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Displaying items by tag: Historic Boats

Noel Campbell, Assistant Keeper at the National Museum of Country Life in Turlough Park, Castlebar, is leading the development of a boat gallery to preserve the history and culture of Irish traditional vessels.

Turlough Park is about eight miles from Castlebar in County Mayo, where the National Museum, through its Irish Folklife Division, operates the Country Life Museum. This collects and preserves material culture from Ireland’s traditional way of life, of which the maritime sphere is, of course, a major part. It is a fascinating place.

The boat gallery at Castlebar in County Mayo, where the National Museum, through its Irish Folklife Division, operates the Country Life MuseumThe boat gallery at Castlebar in County Mayo, where the National Museum, through its Irish Folklife Division, operates the Country Life Museum

Noel has been telling me how the project is going and how he has been making contact with the owners and users of traditional boats around the Irish coastline.

He has come across great stories about the building and usage of these boats and is also chronicling them in a blog he writes on the NMI’s website:

Published in Tom MacSweeney

In July, a new classic boat/yacht parade is planned for Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

This event is being arranged in association with Dun Laoghaire's Coastival Festival, a week-long series of events and activities that culminates in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

"Classic" in this context is any vessel that was designed 50 or more years ago.

Sailing classes invited to participate include the iconic Dublin designs - Water Wags, Dublin Bay 21s, IDRA 14s, Mermaids, and Glens.

Other classic keelboats include Ruffians, Shipmans, Squibs, and Dragons, while there will be a number of classic dinghies, including Fireballs, Lasers and Wayfarers.

Sailing Instructions for the parade of classic sail will be issued in due course.

Further information is in the attached poster and available from Hal Sisk by email: [email protected]

Published in Volvo Regatta

Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has visited the former lifeboat named Dunleary, which is the focus of a refit project in its home harbour.

The Watson-class lifeboat was stationed at what was formerly Kingstown, Co Dublin, from December 1919 to July 1939, during which it recorded 23 launches and saved 55 lives.

The RNLI then moved it from Dun Laoghaire to Lytham in Britain, where it was stationed from 1939 to April 1951 and launched 58 times to save 30 lives.

The vessel was then sold out of service at Sunderland and converted to a motor sailor by Lambies Boat Builders.

As Mr Noonan was told by Senator Victor Boyhan (Ind), who hosted the visit, the Dunleary Lifeboat Project is a not-for-profit organisation which is “committed to promotion of the maritime heritage”.

It says its immediate aim is to “establish a suitable premises in a maritime environment to incorporate ongoing restoration and maintenance of this vessel, and other vessels of historical and heritage value for the future generations”.

“Dunleary was the first motor lifeboat provided by the civil service fund and has an excellent wartime rescue history. She was built in 1919 and was named by the Countess of Fingall in honour of her launching place,” it says.

The project is seeking donations from members of the community and local businesses for the restoration project.

Senator Boyhan thanked Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown chief executive Frank Curran for their support for the marine heritage restoration project.

Published in Historic Boats

The De Wadden, the historic schooner which sailed out of Arklow, the County Wicklow town once described by maritime historian Dr John deCourcy Ireland as the “most maritime town in Ireland”, is to be demolished at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool.

The renowned three-masted auxiliary schooner is the last of its kind to operate on the Irish Sea. The Museum bought the ship in 1984, and it has been dry-docked in its Canning Graving Docks ever since, with regular conservation work being carried out. However, exposed to the weather and other conditions, it has deteriorated beyond sustainable cost.

“We do understand there may be people who find this decision around De Wadden upsetting, but disposal is an essential part of healthy collections management, and these decisions are not always easy. We know not everyone will agree,” a Museum statement said. “We are reviewing what elements might be suitable to retain as part of the Museum’s collection or for other potential users.”

The De Wadden in her sailing days Photo: Merseyside Maritime MuseumThe De Wadden in her sailing days Photo: Merseyside Maritime Museum

De Wadden was built for the Netherlands Steamship Company in 1917 and, after World War One, was sold to Richard Hall from Arklow, Co Wicklow. It was used as part of his merchant sail vessel fleet until 1961. Over that time period, De Wadden carried bulk cargo from Liverpool to various Irish ports. It was captained for 20 years by Richard Hall's son Victor before being sold for use as a leisure charter fishing vessel in Scotland.

The Director of National Historic Ships UK, Hannah Cunliffe, described the Museum’s decision as “disappointing” and said deconstruction must record and preserve her story.

The Museum said it had carried out a year-long consultation and feasibility study and had received several expressions of interest from individuals and organisations, but none was
“compliant” with what it would require. “Transfer was not a realistic option and dismantling is the only option,” it says.

The primary historical significance of the De Wadden is as an example of an Irish Sea trading vessel. Measuring 116 feet in length with a steel hull and a single deck, she was built along with two sister ships to take advantage of trading conditions created by Dutch neutrality in the First World War. She operated in the European short-sea trades till the early 1920s.

After being sold to Arklow, the De Wadden carried bulk cargoes such as grain, china clay, mineral ores, and especially coal from Liverpool and the River Mersey area to various Irish ports.

During the Second World War, she provided a vital lifeline carrying supplies to Ireland.

While the vessel had a small motor, she almost always operated under a combination of sail and motor. As a motor schooner, she had a flat bottom and shallow draft that maximized cargo capacity and gave her the ability to enter small harbours. The design required the push of the motor because the hull shape did not sail very well, but with the motor, which gave her an original speed of five knots, she was a versatile and economical cargo ship.

De Wadden had a practical design, including wide hatches which facilitated the loading and discharge of cargo.

The museum had previously been undertaking efforts to reverse later alterations and restore her to look as she did sailing on the Irish Sea between 1922 and 1961.

Published in Historic Boats
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A wooden mast which broke suddenly on a Dutch historic sailing ship and killed three people on its deck had been rotting for at least four years beforehand, the Dutch Safety Board has found.

In the two years prior to the accident, the wood had rotted to such an extent that the mast “lost almost all its integrity”, a report by the Dutch Safety Board says.

The investigation report recounts how on August 21st, 2016, the captain of the historic sailing ship the Amicitia was just about to turn his ship into the port of Harlingen, after a week’s sailing on the Wadden Sea, when “catastrophe struck”.

A German family of twelve were on board, and three of them were helping to tie up the foresail when the 20-metre- high mast snapped, and the 6.5-metre-long top fell, with a number of parts, onto the foredeck.

The three people on the foredeck did not survive the accident, which the safety board has traced to wood rot. This was caused by water penetrating the mast, which could not drain out again and was trapped.

The investigation report says that “ on paper, many parties were involved in keeping the wooden mast safe, but none of these parties realised the severity of the situation”.

“ As a result, there was an uncontrolled safety risk on board the ship in question for a prolonged period”, it says, and. the captain and maintenance personnel “lacked expertise”.

The Dutch investigation reports note that it is common knowledge that a wooden mast can rot.

“ Provided this is identified in good time and adequately treated, it will not necessarily influence the structural integrity of the mast in question. It is therefore important that a mast is periodically inspected for potentially vulnerable spots,” it says.

“Specific know-how is required to be able to correctly assess the state of a mast and decide what type of maintenance personnel must be engaged,” it says.

In this case, it says there was “no maintenance plan for the mast in question, and it was not inspected periodically”.

“ This meant that changes and vulnerable spots were not identified. Because the captain himself did not have the relevant expertise, he relied on that of maintenance personnel he engaged. However, they did not have the necessary specific expertise concerning wooden masts either,” the report says.

The report identifies shortcomings in certification, and says the captain, who is also the owner of the ship in question, did not rely solely on the expertise of the maintenance personnel he engaged.

The mast certificate issued in 2012, which was valid until 2018, meant that “the captain was convinced that this safety-critical part of his ship met all the requirements”.

“ The private approval body had indeed inspected the mast and subsequently issued the certificate in question, more than four years prior to its breaking. Although, according to the law, this certificate was only valid for a maximum of 2.5 years, the approval body wrongly stated a validity of six years on it,” it says.

“This suggested that the mast still had a valid certificate at the time of the accident, whereas, in fact, the certificate in question had expired a good while earlier,” the report says.

“ The Dutch Safety Board has ascertained that, in the current situation, significant safety risks can go unnoticed when it comes to the inspection and certification of the sailing equipment on historic inland waterway vessels,” it says.

“ What is more, the certificates create a sense of false security by implying that the safety of a mast is guaranteed for a period which is much longer than the period needed for the rotting process to cause irreversible damage to the mast,” the report notes.

The Amicitia is one of 300 passenger sailing ships in what is known as the “bruine vloot”, or brown fleet, comprising historic ships chartered for passengers, which are part of Dutch cultural heritage.

“These ships, which are mostly commercially operated, are very popular with tourists, for school trips and for company outings,” the report says.

“The fact that three tourists have died as a result of the apparently sudden breakage of a mast raises questions about the safety of passengers on similar ships and the supervision of the sector,” the report notes.

Published in Tall Ships
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“There was a lot of work, hull planking, fitting the stem post, caulking, filling, fairing, sanding, priming and painting. We lost over two years on the project due to Covid and this old girl was in a worse condition than we initially realised. It was a big undertaking for us but we have got there.”

So say the members of Allihies Men’s Shed on the western tip of the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, who will launch the ‘Dursey Clipper’ this weekend.

It is a seine boat, sixty to seventy years old, which had lain unused for about eleven years on nearby Dursey Island. It was given to them by the oldest resident of the island, Jimmy Harrington, who will be 81 years old next month.

Dursey is the island which made headlines earlier this year when Ireland’s only cable car service there had to be halted for maintenance works. This led to controversy as the island had two permanent residents and farms owned by mainland residents. After discussion, the cable car was replaced by a State-funded ferry.

Allihies Men’s Shed is a strong part of the Beara community. From its maritime tradition, former fishermen are among its members.

Putting the final touches to the Dursey Clipper Seine Boat in the Allihies mens shed in West CorkPutting the final touches to the Dursey Clipper Seine Boat in the Allihies mens shed on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork

“We were looking for a project and the boat was given to us. We have members who are former fishermen and were delighted to get it,” David Dudley of the Shed told me on my maritime programme/podcast, Maritime Ireland. “Seine boats were used extensively around West Cork for netting, potting and other traditional fishing activities.

The boats would have been up to 27 feet long. This one is shorter at 18 feet. Inshore fishing was strong when they were in use. Herring and mackerel were caught.”

Historical records describe “huge shoals of pilchards that came to the comparatively warm, sheltered waters of West Cork islands during the summer months. There were curing stations in villages to prepare the fish for sale. There was a lot of employment in a vibrant fishing industry and there could be two boats using a seine net, such were the catches.”

Painted in blue with a topside broad, black line. the restored boat is impressive and will be launched this Sunday at 2 pm at a community gathering on Garnish Pier.

It took a bit of discussion to decide on the name!

“We pondered and mulled over the name for the past month and couldn't agree. Then we whittled it down to a shortlist and put it to a vote. ‘Dursey Clipper’ won out,” David Dudley told me. “All are welcome at the launch.”

Listen to him on the Podcast here.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Two classic designs with strong Dublin Bay links have been nominated for major prizes in the annual international Classic Boat Awards. Master boat-builder Steve Morris of Kilrush will of course be personally in line for the prize for his work in re-building the Dublin Bay 21 cruiser-racers, originally conceived as a class to Alfred Mylne’s design in 1902. But it is Dublin Bay’s own Fionan de Barra and Hal Sisk who have put together this complex project that currently sees the fourth DB 21 undergoing the process in Kilrush, which involves building a new boat on top of the original lead ballast keel. This fourth re-birth is Geraldine – “the white boat” - for long associated with the Johnston family of Dun Laoghaire.

“Work of international standard” – a recent photo of the Geraldine re-build under way in Kilrush. Photo Steve Morris“Work of international standard” – a recent photo of the Geraldine re-build under way in Kilrush. Photo Steve Morris

However, in the 2022 Classic Boat Awards the Dublin-Bay-to-Scotland links go beyond the DB21/Afred Mylne connection, as the 47ft McGruer of Clynder-designed-and-built yawl Rinamara of 1968 vintage, originally created in response to a detailed brief from Peter Odlum of the Royal Irish YC, is nominated for Best Restoration in a project by Stirling & Sons of Plymouth..

For many years Peter Odlum was a mainstay of the International 8 Metre Cruiser/Racer Class, with his Cruisers Eights Nahmara (1955) and Inishmara (1963). Both were designed and built by McGruer, and both were keenly campaigned in the Clyde, at Dublin Bay regattas, and occasionally in the West Cork regattas.

The restored Rinamara of 1968 vintage. When sailed by first owner Peter Odlum of Dublin Bay, her hull was dark green. Photo: SandemanThe restored Rinamara of 1968 vintage. When sailed by first owner Peter Odlum of Dublin Bay, her hull was dark green. Photo: Sandeman

The Cruiser Eights were around 42ft in overall length. But for his dream cruiser – created after a long racing career which had included the Dublin Bay 21s where he’d campaigned Maureen - the 47ft yawl Rinamara for 1968 gave so much more in comfort and speed, and for many years he cruised her extensively in Europe.

Subsequent owners if anything accelerated the pace, as Rinamara’s CV now includes a global circumnavigation. So if you’re posting a vote for Steve Morris and the DB 21s, you’re also entitled to post one in the separate category which includes Rinamara – let’s hear it for Dublin Bay….

Vote here

Published in Historic Boats

To say that Rob Mason of Milford Haven has an eye for a boat is a bit like saying that the late Vincent O’Brien was quite a good judge of horseflesh. The retired Milford Haven tugboat skipper turned up from southwest Wales at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 with his newly-restored 1897-vintage Alexander Richardson-designed cutter Myfanwy, and this classic’s sweeping lines of elegant double curves, allied to a formidable performance, was a reminder that though the Liverpool-based designer’s most famous boat was the all-conquering Irex of 1884 for John Jameson of Dublin, Myfanwy was the real masterpiece, the unexpected gem of his later years.

She won all hearts in Dublin Bay, and she won the overall champion trophy too, in what was the main celebration of Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s Bicentennial. Not surprisingly, she was soon snapped up by a discerning buyer for the Mediterranean Classics circuit, as Rob already had his eye on another boat which neatly filled the eternal requirement of “a motor-cruiser suitable for a dedicated sailing enthusiast”, and here too there is special Irish interest.

John Jameson’s 88ft Irex RStGYC of 1884 vintage, seen here after winning the Royal Harwich YC regatta in Essex in 1888.John Jameson’s 88ft Irex RStGYC of 1884 vintage, seen here after winning the Royal Harwich YC regatta in Essex in 1888.

Rob Mason’s restored 1897 Richardson design Myfanwy on her way to becoming overall champion at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017. Photo: O’BrienRob Mason’s restored 1897 Richardson design Myfanwy on her way to becoming overall champion at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017. Photo: O’BrienRob Mason’s restored 1897 Richardson design Myfanwy

He found the 42ft Blue Hills in a place called Hayle on the north coast of Cornwall. Although Hayle is just across the bay from picturesque St Ives, it’s not one of those cute places you’ll see on Rick Stein’s Cornwall-promoting television shows. On the contrary, it’s a nondescript estuary port where boats go to die, and that seemed the future for Blue Hills when Rob and his shipmates rescued her, and road-trailed her the hundreds of miles round to Milford Haven, for she wasn’t fit to attempt the direct crossing of the Bristol Channel.

But after they had her hauled on the foreshore at his house in the sheltered upper reaches of Milford Haven, he was able to confirm his reckoning that most of the boat was directly restorable, although some timber would need renewed. But it was the engine and auxiliary rig and other gear that really needed lengthy attention or replacement, and every job completed was another step towards a new life for a seriously interesting boat with history to match.

Blue Hills in Mulroy Bay in Donegal in 1938. Photo courtesy RCC.Blue Hills in Mulroy Bay in Donegal in 1938. Photo courtesy RCC

Blue Hills was originally created in 1938 by noted fishing boat builder William Weatherhead of Cockenzie on Scotland’s east coast for Frank Gilliland of Derry, who sought a motorised trawler yacht after many years of cruising the 17-ton Mylne-designed McGruer-built sailing ketch Melmore. But as a leading figure in the Royal Naval Reserve, Gilliland only had a year or so of cruising in Donegal and the Hebrides with his new boat before he persuaded the Admiralty that she would be ideal for conversion for use in conveying spies and resistance fighters to Norway and Denmark after World War II broke out in 1939. 

The big tidal range of Milford Haven enabled Blue Hills to be hauled into a drying restoration berth beside Rob Mason’s house where Myfanwy was also given new life. Photo: Andy WhitcherThe big tidal range of Milford Haven enabled Blue Hills to be hauled into a drying restoration berth beside Rob Mason’s house where Myfanwy was also given new life. Photo: Andy Whitcher

Consequently, she spent much of the 1940s back on the east coast of Scotland with all sorts of secret compartments being installed, though whether or not she was ever used on the famous Shetland Bus clandestine route across the North Sea to Norway has never been completely clarified. However, by the time she was decommissioned from Admiralty use, Frank Gilliland was so advanced in years that she went to another owner, and she worked her way south to become a familiar sight on the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, eventually assuming semi-houseboat status in Hayle.

But now she is alive again, and while the summer of 2021 saw her afloat and under way for sufficient time to demonstrate her elegant sea-keeping qualities, this current winter has been devoted to completing the many interior jobs which will make her fit for longer passages. With any luck in the summer of 2022, we in Ireland will again be able to see that Rob Mason has a great eye for a boat.


A hull so graceful she scarcely disturbs a calm sea

Published in Historic Boats
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Now hear this, all you sailors or rowers of Greencastle Yawls, Dublin Bay Water Wags, Foyle Punts, International 12s, Shannon One Designs, Castlehaven Ettes, Strangford Lough Clippers, Coastal Hobbler Rowing Skiffs, Dublin Bay Mermaids, Mayfly-Fishing Lakeboats, IDRA 14s, Ballyholme Insects, Classic Ramelton Folkboats and any other boats constructed in what our American cousins would more elegantly describe as the lapstrake method, but we know rather prosaically as clinker-built.

That may sound to the totally uninitiated as something you’d put together from the leftovers in the ashtray of that old heroically-polluting kitchen coke stove upon which the Granny was accustomed to burn the Christmas sprouts long before charred vegetables became – for some inscrutable reason – a favoured item of gourmet dining.

Thus the alternative “clench-built” may be a more accurately descriptive if less-used term to describe this boat-building technique. But either way, the news is that those of you who go afloat in craft built in this way are no longer just going for a race or a sail or a bit of leisurely rowing. On the contrary, you will be engaged in Curating an Item of World Heritage.

This is serious stuff, and Ireland is very much involved in it both through our Dublin Viking boat-building links, and through the Greencastle yawls of the north coast, which were based in the “Drontheim Boats” which were built in Trondheim in Norway – it was the furthest-north Norwegian port with ready access to forest timber - and exported to many northwest Europe ports.

The classic McDonald-built Greencastle Yawl James Kelly, owned by Robin Ruddock of Portrush and seen here sailing under sloop rig on Belfast Lough. She is named in honour of the renowned Portrush boatbuilder James Kelly, who built many traditional clinker yawls in addition to yachts for the Howth 17 and Dublin Bay 21 classes. Photo: W M NixonThe classic McDonald-built Greencastle Yawl James Kelly, owned by Robin Ruddock of Portrush and seen here sailing under sloop rig on Belfast Lough. She is named in honour of the renowned Portrush boatbuilder James Kelly, who built many traditional clinker yawls in addition to yachts for the Howth 17 and Dublin Bay 21 classes. Photo: W M Nixon

According to the Press Release from our friends in the Viking Ship Museum of Roskilde in Denmark who led the UNESCO campaign, the official story is that:

“The clinker-built boats of the North – and the traditions associated with them – have now been officially acknowledged by UNESCO as living cultural heritage, which must be safeguarded and preserved for future generations”

So far, so good. But if we go further into the Danish release, that all-embracing term “clinker-built boats of the north” very quickly becomes slightly but significantly re-shaped as “Nordic clinker boats”. It’s true enough up to a point. But the reason we’re so familiar with the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde is because it was they who achieved the re-creation of one of the largest clinker-built boats ever built, the 100ft Viking ship Sea Stallion, which voyaged from Scandinavia for a year-long visit to Dublin in 2007, and picked up awards for our “Sailors of the Month” while they were at it, but that’s another story.

The fact is the original Sea Stallion was actually built in Dublin around 1042, using timber sourced in Glendalough in County Wicklow, which suggests a very real Irish input. Since then, the clinker-built inheritance has been maintained on our north and northwest coasts, where it goes about as far south as Milk Harbour in County Sligo on the West Coast. Meanwhile, on the East and South Coasts, it continued as the preferred method of construction for smaller fishing craft and – in due course – for leisure dinghies and small yachts.

Back where she belongs……the 30 metre Viking ship Sea Stallion on display in Collins Barracks in Dubin in 2007.Back where she belongs……the 30 metre Viking ship Sea Stallion on display in Collins Barracks in Dubin in 2007.

You only have to look at the beautifully-traditional clinker construction of craft like the McDonald of Greencastle-built yawl James Kelly of Portrush, or a Jimmy Furey of Lough Ree-built Shannon One Design, or a West Cork-built Rui Ferreira of Ballydehob Water Wag, to realise that today, some of the best classic clinker-built construction is happening in Ireland.

We may not have invented clinker boat-building, for no one would argue other than that the classic Viking ship is one of mankind’s most remarkable creations. But we can reasonably claim that in awarding global Heritage Recognition to clinker construction, UNESCO is simply catching up with a state of affairs that has existed in Ireland for very many years. Welcome aboard.

Published in Historic Boats

The charity Silvery Light Sailing based in Newry at the head of Carlingford Lough is passionate about the refurbishment of old boats. One of these is now temporarily berthed in Carlingford Marina on the southern shore of Carlingford Lough. She's a 40-foot naval Torpedo Recovery Boat used during World War 11 on Lough Neagh.

Since the Joyce was sold out of Navy service in 1960, the vessel remained in the same ownership. Gerry Brennan, Chairman of Silvery Light Sailing, was alerted to its Lough Neagh connection by National Historic Ships. The Joyce was built in 1943, and according to the National Historic Ships Register, she was designed by the Admiralty and built by Percy M See at Fareham on Portsmouth Harbour on the south coast of England.

The Joyce during WW2 The Joyce during WW2

The Joyce operated on Lough Neagh from 1943 as a retrieval boat, used during test firing of torpedoes. Since The Joyce was decommissioned, it had been a working boat in Weymouth. She has been refurbished by volunteers at Silvery Light’s Community Workshop at the Greenbank Industrial Estate in Newry.

Gerry explains, "The Joyce was used during World War Two on Lough Neagh to retrieve torpedoes made and tested by the torpedo factory. It will go back to Lough Neagh as part of the Heritage Centre, showing the history and heritage of the Lough. We contacted Lough Neagh Partnership and Antrim Newtownabbey Council, who put it to Councillors who agreed that we secure it for inclusion as an exhibit in the Lough Neagh Heritage Centre". He continued;" Torpedoes were manufactured at the factory at Masserene on the site of a former Army barracks on the northeast corner of Lough Neagh, near Antrim town, and then test-fired from a platform on the Lough. The Joyce would recover them when the engine stopped".

Torpedo Platform Lough Neagh Photo: Tripadvisor Torpedo Platform Lough Neagh Photo: Tripadvisor

The Torpedo Platform can be seen from the car park at the Lough Neagh Marina in Antrim. It was constructed early in the Second World War so that the torpedoes from the nearby factory could be tested for accuracy of direction and depth. In addition to the launching platform, there were sleeping quarters, a kitchen and food stores in case of weather conditions prevented personnel from returning to their land base. Today the only 'lodgers' are birds such as the common tern and the cormorant.

The Joyce at the Community WorkshopThe Joyce at the Community Workshop

Silvery Light Sailing arranged the transport logistics from the UK to the workshop where repairs were carried out and the vessel wholly refurbished. She is fitted with the not so standard Kitchen steering gear, which makes her highly manoeuvrable.
Interestingly Torpedo Recovery boats were also built at Bangor Shipyard on Belfast Lough. During the war, the yard was very busy with Admiralty work and maintained a large fleet of patrol boats and trawlers.

Published in Historic Boats
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Irish Sailing Club of the Year Award

This unique and informal competition was inaugurated in 1979, with Mitsubishi Motors becoming main sponsors in 1986. The purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled success of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs. 

In making their assessment, the adjudicators take many factors into consideration. In addition to the obvious one of sailing success at local, national and international level, considerable attention is also paid to the satisfaction which members in every branch of sailing and boating feel with the way their club is run, and how effectively it meets their specific needs, while also encouraging sailing development and training.

The successful staging of events, whether local, national or international, is also a factor in making the assessment, and the adjudicators place particular emphasis on the level of effective voluntary input which the membership is ready and willing to give in support of their club's activities.

The importance of a dynamic and fruitful interaction with the local community is emphasised, and also with the relevant governmental and sporting bodies, both at local and national level. The adjudicators expect to find a genuine sense of continuity in club life and administration. Thus although the award is held in a specific year in celebration of achievements in the previous year, it is intended that it should reflect an ongoing story of success and well-planned programmes for future implementation. 

Over the years, the adjudication system has been continually refined in order to be able to make realistic comparisons between clubs of varying types and size. With the competition's expansion to include class associations and specialist national watersports bodies, the "Club of the Year" competition continues to keep pace with developing trends, while at the same time reflecting the fact that Ireland's leading sailing clubs are themselves national and global pace-setters

Irish Sailing Club of the Year Award FAQs

The purpose of the award is to highlight and honour the voluntary effort which goes into creating and maintaining the unrivalled success of Ireland's yacht and sailing clubs.

A ship's wheel engraved with the names of all the past winners.

The Sailing Club of the Year competition began in 1979.

PR consultant Sean O’Shea (a member of Clontarf Y & BC) had the idea of a trophy which would somehow honour the ordinary sailing club members, volunteers and sailing participants, who may not have personally won prizes, to feel a sense of identity and reward and special pride in their club. Initially some sort of direct inter-club contest was envisaged, but sailing journalist W M Nixon suggested that a way could be found for the comparative evaluation of the achievements and quality of clubs despite their significant differences in size and style.

The award recognises local, national & international sailing success by the winning club's members in both racing and cruising, the completion of a varied and useful sailing and social programme at the club, the fulfilling by the club of its significant and socially-aware role in the community, and the evidence of a genuine feeling among all members that the club meets their individual needs afloat and ashore.

The first club of the Year winner in 1979 was Wicklow Sailing Club.

Royal Cork Yacht Club has won the award most, seven times in all in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2015 & 2020.

The National YC has won six times, in 1981, 1985, 1993, 1996, 2012 & 2018.

Howth Yacht Club has won five times, in 1982, 1986, 1995, 2009 & 2019

Ireland is loosely divided into regions with the obviously high-achieving clubs from each area recommended through an informal nationwide panel of local sailors going into a long-list, which is then whittled down to a short-list of between three and eight clubs.

The final short-list is evaluated by an anonymous team based on experienced sailors, sailing journalists and sponsors’ representatives

From 1979 to 2020 the Sailing Club of the Year Award winners are:

  • 1979 Wicklow SC
  • 1980 Malahide YC
  • 1981 National YC
  • 1982 Howth YC
  • 1983 Royal St George YC
  • 1984 Dundalk SC
  • 1985 National YC (Sponsorship by Mitsubishi Motors began in 1985-86)
  • 1986 Howth YC
  • 1987 Royal Cork YC
  • 1988 Dublin University SC
  • 1989 Irish Cruising. Club
  • 1990 Glenans Irish SC
  • 1991 Galway Bay SC
  • 1992 Royal Cork YC
  • 1993 National YC & Cumann Badoiri Naomh Bhreannain (Dingle) (after 1993, year indicated is one in which trophy is held)
  • 1995 Howth Yacht Club
  • 1996 National Yacht Club
  • 1997 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 1998 Kinsale Yacht Club
  • 1999 Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club
  • 2000 Royal Cork Yacht Club (in 2000, competition extended to include class associations and specialist organisations)
  • 2001 Howth Sailing Club Seventeen Footer Association
  • 2002 Galway Bay Sailing Club
  • 2003 Coiste an Asgard
  • 2004 Royal St George Yacht Club
  • 2005 Lough Derg Yacht Club
  • 2006 Royal Cork Yacht Club (Water Club of the Harbour of Cork)
  • 2007 Dublin Bay Sailing Club
  • 2008 Lough Ree YC & Shannon One Design Assoc.
  • 2009 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2010 Royal St George YC
  • 2011 Irish Cruiser Racing Association
  • 2012 National Yacht Club
  • 2013 Royal St George YC
  • 2014 Kinsale YC
  • 2015 Royal Cork Yacht Club
  • 2016 Royal Irish Yacht Club
  • 2017 Wicklow Sailing Club
  • 2018 National Yacht Club
  • 2019 Howth Yacht Club
  • 2020 Royal Cork Yacht Club

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