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Springdale man builds Viking boat

Wilson Laing of Springdale, far right, takes a few people out on the Viking boat he built. He would love to get enough rowers to take the vessel out on the open water.
Wilson Laing of Springdale, far right, takes a few people out on the Viking boat he built. He would love to get enough rowers to take the vessel out on the open water.

BAIE VERTE, NL — Wilson Laing is of the belief if you want something than it is up to yourself to make it happen.  

There is no better example of that than the Viking boat that now floats in the harbour in Springdale.

Simply put, the Springdale man saw, and fell in love with, a picture of a Viking boat he found at the library in his hometown. It became his dream to see such a vessel. Figuring there was little chance one would make a voyage into the harbour anytime, he set about building one.

A work in progress.

“I had the picture sitting around the house for about two or three years,” Laing said. “I do paintings, so I was thinking I might do a painting of it. Then, I thought maybe I’d like to build it.

“I wanted to see a Viking boat, so probably the only way I would see a Viking boat was if I built it myself.”

Getting started in November, and working by himself, the Viking boat was completed and launched in Springdale harbour recently. It began with the sawing of the timbers, continued with things like installing special windows, and finished with glassing over the plywood. He figures he put between 100-120 hours into the project.

The 44-feet long and 13-feet wide vessel stands majestic along the harbour front.

“It’s not bad,” he said, sounding like his own critic. “It is the first one I built. As a first boat, I could be more pleased if I had more money to do a better job.”

Laing, who was born in Port Hanson and lived the majority of his life in Springdale, returned to his hometown about 12 years ago. He had lived in Ontario working for a door manufacturer. Other than his boatbuilding and painting, he is also a woodcarver.

He is not a traditional boat builder, but it is something he has enjoyed doing over the years. He can remember building his first — a model boat — at the age of 10 or 11. He has built rowboats and has a 27-foot cabin cruiser finished.

Sitting in the yard.

“I haven’t had much like with putting too much in the water because I have been too busy building boats,” he said. “I am more into building it than I am into actually using it.”

A 22-foot sailboat is another ongoing project, the 65-year-old says.

With the dream of seeing the Viking boat fulfilled, Laing now wants to be part of a team that rows it out Springdale harbour and out toward Notre Dame Bay.

“Those boats were rowed by people who were in one mind and one accord,” he said. “They had to row together, and those Vikings had to fight together. It was more or less a big union. You can’t get that anymore.”

However, Laing will continue to look for enough rowers to get the job done.

“It would be a nice sight to see all those paddles in the water,” he said.

On the open water.

If that doesn’t happen, Laing jokes about a desperate attempt to see it out on the open water.

“I might have to take it on a one-way trip down the bay or wait for the wind to change to come back,” he said. “If it don’t change, I’ll have to leave her there.”

Laing is not content with his unique projects. He says he would love to be part of building a massive schooner or something with some historical value.

“I always wanted to be part of building something big,” he said. “… I wouldn’t necessarily have to be paid. I would just love being part of something big.”

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