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#Lighthouses - Fastnet Rock is part of a new €1.3 million, three-year project studying the effects of wave action on offshore lighthouses around the UK and Ireland.

As Phys.org reports, the STORMLAMP project – or STructural behaviour Of Rock Mounted Lighthouses At the Mercy of imPulsive waves – comprises marine science researchers from University College London and the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter, some of whom have already conducted a trail at Plymouth's Eddystone Lighthouse.

The team will use specialised equipment to measure the vibrations endured by lights found in some of the roughest seas around these islands.

The recorded data will then feed into sophisticated computer models that will predict the longevity of rock-based lighthouses in Cornwall, the Channel Islands and the west coast of Scotland, besides Fastnet off West Cork, and identify whether any remedial works would be required.

Phys.org has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Lighthouses

#GreatLighthouses - This May Bank Holiday (30 April-2 May) kick start your summer and get out to visit the Great Lighthouses on this island for a weekend of fun, discovery, stories and thrills.

Walk through time, meet fifth-century monks, medieval Knights, discover all about the life of Lighthouse keepers at Hook Lighthouse on their new Ireland’s Ancient East tour experience, hear the tales of wrecks and lifesaving feats, as well as having ceol agus craic at Fanad - voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world.

Take guided tours of Loop Head Lighthouse and its award winning peninsula and return for a feast of seafood and fun.

Tie nautical knots and welcome back the puffins as they clown around squawking and sea diving at Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre. Enjoy a traditional music session in the lighthouse keeper’s dwelling house and watch helicopter sea rescue manoeuvres at Valentia Island Lighthouse.

Hear the Singing Sistas at Clare Island Lighthouse and listen to the tales and stories of Lighthouse Keeping on Ballycotton Island. Get tips on being safe and enjoying our coast this summer, explore our towers, discover their hidden secrets and much more.

For hundreds of years lighthouses have helped seafarers find their way. Now they shine their light on truly unique experiences around our stunning coastline.

Great Lighthouses of Ireland (www.greatlighthouses.com) invites visitors and friends to a feast of storytelling, music, workshops and of course tower tours in seven of our amazing lighthouses along the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and all the way to Rathlin Island. A fun-filled weekend is promised.

Coastal partners and organisations such as Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI), Coastguard and others will be onsite for demonstrations and talks in many of the locations.

This will be a special opportunity to get behind the scenes with experts from Irish Lights and learn about technology and navigation today. Local historians and Storykeepers will provide tours that showcase the natural and cultural highlights.

Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of Irish Lights said; “Our visitors tell us that getting to the top of a lighthouse tower is a unique and special experience. This weekend we are encouraging everyone to come and enjoy all that the Great Lighthouses of Ireland has to offer. Irish Lights is delighted to support our partners to showcase the best of these locations.

Lighthouse keeping was a way of life for keepers and their families for well over 100 years. However, advances in technology meant that lighthouses could be automated, and while all our lighthouses are still fully operational, there is no longer a need for permanent lighthouse keepers to be stationed on site. Great Lighthouses of Ireland is a wonderful way of keeping this rich maritime heritage, and the legacy of these Lighthouse Keepers, alive.”

Great Lighthouses of Ireland is a new and exciting collaboration between many private and public organisations in coastal communities. The experience has been developed to build on the momentum of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East and this event is supported by Fáilte Ireland.

Speaking at the opening of Fanad Head Lighthouse on Friday 29th April, Shaun Quinn CEO of Fáilte Ireland welcomed the inaugural Shine a Light on Summer Festival.

“Whether it’s Hook in Wexford, Valentia Island in Kerry, Loop Head in Clare, Fanad Head in Donegal or the Island Lighthouse towers in Cork and Mayo, this is the weekend to discover that part of Irish life and culture where the land meets the sea. We in Failte Ireland are delighted to support this event as it encourages visitors to embrace an authentic piece of our Irish past and to meet with the people and communities who are passionate about these unique places”

As Gerald Butler, Former Lighthouse Keeper & Current Lighthouse Attendant at Galley Head Lighthouse says, “It wasn’t a job – it was a way of life”

For event details and information about and booking Great Lighthouses of Ireland visit:www.greatlighthouses.com

Published in Lighthouses

#3DwindMaps -The world’s largest trial of scanning Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology by Carbon Trust is taking place on Dublin Bay. This is the latest Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) project designed to help reduce the cost of energy from offshore wind.

Over the next three months the most comprehensive test of scanning LIDAR technology will take place, where four different scanning LiDAR systems will be put through their paces, alongside three vertical profiling LiDARs for validation purposes. The project is being supported by independent renewable energy company, RES and maritime safety organisation, Commissioners of Irish Lights.

Accurate wind resource measurements are critical to wind farm development because they are used to calculate the potential energy yield from a wind farm, which dictates the terms of the project financing. This can be a significant proportion of the overall project cost, accounting for around 45 percent for an average wind farm.

Scanning LiDAR is not a new technology. Conventionally, it is used by the defence and aerospace industries to monitor for oncoming weather fronts. But it does not have a proven track record in offshore wind.

Normally wind resource is measured using large steel towers called met masts, which require a large capital investment (£10-£12m) incurred at risk before a project gets the go ahead adding significant upfront costs, which could inhibit the exploration of new sites. The OWA project aims to test how accurately scanning LiDAR technology can measure wind resource for potential wind farm sites, which could deliver significant cost savings in the early stages of wind farm development.

The OWA has been working for the past few years to support more cost effective solutions, focusing on the development and commercialisation of a number of floating LiDAR systems, to significantly reduce upfront capital expenditure. Yet measurements taken by both masts and floating LiDAR are limited in that they only provide a measurement of the wind resource at a single point in space. For an offshore wind farm covering an area of up to 200 square kilometres, this can create uncertainty on the wind speed at locations far from the measurement point. This is known as spatial variation, where measurements may not representative of the entire site. This is translated into risk incurring additional financing costs to wind farm development.

Scanning LiDAR technology has the potential to reduce the risk associated with spatial variation. These systems are capable of scanning with a usable range of between 10 to 30 kilometres, to impressive levels of detail, taking over 100 measurements per minute. This allows developers to build a much more detailed picture of a site, not only significantly reducing uncertainty of spatial variation, but also allowing developers to better plan the layouts of the turbines to best exploit the individual wind conditions at the site. Increasing confidence on spatial variation could reduce risk to minimal levels, which can save millions of pounds on a project and reduce the cost of energy from offshore wind.

A difference of only 0.2 mph in wind speed can result in significant variation of yield calculations over the lifetime of a wind farm. It is therefore critical that the industry has confidence in scanning LiDAR devices being sensitive enough to detect such small variations. The OWA trial aims to test the sensitivity of the devices to picking up these variations in wind resource.

Published in Power From the Sea

#NavigationEvent - The General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) of the UK and Ireland will hold an event on 2 March to explore the mix of technologies for future maritime navigation in 2030 and beyond, and identify potential complements to GNSS.

• The event will present ways to maintain safety of navigation in increasingly confined and congested shipping areas, supporting economic growth and protection of the marine environment

• It will explore technologies that could complement Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for robust cost-effective navigation of ships in the future

• The event is held jointly with the Knowledge Transfer Network and the Royal Institute of Navigation

Whilst GNSS is likely to remain the most accessible and accurate primary source of navigation data, it is not infallible, and can be prone to interference. Navigable sea space is set to shrink, with more traffic and growing obstacles like wind farms and marine conservation areas.

Combined with a rise in GNSS jamming incidents, it is clear that the need for complementary technologies to provide robust and reliable navigation data is higher than ever.

Taking place at Trinity House Headquarters at Tower Hill London, the ‘Innovation in Maritime Navigation’ event will consider the potential and practicality of candidate technologies to complement GNSS, and counter threats to maritime safety, including:

• Beacon R-Mode: incorporating a ranging capability on existing DGPS beacon (or AIS) transmissions

• Quantum navigation: using next-generation quantum sensors to drastically improve inertial navigation, when GNSS signals are unavailable

• Signals of opportunity: using existing signals such as mobile, Wi-Fi, TV, and radio signals, to work out the user’s location

• Integrated Navigation Systems supporting ECDIS: multi-system receivers and sensor integration, possibly with innovative water reference systems, to provide position

The event will look at how these technologies, and others, may contribute to a future ship/shore resilient Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) solution. It will also cover the perspectives of user requirements, research, technology readiness level, commercial exploitation, ship equipage, shore based infrastructure, regulatory action; factors that are important in assessing the future direction of maritime solutions.

Presenters include mariners, ship operators, navigation specialists and technology providers and delegates will have the opportunity to network and participate in a Q&A and panel discussion chaired by RAdm Nick Lambert, former UK National Hydrographer.

The event is free to attend but delegates must register in advance.

Published in Lighthouses

#RareOptic - Commissioners of Irish Lights and Titanic Foundation have been awarded a first-round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund for saving, restoring and displaying the old optic from Mew Island Lighthouse, a very rare hyper radial Fresnel lens, in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

The award, along with early support from Ulster Garden Villages, will allow the project to progress to the second stage of the HLF application process. If successful, the optic will be restored and housed in a new interpretive structure, made to resemble a lighthouse lantern room where it would add an iconic element to the Titanic Quarter public realm. With free public access it will tell the story of lighthouses, their technological development, their light keepers, and their role in the proud maritime & industrial heritage of Belfast and Ulster.

Mew Island lighthouse, on the outermost of the Copeland Islands, is one of the tallest lighthouses in Ireland. It is an important Aid to Navigation at the southern entrance to Belfast Lough, built at a time when Belfast was the world-centre of linen, ship-building and rope-making, and one of the most important ports in the World.

The optic is the internal apparatus which gave Mew Island Lighthouse its traditional revolving light. Made in Paris in 1887, it is possibly the largest ever constructed, at a staggering 7 metres high, 2.6 metres wide and weighing up to 10 tonnes. The optic is one of 29 of the largest optics ever made, with only 18 still in existence across the world. It’s one of only 3 similar optics in Ireland, none of which are now operational.

Over its life, and as technology has developed, Mew Island optic was lit with town-gas (derived manually on the island from coal), vaporised paraffin, and electricity. Kerrie Sweeney, Chief Executive of Titanic Foundation commented, ‘This remarkable object is an amazing piece of industrial and scientific heritage and our proposal has really captured the public’s interest. We’ve received letters of support from the World Lighthouse Society as well as the UK Committee of the International Year of Light 2015.

‘We are delighted to have secured support from Heritage Lottery and Ulster Garden Villages; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to save and restore an artefact of national and international significance and create a legacy Belfast landmark which will inspire future generations’

Paul Mullan, Head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: “The Mew Island optic is of great scientific and heritage value so we were delighted to receive these ambitious plans to restore and put it on public display. The project has the potential to create a truly unique and wonderful heritage attraction in the heart of Belfast’s maritime quarter and we look forward to receiving the full proposals in due course.”

Irish Lights, recognising the importance of the optic within Belfast’s maritime heritage, have been working for over 3 years to find a suitable home for the optic. Through the partnership with Titanic Foundation, the charity that owns Titanic Belfast, they are delighted that Mew Island Optic will be located in Belfast.

Barry Phelan; Irish Lights Project Engineer said; “ This project will ultimately develop a brand new tourist attraction in Belfast, and will provide a permanent home for the magnificent Mew Island Lighthouse Optic beside a very worthy neighbour - Titanic Belfast. The project will also shine a light on the wonderful Great Lighthouses of Ireland nearby, which offers you a chance to stay in, visit, or learn about lighthouses and the Irish Lights at; Blackhead Antrim, St. John’s Point Down, Rathlin Island, or further afield.”

The optic, which was recently replaced by a modern solar-powered, flashing LED in March 2015, has already been transferred from Mew Island to the Irish Lights’ offices in Dun Laoghaire where they are carrying out initial restoration works.

Published in Lighthouses

#[email protected] The Commissioners of Irish Lights today welcomed the visit of President Michael D Higgins and Mrs. Sabina Higgins to join the Board and staff to say 'Happy Birthday' as the Kish Lighthouse celebrates 50 years of service on the 9th November 2015.

Imagine what that means.

How many millions of passengers have watched the Kish fade over the horizon as they emigrated to Britain and beyond? How many have watched its welcoming flash guide them safely back home to Ireland?

95% of everything we use arrives and leaves by sea. Imagine the cargoes made safe by the Kish Light. The agricultural products, the machinery, the building materials, the household goods, the cars, the clothes; every single staple of our lives has passed the great guiding lighthouse on the Kish.

As a witness to social history the Kish has seen significant change. Containerisation has changed the ships and crews, air travel has changed the passenger numbers, fuel costs have allowed it witness the growth and subsequent decline of fast vessels such as Jetfoil and HSS. (See, Afloat's latest report on the former Stena Explorer currently heading for Turkey).

Consider the lives of the Lighthouse Keepers who lived on the tower until automation in 1992.

The Kish Lighthouse is not just a seamark but a very significant engineering landmark of its day. The lighthouse replaced a lightship which was one of a series of such vessels that marked the Kish Bank since 1811 – meaning that there has been a continuous light on the Kish for the 204 years.

Published in Lighthouses

#[email protected] - One of Ireland’s most famous and unique lighthouses, the Kish Bank Lighthouse off Dublin Bay, celebrates its 50th anniversary today having been commissioned into service on 9th November 1965, writes Jehan Ashmore.

At 31m high, the lighthouse which is an iconic symbol on the Dublin Bay horizon replaced a lightship understood to have been the Gannet. On that same day five decades ago the lightship was withdrawn and the first flashes were exhibited by the new lighthouse.

A light to ward off seafarers from the dangerous sands of the Kish Bank can be first traced back to more than 200 years ago. This earliest light was exhibited on 16 November 1811 which involved several small vessels of just over 100 tonnes each to share duties. Crews were tasked in using a floating light.

For the last half-century, the Kish Lighthouse located some 7 nautical miles offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, from where the structure was built, has continued to provide the role as an important aids to navigation to seafarers.

In addition the Kish Lighthouse, albeit of Swedish design represents a significant moment in Ireland’s marine engineering heritage given the majority of the work was carried out by an Irish labour force.

The design origins of the Kish Lighthouse began in the early 1960’s as the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) considered using a platform similar to those used as oil rigs for lighthouses purposes. Stemming from this nine engineering firms were asked to submit design tenders for such a lighthouse. The Swedish firm of Messrs Christiani & Nielsen Ltd was selected.

Their design was not for a steel platform like an oil rig but a concrete structure designed to last for at least 75 years and based on the lines of similar yet smaller models from Sweden. The reason for a larger version for the Kish Bank was so to cope with the rougher sea conditions of the Irish Sea.

Construction took place near St. Michaels Wharf (site of the former Stena HSS ferry terminal). Built of reinforced concrete in the form of a circular caisson, from within a concentric design included from a tower that together was floated out by tugs from Dun Laoghaire Harbour on 29 June 1965 (see footage above).

The lighthouse structure was sunk onto the Kish Bank from where a level platform of stones had previously been prepared by divers and buoyed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights tenders. The operation to raise the tower which was telescoped to its fullest extended height took almost a month to complete on 27 July.

For just over a quarter century, the white tower with its distinctive red band and topped off with a helicopter pad, was manned with a crew of three. The tower is a self-contained unit of 12 floors for keepers' quarters, storage, a generator, radio equipment and of course the lantern.

Crew were transferred in rough weather to the lighthouse by winching in a cradle pod from the lighthouse tender ship. Such practices were discontinued as the lighthouse notably was automated in 1992, ending another chapter in the history of Irish lighthouse-keepers.

Over the years the character of the light has varied. Currently the character is: Fl (2) 20s. 24 hour light which gives a range of 22 nautical miles. The actual height of the light at MHWS is of 29 metres.

Occasionally, the CIL’s aids to navigation tender, ILV Granuaile can be seen departing her homeport of Dun Laoghaire Harbour to carry out maintenance duties on the Kish Lighthouse.

Published in Lighthouses

#[email protected]– An exhibition of the 50th Anniversary of the commissioning of the Kish Bank Lighthouse off Dublin Bay, one of Ireland’s most unusual lighthouses, is currently on at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland (NMMI) in Dun Laoghaire.

Lighthouse Exhibition

The exhibition from Lightships to Lighthouse will also look in to the future is in conjunction with Captain Robert McCabe of the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

Lighthouse Lecture

In addition to celebrate the impressive structure of the lighthouse which was completed five decades ago on the Kish Bank, a two-hour lecture is take place next Thursday, 12 November.

The lecture “Kish Lighthouse –Before the Build” is to be co-presented by Brian Kelly and Eoghan Lehane.

Tickets cost €10.00. For more details including other events and in general about the NMMI, click here.

Published in Lighthouses

#LighthouseGrant - A grant of €299,000 was announced by Minister of State for Tourism, Michael Ring TD last week via the Fáilte Ireland Capital Programme, to the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

The grant is to develop a new visitor facility building on a site adjacent to Fanad Head Lighthouse. The project will incorporate a new car park as well as facilities for visitors, a ticket desk and an interpretation area.

Fanad Head Lighthouse is located in Co. Donegal on the eastern shores of the Fanad peninsula in an area recognised for its scenery and has been designated a Signature Discovery Point within Fáilte Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way initiative.

The Minister Ring commented: 'While recent technology advances mean that much of the old physical infrastructure at lighthouse stations is no longer required for core operations, the Commissioners of Irish Lights is to be commended for recognising that these properties are of important heritage value and preserving them as a tourism asset. Today's grant will allow Fanad Lighthouse to fully play its natural part as a truly spectacular stop along the Wild Atlantic Way'.

"The lighthouse itself is due to open to visitors this summer and will offer a unique visitor experience as well as provide an insight into the role of lighthouses in Ireland's past, as well as the lighthouse keeper's way of life. Visitors will have access to the top of the lighthouse with unsurpassed views of the Atlantic and the surrounding coastline. It will be a great asset to the region."

Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn emphasised: 'We are more than happy to invest in this project and we believe that it will significantly build on the experience for visitors to this part of Donegal. The project is a perfect fit for the Wild Atlantic Way, which continues to develop and evolve, and an attraction such as Fanad resonates very much with both the 'culturally curious' and 'great escapers' – those overseas market segments to which the Wild Atlantic Way particularly appeals'

The nvestment follows a recent €500,000 refurbishment of Fanad Lighthouse by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, who have also redeveloped the former lighthouse keepers' houses into three self-catering units.

In addition, the Commissioners recently launched a new initiative entitled the Great Lighthouses of Ireland partnership. This initiative will bring together 12 lighthouses in Ireland and Northern Ireland and includes the marketing, preservation and conservation of our important maritime and lighthouse heritage.

The partnership was created to deliver an experience that is motivating and inspiring and fully leverages the Wild Atlantic Way's potential.

Published in Lighthouses

#Tuskar200th – The Tuskar Rock Lighthouse off Ireland's south-east coast celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.

The lighthouse perched on the Tuskar Rock 7 miles off Co. Wexford is a familar sight to those taking ferry services in and out of Rosslare Harbour. 

For two hundred years the lighthouse has helped provide safe navigation to mariners and sailors alike since its light was first exhibited on 4 June 1815. 

The white tower is topped with a light that operates at night and in poor visibility during daylight hours.

Paraffin vapour burners were the light source until the light was converted to electric on 7th July 1938.

Electricity allowed the use of a 3000 W lamp giving two white flashes every 7.5 seconds.

On 31st March 1993 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation and the keepers were withdrawn from the station.

The station is in the care of an Attendant and Assistant Attendant and the aids to navigation are also monitored via a telemetry link from the Commissioners of Irish Lights headquarters in Dun Laoghaire.

There is a much more detailed history of the lighthouse courtesy of Irish Lights which has dedicated a page on the their website here.

Published in Lighthouses
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