HISTORICAL INTEREST

AMORE GOES BACK TO DURBAN

Amore was recently sold to Natal Powerboats and left on a very large flatbed.

The boat was a regular exhibit at the show, having been present at all, but one, held in Knysna. Here she is at her first; the 2015 Boatshow held at the KYC.

wooden boat at boatshow

She was built in 1958 by a family intending to compete at the Durban Yacht Club Boat races in Durban harbour. The Sunderland flying boats were still stationed in the harbour in those days. I was told she was built from plans in a Popular Mechanics magazine.

Someone was advertising back copies of this magazine and I knew by then what the cover of the ‘58 edition looked like. This annual boating special included a boat plan. He located the copy, without its cover, but the only plan was for a boat that had wings like the one on this cover. So I’m not sure if this plan was used for the construction of just the hull or whether a previous edition was used.

The first Healey speedboat was launched in the UK in 1956 with a strong racing pedigree. Sterling Moss was photographed with one. Amore’s dimensions mirror those of the Healey so that would have been a logical choice.

popular mechanics story

I bought the boat, my first, from a family in Sedgefield who was emigrating to Australia. What clinched the deal was my plan to restore her as the extended family were not happy that (a) they were leaving SA and (b) the family boat was being sold off. The betrayal was complete:

You see Emora, as she was called, had been closely associated with this family; first in Durban where she won many race trophies in the 35hp category and then in Sedgefield where she was instrumental in many of the teenagers getting up on two skis. She was affectionately nicknamed ‘Cremora’ in those days. Here she is as I found her.

unrestored wooden boat

I immediately started a full restoration with the help of my cousin, Patrick Wilson. With his loaned tools and his instruction, the hull was sanded back to wood, fibreglassed, faired and anti-fouled. Then, once turned back over, the inside was stripped and epoxied, primed and painted. The entire experience was a revelation and I fell deeper and deeper under the vintage boating spell, swopping the first and last letters in her name to make, Amore! It was like a romance after all.

restored wooden boat

The logical next step was to volunteer to organise the Wooden Boatshow when the committee convened the following year. I had met people who shared this passion for vintage boats while completing Amore and we managed to assemble a reasonable collection of boats on Thesen Harbour Town grounds in 2016. Bruce Tedder was passing through town on his way to Addo with his family and saw our Boatshow banner. He decided to attend and gave us a great review in SA Sailing magazine that year (“Porn for wooden boat nuts”).

2017 was the year of the devastating fires and a week before the show took place I received a call from a freelance journalist who was writing an article on Knysna for the British Airways in-flight magazine. She wanted to attend the Boatshow and include wooden boatbuilding in her article. I felt just attending the show would not expose her to the real thrill of vintage, wooden speedboats as opposed to their larger, plastic cousins so I offered her a ride in Amore which she gladly accepted. When the magazine was published it was a real shock to see my name on the cover, but ‘Amore’ featured prominently so the magic must have rubbed off. (‘hi-life’mag).

Wooden boats restored

l have Amore to thank for a number of things. A part of my life left on that flatbed with her.