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#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has recorded another first for the North Atlantic, with evidence showing that killer whales are feeding on ocean sunfish.

Mark Holmes of the Natural History Museum confirmed the presence of parasites unique to the sunfish found within the carcass of a female orca stranded in Doohooma in Co Mayo.

"These parasites did not originate from the whale's stomach, but came from the prey which it had eaten," said the IWDG's Conor Ryan.

"This was confirmed when the partially digested bones in the stomachs were eventually identified as those of a sunfish beak."

The discovery may explain a recent study of UK waters which found sunfish taking unusually deep dives, possibly to avoid cetaceans and other large predators.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Investigators have warned of the dangers of drinking at sea following their investigation into the death of two yachtsmen off Inishboffin in October last year.
Donal McEllin, 63, and Ger Feeney, 56, died while attempting to return to their motor yacht Quo Vadis in the early hours of 10 October.
The inquiry by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that the pair had set off for the yacht - which was moored in Inisboffin Harbour - on a motor-driven inflatable tender after several hours socialising in Day's Pub on the island.
The report also found that they had declined an offer to be ferried back to the yacht.
A witness, Ian Day, recounted that he drove his jeep to the end of the pier and used his headlights to assure himself that the tender had reached the vessel. Though it had been agreed with both men that they would turn off the external lights on the vessel when they safely boarded, it was assumed that they had forgotten.
The bodies of both men were discovered the following morning. McEllin’s body was found lying on West Quarter Beach adjacent to where the vessel was moored, while Feeney’s body was found afloat, lying under the upturned tender. McEllin’s lifejacket had inflated but was entangled around his neck, indicating that the groin strap was not properly tied.
Based on the available evidence, the MCIB concluded that the deaths were the result of attemping a night-time transfer from a small inflatable boat to a larger vessel swinging on its mooring, combined with "possible tiredness and diminished human performance resulting from the effects of alcohol".

Investigators have published their investigation report into the death of two yachtsmen off Inishboffin in October last year.

Donal McEllin, 63, and Ger Feeney, 56, died while attempting to return to their motor yacht Quo Vadis in the early hours of 10 October.

The inquiry by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found that the pair had set off for the yacht - which was moored in Inisboffin Harbour - on a motor-driven inflatable tender after several hours socialising in Day's Pub on the island.

The report also found that they had declined an offer to be ferried back to the yacht.

A witness, Ian Day, recounted that he drove his jeep to the end of the pier and used his headlights to assure himself that the tender had reached the vessel. Though it had been agreed with both men that they would turn off the external lights on the vessel when they safely boarded, it was assumed that they had forgotten.

The bodies of both men were discovered the following morning. Mr. McEllin’s body was found lying on West Quarter Beach adjacent to where the vessel was moored, while Mr. Feeney’s body was found afloat, lying under the upturned tender. Mr. McEllin’s lifejacket had inflated but was entangled around his neck, indicating that the groin strap was not properly tied.

Based on the available evidence, the MCIB concluded that the deaths were the result of attemping a night-time transfer from a small inflatable boat to a larger vessel swinging on its mooring, combined with "possible tiredness and diminished human performance resulting from the effects of alcohol".

The full MCIB report is available for download below.

Published in MCIB

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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