A 110-year-old classic boat, built at Clyde shipyards during the height of the town’s shipbuilding history, has arrived in Wester Ross after more than 50 years abroad – and its new owners are hoping it will become a destination for wealthy tourists .
The classic 50-foot yacht was built in 1910 by the renowned shipyard William Fife and Sons. Designed by Norwegian architect Christian Dekke, the boat made an 886-mile journey from its former home in Brest, France to Aultbea on the west coast.
She arrived in Portsmouth from France last week and was then transported to her new home in Aultbea. Next she will make the short journey to the Isle of Ewe where she will embark on an extensive restoration to restore her to her former glory.
After restoration, she will be chartered to holidaymakers wishing to enjoy the stunning coastline. An outreach project will also give local youth the opportunity to learn sailing skills.
The yacht, which will be re-registered under her original number and name, Gannet, was purchased by Sam McAdam, a businessman who lives and works in Aberdeen and grew up in the Highlands. He hopes Gannet’s return to Scotland will help develop a yachting business and create jobs for people in the area.
He said: “I have spent the last two years looking for the right yacht to buy and restore so we can create a unique yachting experience off the west coast of Scotland.
“When I came across Gannet, I knew she would be perfect. Already meeting her current owner and learning all about her fascinating history has been an incredible experience and I can’t wait for us to welcome charter guests on board and share this with you.
“An extremely important part of our activities will be to reach out to young people in the local community for at least two weeks. The program will be a great way to get the younger generation involved and I can’t wait to bring it to life. Sailing is a fantastic way to build independence and key skills in a fun environment.”
Although the yacht retains almost all of her original features, an 18 month restoration program by local traditional boat craftsman Alasdair Grant will restore her to her former glory.
“Dolt is just the beginning. We hope she will be the first of several classic yachts we are bringing to the region for restoration and charter. It has been a particularly tough time for the tourism industry over the past two years, particularly in rural areas.
“I am involved with Gannet and as the business expands we can not only attract more visitors to the area but also create employment opportunities. It’s one of the reasons I’m so pleased to be working with Alasdair and excited to be working with local community members and organizations to ensure that together we can create something truly positive for the region,” added Sam.
Gannet was originally built for a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club by William Fife and Sons who were internationally respected for the speed, safety and attractive design of their boats. The yacht has had many owners in her lifetime and has spent much of her life sailing the coast of mainland Europe.
She has spent the last 12 years in the French port city of Brest and was previously owned by Michel Pierrot, who sadly passed away in 2018.
Mr Pierrot’s son, Matthieu Pierrot, said: “Father spent many happy times sailing on the yacht – sailing in the Mediterranean and across to Britain and Ireland. Whilst sad to part with her I am pleased to know that she will be fully restored and back on the water where she belongs and to be enjoyed by many visitors to Scotland.”