In the first chapter of G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design – according to Tom Cunliffe in his recent Yachting World review, “a ‘scene setter’ describing the launch of Sir Thomas Lipton’s Shamrock II, with nobility, yard workers, razzmatazz and champagne…” – author, Martin Black, draws us into the buzz of the America’s Cup challenger’s launching day at William Denny & Bros Leven Shipyard, Dumbarton.
But to place things in perspective, a glance at Clydesite shows that Yard No 643 was just one of about 250 ‘ship’ launches on the Clyde in 1901, or an average of a bottle of champagne almost every day and a half.
During the 1980s and 90s, I was lucky enough to attended some launchings at what is now the last active Clyde shipyard building merchant tonnage, Ferguson Shipbuilders.
No matter how utilitarian the vessel, these are always emotional affairs. At Ferguson’s Port Glasgow yard they always seemed more charged than most because of the sense that each one could be the last, whilst still getting carried away by the hip hip hurrays.
On Monday 17th December, the first merchant vessel launched by Fergusons – or anywhere on the river in fact – for five years, the revolutionary, hybrid powered Ro-Ro ferry, Hallaig, kissed the Clyde the under the watchful glower of Newark Castle.
Fergusons did incredibly well to retain the ability to do that by diversification during such a long hiatus. It’s a great story, but we suspect that Shamrock II just beats Hallaig in good looks.
More on the Hybrid Ferries Project downloadable here.
Hallaig’s Motorman maintains an entertaining blog as well as his immaculate engine room.