Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Countdown to Golden Jubilee for Bill King and Galway Blazer II

18th May 2023
The cutting from The Daily Express 50 years ago
The cutting from The Daily Express 50 years ago

“Atlantic alert for yachtsman”, read the headline in the Daily Express 50 years ago.

The missing yachtsman was the late Commander Bill King of Galway, then 62 years old and on his latest attempt to sail around the world solo on his junk-rigged schooner, Galway Blazer II.

As the Express reported on May 18th 1973, ships in the South Atlantic had been asked to keep a lookout for the sailor, last heard of four months before.

“He would be horrified if he knew I had done this,” his wife and author, Anita Leslie, told the newspaper.

“He told me before he left Australia that I was not to worry if he did not make contact,” she said.

Commander King had sailed from Perth on December 4th, 1972 on his specially designed junk rig yacht, and his last radio contact was six days later when he said he was “very well”.

The former submarine commander had made his first attempt in 1968 to sail around the world, but capsized and lost his mast 500 miles west of Capetown, South Africa.

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.

His ship’s logs have also been made available by his daughter, Leonie King, and the anniversary committee are releasing them over the next few days in a countdown to the 50th anniversary.

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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