Time-lapse: The St Helena Boat Builder
CHARLIE GEORGE, 68, JAMESTOWN | Sharon Henry
Time-Lapse on the blog is a series of short story features designed to capture segments of time, life and culture through stories told by the people of St Helena
“I used to be a mason first, building houses. Then I got into carpentry, got to like it and been doing it for over 30 years now. The only teaching I had was at school with Dover Thomas. The kind of carpentry I do is classed as joinery.
“It was ‘round about the late 70s, early 80’s, me and my brother Pat branched out and built boats. That came ‘bout because one Maundy Thursday night (I won’t say his name) we asked this man if we could go fishing with him. At first he was telling us he wanted to go fishing but he had nobody to go with him. So we said we’d go. But he turned us down because he said we wasn’t boatmen.
“So the next day we thought we’d build our own boat!”
A Boat Called ‘Me Ansum’
“And that’s how we started off. We built a small one first, her name was Fairy and we used to go fishing out in the deep water right down the ‘Shovel’ all ‘bout. It was 14ft long.
“We made it out of what was called, ‘ship wood,’ wood that was used for dunnage for oil drums. It was placed on ship decks and the oil drums were stored on top. It was good wood some was even oak.
“Then after we made one for Mr Norris, then we build another one for ourselves and then we built one for Mr Heseltine. They used them mostly for pleasure boats. The one we built for Norris, Me Ansum, Bimboo [Robin Moyce] one of the fishermen uses now to go fishing in. We built that one with wood that came down on the first RMS when it brought a load of wood from Canada.
“Heseltine’s one the Cambria, was made out iroko, it got sent to Ascension after.”
When The St Helena Boat Builder Wants To Go Fishing
“Our second boat the Sea Rider is still down there [in the harbour] and get used for fishing, we made it out of island wood, cape yew plank and iroko. The Fairy we lost, it broke away went adrift and we don’t know what happened to it.
“We still go out fishing sometimes even though we don’t have boats anymore. But, nobody turns us down now when we ask to go fishing with them!”