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Displaying items by tag: Slyne Head

#RNLI - Clifden RNLI’s all-weather Mersey Class lifeboat Fisherman's Friend was launched at 1.30pm on Saturday (1 July) to go to the assistance of a fishing vessel adrift six miles off Slyne Head in Co Galway.

The 11m vessel had been en route from Baltimore to Blacksod before it suffered engine problems in challenging weather conditions, with a 2m swell and Force 6 wind blowing from the north west.

The skipper requested some water to try and get his engine going again. The lifeboat crew assisted, and this initially solved the problem. However, the engine soon stalled again, and the lifeboat crew proceeded to establish a towline.

At 3.30pm the vessel was put under tow and returned to Clifden Bay. The tow took just over two hours to complete.

Speaking following the callout, coxswain John Mullen said: “We dropped the skipper off on the visitor’s moorings in Clifden Bay with the assistance of the inshore D Class lifeboat. 

“It was a good call out for the all-weather lifeboat in challenging conditions. We would like to wish the fisherman well and thank all the crew involved.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
#WEATHER - Met Éireann has issued a weather warning for the Irish Sea for the next 24 hours due to expected gale force westery winds.
A small craft warning has also been issued, with west to southwest winds continuing to reach force 6 tonight on the Irish coast from Carlingford Lough to Roches Point to Slyne Head.
The high winds marks the first wave of real winter weather after a milder-than-average November, the Evening Herald reports.
A forecaster told the paper that strong winds have "reached storm force on the Irish coasts from Belfast Lough to Wicklow Head to Mizen Head and on the Irish Sea.
"We expect that by tonight they will slightly drop but may still reach a strong gale force."

#WEATHER - Met Éireann has issued a weather warning for the Irish Sea for the next 24 hours due to expected gale force westery winds.

A small craft warning has also been issued, with west to southwest winds continuing to reach force 6 tonight on the Irish coast from Carlingford Lough to Roches Point to Slyne Head.

The high winds marks the first wave of real winter weather after a milder-than-average November, the Evening Herald reports.

A forecaster told the paper that strong winds have "reached storm force on the Irish coasts from Belfast Lough to Wicklow Head to Mizen Head and on the Irish Sea.

"We expect that by tonight they will slightly drop but may still reach a strong gale force."

Published in Weather

Where to Sail in the West of Ireland

Shannon Estuary – and from Dingle to Slyne Head

At over 100 kilometres long, the Shannon estuary stretches from the western edge of Ireland at Loop Head to east of Limerick city and beyond.

No other waterway brings so much to Irish lives: up to 40% of our energy supplies; Ireland’s second-largest airport; it’s second-largest cargo port; a 10,000 student university – all on the banks of the estuary.

The Shannon Scheme has been bringing electricity to tens of thousands of homes for over 75 years; long before ‘Green Energy’ was heard of in Ireland. This massive award-winning hydroelectric project, producing 85 megawatts of power, was one of the most important building projects ever undertaken in Ireland.

However, it’s not only the ferries and hydroelectric power that are benefiting from the estuary – it seems that all around its banks, people are turning back to face its waters. Limerick’s Riverside City project, initiated during the Celtic Tiger, has helped bring Limerick back to the water.

Four rowing clubs from the city have made this area a main centre for their sport in the country; Kilrush’s development is also encouraging to those who wish to spend time on the water; and Shannon Airport sees approximately three million people pass through its gates on up to 26,000 flights – a forcus for tourism, business and employment since 1946.

The estuary itself, the only one big enough to accommodate Capesize ships (too large for the Suez or Panama Canals), is not only a driving force behind Ireland’s economy but home to the Shannon Dolphin Foundation which allows tourists and locals to dip into that environment from Carraigahold pier. On the Kerry side, Ballybunion’s lush golf links (established in 1893) have entertained up to 100,000 golfing tourists each year.

Limerick city, because of it’s strategic placing, owes it’s origins to the Shannon waters, as from there, smaller boats could access the heart of Ireland while the estuary opened up trade foutes into Europe and beyond. The history of what became known as King John’s Castle is long and fascinating, and Bunratty Castle, built around 1425 a few miles downriver, can attract up to 350,000 visitors each year.

The clutch of islands in the middle of the Fergus estuary – Canon Island, Coney Island, Horse Island and Scattery – were once home to a vibrant, bilingual community fishing and farming around the estuary. Scattery was first used as a monastery site in the sixth century, though the monastery didn’t survive Elizabethan times and it’s population declined steadily after 1881. Because of it’s isolation, the monastery founder St. Senan thought it ideal for his needs – legend has it it forbade any woman to live or land on the island.

Kilrush in Co. Clare is where island residents moved to – making the short journey across the estuary to what once was a small market town but is now the estuary’s marine leisure centre. It’s here that most people learn how to sail on the waterway, as the marina is home to an adventure centre and the area’s largest fleet of racing yachts. So popular is this marina that plans have had to be drawn up to double it’s capacity.

Sailing has a long and proud tradition in these parts: Ger O’Rourke and his yacht Chieftain emerged from these shores, as has Conor O’Brien (left from Foynes in 1923, the first amateur skipper to sail a yacht around the world); and the Knight of Glin who starts the September race.

Brandon Bay, on the north side of the Dingle peninsula, is completely open to the north but reasonably sheltered from the south-east through south-west to north-west. A decent pub with a good bar overlooking the bay provides victuals and refreshment when needed. Mutton Island has sheltered anchorage though no facilities. Kinvarra, small and sheltered, requires some careful pilotage but is good for provisioning. If you make your way to Galway you can enjoy the beautiful city – recent stopover point for the Volvo Ocean Race – with it’s pedestrianised centre. Galway’s sailing club is at Rinville – they may have moorings available though you’d be three miles from any facilities.

Aran Islands – the three: Inishsheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore – are made of limestone and of varied geology. Inishmore is the largest with a secure and sheltered harbour at Kilronan, ferries from the mainland, a supermarket, some restaurants and bars and bicycle hire at the quay. The ancient ford of Dun Aengus is worth a visit: dating from approx. 800BC, it was built as a deterrant to invaders and it’s vast semi-circular structure is quite impressive. The two smaller islands – Inisheer and Inishmaan – do not have safe anchorages.

Continuing up the coast there’s the Greatman and Kiggaul bays – small and requiring a delicate touch if mooring; and St Macdara’s Island at the entrance to Roundstone. Less than half a mile across, it boasts one of the earliest of European churches – a tiny monastery dating from the 6th century. Roundstone itself is a pretty village with shops and restaurants – worth a visit.

From Kinsale to Dingle

It’s generally accepted that the scenery is stunning: rolling hills, coastal cliffs, and substantial mountains. There’s three large inlets which provide havens no matter the wind direction: Dunmanus Bay, Bantry Bay and the Kenmare River. There’s also a mass of islands, lyrically named Roaring Water Bay, which would provide days of sailing experience. With prevailing south-westerly winds, the weather can change rapidly but is normally warm because of the Gulf Stream. Of course, this being Ireland, you could leave port early in the rain but by lunchtime be basking in the sunshine. Excellent Coast Guard radio stations will keep you appraised of changes in weather patterns.

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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