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A Sigma 33 One Design keelboat racing on Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatA Sigma 33 One Design keelboat racing on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Displaying items by tag: west cork

#MarineWildlife - Wildlife watchers have been baffled by the sighting of an Arctic seal in West Cork, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Bearded seals, marked by their pale pelt and distinctive long whiskers, are usually found between the far north of Canada, Greenland and the Russian Arctic.

But as photographed in recent days by Shearwater Wildlife Tours, one appears to have taken up residence in the much milder climes of Timoleague, near Courtmacsherry in West Cork.

And it’s been suggested in comments that the heavyweight seal has been living in the area for at least the last two months.

It marks only the second recorded sighting of this marine mammal species in Ireland, the other being a female in distress who was nursed back to health in Galway in 2002, according to Shearwater’s Paul Connaughton, who is also chair of Birdwatch Ireland’s West Cork branch.

Others have been found in the Scotland’s Shetland and Orkney Islands, but fewer than 20 are on record.

Now experts are speculating as to whether melting sea ice in their Arctic home is prompting these seals to seek refuge further south.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in West Cork
Tagged under

#RNLI - In the first of two incidents yesterday morning (Thursday 3 August), Baltimore RNLI launched to reports of a vessel adrift in Crookhaven Harbour.

The vessel, a 4m Boston Whaler powerboat, had broken from its mooring in strong winds and was drifting outside the West Cork harbour. 

There was no one on board the vessel, and weather conditions at the time were poor, with an easterly force 6-7 wind and 4-5m sea swell.

Baltimore's lifeboat arrived on scene at 8.38am, some 51 minutes after launch, and established a tow to bring the vessel back into the harbour, where it was secured to a mooring.

As the lifeboat was departing to return to station at 9.11am, the Irish Coast Guard contacted them to investigate another boat in trouble in the area. 

The second vessel, a 20ft Merry Fisher pleasure boat with no people on board, had gone ashore on rocks in Crookhaven

Due to the position of the vessel on the shoreline, coxswain Aidan Bushe decided to launch the Y-boat from the stern ramp of the lifeboat. 

The Y-boat, with Kieran Collins and David Ryan on board, secured a tow and pulled the casualty vessel clear of the shoreline. The lifeboat then took up the tow and secured the vessel on a mooring.

Speaking following the callout, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Kate Callanan said: “It is advisable in such incidents, where boats get into trouble near the shoreline, to call the coastguard for assistance. This reduces the risk of people getting themselves into a dangerous situation. 

“If you get into difficulty at sea, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Bushe, Ryan and Collins were joined on yesterday’s callout by mechanic Sean McCarthy and crew members Jerry Smith and Don O’Donovan. Micheal Cottrell provided shore crew assistance at the lifeboat house.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore will become a centre for sailing over the next few weeks. This August weekend the annual sailing trek to the waters around Carbery’s Hundred Isles will get underway with the annual overnight race from Crosshaven to Schull. For the next few weeks the Cork sailing fraternity will be joined by boats from the East Coast, taking in events like Calves Week, Baltimore Regatta, racing around the Fastnet and the legendary Cape Clear Regatta.

The date when the club was founded varies, according to which account you take it from. A list of Commodores in the club starts in 1952 but a letter dated 3rd August 1976, written by Frank Murphy, who was the first Secretary of the club, stated that the club was founded in the summer of 1953. However, the Minutes of a Meeting held at Salters premises in Baltimore on Saturday 28th July 1956 state that "It was unanimously felt that a Sailing Club should be formed”

On my podcast this week I talk to a former Commodore of the Club, Gerald O’Flynn, who puts that date as the one when the club was formed.

Its story, set up originally as a Summer sailing club for Cork families with second homes in the fishing village, began when some of those seasonal residents lost boats in storms while they were kept at nearby Tragumna beach.

Gerald O’Flynn tells the story of boats built and bought for £75 each in ‘old’ money; about a ‘bastard-type’ of National 18, Enterprises and Fireball dinghies used by the club, the running of National Dinghy Week and the time when the club annoyed locals by covering grass areas on the pier with concrete. It’s a fascinating story about a club with a strong family emphasis which he told me in its modern premises which these days operates for a wider period than just Summer.

Listen to the PODCAST here:

• Tom MacSweeney presents THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme on local stations around Ireland.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

#RNLI - Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was called out at 4.20pm yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 1 August) to go to the aid of a 40ft pleasure fishing boat with mechanical failure 15 miles off the Seven Heads in West Cork.

The Courtmacsherry Lifeboat, under coxswain Kevin Young and with a crew of six, launched in minutes and reached the stricken boat just after 5pm.

On scene near the Lusitania site, the lifeboat secured a tow line to the vessel and then proceeded to tow it back to the safe haven of Courtmacsherry’s inner harbour.

All six on the pleasure boat were safely returned to Courtmacsherry Pontoon at 8pm.

Weather conditions on the callout reasonable, with winds in the area blowing Force 3-4.

The callout was the latest in what was a busy 48 hours for the voluntary crew of Courtmacsherry RNLI, with three callouts to boats in distress beginning on Sunday afternoon with the rescue of another pleasure fishing boat, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Baltimore RNLI launched this morning (Friday 28 July) to locate a vessel sending an alarm from their positioning beacon off the coast of West Cork.

The Irish Coast Guard requested the launch just before 10am after it had picked up an alarm from an EPIRB (electronic position indication radio beacon) on a yacht half a mile south west of Cape Clear Island. 

Coastguard staff at Mizen Head had no success raising the occupants of the yacht on their VHF so the Baltimore all-weather lifeboat was launched to investigate at the last known co-ordinates of the vessel.

Meanwhile, 10.30am the coastguard finally made contact with the yacht’s two occupants on their VHF and established that the EPIRB had been activated by accident.

Speaking after the callout, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat navigator Micheal Cottrell said: “It is important to ensure the secure fastening of an EPIRB on board a vessel and to regularly check that it is in good working order. Also, whilst out at sea it is important to keep radio watch on Channel 16. 

“If you get into difficulty at sea, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Union Hall RNLI were alerted by Valentia Coast Guard at 3.24pm yesterday (Saturday 22) to a report of a 30ft yacht with two sailors gone aground at the middle danger in Glandore Harbour, West Cork.

The lifeboat launched and was underway to the yacht at 3.33pm in favourable weather conditions, with a slight breeze from the north.

While en route to the scene, a member of the public notified the lifeboat station that the yacht had refloated safely. The volunteer crew subsequently spoke to the sailors, who were happy to continue sailing.

Union Hall RNLI deputy launch authority Peter Deasy said: “While a lot of activity is taking place in Glandore Harbour this week with the Glandore Classic Boat Regatta, we advise people to be alert, obey navigation aids and respect the water. If you see someone in trouble dial 999/112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#WaterSafety - The dangers of boating without proper safety equipment have been raised by a report into the death of an angler who went overboard from his vessel off West Cork last summer.

The body of Michael O’Brien was recovered on the morning of 15 August 2016, after he was reported missing the previous evening when he failed to return to Schull from a solo fishing trip.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the incident found that O’Brien, who regularly went angling around Long Island Bay in the summer months, was not wearing a PFD and had no emergency beacon or VHF radio, with only a mobile phone for communication.

It’s unknown how the 69-year-old came to enter the water, but his reduced mobility due to a hip operation and the fact that his crutches were found stowed suggests he used the boat’s bulwarks for support, which would have put his centre of gravity over the edge of the vessel.

The full MCIB report can be downloaded below.

Published in MCIB
Tagged under

The good news for West Cork boaters is that the €200,000 pontoons procured for Cape Clear island's North Harbour will be installed this Summer. And as our photo taken this week shows there's little doubt that they will be put to immediate use.

Under the 2017 fishery harbour and coastal infrastructure capital programme, Junior Minister Andrew Doyle told the Dail Harbour's debate in June he had allocated €720,000 for maintenance and development works at the Island's North Harbour. 'The 2017 programme provides €200,000 for pontoons at Cape Clear and €250,000 for the design, preparation of contract documents and planning for additional repair work to Duffy's Pier' he said.

After storm damage wrecked the coastal infrastructure there, construction work has been underway at Cape Clear island since 2014. As Afloat previously reported in March that year, the works have involved the construction of a slipway; replacement of the Bull's Nose structure incorporating a storm gate and an extension to the end of Duffy's Pier; excavation, dredging and reclamation works including the construction of an armoured embankment at the seaward side of the new Bull's Nose structure.

It is expected the Duffy’s Pier preparatory work will also be completed in 2017. However, further work will be subject to permission and funding in future years.

Published in Coastal Notes

#RNLI - Baltimore RNLI assisted two sailors yesterday afternoon (Friday 14 July) after their motorboat broke down off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer crew was requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 2.25pm following a report from the sailors that their vessel had got into difficulty off Toe Head.

Helmed by Youen Jacob and with crew members Pat O’Mahony and Colin Rochford on board, the lifeboat launched immediately and was on scene in 25 minutes.

The 22ft motorboat had broken down half a mile west of Toe Head and had secured an anchor. Weather conditions at the time were relatively good, with a Force 3-4 south-westerly wind and a sea swell of 2-3m.

The lifeboat crew established a tow and brought the vessel safely back to Baltimore Harbour before returning to the station at 4.35pm.

“The sailors did the right thing today requesting assistance when required,” said Baltimore RNLI lifeboat operations manager Tom Bushe. “We would remind everyone enjoying our coast this summer to always respect the water.”

Shore crew in attendance at the station were Rianne and Jerry Smith, Kate Callanan, Marty O’Driscoll and Aidan Bushe.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#RNLI - Union Hall RNLI went to the aid of a yacht with two people onboard yesterday evening (Thursday 13 July) after the vessel got into difficulty half a mile east of Castlehaven Harbour in West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew was alerted at 5.26pm by Valentia Coast Guard to reports of a 28ft yacht that had fouled its propeller.

The lifeboat was launched and on scene within 20 minutes. Weather conditions at the time were good and the sea was calm.

Two whale watching boats, Voyager and Liscannor Star, stood by the casualty vessel until the lifeboat crew arrived and worked with the two men onboard to attach a tow line to the yacht.



The lifeboat then towed the yacht to the safety of Reen Pier before returning to Union Hall, joined by a pod of dolphins along the way.

Speaking following the callout, Union Hall RNLI deputy launching authority Peter Deasy said: “We were happy to assist the sailors this evening on what was the first callout for our only female crew member, Sarah Browne.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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]