36-footer built entirely from reclaimed timber

An Oxfordshire farmer is finally set to launch a 36ft ketch that he has been building for more than 20 years.

Iain Tolhurst built the yacht, a Pinky Ketch, entirely from reclaimed or indigenous timber from the estate where he runs his organic farm in Whitchurch-on-Thames, near Reading.

Its design is based on the boats that were taken by Norwegian settlers to the east coast of America in the early 19th century and used for offshore fishing as far north as the Arctic Circle.

The 57-year-old started collecting fallen trees after hurricanes in 1987 and 1990 and dried them in a regular shed.

He made both masts and some of the brass fittings while the 700sq ft sails were handmade by an artisan sails-maker.

He said: ‘I have used no plywood, not even in the deck. The main deck is topped with reclaimed pitch pine, which is the only non-local timber and came from the demolition of the Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory in Reading.

“It has been a long project. To date, I have spent more than 22,000 hours on it. I have had a passion for wood and boats all my life but this has had to fit in around my farming activities as an occasional hobby.

‘It will be a special feeling to see the boat actually out on the water. You can never be 100 per cent sure what will happen, so it should be exciting.’

Named Naida, the boat will launch near his home on the Thames and sail to London where she will be re-rigged ready for the sea.

Mr Tolhurst then plans to sail the boat to the Isles of Scilly and Ireland.

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