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Applications are open until Wednesday 15 January for the 2020 Waterways Ireland Event Programme, which aims to support events on or along Ireland’s inland waterways throughout the year.

Taking place annually for the past 13 years, the programme has supported competitions, learning experiences and community, historical and educational events for people with and without disabilities across thousands of communities nationwide.

Involving angling, canoeing, rowing, sailing and power sports, arts, history, drama and learning new skills, Waterways Ireland these events have most importantly been about having fun.

Sharon Lavin of Waterways Ireland said: “The new vision for the Event Programme will activate event organisers to consider how they can build in ongoing activity and sustained use of the waterways corridors into their event.

Tourism and participation in recreation has a social and economic impact in waterfront communities, and events are a great way to engage communities with previously under-utilised waterways.”

The application form (with guidance notes) can now be viewed and completed online. Terms and conditions apply. The closing date the receipt of completed applications is Wednesday 15 January.

Published in Inland Waterways

The chief executives of Fáilte Ireland and Waterways Ireland met last week to discuss their new Strategic Partnership Programme to develop tourism along the latter’s network of inland waterways.

The agreement is focused on delivering “a programme of works to improve the quality of the visitor and user experience along Waterways Ireland’s waterways”, the cross-border body said in a statement.

These include the Barrow Navigation, Royal and Grand canals, Shannon-Erne Waterway and Shannon Navigation.

It’s aimed to link these projects with Fáilte Ireland’s regional brands the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Dublin.

And the partnership also involved cross-promotion and marketing efforts, such as Waterways Ireland’s Shannon Masterplan to develop sustainable tourism in the Shannon corridor, and future plans to encourage visitors’ engagement with the canals in Dublin city.

“The waterways are a key part of the tourism offering in rural Ireland and the Dublin region,” said Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly.

“Unlocking the incredible tourism potential of waterways such as the Shannon River which flows through so many rural communities will mean generating a huge number of opportunities and growth in local economies.”

Waterways Ireland acting CEO John McDonagh added that the Shannon Masterplan in particular “is an excellent first step in our programme and we look forward to a fruitful partnership which benefits the communities and economies across our waterways”.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Despite the growing demand for houseboat living in Ireland, there are only 28 residential moorings across the whole of the country, as RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland reports today (Wednesday 3 July).

Grand Canal Dock alone has a waiting list of some 215 hopefuls for its 20 places, and the programme hears from some of those fortunate enough to have made their home on Ireland’s inland waterways.

Waterways Ireland says it received as many as 10 queries a week from prospective houseboat residents — who will likely be waiting some time as only Grand Canal Dock and Shannon Harbour, with eight moorings, have provision for live-aboard homes.

Others make do with part-time waterways living, using the current 90-day permits to move around the country’s canals and rivers.

But with demand on the increase, it’s a situation that Waterways Ireland acknowledges has to change. RTÉ Radio 1 has more on the report HERE.

Published in Waterfront Property

Waterways Ireland has issued Marine Notices related to a number of events taking place on Ireland’s inland waterways this weekend.

On the Royal Canal, a Junior Canoe Polo Competition will take place at Kilcock Harbour from 10am to 6pm tomorrow, Saturday 22 June.

Passage will be possible between 1pm and 2pm. Masters of other craft are requested to proceed at slow speed and with minimum wash and note any directions issued by the stewards.

On the Shannon-Erne Waterway, masters and owners of vessels are advised that they may experience short-term delays between Lock 1 at Corraquill and Ballyconnell Marina between 1pm and 6.30pm tomorrow due to the waterway’s 25th anniversary event.

Masters are requested to proceed at slow speed and heed any instructions issued by the event marshals.

Elsewhere on the River Shannon, the swimming element of a triathlon event will take place in Tarmonbarry on Sunday 23 June between 9.30am and noon.

Tarmonbarry lock will be closed to traffic during this time, and the N5 Shannon lifting bridge will also be closed, requiring large airdraft vessels to berth north of the bridge for the period.

A children’s swimming event will take place at 6pm on Saturday in Tarmonbarry, but this will not affect vessels in the navigation.

Masters are requested to proceed at slow speed and with minimum wash when approaching this section of the river and heed any instructions issued by the event marshals.

Meanwhile, on Upper Lough Erne, masters and owners of vessels are advised that dredging works are due to commence at Kilmore Quay on Monday 1 July and last for approximately nine weeks.

The map below shows the area to be dredged and the route the vessels will be taking in order to bottom-dump the material.

Marine Notice Upper Lough Erne

Masters of vessel are requested to proceed with additional caution in the vicinity of the dredging operations and dredging vessels.

Waterways Ireland thanks its customers for their co-operation in this and all other matters.

Published in Inland Waterways

Proposals for a new blueway along the River Barrow have been blocked by planners who objected to the scheme for a hard surface along the 115km of towpath.

But as The Irish Times reports, many locals and users of the waterway believe what the Barrow and the communities along its reach really need are better promotion.

Earlier this month, An Bord Pleanála rejected plans long in the offing for the Barrow Blueway, a new cycling and walking path between Lowtown in Co Kildare and St Mullins in Co Carlow.

Hundreds of Barrow locals had their say at public meetings, with campaigners against the path plans — among them broadcaster Olivia O’Leary — citing the existing grassy surface as more than suitable for walkers.

Others saw the blueway as “a fantastic opportunity” to save business such as pubs which have been closing at a rapid rate in rural areas, and raised the question of boggy or overgrown stretches that are a deterrent to visitors.

But others still argue that with proper maintenance and a weight of a promotional campaign behind it, the existing path would prove a major tourism attraction both domestically and abroad.

“I have people coming from the States, Canada, Australia, Europe, UK and they are just flabbergasted at how incredibly gorgeous it is, and they can’t believe there is nobody on it,” said local canoe tour operator Charlie Horan.

Those sentiments are shared by environmental journalist Lenny Antonelli, who tweeted that the Barrow is “already walkable, paddle-able and often cycle-able too.

“The Barrow doesn't need a greenway, but it does need better marketing and promotion, particularly within Ireland, and better facilitates for visitors. Imagine if all its derelict lock cottages became bothies for example?”

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

The Network of Inland Waterways of Europe (NIWE) has launched its new website to celebrate and promote the many and varied benefits of Europe’s canals, lakes and rivers.

The NIWE, of which Waterways Ireland is a member, has been involved in numerous transnational projects boosting waterways organisations, local communities and businesses, and users alike.

The network’s shared objectives are to:

  • Celebrate and promote the economic, social and environmental benefits of Europe’s inland waterways;
  • Monitor and disseminate information on EU policy development and programmes;
  • Support members’ participation in European initiatives and funding programmes;
  • Promote the exchange of experience and knowledge transfer across the NIWE and among other relevant organisations and potential members;
  • Create stronger engagement with the EU institutions to ensure the potential of European inland waterways is understood and reflected in EU policy and future programme development; and
  • Collaborate with national and international organisations to achieve these stated objectives.

The new website at WaterwaysNetwork.eu is being touted as key tool in realising these objectives, serving as the NIWE’s marketing, project knowledge transfer and promotional platform for the future.

It it hoped it will also assist the network in developing future collaborative opportunities both with both European partners and local, regional and national partners.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland has announced the launch of a walking programme along canal and river routes across Kildare, Carlow and Laois.

The aim of the Waterways For Health programme — in conjunction with Get Ireland Walking, and Local Sports Partnerships from Kildare, Carlow and Laois — is to immerse participants into natural waterway environments with guided support from county walking facilitators from Local Sports Partnerships.

“Waterways Ireland has seen a huge increase in the number of recreational and tourist users on and along all our waterways in recent years,” said Sharon Lavin of Waterways Ireland>

“With the provision of our Blueway and Greenway trails, we have now created even more opportunities for people to try new recreational activities. This also offers greater health and well-being and social opportunities for locals”.

For more information on the new Waterways For Health programme, its partners and their services, see GetIrelandWalking.ie and www.SportIreland.ie (to find your Local Sports Partnership).

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - Seán Kyne, Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has announced a €3.2 million investment by Waterways Ireland infrastructure on the Shannon Navigation at Meelick Weir.

The funds will be used for the restoration and replacement of the Meelick Weir walkway, the installation of tilting weir boards and remedial works to the weir structure.

The minister was joined on site yesterday (Friday 1 March) by Éanna Rowe, regional manager with Waterways Ireland and by Ministers of State Seán Canney Ciarán Cannon, along with Anne Rabbitte TD and local community representatives.

Meelick Weir was originally built in the 1790s as part of the Shannon Navigation. The weir, which is over 300 metres in length with a 12-sluice barrage, maintains and regulates the navigation level for that section of waterway between Athlone (Lough Ree) and Meelick (Lough Derg).

The weir and its walkway link the historic village of Meelick in Co Galway to Lusmagh in Offaly, and also link into the Hymany Way walking trail. The weir was damaged during storms in 2009 and the walkway was closed following further storms in 2015 and 2016.

Speaking yesterday, Minister Kyne said: “I am fully aware of the importance of this restoration to the counties of Galway and Offaly and in particular to the local communities of Lusmagh and Meelick who have been without the walkway for a number of years now.”

He added: “Meelick Weir is not just a walkway but a hidden gem on the River Shannon and its restoration shows the Government’s commitment to supporting all aspects of rural Ireland`s economic development.”

Éanna Rowe of Waterways Ireland said: “The development and re-instatement is critical to the management of the navigation and regulation of water levels.

“Reopening the connectivity between the communities of Lusmagh and Meelick and the re-instatement of the link to the Hymanny is a hugely positive and significant development for both communities.”

Waterways Ireland initiated design work on the project in 2012, completed the statutory environmental assessment and submitted planning for the project to Galway and Offaly county councils, which was given in 2017.

The works will involve the restoration of the weir, its walkway and the tilting weir boards along with the other critical infrastructure requirements (replacement of lock gates, jetty replacement, embankment works and bridge strengthening).

The new tilting weir system is being touted as a significant improvement in health and safety for employees managing water levels on site.

Following an open tendering procedure, a contractor will be shortly appointed and the project will be completed mid-2020.

Published in Inland Waterways

A floating food market is one of a number of ideas being mooted for in Grand Canal Dock by Waterways Ireland, the Dublin InQuirer reports.

Such a scheme would include a waterfront dining area and a co-working space along with the “curated, carefully selected floating village market on canal barges”, as suggested in a feasibility study conducted late last year.

Local councillors also recently heard of plans to develop the triangle of land Waterways Ireland owns at South Dock Road and Grand Canal Street Upper, where the canal basin and the River Dodder meet the Liffey.

The lands currently house two Georgian era graving docks, one of which is where the former Aran Islands ferry Naomh Éanna is being restored as a luxury hotel.

However, concerns remain that Waterways Ireland’s plans could be detached from the wants and needs from the local community in Ringsend.

The Dublin InQuirer has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland intends to dispose, by public tender, of a number of vessels removed from the Grand Canal at Shannon Harbour, Tullamore, Barrow Navigation, Killaloe Canal and Shannon Bridge.

Twelve vessels are presently stored on the South Bank of the Grand Canal adjacent to the Transit Shed in Shannon Harbour. One vessel is stored in Fenniscourt on the Barrow Navigation and other vessels are stored in Ballyleague and Munster Harbour, Portumna.

All vessels may be inspected (externally only) by local arrangement. Tender and relevant documentation is available from the Assistant Inspector of Navigation at +353 87 286 5726 or [email protected] Alternatively you can download the tender documentation from the Waterways Ireland website.

Sealed tenders should reach the Assistant Inspector of Navigation at the above address not later than noon on Monday 18 March.

A condition of sale is that vessels be removed from the canal property once purchased. Removal details will be notified to successful purchasers once transactions are finalised.

Published in Inland Waterways
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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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