Rosemary raised following Championships sinking

01 September 2007

The Howth 17 'Rosemary' sank on 25th August following a racing collision

Author: John Deane      Posted on: 1/9/07

Many thanks to David Potter and Michael Duffy who gave me this story. Both were part of the rescue team.


Michael Duffy supplied the sea photos and Barry O'Loughlin the shore photos


In the final race of the 17 Footer Champs on 25th August Rosemary was holed below the waterline after a collision with Leila.
David Potter, a rescue boat driver, who also crews on Rosemary, tried to get a jib under the bow to stem the inflow of water. 

However, she quickly filled and sank within 9 minutes of the collision. Rescue boats were immediately on hand and all crews were ok. 

On board Rosemary were ...
George Curley
David Potter
Ken Pryce
Barry McKenna 

Photo: Rosemary before the collision


Unfortunately, there was not enough time when she sank to attach a marker buoy, so a buoy was dropped in the approximate location (near the Viceroy Mark).


Rescue Team

Colin Newport
(Skipper Asgard) 

Derek Bothwell
('Sea Wych') 

David Potter
(Head of HYC Rescue) 

David Doyle
(trawler, 'Boy Lorene') 

Pat Hayden
Michael Duffy
Curley Family
Crew of Rosemary

On the search - HYC's 'Sea Wych' and
David Doyle's trawler, 'Boy Lorene'


One of HYC's race support launches, 'Sea Wych' and David Doyle's trawler, 'Boy Lorene' commenced searching for her the following day (Sunday). The boats crossed the area to and fro, checking the sea bed for an abnormality with their fish finders. The bottom is flat and sandy in the area so 'Sea Wych' also used a grappling hook to see if it snagged on something solid. 

The search started on Sunday and the boat had not been located by Tuesday evening. 

On Wednesday it was decided to lay a rectangle of 4 buoys and carry out a box search, section by section. A weighted line was dropped from each of two RIBs and a chain attached to the two lines. The idea was to trawl the chain along the bottom. 

They were in luck - shortly after the box was laid and the ribs commenced trawling the seabed, the trawl snagged on something solid. A corresponding blip was displayed on Sea Wych's fish finder. A marker buoy was dropped and the position noted on GPS.


David Bothwell (standing), George Curley (skipper Rosemary) , one of the divers &
Ken Pryce - one of Rosemary's crew


Three Divers from Irish Diving Contractors Ltd., arrived on the scene and after their first dive confirmed that it was Rosemary. One of the difficulties the divers had was that visibility under water was only a few feet, so something solid on the seabed had first to be established from the surface for them to check. 

They attached flotation bags and lifted the boat clear of the seabed. She rose to where a few feet of the mast emerged from the sea. However, the bags shifted along Rosemary's hull. It was considered to be too risky to attempt to raise it any higher in case any of the bags slipped further and dropped the boat back to the bottom.


Divers from Irish Diving Contractors Ltd.


There was enough clearance betweenRosemary and the seabed to tow her toward Portmarnock where she was beached in more shallow water. 

A flotation bag was left attached and the position noted.


On Friday the boats and divers returned to the area. The divers attached a group of flotation bags to the hull. The bags were slowly inflated from a compressor on 'Sea Wych'. 

This time the bags held in position and about 10 feet of the mast and some spars emerged from the sea.


The boat could not be raised any higher, so 'Sea Wych' commenced towing her toward Howth Harbour. 

It was a slow process due to drag from the partly submerged boat with sails still hoisted. 

Anyway the speed needed to be kept at only a couple of kts in case the flotation bags shifted.


David Potter and David Doyle on one of the RIBs


They were a short distance from the harbour when the strong ebb tide pushedRosemary over a lobster pot line, which she snagged. 

A moment of panic arose when the towing boat, 'Sea Wych' tried to head back up the sound to pull Rosemaryclear, but couldn't make enough headway against the tide.

Rosemary entering Howth Harbour
Photo: Barry O'Loughlin


A large powerful RIB came to the rescue and - with both boats pulling - things got under way again and they headed for the harbour mouth.


Almost there .... George Curley on the bow as they approach the dock


Photo: Barry O'Loughlin



The divers fixed the lifting strops under Rosemary's hull. The hull was raised slowly above the surface and she was held there while water was pumped out of her.


Jim Potter and Jane Duffy inspect the damage to Rosemary


In the photo above - a steel eye bolt is fitted where Jane's hand is. The bobstay is attached from this - thats it draped on the hull. The collision occurred at about that point and this eye bolt probably helped to push back the supporting stem head, leaving a large hole running below the waterline.


(L-R) The three divers and David Potter


Divers from Irish Diving Contractors Ltd.


George Curley - in a happier mood now that its all over