Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Dun Laoghaire Gets South Sea Dreams and North Sea Reality With Historic Ketch Sandefjord

17th August 2022
Dreamship from a different world – the world-girdling Colin Archer Ketch Sandefjord in Dun Laoghaire Marina this week
Dreamship from a different world – the world-girdling Colin Archer Ketch Sandefjord in Dun Laoghaire Marina this week Credit: W M Nixon

There’s a small but sure glow of stardust in Dun Laoghaire Marina at the moment. Rugged stardust perhaps, but unmistakably genuine stardust nevertheless. The Norwegian gaff ketch Sandefjord, the quintessential Colin Archer-created rescue vessel of 1913 vintage which added ocean voyaging and global circumnavigation to her extraordinary life-path after she’d been retired from at-sea support and life-saving work for the national fishing fleet in 1935, is in port primarily to visit a legendary Dublin Bay seafarer who was on her crew when she sailed round the world in 1965-66.

Sandefjord is 15 metres (49ft) hull length and all boat, as her beam of 5 metres gives an unusually hefty 1/3 ratio. Her gaff rig is squat but powerful, while the scantlings of her hull construction are massive. Officially numbered R28 when built at Risor, she was the 28th redningsskoyte constructed for the Norwegian Lifeboat Society to Archer’s designs, and in 22 years of service was credited with saving 117 lives and guiding 258 vessels to safety, while also providing medical assistance as she was a miniature hospital ship.

Sandefjord sailing off Durban in February 1966 before departing on her world voyageSandefjord sailing off Durban in February 1966 before departing on her world voyage

Colin Archer (1832-1921), the Norwegian naval architect and shipwright of Scottish descent, was widely renowned for his successful yachts of which our own Asgard (1905) is now the best-known. But his sailing lifeboats had such a special cachet that even before they were replaced by powered craft in the 1930s, many clients had commissioned cruising yachts based directly on the classic rescue boat hull.

Through several ownerships, Sandefjord inspired special thoughts – this was from the time of Tilly Penso of Capetown, who owned Sandefjord for more than twenty years until his death in 1961.Through several ownerships, Sandefjord inspired special thoughts – this was from the time of Tilly Penso of Capetown, who owned Sandefjord for more than twenty years until his death in 1961

Nevertheless there was something special about seafaring in a genuine retired Colin Archer lifeboat, and they gradually spread across the world. But after thousands of miles of ocean sailing, many ended up in distant places in an abandoned and deteriorating condition.

Tobias Revold, owner of Sandefjord. Nowadays in Norway, ownership of a Colin Archer rescue boat is regarded as a sacred mission. Photo: W M NixonTobias Revold, owner of Sandefjord. Nowadays in Norway, ownership of a Colin Archer rescue boat is regarded as a sacred mission. Photo: W M Nixon

Fortunately a movement for their eventually re-patriation to Norway for restoration and active preservation through busily sailing began to develop, but along the way there were many side adventures, and one such - starting in South Africa in Durban in the 1960s - involved Ireland’s Tim Magennis.

We looked at it in some depth on Afloat.ie in 2013 here when Tim was President of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association as they were in the throes of organising one of the main events in the international OGA’s Golden Jubilee.

Tim has since very deservedly become an OGA Honorary Member, but this month the circumnavigation he made with his shipmates 56 years ago has been released as a full-length documentary on Youtube 

You’re strongly advised not to watch it if the approaching prospect of an Irish Autumn and Winter seems somewhat gloomily over-powering. However, for those who can’t resist at least thinking of the South Sea escape, it’s a reminder of a time when we all thought the world was a dangerous Cold War-dominated place, and yet life seemed so much simpler, something to be lived to the fullest and very much in the present, with little thought for tomorrow.

Tim Magennis on Sandefjord in the South Pacific in 1966, “being Jack Nicholson before Jack Nicholson was fully formed”.Tim Magennis on Sandefjord in the South Pacific in 1966, “being Jack Nicholson before Jack Nicholson was fully formed”

Thus we find that in the South Pacific islands in 1966, our own much-loved Tim Magennis mutated into a sort of prototype of Hollywood superstar Jack Nicholson some years before the complete Jack Nicholson Tinseltown persona had been been created. Since then, Tim has gone on through many successful roles, and yesterday in Dun Laoghaire aboard Sandefjord he was right in character as patriarch, father, grandfather, friend to many and admired by all as someone who has lived at least ten lives, and enjoys it all as much as ever.

Tim Magennis in 2013 as President of the Dublin Bay Old gaffers Association at the time of the OGA Golden Jubilee celebrations. Photo: W M NixonTim Magennis in 2013 as President of the Dublin Bay Old gaffers Association at the time of the OGA Golden Jubilee celebrations. Photo: W M Nixon

Tim Magennis back on board Sandefjord in Dun Laoghaire this week. Photo: W M NixonTim Magennis back on board Sandefjord in Dun Laoghaire this week. Photo: W M Nixon

Sandefjord in her restored form has been owned for some years now by Tobias Revold, and it was at the suggestion of Sean Cullen, the captain of Ireland’s national survey vessel and son of one of Tim’s shipmates on Sandefjord’s circumnavigation, that Sandefjord came for her first visit from Norway to Ireland.

Noted ship restorer Paddy Murphy of Renvyle with Sean Cullen. Photo: W M NixonNoted ship restorer Paddy Murphy of Renvyle with Sean Cullen

Sean himself has impeccable crewing credentials with the ship, as post-circumnavigation he sailed as a very youthful crewman when Sandefjord was voyaging from South Africa to her base for several years at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. But even so it took some serendipity to get it all together yesterday afternoon, yet it was clear something special was in the air at the entrance to Dun Laoghaire marina when the great Paddy Murphy of Renvyle in far Connemara, restorer of the legendary Manx nobby Aigh Vie and central to many other projects, arrived like me to pay our respects to a very special vessel and celebrate Tim Magennis’s links with her.

 The extensive flush deck was kept as clear as possible in the assumption that it would regularly be swept by heavily-breaking seas. Photo: W M NixonThe extensive flush deck was kept as clear as possible in the assumption that it would regularly be swept by heavily-breaking seas. Photo: W M Nixon

 With the original tiller steering restored, the only concession to a cockpit is a tiny steering well which is deep enough for the helmsman to crouch down in some shelter if the ship is swept by a really big breaker. Photo: W M NixonWith the original tiller steering restored, the only concession to a cockpit is a tiny steering well which is deep enough for the helmsman to crouch down in some shelter if the ship is swept by a really big breaker. Photo: W M Nixon

Aboard, we found former Cruising Association of Ireland longtime former Commodore John Leahy already being bowled over by the Sandefjord presence, for that’s the effect this very special vessel has on anyone who can grasp just what she means. With all due respect to the many fine yachts based in Dun Laoghaire Marina, she makes them seem slightly frivolous.

Despite Sandefjord’s enormous carrying power, Colin Archer took considerable trouble to keep the weight out of the ends, and the heavy anchor chain was led aft……Photo: W M NixonDespite Sandefjord’s enormous carrying power, Colin Archer took considerable trouble to keep the weight out of the ends, and the heavy anchor chain was led aft……Photo: W M Nixon

…..to a powerful windlass aft of the mainmast, and then lowered into a chain-locker abeam of the mast. Photo: W M Nixon…..to a powerful windlass aft of the mainmast, and then lowered into a chain-locker abeam of the mast. Photo: W M Nixon

Meanwhile, the sense of occasion was a-building towards the arrival of the Main Man. If you’re berthed on the furthest pontoon of Dun Laoghaire Marina, you’ve to walk for exactly one kilometre before you reach dry land. But though Sandefjord was berthed opposite the Irish Lights base and by no means as far away as she might have been, we of the osteo-arthritic brigade knew it was plenty far by the time we got there. However, Sean had thought of this for Tim, far and away the most senior of our brigade, and had organised a RIB to convey him from the marina gates to the scene of the action. Marina del Rey, how are you?

While Sandefjord is as authentic as possible above decks, some concessions to contemporary comfort have been made in her accommodation, but there are still signs of her original existence as a mini-Hospital Ship. Photo: W M NixonWhile Sandefjord is as authentic as possible above decks, some concessions to contemporary comfort have been made in her accommodation, but there are still signs of her original existence as a mini-Hospital Ship. Photo: W M Nixon

It turned out to be such a stylish mode of access that I couldn’t help but think of the arrival of herself in Antony & Cleopatra - “the barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne…purple the sails etc etc…”. But you have to understand that for anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Sandefjord story, with its links to Colin Archer and thereby to Asgard and much else, we were all going through a charisma-filled experience which is going to take quite a bit of processing over the next few days.

Tobias Revold and his crew will be preparing Sandefjord for departure through Thursday (August 18th), so Dun Laoghaire’s time with The Presence is limited. But if you happen to see her in the meantime, she deserves a pause for thought and respect.

Sandefjord has real charisma, she deserves a pause for thought and respect. Photo: John LeahySandefjord has real charisma, she deserves a pause for thought and respect. Photo: John Leahy

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

Email The Author

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Information

Dun Laoghaire Harbour is the second port for Dublin and is located on the south shore of Dublin Bay. Marine uses for this 200-year-old man-made harbour have changed over its lifetime. Originally built as a port of refuge for sailing ships entering the narrow channel at Dublin Port, the harbour has had a continuous ferry link with Wales and this was the principal activity of the harbour until the service stopped in 2015. In all this time, however, one thing has remained constant and that is the popularity for sailing and boating from the port, making it Ireland's marine leisure capital with a harbour fleet of over 1,200-1.600 pleasure craft.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Bye-Laws

Download the bye-laws on this link here

FAQs

A live stream Dublin Bay webcam showing Dun Laoghaire Harbour entrance and East Pier is here

Dun Laoghaire is a Dublin suburb situated on the south side of Dublin Bay, approximately, 15km from Dublin city centre.

The east and west piers of the harbour are each of 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) long.

The harbour entrance is 232 metres (761 ft) across from East to West Pier.

  • Public Boatyard
  • Public slipway
  • Public Marina

23 clubs, 14 activity providers and eight state-related organisations operate from Dun Laoghaire Harbour that facilitates a full range of sports - Sailing, Rowing, Diving, Windsurfing, Angling, Canoeing, Swimming, Triathlon, Powerboating, Kayaking and Paddleboarding. Participants include members of the public, club members, tourists, disabled, disadvantaged, event competitors, schools, youth groups and college students.

  • Commissioners of Irish Lights
  • Dun Laoghaire Marina
  • MGM Boats & Boatyard
  • Coastguard
  • Naval Service Reserve
  • Royal National Lifeboat Institution
  • Marine Activity Centre
  • Rowing clubs
  • Yachting and Sailing Clubs
  • Sailing Schools
  • Irish Olympic Sailing Team
  • Chandlery & Boat Supply Stores

The east and west granite-built piers of Dun Laoghaire harbour are each of one kilometre (0.62 mi) long and enclose an area of 250 acres (1.0 km2) with the harbour entrance being 232 metres (761 ft) in width.

In 2018, the ownership of the great granite was transferred in its entirety to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council who now operate and manage the harbour. Prior to that, the harbour was operated by The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, a state company, dissolved in 2018 under the Ports Act.

  • 1817 - Construction of the East Pier to a design by John Rennie began in 1817 with Earl Whitworth Lord Lieutenant of Ireland laying the first stone.
  • 1820 - Rennie had concerns a single pier would be subject to silting, and by 1820 gained support for the construction of the West pier to begin shortly afterwards. When King George IV left Ireland from the harbour in 1820, Dunleary was renamed Kingstown, a name that was to remain in use for nearly 100 years. The harbour was named the Royal Harbour of George the Fourth which seems not to have remained for so long.
  • 1824 - saw over 3,000 boats shelter in the partially completed harbour, but it also saw the beginning of operations off the North Wall which alleviated many of the issues ships were having accessing Dublin Port.
  • 1826 - Kingstown harbour gained the important mail packet service which at the time was under the stewardship of the Admiralty with a wharf completed on the East Pier in the following year. The service was transferred from Howth whose harbour had suffered from silting and the need for frequent dredging.
  • 1831 - Royal Irish Yacht Club founded
  • 1837 - saw the creation of Victoria Wharf, since renamed St. Michael's Wharf with the D&KR extended and a new terminus created convenient to the wharf.[8] The extended line had cut a chord across the old harbour with the landward pool so created later filled in.
  • 1838 - Royal St George Yacht Club founded
  • 1842 - By this time the largest man-made harbour in Western Europe had been completed with the construction of the East Pier lighthouse.
  • 1855 - The harbour was further enhanced by the completion of Traders Wharf in 1855 and Carlisle Pier in 1856. The mid-1850s also saw the completion of the West Pier lighthouse. The railway was connected to Bray in 1856
  • 1871 - National Yacht Club founded
  • 1884 - Dublin Bay Sailing Club founded
  • 1918 - The Mailboat, “The RMS Leinster” sailed out of Dún Laoghaire with 685 people on board. 22 were post office workers sorting the mail; 70 were crew and the vast majority of the passengers were soldiers returning to the battlefields of World War I. The ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat near the Kish lighthouse killing many of those onboard.
  • 1920 - Kingstown reverted to the name Dún Laoghaire in 1920 and in 1924 the harbour was officially renamed "Dun Laoghaire Harbour"
  • 1944 - a diaphone fog signal was installed at the East Pier
  • 1965 - Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club founded
  • 1968 - The East Pier lighthouse station switched from vapourised paraffin to electricity, and became unmanned. The new candle-power was 226,000
  • 1977- A flying boat landed in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, one of the most unusual visitors
  • 1978 - Irish National Sailing School founded
  • 1934 - saw the Dublin and Kingstown Railway begin operations from their terminus at Westland Row to a terminus at the West Pier which began at the old harbour
  • 2001 - Dun Laoghaire Marina opens with 500 berths
  • 2015 - Ferry services cease bringing to an end a 200-year continuous link with Wales.
  • 2017- Bicentenary celebrations and time capsule laid.
  • 2018 - Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company dissolved, the harbour is transferred into the hands of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

From East pier to West Pier the waterfront clubs are:

  • National Yacht Club. Read latest NYC news here
  • Royal St. George Yacht Club. Read latest RSTGYC news here
  • Royal Irish Yacht Club. Read latest RIYC news here
  • Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. Read latest DMYC news here

 

The umbrella organisation that organises weekly racing in summer and winter on Dublin Bay for all the yacht clubs is Dublin Bay Sailing Club. It has no clubhouse of its own but operates through the clubs with two x Committee vessels and a starters hut on the West Pier. Read the latest DBSC news here.

The sailing community is a key stakeholder in Dún Laoghaire. The clubs attract many visitors from home and abroad and attract major international sailing events to the harbour.

 

Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Dun Laoghaire's biennial town regatta was started in 2005 as a joint cooperation by the town's major yacht clubs. It was an immediate success and is now in its eighth edition and has become Ireland's biggest sailing event. The combined club's regatta is held in the first week of July.

  • Attracts 500 boats and more from overseas and around the country
  • Four-day championship involving 2,500 sailors with supporting family and friends
  • Economic study carried out by the Irish Marine Federation estimated the economic value of the 2009 Regatta at €2.5 million

The dates for the 2021 edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event on Dublin Bay is: 8-11 July 2021. More details here

Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Offshore Race

The biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race is a 320-miles race down the East coast of Ireland, across the south coast and into Dingle harbour in County Kerry. The latest news on the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race can be found by clicking on the link here. The race is organised by the National Yacht Club.

The 2021 Race will start from the National Yacht Club on Wednesday 9th, June 2021.

Round Ireland Yacht Race

This is a Wicklow Sailing Club race but in 2013 the Garden County Club made an arrangement that sees see entries berthed at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for scrutineering prior to the biennial 704–mile race start off Wicklow harbour. Larger boats have been unable to berth in the confines of Wicklow harbour, a factor WSC believes has restricted the growth of the Round Ireland fleet. 'It means we can now encourage larger boats that have shown an interest in competing but we have been unable to cater for in Wicklow' harbour, WSC Commodore Peter Shearer told Afloat.ie here. The race also holds a pre-ace launch party at the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Laser Masters World Championship 2018

  • 301 boats from 25 nations

Laser Radial World Championship 2016

  • 436 competitors from 48 nations

ISAF Youth Worlds 2012

  • The Youth Olympics of Sailing run on behalf of World Sailing in 2012.
  • Two-week event attracting 61 nations, 255 boats, 450 volunteers.
  • Generated 9,000 bed nights and valued at €9 million to the local economy.

The Harbour Police are authorised by the company to police the harbour and to enforce and implement bye-laws within the harbour, and all regulations made by the company in relation to the harbour.

There are four ship/ferry berths in Dun Laoghaire:

  • No 1 berth (East Pier)
  • No 2 berth (east side of Carlisle Pier)
  • No 3 berth (west side of Carlisle Pier)
  • No 4 berth  (St, Michaels Wharf)

Berthing facilities for smaller craft exist in the town's 800-berth marina and on swinging moorings.

© Afloat 2020

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating