Plenty of emotion surrounding Burin boatbuilding project

It was an emotional day in Burin on Saturday as the Riggs family launched a trap skiff built in honour of a little girl who died in a tragic accident 13 years ago.

Riggs family names trap skiff Our Star as tribute to deceased child

The trap skiff Our Star was launched in Burin on Saturday. (CBC)

It was an emotional day in Burin on Saturday as the Riggs family launched a trap skiff built in honour of a little girl who died in a tragic accident 13 years ago.

Our Star will ride the waves in memory of six-year-old Siobbane Riggs, who died in a all-terrain vehicle accident 13 years ago.  

It was built by her grandfather, 74-year-old Andy Riggs.

"I never thought I'd get it finished," said Riggs. "I never thought I'd live long enough."

Andy designed and built the boat by hand, using wood he cut himself.

His sons, including Bryan, Siobbane's father, also helped.

"It's a very emotional and happy feeling," said Bryan Riggs.

Project took a year-and-a-half

Saturday's launch drew quite a crowd, with the family taking people out for a ride in Our Star.

"It's a very good accomplishment," Bryan said of the year-and-a-half-long project.

Bryan said the project was an incredible bonding experience for the family members who took part.

He called it a labour of love, while Alecia Riggs was moved by the powerful tribute to her late cousin.
 
"You couldn't split us apart, her coming home or me coming home was the best part of my childhood," said Alicia.

"There's millions and millions of pictures of us and they're just memories that I will always have … she's my guardian angel," she said with a flood of emotion.

'That's how smart she was'

The Riggs believe Siobbane's spirit will guide their nautical journeys, just as she did during a voyage aboard a cruise ship with her poppy years ago.

Andy said he didn't know how to get around the large ship, but his granddaughter did.

"She could take me anywhere I wanted to go on any deck," he recalled. 

"That's how smart she was."

For her maiden voyage, the Riggs plan to navigate Our Star to Great Burin Island, Epworth and the resettled community of Corbin.

And it's not the end of their boatbuilding adventures. 

They are already gathering lumber for their next project, a 20-foot punt.
 

With files from Martine Blue