Retired Burin welder builds first wooden boat at 73

A 73-year-old Burin Peninsula man has taken on a big challenge — to build a fishing boat — with no previous experience in wooden boat building.
Andy Riggs of Burin is building a fishing boat from raw wood he gathered. Riggs has no previous experience in wooden boat building. (CBC)

A 73-year-old Burin Peninsula man has taken on a big challenge — to build a fishing boat — with no previous experience in wooden boat building.  

Andy Riggs grew up around boats, but now that he's retired from his career as a welder, he decided to build one. 

Riggs designed the plans himself, in his basement.

He's enlisted the help of his two sons to give him a hand with the project.
Bryan Riggs says his father's project is a great opportunity to keep traditional skills alive. (CBC)

Riggs said his son Bryan, who is a captain, will get the boat when it's finished.

"Every chance I gets, I gives him the hammer and tries to get something out of him. I got him there now, working him now," he said. 

Riggs said all kinds of visitors have been dropping by his home in Burin to assess his handiwork.

"The heaviest kind of timbers in her and I got them all handy together too. They're close together too. I had a feller here the other day, a boat builder here the other day, and he said, 'When you get her done, you can hoist her up with a helicopter and let her drop,' and he said it's not going to hurt her."

Son 'honoured' to receive special gift

Bryan Riggs said the boat project is an opportunity to keep traditional skills, like wooden boat building, alive.

He said he's honoured to receive such a gift from his father.

"It's emotional. It's a lot of work and he's taking pride in it, which is good. And everyone else, there [are] a lot of people here, everyday to see what's going on and to admire the workmanship. There hasn't been a boat built here, in this area in a long time." 

Andy Riggs expects the boat to be finished by next summer.  

He plans to have a big launch party to celebrate all his work.