Out here in what we laughingly call the real world, I think we know that boat restoration isn’t all about swept teak decks, priceless customised bronze castings and acres of spotless Dacron subtly shaded to imitate the best Egyptian cotton.
But I was nevertheless tickled to hear that Aberdeenshire-based boat builder Mike Lowson, proprietor of Northboats, has helped save a 40-year old pram dinghy from becoming a flower planter in the Moray town of Forres.
The 11ft 6in dinghy was apparently built in the late ’60s or early ’70s by personnel at RAF Kinloss, a few miles from Forres, for use by the Kinloss base’s angling club. The boat spent most of its life at a nearby inland loch.
With the announcement earlier this year that the base was to close, the boat was earmarked to become firewood or to end its days in the town as an ornamental flower bed – Forres is a five-time overall UK Britain in Bloom winner.
‘A former employee at the base heard of the plan and, thankfully, rescued her from an ignominious fate that no wooden boat should face,’ Mike told intheboatshed.net. ‘He and his son then began stripping her back to start the process of making her fit for a return to angling duties.’
Mike was asked to re-frame her and to tackle some of the other deficiencies caused by the ravages of time.
‘The boat was rustically built, to put it politely, and the utility-timber planking is not of the best, but by carefully removing the remaining cracked frames one at a time to keep her shape, I was able to fit new frames of Scottish oak, traditionally nailed and roved in place.
‘I also added a couple of new floors, too, plus a new aft seat in matching oak and a new quarter-knee to replace one that was missing.’
The boat’s owners now intend to make the boat watertight and return her to her original mooring.
Mike added: ‘She is much too interesting to be scrapped and I look forward to her being filled with fresh-caught brown trout rather than begonias and geraniums.’
Mike is a 2008 graduate of the Boat Building Academy at Lyme Regis, and in January 2009 set up Northboats near Insch, some 30 miles north-west of Aberdeen.
Currently, he is completing a faering built to Iain Oughtred’s Elf design, restoring a small yacht tender and refitting a 35-year-old Westerly Centaur.
Mike Lowson can be contacted via his business’s website at www.northboats.co.uk.