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Displaying items by tag: Shannon

#shannon – The winter mooring period on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne ends on Sun 31 Mar 2013 thereafter Navigation Bye-law No. 17(3) applies. Vessels should not berth in the same harbour for longer than the statutory period of five consecutive days nor more than a total of 7 days in any one month.

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

#InlandWaterways - Waterways Ireland advises all masters of inland vessels and the public that the Emergency Services will conduct a major water-based exercise centred on Upper Lough Erne and the Shannon-Erne Waterway next Saturday 16 February 2013.

The areas of Geaglum, Derryadd, Kilmore, Corradillar and Naan Island in Upper Lough Erne will all be affected between the hours of 10am and 10pm, while Ballyconnell on the Shannon-Erne Waterway will be affected between 2pm and 6pm.

Published in Inland Waterways
24th January 2013

Making Waves On The Canals

There's an old joke about a Scottish hellfire preacher trying to educate his flock about the punishment awaiting them if they do not mend their ways. He tells them that the ungodly will find themselves in the flames of hell, suffering unimaginable torments, and that they will cry to the lord for mercy, saying "Laird, laird, spare us: we didna ken whit torments awaited us." And, he tells them, the lord in his infinite goodness and mercy will gaze down upon them from heaven and he will say unto them "Well, ye ken noo".

 

WI and the canals

Some folk with boats on the Royal, Grand and Barrow may be feeling a bit like the ungodly at the moment, with the role of the lord being played by Waterways Ireland (WI). It seems that, as predicted here, WI is finally moving to take control of its canals.

Several new initiatives are under way, more are promised, some are predicted — and all in all it probably amounts to the biggest set of changes to boating on the canals since the end of commercial carrying. Furthermore, there are suggestions that the canals are being seen as a pilot study: that some of the changes will be applied to the Shannon and the Erne in years to come.

 

Cheap boating

Until now, you could keep a boat on the canals for e126 a year. That covered as many miles as you wanted and passage through as many locks as you wanted; it also covered mooring for the year. There is a bye-law that says you must not stay in one place for more than five days at a time, but it was widely ignored and scarcely ever enforced.

So you could, for example, keep your boat near Dublin, perhaps at a location close to a railway station, and live on it all year round. Or you could keep it there in the winter and move to the Shannon end for the summer, basing your boat at Shannon Harbour (Grand Canal), just one or two locks away from the Shannon, or at Richmond Harbour (Royal Canal), just one lock away. The cost was well below that of a Shannon marina berth.

The bye-laws simply did not reflect the ways in which people actually used boats, either as pleasure craft or for living on. And the charges to users were well below the cost of competitors' products (e.g. commercial marinas' charges), well below the charges on UK waterways and, in particular, well below the cost of running the waterways.

 

Costs to taxpayers

In the year ended 31 December 2010, WI's operating income, excluding "net deferred funding for pensions", was e547,000. That's the total for all waterways, coming from licences (e34,000), property (e210,000), operations (e202,000), interest (e1,000) and other (e100,000). The programme costs (excluding staff and other costs) were:

• Barrow e723,000

• Grand e2,074,000

• Royal e2,873,000

• the rest e2,098,000.

So the Grand, by itself, cost almost as much as the Lower Bann, the Erne, the Shannon and the Shannon–Erne Waterway put together. The Barrow, Grand and Royal accounted for 73% of the costs but for a far lower proportion of the boats and the income.

I don't intend that as a reflection on the efficiency with which the different waterways are operated: canals are entirely different in nature to river and lake navigations, with far more waterways infrastructure, and will cost more to run. But I give the figures for two reasons. First, they show that, if WI wanted to reduce the gap between income and expenditure, it would inevitably focus on the canals. Second, the figures give some idea of the extent of the subsidy being provided by the taxpayer to canal-based boaters: if there are, say, a thousand boats based on the canals and Barrow, each of them is being subsidised by (on average) about e5,500 a year from the taxpayer.

 

Costs to boaters

I'm always inclined to look at the economic angle, but WI doesn't dwell on it. Nonetheless it will increase the costs to boaters and will also increase WI's income. Instead of a single e126 annual charge, boaters will now pay

• e126 for a Combined Mooring

& Passage Permit

• e152 for an Extended Mooring

Permit (EMP)

• e250 as a damage deposit,

which I presume will be rolled

forward in succeeding years.

Furthermore, boaters applying for Extended Mooring Permits (EMPs) must produce insurance certificates; for anyone currently uninsured, that will be an extra cost, as will any survey and remedial work required.

There will be other extra costs, of which more below, in future years.

 

Controlling mooring

At the core of WI's current activity is its taking control of the banks. It is marking out lengths that can be allocated to boats; it will allocate those lengths to those applying for EMPs. It does not guarantee that boaters will get their preferred spaces, or that they will get the same space every year. But once a space has been allocated, it is reserved for one boat for the year and cannot be used by another. That probably seems obvious to anyone renting a marina berth but it will be a new practice on the canals.

The EMP system was applied first at Rathangan and Vicarstown on the Barrow Line, between Lock 34 and Griffith Bridge on the Grand and at Confey (Leixlip), 15th Lock and 45th Lock (near Richmond Harbour) on the Royal. The second batch will include places in the Grand Canal Dock in Dublin, at Pike Bridge, near Maynooth, and at Abbeyshrule on the Royal and near Lock 34 on the Royal. There will be more batches through to spring 2013; full details on http://www.waterwaysireland.org; select New Canal Permit System from the menu on the left.

Continuous Cruisers (as they're called in Britain), folk who stay no more than five days in one location, will not be required to have EMPs.

So what happens if a boater doesn't apply for an EMP but doesn't cruise continuously? If I'm reading the bye-laws correctly, WI has the power to remove a boat, store it and, if necessary, sell it, charging the owner for the costs of doing so.

 

Information or consultation?

There has been some criticism of WI for not holding consultation meetings before beginning to implement its new policy. My own view is that WI was right: such meetings produce more heat than light, with too much attention on minor individual matters and not enough useful comment on the principles. There is much to be said for creating facts on the ground.

But if consultation has been restricted, the flow of information has not. In fact WI has used its website very effectively, setting out its plans, explaining the procedures and providing FAQs with useful, not PR-type, answers. Whoever has been in charge of that exercise deserves to be commended.

 

Insurance and dry docking

One thing WI has communicated is that there is more to come.

From 2015 Waterways Ireland will be introducing the requirement for boats needing permits and wishing to use the canals to have a current hull survey to provide evidence that the boat is in good condition. [...] Your attention is being drawn to this requirement now to allow you time to prepare for 2015. [...]

The Licensee undertakes to have regular inspections of the gas and electric services of his Boat as required to ensure these are kept in a safe and serviceable condition. [...]

All Boats must carry adequate fire fighting equipment and have same serviced as per the manufacturer's recommendations. [...]

It is not permitted to re-fuel Boats at an extended mooring.

The requirement for insurance will probably mean more boats needing hull surveys; there is an explicit requirement for such surveys from 2015 onwards. That will put extra pressure on the dry docks, where WI has already introduced restrictions on the boats that can use them and the work that can be carried out. There is, in my view, an urgent and growing need for well-capitalised, well-managed boatyards along all our waterways. The requirements also suggest a need for more fuel sellers along the canals; as far as I know the only one is at Lowtown.

 

The Shannon and the Erne

The new arrangements will mean better management of the canals, safer boats and more income from WI, all desiderata. But the real excitement would come with their extension to the Shannon and the Erne. The legal basis for charging might have to be different, but WI must surely be planning to raise much more money from Shannon and Erne boaters. The current Shannon lock and bridge fees are pathetically small, hardly worth collecting, and they are not paid at all by those who stay on the lakes.

I am writing this before the Republic's budget is published, but I cannot imagine that it will contain good news for WI. I suspect that it will have to raise much more money itself, and that means from charges to various types of users. Robin Evans, chief executive of Canal & River Trust, which runs the former British Waterways navigations in England and Wales, said recently that his organisation gets only 35% of its funding from the State. The Irish Government must look enviously at that figure.

But it must consider the price elasticity of demand for inland boating. Usage, as measured (however imperfectly) by Shannon lock and bridge passages, has been falling over the last ten years. The chart below shows the figures for the first ten months of each year: at time of writing, figures for November and December 2012 were not available.

It may be time to reinvent the Shannon once again.

Published in Brian Goggin
10th July 2012

Controlling The Canals

I wrote recently that the terms of Waterways Ireland's licence agreement for the "Extended Term Serviced Mooring Vacancies" at Shannon Harbour could be easily adapted for use elsewhere on the canals. That might allow WI to begin to bring the long-term berthers, residential or otherwise, under control. And so it proves. We have received this press release from Waterways Ireland.

 

WI Press Release

Waterways Ireland has recognised that many boat owners wish to stay for a more extended period in a single location than the 5 days the annual Canal Mooring and Passage Permit (under the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-laws), 1988) currently allows.

In response, Waterways Ireland intends to issue an Extended Mooring Licence granting a boat owner the right to leave their boat in one location for longer than 5 days. This permit will enable the holder to moor in a position allocated by Waterways Ireland on a soft bank area of navigation property for a period of up to 1 year. The Extended Mooring Licence will cost e152 per annum.

The application process for the Extended Mooring Licence will open in the autumn when all existing permit holders will be contacted.

All boat owners will still require an annual Canal Mooring and Passage Permit allowing the holder to cruise and pass through locks. Boat owners with a Canal Mooring and Passage Permit proposing to stay longer in one location than 5 days can then apply for the Extended Mooring Licence. The total fee to hold both the Permit and the Licence in 2012/2013 will be e278.

For boat owners with the Canal Mooring and Passage Permit who do not hold an Extended Mooring Licence, the 5-day rule (in the one place or within 500m of that location) will still apply. Waterways Ireland will enforce this bye-law from autumn 2012.

Waterways Ireland will be contacting permit holders regularly between now and autumn 2012 to ensure they are kept up to date with the roll-out of the new permit. All queries about the enforcement of the current bye-laws or the Extended Mooring Licence should be directed to Shane Anderson, Assistant Inspector of Navigation: Tel no +353 (0)87 286 5726, Email [email protected]

These changes are necessary steps to improve the management of the canals and waterway amenities for both the navigational and recreational user, so that investment in the new infrastructure and facilities which Waterways Ireland has undertaken is maximised for every user.

Comment

About time too. I welcome this development: WI has to be able to control who uses its waterways and the uses they make of them.

The proposed charge is surprisingly modest. It is the same for all areas, those of high and of low demand: it might have been difficult to implement differential charging. However, the new licence does not apply to hard-edged areas; I presume therefore that WI intends to keep them clear for visitors.

It is significant that the new control mechanism is a licence, not a permit. Waterways Ireland had been hoping to bring in a single set of bye-laws to cover all its navigations, but it proved to be very difficult to do that within two jurisdictions. Accordingly, I understand that WI now intends to seek amendments to the bye-laws for the Republic, allowing it (inter alia) to increase the charges for various permits. However, the Canals Act 1986 allows WI to issue licences, and they are not subject to the restrictions in the bye-laws.

 

Royal water

The fragility of the water supply to the Royal Canal was shown in April, when Waterways Ireland closed the summit level of the canal because of low water levels; the 34th and 35th levels were also closed for emergency repairs. At time of writing, WI is hoping to be able to re-open the summit level on 1 June. Some boats that had intended to go west along the Royal to the Shannon were forced to go east instead, through Dublin and along the Grand Canal; happily, Effin Bridge, the lifting bridge at North Strand Road, worked properly this year.

The Royal always had fewer feeders than the Grand. The summit level was fed from Lough Owel, north of Mullingar, but while the canal was closed, Westmeath County Council found it needed more drinking water for the Mullingar area. In dry conditions, the Lough Owel feeder cannot meet both needs.

With great foresight, CIE (which then owned the canal) got the Council to agree that, if the canal was to be re-opened, it would provide an alternative supply.

Nowadays, environmental regulations mean that water abstraction needs more thought, more planning and more factors to be considered. Extensive studies were carried out and WI and the County Council agreed that the best possible alternative source was Lough Ennell, which is south of Mullingar: water could be pumped from there to the canal. The Council had to apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission; it has just completed oral hearings in Mullingar.

 

Traditional boats

In the first half of the nineteenth century, anyone travelling to the seaside resort of Kilkee could take the steamer to Kilrush and travel onward by road. But the passenger traffic was initially established by the turf boats of the Shannon Estuary: most of Limerick's fuel came from Poulnasherry, west of Kilrush, and was carried by small sailing boats, which also carried a few passengers.

A 24' replica of one of these boats was launched recently at Querrin, at the entrance to Poulnasherry. The Sally O'Keeffe was built by the Seol Sionna group http://seolsionna.org/, which grew out of the West Clare Currach Club. The boat will be used for sailing training. The Shannon Estuary, which is insufficiently appreciated, has a wealth of traditional boat types, but there were no extant Shannon hookers, so it is nice to see their return.

On the same weekend, another of those traditional boat types was featured in Limerick. The Ilen Wooden Boat Building School http://ilen.ie/gandelow-races/ had built five gandelows, boats used in the upper reaches of the estuary, and conducted races in the city.

And the Thomastown Regatta, on the Nore http://www.happyvalleyfestival.com/ebooklet.pdf, will feature traditional cots and racing boats: the 1905 racing cot Nore Lass, owned by the O'Farrell family, will be on display at the Grennan Mill Craft School.

 

Here are some updates I wrote about recently...

Water charges

The EU Commission sent a Reasoned Opinion to Ireland in November 2011, suggesting that Ireland had not correctly implemented the provisions of the Water Framework Directive that require "a cost recovery policy for water services that includes the environmental and resource costs of water use". The Commission believes that cost recovery should be extended to many other water uses, including hydroelectricity generation and the supply of water to navigations. Having got an extension of the deadline for replying, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government responded to the Commission. I asked for a copy of the response, but the department won't tell anybody what it's doing. I am appealing that decision, but without much hope.

 

Traffic

Waterways Ireland has kindly given me the Shannon traffic figures for the first four months of 2012. The numbers of movements in those months are always low, and can be significantly affected by the weather, so there can be quite a lot of variation between one year and another without its indicating any long-term trend. For example, back in 2002, there were 4875 boat movements in the first four months; the figure was up to 6204 in 2003 but back down to 5304 in 2004. It's important therefore not to read too much into the figures, but a five-year moving average suggests that traffic has been falling since 2007. The figure for 2012 was 4052. It will be interesting to see whether better weather balances economic gloom in the rest of the year.

 

Mineral Oil Tax

In the last issue, I gave the figures for the numbers of Mineral Oil Tax returns received by Revenue from owners of diesel-powered boats in the first two years of the scheme's operation. They told me that they got 38 returns in 2010 for the year 2009 and 41 in 2011 for 2010. I now have the figure for the following year, the returns made in 2012 for the year 2011. There was a very significant change, of 46%, but unfortunately it was downward, to 22. The Revenue Commissioners tell me that "[...] there were 22 returns received by 1 March 2012 for 2011, amounting to e53,398.58 MOT [Mineral Oil Tax] on 141,503.29 litres oil." That's an average of 6432.1 litres each, which is a lot, so I suspect that much of the total came from the hire fleet, with less than twenty private owners making returns.

 

Royal and Ulster Canals

I said, in the last issue, that I did not understand how the cost of the restoration of the Royal Canal, 146 km with 46 locks, could be less than the expected cost of the canal to Clones, 13 km with one double lock. It has been explained to me that the figure for the Royal was essentially only the marginal cost, recorded (initially) under Civil Service accounting procedures, so that it understates the total cost. It would be a huge job to try to find the full cost using modern accounting conventions, but unfortunately that means that we have no usable figure for the cost of the Royal, no basis for estimating the return on investment and no guideline on the value of any future restorations.

Published in Brian Goggin

#Lifeboats - RTÉ News has a video report on a memorial to lives lost on the Shannon recently installed at the location of Lough Ree's new lifeboat station.

Relatives of those lost to the waterway spoke of their appreciation for the setting up of the new search and rescue base for the mid-Shannon after a decade of campaigning.

As reported on Afloat.ie last July, the RNLI's 44th lifeboat station in Ireland - located at Coosan Point in Athlone - Co Westmeath, has been welcomed as a search and rescue asset on Lough Ree and the Shannon.

Some €150,000 has been invested in the temporary facilities, from which volunteers operate the B class Atlantic 75 lifeboat Dorothy Mary, on a year-long trial basis.

According to RNLI Lough Ree's Matt Harte, the new station was among the busiest in Ireland last year, with up to 20 call-outs in its six months of operation thus far.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#INLAND FISHERIES - Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd was on hand to launch the Atlantic Aquatic Resource Conservation (AARC) conference in Limerick on Wednesday 28 November.

The conference, attended by delegates from five countries, is intended to showcase integrated collaborative water resource management projects across the European Atlantic Arc, comprising Portugal, Spain, France, Britain and Ireland.

The AARC project is the culmination of work undertaken by 13 international partnerships across these five countries, and the conference provides an opportunity to share the research, findings and recommendations to support the conservation of native fish species.

As the project nears conclusion next month, all AARC project requirements have been met and exceeded in a number of cases, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

In Ireland specifically, the project has made a valuable contribution to the Shannon Salmon Restoration Plan (SSRP) which looks at redressing the decline in Atlantic salmon populations throughout the Shannon river system.

Overall, says IFI, AARC has provided an important instrument to facilitate a pan-European approach to conserving our indigenous, migratory fish stocks.

Speaking at the launch of the conference, Minister O’Dowd highlighted the importance of EU research programmes like AARC in enhancing international research and collaboration.

“The strong inter-regional co-operation, under AARC, between regional authorities and research institutions has increased our knowledge of the conservation requirements of these important European fish species,” he said.

“AARC has ensured that we will play our part in utilising this new knowledge and co-operation for the enhancement of the conservation status of important EU species and habitats.”

AARC is a three-year project, launched in 2009, which focuses on migratory stocks of protected fish species: shad, Atlantic salmon, sea trout, sea lamprey, European eel and smelt. Across Europe these species have economic, cultural and environmental value but are in decline.

The issue of their decline is truly transnational, says IFI, and can only be addressed through long-term intensive transnational collaboration.

A major theme running through the AARC project was establishing the role of wider stakeholders in the management of our aquatic resources. Many of the AARC partners have worked to engage local stakeholders in protecting, conserving and managing these resources through the AARC project activities.

In Ireland, the project dealt with restorative initiatives for Atlantic salmon in the Shannon system. This included determining the genetic composition of contemporary and historical populations of salmon in the Shannon and comparing the relative performance in the wild of the progeny Feale, Mulkear and Shannon wild and hatchery salmon populations.

IFI was joined in the project by fellow partners ESB Fisheries Conservation, University College Cork and the Marine Institute. Of the total project budget of €3.87m, Irish partners received €754,242 over the three years.

The Shannon AARC project will address issues pertaining to fish passage, water quality, habitat and hatchery programmes in addition to the construction of a project specific geograpgic information systems (GIS), co-ordination of stock assessment surveys and the promotion of catchment management.

Ultimately it will help identify important factors in the conservation of Atlantic salmon in the Shannon, and will provide a set of useful maps and a spatial visualisation tool for improved planning and development throughout the Shannon catchment.

Results will help inform fisheries staff of the current status of Atlantic salmon populations in the Shannon as well as provide a useful inventory or potential and/or historical salmon locations in the Shannon.

The project will also benefit inter-agency co-operation, particularly in relation to River Shannon fisheries management, and will strengthen the links with relevant research institutions and international fisheries experts.

Published in Fishing

#INLAND WATERS - The European eel population is highly endangered and conservation of this species is a priority for Minister Fergus O’Dowd, who recently visited one of the ESB Trap and Transport sites in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

The minister saw first-hand the silver eel operation that involves the capture of the fish at strategic locations upstream in the Shannon catchment and their subsequent release downstream of Parteen Weir in order to aid their passage and bypass the hydropower generating facility.

Minister O’Dowd assisted the fishermen, Brian and Brendan Connell, in the weighing of the silver eels and loading them into an oxygenated tank for transportation by the ESB to Parteen.

“Eels are protected under EU directive,” said the minister. “I am satisfied that Ireland is addressing its obligations under the directive by ensuring the safe passage of eels past Parteen Weir as they travel onward to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.  

"I value highly the work done by ESB on the Trap and Transport initiative and the co-operation with IFI (Inland Fisheries Ireland). I saw at first hand how ESB, as a major commercial State company, continues to take very seriously its responsibilities in this area.”

The National and River Basin District Eel Management Plans specify actions that include closure of eel fisheries and markets, mitigation of adverse effects of hydropower generation facilities, improvement of water quality and bio-security issues.

The overall objective is to increase the biomass of spawning eel leaving Irish waters as the stock has depleted to a dangerous level.

Inland Fisheries Ireland monitors this ESB-sponsored operation throughout its duration, checking weigh and condition of the fish.

Published in Inland Waterways

#INLAND WATERWAYS - Waterways Ireland is advising all masters and users of the Erne navigation that a fireworks display will take place at Castle Island in Enniskillen on Hallowe'en night around 8pm.

Masters of vessels are advised that in there interest of public safety, there will be no mooring permitted at the Waterways Ireland head office mooring nor at the Henry Street public jetties on the day of the event.

Navigation in the vicinity of Castle Island is also prohibited for the duration of the event.

Alternative mooring is available at the Forum and Regal Pass jetties with easy access to event vantage points. Instructions from safety vessels must be adhered to at all times.

Further information may be had from the Lough Erne manager/warden at the Waterways Ireland head office at +44 48 66 322 836.

Meanwhile, Waterways Ireland also reminds masters and users of the Lower Bann and Shannon waterways that the winter schedule for lock and bridge opening times will take effect from this coming Thursday 1 November, running till Sunday 31 March 2013.

Full details of opening times are available on PDF format for both the Lower Bann Navigation and the Shannon Navigation.

Published in Inland Waterways

#rnli – A young Irishman has played a significant role in developing the RNLI's most advanced class of lifeboat - the Shannon class.  Named after the River Shannon and almost 50% faster than the lifeboats it will replace - the Shannon will help the charity's volunteer crews reach those in need even quicker.

Capable of 25 knots, the Shannon is the first modern RNLI all-weather lifeboat to be powered by water jets, not propellers. Over 50 new Shannons will need to be built within the next ten years to replace the older classes of lifeboat and the charity estimates that the 50+ Shannons in their class will rescue over 56,000 people and save the lives of over 1,500 in its lifetime.

Peter Eyre, an RNLI Naval Architect from Derry in Northern Ireland was instrumental in the development of the new lifeboat, designing the hull form at the age of 24 in his spare time. Four years after Peter's original design, the prototype of the Shannon class lifeboat is undergoing sea trials around the coasts of the UK and Ireland, with the first lifeboat going into service in 2013.

Peter Eyre, RNLI Naval Architect says:

'I kept the design under wraps in the early stages. After a while my boss could see I was working on something and encouraged me to continue. My job was to find the design by working with other naval architects, not to design it. I was the youngest in the team and before long I had designed the new lifeboat hull.

'I'm chuffed it was named after an Irish river and the strong connection the boat now has with Ireland. I think the moment it first goes out on a service will be the high point of my career. My parents will be so proud. It's a great legacy to be a part of, especially at this age. I think it will sink in gradually. When the first life is saved I think that's when it will really hit home.'

The Shannon class is expected to make up almost a third of the RNLI's all-weather lifeboat fleet and once rolled out all RNLI all-weather lifeboats will be capable of at least 25 knots. The Shannon class will also improve the safety and welfare of the charity's volunteer crews, thanks to its shock absorbing seats and computer monitoring and operating system.

While Peter was not to become actively involved with the RNLI till later in his life, he had a brush with the charity in 1998 when the Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat came to his aid.

Peter explains:

'I was just 14-years-old at the time when my family's 30ft cruiser racer yacht was dismasted in rough seas and force 7 winds. The yacht lost its mast and was escorted back to shore by the volunteer lifeboat crew. We were so relieved'

Owen Medland, RNLI Training Divisional Inspector for Ireland says:

'This is the first time that the RNLI has named a class of lifeboat after an Irish river – which is very fitting considering that Peter has been so fundamental in its design. All of the crews who have tested the new lifeboat have been thrilled with its speed, manoeuvrability and the improved crew safety features. We don't know yet which Irish lifeboat stations will receive a Shannon class lifeboat, but the Shannon is designed to replace the majority of Mersey and some Tyne class lifeboats. We look forward to seeing the Shannon here in the near future.'

The RNLI has launched a €6M fundraising campaign across the UK and Ireland to fund two Shannons and their launch and recovery vehicles designed by Supacat for the relief fleet. These 'relief lifeboats'  will be used to replace station boats when they go for maintenance or repair and will therefore operate at many places around the UK and the RoI.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

#canoe – A blind journalist, canoeist and past pupil at ChildVision's national education centre for blind children will paddle the River Shannon in aid of ChildVision this weekend. Wesley Bourke and his paddling partner Aisa Cooper will take on the 360km (225 mile) feat from August 16th-19th, covering 100km per day for the first three days. The challenge will begin at Dowra in County Cavan and cover the counties of Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath, Galway, Clare and Tipperary as they make their way to Limerick.

"No blind person has ever done this before but I'm confident we'll not only complete the challenge, but we'll get it done on schedule," said Bourke. "And ChildVision really deserves every support you can give them, and I hope everyone along the route will be generous in supporting them, and us, too."

Wesley was diagnosed with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy at a eighteen while he was completing an apprenticeship with the Air Corp, leaving him with less than 15% vision. He attended ChildVision's integrated post-primary school, Pobal Scoil Rosmini, to complete his Leaving Certificate. Graduating in 1998 Wesley went on to study International relations at the University of Hull and Kings College London. He now works as a journalist at An Cosantóir, the Defence Forces magazine.

An adventure enthusiast, Wesley recently completed the Devizes – Westminster International Canoeing Marathon with Aisa, paddling over 200km in a two man kayak in preparation for this event. Wesley and Aisa are members of the Celbridge Paddlers Canoe Club, Co. Kildare.

The pair will take to the Shannon in a K2 kayak on August 16th to raise funds for ChildVision, Ireland's only national education centre for blind children. ChildVision works with over 800 families throughout the country providing educational resources and facilities for blind children.

Published in Canoeing
Tagged under
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