Restoration and the Future

Having passed through several hands in the past few years, Shearwater finds herself with no engines aboard and the superstructure has been disturbed although replaced, to facilitate their removal. So under new ownership it is now intended to return her to her wartime appearance, enough of her original fabric remains for this to be a real proposition, as beneath her most recent additions to her topsides, her original coachlines aft are still present along with all hatchway openings. Internally much of her appearance from her ferry days also survives well intact including her bespoke staircases down to,  her bar and saloon area, where so many a refreshing pint were enjoyed by the islanders on her brief stop offs on her ferry duties.


Although there is much finalising to do, it is  likely she will end up with her internal ferry day appearance forward, and as much of the aft section has been changed from those days, this will be reinstated as original wartime configuration, in keeping with the outside. This would show the accommodation for the officers and senior ratings, as well as the radio room.  As previously mentioned her propulsion plant has been removed, newer engines have been purchased to be fitted so she can be used under her own power, it is intended on a long term basis to source and refit original Gardner diesel engines, but the short time priority is to preserve the fabric of the ship, and begin restoring her appearance sympathetically to her varied history, having her able to move when necessary under her own power.

Having resided under recent ownership for the past five years on Loch Ness and having been maintained during this time, “as is” and planning to restore her for the past five years, keeping her as dry as possible and painting the hull to preserve her, with the task ahead  becoming apparent to be a large one, the decision was made to sell her on. A Gentleman purchased her interested in her engines, which were by now non runners and largely seized up, he was looking for some Gardner diesels to “restore” and in Shearwater he had found them. His father having served on HDML’s and Fairmiles in the Mediteranean during World War 2, and he himself already owning a few historic boats he did not have a particular interest in keeping the vessel herself, but he certainly did not want to see Shearwater broken up, so he advertised her in the hope someone would take her on, using her as a going concern either as a houseboat again, or do something suitable with her history in mind. Such a buyer was found.

At the far end of the country from Shearwater, but only a short drive from the then custodians home address, he had found a keen enthusiast for historic wooden ships, who has always had a fondness for HDML’s and been connected to a few over the years, and smitten by their plight after visiting his old shipmates HDML houseboat  “Marica” in Hartlepool. A chance to own Marica slipped him by having just bought a Dunkirk Little Ship to live on himself, others came available over the years including Shearwater, but for various reasons, none of them became a reality. By sheer chance  whilst attending a remembrance service on board HMS Medusa, he mentioned to her captain that he had always wished to own one. However he had resigned himself to the privilege of helping out on Medusa.

Within two days he found a link in his inbox for an engine-less HDML for sale on Loch Ness, a few phone calls and life changing commitments later, he found himself in need of two marinised engines, these were quickly sourced and the rest is fast becoming history as her restoration to wartime appearance gathers pace.

As part of this restoration, what remains of her ferry service days to the West coast Islands is to be retained where possible, first though, a trip south, moving her ashore and a thorough and full appraisal of her overall condition is needed then with the list of the required work known, a logical and relevant refit can be planned and work begin in earnest to get her back to sea again.

Now lying afloat near Inverness she awaits transportation to the Portsmouth area for her restoration to running WW2 appearance. Then re-installation of her accommodation, ready for her future life aiding homeless Veterans find their way back into society.