From Whales to Windfarms, Orcas to Ocean Adventures

From Whales to Windfarms, Orcas to Ocean Adventures

..... the 2023 Irish Sailing Cruising Conference

The recent Irish Sailing Cruising Conference hosted at Royal Cork Yacht Club heard a series of talks  celebrating the sea.

The sea we play in, on and around as cruising sailors.

The event kicked off with an update on the EU-UK trading relationship, previously titled “Brexit”. In it, we learned about the customs requirements for visiting to and from the UK, boat purchase, and a reminder that the FAQs are updated on Delegates were invited to send on any questions they had that were not answerable at the conference or by the FAQ page and Irish Sailing will send on their enquiry directly to Revenue.

Daria Blackwell, Vice Commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club, gave an incredible account of the work that went into supporting the many sailors that found themselves in trouble during the global pandemic. Imagine sailing across the Atlantic only to find you couldn’t go ashore ?. The stories of tracking and support that Daria and Alex Blackwell gave in their own time was incredible and then in turn the support that sailors gave to small rural communities they became close to when at anchor. The incredible volunteerism and personal dedication to helping fellow sailors was inspiring.

Tessa Kingston’s account of her Atlantic crossing with family left us all with food for thought. Many dream of crossing and Tessa made it all sound so easy, with good preparation, a strong crew and an open mind to overcoming obstacles along the way. Top tip: knowing your Atlantic fish is a must when sailing across – there is nothing quite like fresh fish mid-Atlantic!

We joined Irish Sailing Yachtmaster Instructor and marine biologist, Niall MacAllister, onboard Song of the Whale off the east coast of America. We were given a tour of the incredible purpose-built 22m steel-hulled research sailing vessel, with outriggers for towing hydrophones, 11-meter high crows nest, elevated A-frame, mast mounted thermal camera and more. Song of the Whale is currently following the migration of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, with scientists on board to monitor and understand their movements with the hope of stopping the extinction of this incredible mammal.

The remarkable and worrying interactions of Orcas on the Atlantic coastline of France, Spain and Portugal is a subject of much debate amongst cruising sailors. We were honoured to have marine biologist and researcher, Monica Gonzalez of CEMMA and the GT Orca Atlántica join the conference to give a detailed explanation of Orca behaviour and her team’s hypothesis on why they may be interacting with sailing boats particularly. More on this in another article next week 😊

Another subject of much discussion amongst cruising sailors is Wind Farms – navigational hazard and environmental concerns being the general concerns. Jared Peters of Cork company Green Rebel, specialist offshore site investigators, joined us to explain the work that goes into deciding where a windfarm is located. The level of research into the impact of a windfarm on the environment is incredible and it left the audience reassured that our coast and new energy sourcing is in good hands.

There were then professionals in every corner providing advice and guidance –

  • Conference sponsor Union Chandlery presented a display of lifejackets for advice and offered free servicing
  • Safetrx gave presentations on the Irish Sailing tracking app
  • Sail Cork explained the Irish Sailing cruising training scheme and why going to a recognised training centre is so important
  • International Paints provided advice on what paint you should use and why
  • Cruising Association of Ireland had great interest in membership (did you know it is only €35 ?)
  • Alex Blackwell, author of Happy Hooking, gave some great tips on anchoring on our coast
  • Expert drone pilot, Bob Foley, provided first hand advice on droning on the coast
  • And the members of the Irish Sailing Cruising and Representation Policy Group were on hand to share ideas on support for cruising sailors.

“When and where is the next conference?” was the final request from attendees.

Roll on Spring 2024 for Cruising Conference in Dublin – venue TBA.

Top Image: North Atlantic Right Whale / Song of the Whale. Thanks to: MCR/IFAW ... NOAA/NMFS permit #21371-01

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