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Isle of Man kayaker’s close encounter with basking shark

A kayaker has filmed a close encounter with a 23ft (7m) basking shark off the south coast of the Isle of Man.

Craig Whally said he came across the plankton-eating fish while he was exploring caves near an area known as Fleshwick on Monday.

He said he feels “shocked and privileged” adding: “I saw a big fin so I just sat there waiting for it and it came back about three times.

“The water was so crystal clear it was amazing – it was at least seven metres long (about 23ft) – it was big.”

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Discover Mars and the Manx night sky

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wanted to find out more?

The Community Farm at Wallberry Farm on Old Castletown Road will welcome Howard Parkin, expert astronomer and founder of AstroManx, this Friday (April 8 2016) for an evening entitled ‘Mars, Exploring the Red Planet’.

Roy Cottage offers Self Catering Accommodation in Castletown, Isle of Man. Conveniently located near the airport and perfect as a base for walking, sightseeing and train journeys. Roy Cottage – bringing news for the visitor to the Isle of Man.

Mr Parkin will present an indoor talk on Mars and then head outside to a telescope where he will reveal more about Mars and the Manx night sky in spring.

The educational farm, a project by The Children’s Centre, is right next door to one of the island’s ‘Dark Skies’ sites at Port Soderick. The evening will begin at 7.30pm and finish at 10pm.

Tickets are £15 and include soup and hot drinks.

They can be bought via www.thechildrenscentre.org.im/events/, by emailing farm@thechildrenscentre.org.im or by calling 431617 or 631930. Tickets can also be purchased from The Children’s Centre on Woodbourne Road, Douglas.

Castle Rushen Clock Face restored

Castle clock has its new face restored

Castle Rushen’s iconic clock has regained its face. Manx National Heritage made the most of fine weather today and abseilers from the Venture Centre reinstated the clock face.

The face was removed in October for restoration; the sign writing in gold and redecorating was done by local company JCK Ltd. The cost of this aspect of the work, including its installation, was £5,000.

Chris Weeks, objects conservator at MNH said the face dates from the 1980s. He said:‘It is is not an historic object in its own right.’ He added the design on its face probably follows the original as it has been copied numerous times over the centuries.

Roy Cottage is a Self Catering Manx holiday cottage, situated on the sea front, in Castletown, the ancient capital of the Isle of Man. Bringing news to the visitor of the Isle of Man.

The face complements a newly restored clock mechanism which is very historic. ‘Thanks to carbon dating we can date it to 1577 plus or minus 20 years,’ he said. ‘So the attribution to Elizabeth I on the face means it’s possible she does have a connection. She had direct control over the island temporarily for a short number of years (at that time).’
He added the restoration project has ‘stretched us quite lot’. He said: ‘It was technically very challenging … to keep it running after all those years is gratifying.’

Their research highlighted how special the clock is, said Chris. MNH intends to update information on the clock in the castle’s clock room within a year.

The clock isn’t wound yet, however, but will be ticking from February 6 2016.

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New Display for Castletown’s Nautical Museum

NAUTICAL MUSEUM IN CASTLETOWN REFRESHED WITH NEW DISPLAY

Museum to reopen on Saturday 4th July 2015

Manx National Heritage, the organisation responsible for protecting and promoting the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture, is refurbishing parts of the Nautical Museum in Castletown.

Until recently, the museum which opened in 1951 was home to the ‘Peggy’, the oldest schooner in the world. Built in 1791, the boat was rediscovered in the 1930’s entombed in her original boat cellar, where she had lain for over a century since the death of her inventive owner George Quayle.  His marvellous and eccentric boat house still poses many questions to architectural historians regarding Quayle’s methods and intentions.

Roy Cottage offers Self Catering Accommodation in Castletown, Isle of Man. Conveniently located near the airport and perfect as a base for walking, sightseeing and train journeys. Roy Cottage – bringing news for the visitor to the Isle of Man.

The boat was recently transported to a workshop where she will undergo a comprehensive research, assessment and conservation programme lasting several years. The Nautical Museum will remain open without the Peggy and will feature a dedicated Quayle Gallery which will tell the personal story and history of George Quayle and his family including a scale model of the ‘Peggy’ herself, made by Mr John Gawne of Fistard in 1949.

A remarkably comprehensive Quayle family archive has survived, documenting the construction of the vessel and its boathouse. It offers fascinating insights into the life of George Quayle, who was at various times an MHK, a banker, a soldier and, it is alleged, a smuggler.

Manx National Heritage has reproduced some of the more significant documents in two leather bound volumes, which are styled on a 1780’s prayer book from the nearby Bridge House, the Quayle family residence, which will form part of the new display.  It will feature George’s handwritten account of his perilous voyage across the Irish Sea from Cumberland to Castletown in 1796, during which his comrade Captain Bacon was reduced to bailing out his own boat with his wig box.

Recent archaeological investigation and archival research of the building has established that the site was home to possibly the earliest slipway in the British Isles, and that Quayle subsequently replaced this with a unique private dock, which may have functioned as a sea lock. An excavation of the dock in 2014 revealed a number of finds which will form part of the new gallery including a leather pistol holster, a flintlock pistol mechanism, some coconut shell drinking cups and what is believed to be an eighteenth century microscope.

As well as the new display and artefacts, the museum will also feature an interactive area designed to appeal to families, including the opportunity to try on Georgian style fashions.  Visitors will be able to promenade in a polonaise or parade as a Captain of the Manx Fencibles, while learning about the Quayle story. A set of 18th Century costumes have been tailored by local costumier Penny Nuttall for the enjoyment of visitors of all ages. Visitors will also be able to experience the toys enjoyed in a wealthy Georgian household, sort their jib from their mainsail and learn about the lady behind the ‘Peggy’ in a time of ingenuity and intrigue.

As well as the new gallery, work is also being undertaken to upgrade parts of the building including new outer timber barn doors for the new shop front and a large glazed timber framed screen of the boat cellar itself, providing views onto Quayle’s dock.  Recently the Manx National Heritage team removed accumulated layers of white wash on the front of the building, which had been subject to weathering and was flaking off, which revealed the original door frame and lintel of the 18th century building.

Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage said:

“The refresh and review of the Nautical Museum, which is being informed and guided by a comprehensive conservation management plan, is giving us the chance to study in detail and try to understand and interpret how this complex structure was built and functioned.”

He continued:

“We feel that it is important to keep this landmark site open in Castletown while we repair and conserve the Peggy before returning her to her rightful place and in doing that we intend to develop interesting content to allow visitors to explore the remarkable story of the building and the Quayle family which represents an integral strand of the history of Castletown itself.”

The Nautical Museum is scheduled to reopen on Saturday 4th July.

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World Tin Bath Championships take place in Isle of Man

The event, which attracts huge crowds, has been running since 1971

One of the Isle of Man’s strangest sporting competitions, the World Tin Bath Championships, has celebrated its 44th anniversary.

Hundreds of people gathered around Castletown harbour to watch brave competitors race their customised bathtubs over a 400m course.

The winner is either the first to cross the finish line or the one who covers the furthest distance before sinking.

Competitors use the decorated tin baths like small paddle boats.

About 100 competitors from the British Isles, Europe and the United States vied for world titles this year.

The event has been running since 1971 and last year featured in the Daily Telegraph’s top 10 weirdest festivals, ranking alongside Cornwall’s Nudefest and Finland’s Wife Carrying World Championships.

Image caption The event was voted in the top 10 weirdest festivals by the Daily Telegraph in 2014

Organiser David Collister said: “People just like to have fun and the spectators come because they like to see people get wet and they like to see people sink.

“It’s two hours of family fun and slapstick entertainment involving household tin baths that your granny will have used in front of the fire.”

Mr Collister said the event, run by the Castletown Ale Drinkers, has raised more than £150,000 for local charities since it began.

Last year’s men’s champion Lee Cain was not defending his title. His brother, Nick Cain, 40, won the men’s 2015 trophy.

The ladies winner was Erica Cowen who won her 16th title.

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Great spring to see dolphins in Manx waters

It’s been a great spring for sightings of Risso’s dolphins in Manx waters.

There have already been 24 sightings of Risso’s this year, more than the rest of the British Isles combined.

The first sighting of the year was on March 17 and there has been a steady stream of sightings reported by the public ever since.

Roy Cottage is a Self Catering Manx holiday cottage, situated on the sea front, in Castletown, the ancient capital of the Isle of Man. Bringing news to the visitor of the Isle of Man.

A large pod of the dolphins was spotted off Marine Drive last week.

And the Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch group are urging people to report their sightings.

Risso’s dolphins (species name Grampus griseus) are one of the least commonly seen dolphin species in European waters.

This is due to their preference for deep seas, between 600 metres and 1,000 metres, which are often found far from land, in the continental shelf slope waters.

Manx waters themselves rarely exceed 100 metres depth, especially on the east side of the island, where the seas are rarely more than 40 metres deep.

So it is perhaps surprising then that Risso’s dolphins are the most commonly seen dolphin in Manx waters and the second most commonly seen cetacean (whale, dolphin or porpoise), after the harbour porpoise.

As has been the case in previous years (although not every year), all of the sightings have been on the east coast, between Groudle and Langness, particularly from Marine Drive, and have been so close to land that you can see their pale body underwater.

What is most exciting and unusual this year is that many of the groups reported have contained calves.

The calves have what are called foetal folds on their flanks (marks on the skin caused by birth), suggesting they were born over winter.

Risso’s dolphins are thought to give birth during the spring and summer, when there is more food around.

Perhaps, there is food at all times of year in Manx waters?

We urge the public to keep on reporting their sightings of this amazing and unusual species to us and of any other cetacean that is seen, either to our website (www.mwdw.net) or to our Facebook page (search for Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch).

Hopefully, it is a sign of a great summer for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises in Manx waters.

Walk from Port Erin to Castletown

Walk from Port Erin to Castletown to raise money for good causes

This year’s Harbour 2 Harbour Sponsored Walk will take place on Sunday, May 10 2015.

The event, now in its second year, is organised by Southern Community Initiatives and raises money for a number of important local causes, including Southern Befrienders, Men in Sheds and SPort Erin.

A new route will be used, which will see walkers leave The Bay in Port Erin at 10.30am, heading along St Mary’s Road, up The Howe to Glen Chass before joining the coastal path to Castletown.

Roy Cottage offers Self Catering Accommodation in Castletown, Isle of Man. Conveniently located near the airport and perfect as a base for walking, sightseeing and train journeys. Roy Cottage – bringing news for the visitor to the Isle of Man.

Event co-ordinator Janet Bridle, said: ‘We are adding a cultural flavour to the finish area, with Manx bands, singers and dancers plus the chance to get involved with a southern community art project.

‘You can even get the train back to Port Erin afterwards!

‘We’ve scheduled the event to take place at the start of the annual Walking Festival and hope to attract participation from those visitors too.’

The walk is again being sponsored by Friends Provident International, which is based in Castletown.

General manager Caroline Cornish said: ‘We were so impressed by last year’s Harbour 2 Harbour walk and delighted by how much money was raised. We’re proud to be supporting the event again and will be offering our own staff incentives to get involved, in line with our commitment to support our local community.’

Former Parish Walk winner Robbie Collister said: ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the inaugural Harbour 2 Harbour Walk.

‘I had a wonderful, relaxed day walking with old friends as well as meeting some new ones along the way. The organisers should be congratulated for organising a great day out for everybody.’

To enter or find out more about the event, email H2Hreg@hubclubsci.im or call Janet on 838180.

Phil Gawne MHK, chair of Southern Community Initiatives, added: ‘I’m pleased that we are working with other local charities to raise funds in this fun and healthy way.

‘The community support work, which our volunteers have been delivering in the south, is transforming many vulnerable and lonely people’s lives. =

‘Please come along to this major fund raising event – have fun, get fit and raise money for our valuable community work!’

Move date for ‘world’s oldest yacht’ in Isle of Man

Peggy was built for George Quayle, of Castletown, between 1789 and 1793

Roy Cottage is a Self Catering Manx holiday cottage, situated on the sea front, in Castletown, the ancient capital of the Isle of Man. Bringing news to the visitor of the Isle of Man.

Archaeologists in the Isle of Man are preparing to move the “world’s oldest yacht” for the first time in 200 years.

Manx National Heritage (MNH) said the Peggy will be moved from the Nautical Museum in Castletown on 28 January.

The vessel was built between 1789 and 1793 and is thought to be the earliest surviving example of a British yacht.

An MNH spokesman said the Peggy is one of the most important historic artefacts in the British Isles.

“Peggy requires urgent conservation work,” he said.

“We are looking to conserve her, create a suitable environment in which to house her and to tell her story for future generations.”

The boat will be lifted by cradle and then crane before being transported from the south of the island to a climate-controlled facility in Douglas.

It is believed Mr Quayle built his own private dock underneath his Castletown home

Once there, Peggy, which was built for Castletown politician and bank owner George Quayle, will be stabilised, examined and conserved.

“The humidity of the new surroundings has to be lowered carefully in order to retard the corrosion of her iron fittings without damaging her timbers,” added the spokesman.

“At the same time preservation work on her painted surfaces will also commence.”

After Mr Quayle’s death, the boat was locked away for almost 120 years, until she was rediscovered in 1935.

The conservation work, which is expected to take about five years, will involve a team of specialist archaeological contractors from England.

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World Tin Bath Championship action in Castletown

tin bath paddlers

The 43rd World Tin Bath Championships will take place in the middle harbour, Castletown, tomorrow (Saturday), starting at 3pm.

The event is run by the Castletown Ale Drinkers’ Society and sponsored by Jameson Whiskey, Heron and Brearley, Capital International, The Vineyard, Tower Insurance, 3FM and Poker Stars.

It has attracted an entry of more than 86 competitors from around the world.

Roy Cottage is a Self Catering Manx holiday cottage, situated on the sea front, in Castletown, the ancient capital of the Isle of Man. Bringing news to the visitor of the Isle of Man.

Lee Cain returns to defend his title but with Nick Cain back it should prove to be a close race.

Also taking part is Rory Harding from Luxembourg, Hikmet Babayev the Azerbaijan champion, Joe Knappim, Michael Foster and Mal West from the UK.

Again there are 20 veterans (over 40s) taking part in the races, Holmes Blackburn and Dave Collister making their 43rd attempt to win.

Is Tin Bath racing all part of your mid life crisis?

The team event should prove another win for the Cains but watch out for the UK team, Sponge Bob, Action Bath with two teams lead by Tom Cringle, Tintanic, team S Chris and the Castle Crusaders.

In the ladies’ race 15-times winner Erika Cowen will be out to win again (the John McGuinness of Tin Bath racing) but could face a close race from Louise and Suzanne Saltor and from English trio of Eleanor Dobson, Iona McNeil and Camilla West. More than 34 ladies will take part this year.

Team Race will see Eastern Young Farmers out for a win but look out for the Lambs Navy Rum team and Lucy Parkington, Laxey Miners and the Isle of Man Bank.

The other races taking place is the Manx International Snake Race Championships. Last year’s winners Southern Young Farmers return, but watch out Eastern, Northern and Central.

Isle of Man Newspapers’ ‘Newsflashers’ will report first hand and watch out for the Laxey Circus and the Blue Nuns.

During the afternoon Birdmen and women (and we need more) will make attempts at man powered flight along with the CADS with more new stunts this year.

Compère for the day will be Trevor Taubman, just back from the Games in Glasgow, Castletown Band will play from 2pm to 3pm (Handel’s water music would be nice), Port St Mary Lifeboat will also be on hand if baths sink.

So come along to the World Tin Bath Championships at the Tin Bath Racing capital of the world, Castletown, and enjoy two hours of slapstick stunts and family entertainment.

All proceeds go to the local charities, so help us to help others. Go on, bring your soap, bring your bath, come and watch and have a laugh, use your Loofah, you know it makes sense.

Contact Dave Collister on 823996(H) 341852 (M) or any CADS member for details.

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Canoeist shocked by 10ft basking sharks as they surface right in front of him

 

Kayaker with basking sharks John Keggin was out kayaking with friends when he came across the plankton-eating monsters, which weigh around five tons and are often seen between May and July John Keggin was astounded when a 10ft basking shark surfaced right in front of him off Port Erin, Isle of Man.

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Roy Cottage is a Self Catering Manx holiday cottage, situated on the sea front, in Castletown, the ancient capital of the Isle of Man. Bringing news to the visitor of the Isle of Man.