July / August 2021


Up from the ashes

It took creativity and brainpower to restore SKIPPER, a 32' hard-top built by Norse Boat and Ski Company, after a fire burned her down to the waterline. Unwilling to send SKIPPER to the trash heap, but unable to find construction drawings, her owners undertook an extensive rebuild using photogrammetry, the process of recording, measuring, and interpreting photographic images to re-create the boat’s structure.

Andrew Lee’s first impression when he saw the burnt-out wreck of a classic runabout named SKIPPER was, “This isn’t a restoration, it’s a whole new build.” But when Lee, a boatbuilder from Ontario, looked closer, he could see that even though the boat was not much more than charcoal, she had been well-respected by those who had recovered her. “She…was as clean as you could get after a fire like that.”

His problem was that it would not be easy to re-create a boat that had been burnt to the waterline when there were no construction drawings. Also, the boat was built in 1949, and only one or two others from the same small regional boatshop were still around to provide any kind of reference.

Lee found himself faced with this dilemma four years ago when the boat’s owner, a Toronto resident, approached him at his shop, Sirens Boatworks, in Merrickville. The client’s family had owned SKIPPER, a 32' hard-top built by the Norse Boat and Ski Company, through two generations and had treated her like a beloved family member. The boat had just been given a major refit and was glistening like new when fire struck the boathouse where she was stored. In the aftermath, the owner started looking for a yard capable of raising the craft not only from her temporary watery grave but also from the ashes.

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