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Rugged Donegal in the far northwest of Ireland is unknown territory for many Irish people whether by land or sea - and even more so for people from further afield writes W M Nixon. Yet for people who live in this picturesque but challenging region, it’s the hub of the universe, and for Donegal-located sailing enthusiasts, it can be a cruising paradise.

This was brought home to the rest of us at the recent Irish Cruising Club prize-giving, when the Glengarriff Trophy for the best cruise in Irish waters went to Dr Paul McSorley, who sails from Lough Swilly. Despite 2015’s mixed weather, he made a very detailed cruise of the Donegal coast with his daughter Eimile in the 27ft International H Boat Wild Cat. While the H Boats were developed in Finland as a fast weekend cruiser with genuine race potential (they’re now an International Racing Class), it’s unlikely that designer Hans Groop envisaged them cruising the monumental Donegal coast with its challenging location on the Wild Atlantic Way.

don1aAn H Boat in cruising mode. Paul & Eimile McSorley’s cruise in Donegal in 2015 with with the H Boat Wild Cat was awarded an ICC Trophy

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A Land Apart – Donegal is Ireland’s ultimate cruising challenge

Yet on a good day, you could see resemblances between the myriad of islands on the Finnish coast and the maze of islands north and south of Arranamore between Dawros Head and Bloody Foreland, the area on which Wild Cat’s cruise was concentrated. The difference, of course, is the tide. But Donegal aficionados reckon that the tide adds a special spice in which the Baltic is woefully lacking……

Whatever, there’s no doubt that Donegal is a special place for many cruising folk, and in recent days the ever-curious Norman Kean and Geraldine Hennigan of Courtmacsherry, who edit the Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions, have been in Donegal sussing out welcome new developments. In a sense, it was something of a home-coming, for when Norman first came from Scotland to settle in Ireland to work in a chemical plant in Derry, Lough Swilly Yacht Club became his home base, and it was a cruise from there to the Faroes in an own-built Sadler 25 which first put him on the cruising map.

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This is the start of something very worthwhile – the first pontoon berths in place in Killybegs in Donegal last week. Photo: Geraldine Hennigan

In Donegal in late February 2016, they found that the further you go south, the more promising are the developments. Best of all is the mighty fishing port of Killybegs on the south coast facing into Donegal Bay, a wonderful natural harbour for a bustling place which is said to be a town of 23 millionaires. For although not everyone does well in the fishing, some busy and innovative types do very well indeed.

For quite some time there’s been talk of the provision of pontoon facilities in Killybegs, but for 2016 Donegal County Council - where Cathal Sweeney has become the enthusiastic harbour engineer - have just gone ahead and done it with a minimum of fanfare, installing a 63-berth pontoon setup with plenty of room for expansion. (As first reported by Afloat.ie in March 2013). The pontoons were supplied and fitted by Oliver Shortall's Inland and Coastal Marinas Ltd of Banagher in County Offaly.

At present it’s called a “Small Craft Harbour”, which at first you might think reflects the reluctance of local authorities, the further north you go in Ireland, to describe a new amenity of this type as a “marina”. A case in point is Ardglass in County Down where the excellent little marina – one of the greatest boons to East Coast cruising – is still referred to as the “Phenick Cove Boat Park”.

On the other hand, Cathal Sweeney sounds a no-nonsense kind of guy, so maybe he won’t describe the very welcome new facility in Killybegs – which will transform Donegal as a cruising ground in providing a convenient base where a boat could be confidently left with good if distant communications with the rest of the country –  as a marina until it has the full shoreside facilities.

Then the cruising options from Killybegs have been improved too, as to the westward a fine big pontoon has now been provided at the west pier in the lovely inlet of Teelin right beside the majestic cliffs of Slieve League. But then as we head north along the massive Atlantic seaboard, proper facilities are sparse enough, though in the case of both Burtonport and Bunbeg, it’s surely only a matter of time before a proper recreational-use pontoon or two gets installed.

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Bunbeg on Donegal’s northwest corner is a little port which would benefit from a modest pontoon facility. Photo: W M Nixon

Cruising Donegal’s north coast, it still remains a source of wonder and delight that Tory Island now has a proper pier, albeit a tiny one, at which a cruising yacht can confidently overnight. And further east we hear that the most sheltered anchoring spot on the entire north coast, Fanny’s Bay on the west side just inside the entrance to Mulroy Bay, is a real possibility for a small marina facility.

Nevertheless in cruising Donegal, your first requirement is for your vessel to have her own fully operational and very substantial ground tackle, for apart from this being the seamanlike approach, the choice of anchorages which opens up when you know you’ve an anchor which will hold, and a windlass which will retrieve it, is almost boundless.


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After many years, the shoreside cohesion of Fahan Marina on Lough Swilly with its landward neighbourhood south of Buncrana still seems a long way off. Photo Kevin Dwyer/Courtesy ICC

In the northeast of this enormous county of Donegal, there has of course long been a convenient if somewhat tide-ridden pontoon at Rathmullan on the west shore of Lough Swilly, but across-lough at Fahan, the marina – the great white hope of Donegal sailing – continues in a sort of semi-functional limbo, an unfinished, disconnected piece of work which nevertheless gives enough hint of what might be, if only someone could find a way through various legal and commercial impasses.

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The berthing facility at Bunnagee near Culdaff took a battering in the winter storms. Photo: Geraldine Hennigan

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Storm damage to one of the Bunagee pontoons. Photo: Geraldine Hennigan

Up to the north of Inishowen, what was hoped to be a “marina” at the lovely little bay of Bunagee at Culdaff has seen its pontoon damaged in winter storms, for even in summer this is a restless if attractive anchorage. But on the east coast of Inishowen the Greencastle-Moville area has seen significant improvement with summer harbour for Moiville Yacht Club close south of Greencastle, where the main harbour itself has seen work resumed on some improvements.

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Greencastle is a fishing port where occasionally working boats and leisure craft can become very crowded……Photo: W M Nixon

don8….but immediately south of Greencastle this new pontoon facility provides a summer berth for local craft. Photo: W M Nixon

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The new Greencastle pontoons looking east across Lough Foyle. In time, an additional sheltering pier may make this a more attractive proposition for visiting cruising boats. Photo: W M Nixon

So Donegal calls. It may get some of the roughest weather in Europe, but when summer comes to stay for a week or two, it’s a cruising paradise.

Published in Irish Marinas

#Rowing: The Cork Sculling Ladder hosted a number of races in very good conditions on an outgoing tide at the Marina in Cork today. There are four more weeks until the conclusion of the 2015/20016 series on March 28th.

Cork Sculling Ladder, Results  

Sunday. 28.02.2016.

FC (30) Evan Curtin  -  Cork Boat Club bt  (23) Peter Jackson  -  Lee Rowing Club.  5L.

 (91) Mia Kovacs  -  Shandon Boat Club.   v  (87) Erika Deasy  -  Cork Boat Club.  Postponed.

(85) Sophie Grey  -  Lee Rowing Club. bt  (86) Julie Harrington  -  Shandon Boat Club.  5L.

(72) Chelsey Minehane  -  Shandon Boat Club.  2.  (69) Jennifer Crowley  -  Shandon Boat Club.  5L.             .

(31) Conor McCarthy  -  Cork Boat Club.  2.  (45) Jerome Arrigan  -  Shandon Boat Club.  5L.

(FC) (43) Alex Byrne  -  Shandon Boat Club.  2.  (32) Eoin Gaffney  -  Shandon Boat Club.   3L.

(47) David Cosgrove  -  Shandon Boat Club.  2.  (FC) (62) Jack Leggett  -  Shandon Boat Club.  4L.

(40) Cian O’Sullivan  -  Cork Boat Club.  v  (37) William Ronayne  -  Shandon Boat Club. Cancelled. Ronayne ill.

Starter : Finbarr Desmond.

Umpires : Kieran Hughes and Pat Hickey.

Published in Rowing

Planning permission for a 235–berth marina is due to run out in 2017. General Election Candidate and former Mayor of Cork Cllr Alan Coleman has claimed that funding to get the marina and pier extension project in Schull up and running must be a priority for the next government in a report in the West Cork Times

The €6million project requires €2.5 million Government funding, Coleman says.

Schull Harbour Sailing Club based in the picturesque harbour that is part of the Wild Atlantic Way says 'If the funding can beorganised this could be a major advance for marine activity around Schull and West Cork'.

Coleman claims the West Cork town 'has been let down by the present government despite three government TDs in West Cork'.

“This marina can be a huge attraction to the area to broaden tourist season and make Schull and the Mizen a destination of choice, says Coleman.

“I have seen the huge economic benefit of investing in three marinas in Kinsale and it has sustained a longer season and made the area more attractive for visitors. A more vibrant tourist season will make the rural economy more sustainable' he said.

More on this story from West Cork Times here

Published in Irish Marinas
Tagged under

#Rowing: Poor weather conditions on Sunday, February 21st, forced the postponement of the scheduled challenges in the Cork Sculling Ladder until next Sunday, February 28th. Conor Twohig of Cork Boat Club came out on top in a race on Saturday.

Cork Sculling Ladder.
 
Result.
Saturday. 20.02.2016.
 
08.20am.  (52) Conor Twohig  -  Cork Boat Club bt  (51) Luke Guerin  -  Presentation College Rowing Club.  6 lengths.
 
                                                             Umpire : Finbarr Desmond
 
Monday. 22.02.2016.
 
(FC)(30) Liam O’Connell  -  Cork Boat Club; No. 12. Hugh Deasy  -  Lee Rowing Club, has withdrawn today from this year’s Cork Sculling Ladder.
 
Challenges  
Sunday. 28.02.2016.
 
08.30am.  (13) Barry Connolly  -  Cork Boat Club.   v  (11) Thomas Murphy  -  Lee Rowing Club.
08.40am.  (12) Liam O’Connell  -  Cork Boat Club.   v  ?
08.50am.  FC (30) Evan Curtin  -  Cork Boat Club.   v  (23) Peter Jackson  -  Lee Rowing Club.
09.00am.  (91) Mia Kovacs  -  Shandon Boat Club.   v  (87) Erika Deasy  -  Cork Boat Club.
09.10am.  (86) Julie Harrington  -  Shandon Boat Club.   V  (85) Sophie Grey  -  Lee Rowing Club.
09.20am.  (71) Chelsey Minehane  -  Shandon Boat Club.   V  (68) Jennifer Crowley  -  Shandon Boat Club.
09.30am.
09.40am. (FC) (43) Alex Byrne  -  Shandon Boat Club.  v  (32) Eoin Gaffney  -  Shandon Boat Club.
09.50am. (FC) (62) Jack Leggett  -  Shandon Boat Club.  v  (47) David Cosgrove  -  Shandon Boat Club.
10.00am. (40) Cian O’Sullivan  -  Cork Boat Club.  v  (37) William Ronayne  -  Shandon Boat Club.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: A number of races were held as part of the Cork Sculling Ladder at the Marina in Cork today. The conditions were rated as fair. Illness ruled out some of the proposed competitors and their challenges were postponed until the middle of this month.  

Results from the 2015 – 2016 Cork Sculling Ladder Challenges as on Sunday 31.01.2016 held at the Marina course, Cork.

1. (84) Luke Lee  -  Lee Rowing Club.  2. (89) Conor O’Callaghan  -  Cork Boat Club.   5 lenghts.

Umpire : Kieran Hughes.   Starter : Finbarr Desmond.

(13) Barry Connolly  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (11) Thomas Murphy  -  Lee Rowing Club. Postponed until mid-February. Connolly ill.

1.(22) Cormac Corkery  -  Cork Boat Club.  2. (21) Luke Guerin  -  Lee Rowing Club.  5 lengths.

Umpire : Kieran Hughes.  Starter : Finbarr Desmond.

1. (15) Feargal O’Sullivan  -  Cork Boat Club.  2. (14) David Breen  -  Lee Rowing Club.  5 lengths.

Umpire : Pat Hickey.  Starter : Finbarr Desmond.

(FC)(31) Liam O’Connell  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (12) Hugh Deasy  -  Lee Rowing Club. Postponed until mid-February.  O’Connell ill.

(FC)(30) Evan Curtin  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (23) Peter Jackson  -  Lee Rowing Club. Postponed until mid-February. Jackson ill.

1. (39) Ray Fitzgerald  -  Lee Rowing Club.  2. (FC)(52) Conor Twohig  -  Cork Boat Club.  5 lengths. 

Umpire : Pat Hickey.  Starter : Finbarr Desmond.

1.       (19) Conor Cudden  -  Shandon Boat Club.  2. (17) Hugh Sutton  -  Lee Rowing Club.  2 lengths.

 Umpire : Kieran Hughes.  Starter : Finbarr Desmond.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: Barry O’Flynn of Cork Boat Club was a winner in the Cork Sculling Ladder at the weekend. He had challenged Stewart Channon of Shandon Boat Club and the verdict on the win was easily. There is a bit set of challenges scheduled for Sunday, January 31st.

2015 -2016  CORK  SCULLING  LADDER

Sponsored by  :  Hanley Calibration Ltd.

Result and Challenges.

Sunday 17th January, 2016.

Results.

Sunday 10.01.2016.

1. (17) Feargal O’Sullivan  -  Cork Boat Club.  2. (15) David Higgins  -  Presentation College Rowing Club.   4L.

Sunday 17.01.2016.

1.  FC. (77) Ross Cudmore  -  Cork Boat Club.   2.  (60) Jack O’Donovan  -  Presentation College Rowing Club.   5L.

1.  (85) Kieran White  -  Cork Boat Club.  2.  (78) Cormac O’Connell  -  Presentation College Rowing Club.   5L.

1.  (10) Barry O’Flynn  -  Cork Boat Club.  2.  (8) Stewart Channon  -  Shandon Boat Club.   Easily.

Umpires  :  Kieran Hughes and Finbarr Desmond.

Forthcoming Challenges.

Sunday 31.01.2016.

08.00am.  (13) Barry Connolly  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (11) Thomas Murphy  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.10am.  (22) Cormac Corkery  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (21) Luke Guerin  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.20am.  (15) Feargal O’Sullivan  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (14) David Breen  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.30am.  (FC)(31) Liam O’Connell  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (12) Hugh Deasy  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.40am.  (FC)(30) Evan Curtin  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (23) Peter Jackson  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.50am.  (FC)(52) Conor Twohig  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (39) Ray Fitzgerald  -  Lee Rowing Club.

09.00am.  (89) Conor O’Callaghan  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (84) Luke Lee  -  Lee Rowing Club.

All races to take place at given times.  Racing depends on weather conditions.

Published in Rowing

#Rowing: The Cork Sculling Ladder is active, with races last weekend and challenges this Sunday, January 17th. Feargal O’Sullivan of Cork Boat Club came out on top in his race with David Higgins of Presentation College Rowing Club last Sunday.

2015 -2016  CORK  SCULLING  LADDER

Sponsored by  :  Hanley Calibration Ltd.

Result and Challenges.

  

Result.

Sunday 10.01.2016.

1. (17) Feargal O’Sullivan  -  Cork Boat Club.  2. (15) David Higgins  -  Presentation College Rowing Club.   4 L.

Challenges.

Sunday 17.01.2016.

08.30am.  FC. (77) Ross Cudmore  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (60) Jack O’Donovan  -  Presentation College Rowing Club.

08.40am.  (85) Kieran White  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (78) Cormac O’Connell  -  Presentation College Rowing Club.

12.00 noon.  (10) Barry O’Flynn  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (8) Stewart Channon  -  Shandon Boat Club.

Sunday 31.01.2016.

08.00am.  (13) Barry Connolly  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (11) Thomas Murphy  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.10am.  (22) Cormac Corkery  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (21) Luke Guerin  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.20am.  (15) Feargal O’Sullivan  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (14) David Breen  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.30am.  (FC)(31) Liam O’Connell  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (12) Hugh Deasy  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.40am.  (FC)(30) Evan Curtin  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (23) Peter Jackson  -  Lee Rowing Club.

08.50am.  (FC)(52) Conor Twohig  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (39) Ray Fitzgerald  -  Lee Rowing Club.

09.00am.  (89) Conor O’Callaghan  -  Cork Boat Club  v  (84) Luke Lee  -  Lee Rowing Club.

All races to take place at given times.  Racing depends on weather conditions.

Published in Rowing

The long awaited berthing facility in Youghal, East Cork looks to be finally getting underway. Works are due to 'start shortly' on a 20–metre pontoon and visitor moorings which could be ready for visiting boats by this summer, according to an Afloat.ie source.

The town has been seeking, what it sees a vital 'maritime tourism draw', for many years. 

Afloat.ie reported as far back as 2010, that facilties were planned for the Market Dock site close to the pier head in the heart of Youghal. When completed the marina would boost moorings in the south coast town from two visitor moorings to approximately 56 permanent berths.

Update: Martin Finn's article: Talk of Youghal Marina is 'Premature'

 

Published in Irish Marinas
Tagged under

There's been a big shout out for the Irish Marine Federation (IMF) stand at this week's London Boat Show from UK boaters who have been 'surprised to learn' of the range of sailing club and marina facilities available around the Irish coastline. But there have also been expressions of thanks from Irish visitors to the International Show at Excel who are delighted to see Ireland showcased as a maritime destination.

According to stand executive Ciara Dowling, the biggest surprise among some UK boaters visiting the stand (F046) has been the map of Ireland showing over 60 marina locations. Many visitors, she says, simply had not known of the existence of many Irish marina, jetty and pontoon locations, a situation the Irish Marina Federation are keen to rectify.

UK boater feed back from the show so far indicates the close proximity of Wales to Dublin and Ireland's attractive berthing rates compared with the current high value of  Sterling against the Euro could be a factor to entice UK boaters to cruise Ireland and even moor boats here in the longer term.

Irish marine federation london

Gerry Salmon of MGM Boats and Paal Janson of Dun Laoghaire on the first ever IMF stand at this week's London Boat Show in Excel.

Published in Irish Marinas

MDL Marinas, one of Europe’s largest leading marina operators has invested £250,000 in a new, super fast WiFi service across its network of UK marinas.

The new hardware will offer super quick internet access across all of MDL Marinas’ 19 UK marina and boatyard sites. It will enable berth holders and visitors to quickly and easily connect, stream video, Skype and handle large file downloads, and all from the comfort and convenience of their own boats.

The complimentary service is offered as part of MDL’s Freedom Berthing membership and will be accessible for all WiFi enabled mobile devices, offering a high-speed, low latency connection.

Commenting on the new offering, Adrien Burnand, Head of Marketing at MDL Marinas said: “We know from talking to our berth holders and visitors how important it is for them to have access to super fast WiFi. Whether for business or pleasure, in this day and age most of us demand and expect excellent internet access wherever we may be. We are delighted to introduce this as part of the exceptional MDL service we provide across our marinas.”

Alan Chorlton, a berth holder at MDL’s Torquay Marina added: “I am delighted that MDL Marinas has upgraded its WiFi service. When I am berthed in the marina, it’s important for me to be able to access the internet to pick up emails, connect with friends and family via Skype, as well as view and download large files. The new WiFi is exceptionally fast; it’s brilliant.”

Published in Irish Marinas
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