Dedication pays off for young boat builder
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.”
l Useful web link: www.ibtc.co.uk.