Monday 11 May 2015

She Floats - Somes Sound finally launched!

Saturday 4am - Siobhan my wife tells me go back to sleep - Santa hasn't come yet! I was like a kid waiting to launch my new boat!  We decided to have some sea trials on Saturday ahead of the formal launch party on Sunday - which was yesterday.

Here she is before heading from our home:-
All loaded up and ready for the road
We drove to Lough Ree YC which took around 90 minutes.  The trailer was rock steady and we arrived at the launch slip without incident.

We rigged the sails and everything seemed to fit!  Not too many onlookers which was good.
Here she is ready for splashing!  We had a lovely initial sail, once we cleared the marina.  Our plan to row with one oar and counter steer with the rudder was a nonsense!  Round we went in circles until a friendly rib pulled us out.  Once underway, she went like a dream - initially Siobhan, my son Harry, Brendan, Brian and myself!  The conditions were benign but she still sailed very well under full sail - unfortunately I don't have any photos of this because we were all in the boat!  I had not used any sealant under the removable centre board cap, so we had some ingress there, which we solved after we came in with a dob of sealant from the local hardware store.  The bilge pump however kept us dry!  Later on Siobhan and Harry had to go home, so the three of us sailed her again and despite a momentary grazing of an unmarked rock under our lead keel(!), we had a wonderful sail around the bay.

Onlookers from the club house commented on how well the sails set - we had full sails up and from my perspective they looked wonderful - thanks to Yannick Lemonnier of West Sails for doing such a wonderful job,

Next day we had our formal launch - the clouds had gathered over and the breeze had stiffened - with the forecast saying F6 to F7...

But first we had the matter of appeasing Neptune and naming our Somes Sound - PEG - the name of Siobhan's Mum who passed 2 years ago and was an avid support of the building project and sailed with us on our yacht in Greece as a first time sailor well in her eighties!
Traditional garland of greenery from our garden and some gorse bush
I'm sure some of the onlookers thought we were cracked as we rattled off some traditional rhyme and toasts to Neptune and placed greenery on her bows and of course, the mandatory champagne, a vintage bottle of Dom Perignon kindly gifted to us by Len & Rene, good friends who live overseas and couldn't be with us - thanks Len!

Yours truly - Launching Ceremony

Vintage Dom Perignon

By this stage we had the launch party standing by so I decided to ask a more experienced sailor to come out with me for the first run.  Philip Watson, Ireland's most experienced sail maker and rigger, kindly obliged and off we went.  Needn't have worried as she sailed like a dream - thanks Philip!  Philip also helped to make sure our rigging was properly set up so no dismasting would ensue.

Then Rob added some more magic to the afternoon by reciting a beautiful poem:
Rob Murphy - reciting Sea Fever by John Mansfield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Beautiful shot taken by Joan - was was press ganged as our photographer for the day
No wheels submerged and the boat is floating - thanks to extendable trailer! 

Brian & Brendan acting as human fenders - due to an underwater ledge, the small fenders were useless.
With mounting excitement we boarded Peg and Brendan gave us a friendly push off and in an instant the reefed sails were filled and shot out of the harbour.  Plenty of wind meant she flew along.

We had four more excursions with more experienced sailors - first Shannon One Design champion David Dixon took the helm with Siobhan's brother Brian and me as crew.  Then we had Rob Murphy, dinghy and yachtsman extraordinaire who was effusive about her stability in heavy airs and put her through her paces.   Finally John McDonald and wife Ursula, both dinghy and yacht sailors took her out.  John's not happy unless there's a F8+ blowing, so he was quite happy with the blustery conditions.  Still, we found that the jib sheet arrangement a bit hard to get used to - not normally sailing a self tacker, we were not setting it up quite right.  The horn cleats for the jib sheets are quite hard to reach under the coamings, but I think it just needs to be set up correctly - when you are bouncing along in strong winds, everything moves more quickly!

My fishing buddy - David O'Connor volunteers

Launching from our trailer
Here's Brendan - pushing her off the trailer.  Bren was lassoed into building the trailer with me - and we were very pleased at how well it worked.  Thanks Bren!

Away she flies!
The hollow mast worked beautifully - taking the strain without any protestation.

No - really there is no outboard on the back!!
Rob at the helm
Drenched to the skin but elated,  we retired to the club house where we were made very welcome.  Wonderful food from local caterers, Loaves & Fishes and superb cakes from Una's 2210 Patisserie.   Afterwards we had Brian as elder lemon of Siobhan's family say a few words about Peg - following by some reminiscing.  Great to have family and friends together.

Bren- always smiling - always helping!


  1. Congratulations on a beautiful boat. A work of Art.

  2. She's a beauty, congrats! And what weather for a maiden launch, she be a bold sailor!

  3. Paul, I couldn't be more pleased for you. A wonderful name for your boat.


    -- Jeff

  4. Congratulations, she looks sublime,
    fair winds.

  5. Congratulations, Paul & Co! You have built a truly beautiful boat!
    I love the colour of the sails.
    And I so envy you your space!
    Cheers from the Hong Kong Somes Sound boat builder...
    Peter F.

  6. A beautiful craft. What a great day for your maiden voyage! Thanks for the wonderful blog so we could follow your build.

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  9. Good morning.

    My name is Mark Corke and I am an editor here at BoatU.S in Virginia U.S.A. I was looking for some pictures of an extendable trailer and come across the one that you built. We would be very interested in using a couple of you photo in our magazine, for which we would pay you. Could you please drop me an email if you're interested and I'll give you full details.
    Thank you. Mark Corke

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