ICEBIRD is famous for two arduous but quite different extended cruises. The first was a single-handed, engine-less, ‘Atlantic Circuit’ from Northern Ireland via the West Indies, made by Dr. Cunningham in 1952. The second was also a return voyage from N. Ireland to Northwest Iceland in 1967. Dr. Joe Cunningham’s nephew, Brian Cunningham was skipper this time, with the redoubtable Irish scribe Winkie Nixon amongst the crew.
The design of this cutter-rigged version of the Vertue was developed alongside that of Wanderer III in the early 1950’s essentially for ocean cruising, as described in Humphrey Barton’s classic book Vertue xxxv. The doghouse was replaced by a longer after coachroof that stepped down just abaft the mast. The layout below provided for only two berths, in the saloon, forward of longer galley and chart table areas than in the standard boats. This was a smaller, but identical layout to that aboard Wanderer III. Icebird has retained the bermudan cutter rig, unlike some other ‘ocean’ Vertues. Her close sister-ship, Speedwell of Hong Kong, V 44,was built at much the same time.