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RNLI Lifeboat News From Ireland

Rob Taylor from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) was at UK Sailmakers Ireland loft in Crosshaven yesterday (Wednesday 23 January) for the refreshing of its In-House Certification (IHC).

UK Sailmakers in Crosshaven is the only IHC loft in Ireland – since Des McWilliam's days  – and must renew this status every four years as per World Sailing requirements.

To that end, Rob Taylor from the RYA was in Crosshaven yesterday to check over the loft’s records and measurement methods to confirm the required consistency with worldwide practice.

This ensures that if you are measured at events such as the IRC Europeans or Cork Week, the methods and results those measurers get are the same as those taken on the UK Sailmakers Ireland loft floor.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

#Lifeboats - The first callout of 2019 for the RNLI crew at Crosshaven was a medevac for a fisherman taken ill on a large fishing vessel in the early hours of Sunday 6 January.

Shortly after 5.30am volunteers from Crosshaven RNLI were paged and requested by the Irish Coast Guard to go the assistance of an ill crew member onboard a UK-registered supertrawler two miles south of Roches Point.

The inshore lifeboat, with Ian Venner in command and Derek Moynan, Caomhe Foster and Alan Venner onboard, were quickly under way and met with the ship at 6.10am.

Having assessed the situation, the lifeboat crew swiftly evacuated the ill man back to station in Crosshaven before handing him into the care of National Ambulance Service paramedics.

Speaking following the callout, Crosshaven RNLI lifeboat operations manager Patsy Fegan said: “We would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery and thank our crew. Our hats are off to them.

“It’s a shock to the system to be awoken from a deep sleep by your pager and be on a lifeboat within 10 minutes but this is what our volunteers are willing and prepared for in order to help someone in need.”

Shore crew on Sunday morning were Gary Heslin, Molly Murphy, Jonathan Birmingham and James Fegan.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Irish Coast Guard teams across Ireland have responded to incidents related to the extreme conditions brought by Storm Diana over the last two days.

Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard was tasked at lunchtime on Tuesday (27 November) to extract a member of the public that had walked out the South Bull wall during stormy conditions.

The safest option in that situation was the casualty to take shelter until the tide dropped.

Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 28 November), the team was called out to the Shankill shoreline close to Shanganagh Water Treatment plant to reports of a vehicle submerged in water with person a trapped.

Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard were tasked immediately along with Rescue 116 from Dublin Airport and Dun Laoghaire RNLI. While crews were responding to the incident, the casualty was rescued by his colleagues. All crews were stood down.

Shortly after, Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard was tasked to another incident at the town’s East Pier, where members of the public were stranded due to waves breaching the pier wall.

On arrival, Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard members identified a few members of public on the pier and advised them to relocate to a safer location.

Elsewhere, Crosshaven Coast Guard was tasked several times, starting on Tuesday evening with a person who had fallen overboard from a yacht and had been in the water for almost an hour.

The casualty was evacuated to Crosshaven RNLI’s lifeboat station, while the coastguard crew refloated their vessel that had gone aground.

Crosshaven was tasked again yesterday morning to recover a yacht after it broke its mooring near Drakes Pool. A tow was quickly established and casualty vessel brought to safety to a Royal Cork Yacht Club mooring.

The Irish Coast Guard strongly advises the public to stay away from exposed beaches, cliffs and piers, harbour walls and promenades along the coast during storm conditions.

Remember to Stay Back, Stay High and Stay Dry.

If you see someone in difficulty in the sea, or on the shore dial 999/112 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Coastguard

A man who fell overboard from his vessel near Cork Harbour was lucky to escape relatively unscathed after his lifejacket failed to inflate.

Crosshaven’s volunteer RNLI crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 5.20pm yesterday evening (Tuesday 27 November) to reports of a person shouting for help at Drakes Pool, a mile upriver from the lifeboat station.

On arrival, it was found the casualty had managed to remove himself from the water and onto another moored vessel after being in the water for up to 30 minutes, and was extremely cold and hypothermic.

The casualty was immediately evacuated to the lifeboat station where he was assessed by Dr John Murphy, Crosshaven RNLI’s doctor, and put into a hot shower before being taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital for further evaluation.

Speaking following the the callout, Phil Maguire, Crosshaven RNLI Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer said: “We wish the casualty well following what must have been a frightening experience.”

The casualty was wearing a lifejacket, but this failed to inflate — highlighting the importance of getting your safety equipment checked and kept in good order.

Published in Cork Harbour

#RNLI - While on exercise yesterday afternoon (Sunday 2 September), the volunteer crew Crosshaven RNLI overheard a radio transmission to the coastguard explaining that a 23ft angling boat was aground on Black Rock near Whitegate oil refinery in Cork Harbour.

As it happened, the lifeboat was close by and immediately responded to the angling boat, with two persons on board, which had run hard aground.

Trying to tow the vessel would have caused damage. Instead, the crew were taken off and an anchor set on the casualty boat before it reflected on the next high tide. The anglers were then transferred to Aghada Pier.

The callout came just a day after Crosshaven’s lifeboat volunteers launched on a medevac to a Belfast angler bitten by a blue shark off Roches Point.

Elsewhere, Skerries RNLI rescued a man and two children on Saturday evening (1 September) after their motorboat suffered mechanical failure.

Skerries RNLI were tasked after Dublin Coast Guard received a 999 call from a member of the public that there were an adult and two children in difficulty in a personal watercraft off the south strand in Skerries.

The volunteer crew launched their Atlantic 85 Inshore lifeboat Louis Simson and made their way towards the area indicated by the caller.

Once on scene, the crew began a quick search of the area and quickly ascertained that the vessel in difficulty was in fact a small motorboat rather than a personal watercraft.

The boat had suffered mechanical failure and was unable to make their way ashore. A tow was set up and the boat was brought safely back to the slipway in Skerries. Conditions at the time were fair with a force one to two southerly breeze.

“It was great to see everyone on board the vessel wearing good lifejackets,” said Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning. “Also, the person who called it in wasted no time in dialling 999 and asking for the Coast Guard once they spotted someone in trouble.

“It’s great to see that people are taking the safety messages on board and are all playing their part in helping us save lives at sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - The hugely successful Cork RNLI charity lunch and auction is set to return after an absence of five years.

The revamped fundraiser for Baltimore, Crosshaven and Kinsale’s RNLI lifeboat stations will take place in the 18th century mansion now home to the Maryborough Hotel in Douglas on Friday 5 October.

Cork has a long and proud association with the RNLI which goes back generations. The men and women who volunteer as lifeboat crew come from local communities and give hours of their time and dedication to the charity.

From the rescue of the Rambler crew by Baltimore RNLI during the Fastnet Race, to rescues of fishermen, divers, swimmers and boaters, the lifeboats and their crew provide an invaluable service.

Last year the Baltimore, Crosshaven and Kinsale RNLI lifeboat stations launched 86 times and brought 116 people to safety. Not every callout is life and death, but to the people involved in every mission, the lifeboats are their lifeline in times of trouble on the water.

The lunch and auction will get underway at 12.30pm with guests welcomed in the Orangery to the accompaniment of live music from Conor Ocean. This will be followed by a three-course lunch in the Sherrard Suite at 1.30pm.

Master of ceremonies Alan Shortt will provide the entertainment and lead the post-lunch auction and draw. The event will finish at 4pm.

RNLI fundraising committee members Avril O’Brien and David Doherty are looking forward to what promises to be an event to remember.

“We are delighted to reintroduce the RNLI lunch and auction,” Avril said. “It was always a popular occasion and as well as raising vital funds it became a highly anticipated social and networking event.

“Volunteer lifeboat crew give so much to the RNLI in terms of their time and dedication to the service and they need to be supported with the best in kit and equipment. Every person who buys a ticket to the fundraiser or bids on an auction item will have the knowledge that they are helping save lives at sea.”

Tickets priced at €65 are now on sale online via Eventbrite and will be sold in tables of 10. For more information about the event contact RNLI Munster community fundraising manager Mary Creedon at [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Safehaven - Safehaven Marine’s latest projects include a pilot boat for Malta and a survey catamaran for the UK's Royal Navy.

The Interceptor 48 pilot boat currently in production at Safehaven’s Cork Harbour boatyard is their third boat supplied to Malta Maritime Pilots in Valletta.

The all-weather vessel will add to a number already in service for ports in the Mediterranean.

The performance boat builder has also posted video of construction on their Wildcat 60 order for the Royal Navy, showing the installation of its Volvo D16 750hp engines and jets.

Earlier this year, the Geological Survey of Ireland took delivery of their own Wildcat 60 for offshore and shallow water coastal surveys, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Boatyards
16th September 2017

Pat Lake RIP

The death has occurred unexpectedly in Cork of one of the most respected figures in boat building in Pat Lake, who led Castlepoint Boatyard in Crosshaven for many years before his retirement a decade ago.

Pat had been a major figure in boat building and the maritime scene. His record includes many achievements, not least of which was his involvement in the building of the leather boat at Crosshaven Boatyard for the famous St Brendan recreation voyage in 1976.

Pat Lake died at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork. He is reposing at Forde’s Funeral Home, Old Waterpark, Carrigaline. Removal tomorrow (Sunday 17 September) at 5pm to St Brigid’s Church, Crosshaven. Requiem Mass on Monday (18 September) at 11.30am; funeral afterward to St Patrick’s Cemetery.

Published in News Update

#Tourism - The Port of Cork, Bantry Bay Port Company and the Royal Cork Yacht Club are joining forces to promote marine leisure in Cork at the Southampton Boat Show.

The three organisations are in attendance at Stand J047 from today Friday 15 to Sunday 24 September tasked with promoting their marina facilities to potential visitors.

They will also be targeting the luxury cruisers and motor yacht market to entice further calls to Cork, Crosshaven and Bantry.

In 2009 the Port of Cork implemented the Leisure and Recreation Strategy for Cork Harbour, with the primary focus of the strategy on water-based leisure and recreational activities in and around the harbour.

Speaking about attending the boat show, Sara Mackeown, commercial marketing executive for the Port of Cork, said: “This is great opportunity to showcase Cork as an ideal destination for marine leisure users.

“Our marina facility in the heart of Cork City is unique and having just completed the new Bantry Harbour Marina there is a great connection now between Cork and West Cork. We are delighted to work closely with the Royal Cork Yacht Club, who have huge experience in the field.”

Cork Harbour offers significant potential for further development of the marine recreation sector as an important source of enjoyment and economic gain for the local residents and visitors, and it is anticipated that attending the Southampton Boat Show will help to promote the marine facilities directly to the desired market.

Gavin Deane, general manager of the Royal Cork Yacht Club said: “The Royal Cork Yacht Club are delighted to be collaborating with both the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay Port Company in promoting the region.

“This year we have seen a significant increase in the number of visiting boats to our marina, the majority of whom have travelled from the south coast of the UK.

“We feel that with this growth in visitors, now is the ideal time to showcase everything that Cork has to offer and Southampton Boat Show 2017 is the place to do it.”

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Yesterday’s report on Afloat.ie of the major changes shaping up in the ownership structure of the UK/McWilliam Sailmakers business in Crosshaven clearly rings a bell with many in the sailing community at home and abroad. The remarkable response has reinforced the notion that the story of the McWilliam family’s involvement in Irish and international sailing is in many ways a story shared and lived by everyone with a genuine enthusiasm for our sport. W M Nixon reflects on its broader implications.

The past is only really of value when we can relate it to a vibrant present and an interesting future. For sure, history has its own special allure. There may be many different interpretations of what happened and how it happened. But if we ruthlessly pare it down to the most basic timeline, the reasons for argument melt away in face of a short list of inescapable facts. And there’s something very reassuring in a short list of inescapable facts.

But when history is allowed to be more complex, there’s an element of the comfort blanket in immersing ourselves in it. By all means do so if you wish. But life will soon be passing you by if historical obsessions are allowed to dominate your view of the world. Closetted historians – if they emerge from their closed little worlds at all – very quickly discover that other folk are only mildly interested in history as a point of reference against the here and now, and what might be happening tomorrow.

Thus in anticipating what the new team of Barry Hayes, Claire Morgan and Graham Curran will be bringing to Crosshaven at the heart of their new hub of creativity, we’ve been trying to get the proper perspective. In addition to providing their own special skills, they’re able to draw on the shared experience and technologies of their colleagues at almost 50 sail-lofts worldwide.

McWill e news webDes McWilliam's retirement and the new team at UK McWilliam in Cork of Barry Hayes, Claire Morgan and Graham Curran featured on Afloat.ie yesterday

While Graham is a fast learner who has ascended the rising path in Crosshaven in just three years, and Claire has formidable business and financial skills, it is Barry who is most truly representative of the UK International Sailmakers ethos.

Orginally from Schull, he started in the McWilliam’s Crosshaven loft in 1999 just three years after they’d become associates of UK Sailmakers. Yet within three years he had been invited to join the “mother loft” in New York run by Butch Ulmer, and there he rose to become loft manager.

Then he was recruited from the mother loft to the group’s biggest loft of all, in Hong Kong run by the legendary David Yeung. In his fourteen years there, he has learned everything that David Yeung could teach, and when the great sailmaker finally retired a couple of years ago, it was the young Irishman who took on the role as manager.

hong kong loft2The Hong Kong loft of UK Sailmakers is very typical of the city in which it is located.....

crosshaven aerial3...which is very different to Crosshaven. Photo: Robert Bateman

During his time in Hong Kong, Barry Hayes had been at the heart of the loft’s development of titanium sails – among many other projects – so it will be fascinating to see what fresh vistas of development he opens up back in Crosshaven. In other areas of advanced technology, you’d be surprised by the number of specialised Irish outfits – some of them quite small – which are in the forefront of research and development in their own field, so why not Crosshaven and sailmaking?

At the same time, as a sailmaker pure and simple, Barry Hayes has the reputation of being a man who’ll stay up all night beavering away at repairs on your torn mainsail in order that you can sure of getting racing next day, so it’s clear that the loft’s regular everyday customers need not worry that arcane research experiments and developments will distract from the need for traditional sail making and repair services.

And with their considerable combined experience of the McWilliam ethos, and the collegiate outlook of the UK Sailmakers organisation, the new owners will be well aware that the hours will be ridiculous, the miles travelled absurd, and the challenges faced infinite in their variety.

Thus one of my favourite Des McWilliam yarns is of the time he was asked to make sails for the traditional boats of the Achill Yawl type which sail and race on Achill Sound and the nearby waters of Clew Bay. That hero of the Mulranny area, Dr Jerry Crowley, reckoned that a healthy class of Achill yawls regularly sailing in summer would be good for everyone and for community spirit, so he gave every encouragement to getting the fleet into proper action.

Achill yawls4Traditional Achill yawls racing in Achill Sound. With their potentially very powerful rig, when Des McWilliam turned up with new sails, he said it was like putting a Ferrari engine into a Mini

The upshot of it was that as the Celtic Tiger years began to build up a head of steam, every pub along the shores of Achill Sound and anywhere close to the coast nearby found itself sponsoring an Achill Yawl to swell an already considerable privately-owned fleet.

It became increasingly competitive, so inevitably an enquiry was put through to Des McWilliam about making a suit of racing sails, and with one order, others followed. As the Achil yawl sets a powerful lug rig which is as near as you can get to actually being an even more powerful and efficient lateen rig, when Des turned up with a load of max-sized sails at Achill Sound, he asked Jerry Crowley was he aware this would be the equivalent of putting a Ferrari engine into a little old Mini, or even Morris Minor?

This was exactly the impression the owners and skippers wished to make, so the bould Des went off for his first race with the Achill Yawls. They were reaching along in a bunch, and the boat to weather bore down on them until the hulls thumped, and then hauled her wind only the slightest amount.

At the impact Des had called across to the other helmsman: “You can’t do that”. Back came the unanswerable reply: “I just did”. End of conversation.

Within the UK Sailmakers group, Des acquired something of a reputation as an ace specialist in spinnakers, so when America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner out in San Diego asked his local UK Sailmakers loft for a new spinnaker for his personal IRC 50, manager John Bennett passed the order on across America and across the Atlantic to Crosshaven. As Des says, it’s not every day you get an order for a special spinnaker for Dennis Conner, and they gave it the best they could.

cotton blossom5Dennis Conner’s classic Q Class sloop Cotton Blossom II, restored by Johnny Smullen, makes her debut at the San Diego YC. The local UK Sailmakers loft passed along the specific request that Des McWilliam design the spinnakers for the boat

It seems it worked, for when Dun Laoghaire’s own Johnny Smullen restored the classic Q Class Cotton Blossom II in San Diego for Conner, the request came through to Crosshaven for the spinnakers for the re-born boat. It was quite a tricky one says Des, as we had to shape the panels in classic original style.

So the default position in the Crosshaven loft is that the unusual order is the norm. They’re delighted to take on all sorts of challenges, and as founder John McWilliam was originally a fighter jet pilot, in his busiest years with the loft he put his flying skills to good use by having a company plane - a PA 23 Geronimo - for which they didn’t need to hire a pilot to get sails and services as rapidly as possible to customers near and far.

downtown flyer6Dick Newick’s plans for Downtown Flyer, built in a shed in Lisburn, County Antrim

However, even by McWilliam standards, the liberation of the trimaran Downtown Flyer from a hidden berth in France was in a league of its own. Downtown Flyer was a 38ft Newick tri built by Brian Law and Dickie Gomes in a shed in Lisburn in Northern Ireland for the 1982 Round Britain and Ireland two-handed race, in which they did mighty well. In fact, they did mighty well in just about every event they entered, and put in such a spectacular showing at the Speed Week in La Trinite in France that when, after a couple of years of very intensive campaigning, they decided to sell, Downtown Flyer was quickly snapped up by a young French skipper who very promptly paid 50% of the purchase price.

downtown flyer7Downtown Flyer under construction in 1982. Her beam was nearly as great as her overall length. Photo W M Nixon

He was so keen to be in place for the next big race in France that the two lads allowed him and his crew to sail the boat away with the promise that the rest of the money would be paid the following week. Weeks passed. Months passed. But money came there none. Recourse to lawyers failed too. They were getting nowhere. But as Johnny McWilliam had made sails for them for a number of craft, he was aware of their predicament, and enthusiastically joined in a project to re-possess the boat.

She was berthed in the heart of a sort of Navy yard in Lorient. But the guys worked out that if they could fly in Johnny’s plane to a little local airfield and implement the plan once night came on, it might just be managed. So they flew down to Brittany and after helping Johnny re-fuel for his fight home by using a local garage and portable tanks so as not to attract official attention, the Liberation Team got to the boat without being noticed as night drew on.

mcwilliam geronimo8The McWilliam Sailmakers’ PA 23 Geronimo was useful for many tasks, not least a surreal boat liberation

They got away by paddling Downtown Flyer as quietly as possible the length of Lorient Harbour, where they sped away once sail was set. But instead of heading straight for Ireland as any search ship would have expected, they sailed due west into the middle of the Bay of Biscay before turning north for a safe return.

They kept the boat for sale to another purchaser, and in due course the French skipper was given his deposit back. But to receive it, he had to take the Roscoff ferry to Cork to meet the Downtown duo, as they had to return extra equipment that had somehow been added to the boat despite the potential buyer’s supposed penniless state.

In his retirement Johnny has devoted himself to glider flying a a very advanced level, while Des looks forward to getting in some sailing just for fun - he much enjoyed a recent outing with the new sails he made for Guapa, the Bill Trafford-reworked Etchells 22.

des mcwilliam on guapa9Making a classic suit of sails for the uniquely re-configured Etchells 22 Guapa a month ago was a special pleasure for Des (right) But there’s no doubt that Des’s passion for vintage and classic cars can now come centre stage. It started with a hectic youthful career with vintage motorbikes, but these days he has a sort of compromise with a 1934 Morgan F4 three-wheeler in which he and his wife Sue can take on hill climbs and other vintage car trials with eccentric style.

des and sue mcwilliam10Des and Sue McWilliam in their 1934 vintage Morgan three-wheeler

In fact, in this little machine, there’s little enough for their comfort when they’re undertaking challenges like the Tim Healy Pass which snakes over the mountains between Bantry Bay and the Kenmare River, but they’re seen doing it with style in this short vid from Easter last year:

The virtue of the Tim Healy event is that afterwards everyone winds their way down from the mountain to the comfort of that noted cruising enthusiasts’ pub, Teddy’s at Kilmakilloge, and the event concludes with a dinner where the attendance on this occasion included nine former Circuit of Ireland winners. But the real winner of the evening was Sue, as she received the Trophy for the Bravest Participant – as that little vid reveals, it was well earned.

Unfortunately, a couple of weeks later while on their way to another vintage car trial, they were the victims of an absent-minded tourist who forgot that we drive on the left in Ireland, and in a serious smash Sue was badly injured. But she’s on the mend, and is looking forward to sharing Des’s new availability for their many interests and family gatherings.

Meanwhile at the Crosshaven loft, the new order of management is already moving into place, and next week will see the UK Sailmakers Crosshaven team present in full strength at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. These are very interesting times in sail-making, and the hothouse of competition that Dublin Bay will provide next week is just what’s needed to get fresh ideas to take shape.

1720 UkMcWThis is what we do. One of the O’Leary Clan’s 1720s burning it up under a new UK Sailmakers asymmetrical kite

Published in W M Nixon
Page 1 of 14

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