“She’s a 112-year-old lady, she’s in really good condition for her age,” says Sam McAdam proudly.
Although he may sound like he is talking about a beloved granny, he is in fact describing his recently purchased yacht.
Mr McAdam began his search of a renovation project in 2019, but not just any vessel – one made by Scottish yacht designer and builder William Fife III.
His ambition is partly fuelled by a desire to restore a little Scottish history, but also a desire to “give something back” to young people by enabling them to develop sea-faring skills.
Found vessel with family link ‘slowly deteriorating’ in France
He searched for a Fife-built yacht up and down the UK and even in Germany and France before finally finding one “slowly deteriorating” in a Brest shipyard.
Delighted to find one designed by “one of the world’s best ever yacht builders”, Mr McAdam said he had the wind knocked out of him when he was told the vessel’s original name was Gannet.
“When I was young my father, John McAdam, had sailing boats,” the 58-year-old, from Milltimber in Aberdeen, said. “He used to talk about a Fife sailing yacht that was in the Clyde called Gannet.
“And she was a ketch and a sea-worthy boat and all the rest of it.
“It was just a link that was really not expected. I actually felt quite faint.”
Aims to help encourage young people in Highlands
Once she had been purchased, the question became how to get the 112-year-old back home to Scottish waters.
With the help of a ferry, a few lorries and 250-pound crane, she underwent a “fair old” 886-mile journey to the Island of Ewe on the West Coast where she is being restored by traditional boat craftsman Alasdair Grant.
When the vessel is sea-worthy, Mr McAdam – who grew up near Dornoch – hopes to help “give something back” to the Highlands.
“The intention is to hire the vessel out for charter,” the oil and gas worker said. “It’s to maintain it in Scottish waters up the Great Glen, up the West Coast.
“The money used from that will be used to keep the boat in good condition and the intention is maybe three times a year to do outreach.
“To give young adults the opportunity to learn about sailing and about the old boats.
“That’s always important to try and help as many people as you can, especially the young adults who might just need a little bit of encouragement.
“Cause I know when I started as a young teenager, I was quite lost.”
Investing in Scottish heritage
William Fife III was third generation in his family of Scottish yacht designers and builders and designed around 600 yachts in his time.
He was especially “world famous” for designing “fast and bonnie” racing yachts.
While Gannet might be described as more of a “gusty girl”, Mr McAdam said not to be deceived.
He added: “If you see her lines underneath the waterline Mr Fife kind of honed the shape of the boat under the waterline to be extremely quick.
“When you see her on the top of the water she looks a bit beamier than the other racing boats but when they go to full sail, she can keep up with the best of them.”
Mr McAdam plans to put this to the test by entering the yacht into the 2025 Tall Ships Races in Aberdeen after she has been restored.
“I want to restore something that historically valuable, and a Fife is,” he added. “She’ll be part of the heritage and once she’s finished, she’ll last another 100 odd years easily.”