Saturday, 8 August 2009

There'll be some red faces in Moyle tonight

News has just reached me that the Etoile, one of the sailing ships in the Tall Ships Challenge, has run aground on a sandbar in the entrance to Ballycastle Harbour.

Who was the 'star' pilot who was guiding the vessel into the harbour?

Did someone forget to do a little dredging?

Was the Harbour Master there to throw them the end of his 'galluses'?

Does the MDC Harbour Authority deploy sufficient expertise?

I'm told by an eye-witness that the excitement happened around 7 pm and that the Etoile was eased from the sand after a few 5-10 minutes - but not before she was caught on candid camera.

She was keeled over just before she swung around, a bit faster ... eye witness

What an embarrassment for the local council after these fine craft had successfully overcome the challenges that the mighty Atlantic could throw at them.

The escapade reminded me of the late Sean Armstrong, sometime President of Queen's University Belfast Glee Club in the 1960s, and his stirring rendition of The Good Ship Calibar before a motley crew of students.

Adds Monday, August 10

It's been a most curious welcome for some of those crews that participated in the Tall Ships Challenge. I'm told that the welcome was not briefly discussed at a council meeting,

The Clerk stated that officers were seeking approval for arrangements to be put in place to facilitate a visit from a tall ship in Ballycastle.

After discussion, it was agreed that Ballycastle would like to host a tall ship for one or two nights prior to the planned event from 13th – 16th August. It was also agreed that a reception would be held for the crew and organisers and that excursions would be organised for the crew to see the area. - MDC minutes 6 April 2009.

that councillors had less than 24 hours notice of today's reception in the Mayor's Parlour and, apparently, not even an invitation to participate in a tour of the sailing ships with some senior council officials. The welcome banner above was hung on railings at the junction of Quay Road and Rathlin Road.

Following the reception the fifty or so strong party was taken to the Giant's Causeway, dropped off and picked up later. Perhaps with a little forward planning some multi-lingual folks from the Kingdom of Moyle could have offered linguistic hospitality to its international guests.

I can find no mention of this prestigious event - the Tall Ships Challenge - on the Moyle Council website.

Presumably our public representatives will be asking serious questions about the whole affair. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been looking at marine stories on NALIL blog for quite some time now but has proved to be something of a toothless tiger when it comes to representing the public interest.

Epic Landscapes, Fish and Chips and Sheep

Two Tall Ships crew members attacked in Ballycastle