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New Lease of Life for Small Clinker-Built Dinghy on Lough Erne

8th September 2020
Jonny Clements new dinghy Jonny Clements new dinghy

Last year Jonny Clements took part in a boating event in Lough Erne in a mixed fleet of craft from canoes to sailing boats. Having been impressed by the sailing dinghies and not having ever sailed before, he bought a 12-foot clinker-built wooden dinghy. Jonny was told that it had been built in Enniskillen and given its description and the photographs, thought it might be an Ulster Boat built by Tommy Sheridan of Enniskillen.

Tommy Sheridan and his brothers had a highly successful joinery business. And they did indeed produce the Ulster Boat which could be rowed as well as sailed. It was exhibited at the London Boat Show in Earls Court in 1965. But like all builders of wooden boats, production tailed off with the introduction of GRP.

Jonny had little work to do on the boat bar some minor repairs and varnishing and Fred Ternan of Lough Erne Heritage helped by fitting shrouds and the forestay from another dinghy, swaging new ends and thimbles and tensioning with lanyards. The dinghy is craftsman built and it and the original mast which has its original halyards had been well restored by Jonny.

With a Mirror mainsail supplied by Brian Osborne, the Lough Erne Heritage Facebook administrator, the dinghy was ready for the water. Despite the Mirror sail being a little too small, she was launched at Rossclare Jetty in Enniskillen in a pleasant North Easterly. The jetty is known locally as the Mooring Yard and is where the civilian company operating in support of the RAF in WW2 had their base.

With Fred's wise advice, Jonny and his father Ken, had their first hands-on experience of helming a dinghy, something they both found very interesting and enjoyable. Fred said "The boat sails very well even with the small mainsail I sent some books on the subject home with them. Just great to see a small clinker-built dinghy which someone had applied much skill to when building restored and saved for the future".

Jonny is delighted with his dinghy – "We thoroughly enjoyed our first experience of sailing and doing so in a vintage clinker-built dinghy was the icing on the cake. We look forward to exploring our sailing heritage and Lough Erne."

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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