Slàinte – To Life

A restora­tion that cel­e­brates friend­ship and health.

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY LAWRENCE SCHÄF­FLER

Built in Novem­ber 1946, Slàinte is a 27foot Chris- Craft Su­per Deluxe En­closed – re­splen­dent in her gleam­ing bright­work and orig­i­nal chromed fit­tings – look­ing pretty much as she did on the day she was first launched. Hull #507, she’s one of only a hand­ful re­main­ing of the 864 of this spe­cific model that rolled off the Chris-craft pro­duc­tion line in Michi­gan, on the shores of Great Lakes, in the years af­ter the Sec­ond World War.

How she came to be cruis­ing around Lake Ro­toiti – some 72 years later and half a world away – is a fas­ci­nat­ing story, and one that once again il­lus­trates that boat restora­tion projects are of­ten born in the most ob­scure, im­prob­a­ble cir­cum­stances.

A good place to be­gin un­rav­el­ling this odyssey is with her name. It’s Gaelic and de­rives from the Scot­tish toast – Slàinte

Mhath – ‘to your health’, a salu­ta­tion used by her Tau­ranga owner on more oc­ca­sions than he’d like to ad­mit. And one usu­ally ex­changed with his very good Scot­tish friend – the chap cen­tral to this story.

“A few years ago, when this good friend was di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal can­cer, I asked if there was any­thing I could do for him. He said: ‘I’d like you to take me fish­ing on Lake Ro­toiti.’

This was a sim­ple enough re­quest, though not ideal in my ski boat. But as it turned out, it was just the ex­cuse I needed to start out on what has been one hell of a process – and I’m not sure it’s ended!”

That ‘process’ was buy­ing and restor­ing the Chris-craft – a big­ger, more com­fort­able boat which would see the pair trout fish­ing on Lake Ro­toiti in style, grace and com­fort, no doubt with a bot­tle of Scot­land’s finest sin­gle malt close at hand.

“I found her – on­line – while hol­i­day­ing in Raro­tonga, killing time surf­ing the net, as you do. She was an­other vic­tim of the 2008 GFC, with her then-owner walk­ing away from the restora­tion project af­ter run­ning out of cash. She was ly­ing in Idaho – at Lake Coeur d’alene.

“The boat­builder had taken a lien over her – due to the un­paid debts – and he even­tu­ally took own­er­ship. About 90 per­cent of the ex­te­rior restora­tion had been com­pleted – in­side she was a mess, just a shell – and af­ter a fair bit of dis­cus­sion I bought her and shipped her home.” On ar­rival the boat was de­liv­ered to Paen­garoa’s Craig Ma­rine (near Lake Ro­toiti) for what was es­ti­mated to be a 12-week re­fit. She left the boat­yard ap­prox­i­mately a year later...

Boat­yard owner Alan Craig is some­thing of a tim­ber boat restora­tion spe­cial­ist, ser­vic­ing clients mainly around the cen­tral North Is­land. Lake Ro­toiti it­self is home to a colour­ful cult of her­itage and wooden boat en­thu­si­asts, and it’s fair to say Alan’s team has worked on the ma­jor­ity of their ves­sels at some stage.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.