The ‘Blue Dragon’

Skipper Lynam had in his life time three boats which sailed under the name of ‘Blue Dragon’:

Blue Dragon I on the stocks, Port Meadow, Oxford, 1892.

‘Blue Dragon I’ – a seven ton yawl, 25 ft. in length, and 9 ft. beam, was launched in 1892 and sailed by the Skipper until he sold it in 1905. As Skipper said, “My cruises may be unique in the fact that I have sailed the same little boat from Oxford, where she was built, down the Thames and round Land’s End and right up to Stornaway and Cape Wrath; I have never once had a paid hand on board, and never but once signalled for a pilot.”

Despite its small size, it could accommodate four adults and a child.

‘The Log of the Blue Dragon (1892-1904)’ was first published by AH Bullen in 1907, with a second, revised edition being published the following year by Frank Sidgwick.

Blue Dragon II in the Shetlands (1909).

‘Blue Dragon II’, previously known as the ‘Isla’, had been the property of the Headmaster of Rossall School, Dr. Way. Also a yawl, it was 43 ft. long and had much more crew accommodation. Having travelled extensively around the West Coast of Scotland, he ventured to Orkney and the Shetlands.

The highlight of his career as a yachtsman was to take the ‘Blue Dragon II’ across the North Sea to Norway in 1911, covering 175 miles in 42 hours. The following year, taking off a considerable part of the Summer Term (with the excuse that he had just completed 25 years as Headmaster), Skipper accomplished his “desire to reach the North Cape, the northernmost point of Europe, in the good ship ‘Blue Dragon II’, to cross the Arctic Circle and to see the midnight sun.”

That year the Skipper won the Royal Cruising Club Challenge Cup for, in the eyes of the judges, the most meritorious cruise of 1912. He had made 81 new anchorages in the course of a cruise of 1,387 miles. The logs were published in 1913 by Sidgwick & Jackson under the title ‘To Norway and the North Cape in Blue Dragon II.’

Hugo White, Blair Watson, Leslie Eastwood (the crew) with the Skipper and the Challenge Cup of 1912

When the War started, ‘Blue Dragon II’ was still in Scandinavia, Skipper having returned in 1913 and 1914 for Baltic cruises. During the war years it became derelict and he was forced, eventually, to sell it in 1916.

In November 1917, Skipper identified a cutter called the ‘Onnie” as his ‘Blue Dragon III,’ which he described as “almost a duplicate of B.D II” noting that “in accommodation she is more convenient than ‘Blue Dragon II’… There is comfortable sleeping accommodation for six in all, but we have berthed eight below decks.”

The Skipper continued his sailing career through until 1935.

Blue Dragon III, built in 1886 and first sailed by the Skipper in 1918.

Along with his own family, numerous Old Dragons, masters and even pupils formed the crew of the various ‘Blue Dragons.’ Many of them fought in the War.

The Logs of the ‘Blue Dragons’ (I & II)

Posts featuring the ‘Blue Dragon’ can be found here.

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Henry Clay has kindly reviewed ‘The Skipper’s War’ book for The Royal Cruising Club’s website, writing that “Skipper Lynam was an extraordinary sailor. Even today, with robust and reliable modern vessels, his voyages would be notable, but with his vessels leaking and as subject to breakages as all yachts of the time and with no engine or, at best, an unreliable one fit only for calms, they were extraordinary.”

For the full book review, see here.