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The last race of the ISORA Avery Crest Offshore series that was sponsored by LC Tyres, took place on Saturday 12th September with the race from Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire (74 miles) writes ISORA's Peter Ryan. The boats compete for the famous “James Eadie” trophy. As like the same race last season, the weather forecast for the race and particularly the delivery to Pwllheli was not favourable all week. This put off many of taking part in what is normally a well supported end of season race.
The race was of more interest than usual due to the fact that the Overall Championship was still be be raced for with Liam Shanahan’s J109, “Ruth” and Andrew Hall’s J125, “Jackknife” only a 5 point apart and Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox’s J109 “Mojito” close behind. While either “Ruth” or “Jackknife” could have taken the Series with a good result in the race, “Mojito” needed a well attended race to secure sufficient points in the high points scoring used by ISORA.
Of the 26 entries received for the race, 19 had confirmed taking part on the Monday prior to the race but only 9 came to the start on Saturday morning. Several boats had left Dun Laoghaire the previous morning but turned back when they were met with strong south easterly winds on the nose and a big sloppy sea. Those that persevered were rewarded with nearly “champagne” sailing for the race. Bryan Mullarkey’s Collins 40, “Harriet Marwood” was taking part in an ISORA race for the first time. Richard Mossop’s Oceanis 411, “Yachtzee” and David Simpson’s Swan 371 “Albeiro” were battling for the Overall Class 2.

ruth

Liam Shanahan's Ruth from the National Yacht Club has successfully defended her 2015 ISORA offshore crown

Due to the uncertain forecast due to the presence of two depressions, north and south of the race area, the decision was taken to set the course from the start direct in Pwllheli to the finish between the pier heads in Dun Laoghaire.
Despite the poor forecast, the lashing winds during the night and the strong winds, conditions were relative pleasant for the start. The wind was 10-12 knots from the south west giving a beat to the first corner at St Tudwal’s Sound. Stephen Tudor’s J109, “Sgrech” was first off the line and lead the fleet until the faster “Jackknife” too to the front. From the start “Ruth” and Mojito” were always in close contact leaving.
As the fleet approached St Tudwal’s Sound the wind had increased to 20knots and the expected overfalls at the end of the sound awaited the fleet. The next leg was the beat to Bardsay Sound. The wind appeared to veer westerly and maintained the 20-22 knots leaving the fleet to beat through the rough seas towards Bardsey Sound. Fortunately, the tide was right for a fast shoot through Bardsey Sound. Unfortunately, the overfalls in the sound were significant but had settled soon after exiting it.

LC Tyrehunter logo
By that stage the battle was on. “Jackknife” cracked sails and took the direct line to Dun Laoghaire in the last of the north going tide. The remainder of the fleet retained their height and the three J109’s with Conor Fogarty’s 2-handed Jenneau 3600, “Bam”, bunched together for the leg to Dun Laoghaire. Shortly after leaving Bardsey the wind backed allowing the boats to ease sails and speed up. Of the bunch of four, “Bam” lead the group with “Ruth” and “Mojito” close behind and “Sgrech” snapping at their heels. Paul Sutton’s “Pipedreamer VI” was just behind this pack.
As the fleet approached the Irish coast the winds abated to 12 knots and backed further to the south allowing those with Code Zeros to accelerate. The positions within the fleet did not change for the long leg despite continuous trimming and hard driving being done on all the boats. It was not until approaching Dublin Bay that “things started to happen”. The winds became fickle and dropped further in Killiney bay. While “Jackknife” avoided much of the light wind to keep powering towards the line, the three J109’s and “Bam” got into a tactical battle with rapid sail changes taking place to deal with the oscillating winds. As the fleet approached Dublin Bay the wind veered to the west and decreased again giving the boats a short final beat to the finish line. Despite the work on each boat the positions generally remained the same.
“Jackknife” took line honours but could only manage 5th Overall allowing “Ruth”, who won the Overall race and Class1 to regain the ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Championship title. Class 2 was won by “Yahtzee” who also won Silver Class.
The crew of Liam Shanahan’s “Ruth” include his four sons. There is a great tradition of offshore racing in the Shanahan family with Liam Shanahan Snr playing a huge part in ISORA racing in the early days.
The race sponsor, LC Tyres, provided day prizes for the race. These were presented at the après sail party that took place in the NYC. The prizes were presented by Caroline Coyne aided by her son, Billy and daughter, Isobel.
The ISORA Avery Crest Offshore Championship trophy, the Wolf’s Head, will be presented to Liam Shanahan at the ISORA dinner in the NYC on the 14th November. “Jackknife” took 2nd place Overall and “Mojito” took 3rd place.
Overall Series Calls 1 was won by “Jackknife” and Class 2 was won by “Albeiro” who also took Overall Silver Class. The team prize, known as the “Victoria Cup”, was again won by Pwllheli Sailing Club.
All the results can be found on the ISORA website. The YB tracking of the race can also be accessed on the ISORA website and on the YB app for smart phones.

Published in ISORA

#Fishing - Was a fishing boat dragged backwards by a submarine in the Irish Sea?

That's what the crew of an Ardglass prawn trawler are saying after an incident yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 15 April).

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, skipper Paul Murphy says the 60-foot wooden-hulled trawler was some 18 miles off the coast, near the Calf of Man, when something snagged its nets.

“Without warning, were were stopped and pulled backwards very violently at around ten knots which is the top speed of the vessel. I really thought that was it," he says.

"It was fortunate that one of the steel ropes holding the net snapped or we would have been pulled under very quickly."

Murphy says the scary episode only lasted a few seconds, but still managed to cause thousands of pounds' worth of damage to his fishing gear – and alleges that the culprit was a submarine.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

It wasn't the only drama in the Irish Sea yesterday, as a coastguard helicopter was scrambled to rescue three from a fishing boat that sank off Wicklow.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#MarineWildlife - Cute by name, cute by nature: Sherkin, Buoy and Splash were returned to the wild after being nursed back to health by the volunteers at Seal Rescue Ireland.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the three young seals – rescued after tips from the public from locations in Cork and Kerry – were rehabilitated over the past three months at the new marine wildlife refuge in Courtown.

But they were finally fit to return to the open water last weekend at Fountainstown beach in Co Cork. The Irish Examiner has much more HERE.

As three return to Irish waters, another says adieu – as Clet the lone dolphin has now been spotted off the Dorset coast, according to the Bournemouth Echo.

Last spotted between Ireland and Scotland's west coast in December, the solitary cetacean first noted in French waters in 2008 appears to have completed a full loop around the island of Ireland.

Along the way he bypassed Dingle's famous resident Fungie and spent a few days in the company of fellow 'dolphina-non-grata' Sandy, also known as Dusty.

Now he's attracting the attention of locals at Portland, south of Weymouth, across the English Channel from his original splashing grounds.

Closer to home, conservationists in the the North West of England have released a video documenting the wealth of wildlife living in the Irish Sea as a reminder to political movers and shakers of the importance of its protection.

Groups such as the North West Wildlife Trusts have criticised Westminster for 'lack of ambition' over the past year since plans for a network of well over 100 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) were scaled back to just 27 approvals in November 2013.

More recently a further 23 MCZs were designated proposed, only two of which are out of out of seven proposals covering the waters between Britain's west coast and Ireland (updated Tuesday 17 March).

Published in Marine Wildlife

#CancelledSailings – Met Eireann has issued a status 'orange' warning of gale to storm force winds tonight on all Irish coastal waters, which have led to widespread cancellation of ferry sailings across the Irish Sea.

Passengers are advised to consult for up to date information as sailings are cancelled tonight and for tomorrow (January 15). For up to date sailing information, click the ferry operator websites listed below.

Those travelling with Irish Ferries, should also take note that in addition to cancelled conventional sailings, the operators Dublin-Holyhead 'Swift' fast-ferry crossings are currently not in service as Jonathan Swift is on scheduled annual maintenance.

She headed for dry-docking in Birkenhead, where Ulysses as previously on Afloat.ie is also undergoing annual overhaul.

Isle of Man-England services are also effected to the adverse weather, with Isle of Man Steam Packet sailings on the Douglas-Heysham route cancelled today.

Further disruption and cancelled sailings (subject to which crossing) also apply to sailings tomorrow (January 15).

To recap, passengers are advised to check latest sailing information from the following website links:
Irish Ferries, Stena Line, P&O Ferries and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co.

For additional information details are available by visiting the AA's ferrywatch service HERE

For weather forecasts visit Met Eireann's coastal reports and sea crossing's forecast visit this LINK.

Published in Ferry

#MarineWildlife - The grey seal who surprised Merseyside in the days before Christmas by getting lost in a field some 30km from the Irish Sea is now being treated for pneumonia, as The Guardian reports.

"He is much more settled now and still looks very sorry for himself, but other than that he is quite lively," said Sue Levings of the RSPCA's specialist seal facility in East Winch, Norfolk, where the young seal – named Dumbledore after the Harry Potter wizard – is being looked after.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the marine mammal was spotted by a dogwalker in a muddy field at Newton-le-Willows, north of Warrington and far from his species' usual seaside haunts.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - A very lost seal has been rescued after it was found exhausted in a field some 30km from the Irish Sea in northern England yesterday (22 December).

Yahoo News! reports that the young male grey seal was spotted by a dogwalker in a muddy field at Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside - and after some hours of attempts by rescuers, it was coaxed into a trailer and taken to a local wildlife hospital.

It's believed the young marine mammal swam up a tributary of the River Mersey from the Irish Sea on the trail of fish before getting hopelessly lost in the landlocked village north of Warrington.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MarineWildlife - The Irish Sea is providing plenty of big game for sea angling enthusiasts as of late, with impressively sized porbeagle sharks among the recent catches.

As Angling Times reports, Dutch angler Robin Van Da Meer reeled in a 300lb beast off the Antrim Coast just days after Bangor man Brian Menary landed a 360lb specimen from the same boat, Predator 2, out of Red Bay.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg, as Wirral News remarks on the "flurry of exciting wildlife sightings" from the British side of the Irish Sea.

Experts say the warm weather that has mostly persisted since the end of the summer is largely responsible for the increase in sightings of such rare visitors as leatherback turtles, and the enormous ocean sunfish – two of which have been seen outside their usual haunts off the south of England.

According to Emily Baxter of the North West Wildlife Trusts, keen spotters on the Irish Sea coast – or even ferries crossing back and forth – "could be in for an exciting end to the summer".

Published in Marine Wildlife

#RNLI - Lifeboat volunteer crewmembers with Douglas RNLI on the Isle of Man were paged at 9.24pm on Thursday evening (11 September) to a report of a person in the Irish Sea off Victoria Pier.

The all-weather lifeboat Sir William Hillary was launched under the command of coxswain Neal Corran, who proceeded to the seaward side of the Victoria Pier where the person was successfully located.

The casualty was recovered to the lifeboat and taken immediately to the Liner Berth inside the harbour to a waiting ambulance.

The lifeboat then returned to the boathouse to be washed down, re-fuelled and was ready again for service at 10.15pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Fishing - Salmon and cod numbers in the Irish Sea have continued to decline despite strict fishing and angling controls, according to BBC News.

The "rather poor" forecast for the important fish species comes from data collected by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) via its research vessel The Corystes, which sails the Irish Sea over 200 days a year and sets the standard for EU fishing quotas.

The AFBI's Walter Crozier said stocks had not "bounced back in the way that scientists expected. So we're now looking at other explanations because there isn't much more the fishing industry can do to reduce their catch of cod in the Irish Sea."

Such factors may include climate change causing a rise in sea temperatures, and increasing diversity of the marine ecosystem.

BBC News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#IrishSea - One million cubic metres of radioactive waste at a dump site near Sellafield is at risk of contaminating the Irish Sea in the future, according to papers released by Britain's Environment Agency.

According to The Guardian, the internal report says it is "doubtful" whether the location of the Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository (LLWR) on the Cumbrian coast "would be chosen for a new facility for near-surface radioactive waste disposal if the choice were being made now."

Though the full effects of coastal erosion, weathering and flooding are not expected to be felt until "a few hundred to a few thousand years from now", the agency has expressed worry over the site's gradual exposure to the elements.

This is compounded by fears that past deposits at the site over the last 55 years have included higher-level radioactive waste than intended.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
Page 5 of 18

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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