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Displaying items by tag: Island Nation

Crawling on hands and knees below deck through the 60–foot IMOCA class Kilcullen Voyager was an interesting experience. She is a “beast of a boat,” her owner told me, “but she also has elegance about her at sea.”
She is also very well-equipped, impressively and dauntingly so. I saw arrays of electronic equipment, water ballast controls and a very simple seat/sleeping berth at the navigation desk, in front of a console that would do credit to a jetliner, but I wouldn’t fancy spending up to three months living in that space.
Having crawled down the port side to the bow, I returned via starboard to emerge into the cockpit and stare upwards again at the mast, clawing its way over a hundred feet skywards.
The Team Ireland yacht was alongside James O’Brien’s Cork Harbour Marina at Monkstown, from where its owner, Enda O’Coineen, was about to depart on an 800-nautical mile training voyage into the Atlantic in pursuance of his plan to be Ireland’s first-ever entrant in the non-stop, around-the-world solo Vendee Globe Race.
Enda suffered damage on that training voyage, when one of the twin rudders was damaged in an impact at sea with an unidentified object, but the yacht sailed into Galway as scheduled and this weekend will begin a promotional voyage from there to Belfast and Dublin.
Enda O’Coineen knows that he attracts differing views from many people. Mine is that his sailing ability and determination cannot be challenged, neither can his courage.
“This is a journey, a psychological challenge as well as a physical one,” he told me.
• Listen to him here on this week’s THIS ISLAND NATION Podcast

Published in Island Nation

It is my belief that there is a ‘Family of the Sea,’ a community of interest uniting maritime people, from those engaged in the sector professionally, to those who take part in marine leisure activities. Bonding these disparate interests together through a focus on the sea and the Irish coastline, the rivers, the lakes, the thread linking to the oceans of the world and what happens on and in them is what I try to do in each fortnightly edition of my THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme. Listen to the podcast below.
When I am preparing the programme, recording interviews, arranging reports, I try to keep this focus which, I hope, results in an interesting half-hour voyage around the maritime sphere of Ireland. It is also why the programme is broadcast here on the AFLOAT website and through community stations which are the voices of local communities and their interests in the maritime sphere. This continues to develop, expanding this ‘community of interest’ which is what I hope to see evolve and is underlined in this new edition of the programme when the head of a company which has been providing travel at sea for over 150 years suggests that an Irish port should be designated as a base for cruise ships. George Barter leads J. Barter Travel and says that the popularity of cruise ship holidays makes this a reasonable possibility.

There would be a lot of competition for that role – including from Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Waterford, Cork and Galway. Interestingly, Dublin Port has set up its own cruise development and marketing agency, called ‘Cruise Dublin,’ which it says is intended “to grow Dublin as Ireland’s premier cruise port.”

George Barter made the suggestion during a discussion about the popularity of cruise ship holidays, following sea trials of the biggest cruise vessel ever built - the Harmony of the Seas for Royal Caribbean Lines. The trials were conducted off the French coast, where the vessel was built at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire. It cost €800,000 and is so big that it is 167 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower. It has a capacity for 6,000 passengers, 16 decks and needs 2,000 crew. That is 8,000 people aboard one vessel. It is so big that, on its first voyage from Southampton due to take place in May, passengers will be given GPS-style wrist ‘trackers’ to locate their cabins! I talked to George Barter on the programme about why cruise ships are so popular?

There is always something unusual about the sea. For example, the mysterious, green-eyed fish pulled out of Nova Scotia waters and described as a “terrifying 'alien fish' with wings and glowing eyes." The photograph here is by fisherman Scott Tanner who described it as “downright bizarre” - Three feet long, with a long, narrow tail, two prominent fins, a long pointy mouth, nose and teeth and glowing green eyes. You can hear more about it on the programme and that is it not an alien, but has been identified as a rarely seen ‘Knifenose Chimaera,’ a species which swim along the ocean floor, using that long nose to detect the heartbeats of its prey and those long, pointy teeth to dig into the ocean floor to catch them. They are so rare that very little is known about them.
There is also a very special piece of music about the RNLI on the programme. Listen and hear how you can support the lifeboat service through this special composition which remembers Lifeboat Heroes.
if you would like to contact the programme, the Email address is: [email protected]

Published in Island Nation
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I have always considered Laser sailors to be tough, particularly when I have seen them battling the elements of Winter weather during Frostbite series. So, standing on the Sand Quay at Monkstown in Cork Harbour, base of my home village club on a windswept Saturday morning, rain carried in the wind as I watched a few of them trying to right their boats after capsizing into the cold, choppy waters of the River Lee I shivered, huddled into my warm jacket and was pretty glad I wasn’t out there…..!!
You need to be fit to sail a Laser, I concluded and not afraid of a dousing in cold water. As the sailors came ashore from the Winter series run by Monkstown Bay Sailing Club, they were all happy with themselves. There was a great bit of craic going on amongst them.

 This league series was run by the club to get Lasers out sailing. It succeeded, with sailors from Youghal and Inniscarra clubs in the county joining harbour sailors.

“There are many Lasers around the harbour that aren’t sailed, maybe because there isn’t a centre where they can gather.”
“Get out racing…
“It’s easier to sit inside the window looking out and deciding not to go…”
“None of us are aspiring to be internationalists or Olympians, we just enjoy our sailing, but there has been perhaps too much emphasis on the top level of sailing rather than the clubs. It’s in the clubs that the future is…”
Those were amongst comments to me amongst a spirited group of sailors enthused after battling pretty demanding conditions. They also expressed an attitude that the event was a commitment to club sailing, underlining the importance of boosting the clubs.
Monkstown Bay SC faces a challenge ahead, because of the expansion of Cork Port at Ringasiddy, just across Monkstown Bay from the club house. There is concern about the impact which this will have on the available sailing water in the Bay, which could be restricted in the future.
Listen above to my interview with Charles Dwyer, one of the MBSC organisers of the League, who first described to me the sailing weather conditions that morning.

Published in Island Nation

Listening to a seafarer describe how colleagues from his native town left port on a night of very bad weather, when their Skipper was advised not to go by other Skippers, I thought of how there can be a very narrow margin between life and death.

Those men and their vessel never made it from the British coastline to Youghal in East Cork, which was once the biggest and busiest seaport in the Republic.

Youghal is a seaside town which has suffered heavily in recent years from recessionary impact and decline of industry in the area. Hundreds of jobs have been lost. It is a seaside town which, before the advent of cheap air travel to foreign locations, was a dominant holiday resort. It is where the famous ‘Moby Dick’ film was shot, chosen because of its maritime appearance. It is a town which is legendary for its schooners and schoonermen, trading from Ireland across the Irish Sea to the UK.

It is also where I present THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme on the town’s community radio station, CRY104FM, every Monday night ad from where it is also transmitted to other stations in Dublin, Dundalk, Athlone, Galway, Clare and Cork and here to the Afloat website. It is introduced with the theme music which caught the attention of listeners during my 20 years presenting SEASCAPES on RTE Radio, ‘Sailing By.’ This is the version of that tune played by another sailor, Ronnie Aldrich from the Isle of Man and his orchestra on his LP, ‘Sea Dreams.’ RTE dropped it as the programme’s theme tune after I left, but it is indelibly associated with the maritime sector, another version being used by BBC Radio for its late night sea area weather forecast, played by Ronald Binge and the BBC Light Orchestra. So I resurrected it for my new programme and it has again attracted considerable attention around the nation and abroad, where the programme is also transmitted through Mixcloud and Tune In Radio.

Listening to the interview of Pa Ahern, then an Able Seaman on another legendary Youghal vessel, the Kathleen and May, as we transmitted it, I heard him tell his story of sailing on that ship and how, when he went on board for the first time, he knelt down and kissed the wood of the ship: “I don’t know why I did it, I had it done before I knew it,” he told the interviewer, Noel Cronin, in a recording from the station’s archives. Pa is deceased but, through my headphones, his voice brought alive the scene he described on a night of very bad weather, when another Youghal schooner, the Nellie Fleming, sailed that fateful night and the five men crewing her, all from Youghal, died. Pa described how the Skipper of the Kathleen and May which he was aboard, also decided to sail, but the weather was so bad that a crewman told him he would kill them all and the Skipper turned the ship around and they headed back into port, which was a “tough struggle against the conditions”. Pa been put to watching for navigation lights and described how he saw a ship in the distance in high seas driven by gale force winds, with lashing rain. “It had lost a mast, but I am sure it was the Nellie Fleming…” It was the last sight anyone saw of that vessel, which is the subject of a new book by Youghal historian and author, Mike Hackett, called ‘Lost Without Trace”. The old sailing ships were tough, demanding vessels and could be dangerous in difficult weather. There were some which did not survive. One was the Nellie Fleming, lost coincidentally in the same month of February 1936 when another major maritime event occurred on the East Cork coastline, not far from Youghal.

This was the rescue of the Daunt Rock Lightvesel crew after it broke from its moorings at the entrance to Cork Harbour. This week is the anniversary of that rescue, still regarded as the most famous in Irish lifeboat history. It was carried out by the Ballycotton Life crew under legendary Coxswain Patsy Sliney and they were all awarded medals for their courage. Unusually, so was their boat - the Mary Stanford - now ashore on permanent display in the East Cork coastal village and worth a visit if you are ever in that area.

Mike Hackett’s book tells that the Fleming family which owned the ill-fated Nellie Fleming had lost their original ‘Nellie Fleming’ vessel when it went aground at Ardmore in 1913. All the crew were saved from that shipwreck. Then, in 1916, Fleming’s purchased a vessel named ‘Emily’. It had been built at Carrickfergus in 1884. The name was changed to ‘Nellie Fleming’ and she was registered at Cork.
The Kathleen and May is the last remaining British-built wooden hull three-masted topsail schooner. Registered in Bideford, North Devon, there have been several attempts to restore and preserve her. Last heard of she was based in Liverpool and listed as part of the UK National Historic Fleet.

How did the Kathleen and May get back into port safely that bad February night? Pat Ahern said it had an engine: “Without it we would never have got back.”

These stories underline for me how narrow is the margin between life-and-death.

• Listen above to the programme on the Afloat website

Published in Island Nation

“Behold the turtle who makes progress, but only when it sticks its neck out.”
I like that quotation because I have ‘stuck my neck out” several times in reporting on the marine sphere.
I am doing so again now.
To judge from comments I had received, there was cynicism and doubt about the likelihood of success being achieved by what was previously known as the ‘Pride of Ireland Trust’ and is now the ‘Atlantic Youth Trust,’ in its attempts to build a new Irish tall ship.
I had doubts myself, but at the annual general meeting of the AYT I was impressed by the quality of those present and their commitment to sail training. There was a determination that there will be a new Tall Ship to replace Asgard II, within a target of three years, “to provide opportunities to young people on the island and to meet the forecasted and growing demand” for sail training.
That is what the AYT has decided as its parameters for the new vessel:
* Steel hull
* Under 50 metres
* Less than 500 gross tonnes
* Less than 4m draught
* Low maintenance
* SOLAS Passenger Ship regulations, Load Line, MARPOL and MLC to be complied with
* 7/8 permanent crew, 4/5 volunteers (classed as passengers), 40 young trainees (classed as passengers).
Those were the descriptions given to the agm of the Trust held at the offices of Irish Lights in Dun Laoghaire, where I was also pleased to note the close interaction between those who lead Sail Training Ireland and the Atlantic Youth Trust.

NEIL O HAGAN

Neil O'Hagan of the AYT

In my AFLOAT PODCAST (above) this week you can hear my interview with Neil O’Hagan, Director of the Trust, who tells me that, once money committed by the Government is made available, the building programme can be triggered, with a three-year time span to complete.

That financial commitment was contained in the Government’s Capital Programme and the Northern Ireland Government has also committed funding to this All-Ireland project, the total cost of which is likely to top out at around €16m.
I am a wary person where politicians and their promises are concerned, but inclusion in the Capital Programme is a statement of intent which, even post-General Election should be honoured. Beware however, the influence of the Civil Service which has often not shown itself to be a true maritime friend. But the Government owes €3.8m. at least in the insurance compensation it pocketed for Asgard, due to that Limerickman, Willie O’Dea, who showed no understanding of the importance of Asgard. In my view he dishonoured the name and legend of history of the maritime association with the foundation of this State. In this centenary year of commemoration indeed, would there have been an Easter Rising without the contribution to the resources of the Volunteers by Asgard 1’s historic involvement?
I have not seen any politician so far refer to that in the commemorations up to now.
I stuck my neck out before in support for the Jeanie Johnston, a project much-criticised by people ignorant of the achievements of that cross-Border project; of how it united young people and, built from scratch in Ireland, sailed successfully throughout Europe, to the U.S.A., Canada and Newfoundland as an impressive ambassador for Ireland.
There is more hope now for a new Tall Ship for Ireland…….
As surely as the turtle makes progress, even if slowly, so will this project for which I, like the turtle, am sticking my neck out in support.

More on the new Tall Ship from WM Nixon here

Published in Island Nation
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Not all of our politicians have the necessary awareness and training to understand the daily risks of working and living on an island nation with the coastline, streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and canals that have the potential for drowning tragedies – unless care is taken and safety on the water observed.

That became clear to John Leech, Chief Executive of Irish Water Safety, the State body responsible for promoting safety on the water, during the recent flooding. I have known him for many years, a man dedicated to making people aware of being safe around water.

He is not a man who merely talks about this concept. A former Lt.Commander in the Naval Service, where he served for 21 years, he is a qualified Naval diver. He has been in charge of the Naval Diving Section, commanded Naval Service vessels and been involved in search-and-rescue operations. So he knows all about tragedy, its effects and the aftermath of such tragedies.

I have the highest admiration for him.

JOHN LEECH SPEAKING AT CONFERENCE

John Leech speaking at a conference

In his pursuit of creating a mindset about safety he has spoken out strongly against disregard for the wearing of lifejackets by yachtsmen and women and there has been a noticeable change in attitudes in this regard, including by myself. I now never allow anyone aboard my boat for racing without a lifejacket. I carry extra lifejackets aboard in case people arrive without them. This is not to make sailing unpleasant or to stress danger instead of enjoyment. It is to value life and enjoyment and to ensure that everyone who sails on our family boat, cruising, racing or just out for a day, returns safely.

John would not have endeared himself to everyone in the fishing industry either when he campaigned for the wearing of ‘personal flotation devices,’ a generic term used to describe lifejackets and buoyancy aids. However, he persevered and there too a change has been noticed, with less of the old adage in fishing that if a man fell into the sea it was better to drown than to fight for life.

“It is vital to wear a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket when afloat or if your activity takes you near the water,” he has often told me.

John is also a sailor himself and a Race Official, so he knows the water from many aspects. His dedication has led to the introduction of safety regulations for different type of craft and so, when he makes a point it is for a good reason and should be listened to. On this week’s edition of my radio programme THIS ISLAND NATION he discusses the winter flooding and the effects in County Galway where he lives himself:

“For those of us who have to live and operate in a flooded area like myself who lives in South East Galway or my mother’s house on the banks of the Shannon in Athlone, there are some very simple measures that we should all take,” he says on the programme, recommending the wearing of lifejackets “in all aquatic environments.”

He speaks favourably of those seen wearing lifejackets, “however quite a few people still don’t wear them, perhaps they think it will never happen to them and this culture is what prevents many people from wearing them.”

He refers to the Taoiseach and the Minister for the Marine, Simon Coveney, filmed on television in flooded areas wearing lifejackets “and in the case of Minister, a dry suit, which demonstrates his awareness of the risks surrounding flood waters. Being a keen sailor he is aware and understands the risks of drowning in these situations.”

Then he makes a point about Tanaiste Joan Burton seen falling out of a canoe in County Kilkenny. For many people it became an incident occasioning some hilarity, the water depth seeming to be only about a foot and there were many comments as to why she had not walked the area rather than going into a boat.

John – and I credit to his courage for saying so and pointing the incident out – takes a view about water safety in this regard and I support what he said on my programme:

“What was very disappointing to me was to see our Tánaiste and Minister of State Ann Phelan fall out of a canoe with no lifejackets on. They were demonstrating very poor example to our Island Nation. Then, not all of our politicians have the necessary awareness and training to understand the daily risks of working and living on an island nation with thousands of floods, streams, rivers lakes, ponds and canals to drown in.”

What John has said may not go down well in some political circles. That would be regrettable. The incident may have originated from a publicity photo opportunity stunt conjured up by some public relations or media official which was ill thought-out and rebounded on them. John Leech as Chief Executive of Irish Water Safety is correct to point it out. The Tanaiste and the Minister of State should not have been in the boat without lifejackets. It was a bad example. It was disregard for water safety.

Well done John Leech for your courage in highlighting it.

I hope that the two Ministers concerned, senior and junior and their advisor or advisors responsible for the publicity stunt, will admit their mistake and never again go afloat without a lifejacket.

It is the lesson, as John has often told me, to always wear a lifejacket.

• Listen to John on the programme above

Published in Island Nation

It’s annual general meeting time and for most sailing clubs one of the big issues will be membership. Some readers and club members may prefer the description ‘yacht’ clubs, but ‘Sailing’ was chosen by the national association a few years ago to popularise the sport. Many of the bigger clubs still remain YCs and there is nothing inherently wrong in that, provided that the description doesn’t keep potential newcomers away from the sport rather than encouraging them into it.

Exclusivity may be more in the eye of the beholder of clubs these days, from the outside, rather than within the clubs themselves but, whether or not you like it being mentioned, it remains an issue in some places and our sport could do without it.

I remember when Marine Correspondent with RTE being abused by a rather obnoxious member of a Dun Laoghaire waterfront club who emerged from its impressive paladial-like frontage to assail the camera crew and myself who were filming the premises from the roadway and being told by him that we should not be there and should realise the club wished to have privacy from the public. We were there at the express request of the club for coverage of a racing event, but this individual had decided to express his own view of the exclusiveness of sailing. While myself being involved in the sport, I could rather bluntly tell him what to do with his opinion, the camera crew were left with a bad impression of sailing.

‘Private – members only’ signage outside some clubs has been criticised, but clubs are entitled to protect their premises. There are golf clubs just the same, as are some other sporting establishments … but sailing seems to have been a particular source of criticism.

SAILING YACHTING MEMBERSHIPSailing is a sport for life 

My media work has given me a access to clubs all over the country, so maybe I don’t experience what the general public does but it is reasonable to expect people to pay to become members and for the entitlement then to avail of the facilities provided. That is what a ‘club’ – a group or association of people with a common interest - is. Quite a few sailors are members of a few clubs. I am, of my village sailing club, Monkstown Bay, where I began in dinghies and also of the Royal Cork Yacht Club at Crosshaven. I went there for cruiser racing at a time when Monkstown sailed only dinghies. Nowadays it also races cruisers and I am happy to be a member of both….

While I have also experienced a welcome at clubs all over the country, it cannot be denied that the sport of sailing has an unfortunate legacy in a public impression left behind by a minority of individuals who did not represent it well, because they favoured exclusivity rather than inclusivity, which has to be the hallmark of the ‘sport for all …. and for life’ - which sailing should be in an island nation.

There is a challenge ahead for many sailing and yacht clubs as they hold their annual meetings – and that is to maintain their base of membership, much of which is ageing, so to encourage younger members and families to become and remain members and to get newcomers to join… thus ensuring the future of the sport….
Getting members in… instead of keeping people out….

Published in Island Nation

At “the turn of the year” as it is still called by many of the older generation, it is customary to look back at the year past and remember a few high points. There were many for me in compiling THIS ISLAND NATION, but on this week’s edition of my radio programme, I have opted for unusual sounds which stuck in my mind about the sea.

70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water and still little is known about the treasures hidden in the deep sea. That was exemplified for me during the year when I played those unusual ‘sounds of the sea’ which drew a very big response from listeners.

I had never before heard the sound of the haddock, a fish which is popular on dining menus. Did you know that the haddock, which we eat, is actually capable of making audio sounds? I didn’t, but you can hear the sound which this fish makes on this week’s programme and there are other fascinating sounds, including from whales and dolphins. Perhaps they are attempts to communicate with the human world.
Who knows?

If they are such an attempt, whales will not be getting a positive answer from the Japanese who, as the New Year approaches, have sent two whaling ships to Antarctica's Southern Ocean to resume the killing of whales. This is under the pretence of collecting scientific data, which is not accepted as a genuine reason for whaling by the international community, including Ireland, where our waters are a whale sanctuary.

Japan has ignored International Whaling Commission regulations and has announced it will kill 333 minke whales this year, under the guise of being for research purposes. What that research is, has not been disclosed. Surprise, surprise in that regard!

In previous years Japan has killed 935 whales. Australia has said it will take action against Japan. It is really time that the Japanese stopped lie-ing to the world about the fact that they are killing whales for the greed of commercial interests.

There are times in one’s life when an incident is recounted which makes a big impact and so it is in the true story told this week by Dick Robinson about a time when youngsters on Valentia Island learned the hard facts of life at sea, when they were trying to make the transition from being youths to doing what they had seen men do. The “boys thought they were men….” Dick recalls about the tragic incident at ‘the top of the tide’ on Valentia which was a personal experience for him that left an indelible memory.

VALENTIA ISLAND

Valentia Island And The Top Of The Tide - A Story On This Island Nation. Click above to listen

It happened as a boat was being moved in the harbour and, as John Hollahan surmises on the programme - “If old boats could talk, what a tale they would tell….”

Amongst other topics on the programme, Myles Kelly of Fisheries Ireland outlines new bass angling regulations that are coming into force and discusses the start of the salmon season.

Do listen to THIS ISLAND NATION above on the Afloat website and, for the New Year ahead, may I wish you all …”fair sailing….”

Published in Island Nation

Athy is not really a maritime town in the coastal sense of that description. Its marine connection is, essentially, the Grand Canal on Ireland's inland waterways linking Dublin to Limerick and which was extended to Athy in 1791 when it took 13 hours to get from there to the capital by boat. Canal passenger services began at the early hour of 5 a.m. on what was considered to be an expensive service.

ATHY - GRAND CANALAthy on the Grand Canal

A Quaker writer, Mary Leadbeater from Ballitore near Athy, described passengers as ‘half gentry’ and noted that “there was card playing.”
There was worse than that in December of 1792 when five men, four women and two children died in an accident on a boat from Athy, blamed on “upwards of 150 people, many of them intoxicated, who forced themselves onto the boat in spite of repeated remonstrances from the Captain who in vain, told them the boat was overloaded and must sink if many of them did not withdraw. At length from their numbers and turbulence the boat was overset, near the eight lock,” reported The Freeman’s Journal.
Commercial trade on the Canal boosted Athy’s fortunes until the railway line from Dublin to Carlow forced the closure of business in 1846.
The Canal had been closed for 32 years when a child was born close to the village of Kilkea, between Castledermot and Athy, in the south of County Kildare, who would become a legend in Polar Exploration and lead to the town’s Heritage Centre-Museum having the only permanent exhibition anywhere devoted to that child who became the legendary explorer, Ernest Shackleton. Highlights include an original sledge and harness from his Antarctic expeditions, a 15-foot model of his ship, Endurance, an exhibition of Shackleton family photographs and an audio visual display featuring Frank Hurley’s original film footage of the Endurance expedition.

ATHY MUSUEUMAthy museum

The Shackleton Autumn School was established in Athy to commemorate the explorer. It provides a forum for discussion about Polar Exploration, about Shackleton and the presentation of relevant artistic work.
My main story in the current edition of my radio programme, THIS ISLAND NATION, is about Athy’s connection with Shackleton and the restoration of the cabin in which he died of a heart attack in the Antarctic on January 5, 1922 at Grytviken in South Georgia. The cabin is being restored at Letterfrack in Connemara. A Corkman, Eugene Furlong, initiated a project which is leading to its display at the Shackleton Museum in Athy. He located it during a visit to Norway. The restoration is being carried out at Conservation Letterfrack, where Janet O’Toole describes the work they will do. Joe O’Farrell of the Athy Museum Committee describes how they got the cabin back to Ireland.

ATHY MUSEUM SHAKCKLETON SLEDGEShackleton sledge

It’s a story of determination and achievement and how an Irish town has led the way in honouring the memory of Shackleton.

Also on the programme you will hear a somewhat remarkable sea shanty, about the Keeper of the Eddystone Lighthouse, his Mermaid friend and the family they conceived, believe it or not!

In serious vein, the RNLI and Irish Water Safety deliver the message of safety at sea, which should never be forgotten.

As always, there is plenty to report about the maritime sphere and I hope you enjoy this fortnightly programme.

Fair sailing

Published in Island Nation
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It is a point which I feel compelled to make, time and again, because it is people who make up a community of interest, by their determination, their commitment, their focus and that is what I believe the marine community to be and so, consider it to be THE FAMILY OF THE SEA, a common interest which those of us who value the sea, the lakes and the rivers of Ireland share. Long may there be such people.
I am fortunate enough to come across them, to hear their stories and to be able, through this medium, to bring them to the attention of others. This week on the programme, a 22-year-old is the focus. There are people who decide to do amazing things, for no motivation other than that they want to achieve something and to help a particular project. Twenty-two-year-old Alex Ellis-Roswell is one such person. He comes from Margate in Kent in England from where he started walking around the coast of Britain and Ireland in August of last year, planning to take two years to complete his self-imposed task and raise money for the RNLI lifeboat service as he walked.
”The slower you travel, the more you see…” is his attitude … But can you imagine getting into a sleeping back somewhere at six o’clock on a Winter’s evening to spend the night outdoors? That was one of the things he describes on the programme as he outlines how he chose the pathways for his journey. But he also records the most horrible sight which he has seen and this is something to which I have referred before – human abuse of our beaches, our foreshore areas.
Alex has had to take a rest from his walk for a while, to recover from damage to his knees during his expedition, but he plans to resume shortly. He is a fascinating, determined young man on a mission, who set himself a target of raising stg£10,000, which he is set to exceed, such has been the level of popular support he has been receiving.
For more information about his journey go here

WI-FI ON DUBLIN BAY
Also on the programme you can hear about the introduction of Wi-Fi on Dublin Bay and the Dublin Bay Digital Diamond, which Deirdre Lane, Navigation Policy Officer with the Commissioners of Irish Lights, describes. Click the link at the top of this story to listen in.

SOMETHING UNUSUAL

There is always something unusual to be found in the sea and we come across such stories and incidents regularly when compiling THIS ISLAND NATION. This week we report that Live Science website has issued pictures of a rare and endangered sea turtle which was found near the Solomon Islands.

RARE SEA TURTLE 

It was spotted underwater by divers at night time, glowing bright red and green and they filmed it – identifying it as a hawksbill sea turtle. "It was a short encounter," said David Gruber, an Associate Professor of Biology at Baruch College in New York City and a National Geographic explorer. “It bumped into us and I stayed with it for a few minutes. It was really calm and let me film it. Then it dived down the side of a cliff face wall."

GOING FOR A PINT IN A BATHTUB
There is a lot of tide in the Shannon Estuary, which can make it a dangerous place in certain conditions, so it is hard to imagine that anyone would try to use what seemed liked nothing bigger than a bathtub to set out on the river to go for a few pints. Not surprisingly those involved got into trouble and Kilrush Lifeboat was called to their rescue. This story is told on the programme by Pauline Dunleavy of the West Clare lifeboat station.
• With the latest angling news from Myles Kelly of Fisheries Ireland and other stories there is, as always, a lot worth listening to on THIS ISLAND NATION. Click the link at the top of this story to listen in.

Tom MacSweeney

Published in Island Nation
Page 2 of 11

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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