A Proud Bow

“Willie’s in town”, would always be my American friend Donn’s hail on spotting a William Fife design entering port.

With thoughts recently sharply focused on close friends – their loved ones, homes and good old boats – living in the path of deadly Storm “Sandy” (Donn and his brother, Bruce, run two rather special boatyards on Long Island), memories of Donn in his Mediterranean days flashed back when a striking varnished motor-sailer glided past my temporary watery “office” at Malahide Marina. County Dublin, Ireland.

But this time it was George in town, or rather his influence.

Earraid, the characterful little ship that had caught my eye steering for the lifting dock among a sea of AWBs, was designed by G.L. Watson & Co., and built in 1948 by Morris & Lorimer of Sandbank on the Firth of Clyde’s Holy Loch.

Unmistakable Scottish fishing boat provenance.
© Iain McAllister

While many a fine retired Scottish fishing boat has been converted to a capable cruiser, during the years just before and for many years after the Second World War, the Watson office led a trend for new-build sturdy motor-sailers closely modelled on the Scottish fishing boat type that had evolved from the 1920’s, when motor was eclipsing sail as the power source.

On investigating more closely, Earraid’s bow projecting from the travel hoist reminded me of a 1980’s chance of a lifetime encounter with octogenarian yacht designer David Boyd.

Boyd is perhaps best known for the 12-Metre America’s Cup challengers Sceptre (1958) and Sovereign (1963). But he should be better known for his successful International 5.5 and 6-Metres, and a few very fine cruising yachts, all built to a very high standard by Alexander Robertson & Sons, of Sandbank, neighbours to Earraid’s builder Morris & Lorimer, and in an earlier era one of G.L. Watson’s first choice yards for the construction of ship’s boats for his steam yacht designs.

On discussing my favourite of his designs, the 60ft yawl Zigeuner (1935), and her very shapely bow, he replied that a yacht should always have a “proud” bow.

Earraid’s proud bow.
© Iain McAllister

David Boyd learned his trade with William Fife Jr., and subsequently developed his own style as in-house designer at Robertsons. Who are we to argue.


~ Iain McAllister ~

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About Peggy Bawn Press

496pg biography of Scottish yacht designer, George Lennox Watson (1851-1904). Significant book on the history of yacht design & the development of modern yachting. Beautifully illustrated. Many photographs previously unpublished.
This entry was posted in America's Cup, boatbuilders, G.L. Watson, other yacht designers, yacht racing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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