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The volunteer lifeboat crew of Howth RNLI had their first launch of 2022 yesterday (Sunday 2 January) to paddleboarders in difficulty off the coast of Portmarnock Beach. Immediately after that, they were tasked to rescue a group of kayakers who could not make it back to Howth Harbour due to the strong off-shore winds.

The inshore lifeboat was launched at 2.05 pm and made way towards Portmarnock Beach. Weather conditions were poor with strong winds and one-metre-high seas. Once on scene at Portmarnock, Howth Lifeboat crew located the paddleboarders who had made their way ashore with their punctured paddleboard. A crew member was sent ashore to assess the paddleboarders before they were handed into the care of a Coast Guard crew on Portmarnock beach.

As the lifeboat crew made their way back to Howth, they were alerted to another situation involving five kayakers who were in difficulty as they made their way back to Howth Harbour, due to the strong off-shore winds. The volunteer lifeboat crew located three of the kayakers who had taken shelter on Ireland’s Eye, an island just North of Howth Harbour. The crew took the kayakers on board the lifeboat and brought them back to Howth. The lifeboat then escorted the remaining two kayakers back to the safety of the harbour.

Speaking following the call-out, Howth RNLI inshore lifeboat helm, Lorcan Dignam said, ‘When going on the water it’s really important that you always check the weather and tides and be mindful that conditions can change quickly. You should always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. Although the weather has been quite mild recently, sea temperatures are very cold at this time of year and people taking to the water should be dressed for the conditions and always wear a lifejacket. Thankfully the outcome today, our first launch of 2022, was a successful one with the paddleboarders and kayakers all returned safely to shore.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A father and daughter who volunteer to save lives at sea with Howth RNLI and who will be on call over Christmas have asked the public to support the charity’s Christmas appeal. Stephen Harris has been a Deputy Launching Authority at the station since 2014 while his daughter Jen joined a month before the first lockdown. The busy lifeboat station has remained on call throughout the pandemic and the lifeboat crew will be ready to launch the lifeboats, as always, if they are needed.

With over 1,500 lifeboat volunteers around Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save everyone from drowning – the charity’s mission since 1824. This Christmas many will leave loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned.

Having returned from 6 months studying abroad in New Zealand Jen Harris joined the lifeboat crew in February 2020 only to see her training halted as the country went into lockdown. However, she stayed involved doing what training she could on land while the experienced lifeboat crew continued to respond to emergencies. When training restarted, she continued with her training plan and is now well on the way to being a fully-fledged lifeboat volunteer. No stranger to the water, Jen was a sailing and powerboat instructor when she was younger. On her return home to Ireland, she approached her dad about volunteering with the RNLI and had a chat to the lifeboat crew. She is currently trainee crew on Howth inshore lifeboat and is looking to be lifeboat crew on the All-Weather Lifeboat too. She is proudly following in her father Stephen’s footsteps as he was lifeboat crew in Dun Laoghaire from 1985 to 1987.

An archive photo from Dun Laoghaire RNLI featuring Stephen as volunteer lifeboat crew at the stationAn archive photo from Dun Laoghaire RNLI featuring Stephen as volunteer lifeboat crew at the station

Talking about her reason for volunteering with the RNLI Jen said, ‘I had been thinking about joining the lifeboat crew for a while. I’ve grown up around boats and I know how important the service the RNLI provides is to the community. The training I am undergoing is intense and it should be. It’s a massive commitment and one I’m happy to give and of course dad loves that I’m involved. The kit that we have and the level of training we receive is so impressive and it’s funded by generous donations. People can see where the money they give goes. There is a big orange boat sitting in the harbour and that’s our office. Everything we have is thanks to people supporting the charity.’

Dad Stephen is rightly proud of his daughter but it’s not surprising as they are two of a total of eight family members involved in the RNLI, with cousins at Dunmore East in County Waterford and Kilkeel in County Down. Stephen was lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire RNLI for three years before he moved away to Clontarf. Now living in Howth he was approached to join the station by the former Lifeboat Operations Manager Rupert Jeffares and joined as a Deputy Launching Authority.

Commenting on the Christmas appeal Stephen said, ‘The rescues we do would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round. This year my daughter is on the crew and will be out on rescues soon. Since I was a lifeboat volunteer, I’ve seen the RNLI’s equipment and lifeboat technology advance and evolve, keeping the lifesavers safe and helping them reach the casualties quickly. I’m proud to be involved and now a proud father of a lifesaver too.’

To donate to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit: RNLI.org/Xmas

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue TD has welcomed the publication of today's revised National Development Plan.

The NDP will set the Department’s new five-year rolling capital allocations. It will support economic, social and environmental development across the country.

‘As we emerge from the pandemic and continue to deal with the challenges posed by Brexit, the NDP Review allows us to map out the development of the agri-food sector’ said McConalogue.

The strategic investment priorities for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine are:

Major development projects in Castletownbere, Howth and Killybegs have commenced and while all have been delayed somewhat due to Covid 19 restrictions they are expected to be completed in early 2022.

Preparatory work is ongoing for other projects including a major dredging project in Howth which is currently at the planning stage.

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue TDMarine Minister Charlie McConalogue TD

‘Overall, a capital investment programme of up to €180 million across all six Fishery Harbour Centres, at Howth, Dunmore East, Castletownbere, Dingle, Ros an Mhíl and Killybegs, encompassing ongoing safety and maintenance and necessary new developments is envisaged for commencement up to 2025. Ongoing improvements will be required thereafter.’

Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programme 2014-20 will award the last of its €240 million budget in 2021. The new Seafood Development Programme 2021-27 will be launched in 2022 with €142 million EU funds from the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) and matching funds from Government. The Seafood Development Programme will:

  • Assist seafood enterprises in the fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing sectors to adapt to the impacts of Brexit and Covid, grow seafood output, add value to seafood products, enhance the competitiveness of seafood enterprises and develop their markets.
  • Support the conservation of fish stocks, the protection and restoration of marine habitats and biodiversity and climate change mitigation and adaptation in the seafood sector.
  • Fund the development and dissemination of knowledge and technology in the seafood sector to address challenges and avail of opportunities for the sustainable growth of the seafood sector.
  • Assist coastal communities in diversifying and growing their economies.
Published in Fishing
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When Covid 19 hit last year, fundraising for Howth RNLI Lifeboat through street flag day collections, St. Patrick’s Day Irish Coffee Mornings, Golf Classics, Boat Jumble Sales and Vintage Car Runs all came to an abrupt halt, Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association came to the rescue by organising a winter series of Zoom talks for their members and others.

The talks were presented by a range of interesting speakers: Dennis Aylmer, Michael Weed, Mark Sweetnam, Ed Maggs, Cormac Lowth, Gary McMahon, Peter Lyons & Adrian Spence, Mick Brogan, John Leahy, Jarlath Cunnane, Rob Goodbody, Joe Walsh, Richard Nairn, Sean Walsh, Sean Cullen, Brian O Gaiblin and Rik Janssen.

The fantastic result from these very interesting presentations is a donation of €8,000 from Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association to Howth RNLI who continue to rely on voluntary contributions and legacies for income. It is only through donations such as this that Howth RNLI continue to provide our volunteer lifeboat crews with the boats, facilities, equipment and training that are essential to save lives at sea.

Howth RNLI presented DBOGA with a Letter of thanks from the Institution for their generous support.

Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association held their annual race at Howth Saturday 4th September with 12 boats competing having sailed from Strangford, Ramsey - Isle of Man, Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club and Dun Laoghaire to compete. The fleet raced back to Poolbeg Lighthouse on Sunday 5th September.

Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association will be kicking off this winter’s fundraising programme for Howth RNLI with another series of talks beginning in October.

Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association can be proud that their generosity will help us to continue to respond quickly and efficiently to those in danger on the sea, today and in the future.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Howth’s Irish Coast Guard unit were tasked to an unusual incident yesterday (Sunday 29 August) after a seven-month-old lamb fell off a cliff on Lambay Island.

Nicknamed ‘Lucky Louis’, the young sheep had fallen 10 metres down a cliff on the east side of the island — east of Portrane in north Co Dublin — and was trapped among the rocks at the cliff base.

Despite his ordeal, the lamb was hesitant when coastguard crew arrived and tried to hide in a nearby cave.

But he was swiftly rounded up and brought back to staff on the island with some small cuts but otherwise in good spirits.

“All’s wool that end’s wool,” the coastguard unit said.

Published in Coastguard

While several national and international classes are notably successful in having a truly all-Ireland spread, only in the J/24s would you somehow end up with ten different clubs from every part of the country coming up in lights in the final setting of the leaderboard.

But then Rod Johnstone's 45-year-old first pitch at yacht design has acquired something of a cult status among its devotees. And though there have been more than a few hyper-successful J Boat designs since (and then some), for the true aficionados, there's only one, and that's the 24.

Thus when impecunious young folk decide they've simply got to have a boat of their own, a class of such longevity offers a very wide selection of good-value doer-uppers. And once they get the boat restored and back in racing trim, they'll find the class is a friendly community with any amount of senior – and some very senior – lifelong enthusiasts who are generous with support and helpful advice.

Clean start. Three boats – 5219 (Il Ricco), 4212 (Scandal) and 4794 (Hard on Port) – are getting the best of it. At the end of the day, their overall placings were 5219: 4th overall, 4212: 12th oa, and 4794: 3rd overall. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyClean start. Three boats – 5219 (Il Ricco), 4212 (Scandal) and 4794 (Hard on Port) – are getting the best of it. At the end of the day, their overall placings were 5219: 4th overall, 4212: 12th oa, and 4794: 3rd overall. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Father of the Class – longtime enthusiast Flor O'Driscoll (centre) originally of Cobh but now very much of Bray, with his loyal crew in the process of receiving the prize for third overall.Father of the Class – longtime enthusiast Flor O'Driscoll (centre) originally of Cobh but now very much of Bray, with his loyal crew in the process of receiving the prize for third overall.

Thus although the class got together in strength for the recent J/24 Nationals in Sligo, with the prize this year being the Bicentenary-celebrating Ladies' Cup of Sligo Yacht Club, it was a distinctly storm-curtailed event. So with the pandemic restrictions being further eased, all the signs were there'd be a good turnout for this past weekend's WaterWipes J/24 Eastern Championship at Howth, and the signs were right on target.

Nevertheless, despite some warmly-welcomed fresh crews and boats entering the 18-fleet equation, up at the sharpest end of the fleet it was a case of As You Were with the clear overall winner being Headcase, the National Champion at Sligo, syndicate-owned and raced with Cillian Dickson on the helm, and sailing under the colours of Howth YC, Lough Ree YC, Mayo SC, and Ballyholme YC in a remarkable combination from which Munster is the only missing province.

Anyone who complains that the mainsail number and the spinnaker number on Crazy Horse (Luke McBride, Lough Swilly YC) don't match, and that the blue spinnaker on Scandal (Isobel Cahill, Howth YC) doesn't seem to gave a number at all, is missing the point of the contemporary J/24 Class in Ireland. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyAnyone who complains that the mainsail number and the spinnaker number on Crazy Horse (Luke McBride, Lough Swilly YC) don't match, and that the blue spinnaker on Scandal (Isobel Cahill, Howth YC) doesn't seem to gave a number at all, is missing the point of the contemporary J/24 Class in Ireland. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

The other domineer was Colm O'Flaherty of Sligo with Jana, who together with Headcase had put down a marker in the first race with the old one-two, while third went to Mark Usher of Greystones. But Race 2 saw a hugely popular win for the Father of the Class, Flor O'Driscoll of Bray, and this kept things a bit more open for the six-race series.

Line up the usual suspects….HYC Commodore Paddy Judge (centre) with the victorious HeadcasesLine up the usual suspects….HYC Commodore Paddy Judge (centre) with the victorious Headcases

Nevertheless, the underlying trend was irreversible, the final total having Headcase on 6pts, Jana on 13, and Flor O'Driscoll's Hard on Port on 16, just one point clear of Lough Erne's J P McCaldin on 17 in Il Ricco. A detailed analysis of the complete scorecard speaks volumes for the key role this timeless little boat plays at clubs throughout the country. And yes, it was noticed that between the J/24s and the 420s, Lough Ree YC was having an extremely successful weekend at Howth.

Results here

Sam O'Byrne, Quarter Master of the championship-winning Headcase Society, explaining how you can successfully campaign a J/24 with a crew drawn from three of Ireland's four provincesSam O'Byrne, Quarter Master of the championship-winning Headcase Society, explaining how you can successfully campaign a J/24 with a crew drawn from three of Ireland's four provinces

Published in J24
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Howth RNLI was tasked by Dublin Coast Guard to recover an upturned RIB tender that fell off the rear of a powerboat.

Howth RNLI pagers sounded at 1.00 pm Saturday 21st August 2021 after being tasked by Dublin Coast Guard to recover an upturned rigid inflatable boat that had fallen off the rear of a powerboat.

The powerboat owner had tried to retrieve the RIB but was unsuccessful. They called Dublin Coast Guard and asked for assistance.

The Howth RNLI all-weather lifeboat and volunteer crew launched 12 minutes later and made its way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were calm seas with a 6-7 knot southeast breeze and localised thundery downpours.

Howth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew righted the upturned vessel and took the RIB in tow to the safety of Howth harbour.

Howth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew righted the upturned vessel and took the RIB in tow to the safety of Howth harbour

Howth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew righted the upturned vessel and took the RIB in tow to the safety of Howth harbour

Howth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew righted the upturned vessel and took the RIB in tow to the safety of Howth harbour

Speaking following the callout, Fred Connolly, Howth RNLI Coxswain said: ‘The powerboat owner did absolutely the correct thing, to call for assistance before the RIB drifted into shipping lanes. We were pleased to be tasked and be able to retrieve the RIB before it became a danger to other vessels’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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At least six Half Tonners and six X302s are expected for a newly devised Championships at Howth Yacht Club later this month.

The Irish Half Ton Cup and X302 Challenge will be sailed over three windward-leeward courses and a coastal race from August 21 & 22nd.

With July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta cancelled and leaving a void in the season, the two classes came together to produce the pop-up event.

The championships will also serve as a warm-up for September's ICRA National Championships at the National Yacht Club.

Under 18 sailors

The Half-Ton Class says it is keen to promote junior sailing and so have agreed that each boat will take an under 18 sailor as part of the crew for the event. Event rules will permit IRC crew number plus one to encourage same.

The Notice of Race and the Sailing Instructions are downloadable below. Online entry is here.

Published in Half Tonners
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RNLI volunteers from Skerries and Howth were tasked to Rush in north Co Dublin on Wednesday afternoon (4 August) following a Pan-Pan VHF call from small fishing boat with two on board that was taking on water near the entrance to Rogerstown Estuary.

With the possibility of persons entering the water, both lifeboats launched shortly after 4.30pm and headed for Rogerstown at the maximum possible safe speed amid moderate conditions, with a Force 4 wind.

As the inshore lifeboat from Skerries arrived on scene, they could see that the casualty vessel had sunk on the bar at the entrance to Rogerstown Estuary.

There were people in the water in the vicinity of the boat where it was grounded, however the water was shallow enough for them to stand.

As lifeboat volunteers assessed the situation, Howth RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat arrived and stood by in case of needed assistance. A ground unit from Skerries Coast Guard was also in attendance.

It was quickly established that the two people from the boat had made it to safety on the beach, but then re-entered the water trying to lay out an anchor to secure the boat.

With the aid of the Skerries RNLI crew, they managed to turn the boat to bring the bow into the waves, which enabled them to bail the boat out and refloat it.

Noting the large number of windsurfers and kitesurfers in the area, Skerries’ helm decided that the boat presented a hazard and could potentially lead to a further callout if left where it was.

The vessel was subsequently taken under tow to the nearest safe harbour at the slipway in Rogerstown. The casualties returned to shore and with the immediate danger passed, Howth RNLI were stood down and returned to station.

Speaking about the callout, Skerries RNLI’s press officer Gerry Canning said: “There is always a great deal of concern when there is the possibility of someone ending up in the water.

“Thankfully on this occasion the boat grounded on a sand bar and they were able to make their way to safety. But it highlights that things can and do go wrong at sea and shows the value of carrying a means to call for help if needed.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Howth RNLI pagers sounded at 6.10 pm Friday 3rd July 2021 to reports of a small fishing vessel with three people on board who were stranded in the vicinity of Lambay Island due to mechanical problems.

The Howth RNLI all weather lifeboat and volunteer crew launched 12 minutes later and rapidly made its way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time gave good visibility but there was a 2 to 3 metre swell and the casualty vessel was anchored off a lee shore sound of Lambay Island.

Howth RNLI Second Coxswain Ian Sheridan assessed the situation and transferred the 2 young members of the family aboard the Lifeboat and a decision was taken to take the fishing boat in tow to the safety of the nearest port of Malahide marina.

The 3 people aboard were all wearing lifejackets but the 2 younger crew members were suffering from slight seasickness.

Towed to safety - Weather conditions at the time gave good visibility but there was a 2 to 3 metre swellTowed to safety - Weather conditions at the time gave good visibility but there was a 2 to 3 metre swell

Speaking following the callout, Stephen Harris, Howth RNLI Deputy Launch Authority said: ‘We were delighted to help the 3 people this evening, they all had their lifejackets and safety gear. They dropped anchor and called for help as soon as they encountered engine difficulties, we were happy to assist.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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RORC Fastnet Race

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge.

For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between.

The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish for 2021 is in Cherbourg via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Cherbourg.

Fastnet Race - FAQs

The 49th edition of the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, UK on Sunday 8th August 2021.

The next two editions of the race in 2021 and 2023 will finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin at the head of the Normandy peninsula, France

Over 300. A record fleet is once again anticipated for the world's largest offshore yacht race.

The international fleet attracts both enthusiastic amateur, the seasoned offshore racer, as well as out-and-out professionals from all corners of the world.

Boats of all shapes, sizes and age take part in this historic race, from 9m-34m (30-110ft) – and everything in between.

The Fastnet Race multihull course record is: 1 day 4 hours 2 minutes and 26 seconds (2019, Ultim Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier)

The Fastnet Race monohull course record is: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing).

David and Peter Askew's American VO70 Wizard won the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, claiming the Fastnet Challenge Cup for 1st in IRC Overall.

Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001.

The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result.

The winner of the first Fastnet Race was the former pilot cutter Jolie Brise, a boat that is still sailing today.

Cork sailor Henry P F Donegan (1870-1940), who gave his total support for the Fastnet Race from its inception in 1925 and competed in the inaugural race in his 43ft cutter Gull from Cork.

Ireland has won the Fastnet Race twice. In 1987 the Dubois 40 Irish Independent won the Fastnet Race overall for the first time and then in 2007 – all of twenty years after Irish Independent’s win – Ireland secured the overall win again this time thanks to Ger O’Rourke’s Cookson 50 Chieftain from the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland in Kilrush.

©Afloat 2020

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Fastnet Race 2023 Date

The 2023 50th Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Saturday, 22nd July 2023

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At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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