PASSION and will have led to one family being delighted that a piece of their history is back with them on the water where it belongs.
The re-launch of 1934 Clinker boat Florence comes after Joshua Smith, whose Hayling Island family owned the boat from the 1950s until the early 2000s, spent two years refurbishing her after getting her back in 2016.
After Joshua’s great uncle and boat owner Roy Smith died in 2005 Florence was sold – but she now sits in her former glory at Mengeham Rythe Sailing Club ready for future generations of the Smith family to enjoy.
Joshua, a 28-year-old property developer, spent thousands of pounds refurbishing the boat and said: ‘Florence was my great uncle Roy’s pride and joy. He was always re-rigging or refurbishing her.
‘Roy and his brother Donald enjoyed great fishing trips and club races together on Florence with Roy's wife Renée. He used to take me out fishing when I was young.
‘Florence was sold to another sailing club member when Roy died but one evening in 2016 I was there and saw her on the trot.
‘I told a passing member I would love to get her back in the Smith family one day.’
Roy served Hayling Island Lifeboat Station from 1975-2005, and undertook many roles such as chairman, moving on to become its president in 1999 until he died.
He also served Mengeham Rythe Sailing Club from 1985-2005 and was president there.
Joshua, who lives in Bookham, Surrey, added: ‘Six months later I got a phone call saying the new owners, the Ault family, would pass the boat back to the Smiths. I was absolutely delighted.
‘My aim was to get my great aunt Renée, 94, and my grandfather Donald, 93, back out on the water.
‘I got boat builder and Royal Waterman John Turk to help and found a boat yard called Bridge Marine in Walton-on-Thames. There we spent every spare hour working to bring Florence back to life.
‘To know I’ve worked on the same boat as my ancestors is a true blessing. I feel as though Roy has been with me every step of the way.
‘I am eternally grateful for everything those involved on this journey have done.’