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Dún Laoghaire Doldrums

Four men go sailing out of Dún Laoghaire - there's no wind - nothing for it but to sit around and tell stories of whaling and banjaxed boats...

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4.2/5 (9 ratings)

Documentary-maker: Ronan Kelly

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Dún Laoghaire Doldrums

Bob, Ronan, Willie and Gary own a small sailing boat together. Every Thursday, they go out sailing in Dublin Bay.

July 2013 was remarkable for the lack of rain and sun-filled days - great for sunbathing, not great for sailing.

On one Thursday in July, after the lads motored outside the harbour wall and switched off the engine, they sat and waited.

There was no wind - the water was as calm outside the harbour as inside. Nothing to do then but do running repairs on the boat and tell stories.

Bob's were the best.

When he was a young man, he went off to sea to see the world.

For four months in 1960, the part of the world he saw was the South Atlantic.

He was part of history, one of the last big commercial whaling expeditions.

They used a helicopter to find the pods of whales, then chased them and shot explosive harpoons at them.

Then, they filled the carcasses with compressed air, stuck a radio beacon in them and chased off after more whales.

At the end of the day, the radio beacons allowed them to retrieve the whale carcasses. Bob was an radio and electronics engineer. His job was to make sure the radio beacons on the carcasses worked and to guide the ship back to each of them at the end of the day.

They couldn't afford to lose a carcass. Each one was worth £2000 (the price of a four-bedroomed semi-detached house in those days) - and everyone on the boat, down to the cabin boy, got a share.

In the end, the expedition fleet of 11 boats and one factory ship, killed and processed 2,000 whales.

July 2013

The Curious Ear is produced by Ronan Kelly

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