ICE BIRD 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 that were usual in the standard boats.  This was a smaller, but  nearly identical layout to that aboard Wanderer III.  Ice Bird 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, and is now junk rigged.  About 14 ocean Vertues appear to have been built so far.




Ice Bird as she appears in Eric Hiscock’s book ‘Voyaging Under sail’, photographed in English Harbour, Antigua

Recent photographs of Ice Bird.


The sailplan and hull profile drawing shows the distinctive stepped coachroof and cutter rig.

These monotone photos of Ice Bird were taken during the Icelandic voyage.


  • Laurent Giles design No: 191
  • Builder: Aeromarine
  • Launch Date: 1952
  • Hull Material: Mahogany
  • Deck: Epoxy glass cloth over ply over t & g softwood.
  • Engine: Volvo MD 7A 13hp
  • Ballast keel material: Iron
  • Doghouse: OCEAN
  • Cockpit: Short
  • Berths: Two
  • Rig: Bermudan cutter
  • Mast: Metal
  • Heads'ls: Stays'ls and Jibs
  • Backstay arrangement: Twin Standing to transom
  • Home Port: Port Edgar, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Current Owner: Tony Holt
  • Contact details:
  • Email address: icebirdv45@gmail.com
  • Other comments: The second 'Ocean' Vertue to be built in 1952. Famous for an Atlantic circuit and return passage from Ireland to Iceland.