Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

The Bray Droleen is the Cat's Whiskers on Her Maiden Sail

4th October 2020
Ready for launching - with the mast stepped right in the eyes of the ship, the link between the Bray Droleen and American cat-rigged sloops became clearer Ready for launching - with the mast stepped right in the eyes of the ship, the link between the Bray Droleen and American cat-rigged sloops became clearer

Every summer since 1997, the historic and picturesque English Jurassic Coast town of Lyme Regis (think Jeremy Irons & Meryl Streep in the 1981 multiple Oscar-nominated movie The French Lieutenant's Woman) has enjoyed the quaint ceremony of the Launching of the Boat Building Academy's New Flotilla.

As they've now sent forth around 120 boats of every sort, it's highly likely that the output at some stage has produced something with an Irish flavour. But at this year's launching, that Irish presence was very strong indeed with the new 12ft Bray Droleen, the historic One-Design of north County Wicklow built under instruction and guidance in Lyme Regis by retired school-teacher Michael Weed of Gweedore in Donegal,

Normally an August happening, the 2020 launching was Covid-postponed until the end of this week, with no crowd of supporters, and social distancing among all directly involved. But the excitement was palpable, as everything had to go precisely to plan in order to slip into a brief weather window.

this year's flotilla of six boats included a West Wight Scow (left) and the 12ft Bray Droleen (right)Diversity is everything in the Boat Building Academy's output – this year's flotilla of six boats included a West Wight Scow (left) and the 12ft Bray Droleen (right), seen here demonstrating her comfortable weight-carrying capacity with three adults on board 

Then too, Michael and his two building team-mates – Peter Jakobsen from Denmark and Joseph Haines from London – had undertaken a particularly challenging project, for as already revealed in Afloat.ie, the clinker-built construction of the Bray Droleen to the precise 1896 plans of W Ogilvy involves some quite extreme steaming and twisting of the planking – particularly the garboard strakes – in order to get the required shape.

But in the workshop, the very elegantly-finished boat was clearly right up to top professional standards. So now everything hinged on her performance afloat, which was a matter of intense speculation, as the low-slung cat rig didn't really look like a performance proposition to seasoned observers.

Yet as this video reveals, the beamy little boat can zip along with the best of them:

And as for versatility, despite being just 12ft long she proved herself well able to comfortably carry four adults "of substantial size".

The new boat was launched with a gentle libation of Black Bush whiskey from Bushmills, the favourite tipple of Michael's late father-in-law, a Bonner of Gweedore. But as yet, this latest manifestation of the rare Bray Droleen has not been given a name.

"That will of course be decided democratically by a family choice back in Donegal," says Michael. "However, after months of work learning how to clinker-build a boat to this standard, if I don't like the name, I reserve the right to censor it…………"

The Droleen building team were (left to right) Joseph Haines (London), Michael Weed (Donegal), and Peter Jakobsen (Denmark). The Droleen building team were (left to right) Joseph Haines (London), Michael Weed (Donegal), and Peter Jakobsen (Denmark). In the yearly boat-building class of 18, each trainee has to submit the plans of the boat he or she wants to build, but only six boats make it through the selection process. Those whose proposals have failed to make the cut then join the three-person team on one of the selected boats.

Published in Historic Boats
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

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 Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton dob
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

quantum sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

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

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating