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Displaying items by tag: Bangor Marina

Bangor in County Down had a coating of snow and ice on Wednesday morning this week, and the Marina didn’t escape either.

Temperatures are forecast to plummet as low as -8C over the coming days as Northern Ireland continues to feel the grip of cold Arctic air, according to the Met Office.

It was a beautiful sunny morning but certainly chilly, and the fresh water from the river in Ward Park in the centre of the town flowed underground into one corner of the marina.

When it is cold and calm, this freshwater floats over the saltier seawater and starts to freeze. If you take a closer look at the photograph (above), you'll spot this thin, slushy ice forming on top. As the marina office confirmed, “Thankfully, icebreakers were not required”.

Published in Belfast Lough

It will be all change in the operation of Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough from September 2024. This has been outsourced to a private operator since 1 April 2008, with the latest agreement expiring on 30 September 2024. An opportunity now exists for an experienced operator to take on the management of Bangor Marina and Harbour for the next 50 and a half years.

Bangor Marina and Harbour is one of the largest Five Gold Anchor-accredited marina developments in Ireland.

The 541-berth marina is accessible 24/7 at all states of tide and is home to an active fleet of leisure and commercial vessels. It attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world annually and is a real focal point in North Down.

The Bangor Regeneration team has recently notified that the tender process for a marina operator from September next year has commenced, with adverts in the press having been issued.

The Bangor Marina Berth Holders Association has handily summarised the details surrounding the process, and members have been given the following information:-

  • The contract period is to run for 50.5 years.
  • Marina operator should incorporate the boatyard into its business plan, although existing boatyard /brokerage and chandlery are currently leased to Sept 2028.
  • New operator to have a key role in devising and finalising plans for any redesign / investment in the marina.
  • Potential operator investment and attraction of additional complementary funding forms part of the tender evaluation process.
  • Potential bidders are expected to demonstrate they are suitably resourced and have recent experience of the management of three marinas of similar size.
  • Stage 1 of the process takes the form of a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire. From the assessment of these returns it is intended that 5 potential bidders will be invited to tender in stage 2 of the process.
  • Stage 1 to be completed by 11 December 2023, Stage 2 completion of submissions by 11 March 2024.
  • Final selection by June 2024, new contract start date is October 2024.
  • Marine Projects Ltd are managing the procurement process, selections to made by a panel including Council representatives.

The estimated value listed on this Tender document is £100,000,000.

Marina and Harbour Manager Kevin Baird said about the project; “It's exciting to think about what Bangor Marina, the seafront, and Ballyholme could look like in 10 years. I'm really hoping that sprucing up our waterfront is just the start of making our city even better”.

Published in Irish Marinas

Northern Ireland's Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough has qualified as first responders for oil spills, earning the MCA P2 designation.

The Bangor Marina crew worked hard, combining classroom learning and practical exercises led by the experts at Ambipar Response UK, a leading environmental management company.

Ambipar’s experience in oil pollution was a huge help, and the team is now ready to tackle oil spills effectively, Marina Manager Kevin Baird said.

“It's great to see their commitment to protecting our seas from oil pollution. They're not just trained; they're passionate about making a difference. We're proud of their achievement and our ongoing commitment to safeguarding our marine environment,” Baird said.

Published in Belfast Lough

Despite a dreary, dull wet, windy morning, Bangor Marina’s first-ever Nautical Car Boot Sale was a huge success, and it raised £150 for Bangor RNLI.

A section of the Marina car park was filled with cars, tables, and even a more sophisticated gazebo, all displaying an astonishing variety of unneeded boat paraphernalia. Among the items, there were ropes, rubber dinghies, chains, boat bicycles and even a set of dumbbells!

And if the cold was too difficult to cope with, Marina Manager Kevin Baird barbecued 140 sausages (in the rain) and provided coffee and tea inside the Marina reception. And an added attraction was the RNLI Sea Safety team checking lifejackets and deploying a life raft.

Bangor Marina Manager Kevin Baird is expert at the BBQBangor Marina Manager Kevin Baird is expert at the BBQ

Kevin was delighted with the turnout. “Nothing could dampen our spirits. Thanks to everyone who braved the weather and made this event a success. And a shout out to Peter Bullick for helping us organise such a fantastic event”.

The Lifejacket Clinic and refreshments at Bangor Marina’s Nautical Car Boot SaleThe Lifejacket Clinic and refreshments at Bangor Marina’s Nautical Car Boot Sale

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The Turkey/Syria Earthquake Appeal prompted Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland to engage in a fund-raising effort by organising a raffle. The ticket holders proved very generous, and Harbour Master Kevin Baird was delighted with the response. "We're blown away by the generosity of our amazing Bangor community. Together, our raffle raised an incredible £1,450 for the Appeal. It's heart-warming to see how we come together to support those in need during times of crisis".

Kevin said he wished to thank everyone who participated in organising, donating, and participating in this raffle and congratulated all winners. He continued, "The Marina team are proud to be a part of such a wonderful community".

Published in Belfast Lough
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Did you know that Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and Pancakes is the perfect way to do this? Not that Kevin and the Bangor Marina staff on Belfast Loughwill be undertaking that task next Tuesday, but there will be free pancakes and refreshments on 21st February from 1100 till 1400 in the foyer.

This feast adds to those celebrated at Bangor Marina - on St Patrick’s Day (Irish Stew), Christmas (Mince Pies) and the End of Season Burgers On Board.

Published in Belfast Lough

The Oysters growing under the pontoons in Bangor Marina are well hidden, but they still need ongoing attention. To this end, Ulster Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help monitor the native oyster nurseries and record their development.

The native oyster has been considered extinct in Belfast Lough since 1903. However, in the summer of 2020, live oysters were discovered for the first time in over 100 years – evidence that the environmental conditions for establishment are right.

A native oyster nursery in Bangor Marina will support the precarious population in Belfast Lough and help create a natural long-term carbon store to tackle climate change.

There will be training for those interested in finding out more about the role of volunteer and how you can sign up.

The Marine Conservation Manager Heidi McIlvenny will introduce the project and talk through the role of the volunteer, as well as show how to survey the nurseries safely and record the results

The training dates are 18th and 26th August at 2 pm and you can register your interest with the Volunteer Coordinator Sheila Lyons at [email protected] or call 07703 673217.

There is more information at www.ulsterwildlife.org/native-oysters and you can read more about the project here 

Published in Aquaculture
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Crowds gathered recently at Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough for the second open evening to be held by the charity Safer Waters.

Safer Waters is a unique service in Northern Ireland, established in 2020 to provide a Safety Boat service for water-based community events. The service supports events such as sailing, swimming, paddle boarding and windsurfing that have no safety cover of their own or may need additional resources. It will also supplement sailing clubs in events where multiple safety cover is required, such as the huge Irish Youth Sailing Championships at Ballyholme in April, where Safer Waters provided six safety boats.

Although it is Bangor Marina based, the volunteers will serve all communities by travelling by sea and road to coastal or inland water locations.

Safer Waters Mike Meharg (right) with l to r Robin Gordon Training Officer, Johnathan Mitchell Rostering Officer, George King, Vice Commodore, and Karen Dugan SecretarySafer Waters Mike Meharg (right) with l to r Robin Gordon Training Officer, Johnathan Mitchell Rostering Officer, George King, Vice Commodore, and Karen Dugan Secretary

Using the Open Evening as a recruitment drive was a successful move as from those who attended three have decided to join and two more look possible.

Commodore Mike Meharg, whose day job is a long-haul pilot, explained that there are tasks other than manning the safety boats, such as beachmaster for events, and helping with Risk Assessments and other safety-related issues.

Safer Waters is an RYA Regional Training Centre (RTC) running courses such as Powerboat Level 1 through to Yachtmaster Offshore.

At the moment Safer Waters uses RIBs owned by members as grant aid for new craft is a slow process. One way money can be raised for the charity is through www.smile.amazon.com where a percentage of purchase costs go to Safer Waters.

Mike Meharg was delighted with the response, “This evening’s Safer Waters Open meeting was an opportunity to meet people and raise awareness of who we are and what we do. As well as an introduction to our organisation, our visitors experienced a run to Helen’s Bay along the coast from Bangor in a 300 horsepower RIB and even had a go driving it under an instructor’s supervision. A memorable evening for all concerned and one that hopefully raised our profile and gained us a few new members”.

The next Open Evening will be on Wednesday, 25th May at Bangor Marina, meeting outside the gates.

Published in Rescue

Hundreds of native oysters have returned to Belfast Lough as part of efforts to bring the ‘ocean superheroes’ back from the brink of extinction.

The ambitious aquaculture restoration project, officially launched on Friday (20 May) by Ulster Wildlife to mark Endangered Species Day, sees approximately 700 mature oysters suspended in cages under the pontoons of Bangor Marina.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, this creates the first native oyster (Ostrea edulis) nursery of its kind on the island of Ireland.

As sea temperatures warm over the coming months, the 24 nursery cages will generate millions of oyster larvae which will settle on the seabed, helping the native oyster population recover while also boosting biodiversity and improving water quality in the lough.

Belfast Lough once supported a prolific native oyster fishery. However, overfishing, habitat loss, disease, pollution and invasive introduced species contributed to the population becoming extinct and the fishery closing in 1903.

Since then, 100 years of surveys failed to document one living specimen, until 2020 when researchers from Bangor University and Queen’s University Belfast discovered 42 live oysters at six sites around the lough.

Heidi McIlvenny, marine conservation manager at Ulster Wildlife and who is leading the project, says: “We are still unsure how or why native oysters returned to Belfast Lough, but it indicates that the environmental conditions are right for them to establish here again. But, if they are to bounce back, they need our help.

“The biggest barrier to the recovery of the native oyster is a low number of mature reproducing oysters. The nurseries we have established at Bangor Marina are full of mature oysters that will act as larval pumps, increasing the number of oysters in the Lough and helping to restore this incredible ocean superhero for years to come.”

Boosting the lough’s fragile oyster population will also bring important benefits for other marine life, Heidi says.

“A single oyster can filter up to 200 litres of seawater, equivalent to a bathtub, per day, significantly improving water quality and reducing pollution levels. The larvae once established will also create healthy native oyster reefs in the lough, providing shelter and food for an abundance of marine wildlife, including commercially fished species, along with potential carbon storage.”

Special permissions were granted to relocate the shellfish from Loch Ryan in Scotland. They were screened for disease and cleaned on arrival before being installed in the nurseries. 

Volunteers will conduct ‘health checks’ every week to ensure the oysters are thriving in their new homes. Monthly biodiversity surveys will also track changes in marine life in and around the nurseries, which form their own unique micro-habitat.

Kevin Baird, harbour master at Bangor Marina, says: “We are delighted to be supporting the recovery of our most threatened marine species.

“Housing the oyster nurseries under the pontoons is an innovative use of the space we have available and is a great opportunity for the marina to become an outdoor classroom, where people of all ages can get hands-on with marine conservation in an urban environment.”

The oyster restoration project is funded by the DAERA Challenge Fund. Find out more at ulsterwildlife.org/native-oysters

Published in Aquaculture

In November last year, Bangor Marina in partnership with the Ulster Wildlife Trust made plans to establish the first native oyster nursery in Northern Ireland.

The earliest report of a recognised commercial oyster fishery in Belfast Lough was in the late 18th century and the native oyster has been considered extinct there since 1903.

But in the summer of 2020, live oysters were discovered for the first time in over 100 years – evidence that the environmental conditions for establishment are right.

Now the plans have come to fruition and Ulster Wildlife helped by Marina staff, have hung twenty-six nursery cages underneath F, G and H Pontoons.

Marina manager Kevin Baird said he and the staff are super excited about this project. Similar schemes have been established in other parts of the UK, but this is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Oysters recovered in Bangor MarinaOysters recovered in Bangor Marina

An oyster nursery is a micro-habitat housing about 27 mature oysters that will reproduce and release the next generation of oyster larvae to settle out on the seabed of Bangor Bay and Belfast Lough. An individual oyster can release up to 1 million larvae per year!

Published in Irish Marinas
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At A Glance – Cape 31

LOA 9.56 m
Draft 2.45m
Beam 3.1 m
IRC Rating 1.15

Yacht Builder Mills Design
Model Cape 31
Performance Level Performance Racer

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