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Displaying items by tag: yacht

The sight of more masts appearing on the marina in my village of Monkstown on the edge of Cork Harbour was encouraging this week. Not that I have any disregard for the motorboat community who populate the Cork Harbour Marina year-round, but in this difficult and challenging season, it was good to see more yacht masts in the marina and other yachts going onto their moorings in Monkstown Bay.

That was the good news. The disappointing news was from Sail Training Ireland that they have had to cancel all Tall Ship voyages planned for this year.

Chief Executive Daragh Sheridan said this was inevitable because there was no way the organisation “could ensure the social distancing required to ensure the safety of trainees and crew.”

That is the issue which troubles me about the resumption of cruiser yacht racing.

The Government’s medical advisors and the Minister for Health have been making it clear that, as Mr.Harris has said: “social distancing will be with us for a long time.”

How can social distancing be achieved on a racing yacht?

Two metres is just over six feet, even one metre would be difficult, “impossible” is the description I’ve heard repeatedly in phone calls and read in Emails.

Two instances this week highlighted my thoughts about this “social” or “physical distancing.” One was when I was reminded of a 30-year anniversary and the lack of any “social distance” on my only TransAtlantic race, back in May 1990 as a crew member aboard NCB Ireland on the last leg of that year’s Round the World Race, then known as the Whitbread, from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton - 3,818 nautical miles sailed over 18 days. The crew shared “hot bunking”. Mine was the middle of three where when lying down there wasn’t enough space to raise a book to read.

Social or physical distancing wasn’t possible on the 83-foot NCB and I can’t see it either on Scribbler, the 33-foot Sigma which I sail with my son, grandsons and occasional other crew. We won’t even qualify as a family crew because we are in two households.

Yacht Racing at the 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: AfloatYacht Racing at the 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: Afloat

Irish Sailing are doing their best, but there seems little official understanding of the requirements of sailing. How do you keep apart during the demands of racing, when more than one person may be needed to get a sail in or to launch and recover a spinnaker, or what about adding weight on the rail?

Solo racing will be ok, but there aren’t a preponderance of single-household cruiser racing crews, or so it appears from the reaction I’m receiving. Even with the easing of restrictions, the constant message is that social distancing stays in place…. So can cruiser racing be resumed?

All the comments I’m getting seem to be doubtful unless there are major changes in social distancing. I hope there are because I’d like to go sailing and racing this season.

This week’s Podcast is below...

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What is the most important, challenging and decisive part of yacht racing?

“The start of the race.”

That was what experienced skippers and crews told me - on the start line a race could be won and lost.

So, when I ‘stepped up’ from dinghy racing and what was described to me by the “cruiser class” as “the wet ass brigade” I was well aware of start line importance.

But I found there was one major difference - Language and the force and manner of its expression!

My introduction to this was in my first race in my first cruiser, my first ‘Scribbler’ – a Ruffian 23. Two weeks after I bought her and two days after launching, she was on the start line for the National Quarter Ton Championships raced out of the Royal Cork YC at Crosshaven. It was a heavy weather day, some 30 years ago, so windy that racing was inside Cork Harbour because outside the conditions were too severe.

My experience up to then was of dinghy racing, Mirrors and 12ft. Vagabonds in Monkstown Bay and National 18 crewing. Scribbler’s crew was me on the helm, with my young son and his friend. On the start line over 20 yachts of various sizes and design circled each other in what was then the 10-5-minutes start sequence. Helming 23-feet amongst them was a bit different from 12-foot dinghies as they prowled each other.

When the start gun went they all charged for the same part of the line – as close as they could get to the stern of the committee boat, with roaring and shouting erupting.
Some epithets I never thought I’d hear from the refinements of the RCYC which I had joined only shortly before entering the Championships, were uttered. Wow, the language, the shouts of “Up, Up, Up you….!!” Retorts of: “You’ve no ……..rights…” “Get out of there….” (the moderate comment) and more …

How we got across the line without being thumped or banging into another boat I can never remember.

The course was along the edge of the Aghada shoreline, then a nice freeway before the ESB ruined it by turning it into an obstacle course with their waterborne protrusions associated with the onshore power station. We rounded the weather mark and up went kites. In the days before I became more cautious about spinnakers, we hauled too, for a speedy broad reach - then we came to the gybe mark and, well, that didn’t go too well…a series of three photos appeared of Scribbler afterwards captioned – “going, going, gone... The third showed a hand grasping the portside cockpit edge with quite a lot of the hull visible!

Scribbler came upright into the wind and shook herself, possibly wondering about the idiot on the helm. We scrambled to get the kite off, shook ourselves as well, then carried on after the fleet and finished the race.

Back in the clubhouse one of the other skippers approached me, the ‘newbie’ of the fleet and observed that we had shown a fair turn of speed on the reach… “Haven’t had the boat long?” he queried… “Not long,” I agreed.

That was “courageous,” - I like to think that’s the word he used! - “a three-sail reach in those conditions,” he observed. So I asked what he meant and was told: “you had all three sails up, main, jib, spinnaker…”

“Oh,” I replied. “Should I have taken one down…?”

So I learned a bit more about sailing – and about language…

Those thoughts came to mind this week when I heard a man claim on a national current affairs radio programme that a ‘scientific study’ conducted it appeared in just three days, rather a short timespan for scientific study, had revealed that even speaking was dangerous because COVID 19 could be emitted in speech. Sport, he said, might never be possible again for a very long time. Spectators and players would all have to wear masks because: “Can you imagine how dangerous a place it would be with thousands of spectators roaring and shouting at a match?”

Whatever about that scenario, I thought, if speech has to be controlled, it would make sailing so quiet that racing start lines would never be the same again, not to mind crews full of masked individuals.

At least the skipper might be muted!

Listen to the podcast below: 

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Attempts to recover a 32–foot that went aground in Schul, West Cork during Storm Ophelia get underway this morning.  

A recovery team is expected to slide the yacht down the rocks and back into the water using inflated rubber bags.

Published in News Update
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As soon as the sea fog lifted on Dublin Bay this evening, it revealed a magnificent 112–foot Swan type yacht, Song of the Sea, at anchor in Scotsman's Bay on the south side of the capital's waters.

The sailing yacht with a €5m price–tag can accommodate six guests in three cabins with an interior design by Nautor Swan and an exterior design by German Frers.

The British registered 2002–built navy hulled yacht travelled up the Irish Sea before anchoring just off Dun Laoghaire and moving later into the town marina. 

It's the second exotic nautical visitor to Dun Laoghaire this week. On Monday, an exclusive classic motor-yacht at 262–ft long and almost 90–years–old, arrived into the harbour and remains berthed there at St. Michael's Wharf.

Published in Dublin Bay
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Last week, Boat Sales Blogger was looking at a Rival 41 with proven ocean-going and world-girdling credentials, and an accommodation layout with serious seafaring in mind writes W M Nixon. This week, we look at a boat of broadly similar overall size, yet although this particular vintage of the Bavaria 42 is well able for seagoing and several have crossed oceans, her layout is such that she will give best value when cleverly cruised along beautiful coastlines with comfortable nights berthed in port or at anchor in a snug haven.

As she dates from 1989, she’s from the period when Bavaria’s in-house designer Axel Mohnhaupt was producing relatively hefty craft which weren’t afraid of having that inbuilt level of displacement which brings it own reassuring comfort and seakindliness with it.

Twenty-eight years ago, nearly all the volume boatbuilders were providing craft which were generally heavier than those that they build nowadays. And though the newer boats may please the company accountants, as weight is expensive, while the marketing folk might like to promote the zippier performance which lighter displacement may provide, for a sensible cruising person a bit of weight in the right place makes all the difference to day-in, day-out liveability.

That said, the reason we suggest this boat gives of her cruising best when port is made each night is because the main stateroom is forward. And that stateroom does indeed provide affordable luxury. But it wouldn’t feel at all luxurious when the boat is thrashing to windward out at sea at night, whereas nights in port would have real style to them.

She’s located plumb in the middle of an area where a host of anchorages can be reached with a comfortable day sail, for although Hugh Mockler of Crosshaven Boatyard is the agent, this Bavaria 42 is in Lawrence Cove Marina on Bere Island in Bantry Bay. As Spring begins to creep in, you could have a most enjoyable scenery-laden weekend just going to see her. And with a price of €54,500, there’s more of interest than just spectacular scenery. Then too, she’s a classically handsome boat with it. For although the in-house design team looked after the details, I’ve a feeling she’s of that generation of Bavarias where the hulls were designed by Doug Peterson, no less.

See the full advert here

Published in Boat Sales
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The Howth Yacht Club hosted the Classic One-Design Regatta - incorporating the National Championships of the Dublin Bay Mermaid and Howth 17 Footer classes. Download Mermaid results below. Even before you could see them, the vapour of varnish bumbled over the hills and lowlands into Howth. Facebook updates from sailors on motorways passing shiny timber creations confirmed that the Mermaids were officially on tour. Some arrived under cover of darkness and were only noticed early on Thursday morning with a full dinghy pen. Little sailors, just starting out on their sailing careers, couldn't even see over the gunwhales of these big dinghies. They oohed and ahhed at boats made from "actual timber?"

Twenty-three Mermaids were weighed and plopped into Howth Harbour. Some of them had been here relatively recently (1953!) and wondered who had stolen Howth Sailing Club. HYC's Jedi, Neville Maguire was on hand with fellow Mermaid aficionados Gerry and Ian Sargent to poke and point and raise eyebrows at things called "Cleats".

Under the care of National Race Officer Scorie Walls, Thursday's racing started at a polite 1400. Keeping the Northside flag held high, "Azeezy" from Skerries did the business with two wins from three races. Not content with competing with eachother on the water, the Annual Mermaid Table Quiz followed rehydration. In a show of poor manners, a table made up almost entirely of Howth 17 Footers won. A prize was awarded for the best answer to "What is the capital of Mongolia?" "Don't know, but it's got a lot of vowels and sounds fierce foreign".

Two races for the Mermaids on Friday saw "Wild Wind" (Rush SC) and "Tiller Girl" (National YC) equal "Azeezy"'s daily tot of 6 points. The gap wasn't closing.

Howth history in the making was being mentioned all week before the old ladies of sailing, the Howth 17 Footers, put on their Friday night frocks and took to the water for a single race from the East Pier. For the first time in history, 18 boats were afloat and jockeying for position. The busy start line was made slightly more complex when the class was given a downwind/ spinnaker start in front of the East Pier, with boats gybing and tacking simultaneously as they jockied for position with a minute to go. Almost inevitably for the class, the girls began the bumping and grinding before the start signal and "Oona" went for "Rita" like a jealous girlfriend. "Rita’s” stick-man, Marcus Lynch, found himself with a clip around the ear from "Oona's" bowsprit and was forced to retire with injured planks, cracked frames and a split rudder. Turns out that "Oona" picked the wrong girl to shout at and she broke her bowsprit in the collision. And so the anticipated race with the full compliment of the world's oldest one-design racing keelboats never quite happened. The remaining seventeen boats crossed the line with spinnakers flying and more photographers clicking than at a Justin Bieber underwear collection launch. Head girl was "Deilginis" with "Aura" and "Hera" following in her tracks.

Saturday morning saw the Howth 17 Footers dressing up in their finest gowns and bonnets and gliding like debutants to the dancefloor. "Hera" lifted up her skirt and frightened the girls by winning by over two minutes. The brazen thing. She would have to have her cough softened! "Deilginis" took back control of the crowd in Race 3, trailed by "Gladys" sporting her 2016 Spring/Summer collection.

By the middle of the day, the wind had picked up, gusting over 30kts, and it was become hard for some to keep the bonnets atop. The ladies rolled down the run more like drunken maids than the elegant princesses which left the Harbour. Half of the fleet chose to remove their topsails but not before the paparazzi had caught them on video, in full swing...

The Mermaids were on the far side of the trapezoid course and only crossed the Howth 17s at the leeward mark and short beat to the finish. It was likely that some Mermaid sailors were checking their insurance when they saw the 17s approach! Top Mermaid of the day was "Vee" (Rush SC) with a 1st and 4th. "Wild Wind" and "Tiller Girl" produced some magic to close the gap to leader "Azeezy" but it wasn't to be enough to rein in the eventual Champions.

Back on the Howth 17 course, "Leila" and "Aura" sobered and took the last two races, and "Deilginis" was to take the 2016 title. Class Captain, Tom Houlihan, took the Handicap prize aboard his "Zaida".

As the last of the Howth 17 sailors were plucked from the moorings, the Mermaids had already already been craned out and packed up, setting the scene for a packed balcony in glorious sunshine. Rehydration once more!

170 sailors and their entourages filed into the club dining room to be fed, found, watered, awarded and clapped at. Champion Mermaid sailor Sam Shiels pronounced an epic acceptance speech. His Howth 17 opposite, Luke Massey, countered it with an example of brevity and raised the trophy aloft.

The next Classic One-Design Regatta will be held at Howth Yacht Club over the weekend of 10-12 August 2018.

Published in Howth YC

Cantieri Estensi, the Italian builder of these highly appealing lobster boats and trawlers has launched its 535 Maine. After its presentation at the Düsseldorf boat show, the new model was launched this month and makes its debut at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September.

The company says the new 535 Maine follows in the footsteps of the hugely successful previous model, the 530, of which a total of 35 have been sold (rising to 60 when the 480 and 640 sister models are factored in).

Big side windows illuminate the three cabins below deck, while the new solution devised for the door between the cockpit and the saloon makes it possible to create a single space for even more direct contact with the sea. From a technical standpoint, the partnership with Volvo Penta brings all the benefits of electronics to cruising, while innovative fittings like the pivoting swim platform or the joystick to manoeuvre the yacht from the cockpit make life onboard 535 Maine, the ideal “home on the sea”, an even more comfortable experience.

The partnership signed by Cantieri Estensi and Volvo Penta means that 535 Maine can be fitted with all the latest propulsion and steering technology. The engines used are the familiar D6s, available with two rated power outputs and paired with shaft line transmission systems. Volvo Penta’s new Glass Cockpit screens in the helm station provide control of all navigation and monitoring parameters at the touch of a finger. The bow and stern thrusters can also be interfaced with the electronic control system, allowing the yacht to be manoeuvred simply by moving the joystick.

From a construction standpoint, 535 Maine is infusion laminated for maximum structural rigidity, weight for weight. Like the previous 530, the peculiarity of the hull is its ability to deliver cruising comfort in both displacement and planing modes. The relatively small deadrise (14.5 degrees at the bow) makes it possible to cruise at reduced speed without putting much load on the engines, offering a theoretical range of 1,000 nautical miles at 8-9 knots. The variable geometry of the hull, which has a fin running the entire length of the keel and a chine of up to 50° in the forward section, offers maximum directional stability and a soft impact even on rough sea, for fast cruising at peak speeds of up to 25 knots.
A 140 L/h desalinator and a more powerful 12 Kw generator are also available so that 535 Maine can be used for very long voyages, with all the confidence offered by the yacht’s unusually solid construction and category A type approval.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Overall length 17.00 m
Beam 5.00 m
Fuel tank capacity 2,800 l
Fresh water tank capacity 800 l
Engines 2 x Volvo Penta D6-435
Reverse gear HS80AE
Transmission Shaft line, 12° inclination
Deadrise 14.5°
Maximum speed 25 kn
Cruising speed 14 kn
Maximum passenger capacity 12
CE design category A
Construction Hull, sides and superstructure: vacuum infusion
Design Maurizio Zuccheri Yacht Design

Published in Boat Sales

Crosshaven RNLI lifeboat launched at 10.53pm last night to a small yacht aground at White Bay on the East side of Cork Harbour.

At the scene, the crew found one person in the water attempting to hold the yacht off the beach in the swell and another person on the beach.

One RNLI crewman swam ashore to assess the situation and attach a towline to the yacht. As the casualties were cold and wet, they were handed into the care of Guileen Coast Guard unit for transportation, while the lifeboat brought the vessel to Crosshaven.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A much-admired ongoing restoration project, which had resulted in the full return to original condition of the classic sloop-rigged 26ft South Coast One Design Pegasus, almost ended in tragedy with an explosion aboard the newly-launched boat on the Galway Bay SC moorings at Rinville near Oranmore at the weekend.

What would have been the boat’s second full season after her restoration ended before it had properly begun. She was rigged and ready to have her sails set, but an attempt to boil a kettle resulted in the gas explosion which blew the deck and cabin off the hull, set the hull on fire, brought the mast down, and sank the boat within one and a half minutes.

Fortunately both sailors on board were wearing lifejackets, and despite their burns and injuries, were able to get to a nearby boat. But while one of them was later released from hospital after treatment for burns, the other has been kept in for observation, though it is thought his injuries are not serious.

Published in News Update
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The wingsail on ORACLE TEAM USA’s racing yachts and the wings on airplanes operate in similar fashion. As Ian “Fresh” Burns explains, a significant amount of force is generated to propel the boat faster or lift a plane off the ground.

And, the team is utilising the aerodynamic know-how of Airbus to help achieve optimum performance on the water.

Who needs an engine, these days?

 

Published in America's Cup
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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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W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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