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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.

One of the boats Charlie built about 40 years ago, the 'Me Ansum’ currently on the wharf in Jamestown for maintenance but still an active fishing boat. Time-Lapse: The St Helena Boat Builder

One of the boats Charlie built about 40 years ago, the ‘Me Ansum’ currently on the wharf in Jamestown for maintenance but still an active fishing boat.
Time-Lapse: The St Helena Boat Builder

One of the boats Charlie built about 40 years ago, the 'Me Ansum’ still in great condition. Pictured here on the wharf in Jamestown for maintenance with its current owner (top left) Robin Moyce, aka 'Bimboo.' Time-Lapse: The St Helena Boat Builder

One of the boats Charlie built about 40 years ago, the ‘Me Ansum’ still in great condition. Pictured here on the wharf in Jamestown for maintenance with its current owner (top left) Robin Moyce, aka ‘Bimboo.’
Time-Lapse: The St Helena Boat Builder

 

“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!”

Boat builder and all round carpenter, Charlie George, in his home workshop in Jamestown, St Helena. Time-Lapse: The St Helena Boat Builder

Boat builder and all round carpenter, Charlie George, in his home workshop in Jamestown, St Helena.
Time-Lapse: The St Helena Boat Builder

 

COMMENTS

  • Brian Isaac

    April 6, 2018

    Well done Charlie and Pat, sadly I am not aware of any one with the skills keeping the local Boat Building trade alive.

  • Brian Isaac

    April 6, 2018

    Well done Charlie and Pat, sadly I am not aware of any one with the skills keeping the local Boat Building trade alive.

  • Hazel bunting

    April 1, 2018

    Charlie is my brother and I’m very proud of him, a few years ago I went to St Helena on holiday and WHILE I was there he built me a chest of drawers which I bought to the UK and now the chest of drawers is with me in Spain I’very been here for eighteen years.

  • Chris Daniel

    April 1, 2018

    Another lovely profile of a Saint. Thank you. How proud Charlie must be to have a boat he built 40 years ago still going strong!

  • Shirley Gough

    March 29, 2018

    I have got some of Charlie’s work. he did some lovely work and will last me my life time!

  • Pat ellick

    March 28, 2018

    WHAT a lovely story

  • ronnie Johnson

    March 28, 2018

    Love the story about Charlie George boat building. iT must be in the trade Charlie. My Dad as you know him also was a Mason ( vemo Johnson) he built my Brother freddy a boat, he could put his hand to many jobs and what a boat he built for my brother.
    Charlie you know me as we had played many games of checkers and Snooker On ascension Island and also I used to tend you with cement and concrete blocks etc etc..
    It is really great to hear that you and Pat had gone into something that turn out to be a brilliant job over all. well done. Ronnie Johnson

  • Joan (Joanna) Crowie

    March 28, 2018

    Brilliant article and pics as usual….and so lovely to see my cousin, Charlie George (youngest of auntie Joanna’s children) x

  • Steven

    March 28, 2018

    Iroko Wood. Never heard of that before (since googled). Great word to remember for scrabble!

  • Patrick G Henry

    March 28, 2018

    So amazing, St Helena had so many high mental ability people who has gone before us and there’s no history recorded. in those days one may be couldn’t apply for a Grant not like today. As always another amazing story by WTSDN.

  • Pam Peters

    March 28, 2018

    great story, throughly enjoyed reading it……thank you.

  • Steve evans

    March 28, 2018

    Another brilliant story!

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