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Help for a punter

Posted by Colin Becker 
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Help for a punter
25 January, 2013 11:39
Greetings,

Had an enquiry t'other day about a photo that appears on the Archive section of the website attributed to Jeff Brownlee.

[iwai.ie]

It's of a WWII vintage vessel and the captions reads "Double diagonal hulled MTB"

Is it:

a) An MTB owned by Lt.Cdr St.John Earl who ran it as some kind of summer camp in the Garrykennedy area of Lough Derg in the 1960s

b) An air-sea rescue launch called the St Clair owned at the time by Betty and John Williams

c) Some other vessel.

Best Wishes,

Colin
Re: Help for a punter
25 January, 2013 12:42
Colin,
I think it is the Blue Waterman owned by Lieut. Cdr. JJ St. John Earle who ran some sort of school at Youghal Lodge in the 1960's. She was occasionally kept on a swing mooring in front of Youghal Lodge but spent most of her time in Garrykennedy. For many years ater the faded painted legend "Blue Watermans berth" could be seen on the harbour wall in Garrykennedy just under the castle. Blue Waterman was eventually taken down to Ballina and I think she was lost after being damaged by fire.

If you follow this link to our own site you will see (courtesy of Damien Delaney) a list confirming that Blue Waterman took part in the 1964 rally and won a prize.

[shannonrally.iwai.ie]

Further evidence is in the photo. The crew appear to be all young people wearing the same type of headgear. Also the boat is flying the Irish national flag at the stern with a French tricolour and a Blue Ensign on the mast. Exactly the sort of flag an ex- Royal Navy man might have in his locker!!

I rest my case and look forward to hearing from anyone else with memories of the Blue Waterman.

Paddy
Re: Help for a punter
25 January, 2013 12:56
Hi Paddy, well spotted. I couldn't get that list to open from the website earlier but I think that confirms the identity OK.
One thing I wondered about was the size of the boat. I understood most of the MTBs were nearer the 100ft mark in length whereas that one looks closer to 60-70ft.

Best Wishes,

Colin
Re: Help for a punter
25 January, 2013 14:49
Greetings,

A little more information about that boat, the gentleman who made the original enquiry relates a tale of how he piloted the boat from Ballina to Garrykennedy at the age of 12 while the owner drove his car around. He said the vessel originally had 4 engines, two coupled to each shaft but at this period two of them had been removed and the boat generally ran on one, probabaly to save fuel ! Interesting to know if she still had her original engines.

Best Wishes,

Colin
Re: Help for a punter
25 January, 2013 21:31
Colin,

Can you be jealous retrospectively after 50 years?!!
What a schoolboy dream, we wouldn't be let out in a lakeboat on our own at 12, lucky boy.

I had a quick look online and it appears that most of those boats were about 60 to 70 foot long.
It says on one site that one model of them had 3x57litre petrol engines. Another is said to have sported 4,200 horsepower and speeds of 33 to 48 knots are mentioned.

I was thinking more about Blue Waterman during the day and it may have been in Killaloe she met her end.It was rumoured at the time that it may have been malicious, maybe not unconnected to that Blue Ensign, if you get my drift. Your contact might find it useful to check the local papers ie. Nenagh Guardian, Clare Champion to see if there was a report at the time.

Mention of Earles car reminds me that he drove a big black American car with left hand drive. I think it was a Hudson or a Plymouth. He was definitely one of the more exotic characters who boated on the Shannon.

Paddy
Re: Help for a punter
26 January, 2013 00:53
[www.youtube.com]

One for the anoraks.
They say this is the last surviving one.
Paddy
Re: Help for a punter
28 January, 2013 11:45
I remember in later life he had a very strange looking boat called Confas. It was one of those boats that looked like a caravan on two small hulls. I think most had a small outboard for canal use but his had a big petrol engine and it was very quick. I think the last time I saw it it was on the hard in Portaneena.
Re: Help for a punter
22 June, 2017 09:50
Hi my name is Joe Fallon I originate from Wolfe Tone Terrace in Athlone.

just surfing and came across your post about the blue waterman. I can remember it and commander Earle very well. We used to go up to the inner lakes on loch ree from Athlone and have a great time.

We also went to youghall lodge on loch derg and stayed there, horse riding etc and really had an adventure.

I saw Mr Earle about 8 or 10 years ago and have since been told he was still living near Athlone. I would like to contact him again so if anyone knows his whereabouts i would appreciate the info.
Re: Help for a punter
12 February, 2018 11:20
The Blue Waterman was not the only MTB that Cdr. Earle had. There was a second MTB called The Clare. I was a pupil at the school at Youghal Lodge that Earle ran, in 1971. The Blue Waterman had sunk in Killaloe harbour...it was destroyed in a fire during filming of a documentary...a year or two earlier. But, there was a second MTB that was moored at a small quay about 300 yards east of Youghal Lodge. It was missing a large portion of the struture above deck, but still had two engines and the hull and deck were still entirely intact. It was never operational while I was there...my guess is Earle was using it for parts for the Blue Waterman.

I've no idea what happened to The Clare after I left the school in 1973, but its useful information for anyone chasing up old MTBs and their history.
Re: Help for a punter
12 February, 2018 22:45
Some extra Information that may be of use
The "Blue Waterman" was originally a Patrol boat, and may have later been adapted as a MTB
She had Four Italian built engines, later reduced to 2
She was holed on Lough Key on a rally early to mid 1960's after hitting a Rock close to an island, but was saved by lining the hull with some sort of planking or sheeting and then concrete poured in.
She was built with double lined crossed Mahogany planking.
She was destroyed accidentally by fire through "spontaneous combustion" I believe in the old ESB shed in Killaloe while some restoration was being undertaken, the fire started when some oily rags or ones that were soaked in white spirits were left balled up in a bag, close to the boat.
Lt. Cdr St.John Earl was in the Merchant navy, not the Royal navy.
Re: Help for a punter
12 February, 2018 22:49
Some extra Information that may be of use
The "Blue Waterman" was originally a Patrol boat, and may have later been adapted as a MTB
She had Four Italian built engines, later reduced to 2
She was holed on Lough Key on a rally early to mid 1960's after hitting a Rock close to an island, but was saved by lining the hull with some sort of planking or sheeting and then concrete poured in.
She was built with double lined crossed Mahogany planking.
She was destroyed accidentally by fire through "spontaneous combustion" I believe in the old ESB shed in Killaloe while some restoration was being undertaken, the fire started when some oily rags or ones that were soaked in white spirits were left balled up in a bag, close to the boat.
Lt. Cdr St.John Earl was in the Merchant navy, not the Royal navy.
Re: Help for a punter
13 February, 2018 18:48
Hi Robbie,
Lieutenant Commander is definitely not a merchant navy rank. Likely he retired as Lt. Cdr. and then joined the MN.
Re: Help for a punter
13 February, 2018 23:07
Lieutenant Commander is definitely not a merchant navy rank. Maybe he left the service as Lt. Cdr. and then joined MN. Back in the day Lt. Cdr. rank allowed you to sail as 2nd Mate in the merchant navy.
Re: Help for a punter
14 February, 2018 13:59
This link suggests that The Rank of Lt. Cdr is a recognised Merchant Navy rank




Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 14/02/2018 14:07 by Robbie.
Re: Help for a punter
14 February, 2018 15:21
Quote:
Robbie
This link suggests that The Rank of Lt. Cdr is a recognised Merchant Navy rank
[attachment 5458 Merchantnavy.JPG]

No, that link suggests that RN Lt Cmdr rank is equivalent to MN Master, First Mate and Surgeon rank, depending on the size of the ship.
There is no Lt Cmdr rank in the MN, it is a RN or RN reserve rank. So perhaps the gentleman in question was in the RN reserve?
Re: Help for a punter
15 February, 2018 21:19
Hi Mick
I checked and you are correct it was R. Navy Reserve
Re: Help for a punter
25 February, 2018 22:53
My understanding, having been at the school at Youghal Lodge ( which was actually called St. George's back then ) and met Lt Cmdr Earle, was that the Blue Waterman was destroyed during some sort of filming...a documentary or RTE report.

Lt Cdr Earle was indeed in the Merchant Navy. As is common amongst naval people ( including my own Dad, who was a Lt Cmdr in the Royal Navy ), he was generally referred to as 'Commander Earle'...leaving out the Lieutenant bit.

Incidentally, nowhere on the net can I find any pics of Youghal Lodge. And other than one brief reference in the Nenagh Guardian from years back its almost as if the place never existed. Is it now a private home ? My understanding was that the old 'barn' at the Lodge got turned into flats...but I've never seen any adverts for them. But its good to see that Larkins at Garrykennedy still looks exactly the same after 45 years.

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