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View Article  Ensay Mist returns to base

Our co-owned Westerly Centaur "Ensay Mist" has returned to Northboats for the winter after a successful summer on her mooring at Ullapool that saw her sail the Summer Isles regularly and cruise in company with some of the Tall Ships that visited the Wester Ross village in July.
Unfortunately, craning-out day was yet another when the winds decided to blow (did they ever stop this year?) and it took a bit of careful handling to get her alongside the harbour, without denting the hull and scratching her paintwork, to allow the ace crane crew of Donnie, Sandy and Angus to do their stuff. 
Unstepping the mast was a challenge as she rolled to and fro playfully but lifting the hull from the water went smoothly and she was on her trailer within an hour.
Plans for the winter include more work on fitting her out interior, including tackling her sagging headlining, a common feature of many similar GRP cruisers of 1970s vintage. She will also be fitted with effective reefing gear as mature ladies are not supposed to show their bottoms in public when the winds get up.
I like sailing the right way up. Leaning as though one of your legs has been amputated is of limited interest during a leisurely afternoon cruise. Horror of horrors, it can even spill your drink!

View Article  Kinloss dinghy saved from flower-bed fate

Northboats has helped save a 40-year-old 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 RAF personnel at the Kinloss air base, a few miles from Forres, for use by its angling club. It spent most of its life at a nearby inland loch.With the shocking announcement earlier this year that the base was to close, however, the boat was earmarked for 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. He and his son then began stripping her back to start the process of making her fit for a return to angling duties. We were then 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, we were able to fit new frames of Scottish oak, traditionally nailed and roved in place. We 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.

She is much too interesting to be scrapped and we look forward to her being filled soon with fresh-caught brown trout rather than begonias and geraniums.

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