FOr the past decade, the Eyemouth International Sailing Craft Association (EISCA) has been putting together what is probably the world’s largest collection of boats in sheds close to Eyemouth Golf Club and next Saturday, October 29, they are opening the doors to the public for the first time.
General manager of Eyemouth Maritime Centre, Steven Walker, has been heavily involved with the charity and he estimates that there are around 400 boats in the collection from places as far flung as Indonesia and central America.
The vessels date back centuries and Steven and other EISCA staff spent most of last winter building new racking for the boats and making sure they were properly supported.
About 170 of the boats stored in Eyemouth came from a collection once displayed at the Exeter Maritime Museum.
Among the more interesting boats in the storage sheds is a small Dutch one which was used during the Second World War.
The little dinghy was built by Van der Meer and Zonen around 1930 and 10 years later, in May 1940, she helped in the escape of Mr and Mrs Zeylmaker of Haalem from German forces.
Other interesting vessels acquired by the EISCA include a boat thought to be used by people who fled Vietnam, gifted to the Association from Hong Kong, where the people escaped to; and a more recent addition, ‘Redwing’, a 14.5’ clinker built, open, Bermudan rigged sailing dinghy built in the early 1900s.
And probably the boat with the most poignant history behind it is the ‘The Bedford’, a lifeboat from South Shields.
She was built in 1886, and is oak timbered and planked, and fastened with copper.
The buoyancy cushion surrounding her is made of cork and she is entirely self-draining. This is achieved by having her floorboards above sea level when she is fully loaded, thus enabling six drain-holes to pass right through the hull, from the floor and out of the bottom.
An engine was added about a year after she was taken out of commission in 1930, but she is now restored to a pulling craft because it was as such that she performed the majority of her rescues.
It is known that ‘The Bedford’ was launched 45 times on rescue operations, but it has not so far been possible to discover how many souls she saved during her years of service.
The oldest boat in the collection, an African Dugout was carved from a whole tree a thousand years ago.
Steven said he hoped the Craft Association’s unique collection would appeal to people of all ages.
“What we have here is completely unique,” he told The Berwickshire News.
“It’s considered to be the best collection of its type and there really is nothing else like it in the world.
“At the moment, few people know about the little gem we’ve got here and I want people to get excited about it and come and visit more often.
“EISCA’s Stephen Walters will be coming to Eyemouth especially to give a talk on the history of the collection and the aims and objectives for the future as well as giving a guided tour of the boats in store.
“A large number of the wind and oar powered craft stored in Eyemouth were collected by Major David Goddard, a ex-marine. He travelled the world for around 30 years collecting these boats for display in Exeter. When the museum ran into financial difficulty and the collection was due to be auctioned off individually, we stepped in at the eleventh hour, saved it from being split up and now have the responsibility for its care.”
Eyemouth International Sailing Craft Association’s open day will be divided into two sessions; one starting at 10am and one at 2pm.
Both will begin with a talk in Eyemouth Golf Club House.
Anyone interested in attending is asked to meet there at the Club House, after confirming their attendance by email to email@example.com by phone on 07595351902.