How to launch a boat, Scottish Highlands style!
Traditional boatbuilders Johnson & Loftus showed us how it’s done earlier this month, when they launched the newly restored ST VINCENT, a 50’ (15.2m) Zulu which boatbuilders Tim Loftus and Dan Johnson have been rebuilding for the last two years.
Built by W&G Stephen of Banff in 1910 for a family from Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, ST VINCENT is a dipping lug-rigged herring drifter. Despite being built just as sail was giving way to fishing under power, she had a long fishing career, finally ending her commercial days in Lowestoft around 1984.
Thought to have been real-life inspiration for Compton Mackenzie’s ‘Whisky Galore’, ST VINCENT is reputed to have helped salvage whisky from the shipwrecked SS POLITICIAN when it sank off Eriskay in 1941.
Her two-year restoration at Johnson & Loftus near Ullapool on Scotland’s west coast was extensive, with most of her frames and planks needing replacing, as well as spars and rigging.
Boatbuilder Tim Loftus explains:
“In 2021, we sailed her from Arbroath to Ullapool and the following year set about replacing stem, sternpost, 90% of framing and 70% of planking along with new deck frame, deck, mast, bowsprit and rigging. She’s as authentic as we could make her, with no engine or winches. Inside there’s a fishhold, coal range and a good reek of pine tar.”
Propulsion is purely sail and oar; no mean feat at 50’ (15.2m). “Under dipping lug, she’s fast and sometimes demanding to sail, but always enormous fun.”
Look out for St Vincent at the ACE Winches Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 July, weather permitting.