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Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough

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 Belfast Lough
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Northern Ireland sailor Mikey Ferguson from Bangor in County Down has joined Pip Hare's IMOCA campaign and they will start the Lonely Rock Race tomorrow (Sunday 16th August), from near Ryde in the Eastern Solent in Medallia. As well as being a professional yachtswoman, Pip is a journalist and sailing coach. Also on board will be Paul Larsen, world sailing speed record holder.

The name 'Lonely Rock' is a loose translation of the Gaelic 'An Charraig Aonair' for the Fastnet Rock. The original course dates from 1925 when two members of the Royal Western YC in Plymouth bet on who could win a race round the landmark, starting from Ryde and finishing in Plymouth. In association with the Royal Victoria YC on the Isle of Wight, this race will leave the Scillies to port, round the Fastnet to port, pass the Isle of Scilly Isle once again to port and finish in Plymouth Sound.

Northern Ireland sailor Mikey FergusonNorthern Ireland sailor Mikey Ferguson

As previously reported in Afloat.ie Mikey (37) has been a competitive dinghy and keelboat sailor from a young age and has worked in the sailing industry for 20 years. He has been in various British IMOCA campaigns including Mike Golding's Ecover and Gamesa projects and he has also skippered the IMOCA Artemis 2. He was the skipper of Team Artemis Ocean Racing which broke the record in the Length of Britain Race in 2017.

The 46-year-old ocean sailor Hare plans to compete in the 2020-21 Vendee Globe race in early November in Medallia, the new title sponsor of her challenge, the San Francisco-based software company. Her previous long-distance races include last year's Transat Jacques Vabre in 2019 (24th) and the Rolex Fastnet Race (13th). In the lead up to November's departure, Pip will skipper Medallia in warm-up races, including the Lonely Rock Race and the Round the Island race.

Pip Hare's IMOCA MedalliaPip Hare's IMOCA Medallia

Ferguson says " I'm looking forward to joining Pip and Paul on the Lonely Rock Race. We've made a lot of changes and modifications to Medallia and this race gives us a great opportunity to test all the new mechanical, rigging and communications systems. All this is great prep for Pip and the boat for this year's Vendee Globe. With a variety of wind conditions too, this should make the course very interesting and challenging. Looking forward to actually getting back on the water racing though!".

Published in Vendee Globe

The Belfast Maritime Consortium led by Artemis Technologies, has hosted a visit to the city by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP. 

Representatives of the 13-partner syndicate met the minister to discuss their plans to develop zero-emissions ferries in Belfast that will revolutionise the future of maritime transport.

The project recently won a £33 million Strength in Places Fund grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a BEIS funded body

Iain Percy OBE, CEO of Artemis Technologies, a spin-off from competitive sailing team Artemis Racing, said:

“It was a pleasure to host the Secretary of State in Belfast to showcase our plans to make the city, and the UK, the global lead in zero emissions maritime technology.

“Along with our consortium partners, we took the opportunity to provide a detailed brief to the Minister on our plans to foster a newly resurgent maritime cluster in Northern Ireland that could create hundreds of jobs over the coming years.

“No matter who we meet, the excitement when we talk about combining Belfast’s shipbuilding heritage with its incredible talent in aerospace and composite engineering, and world-class R&D capabilities, is clear to see.

“Thanks to the support of BEIS and UKRI through the Strength in Places Fund, and with the assistance of our partners in industry, academia and the public sector, we can harness that potential and change the face of waterborne transport forever.”

During the visit, the Secretary of State met with members of the Belfast Maritime Consortium at Belfast Harbour, before previewing new exhibition space at the W5 interactive science museum featuring Artemis Racing’s America’s Cup high-speed yacht, and touring the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering (NIACE) Centre, which will host part of the consortium’s R&D programme.

The Belfast Maritime Consortium project, which is being backed by close to £60m of investment over the next four years, including contributions from consortium partners will create an initial 125 research and development jobs leading to more than 1,000 in the region over the decade.

The Belfast consortium brings together a range of established and young firms, academia and public bodies, including Belfast Harbour, Bombardier Belfast, Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Engineering (NIACE), Creative Composites, Energia, Catalyst, Invest Northern Ireland, Ulster University, Belfast Met, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ards and North Down Borough Council, and Belfast City Council.

Published in Belfast Lough
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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 Belfast Lough
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Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough had high profile visitors last week. Three naval ships, HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Express docked at the marina. All are Archer class patrol and training vessels and attached to Universities in the North West of England. Biter is assigned to Manchester and Salford, Express to Wales University, and Charger to Liverpool University. And a few days before the armed patrol boat HMS Tracker docked in the Harbour.

A few days later the Marina welcomed Minister of State for Northern Ireland Robin Walker.

Ards and North Down Mayor, Councillor Trevor Cummings, Chief Executive Stephen Reid and Director of Regeneration, Development & Planning Susie McCullough, hosted a meeting with the Minister to discuss the opportunities offered by the Belfast Region City Deal and to view the Bangor seafront regeneration programme.

Three naval ships, HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Express docked at Bangor marinaThree naval ships, HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Express docked at Bangor Marina

Published in Belfast Lough

Belfast Lough Sailability was due to host the President’s Cup in August but sadly, due to COVID 19, this event has had to be postponed.

This interprovincial regatta was Inaugurated by Paralympian John Twomey, promoted by Sailability Ireland and provides anyone with a disability from the 32 counties of Ireland the opportunity to compete on the water and experience the joys of sailing.

Belfast Lough Sailability is based at Carrickfergus Marina and has a wide range of boats for everyone to enjoy but as it is impossible to socially distance while putting on buoyancy aids or lifejackets for people with disabilities, it is postponed until August 2021. As previously reported,  the event was held at the Royal St George last year.

Secretary Anne Taylor says “We will be expecting to have at least 30 boats on the water and I will let you know if we do manage to get back on the water later this year”.

At Carrickfergus, the organisation welcomes group visits from schools and youth groups for children and young people with disabilities, and groups for adults with disabilities.

Published in Belfast Lough
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The Cadets at Ballyholme Yacht Club in Bangor Co Down on Belfast Lough are split into two sections; the beginners called Dolphins and those who have completed Stage 3 – Sharks. In order to reduce the numbers on the slipway and afloat at any one time, the Sharks had their turn last Saturday.

After the much-delayed return to the water due to COVID, a great turnout of 18 Toppers enjoyed a perfect morning practising racing in two groups.

In charge were RYA club coaches Colin Robinson and Andrew Dadley with RYA Instructor Russell Finlay and the safety boat was manned socially distanced by John Bell and Coach David Nelson on board.

Published in Belfast Lough

Neighbouring clubs Royal Ulster and Ballyholme at Bangor in County Down on Belfast Lough are both due back on the water soon.

The RUYC sailing committee has decided that in line with further guidance from the RYA that competitive sport can’t start until the 17th July at the earliest, that the club will start sailing on the Saturday 18th July in the first of a series of Round Belfast Lough type courses. In August a new one round the Copeland Islands is planned. The updated sailing programme and sailing instructions for the new series of races will be available here www.ruyc.co.uk on 10th July.

Thursday night racing has been cancelled for this month (July) but as events are moving very quickly now, the August points racing will be reviewed should there be a further easement. The annual Regatta will now not be possible this Saturday (11th) as competitive sailing cannot happen until later in the month. It is hoped that a smaller-scale event will be held during September.

Short cruises in company around Belfast Lough are on the books with a start this Sunday (12th) with a short trip to Helens Bay where anchoring is possible.

Sailing Secretary Jim Coffey said “The sailing committee would like to thank members for their patience and understanding whilst we try and work our way through these difficult times; ultimately the safety of members is paramount as the pandemic is still with us".

At Ballyholme the bar will open this evening (9th)with drinks served outside with the now usual restrictions. See Ballyholme.com

And there is good news for cadets. Paul Prentice RTC (Recognised Training Centre) Principal is delighted to be able to run courses. “ Thanks to our dedicated training team, with support from RYANI, we are delighted to release our Programme for 2020”. He adds “ As you will see there are a number of changes to the format, and unfortunately, due to restrictions we are unable to offer beginners courses.

The team is excited to welcome you back on the water”.

Courses are available to book, for Members only until Friday 17th July, after which they will be opened to non-members. Please take some time to read the information online and particularly the cancellation policy and ifIf you have any questions or concerns, please give Lyn a call at the club on 028 9127 1467.

Cadet Summer Sailing at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough is proving popular with much interest in the scheme which starts on Monday next (13th July).

Rear Commodore Sailing Jonny Millar, Cadet Officers John Driscoll and Gillian Killiner and the Hon Sailing Secretary Denis Todd have put together an attractive though restricted programme for the children.

Due to the current COVID 19 restrictions the sailing will run in a new format in order to get the Cadets on the water and remain safely within current guidance. There will be no access to the changing rooms, or any other rooms inside the clubhouse. This makes it impossible to run the usual RYA course structure. The new format will simply focus on getting children out sailing, improving their skills and confidence on the water.

Morning or afternoon sailing sessions will be bookable in fortnightly or weekly blocks. Morning sessions are for those looking to improve their sailing skills, afternoons for Cadets looking to start or improve their racing. These active sessions will be run by RYA qualified Senior and Dinghy Instructors. There will be no inside classroom sessions, just more time on the water! Group sizes will be limited and consequently, overall capacity is reduced.

Unfortunately, the restrictions do not allow shared boats or the close contact with instructors needed to run beginners’ courses. All sailors taking part will be sailing single-handedly. As the club is aware many younger Cadets want to learn to sail this situation will be kept under close review.

Online booking is open here

Rear Commodore House Lindsay Nolan says, “The new format is different to our usual, but the changes allow us to remain within current guidance and get some Cadet sailing. We look forward to seeing our Cadets on the water again this summer”.

Published in Belfast Lough

The Ards and North Down coastal area has done well by winning awards for excellence in facilities, environmental management, environmental education, accessibility and safety.

Bangor Marina has been awarded the internationally renowned Blue Flag for the 2020 season. The Blue Flag award is certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and is delivered in 47 participating countries.

The beaches at Ballywalter, Cloughey, Groomsport and Millisle, managed by Ards and North Down Borough Council, along with Crawfordsburn beach, which is operated by Northern Ireland Environment Agency, have received the prestigious Seaside Award. The Seaside Award is the national standard for beaches across the UK. This programme ensures visitors of a clean, safe, attractive, and well-managed beach with the facilities provided being appropriate for the location of the beach. Helens Bay, also operated by Northern Ireland Environment Agency received a Green Coast Award, which recognises an agreement between the operator and the local community to protect and promote a natural beach. Green Coast Award beaches can also be found in the Republic of Ireland and in Wales, but due to their more natural state, may not be flying a flag.

Helens Bay Beach in Bangor received a Green Coast AwardHelens Bay Beach in Bangor received a Green Coast Award

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Trevor Cummings commented: "Our borough encompasses the southern shore of Belfast Lough, the Irish Sea coast and most of the perimeter of Strangford Lough, giving us 115 miles of stunning coastline. It is fantastic that so many of our beautiful seaside locations have been recognised in this year's Beach and Marina awards. It is a fitting tribute to the work of both the Council employees and the many groups of volunteers who together strive to keep our coastline clean, tidy and welcoming for visitors.

Dr. Ian Humphreys, CEO of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, stated: "We are delighted to see the high standards at so many of our local beaches continuing into 2020. Our fantastic beaches are an important part of the natural wealth that we can all enjoy as a community. This summer, it is important to follow guidance from the public health authorities around social distancing when visiting local beaches. Furthermore, it is up to all of us to ensure that we leave these beauty spots in good condition. I am appealing to everyone to make sure that they leave no trace on our local beaches by putting litter in the bin."

Published in Belfast Lough
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