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Recollections of Sailing & Swamping the Dublin Bay 21s

7th February 2013

#dublinbay21 – Dun Laoghaire sailor and former Irish Sailing Association President Roger Bannon was intrigued by recent correspondence from Paddy Boyd to W M Nixon regarding the Dublin Bay 21s in his recent Sailing on Saturday Column.

Here Roger recounts his first ever sail on the Dublin Bay 21 Garavogue in 1963 at the ripe old age of 11 and tells of his lifelong passion for sailing borne out of sailing these idiosyncratic elegant boats.

My own father was a regular crew on the Garavogue when she was owned by Des Dobson from the National YC and skippered by the irrepressible Sean Clune.

Paddy's recollections are pretty accurate. They were complete bitches of boats to sail, over-canvassed and fundamentally badly balanced. Their construction and design was also seriously flawed which meant that they constantly leaked and required endless expensive maintenance. They suffered from unbelievable lee helm which led to regular swamping's and indeed several sinking's.
It was very disconcerting in a squall that the boat would violently bear off, even with the sheets eased and bury the lee rail up to the coaming in the brine. While in this vulnerable position any wave coming over the bow would quickly flood the cockpit and create a dangerous situation.
Alfred Mylne came to Dublin shortly after they were built to have a sail. He was appalled at how badly they handled and subsequently submitted a report recommending that the location of the mast step and sail plan be altered to correct the problem. Needless to say the local owners decided that spending £200 was not justified and they ignored his recommendations.
The other shortcoming from which they suffered was the near vertical garboard plank which moved away from the hog when the rig was fully loaded which led to a constant ingress of water, which if not pumped out continuously, would lead to swamping in a very short time. The original steel floors had been badly designed and the rig loads were not properly dispersed throughout the hull. They were undoubtedly elegant but deeply flawed boats, largely because the original owners did not adopt the modifications specified by Mylne shortly after they were built.

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