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During the early hours of this morning Fred Olsen's Cruise Lines 28,388 tonnes Boudicca docked in Dublin Port, marking the inaugural cruise-call for this year's season, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 880 passenger berth cruiseship with a crew of over 300 had arrived overnight from the Isles of Scilly as part of her cruise itinerary which started from Southampton.

Onboard the ship which caters mostly for the UK market, asides the interior facilities there are the outdoor leisure amenities located on the Lounge Deck which has two jacuzzis and an exercise pool. There is also a large swimming pool and weather permitting a poolside buffet is also available at meal times. In addition a circular pool is located on the Marque Deck.

She alongside sister Black Watch belong to a four-ship fleet of the Norwegian owned company. Boudicca was built in 1973 and for many years served as Royal Viking Star as part of a trio of German built sisters for Royal Viking Line. The 205m long vessel underwent her last major refit in 2006.

Boudicca will remain berthed in Dublin's Alexandra Basin until she sets sail later this afternoon for the short overnight cruise-leg to Liverpool.

Last year Dublin Port handled 88 cruisecalls and this number of cruise-callers is to be closely repeated in 2011. Overall there will be over 200 cruise calls with around half a million passengers and crew scheduled to visit ports and anchorage locations throughout the island of Ireland. The cruise sector business is estimated to generate €60m to both the northern and southern economies.

Published in Cruise Liners
The ro-ro freight-ferry Norcape departed Dublin Port this evening for what is believed to be her last sailing operating under the colours of P&O (Irish Sea) and in which the 1979 built vessel originally served a career with B+I Line as the Tipperary, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Replacing the 14,087gross tonnes vessel is the 22,152grt ro-pax European Endeavour which is expected to enter service next Tuesday. The vessel built in 2000, can take 130 lorries and has a larger passenger capacity for 210 passengers compared to the existing route's 17,464grt ro-pax sisters Norbay and Norbank.

This will enable P&O to offer up to three Ro-Pax style sailings a day on the 7.5 hour route instead of the previous two-plus one ro-ro (freight-only operated) service. The Norcape could take 125 drop trailers but only had 12-passenger cabins (for freight accompanied truck-drivers).

Norcape was only re-introduced onto the Irish Sea last year but made her final departure tonight as the vessel headed into a foggy Dublin Bay.

In 1979 the Japanese built vessel was launched as the Puma for P&O but was chartered to B+I Line and renamed Tipperary. During the 1980's the vessel first operated a then new Dublin-Fleetwood route jointly operated with P&O, alongside Tipperary's Ro-Ro sister, Ibex. The P&O brand name Pandoro cleverly stood for P and O Ro, their roll-on roll-off freight division. 

TIPPERARY

Cut-away deck profile of M.V. Tipperary and sistership of M.V. Ibex

The route's UK port switched to Liverpool in 1988 with Tipperary remaining on the route until sold to North Sea Ferries in 1989 and renamed Norcape. Prior to her transfer to the North Sea, the Tipperary collided with the 4,674grt bulker Sumburgh Head off the entrance to Dublin Port on 18 February 1988. For a report and photo taken of the two vessels which met at the port last year under different names click here.

Like the Tipperary the Sumburgh Head was built in Japan too by Hashihama Zosen KK, Imabari in 1977, yard no. 624. During her Dublin Bay incident, the vessel was owned by Christian Salvesen (Shipping) Ltd based in Edinburgh.

In 1990 she was sold to Barra Head Shipping Ltd and renamed Hood Head under the Irish flag. Three years later sold again to the KG Jebsen group and renamed Husnes.

The Panamanian flagged bulker remained with the Norwegian owner until 2003 when sold to her current owners, Wilson Shipowning AS of Bergen and renamed Wilson Tana, this time under the Maltese flag.

Published in Ferry

Forty entries are already in for Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, a fixture widely expected to be the biggest in Ireland this season when it sets sail on Dublin Bay in July.

Organisers are expecting up to 500 boats to keep it on a par with the 2009 event. The early entries, 11 weeks ahead of the entry deadline, is being taken as a thumbs up by competitors for the fun and vlaue theme of this year's VDLR.

So far 22 different clubs have entered from six countries. The bulk of the fleet is Irish but there are early entries from France, Isle of Man, UK, Wales and Northern Ireland. Another good turnout is exepcted from Liverpool and Holyhead for boats competing in the IRC Lyver Cup Race across the Irish Sea. Ten boats from the Clyde will also compete on the Bay.

Cork's Conor Phelan the skipper of Jump Juice is one of the first Royal Cork boats confirmed.

Two handed IRC racing makes its debut in July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta organisers have also confirmed. Click HERE.

On the dinghy front, the Fireball class has confirmed it will be running an'Open Championship' within the regatta, an event that follows the class world championships in Sligo in June.

Published in Volvo Regatta
Northern Ireland’s only coastguard base was not originally among a list of those earmarked for closure, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
However the Bangor facility was added to the list after a "personal intervention" from UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning.
The minister has confirmed to the House of Commons that the original draft list of closures for streamlining the UK's coastguard service originally named Liverpool as the centre to be shut down.
Now the Bangor control centre is being pitted against Liverpool in the service shake-up as previously reported on Afloat.ie that will leave just three full-time coastguard stations across the UK.

Northern Ireland’s only coastguard base was not originally among a list of those earmarked for closure, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

However the Bangor facility was added to the list after a "personal intervention" from UK Shipping Minister Mike Penning.

The minister has confirmed to the House of Commons that the original draft list of closures for streamlining the UK's coastguard service originally named Liverpool as the centre to be shut down.

Now the Bangor control centre is being pitted against Liverpool in the service shake-up as previously reported on Afloat.ie that will leave just three full-time coastguard stations across the UK.

Published in Coastguard
The Anglia Seaways became the last vessel of the DFDS Seaways fleet to depart Dublin yesterday, following the official closure of the operator's Irish Sea services at the weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.
In January DFDS announced the closure of the Dublin-Liverpool (Birkenhead Twelve Quays Terminal) and the freight-only Dublin-Heysham routes with the loss of 200 jobs to include 50 shore-staff based at the Irish terminal.

The ro-pax Dublin Seaways made a last crossing with a Saturday morning arrival at Birkenhead. After disembarking passengers, vehicles and freight traffic, the 21,856grt vessel immediately departed the Mersey for a short-term deployment on the company's North Sea Rosyth-Zeebrugge service.

Sistership, Liverpool Seaways also completed her last crossing to Birkenhead with an overnight Saturday sailing. This was the final scheduled sailing under DFDS Seaways ownership and marked the last foot-passenger crossing on the Liverpool route as rival operators P&O (Irish Sea) and Seatruck Ferries do not cater for this market.

The vessel returned to Dublin yesterday from Birkenhead; this was to facilitate the loading of drop-trailers and terminal based tugmasters (engine-driven truck/cabs) that tow unaccompanied trailers on the roll-on roll-off vessels. After a short turn around at the terminal, Liverpool Seaways departed Dublin, bound for Immingham. The UK east coast port is where DFDS operate an extensive freight route network across the North Sea.

DFDS_SEAWAYS

The ro-pax Liverpool Seaways and freight-ferry Anglia Seaways berthed in Dublin Port yesterday prior to sailing away from the Irish Sea. Photo Jehan Ashmore / ShipSNAPS

In addition the 13,704grt Anglia Seaways also docked in Dublin yesterday from Heysham to perform similar duties like the Liverpool Seaways. Several hours later, the 114-trailer capacity vessel set a southbound course past The Muglins, bound for Avonmouth.

DFDS cited its decision to exit entirely from Irish Sea sector due to the sharp decline in the Irish and UK economies in 2008 and 2009. The company suffered continuous losses on its remaining routes and the issue of over-capacity, particularly on the north Irish Sea.

Only last December, the Danish owned shipping operator sold its other two Irish Sea routes to Stena Line in a £40m acquisition deal. This is all the more remarkable considering DFDS Seaways purchased the previous route operator, Norfolkline's Irish Sea division of their four routes and seven vessels, in July 2010.

The sale to Stena covered the three terminals used on the Belfast routes to Birkenhead and Heysham, which is another freight-only service. In addition the acquisition involved the sale of the South Korean built freight-ferries Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways; like the Anglia Seaways they were all former Norfolkline / Maersk Line vessels.

Interestingly the acquisition is to include the purchase of the chartered 27,510grt ro-pax sisters Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways. When the Visentini built sisters were completed at the Italian shipyard, they were placed on the Belfast-Birkenhead route in 2005.

On 1 December Stena Line UK Ltd acquired DFDS Seaways Irish Sea Ferries Ltd (since renamed Stena Line Irish Ferries Ltd). Although the acquisition of SL ISF by Stena Line has been completed and DFDS no longer owns SL ISF, Stena Line await formal approval from the Irish competition authority and the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to integrate SL ISF into the wider Stena Line business.

In the meantime during this transitional period, it is business as usual for customers using the Belfast-Birkenhead and Belfast-Heysham routes. Online bookings continue to be accepted on www.dfdsseaways.com or tel: (01) 819 2999 and in the UK tel: 0871 230 033

Published in Ferry
Foot-passengers will soon no longer have the choice in taking the ferry over to Merseyside, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Dublin-Liverpool (Birkenhead) route, operated by DFDS Seaways which is due to close on 31 January, is the only ferry operator that facilitates the inclusion of foot-passengers between the Liffey and the Mersey. P&O (Irish Sea) cater only for passengers accompanied with their vehicles and freight-trucks. As for Seatruck Ferries this is primarily a freight operation, though a very limited number of spaces are available for cars (up to two people).

Closure of the Birkenhead route will see the withdrawal of the 21,856 grt Italian built sister-ships Dublin Seaways and Liverpool Seaways. There are a number of options being investigated as to where the ro-pax pair will go, they may be deployed on other DFDS Seaways routes or placed on a sale charter arrangement.

In addition the Danish-owned shipping company is to close the freight-only Dublin-Heysham route this month. The route is served by the 13,074 grt Anglia Seaways which has a 114-trailer capacity. The vessel is due to be transferred to the Baltic Sea, according to DFDS Seaways which also operates an extensive route network in the North Sea.

Unlike DFDS Seaways use of the double river-berth terminal at Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula, P&O and Seatruck vessels navigate through locks into the extensive Liverpool Docks system. Interestingly all three operators use sister-ships with P&O running the Dutch built ro-pax's Norbank and Norbay and Seatruck Ferries Spanish built Clipper Pace and Clipper Pennant.

Published in Ports & Shipping
The River Mersey's biggest sailing event in living memory will take place when two open regattas are staged during the Liverpool Boat Show.

About 150 boats will compete in a series of spectacular races on each of the two weekends of the show, which takes place from April 29 to May 8 next year.

Up to three races will be held each day on the weekends of April 30 and May 7, with classes for modern racing yachts, ultra-fast multi-hulls, local classes and traditional nobbys.

The regattas – comprising the Royal Dee Yacht Club Spring Regatta and the Liverpool Yacht Club Kindred Clubs Regatta – will be one of the main highlights of the Liverpool Boat Show, which takes place in the splendid surroundings of the Albert Dock.

Competitors from across the UK and Ireland are expected to take part in the regattas, which will see boats racing against each other on courses in front of the Albert Dock.

Today organisers urged enthusiasts and clubs to submit their entries for the races to secure a place in one of the most spectacular sailing events of the year.

Alastair Soane, chair of the race committee, said: "This will be the biggest sailing event for probably 70 or 80 years on the River Mersey and interest is already very high."

Alastair Soane, a past Commodore and President of Liverpool Yacht Club who sits on the steering committee of the boat show, added: "We already have expressions of interest from clubs and individuals in Scotland, Wales and Ireland and we are keen to get representation from the sailing fraternity right across the UK, including the South coast.

"The combination of the festival atmosphere of the show and the spectacle of the racing will make these truly unique events and we'd urge potential participants to register as soon as possible."

A number of North West clubs are supporting the regattas, including Liverpool Yacht Club, the Royal Mersey Yacht Club, the Royal Dee Yacht Club, West Kirby Sailing Club, Wallasey Yacht Club, Dee Sailing Club, Blundell Sands Sailing Club, Liverpool Sailing Club, Hoylake Sailing Club, West Lancs Sailing Club and the Nobby Association.

Mr Soane said: "The entire North West sailing community is throwing its weight behind the Liverpool Boat Show and we are determined to make it a show like no other and to showcase to a whole new generation the pleasure and benefits to be had from sailing."

Published in Maritime Festivals
Following the recent announcement of DFDS Seaways to sell two Irish Sea routes and four vessels to rivals Stena Line, the company are to close the Larne to Fleetwood route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Stena claim the closure is not to do with the £40m transaction deal with DFDS Seaways. "The decision to close Fleetwood to Larne was taken some time ago on the basis of the current and projected performance of the route, and before the opportunity arose to buy these other routes," said Irish Sea area director Michael McGrath.

The route has made significant losses over recent years and to running an aging fleet on the 7-hour service. Stena cite that investment in new tonnage was not an option due to higher capitol costs. "No business can continue to carry such losses on an ongoing basis so there is no alternative but to close the route at the end of this year," he added.

The trio of vessels, Stena Leader (1975/12,879grt), Stena Pioneer (1975/14,426grt) and Stena Seafarer (1975/10,957grt) serve the link between Lancashire and Northern Ireland which takes freight, cars and their passengers but does not cater for 'foot' passengers.    

Late last month a fire took place in the engine room of the Stena Pioneer during a sailing to Fleetwood, the fire was extinguished using onboard equipment and fortunately without incident to crew or passengers.The Stena Pioneer was operated by B&I Line as their Bison in a joint service with Pandoro on the Dublin-Liverpool route between 1989-1993.

Under the new agreement, Stena Line's take-over of Belfast-Heysham, the port is a close neighbour to Fleetwood will include the 13,000 tonnes sisters Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways.The other route aquired is Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool) which is significant in that the deal will include the purchase of the chartered 27,000 gross tonnes ro-pax twins, Mersey Seaways and Lagan Seaways. The sisters were built in 2005 at the Visentini shipyard, Italy, which also built the ro-pax sisters Dublin Seaways and Liverpool Seaways.

Measuring 21,000 gross tonnes these vessels operate Dublin-Birkenhead route but remain under DFDS Seaways control and this applies to their freight-only service from the Irish capital to Heysham served by the Anglia Seaways. The 120-trailer freight ferry is also a sister of the Belfast-Heysham pair.

Notably the transaction will see Stena Line enter operations on the Mersey for the first time.The Swedish operator will use the river's Birkenhead Twelve Quays ferryport terminal located on the Wirral, opposite the famous Liverpool waterfront.

Stena Line will not only share the double berth facility with DFDS Seaways but also the Isle of Man Steam Packet (IOMSPCo) which in recent years has operated winter sailings to Douglas. In the summer the Isle of Man ferry operator uses the Liverpool landing stage berth on the other side of the river which is also shared by the 'ferry cross the Mersey' fleet operated by Mersey Ferries.

Published in Ports & Shipping
27th November 2010

Man Drowns Trying to Rescue Dog

A man has been pronounced deceased at Lancaster Hospital after being rescued from the River Lune in Lancaster this afternoon.

At 2.12 pm a member of the public called Liverpool Coastguard to report that they could see a man in the water near the weir of the River Lune in Halton.  Further information yielded that the man had jumped into the river after his dog had got into difficulty, but that the man himself could not swim.

Liverpool Coastguard tasked Knott End and Morecambe Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Morecambe RNLI inshore lifeboat and hovercraft, swift water rescue technicians from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services and a rescue helicopter from RAF Valley.

At 3pm the man was recovered and treated by waiting paramedics.  He was transferred to Lancaster Hospital but was later pronounced deceased.

Liverpool Coastguard Watch Manager Paul Parkes said:

"This is a tragic incident where a dog owner has entered the water to try and rescue his pet and sadly, has not survived.  We understand that for many people, a dog can be like a member of the family, but we would advise that people dial 999 and call the Coastguard if your pet gets into difficulty on the coast as we can send teams with specialist training and equipment to perform a rescue."

Published in Coastguard

At 5.30 pm last night Liverpool Coastguard were alerted to a local 15 year old girl in difficulty by the Leasowe Lighthouse on Moreton Common, Wirral, on Merseyside on the far side of the Irish Sea . She was completely cut off by the tide about 100 metres out on the nearby sandbank.

The Hoylake Coastguard Rescue Team were alerted as was the RNLI New Brighton hovercraft and West Kirby inshore lifeboat.

In the meantime the local Coastguard Sector Manager Steve Travis along with his team deployed their mud sled and recovered the girl to dry land.

By 6.30 pm this evening the girl was safely back at home with her mum.

Paul Kirby, Duty Watch Manager at Liverpool Coastguard said

"Our thanks are due to Steve and his team and the RNLI crews from Hoylake and West Kirby for responding so promptly to our call.

As the evenings are now darker after the clocks went back, swift tides and sandbanks can present a major problem for the unwary in the darkness. Please take care when going anywhere near tidal waters and make sure you know the times of the tides."

Published in Coastguard
Page 3 of 3

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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