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Ferries from Galway City to the Aran Islands will after a lenghtly absence make their return to Galway Docks – with the announcement that Island Ferries will begin operating the service from next year.

According to the Connacht Tribune from May 2020, a vessel that is currently under construction in the Far East will become the largest domestic ferry on the Irish Coast and “will bring a new experience for passengers, never seen on Galway Bay before”.

That’s according to CEO of the Port of Galway, Conor O’Dowd, who said the new ferry was just one of a raft of exciting developments for the port – including the delivery of a new crane allowing for increased business and long-awaited progress on plans to extend the port.

For more on this ferry service development click here

Afloat.ie adds that existing passenger services are operated west of Galway City from Rossaveal in Connemara in addition to those based out of Doolin in Co. Clare.

The last State run operated Galway-Aran ferry service ended in the summer of 1988 when Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) used the custom Dublin-built Naomh Éanna completed at the Liffey Dockyard in 1958 to provide the joint passenger and freight service. As previously reported the veteran vessel is undergoing restoration to serve as a floating luxury hotel on the Liffey. 

Another custom built ferry Oileáin Árann built in 1992 but privately operated by Doolin based O'Brien Shipping served the direct city-islands route. Notably, this was the final ship to provide this link until sold to Samskip an Icelandic based company. 

A cargo-only service currently maintains sailings between Galway and all three Aran Islands. This is operated by Lasta Mara Teoranta's cargoship Bláth na Mara. 

Published in Ferry

#ferries - A new service has been launched by Bus Éireann in partnership with Doolin Ferry Company for people to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, reports GalwayDaily.

The new Route 350 which operates from Galway offers a combined bus and ferry service exploring the sights of the Wild Atlantic Way with tour of the Cliffs of Moher or a day ticket out to Inis Oírr.

Customers can avail of two combined ticket options which each cost €38.50 for both the bus ticket and either a 1-hour ferry tour of the Cliffs or a trip out to Inis Oírr.

The bus route also offers a regular service from Galway, through Doolin and on to Ennis that runs up to six times daily.

Bus Éireann describe the new route as a “great value day trip option to visit Ireland’s most popular tours destinations along the very popular Wild Atlantic Way.”

To read more and where to buy tickets, click here. 

Published in Ferry

#AranIslands - An Oireachtas committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht were addressed (yesterday) by a group of representatives from Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands as a dispute over a ferry service to the island continues.

RTE News reports that Cathy Ní Ghoill, from the co-op on Inis Mór, said islanders have been battling for four years to keep basic services like air and ferry connections, and a change of policy is needed.

Local secondary school principal Micheál Ó Cualáin said a reliable air and ferry service was essential to bring teachers to and from the mainland.

For more on this ongoing story, click here.

Published in Island News

#AranIslands – As talks today to resolve the ongoing Aran Islands ferries dispute over passenger levies with Galway County Council, Afloat.ie takes a snapshot of a separate but freight-only operator providing vital supplies to islanders, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The affected Island Ferries Teoranta passenger ferry service: Rossaveel-Kilronan on Inis Mór, the largest of the Oileán Árann / Aran Islands was due to end last week, however, as Afloat previously covered the service is still operating as “a gesture of goodwill to the Islanders”.The ferry service will remain in place until 17 January 2017 however this date remains under review subject to how the discussions progress on the council-imposed passenger levy for the non-PSO ferry route to Inis Mór. In recent years this route has been subject to a sharp rise in fares.

As for the freight-only operator, Lasta Mara Teoranta, the company since 2005 has the Government contract to carry cargo not just serving Inishmor but also Inis Meain and Inis Oirr. These services are an essential lifeline for islanders. Lasta Mara is the main cargo company serving the Aran Islands by operating from the mainland based in Galway Port using MV Bláth na Mara (1983/330grt).

All the daily needs of the islanders are carried in containers on board Bláth na Mara from food stuffs (chill and frozen), to household goods, furniture and fuel. As for larger items such as vehicles and old fashioned form of transport that includes horses (given the tourist jaunting carts) and other lifestock are also conveyed on the coastal freighter. 

A ‘roll-on roll-off’ i.e. ro-ro service from Rossaveel, Connemara is also provided by Lasta Mara using the MV Chateau-Thierry (see report photo) a former US Army tank landing craft. As previously reported the vessel brought emergency electrical generators due to power-cuts earlier this year.

Otherwise Chateau-Thierry's routine heavy goods cargoes are in the form of trucks, diggers and heavy plant and machinery. Such construction related vehicles were transported by Chateau Thierry from the mainland to Kilronan Harbour during the building of the new harbour. These vehicles rolled off the bow loading ramp onto the sandy beach at Kilronan, the capital of the Aran Islands. 

The costs to pay for Kilronan's new outer harbour (see engineering award) are derived through the passenger levies which are at centre stage of the ferry dispute.

As for the cargo service in order to maintain all perishable cargoes remain frozen before departing Galway Port, the outer pier is where a warehouse is equipped adjacent to where Bláth na Mara berths. The Galway-Aran Islands routes should also be noted as Ireland’s longest distance domestic (island serving) commercial cargo service.

It is on such trading routes that the old traditional joint passenger /cargo service had run up to 1988. This was carried out by the State owned Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE) group’s vessel Naomh Éanna.

The veteran vessel built by Dublin Liffey Drydock Company in 1958 ran on the route for four decades. Since the service closed Naomh Eanna has remained languishing in the capital’s Grand Canal Dock Basin. In recent years she was transferred to a disused graving dock having been saved from scrapping. Against this backdrop there have been plans to restore the historic Irish built ship. 

 

Published in Ports & Shipping

#AranIslands - Talks are to resume on Friday writes Galway Independent in a bid to ensure the continuation of the ferry service to Inis Mór, Aran Islands. 

The Island Ferries service ceased last Wednesday and was due to remain out of action until 17 March next year after the family-run company said it “had been left with no further option but to take such drastic action”.

The service however resumed on Friday evening, following talks between the company, Galway County Council and the Department of the Gaeltacht. The service will now remain in place until 4 January 2017, in “a gesture of goodwill to the Islanders”. This date will be kept under review as discussions continue.

Kevin Kelly, Acting Chief Executive of Galway County Council, said the talks, which centre on passenger levies, are complex but there is a “meaningful engagement process in place”.

“We are working as good as we can to conclude this within the timeframe. It is important that there is progress being made and that all parties feel that the overall approach has the possibility of reaching a successful conclusion.”

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - Ferry services to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands will resume this evening, while talks continue to find a long term solution with regard to a year-round service.

The Connacht Tribune writes that Island Ferries, Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne and County CEO Kevin Kelly met for talks this morning as Inis Mór residents faced into a second day without a ferry service. 

The Island Ferries service ceased on Wednesday, and was due to remain out of action until March. 

Last evening, County Councillors gave CEO Kevin Kelly a mandate to meet with Island Ferries on their behalf.

Today’s meeting was also attended by Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne and as Afloat previously covered he had called for the Naval Service to provide a short-term service to residents.

In a statement to NewsBreak, Galway County Council has confirmed that Island Ferries, as a gesture of goodwill, will resume its service to Inis Mor from 5 this evening until January 4th.
In the interim, talks will continue in a bid to ensure a year-round service for islanders and visitors.

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - The use of the Irish Naval Service to provide a short-term service to residents on Inis Mór (largest of the Oileán Árann /Aran Islands) is being explored by Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne.

As Galway Bay FM reports the proposal follows the planned withdrawal of the winter service to the largest Aran Island until March 2017, with the last ferry set to depart at 6pm this evening (yesterday, 30th November).

Operator Island Ferries Teoranta has reaffirmed it’s intention to suspend the service – citing the ‘negative fiscal conditions’ created by the local authority with the introduction of passenger levies.

For more on the developing story, click here.

Afloat.ie adds that vital sea transportation links to Inis Mór are still been maintained albeit by a cargo-only operator, Lasta Mara Teoranta. This company serves the three islands from the mainland not just out of Rossaveel in Connemara but also Galway Port.

As of this morning Afloat.ie monitored their coastal freighter MV Bláth na Mara that departed Inis Oirr bound for Galway Port's outer pier. This is the final leg of a round trip that previously included calls firstly to Inis Mór followed by Inis Meáin.

Another crises that faced islanders was in August when Lasta Mara's other freight ro-ro vessel MV Chateau-Thierry came to the aid of two of three islands with generators that were used to restore electricity. This followed power-cuts caused by a damaged subsea cable connecting the mainland. 

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#NewBuilds – A pair of newbuild ferries for Northern Ireland waters, one destined for an island route, the other an estuary link, are both undergoing trails prior to entering service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

A month ago today, Strangford 2 arrived onto Strangford Lough. The new car-ferry is to serve the estuary crossing linking Strangford and Portaferry. The towns are separated by strong tidal waters known as the ‘Narrows’.

Responding to Afloat.ie, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said “the Strangford 2 is currently being used for crew training and familiarisation which will continue for several weeks.”

Strangford 2 has a 28 vehicle/260 passenger capacity and was built by Cammell Laird, Birkenhead on Merseyside. As previously reported, the newbuild is to enter service this autumn, joining the 2001 built Portaferry 2. 

The second newbuild, Spirit of Rathlin with a 6 vehicle /140 passenger configuration was built by Arklow Marine Services for the Ballycastle-Rathlin Island route. AMS having built Rathlin Express which is operated by the Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd. 

As to the operator of the new Co. Antrim car-ferry, the Dfi commented, “the Department is finalising the procurement process and will hope to announce a preferred bidder shortly.”

In late September Spirit of Rathlin was launched into the River Avoca having been lowered by floating heavy-lift crane, Lara 1 which had sailed from Liverpool.

Afloat has tracked the estuary-bound car-ferry which in recent days was on sea-trials out as far as the Arklow Bank off the Co .Wicklow coast.

Published in Ferry

#SkelligMichael - The Department of Heritage has approved a film shoot by drone at Skellig Michael, despite the use of drones being prohibited on the island.

According to The Irish Times, a guide on the Unesco world heritage site has raised concerns that permission for the Fáilte Ireland shoot would make a general ban on the use of drone aircraft by visitors difficult to enforce.

“How can we instruct the public not to fly drones if it will be clear that a tourism body has been permitted to do this extensively?” said the guide, who claimed anonymity.

Previously, an experienced guide spoke out over the controversial Star Wars shoots on the island last year.

The filming for box office hit The Force Awakens and next year’s Episode VIII attracted worldwide attention to the Co Kerry islands, which have since been promoted as a tourism attraction for Star Wars fans by Fáilte Ireland.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#SkelligMichael - A longtime boatman plying the Skellig Michael route for visitors has mounted a High Court challenge against the loss of his landing permits, as The Irish Times reports.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) revoked two permits from Sean Feehan in January following his conviction of offences under the Merchant Shipping Act relating to passengers becoming ill on the boat trip to the iconic Kerry island, as detailed in the Irish Examiner.

But Feehan argues that the OPW's action was unconstitutional, citing his "exemplary" record overall since he began ferrying passengers to Skellig Michael in 1980, and adding that other boatmen found guilty of similar safety offences had not lost their licences.

Business is expected to boom in the coming months for Skelligs boatmen due to the islands' prominent role in the new Star Wars film series – though recent rockfalls at the Unesco World Heritage site mean it's a place for experienced skippers only.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
Page 1 of 7

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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