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Displaying items by tag: Ballyholme Bay

Coming as it does from David Tasker - an Afloat.ie reader from the Isle of Wight - a typically Autumnal query received a day or two ago from this new owner of an interesting and much-loved vintage boat is one of those gems that could well trigger lines of enquiry which will still be trundling along at Christmas, such that before you know it, the days will be getting longer, and it will be time to think of fitting-out, with the Boat History File consigned for the summer to the top shelf - as it should be.

He attaches three photos, and tells us:

"I have just purchased what I believe to be a Dublin Bay 21. I understand she was bought back from Ireland in the 80s and restored around about 1994. I am trying to find her earlier history and wondered if you could help please".

It emerges that a previous owner, an English sailing enthusiast based for a while in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, had spotted the boat in a run-down state in Killyleagh on the shores of Strangford Lough. He fell in love as one does, and in trying to buy her, was assured by the owner that she was a Dublin Bay 21.

A Ballyholme Bay OD in another guise – Iolanthe on the slipway in the Isle of Wight in 2021. Photo courtesy David TaskerA Ballyholme Bay OD in another guise – Iolanthe on the slipway in the Isle of Wight in 2021. Photo courtesy David Tasker

The boat – Iolanthe is her name – was indeed just over 21ft long. And the members of Dublin Bay SC can be rightly proud that their time-honoured reputation for setting the gold standard in One-Designs as visualised by creative legends of the calibre of William Fife and Alfred Mylne is such that the "Dublin Bay" name was invoked as redolent of quality in a place like Killyleagh.

For in normal circumstances, a favourable attitude to Dublin is emphatically not part of the Killyleagh mind-set. This is despite the fact that the little town is indirectly but tangibly linked to William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865). He's the astronomer and mathematical genius who, during a stroll along the Royal Canal in Dublin in 1843, had such a flash of insight into a solution to the problem of quaternions that he immediately scratched his new formula into the stonework of Broom Bridge in Cabra.

Eureka Killyleagh style….Broom Bridge on the Royal Canal in Dublin, where William Rowan Hamilton inscribed his new theory……Eureka Killyleagh style….Broom Bridge on the Royal Canal in Dublin, where William Rowan Hamilton inscribed his new theory……

…..a piece of inspired graffiti which has now been given retrospective respectability through proper commemoration.…..a piece of inspired graffiti which has now been given retrospective respectability through proper commemoration.

It has to be said that the Killyleagh owner of Iolanthe back in the 1980s had a flash of best Rowan Hamilton-quality inspiration in describing Iolanthe as a Dublin Bay 21. The DB21s – now in process of restoration through Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra working with Steve Morris of Kilrush Boatyard – are unmistakably an Alfred Mylne design, 21ft on the waterline and 31ft in hull overall length. But Iolanthe is none of these things.

Classic Mylne…..the restored Dublin Bay 21 Garavogue racing in the Royal Irish YC end-of-season Pursuit Race 2021. Photo: Gilly GoodbodyClassic Mylne…..the restored Dublin Bay 21 Garavogue racing in the Royal Irish YC end-of-season Pursuit Race 2021. Photo: Gilly Goodbody

For she, on the other hand, may potentially be a little sit-in weekend cruiser. But at 21.75ft LOA, 15.5ft LWL, 5.75ft beam and 3ft draft, her dimensions are put in perspective when we realise they aren't that much larger than those of a Flying Fifteen, which is a very sit-on sort of boat, but comes with the aura of being an Uffa Fox design.

It was far from the exalted world of Uffa Fox and William Fife and Alfred Mylne that the design of the little Iolanthe emerged, but it's an intriguing story nevertheless. That said, it's told here from memory and inference while we let various researchers do things in their own time.

Thus we're winging it, and not for the first time. But it is a fact that in the latter half of the 1930s the British Royal Family was going through some turmoil, and when a reasonably normal couple saved the dynasty by having their Coronation as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937, the marine industry celebrated with some boatbuilders describing their broadly standard products as the Coronation Class.

One such was a little Scottish firm in the Firth of Clyde called James Colhoun & Co, who are recalled as being based in Dunoon, but nobody remembers them there, so it may have been Troon. That they existed there's no doubt, for in Lloyds Register of 1964 they're listed as having become Colhoun & Sons, but without an address – they're only in the Register because the greatest success of their own-designed new Coronation OD was as the Ballyholme Bay Class.

In 1938, Ballyholme YC on Belfast Lough took an option on 12 of the boats, eventually reduced to nine which successful raced as the Ballyholme Bay Class for many years. With understandable pride in their new senior keelboat OD class, they emphatically described them first as the Bay Class, and later as the Ballyholme Bay class.

The Ballyholme Bay ODs shaping up for some club racing – the design origins as the Coronation OD by Colhoun & Co were submerged in local pride. Photo: W M NixonThe Ballyholme Bay ODs shaping up for some club racing – the design origins as the Coronation OD by Colhoun & Co were submerged in local pride. Photo: W M Nixon

Thus when two or three of the Coronation Class (possible originally intended for Balyholme) found their way to Strangford Lough as individual boats, the thriving Ballyholme Class ignored their existence as they put through their own hectic annual programme on Belfast Lough.

A highlight was their annual visit to the Regatta at Carrickergus, where the Bay Class provided some of the strength for an informal but brutal rugby match between Bangor and Carrick sailors on the green between the Anchor Inn and the historic castle, while the social pace in the Inn itself was set by the Bay Class's most heroic toper, a gnarled character of magnificently colourful nasal architecture whose day job was the sacred task of supplying and tuning the finest church organs in Northern Ireland.

It's difficult to say exactly why the Ballyholme Bay class are either defunct or at the very least in mothballs, though some would argue that their surviving rivals of the Waverley Class had deeper local roots, as they were designed by John Wylie of Whitehead, and built at yards on the shores of Belfast Lough.

Yet the 29ft River Class on Strangford Lough are – like the Ballyholme Bays - entirely Scottish in origin, having been designed by Alfred Mylne and all twelve built either at his own yard at Ardmaleish on Bute, or in the boatyard next door. But this has in no way hindered the Rivers' increasing good health in recent years, with all twelve in action for the class's Centenary in 2021.

As for Iolanthe, by 1997 the enchanted owner who had bought her in Killyleagh had brought her home to the Isle of Wight for a very thorough restoration with Will Squibb and Eddie Wade at Bembridge in one of those workshops which are mini-temples to the arts and crafts of the shipwright.

A mini-temple to the arts and crafts of the shipwright – Iolanthe being restored in the Bembridge workshop. Photo courtesy David TaskerA mini-temple to the arts and crafts of the shipwright – Iolanthe being restored in the Bembridge workshop. Photo courtesy David Tasker

And since then, Iolanthe has proven her seaworthy credentials by cruising down channel as far as Dartmouth in Devon, which is rather further and more exposed than the passage to the Narrows Regatta in Strangford Lough occasionally achieved by the Ballyholme Bay Class.

Iolanthe's latest owner may have to accept that he doesn't have a Dublin Bay 21, or a Dublin Bay anything. But in fact, he may have something rather more special, as there's now a charming corner of the Isle of Wight that is forever Ballyholme.

A little corner of the Isle of Wight which is forever Ballyholme – with an enlarged headsail, Iolanthe is providing improved performance. Photo courtesy David TaskerA little corner of the Isle of Wight which is forever Ballyholme – with an enlarged headsail, Iolanthe is providing improved performance. Photo courtesy David Tasker

Published in W M Nixon

The yacht Aries has been sheltering in Ballyholme Bay from the strong southerly and while Bangor Marina is closed due to COVID-19.

Aries is a one-off 43 ft steel ketch owned by Simon Layton, a former UKSA instructor and friend of David Bridges whose project this is, a fundraising effort for Veterans Outreach Support. VOS is a drop-in service for ex-members of the British Armed Forces, the Merchant Navy and their partners.

The original aim was to sail around the UK in an anti-clockwise direction hoping that before stopovers they would radio ahead and see if anyone from VOS who would like to join them on the next leg. They had hoped to do some speaking at clubs along the way. But by the time they passed Cape Wrath the lockdown had started so unfortunately for the fund-raising effort, there would be no interaction ashore or additional crew.

David Bridges and Simon Layton with yacht AriesDavid Bridges (left) and Simon Layton with yacht Aries

David from the Isle of Wight is a former member of the Armed Forces who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He served several tours in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and after military service was a finance director of a bank in Jersey but took early retirement after the onset of PTSD and moving to the Island.

He said: "PTSD is a mental condition which affects the brain. It makes me hyper-observant and I'm always looking around to see if I am going to be affected by any trouble around me. It's caused through combat, or what I have seen doing my duty. It gradually hit me ten years after leaving the army and I slipped into depression. I see a psychiatrist who thinks this challenge will give me an objective and will be a calming influence on me."

The pair set off from Yarmouth (IOW) and having picked up a crew member in Portsmouth, continued along the English Channel and then north via Scarborough and Wick, round the north of Scotland followed by Cape Wrath and southwards taking in Kinlochbervie, Skye and Tobermory before entering Belfast Lough.

David's sponsors include the car dealership Esplanade, and IT Specialists, RDS Global. The fundraising page for VOS is here

Published in Belfast Lough

#RNLI - RNLI Bangor's lifeboat launched at 4pm on Friday (12 July) to assist with the medical evacuation of an unconscious sailor from a 26ft yacht.

Within minutes of the rescue pagers being activated, volunteer crew had the lifeboat launched and quickly located the yacht in Ballyholme Bay, on the southern shores of Belfast Lough.

Crews from other vessels in the vicinity also quickly responded to the Mayday call; they had been able to come alongside the yacht and had administered first aid to the injured sailor. Once medically stabilised, the sailor was taken onboard the Bangor lifeboat.

Fine weather conditions allowed the lifeboat to proceed at full speed back to Bangor, were the injured sailor was transferred into the care of waiting paramedics.

Dr Iain Dobie, a volunteer crewman with RNLI Bangor, praised the actions of all crews involved.

"When the call for help went out we are pleased that crews from other vessels close by had quickly responded and provided vital medical assistance. They did a fantastic job, by the time we arrived the gentleman was conscious."

He added: "We all wish him a full and speedy recovery."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

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