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Launch Day (& Dalkey Island Picnic) for Water Wag No.48, Dipper

10th June 2018
Water Wag dinghy is launched at the Royal St. George Yacht Club Water Wag dinghy is launched at the Royal St. George Yacht Club

With a history going back to 1887, some sixty-eight double-ended Water Wags were built between 1887 and 1900. All but one of these has fallen by the wayside and its location is no longer known. That one surviving Water Wag is in the Maritime Museum of Ireland, in the Mariners Church, Dun Laoghaire. Since 1900, there have been one hundred and fourteen transom Water Wags built-in or for Dun Laoghaire. Of these, more than fifty per cent no longer exist. It was as recent as the 1980’s, that the club ruled that each new boat should be given a new number. Before that, if an owner thought that ‘number seventeen’ was his lucky number, when he bought a new boat, it retained that number, and his old boat would be sold out of the club, for use as a fishing boat or as a general-purpose punt.

Dipper Launch 057 NEWDipper leads the Water Wag fleet on the race from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Dalkey Island

Despite the large numbers listed above, the launching of a new Water Wag is a cause for great celebration within the club. David Williams of Dalkey commissioned Water Wag No. 48 from a boatbuilding school in San Sebastian, in Northern Spain. Sunday 10th June was declared to be launch day, and some fifty friends and supporters turned up for that special day. The boat was rigged, blessed, and doused with Basque cider, in recognition of its birthplace, before it reached the water at the Royal St. George Yacht Club. Despite some early suggestions that she would be called Isabella, David settled on the name Dipper, after the bird which is a members of the genus Cinclus in the bird family Cinclidae, named for their bobbing or dipping movements. They are unique among passerines for their ability to dive and swim underwater.

Once launched, Dipper sailed with the Water Wag fleet to Dalkey Island, for the one hundred and thirty-first annual picnic. Dipper joins a long tradition for either girl’s names, or bird names within the fleet: Lapwing, Kittywake, Wren, Polly, Little Tern, Swift and Swallow.

Published in Water Wag
Vincent Delany

About The Author

Vincent Delany

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Sailing historian Vincent Delany is a member of the Association of Yachting Historians, and an active sailor in Water Wag, SOD and Squib classes. He has written a thesis on 'Yachting and yachtsmen on the River Shannon 1830-1930.' He has lectured on the history of The Water Wag Club, Royal St.George Yacht Club, and the Killinure Yacht Club, He has written two sailing books 'The Water Wags 1887-2012' and 'The International 12 foot class in Ireland' both of which are available from

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