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Galway Blazer II Logs Released in Advance of Global Circumnavigation Golden Jubilee

19th May 2023
Bill King's logs of his global circumnavigation in his yacht Galway Blazer II have been made public for the first time in advance of the 50th anniversary of his global voyage. This particular entry (above) was made, using pencil, in his log, dated May 19th, 1973
Bill King's logs of his global circumnavigation in his yacht Galway Blazer II have been made public for the first time in advance of the 50th anniversary of his global voyage. This particular entry (above) was made, using pencil, in his log, dated May 19th, 1973

“Fog cleared….BECALMED” wrote the late Commander Bill King in his log this day 50 years ago, during his epic global circumnavigation in his yacht Galway Blazer II.

His logs have been made public for the first time in advance of the 50th anniversary of his global voyage.

This particular entry (above) was made, using pencil in his log, dated May 19th, 1973.

The previous day, May 18th, 1973, he had recorded Galway Blazer II's position at 49 degrees 45N 11 degrees 25W at 0704, with 9406 nautical miles on the log.

As Galway Bay Sailing Club commodore Johnny Shorten notes in an analysis of the log entries, winds started dropping at 0100 on May 19th from force three to force two.

Eventually there was no wind, and by noon of that day the schooner was becalmed in fog.

At this point, the solo sailor was unaware that he was the focus of an international maritime alert, with ships in the south Atlantic keeping a look-out for him.

The former submarine commander had sailed from Perth, Australia on December 4th, 1972 on his specially designed junk rig yacht, and his last radio contact was six days later.

He was on his third attempt to sail around the world – stating in later interviews that he had to embark on a solo sailing voyage to recover from the mental toll taken by the second world war.

King commanded three separate British navy submarines during the conflict, and was awarded seven medals.

He had been taught to sail as a boy by his grandmother, who took up golf and learned to ski at the age of 75 and was sailing into her eighties.

As he wrote in his autobiography, “The Stick and the Stars”, published in 1958, his grandmother would sit at the helm “like a little seal in a red sou’wester”, laughing at the discomfort of her passengers.

The Golden Jubilee of Galway Blazer II's successful circumnavigation will be marked in Galway on May 23rd, 2023, and at this year’s annual general meeting of the International Junk Rig Association.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

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