Displaying items by tag: Tall ship
Afloat.ie has received an 'urgent' appeal for Tall Ship enthusiasts to help with a sunken 100–foot schooner in Portaferry Harbour. William Mulhall says he wants to return the 1935–built vessel to her 'former glory' but is seeking the assistance of a 'Tall Ship enthusiast to raise her and give her a refit'.
As Afloat.ie previously reported the schooner contained up to 1,000 litres of diesel fuel and had been moored in the harbour for some time, up to 18 months according to local reports.
BBC news says although a diesel spill in the area will clear up relatively quickly, the salvage operation to move the Regina Caelis could take months.
It is understood specialist equipment that is capable of bearing the weight of the boat, which is more than 200 tonnes, will need to be brought in.
Mulhall appealed for assistance via email: 'I have a tall ship sunk on the 27/1/17 in 20 foot of water still tied to the harbour and lying on her starboard side, in Portaferry, Co.Down, Northern Ireland
The Schooner Regina Caelis built in 1935 is 108ft long with a 40ft bow sprit and 10 sails, she has 3 masts and an engine BMA fitted in 1955.
I urgently need a Tall Ship enthusiast to raise her and give her a refit on slip and return her to former glory. I am open to ideas, partners, groups and shares'.
Contact details supplied : [email protected] or telephone at: 02844841301
The Norwegian tall ship, Christian Radich, one year short of its 80th anniversary, made a fine sight in Cork city last night.
The 1937 built ship is berthed at the North Custom House Quay. As Afloat.ie previously reported, the visit to Cork Harbour is private and will run beyond the weekend to at least mid-week. This it to facilitate trainees who are to attend a maritime course.
Christian Radich is one of two of Norway’s most famous large tallships, the other ship been Statsraad Lehmkuhl dating to 1914.
The square-rigger in August made a visit to Dublin as part of National Heritage Week.
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
“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 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
The governments in both jurisdictions in Ireland have included an all-Ireland sail training ship for the Atlantic Youth Trust in their long term capital expenditure proposals. And the movement in favour of support for this project has become so strong that the nationwide team involved in promoting it are confident that the ship’s future is now secured.
They continue to hold this view even with general elections and possible major changes in administrative direction taking place, north and south, within the next four months. Thus this week’s 2016 Annual General Meeting of the Atlantic Youth Trust in Irish Lights Headquarters in Dun Laoghaire found itself reviewing a remarkable year of progress and achievement, while giving pointers and reassurances for the successful way ahead. W M Nixon was there to take on board an evening of multiple messages.
It could well be that some time in the future, we will come to the sad but inescapable conclusion that the foundering of the Republic of Ireland’s national 84–ft sail training brigantine Asgard II in September 1908, followed within two years by the sinking of the Northern Ireland 70ft training ketch Lord Rank, were necessary disasters for the progress towards the ultimately more healthy ideal of a Class A 40-metre sail training barquentine.
The proposed ship - determinedly and enthusiastically serving all Ireland – will be initially funded through donations, and by government grants from both sides of the border. But the vessel is to be run independently by a cross-border trust rather than by some obscure unit of a government department.
September 2008 saw Ireland on the edge of the financial abyss. For a government under enormous pressure from all sides, a government, moreover, in which the minister responsible for the Asgard II took little or no interest in the ship and what she did, this sinking was a blessing in disguise.
The hull of Asgard II, completed in 1981, had long passed its sell-by date. When she sank, she took with her the magnificent rig which had been totally replaced only a couple of years earlier. Yet a properly involved government would surely have taken on board the advice that her timber hull urgently needed replacing, preferably with one built in steel. For although in 2008 the ship looked better than ever thanks to the devotion of her crew in working way over and above the call of duty in painting, varnishing and routine maintenance, there was no escaping the fact that the basic hull and its original fittings were living on borrowed time.
Ironically, the visit to La Rochelle, which she was nearing when she sank, included plans for a three-week stopover for a complete survey and some necessary repairs. Whether or not this would have revealed the fracturing seacock which many reckon to have caused the unstoppable ingress of water can only be a matter of speculation. The fact of the matter is the ship sank, and in an exemplary display of seamanship, the captain and crew ensured that their full quota of young trainees got safely away.
Flying the flag for Ireland – Asgard II in fine form, seen from another tall ship
But although Asgard II remained stubbornly intact and upright for some weeks on the Bay of Biscay seabed off Belle Ile, a government with financial Armageddon crashing down around its ears was glad enough to be shot of a unique project which some of them had never really understood or supported in the first place. Thus they refused to consider multiple suggests as to how best Asgard II could be salvaged. And frankly, it was for the best that they did so. For like it or not, while she was much-loved by the maritime community, the vessel had lost public confidence.
The subsequent loss of the Lord Rank in July 2010 after striking a rock likewise resulted in a merciful absence of casualties. But with Ireland north and south now in the utter depths of economic recession with no governmental enthusiasm whatsoever for non-essential projects, it was time to re-group for a few years and re-think the entire sail training ideal. It became almost an underground movement, with Coiste an Asgard being re-structured as Sail Training Ireland, and diligently setting about placing Irish trainees on the ships of other nations. It’s an ongoing programme which has been notably successful in providing both sea-going experience and a guaranteed international dimension for young people from all over Ireland, city and country alike.
Meanwhile there were rumblings from the west of Ireland where Enda O'Coineen and John Killeen were building on the can-do attitude of Galway, and from this there gradually emerged the Atlantic Youth Trust. It’s a determinedly all-Ireland group in which the Chairman is former Winter Olympics Gold Medallist Lord Glentoran from Northern Ireland, with the unstoppable unsinkable O Coineen as President. Supporting them is one very impressive list of seriously heavy hitters in the maritime and big business sphere from all over Ireland on its board, and perhaps most importantly of all, at an early stage they secured Neil O’Hagan as Executive Director.
Neil O’Hagan, Executive Director of the Atlantic Youth Trust
This sounds an impressive title, but at the moment he heads up a minimal staff. You can get the flavour of it all by taking a look at the Sailing on Saturdays conversation I had with him, reported here on 4th April 2015. The amount of work he puts in is prodigious, and though the Trust’s founding General Meeting was held in Belfast in the Harbour Commission’s historic building on September 10th 2014, they’d to forego a General Meeting during 2015 while various elements and agreements were being finally edged into place.
Since April 2015 we’ve had snippets of news about the governments north and south starting to provide what are essentially government letters of intent in support of the project. However, politics on this island being a snakelike progression notwithstanding the best efforts of St Patrick, with every twist and turn of the political machines the AYT have been at pains to ensure that gains supposedly agreed by one administrative decision-maker are carried through into the remit of the next when the inevitable political wheel of fortune turns yet again at the individual level.
But now, with two general elections in the offing and a rapidly improving situation developing in the AYT’s prospects, it was essential for a properly-convened AGM to be held on Thursday January 21st, staged this time in the impressive board-room of the Irish Lights Commissioners in Dun Laoghaire.
The boardroom at Irish Lights HQ is an impressive venue for any meeting, and it suited the Atlantic Youth Trust’s 2016 AGM very well
The maritime evangelist……Enda O'Coineen in full flight at this weeks AGM of the Atlantc Youth Trust
Ironically, although one of the main lines of thought in the AYT’s thinking is that the ship they’ll provide will be more of a floating multi-discipline schoolship of many projects, both afloat and ashore, rather than a traditional sail training ship, it emerged at the AGM that it was the traditional Tall Ships visit and Parade of Sail in Belfast and on Belfast Lough last July which gave them their greatest boost.
They’d a significant presence there, and thanks to one of the Trust Board Members, they’d the use of a fine big motor vessel aboard which visiting politicos and other heavy hitters could be taken on a sociable yet instructive tour of the harbour and the Tall Ships fleet. For many of these decision makers and opinion formers, it was a transformative experience, turning them into supporters of the Atlantic Youth Trust’s way of thinking.
The Tall Ships in Belfast, July 2015
She’s not a tall ship, she doesn’t even set sails, but the availability of the fine motor-yacht Evolution as a tour boat was a game changer for the Atlantic Youth Trust at Belfast’s Tall Ships Festival. Photo: W M Nixon
This opened doors north and south, and they rapidly increased their already formidable knowledge of how to work the corridors of power. The meeting on Thursday in Irish Lights was chaired by Peter Cooke from the north, and his affable presence made the running of business very smooth indeed. But as each specialist on the board revealed the progress they’d made during the past year and more in their particular task, it was to realize that here were people who were utterly professional in their approach, yet went at the job with the total enthusiasm of dedicated amateurs.
But what most impressed was the synergy of the high octane talents on the board which, in addition to Lord Glentoran, Enda O Coineen and Peter Cooke, can draw on the talents of people of the calibre of Dr Gerard O’Hare, Roger Courtney, Sean Lemass, David Beattie and John Killeen – with Neil O’Hagan as the key conduit, they’ve turned themselves into a formidable lobbying organisation.
It’s a fact of life in all Irish political administration, and particularly in Dublin, that each separate government department much prefers to function independently within its own little bubble, with nothing whatever to do with any other department while avoiding overlaps if at all possible. This is especially so in the neglected area of maritime activity, which is overseen by several departments, and is further warped by the reality that the government is in Dublin - which is also the biggest port - yet the real scene of the maritime action and the true hotbed of ideas is Cork.
So our shrewd operators in the AYT stood back and concluded that the politician they should most directly target was of course Minister for the Marine (and many other matters) Simon Coveney TD of Cork, but that in Dublin the departments to be wooed were Finance and the Office of the Taoiseach.
With increasing support at official level in the north and enthusiasm from key decision makers in the Republic, things were going grand when the President of the AYT suddenly went off in December 2015 to race single-handed across the Atlantic from the Caribbean to Brittany in his IMOCA 60 Kilcullen Voyager. Enda O’Coineen’s big boat has been very much part of the AYT awareness programme for the past year, taking trainee crews to sea. But this was something else altogether, and it made many supporters of the new training ship ideal distinctly nervous.
Enda O Coineen’s IMOCA 60 Kilcullen Voyager was used in Belfast for AYT work, but then in December he went and raced her single-handed across the Atlantic from the Caribbean to France. Photo W M Nixon
Racing across the Atlantic in as rough a December as anyone could remember may have been a personal challenge, but inevitably it was a high risk venture with which the AYT was inevitably associated, whether it liked it or not. The sailing community in Ireland is small, and nothing can happen in isolation. But to everyone’s enormous relief, not only did the boy do it, but he did it well, sailing across in style and securing a podium place with third at the finish.
This was quietly acknowledged as something which had been on everyone’s mind in a graceful little speech by the Deputy Chairman of the Irish Lights Commissioners congratulating the President on his Transatlantic success. So with everything in place as regards where AYT now stands in relation to both governments, the formal part of the meeting concluded with some commitments as to the way ahead, and the news that the Atlantic Youth Trust’s next public gathering of significance will be in Galway on March 12th, when more precise details of the new ship and the building programme will be revealed.
However, with an ethos in which going the extra mile is part of the DNA, the AYT then laid on a hugely entertaining dinner in the neighbouring Royal Irish YC with fascinating shows by the Gardai Siochana’s Conor O’Byrne, who played a central on-board co-ordination role in rescuing a crewman who had gone overboard in mid-Pacific from the Clipper yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire, and from Stewart Hosford from Cork, who is CEO of the organisation Five Degrees West whose main project is the designing, building and management of the Imoca 60 boats raced under the Hugo Boss campaign by Alex Thompson.
May The Force Be With You – the two faces of the Garda Siochana’s Conor O’Byrne, who gave the AYT and its supporters a fascinating insight into the successful rescue of a crewmember who went overboard from Derry/Londonderry/Doire in mid-Pacific.
Suits you, Sir…..Alex Thompson on the second Hugo Boss. At Thursday’s meeting, Stewart Hosford of Cork – whose interest in the sea and sailing was inspired by Asgard II – gave the inside story on his job as CEO of the Hugo Boss sailing challenges.
Each compact yet thought-provoking show would have made for a worthy topic on its own in most clubs’ entertainment programme. But it was special to include both on this night of all nights, as each speaker had been enthused in their youth by sailing on Asgard II, and each would do anything to ensure that the upcoming generations get a similar opportunity and inspiration.
It was that kind of night, with the congenial attendance including Seamus McLoughlin and Michael Byrne from Sail Training Ireland, and Oliver Hart whose 70ft schooner Spirit of Oysterhaven continues gallantly to fulfill the role of Ireland’s premier sail training vessel from her base on the Cork coast.
In all, it’s a busy few days for Irish sail training, which is definitely no longer an underground movement. Today, Sail Training Ireland hold their 4th Annual Prize Giving and Programme Launch in the Mansion House in Dublin, looking back on a season in which the number of funded trainees sent on sailing ships abroad and at home came in at just under 300, while in all they arranged berths for more than 500.
The plan for 2016 includes a formal twinning of Dublin and Liverpool for maritime festivals, while on the training front, STI are aiming for a target of 350 funded trainees. And as for Ireland eventually returning to having her own sail training ship, no sooner was Thursday night’s remarkable series of events brought to a close than Neil O’Hagan had to gather his thoughts and head off for New York to meet the Ireland Fund. They are taking a serious and very positive interest in the plans of the Atlantic Youth Trust.
The Dutch Tall Ship Morgenster, seen here on Belfast Lough in July 2015, is one of the vessels used by Sail Training Ireland to send more than 500 young people every year out onto the high seas. Photo: W M Nixon
Tall Ship The Hermione, the authentic replica of the 18th century ship the Marquis de Lafayette, makes the ideal subject for this aerial video shot by Nautimages during the replica's stopover in Brest, four months ago.
The French 12-pounder frigate Hermione was famous for her support of America during the Revolutionary War. She sailed to the America’s with news of full French support for the cause.
Her 1997-built replica is famous for being a gorgeously-built copy of an archetypal combatant during the Age of Sail.
Last year, the replica lead a Parade of private and commercial ships up the Hudson River on July 4th. More on her here
Frequent visitor to Ireland, the Gorch Fock tall ship of the German Navy (Deutsche Marine) had a mishap coming into berth as the vid by youtuber Manfred Thoms shows.
Gorch Fock is the second ship of that name and a sister ship of the Gorch Fock built in 1933. Both ships are named in honour of the German writer Johann Kinau who wrote under the pseudonym "Gorch Fock" and died in the battle of Jutland/Skagerrak in 1916.
#tallship – The visit of the Tall Ships to Belfast from July 2nd to 5th was anticipated with an enthusiasm which was fully justified by the numbers which became involved. Sixty vessels of all sizes assembled on both sides of the River Lagan in the rejuvenated docklands area and the Titanic Quarter, with a goodly sprinkling of the Class A full-rigged ships dominating the scene. And in a well-organised shoreside transport scheme involving Park & Ride centres in the suburbs, the people were able to get to the clean new quaysides in their thousands, in their tens of thousands, in their hundreds of thousands – indeed, it's reckoned that when those who clustered along the shores of Belfast Lough to watch yesterday's departing Parade of Sail are added in, well over half a million people were involved.
At the many events in Belfast Docks, organisers Sail Training International reported that the number of people making a point of personally going aboard one of the Tall Ships was unprecedented at any port since the international programme was launched way back in 1956, underlining the great interest there is in these ships, and what they do. In future discussions on Afloat.ie, we'll be looking at how the success of this event will affect the re-development of a proper sail training programme in Ireland north and south. But for now, with the Sail Training Races 2015 started this afternoon off Portrush on the north coast after the fleet had sailed there from yesterday's departure from Belfast Lough, W M Nixon recalls some memories from the Parade of Sail.
It's something of a triumph of hope over experience expecting to see fleets of Tall Ships becoming veritable Cathedrals of Sail when they're proceeding seaward for their first race after several days of assembling and partying like crazy in some hospitable port. Even with the ten or so miles of open water which Belfast Lough provided before the boats headed into the North Channel yesterday afternoon to proceed to today's start of the Tall Ships first race of the 2015 programme to Alesund in Norway, there's little enough room for the biggest ships to start shaking out the canvas and engaging in anything approaching close quarters manoeuvring.
Then too, in some cases Belfast will have seen crew changes, and the ship's officers – who may themselves just be ever so slightly partied out – will be reluctant to put fresh untested crewmen through all their paces in the first day out, and all of it under observation from boats large and small tearing about the lough on spectator missions.
But even without sail set, the best-looking big ships really are astonishingly handsome. As two of the ports for this year's programme are in Norway, the Norwegians were putting on the style with the presence of three famous full-rigged ships – the Christian Radich, the Sorlandet, and the Statsraad Lehmkuhl. They'll have left Norway in pristine condition, and clearly their crews were determined to keep them that way for the return home, as their square sails remained resolutely neat, tightly furled as a stockbroker's umbrella, with the ships setting only two or three staysails as they proceeded primly down the laugh.
Superbly presented....but setting no square sails – two of the Norwegian biggies, with Sorlandet in the foreground. Photo: W M Nixon
The elegant stern of the Statsraad Lehmkuhl was a joy to behold Photo: W M Nixon
Fortunately we'd the people's choice star of the show to brighten things, the Ecuadorian ship Guayas, game for anything with all sail eventually set, and the usual vast Latin American ensign flying from the mizzen. Guayas is on her first round the world cruise, and she must have been away from home for quite some time already. Let's put that another way. If any international marine paint manufacturer happens to be reading this, may we suggest that you could do yourself a lot of good in worldwide PR by donating many gallons of fresh white paint to the good ship Guayas. Nevertheless if there was an award for party spirit, Guayas would have won it easily.
In terms of square riggers setting the cloth, once again it was the Dutch who set the pace, this time the most enthusiastic being the Morgenster, which is a favourite among Irish trainees. She had her sails up and drawing while still in the Lagan, and looked the part at every stage.
The popular Morgenster had her square sails set before she cleared the river. Photo: W M Nixon
A Ballyholme Laser sailor takes on the French schooner Etoile – and he kept up with her too.....Photo: W M Nixon
Also quickening many an old salt's heart was the French tops'l schooner Etoile, which with her sister-ship Belle Poule has been sail training French naval cadets for longer than any of us can remember (it's 1932, as it happens) and she continues to be a tidy and manageable size which might be an inspiration for those who think Ireland doesn't absolutely have to have her own Class A vessel.
In terms of vessel numbers, it was of course the smaller fore-and-aft craft which made up the crowd, and observing from aboard the hospitable Peter & Carolyn Minnis's Mitchell 31 powercruiser Blue Echo, our group was particularly taken with the team spirit shown by the cheerful crew on the London-based Oyster 80 Rona II.
As for the presence of the eternal Jolie Brise, those of us who knew that this remarkable vessel was the winner of the first Fastnet Race ninety years ago still find it a wonder to behold the way such a hefty vessel can slip through the water, while those who were seeing the splendid old cutter for the first time were much taken with the Fastnet links.
The eternal Jolie Brise – this winner of the first Fastnet Race ninety years ago continues to impress with her stylish way through the water. Photo: W M Nixon
Back to life – the superbly restored Huff of Arklow revelling in the sailing on Belfast Lough. Photo: W M Nixon
Equally impressive in her way was the restored Huff of Arklow, the Flying Thirty first built by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow in 1951 to an Uffa Fox design, and now brought back to vigorous new life by Dominic Bridgeman and his group down Plymouth way. She's due back in her first home port of Dun Laoghaire on Wednesday to be an adornment of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 and we'll look at her in more detail in the near future, but meanwhile rest assured that she cut a real dash in Belfast Lough on Sunday.
And finally, with the fleet now on their way towards Norway from today's start area off Portrush, it was more than appropriate that the last little boat we diverted towards for have a looksee was the classic Greencastle yawl James Kelly, built by Robin Ruddock and his maritime heritage group in Portrush in honour of the great local boatbuilder who, between 1895 and 1910, built many notable craft including three Dublin Bay 21s and seven Howth 17s. The James Kelly is one jaunty little craft, and she was sailing like a witch.
Gallant little boat. The Greencastle yawl James Kelly was brought down from Portrush to salute the Tall Ships on Belfast Lough. Photo: W M Nixon
#mexicantallship – Dublin Port Company and the Mexican Embassy in Dublin have announced that one of the world's largest Tall Ships, the 1,800 tonnes, 270 foot long Cuauhtémoc will sail into Dublin Port on Wednesday 17th June for a five day visit to the capital.
In a time honoured naval tradition, the Cuauhtémoc will salute the city just before entering the port with a cannon salute in Dublin Bay. The spectacular vessel will then be met by Dublin Port's tug boats Shackleton and Beaufort as well as a flotilla of yachts from local sailing clubs in a ceremonial escort to mark the ship's arrival at 10am in Dublin Port.
Commanded by Captain Pedro Mata, the Cuauhtémoc is a sail training vessel of the Mexican Navy which travels around the world carrying a message of friendship and goodwill. She will arrive in Dublin with 225 men and women sailors on board - including trainees of different nationalities - who will participate in a five-day programme of engagements in the capital as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Mexico.
Highlights of the itinerary include an accompanied tour of the city for crew, a visit to the vessel by President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins on Sunday, and a special performance by 'The Buena Vibra Latin Jazz Trio with the Royal Irish Academy of Music Percussion Ensemble' on board, as well as the San Patricio Mariachi Band.
Dubliners and visitors to the city hoping to get a closer insight into life on board this magnificent vessel will be able to visit for free while she is berthed at Sir John Rogerson's Quay. Opening times to the public are Wednesday 17th – Saturday 20th June between 10.00 and 19.00, and on Sunday 21st June from 10.00 to 15.00. During her last visit to Dublin as part of the Tall Ship Races 2012, the Cuauhtémoc welcomed over 23,000 visitors on board.
Built in the Celaya shipyards in Bilbao, Spain, the Cuauhtémoc was launched in July 1982. She was the last of four windjammers built by Bilbao shipyards and is named after the last Aztec emperor who was imprisoned and executed by the conquistador, Herman Cortes, in 1525. This will be her fourth visit to Irish waters.
Eamonn O'Reilly, Chief Executive of Dublin Port Company, said: "Dublin Port Company is delighted to welcome Cuauhtémoc and her entire crew to Dublin for a very special visit in a significant year for Mexican-Irish relations. Her visit serves as an important reminder of our cultural bond and trading links that have grown from strength to strength over the past 40 years. I would encourage everyone in the city to show the Cuauhtémoc a warm Irish welcome during her stay. It's a fantastic opportunity to explore this magnificent vessel up close and experience first-hand Mexican maritime culture on our doorstep."
The Ambassador of Mexico to Ireland, H.E. Carlos Garcia de Alba said: "2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Mexico. This important milestone in our shared history affords both Mexico and Ireland the opportunity to showcase trade, academic and investment partnerships and to share in artistic and cultural exchanges between our countries. The arrival to Dublin of the Mexican Navy's Tall Ship Cuauhtémoc is just one of the many events to take place that reaffirms the commitment to strengthen the excellent ties of friendship and co-operation between our nations."
#tallships – The countdown to The Irish Maritime Festival is well and truly on. The ships have set sail from their respective home ports and are fast approaching Drogheda for the Festival from 19-21st June.
In association with Maxol, The Irish Maritime Festival is one of the largest festivals in the North East and attracts visitors from Dublin, Belfast and all across the country. Situated in the historic port of Drogheda, the event is staged by Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company.
The ships will arrive in a parade of sail up the River Boyne on Friday 19th June beginning at 1.30pm and everyone is welcome to be there. "It is such a wonderful sight to see these magnificent vessels sailing up the river. We invite and encourage everyone to be there. The parade of sail and opening event on Friday is free to attend and children and families are particularly welcome." explained Festival Organiser Mary T. Daly of Louth County Council
This family friendly festival features a huge range of off and on shore activities. The off-shore schedule includes over 250 swimmers competing in the challenging Boyne Swim, a 2.7km long swim finishing in front of cheering audiences. Check out the fleet of vintage lifeboats courtesy of the RNLI and learn about their adventures at sea. Board the beautiful classic ships or marvel at the 100ft long Class A Tall Ship "The Morgenster", so tall that it won't even fit under Drogheda's iconic viaduct. Watch out for the Boyne Regatta and the Howth to Drogheda yacht race.
Seasonal favourites such as the Pirate Battles and Extreme Sports displays will also return to the River Boyne as part of the 2015 Irish Maritime Festival.
Another new challenge this year is the heroic "Battle Across the Boyne" Tug of War taking place on Sunday at noon at the DeLacy Bridge. Teams from the near side and the far side will compete for glory.
On-shore there is lots to do and see. "The Irish Maritime Festival truly allows the local community here in Drogheda and the Boyne Valley to shine" Mary T. Daly continued. "The Festival is made up of so many brilliant community groups and businesses who bring so much to the Festival and are helping to grow it into a truly national event. There will be sand castle competitions, adults and kids cookery demos, maritime themed walking tours, artisan food producers, skills displays by the Scouts and much more. Two live music stages will be going all weekend with singer songwriters and bands from all over the North East. Chill out in the pop up cinema and catch up on some maritime themed family movies. Visit the aquarium. Meet the whale and dolphin experts and see their life sized models. Take part in the art competition in the Art and Photography zone. Compete for the chance to be crowned the East Coast Chowder Champion. And there's more, much more to see and do."
See the Iron Man in Drogheda
Car lovers won't want to miss the 5th Annual Drogheda Motor Show also taking place at The Irish Maritime Festival. Shiny new cars with beautiful interiors and great sales promotions are the order of the day at the Motor Show. Watch out for the "Design a Car" challenge. This competition is a collaboration between local primary schools, local motor dealers and the team at Drogheda Men's Sheds and the results promise to be some pretty innovative car designs.
It's not too late to volunteer to be part of the Festival. Mary continued "We are expecting 40,000+ visitors to the Festival over the weekend so we are delighted to have such a brilliant team of volunteers on board. Become part of the Festival Volunteer team by visiting www.maritimefestival.ie/volunteer, complete your details and one of the volunteer co-ordinators will be in touch."
Tickets for all this family fun are surprisingly affordable at just €5.00 for 1 adult and up to 2 children or €10 for a family ticket of 2 adults and up to 4 children. Tickets are available at the gate or avail of a 20% saving when you book online at www.MaritimeFestival.ie.
"The long range weather forecast is good and the ships are on their way. We've lots of fun, family friendly activities planned for everyone and we can't wait to welcome you all. Ahoy there – see you at the Irish Maritime Festival!" concluded Mary T. Daly.