Sunday 17 November 2019

Dramatic drop in number of yachts visiting harbour

Myles Buchanan

The number of yachts visiting Wicklow Harbour has fallen dramatically since the economic downturn of 2008.

Wicklow's Senior Marine Office Paul Ivory, while addressing last week's meeting of Wicklow Municipal District, said there has been a highly-noticeable decline in visiting yachts since the recession.

He was replying to questions from Cllr Gail Dunne, who recalled how large numbers of yachts used to sail into the harbour each year, prior to 2008.

'The harbour has much improved since the council took it over,' said Cllr Dunne. 'The income from exports and imports is also beneficial to the harbour. We used to get close to 400 yachts visiting a year from Dublin and Wales. That involved collecting dues. I just wonder if things have improved or do we get the same number still visiting?'

In reply, Mr Ivory said visiting yachts had decreased greatly since the 2008 economic crash.

'Parents, in their 70s and 80s, who had a yacht and retired, passed them on to their children, but they don't want it because they can't afford it. Sailing Clubs and marinas are finding that their numbers are down too. The only yachts we would generally have visiting are people who can't afford to dock in a marina.'

Mr Ivory was hopeful that Wicklow Harbour could be used as some form of hub for SSE and its proposed Arklow Bank Wind Park.

'There is potential that Wicklow could accommodate crew transfer vessels which go out to the wind park on a daily basis. They are quite large and would probably need their own pontoon. We are looking at creating a sheltered area for them but SSE are very keen to engage with us.'

In April, it was announced that Wicklow Harbour had secured funding of €135,000 for improvement works and to extend the amount of mooring vessels it can accommodate. The planned works include a floating pontoon on the South/North Quay and a heavy duty ship mooring bollard on the quay wall.

Merlin Ovington of Wicklow County Council said this currently remained a priority project for the harbour.

'We require a foreshore licence for the pontoon, which most likely will be installed early next year. The large mooring bollard on the quay will allow us to take in larger vessels.'

Mr Ivory also presented an outline on some of the activities taking place at Wicklow Harbour. Rough logs are imported from Scotland, saw and timber from Sweden and occasionally sand is also imported into the harbour. Logs, scrap metal and recycled glass are exported.

The Senior Marine Office is also responsible for removing any wrecks, with two removed from Wicklow over the last few years.

Ninety-eight ships have visited the port so far this year, which is pretty much in line with the 100 boats visiting up until October of last year.

On a regular basis, there are 15 fishing boats moored in the harbour and 60 leisure boats. Wicklow Sailing Club has 15 moorings and Wicklow Motor Yacht Club has eight berths.

Wicklow People