Tag Archives: job

Traditional boats of Ireland photographed by boatbuilder and weblogger Tiernan Roe

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Tiernan Roe 1

Heir Island lobster boat Rose and Galway hooker An Faoilean Tiernan Roe 2

Heir Island lobster boat Saoirse Muireann owned byhistorian and
author Cormac Levis

The two gaffers in the upper photo are Rose an Heir Island lobster boat on the left and An Faoilean a Galway hooker on the right. The Saoirse Muireann below is another Heir Island lobster boat, and is owned by historian Cormac Levis author of the well known and highly regarded book Towelsail Yawls describing the sailing lobsterboats of Heir Island and Roaringwater Bay.

The photos have been sent in by Tiernan Roe, boatbuilder and weblogger based at Ballydehob, West Cork.

From the 1870s to the 1950s, sailing boats dominated the lobster fishery of Ireland’s south coast, and the lobstermen lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle over a hundred hundred nautical mile stretch of coastline in the small open boats, yet it’s said that until Levis did his research and wrote Towelsail Yawls, their way of life had been in danger of passing unrecorded. I should add that although it was published as recently as 2002, the book already seems difficult to find – which seems to suggest that he did an excellent job.

As a bonus, here are three photos of a John Atkin Ninigret 22ft outboard boat that Tiernan’s currently building being turned over at his Ballydehob workshop. Follow his weblog Roeboats at http://roeboats.wordpress.com/.

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Duncan Sclare pours 19ft Gartside cutter keel

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Duncan Sclare pours the lead keel for his 19ft Paul Gartside-designed cutter. Click on the thumbnails for larger images

Duncan Sclare in County Mayo, Ireland has an advantage over many amateur boatbuilders: 30-odd years of experience as a furniture-maker, cabinet-maker, carpenter and joiner. See his website here to see what I mean.

Talented and practical man though he is, I still think the story of how he cast his own lead keel this week is quite something. Here’s what he says:

‘Hi Gavin. Your readers may be interested in my project to build Paul Gartsides cutter design 163. This build is going to take some time as it has to be fitted in around making wardrobes, kitchens and other stuff I do to make a crust. I have been working on it for almost a year now with little to show exept lofting, lists, stacks of timber and so on.

‘Last weekend however work for real started with the casting of the keel. The pictures show the mould made from MDF and softwood and buried it in sand. Just short of 1 tonne of scrap lead was then melted down in an old cast iron bath. This took about three hours, but then the plug was pulled and the molten lead allowed to run into the mould. There was some singeing of timber and my hair, but otherwise it seems to have been successful!

‘The keel now needs shaping up and we can start to add the oak timbers on top. It will be great to get into some woodwork after that messy job!

‘In the background of the picture of the mould shows larch boards (planking) air seasoning and my battered Orkney Strikeliner still used for day trips around our West Coast.

‘I will keep you posted on (slow) progress. BTW, I love the site – great work keep it up. Best wishes, Duncan.’

Wow Duncan. With so much danger and excitement going on, I’m astonished you found time to take the shots! The result looks excellent, by the way 😉

See Duncan’s striking photos of Inishkea in an earlier intheboatshed.net post.

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Sir Robin reflects 40 years after winning the Golden Globe

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Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Today is the 40th anniversary of the day Sir Robin Knox-Johnston sailed his Colin Archer-style boat (designed by Billy Atkin, I believe) Suhaili into Falmouth Harbour and became the first man to circumnavigate the world solo and without stopping.

It was a breathtaking achievement in an era with few of the technical sailing, navigation, communication and safety aids available to ocean sailors today. Although the world knew little about it, Sir Robin had eventful voyage – by the time he passed the Cape of Good Hope he was already in the lead, but a knockdown shifted Suhaili’s coach roof, her water tanks were polluted and her radio was out of action, and later he had problems with his automatic steering.

But despite these difficulties Sir Robin and Suhaili continued and completed the journey to win the Sunday Times newspaper’s Golden Globe Award. There’s a famous story that when she sailed into Falmouth Harbour on 22nd April 1969 to be greeted by Customs officials with the traditional demand of ‘Where from?’ the single-word answer from her skipper was ‘Falmouth’.

Although not at all a conventional racing yacht and not in fact the boat Sir Robin originally intended to use for the circumnavigation, in many ways she could have been made for the job. Built from teak, she is said to be a strong, resilient boat built to a design highly respected for its seaworthiness.

I asked Sir Robin for his reflections on the Golden Globe after 40 years. Here’s his most interesting reply:

‘It’s hard to put the Golden Globe into perspective. I was the outsider, the one the Sunday Times said was most unlikely to succeed, so they did not give me a radio or contract as with the others. It was this attitude which meant it became impossible for me to find sponsorship.

‘Thus I knew little of the others’ plans, and to be honest, was not bothered as I had enough on my plate getting myself and Suhaili ready. The fact that my radio broke down meant that there was no news of me after I departed New Zealand until I was passing the Azores, so attention was on the others.

‘My re-appearance caused surprise to the organisers who by this time were focused on the race to be first between Donald Crowhurst and  Nigel Tetley and I am not sure it was very welcome. Certainly their representative in Falmouth on my arrival was more interested in asking me to attend Tetley’s arrival celebrations, to the extent he never congratulated me.

‘But that did not bother me, I was pleased to be back with family and loyal friends and began to think about what I would do next. My intention was to return to sea but this became unattractive as British India Steam Navigation Company, for whom I was an employee, had disappeared. At 30 years of age, and in those days, you did not retire, you could not afford to.’

Even at this distance in time, the lack of mental flexibility and insensitivity shown by the Sunday Times people seems breathtaking, but Sir Robin’s seems to have risen gracefully above such trifling matters.

See Sir Robin’s website and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall’s online exhibition, and hear him this morning on BBC Radio 4.

Also see Ben Crawshaw’s The Invisible Workshop piece here and the Bursledon Blog’s story about seeing Suhaili, Lively Lady and Gypsy Moth IV racing together in the Solent – it must have seemed strange to see this trio with crews on board instead of a lone figure.

In fact, many of the boating and sailing weblogs are making a bit of day of it, at the suggestion of Messing About in Boats.

Also, while I don’t know what Sir Robin would say about it, there’s also this intriguing new book describing the Golden Globe race and its effects on the lives of the entrants A Race Too Far.