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The Seafarers’ Charity is the subject of a fundraising voyage by Mark Miller, who is on an around Britain and Ireland Harbour Master Sailing Challenge.

Over the last three and a half years, Mark’s voyage has taken him around England, Scotland, and Wales, where he has visited over 250 ports and harbours and raised over £20,000 for The Seafarers’ Charity to date. Most of this sum has been donated by the 60 crew who have sailed with Mark and some one-off donations, including one from Foyle Port in Derry. Now he is in County Mayo.

On Saturday, 15th April, in his 34ft Nauticat Good Dog, he left Portland in Dorset on the last leg of the challenge. This will finish the 8,000 nautical mile journey, circumnavigating Ireland and visiting the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands while continuing to raise valuable funds to donate to The Seafarers’ Charity.

Sailing southeast between Gola and Inishmeane in Co Donegal in the backgroundSailing southeast between Gola and Inishmeane in Co Donegal in the background

Good Dog arrived in Bangor on Belfast Lough in early May and met up with Harbour Master Kevin Baird. Mark will attempt to sail into every harbour — but where that’s not possible, he’ll visit the Harbour Master on foot.

A non-profit organisation, The Seafarers’ Charity (formerly King George’s Fund for Sailors) has been helping people in the maritime community for over 105 years, by providing practical support to seafarers in need and to their families. With a specific focus on safety, the charity tackles the root causes of seafarer hardship and disadvantage in the UK and around the world.

Mark (right) in Larne Harbour Co Antrim with Stuart WilsonMark (right) in Larne Harbour Co Antrim with Stuart Wilson

Mark sails Good Dog from harbour to harbour in a clockwise direction around the UK and Ireland with the aim of meeting as many Harbour Masters as possible and gathering a unique record of them, their harbours and their work. There are an estimated 459 official Harbour Masters in the UK, plus part-time, seasonal, private, and volunteer Harbour Masters. There are also Pier Masters and Slipway Masters. Mark is unsure how many there are in the Republic of Ireland!

Re-fuelling in ArdglassRe-fuelling in Ardglass

Kevin Baird was delighted to welcome Mark to Bangor. “I would like to express my gratitude to Mark for his visit to Bangor Harbour and the time he spent with us. His admirable commitment to visit every Harbour Master in the UK and Ireland to support The Seafarers' Charity is commendable. As individuals with a deep connection to the marine industry, we hold the work of The Seafarers' Charity very close to our hearts. For more than a century, this organisation has embarked on a remarkable journey to assist seafarers and their families facing difficult circumstances. We wish Mark and his crew a safe onward voyage with fair winds and following seas”.

Mark's vessel Good Dog in Greencastle, Co DonegalMark's vessel Good Dog in Greencastle, Co Donegal

Currently, Mark is in Westport, waiting for the weather to improve. To support the Harbour Master Sailing Challenge and raise money for The Seafarers’ Charity, donations can be made here

Published in Cruising