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Century-plus old classic Clyde-built yacht Gannet arrives in Aultbea in Wester Ross to open a new chapter in her colourful career

By Hector MacKenzie

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Owner Sam Mcadam and wife Aziza in front of 110 year old yacht - Gannet ready for her refurbishment
Owner Sam Mcadam and wife Aziza in front of 110 year old yacht - Gannet ready for her refurbishment

A 110-year-old classic boat that was built in the Clyde shipyards during the peak of the city’s shipbuilding history has arrived in Wester Ross after more than 50 years abroad.

Its new owners are charting a course for it to become a destination for wealthy tourists.

The 50ft classic yacht was built in 1910 by the renowned shipyard of William Fife and Sons on the river Clyde in Glasgow.

Designed by the Norwegian architect Christian Dekke the boat undertook a 886-mile journey from its previous home in Brest, France to Aultbea, on the west coast of Scotland. She arrived in Portsmouth on Wednesday from France where she was transported by road to her new home where she will begin a major restoration to return her to her former glory

Once the restoration is complete, she will be chartered to holiday makers from around the world who want to enjoy the stunning Scottish coastline. An outreach project will also provide local youngsters with the opportunity to learn sailing skills.

The yacht, which is being re-registered under her original number and name, Gannet, has been bought by Sam McAdam, a businessman who lives and works in Aberdeen, and who grew up in the Highlands.

He hopes the return of Gannet to Scotland will help to develop the north west of Scotland into a yachting destination and plans to establish a yachting business in the area, creating jobs for people in the region.

Sam said: “I’ve spent the last two years searching for the right yacht to buy and restore so that we can create a unique yachting experience off the west coast of Scotland. When I came across Gannet, I knew she would be perfect. It’s been an incredible experience already getting to know her current owner and learn all about her fascinating history and I can’t wait until we can welcome charter guests onboard and share this with them.

Owner Sam McAdam with 110 year old classic yacht - Gannet ready for her refurbishment
Owner Sam McAdam with 110 year old classic yacht - Gannet ready for her refurbishment

“A vitally important part of our activity will be providing at least two weeks of outreach to young people in the local community. The programme will be a great way to engage the younger generation and I can’t wait to see it come to life. Sailing is a fantastic way to build independence and key skills, in a fun environment.”

Although the yacht retains almost all its original features, an 18-month restoration programme by local traditional boat craftsman, Alasdair Grant, will return her former glory.

“Gannet is just the beginning. We are hoping she will be the first of several classic yachts that we bring to the region for restoration and charter. It has been a particularly tough time for tourism industry, especially in rural areas over the past two years.

“I’m committed through Gannet and as the business expands that we will be able to not only attract more visitors to the region but create job opportunities too. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so delighted to be working with Alasdair and why I’m excited to work in partnership with local community members and organisations to ensure we can create something really positive together for the area,” added Sam.

Gannet was built originally for a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club by William Fife and Sons who were internationally respected for their boats’ speed, safety, and attractive design. The yacht has had many owners in her lifetime and spent much of her life sailing the coast of mainland Europe.

She has spent the past 12 years in the French port city Brest and was previously owned by Michel Pierrot, who sadly passed away in 2018. Mr Pierrot’s son, Matthieu Pierrot, said: “Dad spent many happy times sailing the yacht – sailing in the Mediterranean and across to Britain and Ireland. While is it is sad to part with her, I’m happy to know that she will be fully restored and will be back on the water where she belongs being enjoyed by many of Scotland’s visitors.”

Gannet has now arrived in Aultbea and after a brief visit will be moved to the Isle of Ewe for restoration.

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