For somewhile and from time to time
I always kept a watchful eye about for
a little wooden boat. A dream perhaps
of those salty sea dogs, long bearded
wise men who played a fiddle, penny whistle
or squeeze box, knock back the odd dark
rum and sing a happy sea shanty! I'm
none of these but the ethos, along with
several others, bewitches me.
So it goes to pass that I "finds
my little wooden boat and brings it home" as
a project for my more leisurely years. "Phyllis" was
bought in 2001 and moved from a rear
garden on the Wirral, to lay languishing
in a Northwich boatyard on the River
Weaver. Although some 22 miles from the
sea it's still accessible by river navigation
on to the Manchester Ship Canal and hence
into the Mersey Estuary.
It's amazing at times, as the boatyard
that "Phyllis" was then dry
berthed at was directly opposite the
very place (British Waterways Regional
Headquarters) that the previous owner,
William Vance Crockett, used to work
as the Engineering Superintendant.
We started some work, really just clearing
out and removing the old fixtures and
fittings. Some professionally commissioned
restoration was started but which turned
out very costly as it proved to be abortive
work! All due to my total inexperience
with little wooden boats and no real
professional shipwright input. Anyway
after somewhile, the time had come to
bring "Phyllis" back to life.
my procuring of this and that I
came across David Moss, a master
shipwright of some reknown in the
best wooden boat building circles.
I'd spoken with David a few years before and
learned that each year he always had a busy
was also impressed with his approach
to take on apprentices, both male
and female, and give them homework,
let alone the the opportunity to
acquire the benefit of his skills
and the quality of his workmanship.
It was eventually agreed I could
dry berth Phyllis in a "line
up" in order to get her
eventually to the front of the
queue to the boatshed. Such is
the demand for today's shipwright
craftsmen and women!