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A £2.5m fund to help marine tourism businesses in Scotland restart operations in 2021 will be open for applications from next week, according to Marine Industry News.

The Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund is part of an overall £104.3m support package for tourism businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the fund is aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme, which opens at noon on Tuesday 2 February.

“Industry surveys indicated over 75% of operators in the charter and small cruise sector secured two months or less of trading in 2020,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin said.

“Managers of local visitor moorings and pontoon services faced a vastly curtailed season, many of whom are not for profit community led groups operating on extremely thin margins.

He added: “The importance of supporting the sector at this time of year is vital, not just for direct jobs but also the valuable economic benefits marine tourism brings to rural and remote coastal and island communities.”

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Scotland’s vast potential for sailing and adventure tourism post-Covid-19 is the focus of a new webinar series next week.

Marine Industry News reports on the online inaugural Adventure Tourism Week, an initiative of VisitScotland, Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland.

The five-day programme of live online seminars will explore what affects the coronavirus pandemic has had on the adventure tourism sector in Scotland, and how the region can capitalise on emerging trends around the world.

“The commercial sailing charter and holiday sectors have been severely impacted by the pandemic,” says Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin.

“This event will provide a positive stepping-stone for future planning, provide a much-needed confidence boost to businesses and help focus attention on the sector that can be at the very heart of tourism recovery in Scotland.”

Marine Industry News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Three northern bottlenose whales were the subject of special rescue operation in Western Scotland yesterday (Thursday 1 October) as boats worked to guide them out to sea ahead of a major military exercise.

As the Guardian reports, rescue teams led by British Divers Marine Life Rescue formed a barrier with their boats as they coaxed the whale pod towards the Firth of Clyde and away from Loch Long, near the Faslane naval base west of Glasgow that will host the international Joint Warrior exercise next week.

The deep-water beaked whales, which are rarely seen in inshore waters, have been monitored in the area over the past month — with observers expressing concern over the health of one of the trio, even aside from their sensitivity to underwater sounds, according to BBC News.

The whales are of the same marine wildlife species that died in a stranding in Donegal this past August which was described as the largest of its kind in Ireland, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Scottish Waters

The UK’s Cruising Association’s Regulations and Technical Services group (RATS) has welcomed the move by the Scottish government to update its rules for marking lobster pots in Scottish waters.

The best practice guidance, which came into force on 20 June, makes unlawful the marking of a string of creels (lobster or crab pots) with anything other than a buoy made for that purpose.

RATS said it has been “vociferously campaigning” for clearer marking of static fishing gear and lobster pot markers since 2017, and will be pressing for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow suit.

More details on guidance for marking fishing creels in Scottish waters can be found on the Scottish government website HERE.

The Isle of Man Steam Packets' chartered in MV Arrow, which is used by the Manx ferry operator to cover freight traffic, ran aground in Aberdeen Harbour, Scotland (yesterday).

The (ro-ro freightferry),reports Manx Radio, is on a sub-charter to Serco-Northlink for Aberdeen-Northern Isles services (see related Afloat story).

According to the BBC News, the Arrow 'got into difficulties during manoeuvres on its arrival from Lerwick (Shetland) early this morning, and ran aground at the entrance to the harbour.

She was freed by harbour tugs, with no injuries reported, whilst a full investigation with the relevant parties will be conducted.

The vessel is on a long-term charter to the Steam Packet, but has been sub-charted to Serco-Northlink for two weeks.

It's being managed and crewed by Seatruck Ferries during this period.

Published in Ferry

A modern-day Viking hopes to complete an epic journey by land and sea from Norway to the Midlands despite the setbacks of stormy weather and the coronavirus pandemic.

As RTÉ News reports, Darragh Carroll left the island of Tromoya off Norway’s southeast coast last November in a traditional wooden boat named Rán, for the Norse goddess of the sea.

The chef by trade made it as far as Cape Wrath in the Scottish Highlands when Storm Brendan struck in January, and Run was stranded on the sandy band in Loch Eriboll for two months until the tides were high enough to refloat.

With the boat’s engine flooded, Carroll was forced to rely on wind power alone for the final leg from northern Scotland to the East Coast of Ireland.

But as he neared his home in Dublin, the coronavirus crisis put a roadblock on his plans to bring a flame he’d taken from Norway to the Hill of Uisneach in Co Westmeath.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Solo Sailing
Tagged under

An overdue vessel sparked a major search off Skye in western Scotland last night (Saturday 9 May) involving two RNLI stations, multiple coastguard teams and an SAR helicopter.

The operation began at 8.40pm after a four-metre RIB, reportedly with two people and a dog on board, had failed to return to Strollamus on Skye as expected.

Kyle RNLI’s lifeboat Spirit of Fred Olsen launched within minutes after a report from a concerned member of the public.

The crew began a search of the coastline and small islands from Kyleakin heading north, while volunteers with Portree RNLI did the same heading south.

With light fading fast at 10pm and still no sign of the missing RIB, the Stornoway-based HM Coastguard helicopter was tasted to the scene.

Meanwhile, one of the Kyle lifeboat crew spotted a small light on the normally uninhabited island of Scalpay, which on investigation belonged the two people from the missing RIB.

They explained that they had gone ashore after suffering engine problems with their vessel, and were uninjured by their ordeal. The crew took them back to the Skye mainland at Broadford.

Speaking of the incident, a Kyle RNLI spokesperson said: “The couple had gone out searching for whelks when they had issues with their engine, so went ashore on Scalpay.

“The initial report had said they had a dog with them, however we discovered they had decided to leave it at home on this occasion.

“This search shows that during these unprecedented times of lockdown with bans on non-essential travel, the RNLI is still on call 24 hours a day.”

Published in Scottish Waters
Tagged under

Salvors successfully offloaded the last recoverable cargo from the grounded MV Kaami in western Scotland last Thursday, 30 April.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the MV Kaami ran aground in the Minch between Skye and Lewis on 21 March, just days after leaving Drogheda Port en route for Sweden.

The MV Kaami’s eight Russian crew were rescued within hours of the incident, but the 90m cargo vessel remains at the spot known locally as Eugenie Rock.

Work began last month to remove cargo from the vessel, and divers were able to access the hold to assess any internal damage.

Weather conditions during the early part of last week made it unsafe for the salvors to board the vessel and slowed down the salvage operation.

But more settled weather on Thursday allowed for some 30 tonnes of cargo to be removed and transferred to a landing craft for disposal.

The focus of the salvage operation is now on completing repairs to make the vessel watertight and to allow for it to be refloated.

Published in Scottish Waters

Work continues at pace to remove cargo from the MV Kaami which ran aground off Skye in western Scotland after sailing from Drogheda Port last month.

A further 22 skips of cargo were removed yesterday (Monday 20 April), meaning a total of 160 skips worth of cargo have now been taken ashore.

Divers have also now been able to access the hold of the vessel to begin internal damage assessment.

The ship remains aground in the Minch between Skye and Lewis.

Stephan Hennig, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention, said: “Thanks to good weather and sea conditions, progress is being made swiftly.

“The removal of so much cargo now means we’re getting closer to the next phase of the salvage which will focus on assessing the internal damage and attempting to temporarily repair damaged sections of the ship.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, an exclusion zone had been stablished around the Nassau-registered cargo ship after it ran aground at Eugenie Rock within days of leaving Drogheda Port on 21 March.

The vessel’s eight Russian crew were rescued from the spot some six nautical miles north-west of Duntulm on Skye.

Published in Scottish Waters

An exclusion zone was set up around a cargo ship out of Drogheda that ran aground in Scotland’s Hebrides earlier this week, as it was battered by persisting storm conditions.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, eight crew were airlifted from the MV Kaami on Monday (23 March) after it grounded on a reef known locally as Eugenie Rock, some six nautical miles off the Isle of Skye.

The MV Kaami had left Drogheda Port less than two days previously, en route for Slite in Sweden, with a cargo of refuse-derives fuel (RDF) in pellet form.

The Press and Journal reports that a salvage team arrived on Tuesday (24 March) to inspect the abandoned vessel, while the tug Ievoli Black remained at the scene on guard.

Published in Scottish Waters
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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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