Vik­ing dream

Spring­dale man builds Vik­ing boat

The Beacon (Gander) - - Sports - BY CORY HUR­LEY THE NOR’WESTER cory.hur­ley@thenor­

Wil­son Laing is of the be­lief if you want some­thing than it is up to your­self to make it hap­pen.

There is no bet­ter ex­am­ple of that than the Vik­ing boat that now floats in the har­bour in Spring­dale.

Sim­ply put, the Spring­dale man saw, and fell in love with, a pic­ture of a Vik­ing boat he found at the li­brary in his home­town. It be­came his dream to see such a ves­sel. Fig­ur­ing there was lit­tle chance one would make a voy­age into the har­bour any­time, he set about build­ing one.

“I had the pic­ture sit­ting around the house for about two or three years,” Laing said. “I do paint­ings, so I was think­ing I might do a paint­ing of it. Then, I thought maybe I’d like to build it.

“I wanted to see a ve­hi­cle boat, so prob­a­bly the only way I would see a Vik­ing boat was if I built it my­self.”

Get­ting started in Novem­ber, and work­ing by him­self, the Vik­ing boat was com­pleted and launched in Spring­dale har­bour re­cently. It be­gan with the saw­ing of the tim­bers, con­tin­ued with things like in­stalling spe­cial win­dows, and fin­ished with glass­ing over the ply­wood. He fig­ures he put be­tween 100-120 hours into the project.

The 44-feet long and 13-feet wide ves­sel stands ma­jes­tic along the har­bour front.

“It’s not bad,” he said, sound­ing like his own critic. “It is the first one I built. As a first boat, I could be more pleased if I had more money to do a bet­ter job.”

Laing, who was born in Port Han­son and lived the ma­jor­ity of his life in Spring­dale, re­turned to his home­town about 12 years ago. He had lived in On­tario work­ing for a door man­u­fac­turer. Other than his boatbuilding and paint­ing, he is also a wood­carver.

He is not a tra­di­tional boat builder, but it is some­thing he has en­joyed do­ing over the years. He can re­mem­ber build­ing his first — a model boat — at the age of 10 or 11. He has built row­boats and has a 27foot cabin cruiser fin­ished.

“I haven’t had much like with putting too much in the water be­cause I have been too busy build­ing boats,” he said. “I am more into build­ing it than I am into ac­tu­ally us­ing it.”

A 22-foot sail­boat is an­other on­go­ing project, the 65-year-old says.

With the dream of see­ing the Vik­ing boat ful­filled, Laing now wants to be part of a team that rows it out Spring­dale har­bour and out to­ward Notre Dame Bay.

“Those boats were rowed by peo­ple who were in one mind and one ac­cord,” he said. “They had to row to­gether, and those Vik­ings had to fight to­gether. It was more or less a big union. You can’t get that any­more.”

How­ever, Laing will con­tinue to look for enough row­ers to get the job done.

“It would be a nice sight to see all those pad­dles in the water,” he said.

If that doesn’t hap­pen, Laing jokes about a des­per­ate at­tempt to see it out on the open water.

“I might have to take it on a one-way trip down the bay or wait for the wind to change to come back,” he said. “If it don’t change, I’ll have to leave her there.”

Laing is not con­tent with his unique projects. He says he would love to be part of build­ing a mas­sive schooner or some­thing with some his­tor­i­cal value.

“I al­ways wanted to be part of build­ing some­thing big,” he said. “… I wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be paid. I would just love be­ing part of some­thing big.”


Wil­son Laing of Spring­dale, far right, takes a few peo­ple out on the Vik­ing boat he built. He would love to get enough row­ers to take the ves­sel out on the open water.

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