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Dedication pays off for young boat builder

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Teenage boat builder Alton O'Connor's first creation took to the waters of Ferry Reach yesterday, at a launch attended by National Security Minister David Burch.Ooo Shooot, the boat was launched near Kindley Field Road, and is now moored in St David's.


It took two years for the Berkeley Institute student to complete the 13ft fishing boat, which has a ten horsepower engine.

He is now aiming for a career in the old Bermudian maritime tradition.

“Being a shipwright and a boat builder is something I want to bring back to Bermuda,” Mr O'Connor said.

His carpentry teacher Trevor Haynes warned the 18-year-old might have to consider selling his prized boat to finance further studies to that end Mr O'Connor is determined to secure his qualifications from the UK's International Boatbuilding Training College.

In the meantime, he has found time for an extra project in a corner of Berkeley's carpentry workshop: a wooden mould for making and selling his own fibreglass punts, which he plans to enter in the coming Annual Exhibition.

Locally-built boats, he pointed out, will have a considerably lower price tag than the usual imports.

Mr Haynes, who has worked closely with the student, said he has toiled “weekends, holidays and till school shuts down at night”.

“I remember a bad day with the weather last year when he called me asking, ‘Are you coming in today?' I said, ‘Alton, I don't know if it's even safe.' He's been very determined to come in and work.

“He graduates from school this year and what's remarkable is with all this work, he's on the Berkeley honour roll.”

The Mount Hill, Pembroke resident said his long involvement with boats comes from fishing with family in St David's.

“I've always had a passion for boats. I just never thought it could be a career per se.”

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Photo by Tamell Simons Positive launch: Berkeley Institute student Alton O'Connor takes his mother Lanette Vassell and Step father Michael Vessell for a ride in his 15ft boat ìOOO Shootî he built during the official launch ceremony held Yesterday at Kindley Field road St. George's.
Photo by Tamell Simons Family, fellow student, sponsors and well-wishers attend the Berkeley student Alton OíConnor boat launch.
Getting there: Berkeley student Alton O'Connor at work on his boat, in this file picture from 2010.
Photo by Tamell Simons Family, fellow student, sponsors and well-wishers attend the Berkeley student Alton OíConnor boat launch.

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Published March 11, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 11, 2011 at 8:59 am)

Dedication pays off for young boat builder

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