Named 'Sean B' in tribute to Sean Burns

Historic event as newly built longboat launched

Traditional Longboat Building Project

Photographs from Kelly Green, Philip Kendall, Anne Green and Nick Schonfield

Sean B in full sail with 1961 volcano and the Tristan Settlement behind


A brilliant 2023 project has seen the construction of a new longboat using traditional methods and carried out by a team of six OAPs who themselves were joint owners and builders of longboats when they were still used. It is a joint initiative between Atlantic Guardians, who provided the funding, and Tristan's Tourism Department. The mast, sail and jib were donated by other longboat owners.

Scene in January showing the first phase of the longboat building project as the boat's wooden keel is nearing completion. The men shown are, left to right: Allan Swain, Dougie Swain, Ronald Rogers and Stan Swain.

Construction of the vessel got underway in January. The vessel is 17ft long, with four oars and a crew of five and so is known as a dinghy longboat. It is similar to the first boats constructed by islanders, led by Italian settler Gaetano Lavarello, at the end of the 19th Century.

St Mary's school pupils being shown the longboat frame taking shape in February

The outer frame complete and painted in March

Late March view of the completed longboat frame awaiting it's canvas covering.

Photo taken in the Post Office and Tourism Centre during an Atlantic Guardians gathering in May. It shows the
traditional longboat team with Atlantic Guardians Marine Management Support Officer Jéssica Escobar Porras.
The building team (L-R) is: Allan Swain, Joseph Green, Dougie Swain, Ronald Rogers, Stan Swain and Jack Green.

The completed boat in May.

Soon boats grew in length, typically becoming 30ft long with six oars and a crew of seven which could be used for travel to Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands. Smaller dinghy longboats, like the new craft, were also used around Tristan up to the late 1960s as they could be worked more easily on beaches.

Naming ceremony and launch

On Monday 18th December 2023 an event took place to name, launch and bless the new vessel.

First, during a ceremony in front of the Tourism and Post Office Building, Administrator Philip Kendall made a speech thanking the pensioners for their hard work and announcing the name of the boat as the Sean B. The pensioners had chosen that name in tribute to the late Administrator Sean Burns, who was an enthusiastic supporter of the longboat project. Shannon Swain (Atlantic Guardians Young Ocean champion) and Savanna Green (Sean Burns' granddaughter) did the honour of spraying the Sean B with champagne before it was launched.

The longboat's name painted on the bow side.

Sean Burns' granddaughter Savanna Green spraying the Sean B with champagne as the longboat
was about to be lowered into the water at Calshot Harbour for the first time.

Sean B being lowered into the water

The crew of five, all constructors of the Sean B start to row out of Calshot Harbour

The Sean B approaches open water on a flat calm day meant for such an occasion.

Raising and stepping the mast.

Main sail up at the Sean B lies off the 1961 lava flow.

It was a huge event on the island as many headed to Calshot Harbour to see the boat being launched and sail for the first time. Three island RIBs also went out in support and to transport a film crew, Marine Protection Zone officer Janine Lavarello, Administrator Philip Kendall and others to get a closer look.

Sean B in full sail ready for her first sailing trial.

The Sean B in full sail off Garden Gate Beach.

Administrator Philip Kendall on a RIB with the Sean B behind.

Drone view looking down on the Sean B with the village and Hottentot Point behind.

Once the boat returned into the Harbour she was washed off and then placed into her new boat house, funded by the Tristan Government. The boat house is located on the west side of the Post Office and Tourism Centre.

The Sean B blessing ceremony inside the new boat house:

Right to left: Anne Green, Rev Margaret, Philip Kendall and Louise Kendall.

After she was placed in her new home, the longboat Sean B was blessed by Reverend Margaret and Lay Minister Anne Green and a reception was held at the centre to celebrate this iconic occasion.

The scene outside the Post Office and Tourism Centre on 18th December 2023.