Displaying items by tag: Dublin Bay
Dublin Bay has an unrivalled continuous history of One-Design sailing and racing writes W M Nixon.
It runs in a golden thread all the way back to 1887, when Ben Middleton launched his little class of Water Wag dinghies to establish an ideal and a tradition which has grown and developed to be comfortably at the core of sailing not just from Dun Laoghaire itself, but on all of the coasts of the Greater Dublin area.
Over the years, different One-Design classes have lasted for varying periods of time. But there has always been the thought that once a size has proven popular, then its successor class will reflect this. Yet even with new classes arriving, boats of the older types have sometimes survived, and this has created an unexpected consequence which is now having an international spinoff.
In many maritime parts of the world, boat-building schools and academies have been springing up for all sorts of reasons, including historical meaning, sociological needs, skills training, creative challenge, hobby teaching, and the simple pleasure of working with wood – you name it, it can be found as part of the thinking behind establishing a boat-building school.
These schools have found a treasure trove in Dublin Bay’s unrivalled collection of One-Design boat plans, a selection whose creators have included such distinguished names as William Fife and Alfred Mylne, not to mention Irish designers such as Maimie Doyle and John B Kearney. Their legacy is historic wooden boats of varying size and type, each of which can be used as perfect subject matter for their pupils.
Thus at the moment the famous Apprenticeshop in Maine under the direction of Kevin Carney is re-building the Dublin Bay 24 Zephyra for David Espey of Dun Laoghaire – a project so total that the main part of the original boat is virtually only the ballast keel - while nearby, a completely new Water Wag (to the 1900 Maimie Doyle design) is also under construction.
Meanwhile in Brittany at Douarnenez, the remarkable Paul Robert and his team at the impressive complex which is Les Ateliers de l’Enfer have two Irish-related projects under way – a re-building of the 1900 Howth 17 Anita from the ballast keel up, and the making of sails traditional-style for the 1896 Herbert Boyd-designed 26ft Marguerite now owned by Guy Kilroy, which is currently undergoing restoration back in Ireland by Larry Archer in his very rural shed in the depths of Fingal.
South down the Breton coast, Mike Newmeyer’s famous Skol ar Mor is busy on some French craft this winter, but in times past they’ve worked creative wonders on designs as diverse as the Dublin Bay 24 Periwinkle, the Howth 17 Orla, and Water Wags and Shannon One Designs, such that they hope to get back with one of the Irish designs next winter.
Further south again down the Biscay coast, and at San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque country, one of the most beautifully-built Water Wags ever seen – David Williams’ Dipper - emerged last year from the Abeola boat-building school under the direction of Brian McClelland. There’s another one currently under constriction for Mary Chambers, while the word is that other more distant places have been enquiring of the class about acquiring plans, and what they need to do in order for their finished product to be recognized as a true Water Wag.
And here we find another of the advantages of drawing on Dublin’s treasure trove of One-Design plans in order to launch a boat-building training exercise. For as the job progresses, today’s economical air travel means that the builder can get the class measurer to come and give the project his approval and encouragement.
Thus the trainee boat-builders – sometimes adults as much as young people – not only learn how to work with timber and put a seaworthy boat together in classic wooden boat style, but they also learn to build with precision if they use a living Dublin Bay design.
Of course, not all contemporary re-creations of Irish wooden boats are taking place outside Ireland, and in Ireland not all such projects use Dublin designs. At Oldcourt near Baltimore, Liam Hegarty and his team – having finished their work on the restoration of the 56ft Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen of Limerick back in the Spring – are now into the re-building of O’Brien’s world-girdling 42ft Saoirse.
And just up the road at Ballydehob, Tiernan Roe is restoring the famous Lady Min, originally designed and built by Maurice O’Keeffe of Schull in 1902. Nearby, Rui Ferreira’s workshop may be best-known locally as the spiritual home of the clinker-built Ette Class from Castlehaven, but he is also completing a Water Wag for Martin Byrne of Dublin Bay to a standard which will rival the San Sebastian boat.
Moving northwards along the western seaboard, at Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary, Steve Morris has finished one hull of the Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra project to re-build three of the legendary Dublin Bay 21s of 1902, and another is on the way, while across at Foynes, the thriving Mermaid class has seen new boats being built by the voluntary effort for which Foynes Yacht Club is deservedly famous.
Further north, it’s very seldom that there isn’t at least one major re-building project underway on a Galway Hooker in Connemara or in Galway city itself, while along the Shannon, boat-building legend Jimmy Furey has – with Cathy MacAleavey’s encouragement – continued to build Shannon One Designs and Water Wags, while the same historic clinker-built classes have also benefited from the boat-building skills of Dougal MacMahon of Belmont in County Offaly, and the future should see a further combination of these three remarkable talents.
Although the Shannon One Designs may be indigenous to the great river and its lakes, the Water Wags are Dublin Bay through and through, and we find a sort of circle around their home port which has seen Jack Jones of Anglesey building Wags, while at the Elephant Boatyard on the Hamble in the heartlands of the Solent, there’s another Dublin Bay 21 coming back to life.
Thus there’s an underlying sense of ever increasing circles rotating around the re-building of classic Dublin Bay classes, initially taking in western Ireland and Fingal and Wales, then broadening to include France and Spain, and now expanding still further to include North America.
Yet at the very heart of these circles in Dublin Bay, we find a desert for classic wooden boat-building. Certainly, there was a fine new coastal skiff completed recently at St Michael’s Rowing Club in Dun Laoghaire. But nearby, the ever-busy maintenance, repair and modification facility of the Irish National Sailing School is very much a place where plastics and chemistry are dominant.
In a weird sort of way, it is generally accepted that there is no classic yacht building tradition in Dun Laoghaire – the view seems to be that it is always outsourced. Yet surely there’d be welcome extra life put into the Dun Laoghaire waterfront if – as an integral part of it – there was an active and accessible Boat-Building Academy?
It could incorporate the ideals which boat-building training gurus such as America’s Lance Lee (best known in Ireland for his links to the Bantry Boat movement) have been articulating so determinedly and successfully for decades, such that the local community and wider sociological benefits of establishments like this no longer need to be argued – rather, it’s a matter of specific location and size.
And as for the argument that Dun Laoghaire and its immediate area have no tradition of classic building, that’s not so. Admittedly it was all of 65 years ago that the last yacht of significant size, the 41ft yawl Marian Maid, emerged from the Dalkey Yacht Building Company for John Sisk Senr of the noted contracting firm. He owned the boatyard as a sideline, and their main trade was in building Folkboats. But in 1953 he approached the famous Swedish designer Knud Reimers for his take on the new International 8 Metre Cruiser/Racer, and the result was a design which Reimers liked so much that while John Sisk had Marian Maid built on the shores of Dublin Bay, Reimers had a sister-ship built for himself in Sweden.
Marian Maid had a restoration in northwest England in 2002, and made a ceremonial return to Dun Laoghaire to remind everyone that, once upon a time, such classics were built locally. But of course if we go back to the hyper-active days of One-Design growth and development in Dublin between 1895 and 1910, we find that there were several yards such as Doyle, Clancy and Hollwey producing work of the highest quality to create classes like the Dublin Bay 25s, the Dublin Bay 21s, the Howth SC/DBSC 17s, and of course the Water Wags.
The Water Wags of the 1900 design were a James Doyle speciality, but equally in his Dun Laoghaire workshop he could turn out keelboats such as the Dublin Bay 25s, and in 1901 his daughter Maimie finalized the design for a 9-ton cruiser which, although named Granuaile, was based far indeed from the home waters of the Pirate Queen Granuaile on Ireland’s western seaboard, as her home port was Burnham-on-Crouch in the Thames Estuary.
The new boat was such a success that in 1905 the two owners ordered a significantly larger sister-ship, a 52ft fast cruiser also called Granuaile. She may have originally followed her predecessor to the Thames Estuary, but this larger Granuaile has had a colourful life since, and after a period in America, in 1968 she fetched up in Australia, and Limerick ex-Pat Lee Condell alerted us to the fact that she is currently Tasmania-based.
So the largest yacht built by the legendary James Doyle of Dun Laoghaire is still very much with us after 115 years, partly attributable to the fact that she was built of teak planking on teak frames, which even in the high-spending days of 1905, wasn’t exactly an everyday specification.
So if some determined group sought to set up a boat-building academy on the Dun Laoghaire waterfront, it would be the revival of a time-honoured tradition rather than the introduction of something totally novel. And certainly several people over the years have promoted the idea, but the obstacles have always proven too great, and inevitably you’ll ultimately come up against the realities of the frenetic Dublin property market.
For if a useful and attractive waterside location could be identified for such a project, as sure as God made little apples someone will see that it would be much more profitable as a residential development. And so we who find classic boats irresistible are left with the fact that, while great Dublin Bay boat designs are being built at locations in ever-increasing circles which now cross oceans, right at the centre of the circle in Dun Laoghaire, there’s a boat-building void as far as the Harbour’s classics are concerned.
Windjammer crew members were in attendance for the Round Ireland Yacht Race lecture by Kenneth Rumball and John White at the Royal Irish Yacht Club last Thursday 7 February, which also highlighted a crew overboard incident on the J97 late last month.
Video of the incident on Sunday 27 January made available by the crew themselves showed how a heavy weather practice session on Dublin Bay went awry when one of their number slipped overboard during a tack — and also their subsequent successful rescue.
The crew on the day comprised former INSS sailing instructors Aisling O’Grady, Aonghus Byrne, Andrew Irvine, Conor Corson, Jeff Fahy and Saoirse Reynolds with Lindsay Casey, one of the boat’s owners — and Noel Butler, who told Afloat.ie that Rumball and White’s presentation was not intended as a ‘how-to’ but more “a description of what happened and how [the crew] dealt with it, so that others might benefit from their experience”.
Classic Sailor reports on the video footage as “a good example of how a well-drilled and experienced crew retrieved the casualty”, and the incident has also prompted discussion on social media. Video of the full training session is available on YouTube.
Update 12 February: This article was corrected to make clear that the main subject of the RIYC lecture was on the man overboard incident on Jedi during the 2018 Round Ireland Yacht Race.
This morning's DBSC Spring Chicken Series got off to a gentle start in light to medium westerlies on Dublin Bay for the 38-plus boat fleet.
The regular mix of contestants were joined by Iduna, an 80–year–old Lymington L Class design. Viking Marine are prize sponsors again this year and 'Vicky Marine' (pictured below) is not shelling out crystal or silver prizes, but the very useful Dexshell range of hats and gloves to keep winners extremities warm. See the full range from Viking Marine here
See the starting order and initial handicaps for the first race below.
Race two of the National Yacht Club hosted six-race event sponsored by Citroen South Dublin takes place next Sunday.
Dublin Bay youngster Flossie Donnelly made a great start to the New Year with a Killiney Beach Clean Up as part of her ongoing campaign to rid Dublin Bay of plastics.
The New Year's Day Killiney Beach Clean up was organised by "Flossie and the Beach Cleaners" and supported by Dalkey Tidy Towns.
Grand Canal Clean Up
Meanwhile, on the Grand Canal in Dublin a litter picking group will meet this Saturday, January 5th at 10 am by Leeson Street Bridge. Pickers, bags, and gloves all provided. Coffee compliments of Starbucks to finish.
Ireland’s hottest surfing spot is… Dublin?
Rock armour has now been offloaded at the Dun Laoghaire Baths site (right in the above picture) where work on Dublin Bay's newest boating jetty is underway.
As Afloat.ie reported last week, the massive granite boulders were moved onto the site by barge and more boulders are scheduled to arrive this week.
Once this delivery has been completed, the rock armour will be more precisely located to protect the new jetty (centre in the above picture) against erosion from the sea.
As Afloat.ie has previously reported, the works are part of a redevelopment of the old baths (pictured left) that had been in a state of dereliction for over 20 years.
When finished the new pier will offer a much-needed point of access to Dublin Bay for small boats and canoes and sea swimmers.
Maybe it’s the fact that the days start to get longer again in only a fortnight, but there’s mood of rising optimism in Irish sailing these days writes W M Nixon. There’s an almost measurable buzz in the air which is spearheaded by the pace-setting Fintan Cairns-inspired DBSC Turkey Shoot Series in Dublin Bay, and given substantial extra boosts by long-established Autumn and Winter series going full blast at other centres.
This fresh zest for our sport is supported by more traditionally-minded sailors. They may have preferred to bring their season to a close in October or November with their boats properly laid up for the winter, but the amount of work they have going on behind the scenes to get new initiatives up and running, while keeping existing programmes in good and growing health, is a remarkable reflection on the value of the voluntary effort and input which sailing inspires.
As one leading big-boat contender in the Turkey Shoot has put it: “If it wasn’t for the continuing enthusiasm of Fintan and his team chivvying us out there every Sunday morning, and then being on station with the Committee Boat to set another excellent course, then I don’t think half of us would think of taking part in a series which takes us right up to the very threshold of Christmas. Yet here it is, week after week for seven Sundays with a splendidly varied fleet of 75 boats, and the mood is euphoric – it feels like the best racing we’ve had all year, and it probably is”.
The regular reports in Afloat.ie give some idea of the pace of the sport and the calibre of the racing, yet although there are so many relatively new contenders involved that it has been commented that the Turkey Shoot 2018 is for all the world like a live Boat Show afloat and racing, it’s somehow reassuring to note that going into this weekend’s race, the overall leader is Sean O’Regan’s vintage Dehler 31 Vespucci.
That said, if we were to choose a “Marque of the Year” in Irish sailing, the Grand Soleil brand from Italy would definitely be on the shortlist, with John Treanor’s new Grand Soleil 34 Justtina turning many heads in the Turkey Shoot as she makes mince of the Dublin Bay chop.
Through the season, Frank Whelan’s Grand Soleil 44 Eleuthera from Greystones set the pace on both the east and south coasts, while on the south coast the Murphy family’s Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo rounded out a great season by being made the Royal Cork YC’s “Keelboat of the Year”.
Still on the south coast, as our colleague Tom MacSweeney was reporting, the recent AGM of the South Coast Offshore Racing Association brought a breath of fresh air with the much-approved election of Johanna Murphy of Great Island SC as the first woman sailor to be Commodore. She takes up the role with a clear vision of encouraging coastal passage races, but as such races have to be fitted in with the increasing number of club At Homes, the demand on premium dates is high.
A further challenge was added to the brew at the AGM with a significant presence from Waterford Harbour SC at Dunmore East, seeking to have their historic yet expanding club included in the SCORA programme. This is quite a challenge, as it’s all of 50 nautical miles and more from Cork Harbour to Dunmore East. That’s fine and dandy if the SCORA main fleet race there from Cork Harbour with a grand following breeze, but problems of logistics arise when they face the uphill slog home.
Nevertheless in due course there’s no doubt Dunmore East will be back in the offshore racing picture, just as in due course a fleet of J/109s has developed in Dublin Bay as everyone hoped for years would eventually happen. And not only is God in his heaven with ace MOB rescuer Tim Goodbody in the lead in White Mischief in the J/109s racing in the Turkey Shoot, but this week it has been revealed that the latest addition to the class is newly-elected ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell, back in harness with his former longtime campaigning partner Johnny Murphy with their recently-acquired J/109 Outrajeous. They’ll be keeping her at their home port of Howth, increasing the likelihood of further sister-ships there, as they’ll be joining Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles with Indian, and the daddy of them all, Pat Kelly with the all-conquering Storm.
Howth, with its winter Laser Frostbites dating from 1974 and its keelboats Brass Monkey series now in its 32nd year, continues to be a hive of activity. In fact if anything the colourful sailing/fishing harbour as a whole had a problem of success, as it has become such a visitor magnet that, on a good weekend, the quaysides and waterfront roads can get distinctly crowded.
A series of fortuitous circumstances have brought about the situation whereby the place can offer such an attractive visitor experience. When the harbour was undergoing its massive re-development in the 1980s, the original plan was that all the ancient and often quaint buildings of the West Pier should be swept away to provide the maximum of space for fishing-related work and vehicle movements. But by some miracle they all were saved, and today the colourful line of buildings down the West Pier is home to more popular and varied seafood restaurants than you could count, cheek-by-jowl with marine industry workshops. And the old Mariner’s Hall, originally built as “The Prayer House” for visiting Scottish fishermen, has been saved from demolition and is currently having its roof replaced with such attention to detail that its woodwork will become a special architectural feature.
But while everything above the water around Howth’s increasingly tidy yet ever busier harbour seems to be going fine, under the sea’s surface things aren’t so good, as bits of the harbour badly need dredging. In the Netherlands where they’re the world leaders in building and maintaining maritime structure, all harbours are automatically dredged every five years at least. But in Howth although the harbour as we know it now dates back to 1982, there has been only piecemeal dredging and channel clearance, and a major infrastructural project is on the cards.
With this in mind, leading Howth fisherman Sean Doran and local Senator Catherine Noone and others set about arranging a top level visit which would bring Howth’s problems home to Government at the highest level. They reckoned that the case would be best put if the Government could meet representatives of all the harbour stakeholders in an effort to gauge how much could be maintained and added to local economic activity by bringing the harbour depths up to the required standards.
It’s only when you set out to arrange such a gathering that you become fully aware of how many revenue-generating and employment activities a harbour as diverse as Howth can encompass. When local TD and Government Minister Richard Bruton and Senator Noone set out last Saturday afternoon with Fingal Mayor Councillor Anthony Lavin to show Taoiseach Leo Varadkar round Howth Harbour and meet the people who make it work, it was one busy day, with harbourmaster Captain Harry McLoughlin and others taking the fact-finding group on a mission which started with the many fishing enterprises and the shore facilities for the regular summer ferry route to Dublin and Dun Laoghaire, went on with a wide variety of retail and workshop outfits, seemed to take in everything possible to improve the harbour, and then concluded with a much-needed cup of tea in Howth Yacht Club where Commodore Joe McPeake and his team were able to introduce the Taoiseach to sailors at every level from absolute beginners to Olympic 49er Under 23 Gold Medallists Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, while at the same time providing information about how Howth YC’s Quest Sailing School is reaching out to people from every background.
It was a mutually informative yet pleasantly informal gathering, sweetened by the news that the dredging of Howth Harbour is now agreed as a Major Infrastructural Project. And for any busy yacht or sailing club to be given this opportunity to see itself as others see it, and to see particularly how well - with mutual goodwill - it fits in and interacts with the community around it, well, that was a real tonic for the membership.
But then, having been at the annual dinner of the historic Howth Seventeen Foot Class in the clubhouse the night before, your correspondent was already reassured about the basic good health of HYC. For this might well have been the 120th Annual Dinner of the Howth Seventeens, as they were founded in 1898. But with a convivially packed house with 128 present, the mood was so youthful it could have been the first Annual Dinner of all, for age shall not weary them.
And even when it does, the Seventeens have a remarkable capacity for renewal, headed in the 1970s by Nick Massey, and more recently kept simmering by Ian Malcolm. Their capacity for re-birth is extraordinary, and thus the Howth Seventeen people are among the most appreciative of a small beautifully-restored yacht which quietly appeared in their marina back in September.
This is the 23ft Laurent Giles-designed L Class Iduna, originally built in 1938 and bought in 1948 by the late Roger Bourke of Limerick and Foynes. Iduna is now owned by his son Robert for whom she has been restored by Howth master-shipwright Johnny Leonard, who is indeed connected to the great County Cork boat-building clan.
Iduna, as restored by those Leonard skills, simply glows – there’s no other word for it. And in time when finishing jobs have been completed, she’ll be based in Dun Laoghaire though her home port will always be Foynes, as her owner moves between bases in Limerick and Dublin. But for now, she’s an adornment in Howth marina, and anyone feeling the winter glooms only has to go and look at her to feel better.
In fact, the health benefits of seeing a good boat restoration cannot be underestimated, and down West Cork way they almost have a regional service in this feel-good factor, what with Ilen being restored at Oldcourt where Saoirse is now being re-built, while across at Ballydehob, Tiernan Roe has the fine job of restoring The Lady Min underway for the O’Keeffe family of Schull, and nearby Rui Ferreira – already well proven in classic boat restoration and new-build - has Dublin Bay Water Wag No 49 under new construction for Martin Byrne.
This is being done to such an exquisite standard that you’d think she should be put straight into a glass case for permanent display purposes. Between all these restorations and new-build projects, together with the good news about re-vitalised sailing enthusiasm and increased government awareness of harbour needs, there’s a fresh zing to the sea air which launches Irish sailing towards 2019 with vigorous optimism.
A consignment of huge granite boulders has arrived into Dun Laoghaire by barge to be used as rock armour to protect Dun Laoghaire's new jetty from erosion.
The new Scotsman's Bay quay, as Afloat.ie previously reported, which has taken shape this winter, is Dublin's newest quay for swimming and fishing. It is also intended to be an embarkation point for small boats and canoes.
The rock armour to surround the new jetty can only be positioned at sea at certain stages of the tide, a job that is expected to take a fortnight to complete, weather permitting.
A great Turkey Shoot turnout out of 65 boats from an entry of 75 is a major boost for winter sailing on Dublin Bay.
Handicaps and starts for the second race sponsored by Citroen are downloadable below with a reminder that due to World War One centenary commemorations the first start is 1410 this Sunday.
The DMYC Dinghy Frostbite series will be in progress in the harbour with a first gun 13.57. There are 91 entries in the dinghy event, so the harbour will be busy from about 1.30 onward. Turkey Shoot yachts heading to the bay are asked to keep clear of the dinghy race course.
Writing in the Irish Times Sailing Column this morning, David O'Brien predicts that Colin Byrne's XP33 'Bon Exemple' will be the winner of the top performing cruiser-racer in the country's biggest racing fleet this season. Dublin Bay Sailing Club has yet to announce its six premier awards for its gala prizegiving in a fortnight's time but front-runners are already clear from the summer season's results.
This morning's sailing column also reveals how outgoing Commodore Chris Moore is to fill the shoes of the DBSC Hon Sec Donal O'Sullivan who retires after 27 years in the role.
For much more click here.