History  //  A brief history of the club

In 1955 a series of meetings was held with around twenty or so skippers interested in setting up a cruising club in Ballydorn. The Club was set up with the prime objective being to promote cruising either solo or in company.

The Club was officially formed in 1956 and the Club burgee was designed by an artisic member, Dante Lynas. At that time of course the Club did not have the lighship so Scrabo Tower, being a very prominent landmark on Scrabo Hill at the head of the Strangford Lough was chosen as the Clubs emblem.

In 1968 an exciting opportunity arose when Bob Blain's (Commodore 1969/70) father-in-law spotted an advertisement for the sale by tender of an Irish Lights lightship, the 'Petrel'. She had been withdrawn from service, her last station being at the mouth of the River Blackwater, Wexford. A group of members, led by Dermott McConnell, having quickly gathered up donations and interest free loans from Club members, set off poste-haste to Dun Laoghaire and were so impressed with 'Petrel's' condition that a tender of £1800 was submitted. Unfortunately this tender was too low and the Lightship was sold to Hammond Lane Foundries, Dublin, for £1999.10s 00p (£1999.50p!).

However when the Commissioners of Irish Lights realised that this historic iron ship, which was of traditional rivetted and caulked construction and built by skilled craftsmen in Dublin in 1911, might be preserved they gave all possible assistance to negotiate a deal between Hammond Lane and Down Cruising Club. As a result Hammond Lane sold 'Petrel' to the Down Cruising Club for a profit of £50 (and perhaps a bottle or two of Black Bush!).

In September 1968, she was towed, on a high spring tide, into the The Dorn and tied up at the Quay. Eventually late on in the season in November 'Petrel' was gradually floated to her present berth on a rising tide using her own winch, two club boats and a very long cable made fast to a tree on Sketrick Island as a 'hand brake'.

In 2014, Petrel was recognised as an important historic vessel, and registered by National Historic Ships UK.


This is a short video of Petrel making her way up Strangford Lough into The Dorn and tied up against the Quay. Unfortunately due to the age of the clip there is no sound accompanying the pictures.

Sorry, the video is not available for your device.