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Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

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Snocat - Shamrock Catamaran - Hamble, Southampton 1960 PDF Print E-mail
21 April 2011


Snocat’s Pedigree
Snocat (pronounced snow-cat) was designed by Bill O’Brien who was famous for many ocean going, racing and pleasurecraft, catamarans including the Bobcat in the 1950s, the Jumpahead and the Oceanic Range, many from 20 to 50 feet in length. There were several different builders of these Shamrock Catamarans, but this one was built by Hawker Siddeley. Hawker Siddeley have teamed up with Rolls Royce and Boeing over the years and have designed and built a large variety of planes, such as the Hart in 1930, the Hawker Hurricane in 1935, the Hawker Hunter (one of the first jet engined fighters) in 1953 and the Harrier in 1960 - the first vertical take-off jet aircraft.
Snocat’s History
Declan and Denise Griffin from Athlone had sailed a sister ship to Snocat, The Larsaw, owned by Pat Benson (of 31B) on Lough Ree several times. In 1970 they decided to look for their own boat. They found Snocat in Southampton and bought her. They sailed her over to Ireland and brought her down the Grand Canal to the Shannon. They sailed all over the Shannon participating in many rallies. She is photographed in several of The Shannon Guides. They also sailed around the Shannon Estuary and up to the Aran Islands.
They sold her in 1982 to a group of four lads, including Joe Kiely and Kevin Keegan. The lads wintered her in Lowtown. Summertime they cruised down the River Barrow and out around the South Coast visiting Youghal, Cobh, Skibbereen, Dingle and other towns on this coast before eventually making their way back up the Shannon Estuary; then up the Shannon to Shannon Harbour and back up the Grand Canal to Lowtown for the winter. They made this trip three times as well as, spending some summers on the Shannon. The lads grew up, got families, or bigger boats, one emigrated to Australia and put Snocat up for sale.
My History with Snocat
I had been out for a walk in Lowtown where I came across Snocat in the back of the boatyard. She was in a very sorry state, having been left sitting in the back of the yard for four years. She had about two feet of rain water in each hull.
I bought her two weeks later, it was September 1991. Snocat is built of marine ply glued and screwed together. The hull sides are ¼ inch ply, below the water is ⅜ inch ply. The decks and cabin top are all ⅜ inch ply. That winter I started what seemed a daunting task of getting her ready for the water again. I replaced half of one side, the opposite side deck, the soles in the two hull and the cockpit sole. I redesigned the cockpit lockers to cover the steering system. She was also completely repainted outside and most of the interior. There was a lot of help from friends and family. She was launched in early June of 1992 and we motored down the Grand Canal to Shannon Harbour in time for the rally, then later to the Lough Derg rally.
Nearly every winter I tackle a different area. I replaced the wing between the bows in 1999. In 2004 I replaced the main beam across the transoms, which also carries the engine. Both of these continue hidden inside the hulls to the outer hulls; they are part of the main structure that hold the two hulls of the catamaran together (or is it apart). I fabricated the stainless
steel tillers in 1993 as the previous timber ones I’d made were too bulky and would not allow enough steering. I also arranged for the outboard to steer for better manoeuvrability. The ply at the front of the cabin sole that curves up to meet the foredeck I re-sheeted in 1996. The galley was redesigned in 1997 and a new stock made for the port rudder. During the spring of 2007 I finally got around to replacing her roof with all new marine ply and coated with West System. I was quite amazed how rotten it was, it all came off in little bits. I had often jumped down from the top of locks on to it; I was lucky I never went through! Each year there are always ongoing repairs and painting to be done.
When summer comes around she has always been ready to go. Most summers I have sailed her around Lough Ree and Lough Derg. I have also sailed her on Lough Allen a number of times. Two summers have been spent on the Erne Lakes and up as far as Beleek. Because of her shallow draught she can sneak into a lot of quiet, sheltered places and is no problem along the canals either.
In 2005 I travelled with the Heritage Boat Association (HBA) down the River Barrow, and out into the Waterford Estuary. I set sail while there and visited Passage East, Duncannon, Dunmore East and around Hook Head Lighthouse. I was absolutely amazed when a school of dolphins followed me for an hour while tacking back up the Estuary. We also visited Carrick-on-Suir, Inistioge on The Nore and we were in Waterford with The Tall Ships. We finally got back to our winter berth in Shannon Harbour at Halloween; it had been a very long trip, but well worthwhile.
In the summer 0f 2008 I finally got to bring her down to Limerick and Foynes. The scenery coming out of Ardnacrusha down to Limerick was beautiful. It’s always good travelling anywhere with the HBA and this was a well-organised trip; the hospitality from the boat club and the local council was excellent. Every year you meet new friends and find new places to go.
© Owner and Skipper: Victor Henry.
Technical Details
Year of Build 1960
Designed by Bill O'Brien
Built by Hawker Siddeley
Class Shamrock Catamaran
Place of Origin Hamble, Southampton
LOA 22 ft
Beam 13 ft
Depth 1.5 ft
Weight 1 ton
Mast height from deck 27 ft
Sail area (Jib & Main) 300 sq ft
Spinnaker 200 sq ft


Last Updated ( 22 April 2011 )
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