International Dragon Bluebottle at the NMM Falmouth

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Bluebottle Bluebottle
Bluebottle; in the first photo young Prince Charles is aboard

Prince Philip’s well known Royal Yacht, the International Dragon class yacht Bluebottle is now on the pontoon at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth, and is being regularly sailed around Falmouth Bay.

Built in 1948, Bluebottle was presented to HM the Queen and HRH Prince Philip as a wedding gift by the Island Sailing Club of Cowes, Isle of Wight.

The International Dragon is a one-design three-man keelboat designed for cruising or racing.

Over the years, Bluebottle has had a varied and successful racing career; the highpoint was the 1956 Melbourne Olympics when her crew returned with a Bronze Medal.

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In 1962, she was lent to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, to give officers in training the opportunity to sail a yacht of this type.

Finally, in 2002, she was donated to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

Before Bluebottle went on show at the Museum, she was given an extensive re-fit by Maurice Hunkin, which was very appropriate as his father had carried out the yacht’s first refit many years ago.

For more on Dragons:

The Royal Dragon
R L Hewitt wrote this history of the Royal Yacht Bluebottle, which was published in 1958. There are several copies available at ABE Books.
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11 thoughts on “International Dragon Bluebottle at the NMM Falmouth”

  1. Falmouth Marine School boatbuilding programme manager Dave Martin has written to question the NMMC's information that Bluebottle was presented to the Duke of Edinburgh by the Island Sailing Club of Cowes, Isle of Wight. I've no views on the matter, but can anyone shed light on the issue?

    Here's his email to


    I read your info on Bluebottle and I was under the impression that she was a gift from Royal Naval College Dartmouth.

    Incidentally my grandfather Freddy Martin was invited to skipper her on his retirement but declined the invitation.


    Dave Martin

    Boatbuilding Programme Manager

    Falmouth Marine School

    1. ‘Bluebottle’ was a gift from the people of the Isle of Wight via The Island Sailing Club.

      My brother Clive Smith was employed as ‘yachthand’ by The Duke of Edinburgh in 1948 and was responsible for the boat until 1960 during which time he travelled to Canada, Australia (for the 1956 Olympics) and various European destinations and was Skipper of the yacht for many years.

      If you want further information I will try and help and can, if you wish, provide some photographs including one of myself aged twelve at the helm of this boat.


      Trevor Smith

      1. Trevor—-I was sailing at the Royal Canadian Yacht club–so many years ago–and used to look at the bluebottle for hours–and dream about the boat at night—I can even remember the sail pass when the fleet sailed by –those were such happy times—frank from las vegas

        1. Frank – I have a photograph of ‘Bluebottle’ crossing the frontier between USA and Canada. If you would like I can e-mail you a copy; just let me have your e-mail address. T form Normandy.

          1. trevor—wow time has passed since i opened my email—it is a different time today–but i can recall the blue bottle so well and had a large pic of it on my bedroom wall–and the rcyc built a dragon called the tomahawk–donated mostley by the Massey family—as a young man i looked at the bluebottle for hours when it was at the rcyc–but then again i dreamed about rurpert kipling–and sir conan doyle–frank no reply needed but thank you for the reply–ps can you beleive here i am in las vegas and my heart is still with the dragons–six metres and fireflys thanks again frank

          2. I would like a copy if that could be possible. I am 80 years old now, but the Royal Navy made me a better man. Looking upon all the innovations up to date, all I could possible say is, ya have come a long way baby. Navy Rules.

      2. I was in the Royal Navy back in the 50tie’s and was a crew member on Prince Phillips boat the Blue bottle, Memories have somewhat decline over the year’s, I believe the race was in Falmouth. The one fact that stand’s out is, we did not win.

        1. I have a lot of photographs of ‘Bluebottle’ and can send you a few if you let me have your e-mail address. Should you have any memories of my brother Clive I would value you sharing them with me. My e-mail address is

  2. Bluebottle – Black & White Photo – 1958

    Crew – from Stern to Bow

    HRH Prince Phillip – Helm

    Uffa Fox

    HRH Prince Charles

    Lt Commander Alastair Easton – Queen's Sailing Master 1957-1958

    1. If this is the Beken photograph used on the cover of ‘The Royal Dragon’ the person nearest the bow is not Prince Charles but my brother Clive who was skipper of the yacht for thirteen years. 9If you have any memories of Clive I should value you sharing them with me.
      Trevor Smith

  3. Was needing to check is was “Bluebottle” so pleased to see you people caring like this about old boats, creeks and wind from the lee . . . as Burnham Lad (and cub reporter) I was pretty close to the story as Burnham Week unfolded and the Trevor Davis photo library put downriver action photos in front of us in that big display window on Burnham Quay.

    In checking the Bluebottle references: the story going the rounds at the time was when Prince Philip was asked at an The Royal Corinthian RC evening what had happened to him in the Dragon Class Race . . “not used to racing in a ditch” is what’s remembered most of that interview.

    The Coles, the Starlings, the Nicols, Priors and Burnham lads as I, we knew what he meant: the River Crouch isn’t so wide, but the tides are the trickiest . . . .

    Peter Lumley. now on Tyneside – another Mud River

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