BY KIERAN O’MAHONY
& JACKIE KEOGH
A BOAT tour operator says he will no longer operate out of Ring Harbour because it is dangerous and inaccessible, after at least six vessels hit sandbanks and got into difficulty there this summer.
David Edwards of Clonakilty Charters Ltd confirmed that he will no longer be taking bookings for angling and wildlife tours out of Ring Harbour for 2019 because it is so badly silted-up.
Mr Edwards said he – and other boat owners – can no longer access the pier and that they are worried about the damage that is being done to boats.
Speaking to The Southern Star, David said he isn’t sure if he will close up for good or move and find a new harbour to operate from.
‘The trouble is that 10 years of research of the fishing grounds off Ring is now down the pan. It’s very sad for me to have to leave Ring and to try to find another home for my boat ‘Tigger’ to operate from, as it’s a difficult enough business to operate at any time, but without water it has become impossible,’ said David.
‘My French, Dutch, German and even UK and Dublin customers can’t believe this has been allowed to happen – but it says it all when local regulars are not surprised at all.’
A video that David posted on Facebook of Ring Harbour at the weekend has already been viewed nearly 5,000 times and he has been receiving plenty of private messages of support from people.
‘I definitely will be closing my business in Ring at the end of next month as the sand is even worse now. I want to thank both Cllr Paul Hayes and Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan for trying to get Cork County Council to act over the last few years.’
Cllr O’Sullivan (FF) said it was a sad day when one of Cork’s finest angling charters has thrown in the towel and decided to move his business elsewhere.
‘The public pier has the potential to bring commerce, not only to Ring but Clonakilty too, and David’s clients would have stayed in B&Bs and hotels in Clonakilty and the surrounding areas,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
At a coastal committee meeting held last Monday, Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) confirmed that the senior management have allocated up to €50,000 for a survey of the bay with consultants to be appointed by October or November, but dredging work is not expected to happen until at least 2020.
The issue had also been raised by Cllr Hayes at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District in Bantry last week.
Cllr Hayes, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan and David Edwards reported that a boat was damaged two weeks ago in Ring Harbour after hitting a sandbank, and, in the last week alone, one boat had to be dragged to the pier by tow ropes after its rudder was damaged by silt, while another sank due to sand build-up on its mooring.
‘The entire situation at Ring has really become very problematic with boats hitting the sand banks,’ said Cllr Hayes, who called on the Council to expedite a survey it is carrying out in the harbour.
Cllr Hayes said: ‘It is clear to most people with the most rudimentary knowledge of the harbour that a sea wall – which was damaged during a winter storm – is no longer funnelling sea water through the harbour, and that this has resulted in the huge silt deposits.
‘It is my contention that if the wall is repaired – as it was done decades before – the situation for harbour users, and the local rowing club, could be vastly improved.’