Friday, 10 September 2010

Stroma, yacht no 4

photo by Richard Pierce
The first five boats were built together at McGruer's yard at Clynder and launched at the end of May 1929.

Her first owner was George Nisbet, a Glasgow shipowner, who bought his first tramp steamer, the second-hand SS Greatham, in partnership with John Calder in 1905. Nisbet, Calder & Co lasted until 1913, then George Nisbet & Co operated as ship owners and managers, forming a number of companies such as Clydesdale Navigation Co Limited. There was eventually a substantial fleet of ships with names starting with Blair. Their record is a history of the suffering of the British merchant fleet through two world wars, with in addition a number of tragic losses in storms at sea, such as the horrendous fate of the 26 man crew of the Blairgowrie, which sank in a North Atlantic hurricane in February 1935.

George Nisbet campaigned Stroma until 1937, when he sold her to John Buchanan. She is shown in the Registers as belonging subsequently to:-

            1938 F P Rankin
            1939 W S and C R Dobson
            1949 W A Caldwell
            1956 T O Buchanan
            1960 J H Lang
            1963 Henderson and Smith

By the 1970s she belonged to Ron MacLachlan, who was a well-kent figure around the Clyde and cruised her extensively. Ron sold her to Alexander and Keith Neilson, who sold her to John Thomson, a roofing contractor from Ayr, who moored her in Ayr Harbour and raced her successfully, winning the Southern Cross, a night race round Ailsa Craig which took place in near gale force conditions.

Since September 1976 she has belonged to me. I kept her at various locations between Oban and the Clyde, then in 1989 I was persuaded to lend her to Scottish Maritime Museum (Irvine), on the basis that she would become a working exhibit and be progressively restored to first class condition, serving as a teaching aid for carpentry apprentices.

What happened subsequently will be the subject of a separate post. By 1995 she had become a wreck and I spent the next eight years restoring her.

Since 2003 she has been berthed at Kilmelford.

For those who are interested in such matters her original hull colour is not confirmed, but soon after her launch she was grey, then light green, then she went through a white period and is currently, following her restoration, light green again.

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