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Displaying items by tag: Atlantic

The almost absurdly picturesque township of Westport at the head of Clew Bay has been variously acknowledged and nationally recognised as “Ireland’s Best Place to Visit”, and Ireland’s “Best Place to Live”. Even if dedicated misanthropes would argue that any self-respecting township - however lively and easy it is on the eye – simply can’t be both at once, there’s no doubting that hospitable and facilities-rich Westport has an impressive array of factors in its favour.

Yet this only adds to the frustration of cruising folk making their way along Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, when they make a diversion into island-studded Clew Bay in the hope of savouring Westport’s numerous charms. For Clew Bay’s many islands – with a host of secret anchorages among them – are simply too much of a good thing.

There are so many islands and sheltered anchorages at the head of Clew BayToo much of a good thing? There are so many islands and sheltered anchorages at the head of Clew Bay that it’s difficult deciding which is the most convenient for accessing Westport (lower right)

Thus it has ended up with the thriving Mayo Sailing Club having its well-furnished base at relatively remote Rosmoney, hidden among the islands and inlets a good 9.2 kilometres northwestward from Westport. Other anchorages conveniently reached from sea are wellnigh inaccessible by land unless you’re in the know on where certain tree-lined un-signed boreens are leading. And while the obvious and most direct seaward access point to Westport is to berth at Westport Quay, much of that ancient port dries or has shallow depths at low water.

Chartlet of Westport Quay – even with a berth here, you are still 3 kilometres from Westport town. Courtesy Irish Cruising Club

And anyway, Westport Quay is itself more than 3 kilometres from Westport itself, which can seem a challengingly long distance if you’d like to amble into town, but have walked no further than the length of a cruising boat’s deck for the past week. That said, Westport Quay is an attractively bustling and hospitable community in its own right, quite enough of a destination in its individuality for many of us. And if you want to hit the bright lights of the big city at Westport itself, it’s only a modest taxi fare to reach one of the best nights on the town Ireland has to offer, if you could only be secure in the knowledge that your boat is safely berthed back in Westport Quay.

But with its uneven depths and large tidal range, Westport Quay cannot provide that guarantee. So not surprisingly, noted Clew Bay sailor Alex Blackwell – better known for his ocean voyaging – has been spending some of his time at home in Mayo during the past decade and more in sussing out the possibilities of providing acceptable modern berthing at Westport Quay, complete with the expected facilities such as a Travelhoist.

Ocean voyagers Alex and Daria Blackwell of Clew Bay. While they keep their 57ft ketch Aleria in a secret anchorage among Clew Bay’s mny islands, Alex is well aware that visiting boats need more immediate access to shoreside facilities

Having built up a cohort of like-minded folk in favour of the idea, they have recently been presenting the idea to stakeholders including the local community, tourist interests, boating enthusiasts, the Chamber of Commerce and Mayo County Council, and they’ve been much encouraged by the favourable response.

The scheme – which could in its entirety provide 130 berths – is in two parts. The first phase depends on the installation of a proper sea lock – not a time-constricting tidal gate – at the west end of the river-like stretch of the harbour beside Westport Quay’s attractive waterfront. Provided the sea lock can offer extensive time options for access to the lower channel (which admittedly has shoal sections) and the open sea beyond, it will give significant freedom of movement for boats based in the enclosed berths, pontoon berths which can be provided without the need for extensive and expensive dredging.

Phase 1 of Westport Marina would be provided by a tidal retention barrier and a sea lock.

Phase 2 is the more ambitious project of dredging the lagoon area close to the westward, immediately south of Roman Island. This is a major concept, as it includes a multi-berth accessible-all-tides marina and 40 acres of recreational water right beside the heart of Westport Quay.

The much more ambitious Phase 2 would involved dredging, but it would provide highly-accessible recreational water space in addition to extra all-tide berths

From the wandering cruising person’s point of view, the possibility of a secure berth in the heart of civilisation will offer an attractive change from the rugged offshore islands and remote anchorages which fill much of the menu in a Connacht cruise. And from a strategic point of view, Westport is one of the most westerly points providing direct access to Ireland’s railway network. Longer term berthing in a marina at Westport Quay would offer all sorts of fresh and accessible cruising possibilities on the Atlantic seaboard from most of Ireland’s major conurbations.

Be warned, however, that if you rail your way down to Westport with a crew just let off the leash after some intensive weeks of work, it may take a will of iron to head immediately to the boat from the train, instead of pausing “just for a minute” to savour the entertainments of Westport in a place like Matt Molloy’s. For he’s a sailing man himself, and you know what it’s like when people get talking about boats.

Matt Molloy of Westport – he would as soon talk about boats as his famous music

Published in Irish Marinas
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Sailor, kayaker and climber Dr Karen Weekes is training to become the first Irish female to row solo across the Atlantic.

As Times.ie reports, Weekes aims to set out in December of this year to row 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean.

If she completes it, Weekes will be only the 20th woman to row any ocean on the globe solo.

Weekes, who is from Kilkenny and lives in Kinvara, Co Galway, holds a doctorate in sports psychology, and lectures at Munster Technological University.

She has sailed the Atlantic twice, circumnavigated both Ireland and the Lofoten Islands off Norway in a kayak, and has cycled solo and unsupported 4,000 miles across Canada, through Alaska and the Yukon.

She has also solo cycled from Nordkapp in northern Norway to Helsinki in Finland.

Along with Orla Knight, a physical education teacher at Castletroy College in Co Limerick, she cycled across North America from San Francisco to Washington DC.

Weekes has trekked in Nepal and Pakistan and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

“Big seas, potential capsize, severe weather or marlin attacks” might explain why only 19 women world-wide have ever completed solo ocean rows, she says of her latest adventure.

Weekes focuses on women’s empowerment as part of her “#shecando2021” campaign, which is seeking sponsors for the effort.

She says the campaign is “dually focused”, in following her preparation for, and experience during the voyage, and “providing a platform for encouraging women, and girls, to believe in their abilities to succeed”.

Read more on Times.ie here

Published in Coastal Rowing
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#Rowing: Home to Portrush and Relentless, from Cork and Dublin, look set to finish the Atlantic Challenge race in under a week. The Northern Irish crew has taken a clear fifth place and are putting in good mileage each day – they covered 88 nautical miles (163 kilometres) moving into the 27th day of the race from the Canary Islands to Antigua. The crew of George McAlpin, Ally Cooper, Gareth Barton and Luke Baker had 459 nautical miles (850 km) to the finish.

 One place behind them lie another four, Relentless. The Cork/Dublin crew have also benefitted from the favourable winds. If they continue their fine progress they will land in English Harbour in Antigua just one day after Home to Portrush, on January 15th.

 Solo oarsman Damian Browne has crossed the 1,000 nautical mile mark and has been punching in very steady times after coming through capsizes, an injured face and a damaged steering system. The Galway man, who rows as Gullivers Travels, is projected to finish on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: Damian Browne twice capsized and suffered facial injuries but has continued to row in the Atlantic Challenge race. The Galway man, who competes as Gullivers Travels, posted a remarkable video on his Facebook page below telling of how he had been woken by his face “getting smashed off the side of the cabin”. He made light of the cut, which bled profusely, and the other injuries. The hours following brought another capsize and sighting of a whale which circled his boat and made eye contact with him. Browne and the two other boats from Ireland in the race, Relentless and Home to Portrush, are two weeks into the race from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing - Dubliner Brian Conville is recovering in Tralee Hospital after being rescued by the Irish Coast Guard about 160 miles off Mizen Head this afternoon, writes Tom MacSweeney.

Experienced offshore rower Conville, 25 — who last year crossed the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii over 48 days — had been attempting to set a west-to-east record from Newfoundland with Joseph Gagnon, a 20-year-old science student from Quebec.

They set off from St John’s Harbour in Newfoundland a fortnight ago, originally intending to head for France, but had changed their plans and rerouted for the Irish coast, hoping to reach West Cork within the next few days.

Those plans were scuppered this morning when the pair’s boat overturned, activating its EPIRB signal which was picked up by Valentia Coast Guard.

Waterford’s coastguard helicopter Rescue 117 was quickly dispatched for a successful airlift of the two casualties, who have been treated for mild hypothermia but are said to be in good spirits, according to RTÉ News.

Speaking about the rescue, the Irish Coast Guard’s Gerard O’Flynn said: “It highlights that if you can raise the alarm and stay afloat, then you stand a very good chance of being rescued. 

“I also want to compliment the helicopter crew and Valentia [station] on a very successful operation and thank the Air Corps for their support.”

Had Conville and Gagnon completed their voyage, they would have been the second Atlantic record-setters this year after solo rower Gavan Hennigan paddled in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge this past February.

Published in Rowing
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#ClimateChange - Preliminary results from the recent ‘health check’ of the Atlantic Ocean suggest a greater penetration of manmade chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) further into the deeper ocean since 20 years ago.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, an Irish-led international team of marine scientists from six countries set out from Newfoundland on 27 April on board the RV Celtic Explorer, to survey a transect of the Atlantic last measured two decades ago and investigate the impact of climate change on the deep ocean.

Explaining the team’s findings, Dr Evin McGovern of the Marine Institute and principal investigator on the GO-SHIP A02 survey said: “Although these chemicals have been phased out, they remain in the atmosphere and enter the ocean, where over time, they travel to the deep ocean.

“We measure the CFCs to tell the age of the water masses in the deep ocean and this helps us assess the uptake of fossil fuel carbon from the atmosphere and penetration into the deep ocean.”

The survey formed part of the Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Programme (GO-SHIP), which carries out systematic and global surveys of select hydrographic sections, through an international consortium of 16 countries and laboratories.

This was the first GO-SHIP survey to involve such a level of collaboration, with scientists from 10 leading universities and research institutes representing six countries.

Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers visited the RV Celtic Explorer to meet the team in Galway following their arrival on Monday 22 May.

“This survey is a wonderful example of the Galway Statement in action as well as the longstanding collaboration on marine research between Ireland and Canada,” he said.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan added that the expedition’s scientists “are contributing to addressing some of the biggest questions for society and our interaction with our planet.”

Find out more about the survey on the [email protected] blog, where the GO-SHIP team aboard the RV Celtic Explorer recorded their work and experiences.

Published in Marine Science

#Offshore - Offshore yachts beware this summer after three British sailors had a lucky escape when their yacht collided with a whale and sank in the mid Atlantic.

According to Independent.ie, the trio from the Destiny of Scarborough were picked up by a merchant vessel some 400 miles north east of the Azores this past Sunday (21 May).

The Portuguese navy also dispatched to the location after receiving the yacht’s distress signal, but the men were safely returned to land at Aviles in Spain by the merchant ship.

Published in Offshore
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#MarineScience - An international team of marine scientists from six countries are currently sailing on Ireland’s national research vessel RV Celtic Explorer on a transatlantic voyage to study the impact of climate change on the ocean.

Departing from St John’s in Newfoundland on Thursday 27 April — after launching the miniature yacht Lancer a few days previously — and due to arrive in Galway on 23 May, the Marine Institute-led team of experts are surveying a transect of the Atlantic Ocean last surveyed 20 years ago to investigate carbon dioxide levels in the ocean.

The survey is essential to understand and project how carbon dioxide emissions are accumulated in the oceans and the atmosphere, as well as its effects on the acidification of the ocean.

The survey is part of the Global Oceans Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program (GO-SHIP), which carries out systematic and global surveys of select hydrographic sections, through an international consortium of 16 countries and laboratories.

This is the first GO-SHIP survey to involve this level of collaboration with scientists from ten leading universities and research institutes representing six countries joining the survey.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said: “The Marine Institute is proud to lead this truly international collaboration. This GO-SHIP A02 survey is a very real example of the Galway Statement in action: working together to better understand and increase our knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and its dynamic systems, and promoting the sustainable management of its resources.”

The Galway Statement, signed at the Marine Institute 24 May 2013, launched the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and the USA.

The survey is co-ordinated by the Marine Institute and NUI Galway with research partners in Dalhousie University and Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; University of Exeter, United Kingdom; GEOMAR, Germany; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Columbia University, USA; and Aarhus University, Denmark.

“Ship-based surveys are still the only way to collect the best quality measurements of fundamental physical, chemical and biological properties known as Essential Ocean Variables,” said Dr Evin McGovern of the Marine Institute and principal investigator on the GO-SHIP A02 survey.

“Although technology has provided many new methods to collect ocean measurements, there’s really no substitute for going out on the ocean on a research vessel.

“We can use satellite technology to look at certain properties the ocean surface and can deploy autonomous argo floats to take some measurements to depths of 2000, but we need to carry out ocean surveys that can measure to get a complete picture of the chemistry of the ocean at different depths up to 5,000m.

“The transect we are surveying is a really dynamic area of the Atlantic for heat transport and carbon uptake and is hugely important to informing our understanding of our global climate and how the ocean regulates our climate,” added Dr McGovern.

“The Northwest Atlantic is one of the world’s largest sinks of carbon dioxide and despite progress in our understanding there’s still a huge lack of data as it relates to climate change’s impact on the ocean and what that means for the economy and society,” said Brad de Young, a professor of physics and physical oceanography at Memorial University, Newfoundland and an Ocean Frontier Institute researcher.

“Improving our scientific understanding and developing strategic and effective solutions for safe and sustainable ocean development requires sharing of expertise, international co-operation and exchange of data and best practices. And that’s what this voyage is all about,” adds Doug Wallace, Canada Excellence research chair at Dalhousie University.

Published in Marine Science

#SUP - South African adventurer Chris Bertish has become the first man to cross the Atlantic by stand-up paddleboard, as the Guardian reports.

The big wave surfer took 93 days to traverse the ocean from Agadir in Morocco to Antigua, where Ireland’s ocean rower Gavan Hennigan set his own transatlantic record in January.

That effort required Bertish, 42, to paddle some 43 miles a day on his custom 20ft expedition paddleboard designed by Phil Morrison, the naval architect also responsible for the latest National 18 design.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Surfing

#Rowing: The Afloat Rower of the month for January is Gavan Hennigan. The Galway man set a new Irish record for a solo row across the Atlantic ocean. He crossed from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the West Indies in 49 days 11 hours 37 minutes and 21 seconds, the fastest solo row for this course. He finished a remarkable third in the 12-boat Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. He beat all the boats except two fours and won a stirring battle with the three-man crew of American Oarsmen.  

Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times, and David O'Brien, editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year will appear on afloat.ie. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our 2017 champions list grow.

Published in Rower of Month
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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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