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.
Though Jim Pitts, in assembling ‘The Log of Blue Dragon III’, says that his books ‘are well known amongst cruising sailors’, it seems worth, for those that are less familiar with them, introducing Skipper as a sailor first.
Skipper Lynam developed his love of the sea and sailing as a schoolboy at King William’s College on the Isle of Man becoming, in time, a successful canoe sailor with one boat to race and another canoe yawl to cruise. But it is with the first Blue Dragon, completed in 1892 and 25’ on deck, that we are first introduced to Skipper through his books. Lynam sailed (and occasionally towed) her from Oxford down the Thames ‘and kept turning right until he got to Cape Wrath.’ He enjoyed many cruises in the west of Scotland – and these were far from fair weather voyages. As a Headmaster of the Oxford Preparatory School (later the Dragon School) his time was limited, but he took every opportunity to cruise at Easter and over Christmas, continuing his morning bathing (later with frostbite as the consequence after padding round the snow-covered decks before swimming in Norway). Although occasionally single-handed he was generally accompanied by others – often school children or old Dragons.
His logs (with contributions from each of the crews) are an example to us all. They do (as still reflected in our instructions for the Journal) ‘capture the experience and character of a particular cruise’ with a clear picture of the crew emerging and with poems and fascinating insights into the people met – particularly in the then rarely visited Western Isles that Skipper so loved. They also (like all good logs) provide an unvarnished picture of his misadventures – as he writes ‘however much to my discredit as Skipper they may have been’.
The full review is too long for the RCC's website: please see the attached PDF file.