Roeboats at the Ilen framing out and Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival.

Here are some photos of the Ilen the last wooden sailing cargo vessel built in Ireland in 1926 for use in the Falkland Islands. She’s currently undergoing a rebuild here in West Cork. I was invited to the framing out celebrations on the completion of the reframing of the boat. Next step is the planking and you can help by sponsoring a plank. They are also running traditional boat building workshops each month. They’ve also started a blog here.

Frames of wooden boat Ilen taken by Tiernan Roe of Roeboats custom boat builders

The Baltimore Wooden Boat festival was a tremendous success with up to 70 boats attending. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the weekend as I was too busy talking to people about Ninigret. I’m exhausted having spent the entire weekend talking.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37


Will ash plume lead to resurgence of Commuter boats?

With this weeks ongoing flying ban over most of Europe I was wondering if people were beginning to contemplate having their own means of travelling from Ireland and Britain to mainland Europe. Something along the lines of the commuter yachts that were used in the USA at the turn of the twentieth century. Something along the lines of the boat below.

Just the thing for popping across to France of England for business and if you’re worried about getting a touch of Mal de mer there are no gyroscopic stabilisers available which greatly reduced roll and pitching.

The boat above is“Rosamund” designed by John Alden in 1926 is the quintessential commuter yacht. These yachts were moderately fast motor boats that were quite spartan to begin with but later developed into luxurious yachts. Seven months a year wealthy New York industrialists were able to leave for work in their dressing gowns and have breakfast and dress on the way. With today’s communications technology it would be quite possible to work while underway turning your luxurious yacht into a mobile office. Built to the highest standards by Roeboats there is no reason why a modern or classic commuter yacht wouldn’t make the perfect antidote to air travel which will become more and more expensive and which has proven to be vulnerable to disruptions, think of 9/11 and now volcanic ash.

M/Y Vidar a C. G. Petersson design

Or how about a Swedish commuter yacht, this one M/Y Vidar was designed by C. G. Petersson the famed Swedish naval architect, who I’m currently researching. His boats are drop dead gorgeous and of course seaworthy and fuel efficient.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37


Birthday for Roeboats

Starting a business in the middle of a recession is not easy but people will still want to enjoy the unique unparalleled freedom offered by being captain of your own boat. Yes it has been difficult but I’ve wanted to be a boat builder since I was thirteen when I started maintaining and repairing racing dinghies. After nearly 25 years of learning and honing the skills needed I finally decided to start Roeboats and follow that dream. So far I have been successful and I’m hoping that clients will recognise the value and beauty of the boats that Roeboats build. I’m building boats that were designed during the golden age of yachting and building them using eco-friendly and low maintenance techniques so clients can have beautiful classic boats without the headaches of traditional construction and benefit from their sea-kindly and fuel efficient hull forms.” It all started with the building of an optimist dinghy with my father see the picture below.

wooden optimist dinghy

Mo Bháidín (My little boat) 1983

To celebrate Roeboats first anniversary in business I’m offering a free tender with every boat ordered over 20’ before the end of April 2010. Launched with the commencement of the building of hull number one a John Atkin designed 22’ eco-friendly fuel efficient powerboat Roeboats have not only survived the recent economic maelstrom but are implementing plans to grow the business in the coming years. I’m currently discussing custom built boat projects, both power and sail, with prospective owners both here in Ireland and abroad. We’ve teamed up with two boat dealerships in Ireland, I’ll be announcing details soon, and I’m also beginning to target the UK and northern Europe. Initial contacts with specialist brokers have been very positive.
Official celebrations are being postponed slightly to coincide with the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival at the end of May where Roeboats first boat will be making it’s debut where clients can get a chance to see the fine craftsmanship and excellent sea keeping of the Ninigret. So if you’d like to have a look at what Roeboats are up to why not head to Baltimore for the 28-30th. of May

The most beautiful boat in the world?

Dark Harbor 17 classic gentleman's gaff rigged wooden one design day boat designed by B. B. Crowninshield

If I could build one boat for myself I would build a Dark Harbor 17. Twenty-five feet overall with a 17.5′ waterline, this gaff rigged beauty is the quintessential gentleman’s day boat. Those graceful overhangs and fine hull shape combined with her long keel and simple cuddy all combine into something incredibly beautiful. You couldn’t name this boat after your wife or husband; they could get very jealous. You could very easily start to spend all your free time out sailing in the best looking boat in the bay. Designed in 1910 by B.B. Crowninshield for the members of the Manchester Yacht Club as a one design racer, they are still being built to this day, a real example of how style never goes out of fashion. It doesn’t look like my wife will let me build one of these for myself, I already spend too much time in the workshop. So if you would like your own Dark Harbor 17 there is no better time to order yours now. I’m offering a free classic tender with each of these boats so hurry before the offer is over. I was thinking of building a new version strip planking and epoxy sheathing for low maintenance and durability. This would result in a lightweight and low maintenance classic wooden gentleman’s day sailor that will give many many years of enjoyable and reliable service.

Wooden boat magazine did a feature article on this beauty in issue 196 May/June 2007 which has some good photos and information about the designer.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37


Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival

Here are some photos I took at this weekend’s Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival. I was out sailing on Saturday so these photos were taken on Sunday which was one of the best days so far this year here in West Cork.

An Itchen Ferry ?

An Itchen Ferry ?


First off we have a very nice little boat that the owner believes is an Itchen ferry built in Falmouth but a long time resident of West Cork. It had a cabin previous to this owner but it was converted to a very nice open boat.

Heir Island Lobster Boat and Galway Hooker

Heir Island Lobster Boat and Galway Hooker

Here a Heir Island lobster boat and a Galway Hooker fight it out at the finish line.

Cormac Levis' Heir Island Lobster boat Saoirse Muireann

Cormac Levis' Heir Island Lobster boat Saoirse Muireann

Cormac Levis who owns this boat has written an excellent book on the history of Heir Island lobster boats and the men who worked them.

Bantry Bay Loongboat Unité

Bantry Bay Longboat Unité under sail

The Bantry Bay longboat is the basis of the Atlantic Challenge an organisation that “every other year sponsors a friendly contest of seamanship in Bantry Bay gigs, held in a different host country.”

Baltimore Boatyard

Baltimore Boatyard

And this finally is what remains of Ireland’s premier boat building school and builders where famous boats like Conor O’Briens Saoirse and Ilen were built. It was also the site of the Baltimore Fishery School which is more recently in the news as a result of the Ryan Report. Here is a newspaper article about it and the report can be downloaded here.

West Cork Launch Sites. No. 1 Ballydehob


Above: Ballydehob’s Iconic 12 Arch Tramway Bridge

I thought that I would do an occasional series on the launch sites and small piers around the West cork coast. Whenever I’m passing near one I usually check them out to see what they’re suitable for. Now I’m going to start photographing them. So that you can get a good idea of how much water there will be I’m going to aim to photograph them around low tide.

It is here.

And Here are some pictures.

ballydehobblogLooking north

As you can see the slip is in good condition and offers at least 5′ at high tide. It is obstructed by mooring lines but these could be moved when launching and retrieving.

bdhobblogLooking east

bdhobblog2Looking West

There is ample space for parking and the area is lit and safe at night. It’s a short 2-3 minute walk to the shop, small hardware shop, launderette, petrol station, restaurants and 7 of the best pubs in Ireland. Click here for information on Ballydehob.

bdchannelThe channel through Ballydehob bay a to Roaringwater bay is marked by bouys and is fairly straight forward. The great thing about Ballydehob is that diesel and petrol are available in the village; this is no longer so in neighboring Schull. Also it is much quieter and picturesque with better shelter than its more famous neighbor. It is restricted in draft and only accessible to smaller craft which is great.

Hope this info. is helpful to some one. And yes I know I should have taken an aerial shot from the bridge. I’ll add that next time.

Restoration of National 18

I bought this National 18 from a friend of mine. Some friend you might say. It was to replace an old plywood wayfarer that had finally disintegrated ( I could push my finger through the bottom.) after more than 30 years or so. As you can see in the pictures it was in pretty rag order.

liamodonovanofficesuite0033All of the decking had delaminated after being left out uncovered for a good few years and the boat needed a full fitting out.


Well it was early June and I wanted to go sailing a soon as possible before the summer ended. So I set to and two weeks later it looked like this.

18boatI redecked the boat, recyled some of the seats from the wayfarer and built new ones. They gave me some very funny looks when I bought a plank of iroko that looked like a boomerang but it was perfect for the rubrail at the gunwale. I was able to use the wayfarer rig, which was a little smaller than the National 18; because I would be single handing a lot. Repainted and varnished the whole lot. I filled in the transom hole as I wanted to keep my feet dry. I’ve been using the boat for 3 summers now and it has performed much better than the wyfarer the extra length and beam make it a lot sturdier and roomy. The design is a 1968 Ian Proctor design that replaced the sleek 1930’s Uffa Fox design of the National 18 which is very nice too. I apologise for the quaity of the photos when I took them I hadn’t intended to put them in blog.

Trip to St Kilda October 2007

I came across these photos of a trip I did with a friend of mine on his Rival 38 to St Kilda a remote cluster of islands 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides or Western Isles. I have to say the sail north from Burtonport, Donegal was splendid considering the lateness of the season. Three days with the wind abaft spinnaker up and beautiful mild weather. The only rain we had was when I was off watch; luckily. We arrived at night and spent a rather awful night at anchor with strong gusts coming down off the mountains and blowing the boat in all directions. The view that greeted us in the morning was quite spectacular. At that time of year there are only the RAF members on the Island and the pub was closed. I know an island without a pub, what is the world coming too?


This is one of the many stone cleitean that are dotted all over the islands. They were used as storage for animals and fodder and by the look of the place I’d say the St Kildians used to roll up the soil and put it inside to stop it blowing away during the winter. Spectacular and lonesome so lonesome in fact that the last inhabitants requested to be taken off in the 1930’s.


Here’s another view the little dark smudge in the water if you can see it is our boat. There was bad weather coming in and the anchorage was untenable so all in all after 3 days at sea we only got to spent 2 or 3 hours on St Kilda. So we headed over to Carloway on the isle of Lewis; which is very close to the Callinish stones.


Just look at the heads on these three and they were only away from home four days at this stage can you imagine what they looked like after two weeks. They nearly had to be put into quarantine when they got home. I have photos of the rest of this trip somewhere I’ll post when I find them.

Tús maith, leath na h-oibre

A good start is half the work. Well let’s hope this old saying or seanfhocail holds true. I thought I might start at the beginning and show you some views of where Roeboats is located. We’re located just off the N71 in the leam a mhádra (dog’s leap) valley overlooking Roaringwater bay and the Fastnet_Rock. I’ve been living in this area for almost ten years and as you can see it’s an easy place to stay in.sunnyhouse1

I moved to West cork to build boats but got a little sidetracked and have been making fine wooden funiture for the last ten years instead. Check out my furniture at Tiernan Roe Fine Woodworking, as you can see I’m a big fan of blogs. However I aim to update this blog a lot more frequently.sunnydrive1

Previous to moving to West Cork I worked in Berlin and Dublin as a special effects model maker making tings like rubber armour and 9metre 35′ statues of liberty for the top of Checkpoint Charlie on the old Berlin wall. Which was very interesting and used a lot of the skills needed in boatbuilding like mold making, fibreglass fabrication and some complex wood work; one project recreated the art nouveau interior of Maxim’s restaurant in Paris.

Roeboats, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, t:+353 (0)28 38973 m: +353 (0)86 158 69 37