Island man buys authentic Chinese junk sailboat

A boat builder who lives in Montague, P.E.I., had been looking for an authentic Chinese junk sail boat for seven years. And now, he's finally found one.

Monte Gisborne considering public tours or boat trips for the 2017 P.E.I. tourism season

Montague boat builder Monte Gisborne found the authentic Chinese junk sail boat Ho Hum for sale in Chester, N.S., on Kijiji. (Submitted by Monte Gisborne)

A boat builder who lives in Montague, P.E.I., who was looking for an authentic Chinese junk sailboat for seven years has finally found one.

Monte Gisborne stumbled across a posting on Kijiji for a boat for sale in Chester, N.S.

He called it "the barn find of a century."

"It was a needle in a haystack kind of thing," said Gisborne.

"I've had a passion for Chinese junks. I've been on one previously and I was completely smitten by it and I hoped one day I'd have the opportunity to own one myself."

Deep nautical history 

Gisborne said his love of sailing is strongly connected to the history.

The name plate on the ship, just one of many carved features. (Submitted by Monte Gisborne)

"The Chinese invented the bulkhead, the rudder, the compass, all these things," he said.

Basically, it's a wooden piece of art. And a big, heavy, wooden piece of art.- Monte Gisborne

"You look at Chinese nautical history, and when I look at this boat all I see is that coming flooding at me in one big, wooden whack across the head."

His newly-purchased Chinese junk, the Ho Hum, was built in 1968 by the Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Hong Kong, a shipyard that's been building boats since the late 1800s.

The 38-foot, two-mast boat is made out of Burmese teakwood, with a Mandarin red hull and leaf-like red sails.

Not an easy buy

The Ho Hum has been kept in a heated storage facility for a number of years, Gisborne said, after its previous owners became too old to enjoy it.

But Gisborne said they wanted to make sure it went to someone who could properly care for it.

Monte Gisborne is weighing whether to offer tours or sailings on Ho Hum, saying there has already been interest from P.E.I.'s growing Chinese community. (Submitted by Monte Gisborne)

"They love this boat. This is like selling their own son," said Gisborne.

"I had to have about a two-hour conversation with them and show my credentials that yes, I am the right type of person."

The former owners have asked him to use traditional materials and keep the Ho Hum as authentic as possible.

Transport troubles 

But Gisborne's first — and biggest — challenge is getting the boat to P.E.I.

"Basically, it's a wooden piece of art," he said. "And a big, heavy, wooden piece of art."

Monte Gisborne says one of the biggest challenges is how to transport this ship, which he describes as a "wooden piece of art," from Nova Scotia to P.E.I. (Submitted by Monte Gisborne)

He estimates the empty ship weighs about 13,000 pounds. He's hired a boat hauler to bring it over from Nova Scotia on the ferry, to minimize the risk of taking it on the road.

"I'm worried about the miles on a cradle going down the highways. You know, it's a tender boat," said Gisborne.

I just want to shorten the distance it actually has to travel going over the potholes of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia highways."

Considering sailing tours 

Gisborne said the boat needs about 20 hours of repair work, like caulking the teak planks of the hull, which he hopes to do this winter.

He plans to launch her in the spring, possibly offering public tours or sail tours on it.

"The local Chinese community is extremely excited about this. Everybody wants to see it," he said.

"Many of whom have never been on board a Chinese junk ever in their life."