Glen Tanar donation will save ‘Sea Spray’

Keith Muir from Portsoy Boat Shed (left) and Michael Bruce (Glen Tanar) who donated the timber.
Keith Muir from Portsoy Boat Shed (left) and Michael Bruce (Glen Tanar) who donated the timber.

Collaboration and support for the community are important aspects of the way Glen Tanar’s Michael and Claire Bruce do business.

While on a recent trip to the north-east coast of Scotland an exciting opportunity arose.

Mr Bruce explained: “In April, Claire and I attended a fund-raiser for Portsoy Boat Festival. The next day Roger Goodyear, co-chairman of the event, gave us a tour of the fantastic new hostel, the converted ‘Sail Loft’ heritage building, and introduced us to Keith Muir, manager of the Boat Shed. The Boat Shed is a charity that works with disadvantaged children to build and restore boats.”

Their major project at the moment is the re-building of ‘Sea Spray’, a traditional in-shore sail fishing boat, but all they had left were bits of the wooden keel!

Mr Bruce went on: “I discussed the re-building project with Keith and he said he was short of larch boards for decking planks and that he had tremendous problems sourcing larch. I offered to help. Keith needed what to him was a lot of larch, but what to the forest industry was a very small amount.”

Supplying ‘boatskin larch’ is not new to Glen Tanar. Mr Bruce said: “When I came back to Glen Tanar in the mid-1980s we still carefully selected and supplied top quality boatskin larch, a product that attracted the highest prices and was supplied to Buckie and other traditional boatbuilding yards that used larch as a ships’ timber. Sadly these yards have closed down.

“Most of my family summer holidays were in wooden trawler style boats from Buckie’s Herd and Mackenzie shipyard, in which my father and skipper Hamish Flett from Orkney sailed us all over the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney Islands and across to Norway and Sweden.

“Timber used in the Aboyne Schools Project in May this year was some windblown larch. As I knew we were going to have the larch and the mill on-site I was able to offer the Portsoy Boat Shed the sizes they needed. In fact I was able to supply far more than they needed and the surplus will be donated to the boat-building department of Banff Academy.”

Once the wood was cut to size, stickered, stacked and strapped, James Jones and Sons offered to kiln dry the pack free of charge.

Mr Bruce concluded: “The timber seems to be of reasonable quality and the Boat Shed should get what they need out of the pack. The donation also helps Portsoy move forwards again after a significant flood in June damaged the Sail Loft and other places.”