Belfast Telegraph

We have lift-off...14 years in making, fishing boat built by brothers finally takes to the water

By Harriet Crawford

When the Patterson brothers wanted to buy a boat they couldn't find one they liked - so they decided to build their own.

What they didn't expect was for a project due to last two years becoming a 14-year odyssey.

Yesterday, after years of toil, the 180-tonne boat was finally lowered into the waters of Kikeel.

Marine engineers Raymond (42) and Samuel (41) Patterson, from the coastal Co Down town, built the Steadfast for their eldest brother, skipper Kenneth (44).

He had only been fishing from Kilkeel Harbour for six years when he decided he needed a bigger boat.

The brothers travelled to Scotland to buy a larger vessel, but couldn't find one to satisfy them.

Their initial plans were more modest, to buy a hull and fit it out - something Raymond had tackled before.

Kenneth said: "The shipyard said a whole boat or no boat, so then it was: 'Right, we'll build the whole boat ourselves'."

So they built the 18.75metre vessel from scratch in their free time.

The brothers then put together every single piece of the boat - assembling the bare steel plates, welding it, putting in the machinery, the hydraulic pipes, and the accommodation space.

The brothers did not expect their labour to last more than a decade.

"It wasn't meant to be 14 years. It was meant to be a bit quicker," Kenneth said.

"We were a bit ambitious - we said it would take two years at the start. They just didn't work as hard as I thought they would," he joked.

Their parents Hubert (75) and Ann (69) kept an eye on their sons' work and its cost.

Raymond said: "It is a lot of work for just two people.

"But it's nothing really, really complicated.

"But it is a whole lot of work - it's not what you see that's involved, it's what you don't see when you look at the boat."

He said: "It's a bit of a relief that it's now in the water.

"Now we just want to get on, get finished, and get it ready for the sea."

Kenneth hopes the boat will be ready for prawn fishing by the end of January.

Crowds lined the harbour to watch ysterday, cheering as the craft settled into the water

Lenny McLaughlin has seen every day that the brothers have worked on the boat from the shop window of Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation Ltd, which looks onto the shipyard, and provided supplies to the pair.

He said: "You wouldn't get one built any place in the British isles as good as that.

"The two young fellows who built it did everything in it - the electrical work, the hydraulics, the painting, the carpentry. Everything.

"Nobody else ever put a hand on it - only those two. I was delighted for them - they deserve it. It's a credit to them."

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