A DUMBARTON based boat recovery project has helped members of the local community build their own model ships that will be sailed down down the River Leven.

The Skylark IX Recovery Project, which cares for one of the small, private boats which took part in Operation Dynamo during the World War II evacuation of Dunkirk, had to pause a community project to build a 22-foot coastal rowing boat at the Scottish Maritime Museum as a result of lockdown measures.

But with their newly found free time the team have begun a Zoom led project making model boats with eight clients of drugs charity Alternatives’ Safe as Houses project, which is situated in Clydebank.

The project aims to teach Safe as Houses’ clients traditional wooden boat building techniques, building their own 50cm long Echo Bay Dory model skiffs.

Claire McDade, project manager at the Skylark IX Recovery Project, based in Dumbarton, said: “The Skylark IX Recovery Project was established to support people living in the communities of West Dunbartonshire in particular by developing skills, life-long learning and confidence.

“Like so many community organisations over the last year, we’ve had to think creatively and adapt our projects to make sure we keep connecting with, and supporting, people through these difficult times.

“With our skiff skills training, which builds on Dumbarton’s strong boatbuilding heritage, we moved from building a 22-foot-long St Ayles skiff to a 50cm Echo Bay Dory model skiff over Zoom.

“Our first Zoom project last spring was a great success and we’re delighted to begin our second programme now.

“As well as our community projects, we are also busy looking at what the future may look like for Skylark IX and hope to share our aspirations with everyone soon.”

During the weekly, hour-long sessions, the team will learn the fundamentals of building a wooden rowing boat.

The hull will feature curved planks, internal frames and bulkheads and will be fitted out with decks and seats or ‘thwarts’.

Orkney-based sail maker Mark Shiner will then lead the group through constructing a scale model sail and rig from sailcloth before rigging it to a miniature mast, boom and spirit.

In spring, when Covid restrictions allow, and after waterproofing, decorating and naming their vessels, it is hoped the group will be able to launch their mini flotilla on to the waters of the the River Leven.

Daisy Martinez, a local outreach officer who leads the Alternatives programme, adds: “These Echo Bay Dory model skiffs might be an eighth of the size of a full-size skiff, but the principles remain the same.

“It’s a great way of learning the fundamentals of traditional boat building.

“Working at that scale takes a lot of care and patience and it’s a lot of fun too.

“We’re looking forward to seeing a flotilla of colourful mini community skiffs set sail this spring.”