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Displaying items by tag: Bangor

Skippingstone Beach is a popular swimming venue a short distance to the west of Bangor Harbour on Belfast Lough and sadly was the scene this morning (13th October) of a fatality. It is only a few hundred yards from the Lifeboat Station.

RNLI Bangor said, "Despite the heroic efforts of our volunteer crew, there was little we could do other than move the woman to the shelter of a nearby inlet where she could be attended to by the ambulance service".

During the attempted rescue, realising that the boat could not get close enough to the casualty because of the weather, wind, and rocks, one of the crew, Gavin Mitchell, made the selfless decision to jump into the water with a lifeline attached to offer any assistance he could. This is something the volunteer crews train for and practice regularly, hoping their expertise will never be needed. Sadly, the tragic outcome could not be avoided, and the RNLI said it would implore others to avoid swimming in such dangerous conditions.

Bryan Lawther, Lifeboat Operations Manager said. "Tragic circumstances. Conditions were very very poor". The wind was blowing 20 knots from the North East with big seas.

The officers and crew of RNLI Bangor would like to extend their sympathy to the family and friends of the woman who drowned at Skippingstone Beach in Bangor.

Published in Rescue
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The minehunter HMS Ramsey under the command of Lieutenant Commander Joel Roberts, arrived into Bangor Harbour on Belfast Lough over last weekend on an exercise visit.

The 53m vessel is moored alongside the Eisenhower Pier, so-called as before departing for the D-Day landings of Normandy beaches in June 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower inspected the 30,000 American soldiers and sailors gathered in three huge US Navy battleships (the Nevada, Texas and Arkansas) in Belfast Lough off Bangor. In 2005 the “North Pier” as it was known was renamed the Eisenhower Pier to recognise the
towns role in these events.

HMS Ramsey is a Sandown-class minehunter and her glass-reinforced plastic hull gives the ship the same magnetic signature as a fridge freezer. She is equipped with Type 2093 variable depth sonar and can detect an object the size of a football 600m below the surface. She is one of the quietest vessels in the fleet and is specially designed with a very low magnetic and acoustic signature.

She provides an invaluable service keeping shipping lanes open and detecting and destroying underwater dangers. HMS Ramsey has 40 personnel including eight specialist divers.

Published in Naval Visits
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Recently the Brompton inflatable goose featured in a story about open sea swimmers near Bangor on Belfast Lough. Now round the corner from Brompton, the Helen’s Baywatch swimmers have a real ‘Goose’ to swim with!

The reddish-brown female eider duck started life on Trasnagh Island in Strangford Lough where it was noticed five weeks ago by Jack Childs on a kayaking trip. He saw some dead ducklings but ‘Goose’ was still very much alive and hopped into his kayak.

Having unsuccessfully tried to return it to land he decided to keep it safe and ended up taking it home.

This special duck is ironically called ‘Goose’ after Tom Cruise’s wingman in the 1986 blockbuster, Topgun.

Jack and his mum Clare took advice from a friend who kept ducks and started it on the correct food. It thrived with all this individual attention and now thinks Clare and her son are his family! So much so it goes everywhere with them (in a cat carrier) and swims regularly with the group, not only in Helen’s Bay but also at other locations such as Donaghdee and Islandmagee. ‘Goose’ has even been in the Mourne Mountains!

Published in Sea Swim
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Last Friday was the first of July’s FunDay Fridays on Belfast Lough, a three-way collaboration between Bangor Marina, SUP HubNI and Citizen Sea who are together providing a fabulously educational and active two-hour session where all the children will have an opportunity to learn about Water Safety, try Paddleboarding, learn about environmental issues and research, and commandeer the pontoons like pirates looking for treasure (marine life)!

Citizen Sea is Northern Ireland’s first boat-based Environmental Research Charity, SUP Hub NI is a Paddleboard School and Boatfolk Bangor Marina’s role is to facilitate and promote this new collaboration.

Onboard the Seabird, a converted 17-metre ex herring ring netter, the children learn about Harbour wildlife, then search for marine creatures and see how the Sea Bins work collecting marine litter. It is run by Jen Firth, a boat lover and marine conservationist, and Master Shipwright Tony McLoughlin. SUPHubNI frequently operates in the Harbour and owner, Iain McCarthy wants to make the experience as safe, simple and enjoyable as possible and therefore provides the Paddleboard, Paddle, Wetsuit, Buoyancy Aid, Booties & Leash.

The popularity of this venture is illustrated by the fact that all sessions are fully booked.

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The rescue services were so busy over the weekend that they have related several incidents together.

A jetskier needed medical assistance after coming off his jetski. Donaghadee Lifeboat brought the casualty from Millisle into Donaghadee harbour and was met by Northern Ireland Air Ambulance, HART Paramedics, NIAS Ambulance and Bangor CRT. The team thanked the Kayakers who went to his aid.

Bangor was the scene when two girls were washed out to sea on paddleboards. And at Millisle it was a false alarm with good intent when a member of the public who did not see the canoe belonging to two males, thought they were trapped on the rocks.

Portaferry Coastguard Rescue

And today (Sun 28th) the team was tasked along with Portaferry Coastguard Rescue and Portaferry Lifeboat to rescue several people stuck on one of the many islands in Strangford Lough. The persons involved had spent the night on the island and had attempted to come back ashore. It was at this point one of the kayaks capsized and they returned to the island. Portaferry Lifeboat brought all nine people back to the waiting Coastguards who carried out welfare checks on everyone.

Belfast Coastguard says “A big thank you to the members of the public who gave our casualties warm drinks”.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Bangor's lifeboat rescued four people aboard a motorboat from Carrickfergus after the boat broke down off Whitehead, and the group risked drifting into a shipping lane in Belfast Lough in fading light.

A volunteer crew from Bangor RNLI was requested by Belfast Coastguard just after 10pm on Saturday night last (13 June) to attend the broken down motorboat just off Whitehead.

In calm conditions and only light winds, there was no immediate danger, but there was a possibility of the boat drifting into the shipping lane used by the Belfast to Cairnryan ferry.

In fading light, helm Kyle Marshall and the crew were able to reach the craft quickly and, having assessed the situation, attached a tow rope and towed them back to Carrickfergus Marina.

By the time they reached the marina, the light had all but gone.

Speaking following the callout, Marshall said: “We were delighted to be able to help these people and return them safely to the marina.

“We would ask everyone returning to the water after lockdown to ensure their vessel has been well maintained, and they have all the appropriate safety gear on board.”

Boat owner Alan McIlroy was effusive in his praise of the Bangor crew: “These guys are worth their weight in gold, and after realising we had a problem, we were delighted to see them arrive. They were totally professional, and very skilled.”

Published in Belfast Lough
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The situation around the opening of marinas and harbours in Northern Ireland in COVID-19 appears fluid but the latest news is good for those wanting to relax, sail and visit.

Bangor Harbour Master Kevin Baird says that Bangor, Carrickfergus, and Glenarm marinas and harbours are open to visitors but for short stay only – no overnighting.

Also open to all are the Ards and North Down harbours but the Copeland Islands off Donaghadee are completely closed. Marinas and harbours in the Newry and Mourne Council areas are open on the same basis – short stay only.

Belfast Harbour Marina has confirmed that it is open for residents only.

Going north all the Causeway Coast and Glens Marinas and Harbours are now open but only to residents, with the exception of Rathlin Island. It will remain closed for in the short term to all vessels, including visitors. John Morton, Ballycastle Harbour Master, has clarified, “We are not open for any visiting vessels at this time, only resident ones. This will be reviewed over the coming weeks”.

In Strangford Lough, Portaferry Marina has been open for residents and visitors since 25th May but there is no news on Strangford town pontoon or on Foyle Marina in Derry.

The current Foyle Port website posts a Notice to Mariners stating that Foyle Port Marina is closed to visiting vessels and crafts. A further notice will be issued when the marina has re-opened to all.

On the subject of crews, Kevin Baird says, “ Our understanding is that groups of up to six people who do not share a household can meet up outdoors and onboard boats while maintaining social distancing, i.e. two metres”.

Published in Irish Marinas
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Bangor RNLI is appealing to get in touch with the family of a teenage paddle boarder rescued at the weekend after he was blown out into Belfast Lough.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were tasked on Friday afternoon (29 May) after reports of the incident off Grey Point.

Arriving at the scene, they found the 13-year-old boy had been retrieved from the water by a motorboat that has seen him in difficulty, and he was safety returned to the beach at Helen’s Bay.

Bangor RNLI emphasises that the boy had no lifejacket on, and that without the help of others “this could easily have turned into a tragedy”.

Now the lifeboat unit is appealing to contact the boy and his family to invite them to visit the lifeboat station when regulations allow, to find out more about what they do.

“We are also interested to find out from him how he felt when he realised things were going wrong, in the hope that this might prevent others getting into difficulty.”

Published in Belfast Lough
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Another project in addition to the Bangor Queen’s Parade development on the County Down coast mentioned recently in Afloat, should see the enhancement of a two-mile stretch of the coast from the west of the Bangor Harbour all the way through to the eastern end of Ballyholme Bay writes Betty Armstrong.

Ards and North Down Council has appointed AECOM as consultant for this £60M Bangor Waterfront project to help establish Bangor as a thriving town and prime visitor attraction in Northern Ireland.

The project includes new public realm along the 2.2 mile stretch and new greenways and coastal paths that will better link people to both the town and the sea. Pickie Park, which is already immensely popular with residents and visitors alike, will be enhanced to become a family visitor attraction of national significance and compliment the re-imagining of Ballyholme beach that is also part of the project.

The potential for other innovative features that support the town’s aspiration to revive itself as an attractive, accessible, creative and diverse seaside town will be explored as part of the early work AECOM will undertake.

Bangor SeafrontBangor Seafront

The AECOM team offers extensive visioning, design, environmental and economic expertise. AECOM was the master planner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and has delivered a range of waterfront projects, including Liverpool, Blackpool and in Northern Ireland,the award-winning Newcastle public realm. AECOM has also worked on several projects in Bangor, such as the recent town centre public realm improvements. The AECOM-led team for the Bangor Waterfront project also includes Hemingway Design, Savills and Jettora.

Patrick Clarke, Director – UK & Ireland Masterplanning Lead, AECOM, said: “Building on the ambitious waterfront plan for Bangor, our team brings a breadth of multidisciplinary expertise to further develop this vision, creating a masterplan that will secure long-term tourism and economic benefits for the town and a business case to support future investment in Bangor” Wayne Hemingway, Hemingway Design, added: “We think that Bangor is a town with so many of the ingredients needed to really attract more visitors and be an even more lovely place to live and work, so we’re excited to be a part of this project”.

The Bangor Waterfront Project is one of several exciting tourism-led regeneration schemes due to receive funding from the Belfast Region City Deal. Approximately £40M will be secured via this bespoke package of funding from Westminster, with the remaining investment coming from both the Council and the private sector.

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Bill Keery, commented: “The appointment of AECOM, and its wider team, is a critical step forward in our plans to regenerate Bangor. They bring a wide range of experience, including the delivery of international coastal regeneration projects, to the table and I have no doubt will challenge and refine our thinking as we progress this very exciting project.”

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Since Victorian times until about thirty years ago, Queens Parade in Bangor was a thriving seaside thoroughfare with shops, hotels, a cinema, and ice cream vendors all colourfully set in a row, attracting hundreds to that part of the town writes Betty Armstrong.

Sadly, most of the buildings have gone, many are derelict and only artistic type ‘pods’ on waste ground relieve the boredom. In 1989 on the seaward side, the Council built the marina replacing the open bay and the little beach at the bottom of Main Street with a 500-berth haven and associated facilities, a Coastguard station and beside it a boatyard.

But the siting of two huge retail complexes on the outskirts of the town has ruined business in the town centre. Now the Ards and North Down Council, after many proposed and discarded redevelopment plans, has appointed Bangor Marine as the developer to take forward a major £50m regeneration project of Queen’s Parade.

Bangor Marine PresentationAn artist's impression of views from the proposed apartments out over Bangor Marina
The proposed scheme is made up of; Marine Gardens Public Realm combining external events space, cafes, sheltered promenade and kiosks, beach, seafront lawns, children’s play area and water feature; a 70/80 bed hotel; a destination/cinema building; residential units; commercial/retail/restaurant space; office Space; a play zone; refurbishment of existing commercial properties; 200 space car park; and marketplace and courtyard squares.

Making the announcement the Department for Communities Permanent Secretary Tracy Meharg said: “This development and the £50m investment in Bangor will generate new jobs, new shops, new offices, new homes and make this area Bangor a place to see and visit. It will help to support a number of areas that we know are important to the vitality of our town centres, especially employment and tourism”.

The then Mayor Councillor Richard Smart said “The regeneration of Queen’s Parade is critical to the future of Bangor and to maximising the economic growth potential of the wider borough of Ards and North Down. With the appointment of Bangor Marine – a consortium made up of a number of leading companies including the Karl Group and Farrans – we are taking a very significant and exciting step forward”.

Aran Blackbourne, Managing Director of the Karl Group commented “The Bangor Marine team are delighted to have signed the Development Agreement to deliver this prestigious and life changing development for the people of Bangor and beyond”.

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Howth Yacht Club is the largest members sailing club in Ireland, with over 1,700 members. The club welcomes inquiries about membership - see top of this page for contact details.

Howth Yacht Club (HYC) is 125 years old. It operates from its award-winning building overlooking Howth Harbour that houses office, bar, dining, and changing facilities. Apart from the Clubhouse, HYC has a 250-berth marina, two cranes and a boat storage area. In addition. its moorings in the harbour are serviced by launch.

The Club employs up to 31 staff during the summer and is the largest employer in Howth village and has a turnover of €2.2m.

HYC normally provides an annual programme of club racing on a year-round basis as well as hosting a full calendar of International, National and Regional competitive events. It operates a fleet of two large committee boats, 9 RIBs, 5 J80 Sportboats, a J24 and a variety of sailing dinghies that are available for members and training. The Club is also growing its commercial activities afloat using its QUEST sail and power boat training operation while ashore it hosts a wide range of functions each year, including conferences, weddings, parties and the like.

Howth Yacht Club originated as Howth Sailing Club in 1895. In 1968 Howth Sailing Club combined with Howth Motor Yacht Club, which had operated from the West Pier since 1935, to form Howth Yacht Club. The new clubhouse was opened in 1987 with further extensions carried out and more planned for the future including dredging and expanded marina facilities.

HYC caters for sailors of all ages and run sailing courses throughout the year as part of being an Irish Sailing accredited training facility with its own sailing school.

The club has a fully serviced marina with berthing for 250 yachts and HYC is delighted to be able to welcome visitors to this famous and scenic area of Dublin.

New applications for membership are always welcome and can be accessed through its official website.

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