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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Rathlin Island

Rathlin is Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island. It has a population of about 150 and lies opposite Ballycastle on the world-famous North Antrim Coast.

Today (9th June) the marina in Church Bay is buzzing with yachts raring to start tomorrow (10th) in the 2021 St.Kilda Challenge organised by Ocean Sailing Scotland, Comann na Mara (Society of the Sea) and the Clyde Cruising Club.

This passage race of almost 200 miles will start five miles off Rathlin, renowned for its strong tides, and finish at the entrance to Village Bay on St.Kilda. The fleet will head out into the Atlantic, keeping the Scottish west coast Islands to starboard, with an option to divert inside if weather requires it. Keeping the UNESCO World Heritage site also to starboard, the passage race will round the archipelago and finish in Village Bay.

St.Kilda lies 40 miles west-northwest of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

The fleet is Golden Fox, Contender, InTuition, Polished Manx, Shenavall, Chorus and Clockwork. After the race, they will move on to Loch Maddy North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

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The Rathlin RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds) has announced the Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre will re-open on Saturday 29th May in line with the NI Executive's indicative date for visitor attractions. This, of course, may be subject to review.

Rathlin lies about six miles off the North Antrim coast opposite Ballycastle and is reached by the Ballycastle -Rathlin ferry.

The Seabird Centre is four miles west of the Harbour on the site of the unique 'Upside Down' lighthouse. It can be reached by private bus, bicycle or on foot.

There are unrivalled close-up views of Northern Ireland's largest seabird colony and a chance to explore the lighthouse, part of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland Trail. There is a 158-step descent to the viewing platform and lighthouse.

The centre is open daily until 19th September from 10 am – 5 pm (last entry 4 pm).

Published in Marine Wildlife

The good news for lovers of Rathlin is following the latest easing of restrictions by the Northern Ireland Executive, visitors are allowed to travel to the Island from Friday 23rd April.

Rathlin lies nine kilometres across Rathlin Sound from Ballycastle on the north Antrim coast and is Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island. The reverse L-shaped island is six kilometres from east to west and four kilometres from north to south. A small 40 berth marina lies in Church Bay on the south side.

Because of its geographical position, Rathlin has long associations with both Ireland and Scotland, and it once lay at the heart of the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada.

Whilst hugely crucial for breeding seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars, and more recently corncrake, Rathlin Island is also home to a unique 'upside-down' lighthouse at the western end. There are also many and varied walking trails.

Rathlin Ferry

For details and bookings for the Rathlin Island Ferry, contact 028 2076 9299 or email [email protected] between 08.30 – 12.30 and 13.30 – 17.00.

The winter timetable will be in operation until 28th May, and bookings can only be accepted. Information on businesses on the island can be found here

Published in Island News
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Portrush RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched to reports of a yacht in difficulty off Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland last night (Friday 2 October).

The volunteer crew were in the water just before 9pm, half an hour after paging, and headed to the location of the single-handed yachtsman four miles north-west of Rathlin in moderate to rough seas.

Cox Dave Robinson and his crew arrived on scene at 10pm and established that the yachtsman was able to manoeuvre himself into Rathlin Harbour, on the island off mainland Co Antrim, but requested their guidance.

“The yachtsman did the right thing in contacting the coastguard as he was experiencing some difficulties getting into harbour, and we were glad to provide the support,” said Portrush’s new lifeboat operations manager Beni McAllister.

“We would prefer that people were safe than sorry and would ask that they dial 999 and ask for the coastguard if help is required.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Island of Rathlin in the Sea of Moyle off Ballycastle is now open to resident and visiting boat owners and overnighting is allowed. The ferry is also operating.

This popular destination is six miles long, one mile wide, "L" shaped and home to a slowly increasing population of around 140 people. Very strong tides surround the island. The pontoons in Church Bay will take up to 40 visiting boats. Water depth is good alongside but contact the Harbour Master directly for particular up to date hydrographical information.

Harbour Master John Moreton says that “ all visiting vessels must book in advance and will be asked to pre-pay, prior to arrival. This will secure a suitable berthing space and avoid disappointment. Anyone requiring fuel must also book in advance. Visitors are asked to adhere to current social distancing guidance and be aware of other users. Good hand hygiene will be essential, especially around common contact points such as handles and railings”.

A short walk from the harbour is the Boathouse Visitor Centre, where visitors can discover some of the exciting history, learn about present-day island life and see some artefacts from shipwrecks around the island. There are many enjoyable walks including along the shore to Mill Bay where you may see some of the resident seals basking or at play. Cycle hire is another way to enjoy the island or take a bus trip.

From April to July is puffin season so take the opportunity to see them along with many other sea birds.

The Harbour Master can be contacted for bookings at Rathlin on 07724594118 or at Ballycastle Marina on 028 207 68525/ 07803 505084

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Five people were rescued off North Co Antrim yesterday afternoon (Friday 30 August) when their 33ft yacht got into difficulty near Rathlin Island.

Red Bay RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat 1.20pm following a report that the yacht was struggling to make headway in difficult conditions at sea some five miles south-east of Rathlin.

Two of the crew onboard the yacht — which was on passage to Carrickfergus — were also suffering from seasickness, Red Bay RNLI says.

The lifeboat crew set up a tow and brought the vessel to Ballycastle. Speaking later, Red Bay RNLI press officer Paddy McLaughlin said: “Conditions at sea were challenging this afternoon and the crew made the right decision to call for help.”

Elsewhere, Clifden RNLI in Connemara launched its new all-weather lifeboat for the first time on Thursday afternoon (29 August) to reports of a RIB adrift and in danger in Ballinakill Bay between Letterfrack and Renvyle.

However, it was the D class inshore lifeboat Celia Mary which was first on the scene — where volunteers found two people on a 5.5m RIB with engine failure that was very close to the rocky shore in worsening weather conditions, with a Force 6 wind at the time.

Lifeboat helm Thomas Davis agreed with the two people on board the RIB that the vest course of action was a tow back to shore, which was safely completed.

Davis said: “We were glad to be able to help these people recover their boat today.

“We also wish to remind all water users in Connemara to contact the coastguard or emergency services at the earliest opportunity when things go wrong — we would always rather launch and be stood down than risk other possible outcomes.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A group of divers were rescued from their sinking boat by the Rathlin Island Ferry yesterday afternoon (Sunday 23 September).

Ferry skipper Michael Cecil told the Belfast Telegraph how he responded to the divers’ distress call while on his regular route from the Co Antrim island to Ballycastle on the mainland.

The divers were split between two boats separated by half a mile, one of which was filling quickly with water.

Cecil described “tricky” conditions trying to move his ferry alongside as even his own passengers lent a hand to the divers on board.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue
Tagged under

#Shipping - The captain of a cargo ship that ran aground on Rathlin Island last week has been fined £1,000 over his negligence at the helm, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The MV Ruyter, which was en route from Russia via Denmark and Scotland, sustained extensive damage to the front of its hull after running aground on the north side of Rathlin Island on the night of Tuesday 10 October.

However the damage was not noted till the vessel arrived at Warrenpoint in Carlingford Lough the following afternoon.

At a sitting of Armagh Court, Judge Paul Copeland found that Aleksandr Iakovotsov had broken international shipping codes over failure to keep a lookout to judge risk of collision, and a separate charge of failing to provide sufficient lookout “during the hours of darkness”.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#EntersService – The new custom-built car ferry Spirit of Rathlin has finally entered service with a first scheduled sailing today on the Rathlin Island link with Ballycastle on the Antrim mainland, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Spirit of Rathlin built by Arklow Marine Services at cost of £2.8m entered the route which caters for 6 vehicles and 140 passengers. The 28m long newbuild directly replaced the ageing Canna which performed a final crossing last night concluding two decades of loyal service.

The introduction of Spirit of Rathlin is based on a 10 year contract to Rathlin Ferry Co. This was awared to the ferry company following a tender process from Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure (dfi) that funded the ferry. 

Spirit of Rathlin is a boost to islanders and tourists alike as the new ferry offers better accommodation in the form of a saloon lounge area (seating 42) on the main deck. On the above decks 1 and 2, there is additional seating outside to take in the scenic views across Rathlin Sound.

In terms of freight he ‘Spirit’ will have the ability to convey an articulated truck and the newcomer will not be alone as the is also the passenger-only fastcraft Rathlin Express.

Prior to today’s opening, as previously reported on Afloat the new ferry had undergone further works at Mooney Boats, Killybegs. The work involved the use of the Donegal yard's syncro-lift. 

In recent months, essential crew training was carried out before the Spirit of Rathlin was permitted a MCA certification. Also improvements to berthing infrastructure had to be completed in Ballycastle Harbour to accommodate the new ferry.

Published in Island News

#Newbuild - A new customer for Mooney Boats of Killybegs, Spirit of Rathlin in which Afloat previously reported calling to the yard for work can now be further revealed, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 6 vehicle / 140 passenger ferry Spirit of Rathlin according to Rathlin Ferry Ltd state they wish to announce a launch date very soon! The route is between Ballycastle on the mainland and Church Bay, and the £2.8m newbuild was constructed by Arklow Marine Services. In February vehicle loading trials of the ferry took place in Greystones Harbour.

The investment was funded by the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastucture (dfi) that awarded the contract to operate the vessel to Rathlin Ferry Co. Under the terms of the charter contract, the new ferry is to provide services to Northern Ireland’s only inhabited island for the next decade.

A delivery voyage by Spirit of Rathlin to the Antrim island had taken place in April, however the additional work required attending the Donegal yard. The type of work involved according to Mooney Boats is listed below: 

Alterations to Front Ramp Hydraulics
Diesel gaskets replaced throughout vessel
Resealed coolers
Washed & Painted vessel
Supplied new glavanised anchor chain
Sandblasted and metalized anchors for vessel

When the 28m newbuild enters service, she is to directly replace the ageing Canna. At more than four decades old the ‘Island’ class car-ferry which is on charter, will be returned to Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL). They are responsible for the ship-management operations of Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) fleet that provide extensive services to the Scottish western isles and on Forth of Clyde.

Spirit of Rathlin will not be alone as the newcomer will partner passenger-only fastcraft Rathlin Express which will be a major enhancement of service for islanders and tourists alike. The vessel will have a saloon lounge area (seating 42) on the main deck. Further seating outside is available on decks 1 and 2 to take in the scenic views across Rathlin Sound. In addition the ‘Spirit’ will have the ability to convey an articulated truck.

However, the same number of vehicles will be transported likewise of Canna, though the carriage of cars on this service is restricted to island residents.

Published in Ferry
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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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