Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wooden ship building in Cape Town?

I have today been asked what happened to all the highly skilled men who built all the wooden fishing boats?

A few years ago there was a considerable amount of restoration / rebuilding of wooden trawlers being carried on in Hout Bay harbour by skilled craftsmen in this dying trade. Is that activity still alive? There remain scores of wooden fishing craft in the Cape, so who re-planks and repairs them? I used to enjoy watching those craftsmen (mostly Coloured folk) building those trawlers at Louw & Halvorsen's boatyard in Table Bay. During my naval architecture practical training I was privileged to have conducted inclining tests on two of their newbuildings, one of which was 72 ft in length and the largest then built. The owner was Mr. Johnny Eigelaar, head of a noted fishing family of Veldrif. Have you ever handled an adze - used to shape solid oak frames? The craftsmen could shape those big frames to within millimetres.

A good question and I note I got the yards name spelling wrong.


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