Restored West Wight Scow "Chubby" is launched from Boathouse 4


Restored West Wight Scow "Chubby" is launched from Boathouse 4

Neglected, unloved and lying upside down in a boatyard; it’s not immediately obvious what drew Lillian & Steve Downey to buy the 11ft 3in wooden Scow “Chubby”. And when they put her in the water it soon became clear that she was never going to float unaided. “We had a great week with her in the Norfolk Broads but only with the assistance of a pump and a car battery!”, says Isle of Wight resident, Lillian. “Chubby also had her foredeck painted pink for an Old Gaffers’ Association festival, raising funds for breast cancer research. It was another weekend enjoyed thanks to the battery and the pump” 

The Downeys were unsure about how to go about repairing their much-loved boat, but luck stepped in during a group tour of Boathouse 4 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. IBTC Portsmouth, based in Boathouse 4, just happened to need a clinker-built boat for its students to develop their skills on, and the Downeys’ 1950’s West Wight Scow fit the bill. “It’s rare that we take on a boat like this,” says Head of College, John Evans, “but ‘Chubby’ gave us a great opportunity to teach a variety of restoration and planking skills on a single vessel. Her final condition is a tribute to the work of the students and the instructors”.  When the new foredeck was fitted, the students even painted the underside pink, as a nod to her previous paintwork. 

“It’s truly amazing, what they have done”, says Lillian, “Over the course of time we visited to see her progress – like watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. Such craftsmanship, such dedication and such enthusiasm have been evident in each and every visit. Some of the students who worked on her have gone onto really fine employment, and we are so pleased to have played a very tiny part in their future!”