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Boleh Gets Closer to Setting Sail

5 November 2014

Restoration provides positive opportunities for young people.

After years of hard work, historic ship, Boleh, is excitingly close to getting back on the water.

"I'm here to see it until the end," Tim Gallier, Boleh Project Co-ordinator said.

Tim, 59, of Craneswater Park, Southsea, said that the boat should be ready to sail again in January of next year.

Boleh was built in Singapore in 1945 by British Naval Officer, Commander, Robin Kilroy, and was then sailed back to England. 

The boat, now kept in Eastney, is made from traditional materials with many features of interest. For example, the portholes were made from Japanese fighter aircraft windscreens.

Due to the boat's unique design and history, The Boleh Project was granted £500k lottery funding in December 2012.  Volunteers, as well as a team of employees, have been working hard to restore it ever since.

The Boleh was due to set sail this summer but was held back by delays.  As the restoration team focussed on training apprentices and suffered from the continuous loss of shipwrights, the completion date was pushed back.

The project employed numerous apprentices and allowed children from Charter School to learn more about ship building.

"The boat had to be used to encourage people from a disadvantaged background," Tim said. "It gave them aspiration, something different in life and team building skills."

The Boleh will first be launched in Chichester, where its mast and sail are being restored.

The Boleh Project team will be among the first to board the ship when it sails. "We are excited to sail, it's why we're all doing this," said Tim.

One place on the Boleh's first launch may be auctioned for charity.

In the future the boat will be managed by the Portsmouth Sail Training Trust who will take children out sailing on it.

"In the future I hope it will continue to perform some sort of role in team building, mental health or child development," Tim said.

Tim wishes that the boat will be a positive focus for people over the next few years, believing that working on the boat can be very therapeutic.

"Because it's wooden, it's organic, it's almost alive," he said. 

Taken from About My Area, Portsmouth Local News website, 4 November 2014

Read more about current restoration progress on The Boleh Project website.

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