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Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough

Inclement weather played havoc with the six-race Royal Ulster Yacht Club Spring Series on Belfast Lough, with Sunday, 7th April, cancelled. However, four races eventually gave overall results.

The last outing on 21st April started with little wind, and the fleet left the marina hoping for the forecast light breeze to kick in for the final races.

After an hour’s postponement, it did just that and Race Officer Colin Loughead ran two races successfully. In the IRC Unrestricted fleet, John Minnis’s Archambault A35 Final Call II dominated with two first places.

The Harrington/O’Tiarnaigh/Mulholland team on the IMX 38 eXcession had a second as did Adrian Allen in the other A35, Succession, newly arrived in Belfast Lough. Nigel Hamilton and David Milne’s Endeavour (Beneteau 31.7) had a third in the first race with another Beneteau 31.7 Caesium (Aidan Pounder) taking third place in the second. Final Call II took first place overall in IRC Unrestricted with Caesium second and Michael Eames

All or Nothing (Sunfast 3200) is in third. This fleet is dual-scored using IRC and the newer YTC rating, and eXcession took overall honours under this system, with Caesium second and Endeavour third. Ruan O’Tiarnaigh said about eXcession’s retirement, “We used our big genoa yesterday in the light stuff, which is fine in YTC but not under IRC, so we retired.”

In the Whitesail Class, the Bell/Bell/Lawther team on the Beneteau Oceanis 37 Merryjack took first place overall with two seconds and one first place with Andrew Kennedy’s Dufour 34 Jacada second overall, counting two first places and a Did Not Start.

Published in Belfast Lough

Dublin Bay has been the home of the Mermaid class since 1932 when they were designed by J B Kearney.

They race regularly in Dun Laoghaire, Clontarf, Rush, Skerries, Wexford, Foynes, Dungarvan and Sligo. And for the first time ever in early May, the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on the south shore of Belfast Lough will welcome Mermaid visitors to the Simon Brien-sponsored Ulster Championships. It is said that this is the first time that they will have travelled North.

The Dublin Bay Mermaid is a one-design, wooden sailing dinghy originally designed for sailing in Dublin Bay. It is a 17-foot, half-decked, centreboard boat rigged as a Bermuda sloop. The boats have a helm and two crew with a main sail, jib and spinnaker.

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on the south shore of Belfast LoughRoyal North of Ireland Yacht Club on the south shore of Belfast Lough

The idea for the event came to fruition at the Irish Sailing Champions Cup in Foynes, Co Limerick, last year when Ross Nolan, the Event Director, met officers from the Mermaid Association.

Darach Dinneen, President of the Class, said, “The first-ever visit of the Dublin Bay Mermaids to RNIYC marks an important milestone, blending tradition with the thrill of discovering new waters. As these iconic vessels arrive at the club for the first time, they bring a sense of heritage and friendship, bridging the gap between past and present. It will be a weekend where experienced sailors gather to witness history in the making. The timeless beauty of the Mermaids has found a new home in the warm welcome of the RNIYC's shores. This joining of sailing cultures not only honours the legacy of the Mermaids but also symbolises the spirit of adventure and inclusivity that defines the sailing community. The bond between Dublin Bay Mermaids and RNIYC promises a future filled with shared experiences and fond memories in Cultra Bay”.

Nolan has been told the ones to watch are Paddy Dillon in Wild Wind (131), Jim Carthy in Vee (123), Paul Smith in Sailing Jill (134) and Terry Rowan in Red Seal (121), who has a wild card.

Launching for the event is available on Friday, 3rd May, and full information can be found here

Published in Mermaid

Bangor in County Down had a coating of snow and ice on Wednesday morning this week, and the Marina didn’t escape either.

Temperatures are forecast to plummet as low as -8C over the coming days as Northern Ireland continues to feel the grip of cold Arctic air, according to the Met Office.

It was a beautiful sunny morning but certainly chilly, and the fresh water from the river in Ward Park in the centre of the town flowed underground into one corner of the marina.

When it is cold and calm, this freshwater floats over the saltier seawater and starts to freeze. If you take a closer look at the photograph (above), you'll spot this thin, slushy ice forming on top. As the marina office confirmed, “Thankfully, icebreakers were not required”.

Published in Belfast Lough

It will be all change in the operation of Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough from September 2024. This has been outsourced to a private operator since 1 April 2008, with the latest agreement expiring on 30 September 2024. An opportunity now exists for an experienced operator to take on the management of Bangor Marina and Harbour for the next 50 and a half years.

Bangor Marina and Harbour is one of the largest Five Gold Anchor-accredited marina developments in Ireland.

The 541-berth marina is accessible 24/7 at all states of tide and is home to an active fleet of leisure and commercial vessels. It attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world annually and is a real focal point in North Down.

The Bangor Regeneration team has recently notified that the tender process for a marina operator from September next year has commenced, with adverts in the press having been issued.

The Bangor Marina Berth Holders Association has handily summarised the details surrounding the process, and members have been given the following information:-

  • The contract period is to run for 50.5 years.
  • Marina operator should incorporate the boatyard into its business plan, although existing boatyard /brokerage and chandlery are currently leased to Sept 2028.
  • New operator to have a key role in devising and finalising plans for any redesign / investment in the marina.
  • Potential operator investment and attraction of additional complementary funding forms part of the tender evaluation process.
  • Potential bidders are expected to demonstrate they are suitably resourced and have recent experience of the management of three marinas of similar size.
  • Stage 1 of the process takes the form of a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire. From the assessment of these returns it is intended that 5 potential bidders will be invited to tender in stage 2 of the process.
  • Stage 1 to be completed by 11 December 2023, Stage 2 completion of submissions by 11 March 2024.
  • Final selection by June 2024, new contract start date is October 2024.
  • Marine Projects Ltd are managing the procurement process, selections to made by a panel including Council representatives.

The estimated value listed on this Tender document is £100,000,000.

Marina and Harbour Manager Kevin Baird said about the project; “It's exciting to think about what Bangor Marina, the seafront, and Ballyholme could look like in 10 years. I'm really hoping that sprucing up our waterfront is just the start of making our city even better”.

Published in Irish Marinas

Northern Ireland's Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough has qualified as first responders for oil spills, earning the MCA P2 designation.

The Bangor Marina crew worked hard, combining classroom learning and practical exercises led by the experts at Ambipar Response UK, a leading environmental management company.

Ambipar’s experience in oil pollution was a huge help, and the team is now ready to tackle oil spills effectively, Marina Manager Kevin Baird said.

“It's great to see their commitment to protecting our seas from oil pollution. They're not just trained; they're passionate about making a difference. We're proud of their achievement and our ongoing commitment to safeguarding our marine environment,” Baird said.

Published in Belfast Lough

Ten RS Fevas from clubs around Belfast Lough rounded off their season with a Final Fling at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club recently.

After the initial strong wind died down to just in time to allow the event to take place, the fleet of ten boats came to the line, five from Ballyholme, including Kirsty and Rory McGovern, new to the class and five from the host club.

Race Officer Terry Rowan set the course and got three races away without delay. This was a bonus for the fleet to have the experience of three short races and practice at starts.

The Rideout sisters - Emily and Annabelle from Ballyholme, won Race 1, and Matt and Peter Rideout pipped them to the finish line on Race 2. However, the girls got back to win the third race and took the overall prize. Sally Nixon and Jess Dadley-Young from BYC got in three good races with a second and two thirds. Niamh Coman and Ellie Nolan (RNIYC) had their top result of a fifth and two sixths whilst Mum Aileen and son Louis were consistent to finish 4th overall. As the afternoon progressed the wind died to nothing, and the sailors were ably assisted to shore by the rescue crews.

After racing the competitors enjoyed a meal together, everyone being awarded prizes including the youngest helm and crew (Martha Nolan and Cara Coman), newcomers to the fleet (Izzy Stout and Amelie Stevenson) and best capsize (Finlay Pierce and Benjamin Wallace).

Published in RS Sailing

When the Vikings first swept into Belfast Lough around 800 AD, the lack of harbours was no problem, as the gently shelving beach at the wide expanse of Ballyholme Bay was ideal for hauling their longships ashore. Thus Ballyholme – whose name suggests a mixture of Norse and Irish – provided the beginnings of a Viking stronghold which developed eastward through the little natural though drying harbour of Groomsport, and on down to what is now Donaghadee inside the Copeland Islands at the nearest point to Scotland.

In the twelve hundred or so years since, the area has seen dominant rulers and cultures come and go. But it seems that underneath the contemporary affluent appearance of what is now known as the Gold Coast, a little knot of the determined Viking spirit has endured in Donaghadee, and there appears to have been a quiet but very tangible revolution recently.

The fishing port of Klaksvik is the heart of football enthusiasm in the Faroes. Cruising the islands can be a challenge. Although the tides go up and down very little, the tidal streams can roar through channels and past headlands like torrents, with boat-wrecking tide races resulting. As for the wind, it seldom blows steadily and horizontally, but goes up and down, with vertical gusts hitting the sea like gunfire.The fishing port of Klaksvik is the heart of football enthusiasm in the Faroes. Cruising the islands can be a challenge. Although the tides go up and down very little, the tidal streams can roar through channels and past headlands like torrents, with boat-wrecking tide races resulting. As for the wind, it seldom blows steadily and horizontally, but goes up and down, with vertical gusts hitting the sea like gunfire

For, just the other day, the good people of The ’Dee woke up to find that the street signs round their harbour had suddenly been changed to indicate that they are now part of the Faroe Islands, and thereby Danish in international terms.


Already, we’re assured that havestur, the favoured delicacy of Faroese cuisine, will be on the menu at the highly-regarded harbourside eateries. It’s an acquired taste – it’s marinated fulmar. But if you’re peckish enough - as in absolutely starving - you’ll manage it.

Also planned are several variations in the preparation of whale meat, as the most dedicated Faroese citizens-in-the-making in Donaghadee are determined that they will replicate the islands’ controversial grindadrap, the annual mass slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins.


This is a blood-laden affair that the true-blue Faroese see as a non-negotiable part of their culture and heritage. The Donaghadee Faroese plan is to replicate it by temporarily sealing off one end of Donaghadee Sound inside the great Copeland Island, and then herding shoals of amiable whales towards it with typical northern industrial vigour.

Fun for all the family….the annual Grindadrap is seen as a non-negotiable part of Faroese heritageFun for all the family….the annual Grindadrap is seen as a non-negotiable part of Faroese heritage

Another challenge will be found in mastering the art of being a “Strong Farmer”, Faroese style. A Faroese Strong Farmer is the man or woman who has best mastered the art of lowering a sheep down the vertiginous cliffs to some ledge of otherwise inaccessible luscious grass and then – more importantly – getting the fattened sheep back up again. For Donaghadee, it is thought that training in this can best be done with some modifications to the artificial rock-climbing wall in the nearest Leisure Centre, but local abandoned quarries are also being considered.

 Being a sheep farmer in the Faroes involves skills not taught at your usual Agricultural College Being a sheep farmer in the Faroes involves skills not taught at your usual Agricultural College


The final piece in the Donaghadee-Into-The-Faroes project is the addition of Donaghadee soccer players into the deservedly famous Faroese team. The word is that a renowned small-but-perfectly-formed Donaghadee citizen of widely-communicated football interests has been approached with a view to taking up semi-permanent residence in the Faroese football heartland around the fishing port of Klaksvig. The feeling is that any crowd-funding project towards this personal re-location would be very generously supported.

As for the change’s sailing implications, it would mean that the many boats berthed in Bangor Marina would have the option of “going foreign” after a voyage of only six miles, and this might confer Duty Free benefits in storing up beforehand. So in all, Donaghadee-in-the-Faroes seems like a very good idea.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Two Belfast Lough sailors are racing in the 50th Anniversary Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts on Saturday from Cowes on the Isle of Wight and finishes in Cherbourg.

Ewan Finlay is racing as foredeck crew on Mark Emerson’s A13 Phosphorus II, an Archambault A13, the one and only A13 ever built. It was formerly known as Teasing Machine and sailed very successfully by a professional French crew. Phosphorus II was sixth overall in IRC in the 2021 Fastnet Race.

Belfast's Ewan Finlay (second left) on board Phosphorus II that competes in this Saturday's Fastnet Race from CowesBelfast's Ewan Finlay (second left) on board Phosphorus II that competes in this Saturday's Fastnet Race from Cowes

Ross Boyd is on onboard Robert Rendell’s Samatom from Howth. Regular Aflaot readers will recall she won the 2021 Sovereign's Cup Regatta Coastal Divison at the first attempt. Boyd says he is pleased that there are two RUYC members racing in this Fastnet, and he says he is “looking forward to the competition in the 104 boat class”.

This Saturday’s 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race will be the biggest offshore race of all time, with a record-breaking entry list of over 490 yachts for its 50th-anniversary edition.

At one point it was thought that the start might have to be delayed as a relatively brief but extremely strong period of southwest winds forecast seemed likely for Saturday afternoon and evening along the south coast of England, but the expected wind and weather conditions for the race while still unsettled, look to be averaging out

Starting from The Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, the course is about 695 miles via the Fastnet Rock to the finish line at Cherbourg.

Published in Fastnet

On Monday last (17th), several search and rescue teams held a very active training session out of the village of Groomsport on the North Down coast.

Taking part alongside Lagan Search and Rescue’s Ribcraft Class 1 Lifeboat were Bangor Atlantic 85 inshore and Donaghadee’s Trent Class Lifeboats, Coastguard Rescue Teams from Bangor and Portaferry on Strangford Lough, as well as K9 Search and Rescue and safety boats from Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough.

 The Search and Rescue crews involved in the Joint Exercise on the North Down Coast The Search and Rescue crews involved in the Joint Exercise on the North Down Coast

The aim of the exercise was to replicate a scenario where a boat was sinking near the coastline, requiring survivors to evacuate to a life raft and swim to safety. During the exercise, lifeboats and Quayside Search and Rescue teams, as well as Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technicians, were used in the search for survivors.

Practice using a rescue raft during the SAR Joint Exercise on the North Down CoastPractice using a rescue raft during the SAR Joint Exercise on the North Down Coast

One of the scenarios practised by the Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technicians from LSAR, K9 SAR and Coastguard Rescue was using a rescue raft to practice extracting a casualty from rocks inaccessible by land or boat. They work as a team to swim the raft across a distance of water using ropes in a continuous loop across the water to bring back the casualty on the raft.

Lagan SAR said it was “an incredible opportunity to enhance our skills and knowledge during this exercise, and we're already looking forward to the next one! Thank you to Bangor RNLI for organising”.

Published in Belfast Lough
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On July 7th, the TS State of Maine, the current training ship of the Maine Maritime Academy, docked at the Gotto Wharf in the Herdman Channel in the Port of Belfast.

She was formerly in the United States Navy service as the USNS Tanner and assumed her present name and role in June 1997. She had been launched in 1990 as an oceanographic research ship.

Maine Maritime Academy is a public, co-educational college located in the coastal town of Castine in the state of Maine in the northeastern United States. The student population numbers approximately 950 in engineering, management, science, and transportation courses.

Four of the volunteers from the charity, the independent Lagan Search and Rescue, along with members of the K9 Search and Rescue NI and Bangor Coastguard Rescue, were welcomed aboard by Captain Gordon MacArthur. They met some of the 300 students and 70 qualified crew. The ship had arrived in Belfast, having visited Ponta Delgada, Portugal, Vigo in Spain, and Kiel in Germany.

She is now back in her homeport in Maine.

LSAR were pleased to have the chance to visit the ship:” Thank you to the Captain and crew of TS State of Maine for the invite and to Doyle Shipping Group for facilitating the visit”.

Published in Belfast Lough
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