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Displaying items by tag: Valentia

I reported in detail the two battles which the people of Valentia fought against the Department of Transport and the Coast Guard to prevent the closure of the Coastal Radio Station on the Kerry island.
Valentia is fortunate to be linked by a bridge to the mainland, but has still suffered from emigration and deprivation which neglect by the State can cause to isolated communities.
I have a great respect for island people. They have to overcome difficulties and obstacles in their daily lives that those living ashore will not encounter.
Those battles and, at the same time, that of the people of Malin at the other end of the country, to prevent the closure of the Malin Head Coastal Radio Station came to my mind in the context of a technological development which changed the world and started in Valentia.
The Department, of which the Coast Guard is part - an indication of the unfortunate dispersal of maritime matters amongst too many Government Departments in Ireland - wanted to centralise operations in Dublin. In the course of my reportage, I discovered that their proposed location was in the constituency of their then Minister. Curious! Another proposed retrenchment from the regions into Dublin. There was little to justify the plan.
The people of Valentia mounted a particularly strong case against the proposal, backed by research and technological facts. Malin also produced a strong case. I wonder about the attitude of officials based in Dublin who come up with proposals like this.

These topics came up for discussion again when I attended the 150th anniversary of the laying of the first successful TransAtlantic communications cable from Valentia to Newfoundland. The laying of the cable began on July 13, 1886 when the biggest ship in existence at the time, the Great Eastern, sailed from Valentia. It arrived in Newfoundland on July 27, 1886 having laid 2,000 miles of cable weighing 9,800 tons across the Atlantic.
“The Valentia cable of 1866 changed the world,” writes Dr. Donard de Cogan in his book - ‘They talk along the deep,’ the story of cable history which was launched at the island ‘cable festival.’ “To put a cable across the ocean in the 19th century was cutting edge. These people were stretching beyond the technology of that time.” So says Bernard S.Finn. Curator Emeritus of the Electricity Collections at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, Washington D.C.
In this edition of my programme, I talk to Anthony O’Connell, Director of Valentia Island Development Company, about the island community’s attempts to gain UNESCO recognition for the island as a World Heritage Site, a case based on the technological breakthrough which started there. Ireland has only two out of 1,000 World Heritage Sites in Europe. England, Spain and Italy have between 30 to 40 World Heritage sites each! It is a revelation to hear of the extensive research and campaign work done by the people of Valentia.
On reflection, the Department of Transport and Coast Guard were unwise to take on the people of Valentia!
• Listen to the programme above

Published in Island Nation
Tagged under

#RNLI - Valentia RNLI launched on Monday afternoon (27 June) to a 10m fishing vessel going aground off Bolus Head in Co Kerry after fouling its propeller.

The call for assistance came from Valentia Coast Guard at 3.44pm with Ballinskelligs inshore rescue and the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 also tasked to respond.

Ballinskelligs CRBI provided a tow to the vessel to remove it to safer water, where the Valentia lifeboat took over the tow for a short distance to free the obstruction from its propeller.

The skipper was then able to control the boat assistance and the tow was parted. The fishing vessel continued on without incident and Valentia RNLI returned to station.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

#RNLI - Valentia's lifeboat station received a €10,000 donation from Star Wars producers during their recent film shoot on Skellig Michael.

As The Irish Times reports, the RNLI station's operations manager Richard Foran confirmed to a local paper that the lump sum came as "a complete surprise. But I think the lifeboat came to their minds because of what they were doing."

The good news comes after some controversy earlier this week over confirmed 'repairs' on Skellig Michael after the week-long film shoot on the sensitive Unesco World Heritage site.

Filming was delayed at the start of the shoot a fortnight ago due to high winds and rough seas common around the weather-worn island.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#islandnation – "Now, why would you say that Tom?"

And when Fionán Murphy rightly challenged me about my question, I did ask myself why I had just said:

"It's unusual, isn't it, for a boat for Norway to be built in Kerry?"

"I don't know why you would say Kerry, Tom," Fionán said back to me. "Ireland maybe, but why would you say 'Kerry'? The guy involved found us, came over to us and we have a fantastic relationship with him. He has been here for two months and he will be here with us until the boat is finished. It is a great place to do business because the Norwegian currency is very strong. To do anything in Norway costs a fortune, so they are getting great value for money here and we are still getting a good price for our product. It is a great place to do business and if we can do more business there, it will be fantastic."

It was a bright exchange which I enjoyed, because it is good for an interviewer to be challenged. I was trained in radio broadcasting in the days when the interviewee was the most important person, not the interviewer. Too much of radio now centres on the personality of the programme presenter, not the interviewee. I still believe that the interviewee is the most important part of an interview, so Fionán and myself chuckled at my gaffe and as Managing Director and the man who owns Murphy Marine Services on the Shore Road in Valentia Island and so an islander, he made a strong point about Kerry and the importance of our offshore islands. I was talking with him and other members of the island community who were making the point that the Government does not show enough commitment to Ireland's offshore islands. I interviewed Fionán about the future of the island and how his boatyard, which builds, maintains and stores boats, is going.

FIONAN_MURPHY_VALENTIA_ISLAND.jpg

Fionán Murphy of Murphy Marine Services, Valentia Island

"Our predominant thing is new builds. If we get four-to-five of those a year we would be very happy. This keeps jobs on the island and that is what we need."

Fionán is also Chairman of the island's Development Company:

"Rural Ireland is in decline and we are doing what we can, but the island needs people and people need jobs to stay here. Islands need special recognition from the Government."

Fionán tells me in the interview, which you can hear here, how he started the yard fourteen years ago and how it has developed to its present stage of building boats which are sold all over Europe and how he overcame the economic, recessionary downturn.

fishing_Vessel.jpg

A new fishing vessel built in Valentia and bound for Norway

You can hear him on this current edition of THIS ISLAND NATION, Ireland's niche maritime programme, now broadcast on seven radio stations around the country and on this website. Also on the programme, the value of maritime safety training is emphasised by the interim Chief Executive of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Michael Keatinge, who outlines how three fishermen's lives were saved when their boat capsized off the East Coast, because they had done the BIM safety course.

There's a lot more to be heard on THIS ISLAND NATION and you can Email me direct about the programme to: [email protected] or leave a comment below.

Published in Island Nation

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, today marked the commemoration of 100 years of services at the Irish Coast Guard Valentia Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC). A plaque unveiled by Minister Donohoe pays tribute to all the members of staff, both past and present, who have served in the centre over the past 100 years.

The Valentia MRSC has been in operation since 1914 and covers the South West and Western Atlantic coastal area. It has served as the first point of contact for the liners and cross Atlantic vessels transiting to and from Europe to America.

Speaking at the event, Minister Donohoe said: 'I am very happy to have an opportunity to pay tribute to all those who have served here in the past and also to those who continue to serve at Valentia Coast Guard, most of whom have been here for many years'.

"When I look around at this state-of-the-art Coast Guard coordination centre at Wireless Point, it is difficult to imagine that it was from this very location on the 7th May 1915 that some of the last messages to the ocean liner Lusitania were transmitted using only Morse Code. Through two world wars the station here continued to operate serving the maritime sector and providing a lifeline and communications link to shore. Looking over the records of the incidents handled here, there have been many notable incidents over the years.

"Our seas and inland waterways can bring tragedy as well as joy and we would like to remember here all those who have lost their lives in an around our coast and we acknowledge the sadness of that loss for their families and friends.

"The last two years have seen the busiest period in many years for the Coast Guard in terms of emergency responses as the figure for coordinated incidents reached 2,628, with the centre here in Valentia coordinating some 940 of these incidents.

"So it is in recognition of all these efforts and many others down through the years, that we have gathered here over 100 years after services commenced, to acknowledge the long and proud history of the station here in Valentia".

Published in Coastguard

#COASTGUARD - BreakingNews.ie reports that the coastguard stations at Malin Head and Valentia will remain open, following a statement to the Dáil by the Minister for Transport this evening.

Coastal communities in Donegal and Kerry had been protesting against plans to close their respective Irish Coast Guard radio stations in the wake of the 'value for money' report commissioned earlier this year by the office of Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

Both stations were earmarked for potential closure amid concerns that the minister was allegedly looking at an "alternative technical solution" within his own constituency in Blanchardstown.

However this evening Minister Varadkar assured local communities that their coastguard centres would not be closed, while also expressing disappointment at the treatment of officials from his department at a recent joint committee meeting on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Save Our Station campaign group at Valentia has welcomed the news, telling RTÉ News that "common sense has prevailed".

Spokesperson Anthony O'Connell said that he hoped the minister's move marked the end of any threat to the future of the stations at Valentia and Malin Head.

The news comes just two weeks after an East Londonderry MLA sought the support of Northern Ireland's Minister of State to protect the Malin Head station from the chop.

Published in Coastguard

#COASTGUARD - The Irish Examiner reports today that the Irish Coast Guard has severely criticised the first draft of the 'value for money' report on the coastguard service commissioned by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

Senior IRCG management berated the work of the consultants Fisher Associates who were commissioned to undertake the studies into the coastguard and Marine Survey Office.

In their observation of the report's first draft, they cite "uninformed or poor analysis; lack of dialogue on matters surfaced; lack of understanding of where the IRCG has competency or control on particular matters and where they are departmental competencies; laziness in fact finding; ignorance of how coast guards function and failure to recognise command and control issues."

They also slated "sloppiness" in the report's incorrect spelling of the service as the 'Irish Coastguard', arguing that it "reflects very, very poorly on Fisher's ability or competence in these areas".

The news comes ahead of Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds' appearance before the Oireachtas Transport Committee tomorrow (Wednesday 24 October) to discuss the future of the national network of coastguard stations.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly, who worked to bring Reynolds before the committee, claims that the coastguard head's agenda is to close the stations at Valentia and Malin Head while retaining the Dublin station and a sub-base in the Transport Minister's constituency.

Elsewhere in the Irish Examiner, Dan Buckley comments on the local campaigns to save the "vital" bases at Valentia and Malin Head.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, coastal communities in Kerry have joined with their counterparts in Donegal to protest mooted plans to close their coastguard radio stations, despite the wealth of local expertise and hundreds of thousands of euro worth of recent investment.

Published in Coastguard

#COASTGUARD - Coastal communities in Kerry have joined those in Donegal protest against plans to close the Malin and Valentia coastguard stations.

In last Friday's This Island Nation, Tom MacSweeney discussed the attempts by management at the Irish Coast Guard to centralise radio operations in Dublin, commenting on the "vital component" of the stations' staff's local knowledge.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said he would begin an action plan due in October to deal with issues outlined in a recent 'value for money' report which may require "tough decisions", including the closure of a coastguard radio station at Malin or Valentia.

Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue had already asked the Government for assurances on the future of Malin Head, which he said "has provided and invaluable service for over a century".

But the Sunday Independent has learned that now both stations are earmarked for closure, and reports that the Valentia Save Our Station group is concerned the minister is looking at an "alternative technical solution" by installing coastguard equipment from the west coast in his own constituency in Blanchardstown.

All this is despite the scheduled installation of hundreds and thousands of euro worth of new equipment in the Valentia station, which currently handles two-thirds of all major search and rescue operations annually, according to the Irish Examiner.

The change in plans has come as a surprise, the Examiner says, after similar proposals under the previous government were halted following pressure from backbench TDs.

Published in Coastguard
Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat, Toshiba Wave Warrior, was requested by Valentia Coast Guard to go to the assistance of 3 persons, on board a 28ft motor boat, that had suffered engine failure and was adrift in Force 4 winds last night.

At 19.31hrs the lifeboat launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, Ger Egan and Ben Roynane on board. Winds were west south-west, Force 4, visibility was fair with darkness falling. After drifting for some distance, the skipper had dropped anchor to prevent being grounded. They were located by the lifeboat behind the Carrigeen Islands, close to the County Clare Shore.

The three persons on board were all safe and wearing lifejackets. The lifeboat was alongside the casualty vessel, a 28ft motor boat at 19.50hrs. With an RNLI crew member on board, a tow line was set up. The anchor was held fast and given the conditions and nightfall, it was left behind. The vessel was towed to Dromineer Harbour and tied up safely alongside at 20.40hrs. The lifeboat returned to station and was ready for service again at 21.00hrs.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

While it might be an exaggeration to say that all of the 21 crew members of Rambler 100 owe their lives to the Irish Search and Rescue service, there are certainly five people whose future prospects were greatly improved by the operation off the Fastnet Rock on August 15th. A lot of media focus has been on Coxswain Kieran Cotter and the crew of Baltimore Lifeboat as well as lifeboat mechanic Jerry Smith, whose dive boat, on charter to the media team of one of the competitors, was on hand to search and recover the five drifting crew. There is no question that this focus is appropriate. RNLI crews all over the UK and Ireland deserve the attention, not only because of their extraordinary voluntary dedication to the cause, but also because such publicity helps swell the coffers of the charity. The service could not operate without the generosity of the donors and incidents such as these help fill the blue boat-shaped boxes held by even more RNLI volunteers.

Rambler_rescue_pheado_2

Saved: Ireland's Rescue Services Answered the Call of the capsized Supermaxi Rambler 100 off the Fastnet Rock. Photo: Team Phaedo


The dramatic stories and pictures dominating the media show the front line of a quite wonderful resource that is Search and Rescue in Ireland today. Baltimore Lifeboat was at the coal face of an intricate network of operations, triggered by the crew's EPIRBs. Irish Coast Guard radio officers in Valentia responded almost immediately tasking the rescue resources, working the phones and computers to confirm that this was not an accidentally triggered EPIRB, contacting RORC HQ, determining search patterns and relaying the information to the scene. It was the backroom contacts between RORC and the Coast Guard in endeavouring to contact Rambler 100 using satellite phones that confirmed the possibility of a catastrophic incident involving the Supermaxi. The subsequent tasking of the Shannon and Waterford based Sikorsky helicopters led to the medevac of crew member Wendy Touton and timely treatment of her hypothermic condition, initially by the on-board paramedics and later at Tralee General hospital. And Coast Guard involvement didn't end with the successful rescue – the shoreside operation to provide food and shelter in Baltimore was coordinated by Coast Guard personnel and the salvage operation of the hull of Rambler 100 was overseen by the Irish Coast Guard.

Rambler_rescue_phaedo_4

Rambler crew are recovered from the water after a SAR operation by the Irish Coastguard Photo: Team Phaedo. More photos here.


That Ireland has probably one of the best Search and Rescue services in the world goes back to the campaign initiated in 1988 by Joan McGinley, following the death, within sight of land of Donegal fisherman John Oglesby, whose leg was severed in a trawl winch. Eamon Doherty, the late former Garda Commissioner chaired the review group established in response to the campaign and his report led to the establishment of the Irish Marine Emergency Service, subsequently the Irish Coast Guard. Under the guidance of Director Capt Liam Kirwan, the new service moved quickly to become not only the central co-ordinating body for Search and Rescue, but developed its own resources, notably the helicopters, previously tasked in from Irish Air Corps and UK SAR.
Another element that will feature in the Rambler 100 incident is the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), set up from recommendations arising from a review of the handling of investigations into marine casualties.

It might be thought that the incident is now closed, but there are many unanswered questions and the investigation will be looking at these and making recommendations that should improve safety in this sector. These questions will include EPIRB performance, liferaft deployment and grab bag usage, but perhaps the key issue yet to be determined is why the response from fellow competitors didn't appear to happen. Even if Channel 16 wasn't being actively monitored, and if not why not, shouldn't the Mayday set off by the Coast Guard have set off the DSC alerts on the radios of Rambler 100's fellow competitors? Had the incident occurred several hours later or earlier when Rambler 100 could have been up to 100 miles from the nearest land, when conditions worsened, we could be looking at much more serious consequences.

It is heartening to think that, in this small country of ours in troubled times, not only do we have a shining star in our search, rescue, recovery and restore system, involving professionals and volunteers cooperating for the greater good, we also have a system that determines the nature of incidents so that we can all learn from the experience.
And let us not forget those people and services, such as the Gardai, Navy, Army and the community of Baltimore who are outside the media spotlight who contributed to this happy ending.

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Afloat's Latest RNLI Lifeboat News

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Published in Water Rat
Page 2 of 3

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

Fastnet Race 2021 Date

The 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race will start on Sunday 8th August 2021.

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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