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A radical and ambitious proposal to turn the Dover Strait green and to allow only fully electric ferries on the short-sea English Channel crossing will be put to the government today.

The plan is for the routes between Dover and Calais and Dunkirk to become the first zero-carbon shipping corridor in the world, with a new generation of ferries making the 22-mile crossing on battery power and the ports replacing their fuel bunkers with industrial-size ship recharging points.

If the proposal is agreed, it is likely that in time there will be a corollary mandate to demand that heavy goods and passenger vehicles using the port and ferries also will have to be lower-emission.

To read more The Times, has further coverage.

The UK-France route is operated by DFDS, P&O Ferries and Irish Ferries which entered the Dover-Calais market almost a year ago.  

Published in Ferry

At the Port of Dover a second P&O ferry has passed its safety inspection, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has said.

The Pride of Kent can now join the Spirit of Britain, which the MCA cleared to sail on 23 April, after it was detained for two weeks.

Safety fears were raised after P&O replaced nearly 800 seafarers with cheaper agency staff in March.

P&O tweeted on Monday evening that it would be running a one ship schedule until 12 May.

A spokesperson for the MCA said: "The Pride of Kent has been released from detention and can commence operations when P&O Ferries are ready."

They added no further inspections of P&O ferries are planned at the moment, but will be carried out at the request of the company.

BBC News has more here. 

Published in Ferry

Ferry company P&O has resumed freight services on its Spirit of Britain ship, but passenger crossings remain suspended.

As KentLive reports the vessel left Port of Dover on Tuesday evening (26 April).

Spirit of Britain was detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on 12 April after safety issues were found, but was cleared to sail last Friday. The ferry company sacked nearly 800 seafarers with no notice on March 17, replacing them with cheaper agency workers.

P&O Ferries has not operated between Dover and Calais since the mass sackings.

Passenger services are expected to resume early next week. At the moment, the only passenger services are being provided by Irish Ferries and DFDS.

For more including crossing times from these ferry operators, scroll further down from this link. 

Published in Ferry

Irish Ferries has announced the addition of a third ro-ro ferry to its Dover to Calais route as Afloat reported last week. 

The ship is expected to enter service in the first quarter of 2022, joining the Isle of Inishmore and the recently announced Isle of Innisfree.

The secondhand tonnage, Ciudad de Mahon, to be renamed in the coming weeks, was built in 2000 by the by Astilleros Espanoles S.A. (AESA) shipyard in Spain and originally delivered as Northern Merchant. As Afloat also previously alluded, the ropax is no stranger to the short straits, having originally operated on the Dover - Dunkirk route following delivery.

The ferry has the capacity to carry up to 589 passengers and over 90 freight vehicles. Facilities for freight drivers/passengers involve a self-service restaurant, café/bar, onboard duty-free shop and spacious outdoor decks.

Andrew Sheen, Irish Ferries Managing Director, said: “The addition of a third vessel on our Dover / Calais route will allow us to offer a departure from either Dover or Calais every 90 minutes. This is a further sign of our commitment to this route and will offer customers even greater choice along with the capacity, frequency and reliability that is required to service this important route between GB and France”.

Perhaps, Afloat adds that this third ferry to the UK-France route will be renamed Isle of Inishturk? (originally B+I Line's Leinster) which served briefly under this name when operating Rosslare-Pembroke. 

Published in Irish Ferries

The Irish Continental Group (ICG) which owns Irish Ferries, has announced yet another recent acquisition, this time a Spanish-Balearic Islands passenger ro-ro ferry which will be their third ship to enter service on the Dover-Calais route, writes Jehan Ashmore

ICG entered into the agreement with Trasmed GLE for the purchase of the ropax ferry Ciudad de Mahón. Afloat tracked this morning the ferry at Palma de Mallorca, the port on the largest of the Balearics, Majorca from where the ropax serves the Spanish mainland port of Valencia.

Title to the 22,152 tonne Ciudad de Mahón will transfer to ICG on delivery which is expected to be implemented by late January 2022 and with the ro-pax ferry scheduled to commence services on the UK-mainland Europe route in the first quarter of next year.

The yet to be announced renamed vessel will serve the UK-France route after dry docking and rebranding changes. As Afloat previously reported, similar work is currently taking place with the former DFDS Calais Seaways (since renamed Isle of Innisfree), following ICG's purchase and delivery earlier this month, though is due in early December to join Isle of Innishmore which launched Irish Ferries debut on the route during the summer.

The newly acquired vessel was built in 2000 as Northern Merchant (Afloat adds for UK concern, Cenargo Group) by Astilleros Espanoles S.A. (AESA), Spain, to serve coincidentally out of Dover but running to Dunkerque with a charter to NorfolkLine. The ferry was one of a quartet of 'Race Horse' series built in Seville, with Midnight Merchant also on the Strait of Dover run, whereas the remaining pair served a Dublin-Liverpool service.

Passenger capacity is for 589 while freight is for 91 units of the ferry also previously named as Zurbarán. This will further boost freight capacity on the tightly competitive short-sea UK-mainland Europe link. The route also forms Irish Ferries 'landbridge' UK services, by connecting Ireland and the EU via ports in Wales.

Introduction of these two ferries by ICG, represents a total investment of €35.5m, alongside the Isle of Inishmore which completes previously announced plan by the Dublin based company to introduce three vessels on the premier Dover - Calais route.

With the third ferry in service, this will allow Irish Ferries to offer up to 30 sailings daily on the route with sailings in each direction approximately every 90 minutes.

Published in Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries has been awarded the title of ‘Best Ferry or Fixed Linked Operator’  for the third consecutive year at the UK Group Leisure and Travel Awards 2021 – a momentous achievement following a challenging year for global travel.

The annual awards ceremony recognises the very best providers, attractions and destinations for groups, as voted for by readers of Group Leisure & Travel. This year’s event took place virtually, and was hosted by British presenter and actress, Julie Peasgood.

Whilst traditionally known for its Irish Sea routes between Holyhead – Dublin Port and Pembroke – Rosslare Europort, Irish Ferries recently extended their network to include Dover – Calais.

In June, Irish Ferries launched their Dover – Calais route, serviced by the trusted ‘Isle of Inishmore’, brings even more choice for customers travelling across the channel. Frequency on this route is soon to be increased with the introduction of a second vessel in the coming months.

Irish Ferries encourages customers and group partners to “Sea Travel Differently” – whether for group tours, business trips, or planning the holiday of a lifetime. The company prides itself on providing high quality hospitality and service, exceptional on-board amenities, first-class facilities for coach drivers, great value sailings, and has a dedicated groups support team and manager to oversee enquiries via email and phone.

Commenting on the award, Marie McCarthy, Passenger Sales Manager UK & Ireland, said “Irish Ferries is proud to have been awarded this title for the third year running, particularly as this succeeds the launch of our new Dover – Calais route, connecting this critical market now to both Europe as well as Ireland.

“Group travel is a very important market for us, for which, over the years, we have built our reputation as a specialist. This award formally recognises our continued efforts to provide our groups customers with a wonderful experience on a first-class fleet, with Irish hospitality at the centre of our offering.

“Group Leisure & Travel has a loyal readership which values the publication’s preferred providers and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure our standard of service remains high. Thank you to all readers who voted for us – we cannot thank you enough!”

Published in Irish Ferries

Dublin based operator, Irish Ferries saw its cruiseferry Isle of Inishmore this morning set sail on an inaugural sailing from the Port of Dover to Calais in direct competition with P&O Ferries and DFDS. 

As Afloat previously reported, tickets went on sale in advance of the new UK-France service, which extends Irish Ferries network of award-winning services. In addition to providing customers with a new operator choice for travelling across the Channel, first announced by ICG in March.

Irish Ferries encourages customers to “sea travel differently” – whether for holidays, business trips, reuniting with loved ones, or planning the road trip of a lifetime. With award-winning hospitality and service, onboard duty-free shopping and extensive amenities to make the journey even more special, the holiday really does begin once passengers’ step onboard.

The Isle of Inishmore has undergone extensive refurbishments for the new service – including an upgraded Club Class Lounge, with spectacular 360-degree sea views, and refreshed, spacious passenger areas. The 90-minute crossing is a breeze, with plenty of amenities onboard. Passengers can avail of free WiFi, re-fuel in Boylan’s Brasserie or Café Lafayette, or let the kids enjoy the soft play area.

With new duty-free allowances post Brexit, it’s the perfect opportunity to stock up in the Duty Free shop, or even plan ahead on purchases, with an innovative, online Click & Collect service. Freight drivers can also enjoy the comfortable facilities including a drivers lounge and dedicated new showers.

Andrew Sheen, Managing Director at Irish Ferries, said: “Our newly-launched route between Dover and Calais brings even more choice for freight customers who can now experience our outstanding service while travelling between the UK and France. We're delighted to bring a little bit of Ireland to this route, and after months of travel limitations, we know that people are very eager to see family and friends, re-ignite business relations, and escape their everyday and take a much-needed holiday. We are in the business of connectivity and want to enable those special memories to be created once travel is permitted again.”

Doug Bannister, Chief Executive of the Port of Dover, said: “We offer a very warm welcome to Irish Ferries and are delighted to see their operations commence from the UK’s busiest international ro-ro port. There has been considerable work by Port of Dover and all parties associated with this new service launch to get prepared for this day, and we are pleased to see all of those efforts come to fruition. We wish Irish Ferries every success for their new venture with us”

Ferry travel makes for a more relaxed holiday option, with the freedom to pack the car with unlimited luggage, bring pets along, and travel exactly where you want in the comfort of your own car. The Flexibility Option from Irish Ferries also offers additional peace of mind if customers need to change bookings at the last minute.

With Irish Ferries ‘Travel Safe’ programme, customers can also travel in confidence; checking in from the security of their own car, sailing with plenty of space in communal areas for natural social distancing onboard, and take in the fresh, sea air from outdoor decks.

Fares start from just £69 for a car and up to nine passengers, and ferries will operate with up to 10 daily crossings.

Published in Irish Ferries

UK and French unions claim the firm, Irish Ferries, which already operates Ireland-UK and Ireland-France routes, is aggressively low-cost and will seriously damage existing services and result in a lowering of standards.

Cross-Channel (Strait of Dover) ferry firms are hoping holiday travel will increase after a difficult year – especially if France is listed as ‘green’ in the UK’s traffic light travel scheme this month.

Irish Ferries’ website shows Britain-France options but no dates may yet be booked. It says the service will start in June with the transfer of the Isle of Inishmore. A second ferry is expected late this year and another in 2022.

The firm says it wants to “bring more choice to customers”. Freight lorries will be able to travel from Ireland through Wales and England, then via ferry to the Continent.

It says the level of passenger services will depend on the easing of Covid restrictions.

It is not known if foot passenger bookings will be offered.

Rival (see story) P&O has not yet resumed these and they are not offered by the other Dover-Calais operator, DFDS.

The chairman of Calais port, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, called the launch a “clear sign of confidence” in a year which also sees major infrastructure improvements at Calais.

Further reading, reports The Connexion. 

Published in Irish Ferries

Ferry rivals, DFDS & P&O have today entered into a mutual space charter agreement on the Dover-Calais route to shorten freight customers’ waiting times.

The new agreement according to DFDS on the premier short-sea route will also improve the flow of freight traffic across this vital arterial trade link between the UK and France and the rest of the EU member states. 

Freight drivers will be able to board the next available sailing when they arrive at the Port of Dover or the Port of Calais, regardless of which of the two ferry companies is operating the crossing. This will ensure customers benefit from more flexibility, with a sailing every 36 minutes. It will reduce the amount of waiting time at the port saving our freight customers up to 30 minutes on their overall journey time.

Whilst the agreement means that capacity is shared, all commercial activities remain entirely under the control of each operator. 

The new agreement is for freight vehicles only and does not apply to sailings on the Dover-Dunkirk route, which is solely operated by DFDS and will continue to provide a convenient alternative from Dover, with regular sailings and easy access to the Northern European road network.

Filip Hermann, Vice-President and Head of Channel Routes for DFDS, said: “Our focus is always to improve the ferry offering to freight customers. With this new space charter agreement in Dover-Calais we offer faster crossings and flexibility to relieve congestion and keep trade flowing”.

The two ferry companies carry more than 2.5 million lorries across the English Channel every year, making it the busiest trade route between the UK and Europe, maintaining the flow of essential items including food, medicines and other materials into and out of the UK.

As Afloat previously reported, operator, Irish Ferries next month is to launch a brand new service on Dover-Calais route with the transfer of Isle of Inishmore from Rosslare-Pembroke duties.

Initially, sailings on the UK-France link will be based only for freight customers, providing hauliers with an inclusive UK landbridge post-Brexit connection, as this also includes the operators main Irish Sea route of Dublin-Holyhead.  

Published in Ferry

As Irish Ferries is to become a rival to P&O Ferries on the Dover-Calais market, the ferry firm is set to respond on the UK-France route by deploying a fifth vessel.

The DP World-owned company announced its ro-pax Pride of Burgundy vessel would return to the route in June.

It’s a service the vessel operated for the best part of 26 years before P&O Ferries reduced capacity in response to the pandemic and the cessation of cross-Channel passenger traffic.

More from The Loadstar here.

Published in Ferry
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How to sail, sailing clubs and sailing boats plus news on the wide range of sailing events on Irish waters forms the backbone of Afloat's sailing coverage.

We aim to encompass the widest range of activities undertaken on Irish lakes, rivers and coastal waters. This page describes those sailing activites in more detail and provides links and breakdowns of what you can expect from our sailing pages. We aim to bring jargon free reports separated in to popular categories to promote the sport of sailing in Ireland.

The packed 2013 sailing season sees the usual regular summer leagues and there are regular weekly race reports from Dublin Bay Sailing Club, Howth and Cork Harbour on Afloat.ie. This season and last also featured an array of top class events coming to these shores. Each year there is ICRA's Cruiser Nationals starts and every other year the Round Ireland Yacht Race starts and ends in Wicklow and all this action before July. Crosshaven's Cork Week kicks off on in early July every other year. in 2012 Ireland hosted some big international events too,  the ISAF Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire and in August the Tall Ships Race sailed into Dublin on its final leg. In that year the Dragon Gold Cup set sail in Kinsale in too.

2013 is also packed with Kinsale hosting the IFDS diabled world sailing championships in Kinsale and the same port is also hosting the Sovereign's Cup. The action moves to the east coast in July with the staging of the country's biggest regatta, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta from July 11.

Our coverage though is not restricted to the Republic of Ireland but encompasses Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Irish Sea area too. In this section you'll find information on the Irish Sailing Association and Irish sailors. There's sailing reports on regattas, racing, training, cruising, dinghies and keelboat classes, windsurfers, disabled sailing, sailing cruisers, Olympic sailing and Tall Ships sections plus youth sailing, match racing and team racing coverage too.

Sailing Club News

There is a network of over 70 sailing clubs in Ireland and we invite all clubs to submit details of their activities for inclusion in our daily website updates. There are dedicated sections given over to the big Irish clubs such as  the waterfront clubs in Dun Laoghaire; Dublin Bay Sailing Club, the Royal Saint George Yacht Club,  the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the National Yacht Club. In Munster we regularly feature the work of Kinsale Yacht Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven.  Abroad Irish sailors compete in Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) racing in the UK and this club is covered too. Click here for Afloat's full list of sailing club information. We are keen to increase our coverage on the network of clubs from around the coast so if you would like to send us news and views of a local interest please let us have it by sending an email to [email protected]

Sailing Boats and Classes

Over 20 active dinghy and one design classes race in Irish waters and fleet sizes range from just a dozen or so right up to over 100 boats in the case of some of the biggest classes such as the Laser or Optimist dinghies for national and regional championships. Afloat has dedicated pages for each class: Dragons, Etchells, Fireball, Flying Fifteen, GP14, J24's, J80's, Laser, Sigma 33, RS Sailing, Star, Squibs, TopperMirror, Mermaids, National 18, Optimist, Puppeteers, SB3's, and Wayfarers. For more resources on Irish classes go to our dedicated sailing classes page.

The big boat scene represents up to 60% of the sail boat racing in these waters and Afloat carries updates from the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA), the body responsible for administering cruiser racing in Ireland and the popular annual ICRA National Championships. In 2010 an Irish team won the RORC Commodore's Cup putting Irish cruiser racing at an all time high. Popular cruiser fleets in Ireland are raced right around the coast but naturally the biggest fleets are in the biggest sailing centres in Cork Harbour and Dublin Bay. Cruisers race from a modest 20 feet or so right up to 50'. Racing is typically divided in to Cruisers Zero, Cruisers One, Cruisers Two, Cruisers Three and Cruisers Four. A current trend over the past few seasons has been the introduction of a White Sail division that is attracting big fleets.

Traditionally sailing in northern Europe and Ireland used to occur only in some months but now thanks to the advent of a network of marinas around the coast (and some would say milder winters) there are a number of popular winter leagues running right over the Christmas and winter periods.

Sailing Events

Punching well above its weight Irish sailing has staged some of the world's top events including the Volvo Ocean Race Galway Stopover, Tall Ships visits as well as dozens of class world and European Championships including the Laser Worlds, the Fireball Worlds in both Dun Laoghaire and Sligo.

Some of these events are no longer pure sailing regattas and have become major public maritime festivals some are the biggest of all public staged events. In the past few seasons Ireland has hosted events such as La Solitaire du Figaro and the ISAF Dublin Bay 2012 Youth Worlds.

There is a lively domestic racing scene for both inshore and offshore sailing. A national sailing calendar of summer fixtures is published annually and it includes old favorites such as Sovereign's Cup, Calves Week, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle, All Ireland Sailing Championships as well as new events with international appeal such as the Round Britain and Ireland Race and the Clipper Round the World Race, both of which have visited Ireland.

The bulk of the work on running events though is carried out by the network of sailing clubs around the coast and this is mostly a voluntary effort by people committed to the sport of sailing. For example Wicklow Sailing Club's Round Ireland yacht race run in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club has been operating for over 30 years. Similarly the international Cork Week regatta has attracted over 500 boats in past editions and has also been running for over 30 years.  In recent years Dublin Bay has revived its own regatta called Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta and can claim to be the country's biggest event with over 550 boats entered in 2009.

On the international stage Afloat carries news of Irish and UK interest on Olympics 2012, Sydney to Hobart, Volvo Ocean Race, Cowes Week and the Fastnet Race.

We're always aiming to build on our sailing content. We're keen to build on areas such as online guides on learning to sail in Irish sailing schools, navigation and sailing holidays. If you have ideas for our pages we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at [email protected]