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The keener Irish owners of classic wooden yachts with performance potential are already finalising plans for an interesting season writes W M Nixon. In it, their judiciously-chosen programme will include enough races against other classics to give a sense of purpose, yet not so much racing that it distorts their sailing and distracts them from the simple enjoyment of being aboard a comfortable and stylish classic yacht, which for many is really what it’s all about.

Taking this season gently, you could do the Lambay Classic at Howth on June 3rd, the Kingstown 200 Classic in Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta which runs overall from the 6th to the 9th July, though some classics and traditional craft are focusing more on the weekend aspect of it, and then there’s the 25th Anniversary Glandore Classics Regatta in West Cork from 23rd to 28th July.

Obviously with the passage from Dublin Bay to Glandore between July 9th and July 23rd, you get the best of it with a capable seagoing vessel which can do the voyage with time and more to spare, and there’s no doubt that this 1962-vintage Laurent Giles 42-footer fills the bill on that score.

As to on-board comfort, while we’re all turned on by the characteristically Jack Giles appearance of the boat, the photo which particularly took my eye was the sumptuously comfortable saloon, a classic of its time and type. And yes, the good ship Scythe comes with a proper heating system, so you can revel in that best of cruising comfort in warmth and dryness if West Cork – or for that matter Dublin Bay - serves up some unseasonably damp and cold weather.

One thing Scythe doesn’t come with is the mizzen mast with which she was designed. She has sailed for some years as a sloop, but if you’re going to be mingling with classic purists, you’ll need the boat to look as nearly as possible like the drawings which emerged from the tiny Giles design office at 4, Quay Hill, Lymington more than 55 years ago. So maybe the replacement costs for the mizzen could be a bargaining chip in discussing that €70,000 price tag. Scythe is for sale through Crosshaven Boatyard. Full advert here.

Published in Boat Sales
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The Howth Yacht Club hosted the Classic One-Design Regatta - incorporating the National Championships of the Dublin Bay Mermaid and Howth 17 Footer classes. Download Mermaid results below. Even before you could see them, the vapour of varnish bumbled over the hills and lowlands into Howth. Facebook updates from sailors on motorways passing shiny timber creations confirmed that the Mermaids were officially on tour. Some arrived under cover of darkness and were only noticed early on Thursday morning with a full dinghy pen. Little sailors, just starting out on their sailing careers, couldn't even see over the gunwhales of these big dinghies. They oohed and ahhed at boats made from "actual timber?"

Twenty-three Mermaids were weighed and plopped into Howth Harbour. Some of them had been here relatively recently (1953!) and wondered who had stolen Howth Sailing Club. HYC's Jedi, Neville Maguire was on hand with fellow Mermaid aficionados Gerry and Ian Sargent to poke and point and raise eyebrows at things called "Cleats".

Under the care of National Race Officer Scorie Walls, Thursday's racing started at a polite 1400. Keeping the Northside flag held high, "Azeezy" from Skerries did the business with two wins from three races. Not content with competing with eachother on the water, the Annual Mermaid Table Quiz followed rehydration. In a show of poor manners, a table made up almost entirely of Howth 17 Footers won. A prize was awarded for the best answer to "What is the capital of Mongolia?" "Don't know, but it's got a lot of vowels and sounds fierce foreign".

Two races for the Mermaids on Friday saw "Wild Wind" (Rush SC) and "Tiller Girl" (National YC) equal "Azeezy"'s daily tot of 6 points. The gap wasn't closing.

Howth history in the making was being mentioned all week before the old ladies of sailing, the Howth 17 Footers, put on their Friday night frocks and took to the water for a single race from the East Pier. For the first time in history, 18 boats were afloat and jockeying for position. The busy start line was made slightly more complex when the class was given a downwind/ spinnaker start in front of the East Pier, with boats gybing and tacking simultaneously as they jockied for position with a minute to go. Almost inevitably for the class, the girls began the bumping and grinding before the start signal and "Oona" went for "Rita" like a jealous girlfriend. "Rita’s” stick-man, Marcus Lynch, found himself with a clip around the ear from "Oona's" bowsprit and was forced to retire with injured planks, cracked frames and a split rudder. Turns out that "Oona" picked the wrong girl to shout at and she broke her bowsprit in the collision. And so the anticipated race with the full compliment of the world's oldest one-design racing keelboats never quite happened. The remaining seventeen boats crossed the line with spinnakers flying and more photographers clicking than at a Justin Bieber underwear collection launch. Head girl was "Deilginis" with "Aura" and "Hera" following in her tracks.

Saturday morning saw the Howth 17 Footers dressing up in their finest gowns and bonnets and gliding like debutants to the dancefloor. "Hera" lifted up her skirt and frightened the girls by winning by over two minutes. The brazen thing. She would have to have her cough softened! "Deilginis" took back control of the crowd in Race 3, trailed by "Gladys" sporting her 2016 Spring/Summer collection.

By the middle of the day, the wind had picked up, gusting over 30kts, and it was become hard for some to keep the bonnets atop. The ladies rolled down the run more like drunken maids than the elegant princesses which left the Harbour. Half of the fleet chose to remove their topsails but not before the paparazzi had caught them on video, in full swing...

The Mermaids were on the far side of the trapezoid course and only crossed the Howth 17s at the leeward mark and short beat to the finish. It was likely that some Mermaid sailors were checking their insurance when they saw the 17s approach! Top Mermaid of the day was "Vee" (Rush SC) with a 1st and 4th. "Wild Wind" and "Tiller Girl" produced some magic to close the gap to leader "Azeezy" but it wasn't to be enough to rein in the eventual Champions.

Back on the Howth 17 course, "Leila" and "Aura" sobered and took the last two races, and "Deilginis" was to take the 2016 title. Class Captain, Tom Houlihan, took the Handicap prize aboard his "Zaida".

As the last of the Howth 17 sailors were plucked from the moorings, the Mermaids had already already been craned out and packed up, setting the scene for a packed balcony in glorious sunshine. Rehydration once more!

170 sailors and their entourages filed into the club dining room to be fed, found, watered, awarded and clapped at. Champion Mermaid sailor Sam Shiels pronounced an epic acceptance speech. His Howth 17 opposite, Luke Massey, countered it with an example of brevity and raised the trophy aloft.

The next Classic One-Design Regatta will be held at Howth Yacht Club over the weekend of 10-12 August 2018.

Published in Howth YC

For many years now the 1898-founded Howth 17s have spun quite an event out of their annual “National Championship” writes W M Nixon. It may only be a weekend series for a vintage one-design class at its home port, but they make it a three-day event by starting with an evening race on the Friday. As for the mid-championship dinner on the Saturday night, that has assumed epic proportions. And at one stage they found their owners and crews were giving such dedication to a weekend that concludes with a monster prizegiving Sunday lunch that they cheerfully referred to it all as the Howth 17 Worlds, from which title they had to be gently dissuaded (over time) by the National Authority.

Whatever it’s called, it’s a remarkable celebration of down home sailing, so inevitably last year HYC’s then Honorary Sailing Secretary Emmet Dalton got to thinking that, as all the on-water and shoreside infrastructure was in place for a proper championship, surely it made sense to see if other classic One-Design classes would like to be involved as well?

Mermaid dinghy The Mermaids – seen here racing at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta - decided to make their National Championship 2016 part of the new Classic OD Regatta at Howth

The veteran Mermaid Class (which dates from 1932) didn’t merely rise to the bait. They swallowed it whole. And then they took some more, as they’re bringing their Mermaid Nationals 2016 to Howth from Thurday 4th to Sunday 7th August, thereby over-lapping the Howth 17 Championship from the Friday to Sunday.

The Mermaids are in fine form – as reported in Afloat.ie, they had an encouraging turnout of 18 boats for the recent Skerries Regatta. With the Mermaid contingent from Foynes planning on coming across country, and several times champion Jonathan O’Rourke of the National YC also emerging from Dublin Bay with his successful Tiller Girl, it will be an impressive fleet.

Howth 17 AuraReady to roll….Ian Malcolm’s 1898-vintage Howth 17 Aura kitted up in Howth for the journey up the M1 and participation in the RUYC 150th Anniversary Regatta on Belfast Lough. Photo: W M Nixon

Howth 17 yachtNot all the Howth 17s were road-trailed to Belfast Lough. The 1907-built Deilginis sailed there in two hops, with an overnight stop in Ardglass. Long-time Howth 17 veteran Nick Massey is seen here at the helm as Deilginis sweeps through Donaghadee Sound with a fair tide to enter Belfast Lough, and the GPS showing 8.2 knots over the ground. Photo: Davy Nixon

Howth 17 yachtOn Belfast Lough, the Howth 17s held a special race from Bangor to Carrickfergus where the first five boats of the class were built by John Hilditch in 1898, and they’re seen here arriving off Carrickfergus SC (founded 1866) with Aura (no 7) in the lead. Photo: Trish Nixon
This in turn has upped the ante for the ancient Howth 17s. Recently returned from starring in the Royal Ulster YC’s 150th Anniversary celebrations on Belfast Lough, back in Howth they’ve been determinedly getting every Howth 17 in existence into commission and sailing in time for the weekend of 5th to 7th August.

This scheme has included allocating the current newest boat – the class-owned Sheila which was built over several years at a number of locations – to the new HYC Vice Commodore for the season, and as he happens to be Emmet Dalton who also has a foiling International Moth, he’s having a busy year of it.

But while some of the Howth 17s are maintained to classic yacht standards, others are in something of state of limbo both as regards ownership and readiness for sea. However, the community spirit of the Howth 17s is a wonder to behold, and through 2016 the pace of voluntary work has accelerated with a team co-ordinated by Ian Malcolm implementing an action plan to get boats fitted out and into the water. Any time now, with Bobolink being launched, we’ll see all eighteen Howth 17s afloat and sailing in time for the championship.

Howth 17 AnitaTeam work. Ian Malcolm (centre) with his volunteers after the moth-balled Howth 17 Anita was launched last week after a fit-out in record time. Photo: W M Nixon

Howth 17 yachtWhen a Howth 17 is newly-launched, the first thing you do is check for leaks. Photo: W M Nixon
It will be a record for the class, but it will be a record which may well be beaten next year. Just this week Ian Malcolm – who already owns the 1898-vintage Aura – exchanged contracts and a deposit with Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany for a brand new Howth 17.

The people in the boat-building school at Skol ar Mor are no strangers to the Irish classic yacht scene, as last year they launched a new Water Wag, and before that they re-built the Dublin Bay 24 Periwinkle in immaculate style. So their take on a Howth 17 will be fascinating to behold.

But for now, attention is focusing ever more closely on what has become the inaugural Howth Classic One-Design Regatta from August 4th to 7th. With the Mermaids committed to bringing their own band for the Saturday night party, it will be quite something. And who knows, but next year it might entice other classes to get involved, leading on to even greater things.

Howth 17This winter, a new Howth 17 will be in build in Skol ar Mor in Brittany, but today – Wednesday July 27th – the 1907-built Bobolink has been getting a very swift fit-out to make sure a record fleet of eighteen Howth 17s is racing on August 5th. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in Historic Boats
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#historiccraft  – Already more than 70 entries have registered for Panerai British Classic Week 2015, which will take place from 18th – 25th July at Cowes Yacht Haven.

Leading the international visitors are French America's Cup legend Bruno Troublé who will skipper 'Jour de Fête', a "Q Boat" designed by Paine/Burgess to Herreschoff's Universal Rule and built by Lawley in Boston in 1930, and the awe inspiring 'Eleonora', which at just shy of 50m long is the largest yacht entered to date and was built to a Nathaniel G Hereschoff schooner design by Van de Graaf in 2000.

The oldest yachts competing include David Sherriff's delightful 1897 Fife Gaff Cutter 'Jap', winner of Panerai British Classic Week in 2012, Richard Oswald's 1902 Fred Shepherd Gaff Schooner 'Coral', and Pelham Olive's 1903 Alfred Mylne Gaff Cutter 'Kelpie'.

The regatta attracts classic yachts of all shapes and sizes and the smallest currently entered is Michael Frith's 1964 Kroes en Zonen designed 7.4m Bermudan Sloop 'Blue Eagle', whilst the largest are 'Eleonora" and the spectacular 29m long 1911 William Fife Gaff Cutter 'Mariquita', owned by John Caulcutt, Jamie Matheson and Stephen Hemsley.

Giovani Belgrano's defending Panerai British Classic Week champion Whooper, comes to the regatta fresh from overall victory in the IRC Classes at the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. Other past winners of the event hoping to add their name to the event's prestigious trophies again include David Murrin's 1955 Laurent Giles Sloop 'Cetewayo', Jamie Matheson's 'Opposition', the 1971 Sparkman & Stephens sloop built by Lallows for British Prime Minister Ted Heath, and Murdoch McKillop's 1931 Fife designed International 8 Metre 'Saskia'.

The Modern Classic Classes, for the Spirit Yachts and modern yachts built with the appearance of a classic, will be hotly contested as always with Stephen Jones's self designed 'Meteor', Regatta Chairman Sean McMillan's Spirit 52 'Flight of Ufford' and Stephen O'Flaherty's 'Soufriere', which famously starred in the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale, heading the list of possible Modern Classics winners.

Whilst the boats remain the stars of the show, there are nonetheless always plenty of human stars in attendance too. Making his first appearance at Panerai British Classic Week is double International Moth World Champion Simon Payne, who will be swopping his foiling speed machine for his extremely elegant but somewhat slower Nicholson Jolina 35 'Damian B'. TV star and well-known classic boat enthusiast Griff Rhys-Jones will make a welcome return to the regatta aboard his 1948 Olin Stephens designed Bermudan Yawl 'Argyll', and as always the crew lists will feature a host of internationally renowned sailors.

Also playing a key role in the regatta's success are the event sponsors led by Title Sponsor Officine Panerai, and supported by Official Partner Sponsor EFG, Official Media Partner Classic Boat, Race Day Sponsor Sandeman Yacht Company, Official Rum Supplier Mount Gay Rum and Official Clothing Supplier Zhik.

Royal Yacht Squadron Racing will run a six race series plus the special Around the Island Race sponsored by EFG International on Monday 20th July. The ever-popular Ladies Race will be held on Wednesday 22nd July and the regatta will conclude with the Parade of Sail past the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cowes Green on Saturday 25th July.

Ashore the Panerai Lounge will be the focal point for pre and post sailing gatherings and the social programme includes a Welcome Reception at the Royal Yacht Squadron, the traditional "Open Yachts" Pontoon Party, and the Prize Giving Dinner at Cowes Yacht Haven Events Centre.

Published in Historic Boats
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#glandoreclassicregatta – The 12th CH Marine Glandore Classic Regatta was launched on Wednesday at the Kiln Bar in Murphy Brewery in Cork. An enthusiastic crowd of classic boat followers attended the launch of the biennial event which takes place from 18th–24th July 2015.

There will be a Parade of Sail on the Sunday of the Regatta plus competitive racing during the week. The very popular "Music in the Street" gig also takes place on Sunday evening. Bill Sandberg (USA) returns as our Principal Race Officer in 2015. The Baltimore/Fastnet cruise and Castletownshend race will take place during the week of the Regatta. This year there will be a special welcome for gaff rigged boats with members of the Old Gaffers Association attending Glandore Classic Regatta as part of their cruise along the West Cork coast. 

Cormac O'Caroll adds:

Jim Cashman of Heineken welcomed the Commodore and Classic committee members, sponsors and invited guests present.
Following this introduction Nick Bendon of CH Marine spoke of his company's involvement in the regatta in recent years and remarked how after a very quiet season in Glandore last year this year already the village is buzzing and business is definitely on the UP. With the re-opened Glandore Inn and the newly opened Glandore Bistro at the Pier House, as well as Hayes' and Casey's bar exceptionally busy over the recent Easter weekend and May Holiday. Nick looks forward to a very successful CH Marine Glandore Classic Regatta next July.
Sean Walsh, the Commodore of the Old Gaffers Association then addressed the gathering and told us about the Old Gaffers Association, a world wide group with members drawn from lovers of gaff rigged boats from all over the world, though mostly from UK, Ireland and France. Sean told us that this year the Old Gaffers were having their Big Cruise on the South Coast and were making a bee line for the Glandore Classic Regatta as part of their Cruise which will then being them as far west as the Fastnet and Skellig Michael. Sean also reminded us that since he first visited the Classic Regatta in 1992 he has returned each time to the warmest of welcomes at the Club and in Glandore Harbour generally. The Commodore John Dowling closed with a review of some of the boats that are planning to be in Glandore for the Regatta next July, a number are regular visitors, there are a a few which have been in re build right through last winter, and also a number that were re launched for the first time during last season. We look forward to welcome back the Cork One Designs and the Anglsea Fifes, as well as the Ettes of Castletownshend to name just a few. 

The Glandore Classic Regatta runs from Saturday July 18th to Friday July 24th, The Regatta opening ceremony takes place on Saturday evening July 18th, The parade of sail occurs on Sunday afternoon July 19th. There is a sailing and racing programme of activities daily until Friday 24th when the regatta closes with the final prize giving. Throughout the week there is a full schedule of events including recitals, lectures, quiz, BBQ,street music etc.

Published in Historic Boats

#ilen – As previously reported by Afloat.ie, the good ship Ilen's whiskey plank was jointly nailed home by Minister For The Marine, Simon Coveney, Mrs Kate Jarvey of Ruth Lily Philanthropic Trust, Mr Gerry Boland of JP McManus Charitable Foundation, Rear Admiral Mark Mellett, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces and Gary MacMahon, director of Ilen School.
Minister Simon Coveney praised the educational model of the Ilen School and the quality of it's community work. He also delighted in the high quality of shipbuilding in the ongoing reconstruction of the good ship Ilen.
As a sailor of wooden boats he related his deep appreciation and enthusiasm for the great traditions of vernacular boatbuilding, and further added that there should be many ships in the style of the Ilen plying a new contemporary trade in community education and national tourism on the south and west coast of Ireland. He also remarked on the unique capacity of boats to unit coastal community – in this particular case the communities of Limerick City and Baltimore, West Cork.
– Over 150 guests attended the ceremony in the Cornstore of Hegarty's Boatyard, leaving little room to swing the custom cast bronze maul.
– Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey, director of Ilen School, was MC for the occasion and gave a wonderful and numenious address, evoking the great sea myths of Ireland, and, in the immemorial custom of boatbuilding, doused the wooden hull with Irish whiskey, generously sponsored by Teeling Whiskey.
Michael Byrne of Sail Training Ireland also attended the ceremony – his organisation plan to extend their national sail training programme to include youth in Limerick this year in a joint venture with the Ilen School, and go on to place trainees on the Ilen, when with a fair wind she might enter her operational phase in 2017.
The event was also attended by participants and instructors from the Ilen School, the shipwrights of Hegarty's Boatyard, Oldcourt as well as many officanados from the maritime sphere.
The event was also attended by Tom MacSweeney, who interviewed and recorded the principal project personalities for his maritime radio programme This Island Nation.

Published in Ilen

#classicboats –  The Crosshaven Traditional Sail event on the Irish south coast celebrates twenty years of age this season in Cork harbour when dozens of classic sailboats, traditional currachs and a vintage steam boat will line up at the Hugh Coveney pier in Crosshaven.

The Traditional Sail event takes place on the weekend of Friday 19th to Sunday 21st of June.

The classic regatta is a family favourite for landlubbers and seadogs alike with in-harbour racing, followed by barbeques and music in pubs throughout Crosshaven village all weekend. In keeping with seafaring tradition, there is a pirate theme to the regatta, with prizes for the best dressed pirates, salty seadogs, wenches and young admirals of the fleet.

The line-up also includes kids knot-tying and crab fishing competitions and informative lectures and talks on restoration projects past and present are held for the timber junkies among us! Traditional wooden boats which include Pat's Tanners own Galway Hooker, "An Faoilean" constructed over a century ago in Co. Galway and Ray Heffernans St Bridget built by Tyrells of Arklow are among the craft which will take part.

The fleet will assemble at the Hugh Coveney Pier from Friday evening, June 19th and visitors can see the boats up close by calling by on Friday evening or Saturday morning. Shore side spectators can watch the in-harbour racing from vantage points at Camden Fort Meagher or enjoy the parade of sail from Crosshaven village as the fleet will sail along the Owenabue River on Sunday afternoon.

The event was the brain child of local sailor and Boatyard owner Wietze Bowalda and some local publicans and has enjoyed fleet sizes of in excess of 40 boats. Over the last 20 years the event has been chaired by Mark Bushe and Pat Tanner who are also on the committee for the 20th anniversary celebrations.

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Pirates at the Oar Pub

This year we have engaged the Drascomb Lugger class, the Heir island sloops and we are arranging a cruise in company from baltimore to encourage West Cork based boats to make the journey east. For the shore based, there will be Tall ships on the Hugh Coveney Pier and we are planning a fireworks display on the Saturday night to add to party atmosphere which takes over the village for this weekend each year.

"Crosshaven is a great host village for this classic event" explains event organiser James Fegan "There is excellent sailing waters in Cork harbour and as a spectator if you were to never leave the dock you can still get an appreciation of these classic boats. We have a loyal following of boat owners who come annually to the event from all along the coast.

"There's always a great atmosphere in Crosshaven on this weekend" explained Denis Cronin of Cronin's Pub "Everyone from the kids to the local business owners really embrace the spirit the event. Here in the pub we even exchange our regular glasses for jam jars... because pirates always drinks from jaaaaarrs!"

Published in Historic Boats

#classicboat – In the summer of 2014, the RNLI in Crosshaven received an unexpected cheque from an unusual source. As ever with lifeboat fund-raising, it was very welcome. But it's not every day you get €1500 out of the blue from a high fashion magazine like Vogue Netherlands. W M Nixon unravels the tale of how this came about, and ponders the various challenges facing the enthusiasts who try to keep classic boats in full sailing commission.

Once upon a time, on a pure early summer day of clear sunshine in Connemara, the demands of the day job caused us to head up the driveway of one of the pleasantest country house hotels in all Connacht. But the bright mood of the morning was soon dispelled by finding the place full of bad tempered if beautiful people from Italy.

It turned out they were the complete creative team – photographers, models, directors, editors and all – from a leading Milan fashion magazine. They were in Ireland for a long-planned and lengthy photo-shoot of the coming season's trendy tweeds. They'd reckoned the Irish climate would guarantee they'd be up to their ears in ideal conditions to provide moody shots of even moodier models in ultra-fashionable tweeds on an extraordinarily moody bog with unbelievably moody Irish mountains beyond, the whole thing recorded under an uber-moody grey Irish sky.

But for day after day, the sun had shone from a cloudless sky, the breezes blew only very gently from a blue Atlantic, the fabulous range of the Twelve Bens could quite reasonably have been re-named the Twelve Benigns, while the great swathes of bog glowed in friendliness in the sun. Moodiness was out. All was sweetness and light. And the forecast was for more to come.

So after another day of screaming frustration, they upped and left, screeching that they could find more suitable conditions back home, just down the road in the Valley of the Po. Doubtless they could. But back in Connemara everyone simply relaxed and enjoyed it, for the Italians' bill had been paid in full, they maybe could even re-let some of the rooms in the hotel in the few days remaining of the booking, and sure wasn't the weather just wonderful anyway, and had we ever seen the garden looking so well?

If you think fashion people are out on a limb in relation to the rest of us, take time to reflect that for most of humanity, boat people are odd too. Even with the newest craft, we still think of them as living beings, whereas the rest of the world thinks that, regardless of their age, they're no more than vehicles, and uncomfortable, awkward, dangerous and expensive vehicles at that.

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Roundstone in Connemara on a gentle day with a sublime view towards the Twelve Bens in the evening sunshine – totally unsuitable conditions for a mood-laden fashion shoot. Photo: W M Nixon

So when you get some sailing person whose pulse is quickened only by classic or traditional boats – anything unusual so long as it is full of character, and preferably old - then you get someone who scores a double negative with the ordinary run of boat-loathing humanity.

And though high fashion may be comprehensible to a larger proportion of mankind than is enthusiasm for old boats, nevertheless it too is still a rather peculiar or at least very specialist interest with which to dominate one's life.

Thus it's just possible that when high fashion and dedicated classic boat fans link up, an unexpected bond can be formed. Certainly it seems to have happened when Vogue Netherlands got together in Crosshaven during the summer for a photo-shoot with Darryl Hughes' superbly-restored 1937 Tyrrell-built 43ft ketch Maybird.

And the successful outcome of it all, with a useful cheque being presented to Crosshaven RNLI afterwards, was a reminder that while boat restoration projects can indeed be brought to a successful conclusion, once the job is done, you then have to move on to the next stage of finding imaginative and useful things for the boat to do, as there's nothing worse for the wellbeing of any boat than doing nothing.

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After two good day's work afloat out of Crosshaven, a cheque for €1500 is handed over by Zoe Rosielle of Vogue Netherlands to Patsy Fegan, RNLI Deputy Launch Officer Crosshaven, with Shore Crewmember Robbie O'Riordan in support. Also in the picture are the rest of the Vogue Netherlands team, with three of Maybird's crew – Pat Barrett, Marie Keohane, and Darryl Hughes – top left, while fourth crewmember Joeleen Cronin took this photo

The story of Maybird has been told in snippets here before. She's a very near sister of the 16-ton ketch Aideen which was built by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow in 1934 for Billy Mooney, who in those days was Howth-based, but he later became a leading figure in Dun Laoghaire. Aideen was built to a Fred Shepherd design, but it's said that Shepherd had only been brought in to put manners on numerous very detailed drawings by Billy Mooney himself, including the layout – unusual at the time - of a centre cockpit.

Very conservatively rigged as a gaff ketch, Aideen was no slouch – she won her class in the 1947 Fastnet Race. Soon after, she was sold to Canada, where she was last heard of in 1974. Mooney claimed he'd to sell her because he could no longer afford to buy his crew dinner every time they won a race, and they were winning too often. That was a very Billy Mooney kind of remark, but certainly he almost immediately down-sized to the excellent little 6-ton John Kearney Bermudan yawl Evora of 1936 vintage, and with her he continued winning offshore until, with his retirement from work, he also swallowed the deep sea anchor and took up Dragon racing in Dublin Bay.

Meanwhile, during the mid 1930s an admirer of Aideen had been a keen sailing man originally from Cork, one W C W Hawkes, an officer in the Indian Army who commissioned Maybird, a near sister-ship of Aideen, from the Fred Shepherd-Jack Tyrrell team in 1937. Hawkes retired from India in the late 1930s to live in Restronguet on Falmouth Harbour in southwest England, but he was to have little enough use of Maybird with the intervention of World War II from 1939 to 1945, and his death in the late 1940s.

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The first-born. Billy Mooney's Aideen was built by Tyrrell's of Arklow in 1934. Her younger sister Maybird, built in 1937, had a slightly longer canoe stern. Maybird's modern accommodation layout is also different, with the galley moved aft to the starboard side at the foot of the companionway

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Maybird under her Bermudan rig in the late 1950s. Her restoration has included this rig's replacement by the original gaff configuration for the mainsail.

Subsequently, the 43ft ketch led a varied career, acquiring a Bermudan rig and an RORC rating for racing, and then in 1972 she was sailed out to New Zealand. Darryl Hughes came upon her there in 1990, and was smitten. Quite why some boats speak so eloquently to some people at certain times is sometimes difficult enough to understand, but the great project he has since completed with Maybird suggests that in this case it was the one very special boat for one very special person, and at just the right time.

He comes from a community in North Wales where there was no local tradition of industry or high-powered commerce, yet education at the local grammar school and a degree from Manchester University saw him moving into international companies, and by his thirties he was a rising star in general management in global organisations with a later emphasis on marine electronics.

This in turn fostered his interest in sailing, and he was learning the ropes with his own Nicholson 32 when a working spell in New Zealand led to his first sight of Maybird in the Bay of Islands. By 2007, with an early and well-funded retirement beckoning, he had her shipped back to England with a restoration in mind.

But the quotes he had for the job from established yards were horrendous, so he decided to do it himself as his own Project Manager. Sensibly, it was done in the heart of the English marine industry, where he could call on a diversity of talents to make progress with this project, which was soon well under way in Southampton in a temporary shed he'd created with tarps over a proper scaffolding structure.

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The owner-managed restoration project on Maybird under way in the temporary shed in Southampton. Photo: Darryl Hughes

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Mission accomplished – the restored Maybird emerges from the project workshop. Photo: Darryl Hughes

His long experience in international industry stood well to him, for the work went steadily ahead, and after two years the restored Maybird emerged as good as new, in fact better. And the project was completed for around a quarter of a million pounds sterling, about half of the most reasonable quote he'd received from the established yacht restoration yards.

For many people, such a restoration would be enough in itself, but Darryl Hughes showed his calibre by progressing on to keep Maybird as active as possible. She was raced in the classics in the 2011 Fastnet, and finished in a slightly better time than that recorded by Aideen in 1947. As well, she has been cruising extensively, sometimes on a semi-commercial charter basis, while also taking part in classic yacht regattas.

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When it all becomes worthwhile. The restored Maybird sails again, re-rigged as a gaff ketch to the original design.......

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.....and she turns in an encouraging performance, with a better time in the Fastnet Race of 2011 than Aideen had in the Fastnet of 1947.

An underlying theme has been his growing interest in Ireland and things Irish, thus he has based the boat for lengthy periods in Crosshaven while researching the history of the Hawkes family in Cork and in Cork Harbour sailing. But as well he has extensively cruised the Irish coast, and with his developing interest in literature he has twice taken a full part in the Yeats Summer School in Sligo in late July. The new pontoon just below the bridge in Sligo port might have been installed for Maybird's convenience, but Darryl Hughes is still the only person who is known to have sailed to the Yeats School as a matter of course.

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In 2011, Maybird returns to her birthplace of Arklow, where she was built in 1937. Photo: W M Nixon

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Immaculate workmanship. The beautiful restoration of Maybird's deck and coachroof, seen in Arklow in 2011, contrasts with the rough and ready beer keg pressed into use to aid boarding. Photo: W M Nixon

Currently, Maybird is based in friendly Poolbeg Marina in Dublin Port, and her owner has spread his wings even further with a course of study in Trinity College, while living on the boat and pondering the production of the required 15,000-word dissertation on Irish writing. Last winter, however, was spent in the congenial surroundings of the Salve Marina in Crosshaven, and thanks to that there was the involvement with Vogue Netherlands – we let Darryl take up the story:

"Vogue Netherlands wanted to organise a fashion shoot in SW Ireland, and their location scout came across Maybird wintering at Crosshaven in Cork harbour back in February 2014. I agreed that they could use her as long as they made a contribution to the Crosshaven RNLI station, and the shoot took place in early June over two days.

The entire Vogue contingent consisted of eight people - three models, photographer, photographer's assistant, make-up/hair stylist, wardrobe assistant and overall fashion director, together with three huge suitcases of clothes for the models plus extra camera gear, lenses etc etc. To sail Maybird we had a crew of three plus myself, the other sailors being Pat Barrett, Marie Keohane, and Joeleen Cronin, the daughter of the house in Cronin's pub. As you can imagine, my major concern was the safety of all aboard as the majority were not sailors.

We met the day before onboard and worked out that Maybird's aft cabin would do as the changing area for the models and the huge suitcases were manhandled down the companionway and through the galley. The aft cabin was then transformed into a Vogue changing room/hairdresser's salon. The plethora of laptops, lenses and spare cameras plus the film banks – yes, film, not all that digital malarkey I'm pleased to say- were stowed in the saloon. The saloon became the studio, but we had access to all of Maybird's chart table and instruments if required. Fortunately, all of the chart-table electronics are duplicated in the doghouse, which also has the 15" plotter screen.

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The aft cabin, luxurious by the standards of 1937, made for a rather cramped changing room/hairdressers salon during the Vogue Netherlands photoshoot. Photo: W M Nixon

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The galley and the chart-table together amidships at the foot of the companionway may seem a tight fit to modern sailors, but it would have seemed the height of comfort to cruising folk in the 1930s. Photo: W M Nixon

Once the stowage was sorted, we agreed that unless people were required on deck they stayed below. Everybody wore life-jackets and the only people that were allowed to take them off were the three models when the camera was rolling. Once the camera was silent the models donned their life-jackets again. We had a support RIB so that the cameraman could take pictures of Maybird sailing, so to an extent we had our own lifeboat with us, but my job was to keep all twelve "crew" on board.

We were blessed with gentle sailing conditions for the first day - wind max F3. The director wanted all Maybird's sails hoisted, and so we agreed set courses to sail. The crew set Maybird up, we chose courses that we could hold for as long a time as depth/traffic/hazards allowed, and then the photographer got to work with the models. We had an excellent rapport with the photographer, who understood that the skipper has the final say, and would stop shooting when we made the call "30 seconds to tack". Each of our legs or boards had to be agreed with the photographer in terms of where the sun was, the effect of shadows, background etc..

One of the models was starting to experience the early stages of sea-sickness as we approached the harbour entrance abeam of Roche's Point lighthouse, so we headed back inshore. Recovery was more or less instantaneous when back in flattish water.

Given the largely clement conditions we were out for some seven hours on the first day. But Day 2 was different. Wind was up to F5 gusting F6 and the sky overcast. The sea state was no longer smooth but more moderate to lumpy. I agreed with the director that we would go out, but we would not put up the mainsail - we would sail with jib, staysail and mizzen. I just wanted to keep things as simple as possible from a sail-handling viewpoint.

The cameraman wore his safety harness as well as his lifejacket as he was leaning over the bowsprit and over guardrails to take many of the shots that day, so I made sure he was clipped on. We agreed the models would not lean over the guardrails or do any poses that could lead to them falling off the boat. For this day, we were only on the water for some three hours.

Interestingly, the only pictures from Day 2 used were a black and white one with the female model standing on the foredeck. The sky really was nasty. No Photoshopping used there!

Despite Maybird's complexity in terms of numbers of sails and ropes, as she has a long keel she will sail on her own and hold her course when the sails are balanced so it was easy for her sailing crew to set her up and then crouch down out of the cameras way whilst the models did their stuff.

Both the photographer and his assistant were sailors back in the Netherlands, so that helped a great deal. The Maybird crew of four for one day, three on the other, really kept an eagle eye on the Vogue crew in terms of safety - that was the challenge, not sailing the boat. We tacked rather than gybed and as I say, when the wind did pick up, we sailed without the main - one of the great advantages of the ketch rig.

We managed to stay out of trouble, so our only dealings with the Crosshaven RNLI was to hand over a cheque to them".

That was only part of the good work done by Maybird in 2014. She was signed on to play a key role in an Irish Coastguard exercise in Dungarvan Bay later in the summer. Then once again the skipper's participation in the Yeats Summer School in Sligo resulted in a round Ireland cruise, with bits of Scotland thrown into the mix. And now she's a study centre in Dublin, helping to absorb the multi-facetted culture of our unique city. Truly, a busy ship is a happy ship.

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Maybird as seen from the S&R helicopter during an exercise in Dungarvan Bay. Photo courtesy Irish Coastguard.

Published in W M Nixon

#STBFestival. – Weigh your anchor, fill your sails and get ready for the 2014 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival. Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the 21st annual festival which will be taking place in Portsoy, Aberdeenshire from June 27-29th 2014.

Scotland's leading celebration of maritime and cultural heritage is one of the key events in The Year of Homecoming, with the theme reflected throughout the festival programme. The event will showcase the best in Scotland's maritime, crafts, food, drink, music and dance, with a special emphasis on boat building, restoration and sailing.

Traditional wooden boats from all over the UK and beyond will congregate in the historic 17th century Portsoy harbour. Visitors will be able to learn how to sail a coracle, climb aboard restored fishing vessels, and see the crews of the St Ayles Skiffs battle it out on the open seas in the annual regatta. This year will also see the official opening of the PORT Boatshed, a community boat building workshop which allows training and restoration to be undertaken.

Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Traditional Boat Festival Chair, Roger Goodyear, says, "The Festival has a great programme that offers a fantastic traditional maritime experience. Each year our Festival continues to grow stronger and draw in huge crowds- the small town usually only has a population of 2000 people, and this rises to an incredible 16,000 people over the weekend of the Festival.

"Now in its 21st year, we hope to continue to build on its enviable reputation for showcasing the very best in traditional maritime festivities with a range of craft, food, drink, music and dance events. What started as a small community celebration to mark the 300th anniversary of Portsoy harbour has grown to become recognised by VisitScotland as one of the region's flagship tourism events, which is a fantastic boost."

The music programme will feature the very best of traditional music including popular Scottish folk singers and local favourites. The music line up this year reflects the Year of Homecoming by bringing together local musicians and performers from around the world including headliners RURA, festival favourites De Kinkels from the Netherlands and Slogmaakane, fabulous shanty singers from Norway.
The festival craft marquee is set to attract artists and craft workers from across Scotland, while food and drink from the North-east's larder will on show at the Wally Green Food Fayre.

Caroline Packman, Homecoming Scotland Director, says, "Homecoming places the spotlight on our greatest assets and celebrates all that's great about our country, so it's only fitting the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival is part of the packed Homecoming programme of events. Scotland is the perfect stage for major cultural events and the Boat Festival provides a truly enchanting example of the regions rich heritage and culture. Whether you are interested in crafts, historic vessels, boat races or it's simply a day out with the family - there's truly something for everyone at Portsoy."

For more information about the Festival and to buy tickets visit www.stbfportsoy.com. 
An adult day ticket to the festival costs £8, children aged five to 18 and concessions are £5. Adult weekend tickets are priced at £12 and children and concessions at £8. There are also family tickets available which allow entry for two adults and three children for £25 for a day ticket and £35 for a weekend. Children under five go free. Car parking is available and costs £2, with the price including a brochure.

Published in Historic Boats

#glandoreclassics – The 2013 CH Marine Glandore Classic concluded last weekend with the final prize-giving on the balcony of the Marine Hotel. The committee was delighted that the new format regatta was so well received by all throughout the week.

There was a fantastic turn out for the Parade of Sail on the opening weekend, the addition of cruise days to Baltimore and the Fastnet was well supported. The town of Baltimore put on a great reception for the Classic visitors and later in the week the trip to Castletownsend was also well supported on the water and at MaryAnne's.

While the stars for many were the appearance of Jolie Brise, "The Boat of the Regatta" award, and the lovely Fife Solway Maid "Concours de Regatta" award, the Commodore Diarmuid O'Donovan emphasized that it takes all the skippers crew and boats to make the regatta so successful and he thanked all participants and volunteers as he presented overall prizes for the nine divisions that participated in the regatta.

The Harbour fleets of Menai Straits Fifes, Dragons, Squibs, Ettes, Dayboats and Clinker classes were keenly raced over the six days with tie break winners in the Dragon and the Squib class.

In the Bay and Workboat classes Mike Walshe's 1979 Holman & Pye "Saidhbhear" won the Bay Class2 in the Gaffers Sean Walsh's "Tir na Nog" was the winner. The other new addition for this regatta was the Oar and Sail programme this got off to a very promising start with three of the Atlantic Challenge Bantry Boats and well as a number of raid type boats on the water and competing on the Saturday and Sunday, the regatta was delighted with their participation and hope to increase the Oar and sail programme for the 2015 Glandore Classic Regatta.

Published in Historic Boats
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About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

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