Essential repairs commence on Nil Desperandum

Peter Chroston and Tim Senften at work on the Nil Desperandum.
Peter Chroston and Tim Senften at work on the Nil Desperandum.

Essential repair work has begun at Hay’s Dock in Lerwick to the former fishing boat Nil Desperandum, following a successful request for volunteers by Shetland Amenity Trust.

Built in 1947, the former seine-netter is believed to be one of the best examples of her kind left. She was built for the Ministry of Defence but purchased by the Wiseman family in 1951 after which she spent 50 years fishing the waters around Shetland.

The vessel has been deteriorating in recent years, and was gifted to Shetland Amenity Trust by former skipper James Wiseman in April 2012 in order that she could be preserved, with a view to becoming a floating display for visitors to the area.

Jimmy Wiseman on the deck of his former boat the Nil Desperandum. Photo: Stephen Gordon
Jimmy Wiseman on the deck of his former boat the Nil Desperandum. Photo: Stephen Gordon

Mr Wiseman said he was delighted that the boat’s restoration had begun and that she would be preserved for future generations.

Several volunteers were on hand yesterday morning to assist with the dismantling of the mast, with the removal of the heavy winches scheduled shortly.

A cover will be fitted to enable the volunteers to carry out significant repairs to the deck and deck beams while protecting the boat from deteriorating further. This work will continue over the winter.

Peter Chroston, a lead shipwright on several projects and a boat builder with 25 years’ experience in the restoration of wooden boats is co-ordinating the Nil Desperandum’s repair.

He said: “I enjoy the challenge of working on old traditional built boats.”

Mr Chroston replied to an advertisement seeking help to restore the Nil Desperandum and agreed to lead co-ordination of the repairs.

Tim Senften is another leading volunteer. A retired teacher originally from Ohio in America, he knew he would be able to help using his practical background and broad range of skills and trades which include joinery, electrician, engineering and welding.

Mr Senften said: “I like the identity of old boats and feel that it’s an important heritage point for people to identify with their past.”

Anyone who is interested in volunteering to assist with repairs and regular maintenance of the Nil Desperandum should contact Shetland Amenity Trust deputy manager Alan Blain on (01595) 694688.


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