine rescue co-ordination by next winter.

The full Statement of Strategy 2016-2019 can be downloaded HERE.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

It may have to take another disaster of Titanic proportions before lifesaving provisions on board cruise ships are improved.
That might seem like a bit of hyperbole – an exaggerated statement or claim not meant to be taken literally, but it came from a maritime source which deserves respect – an international forum of professionals.
• Listen to the Podcast below.

NAUTILUS is the international trade union and professional organisation representing more than 22,000 maritime professionals in the UK, theNetherlands and Switzerland. Its International Professional and Technical Forum issued that warning after a meeting in Hull in England where facts that will surprise the public about cruise ship safety were revealed.

As cruise ships get bigger and bigger, with a 6,000 passenger capacity amongst the biggest, fears have been increasingly expressed about safety and evacuation procedures, which were heightened by the Costa Concordia disaster.
It is surprising to hear that every passenger is not guaranteed a seat in a lifeboat and that some passengers, because of their size, might not even fit in lifeboat seats. According to the NAUTILUS professionals, the SOLAS, safety of life at sea regulations, only require that there is lifeboat capacity for 37.5 per cent of passengers on each side of a cruise ship, providing that liferafts increase that capacity to 125 per cent, meaning apparently that not every passenger would be catered for in a lifeboat in an emergency.

And even if seats are available, the Forum was told that seats only allow for an average mass of 75 kilograms per person and a seat with of 16.9 inches which, the professional forum concluded, does not take into account increases in the average height and weight of passengers.

The general public will be surprised by these findings, the NAUTILUS professionals said. They have called for a lifeboat seat for every passenger onboard – and a guarantee that passengers will fit into them.
The professionals said that passengers may be surprised to learn that this is not already the case.

Published in Island Nation
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This US Coast Guard video shows the stricken sailor riding several waves before jumping head first over the railing of a rescue ship. The yachtsman's dramatic leap, with his cat, to safety from his disabled yacht was made some 400 miles south of Cold Bay, Alaska. 

Published in Offshore
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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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