September 18, 2021

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Legendary boat builder Henry Vokey dead at 91

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a man wearing a hat and glasses: Henry Vokey was one of Newfoundland and Labrador's most notable boat builders. He used traditional methods to build motor boats, long liners, and sailboats, but had a special passion for the art of building schooners.


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Henry Vokey was a person of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most notable boat builders. He used traditional techniques to develop motor boats, very long liners, and sailboats, but experienced a particular enthusiasm for the art of making schooners.

Henry Vokey, 1 of the province’s most celebrated boat builders, has died.

Vokey, who died Wednesday at 91, was a master boat builder who introduced his last schooner, Leah Caroline, in 2012. 

His daughter-in-law, Sharon Vokey, said his skills were so distinct that you realized a “Vokey boat” when you noticed 1. 

“They experienced a fashion all their very own,” she said.

Vokey settled in Trinity and opened Vokey’s Shipyard in the 1960s. 

He made use of regular strategies to create thousands of schooners, motor boats, extensive liners and sailboats. 

At occasions, Sharon Vokey claimed, the well-revered craftsman used extra than 60 guys in the Trinity space.

“He was well identified among the the boat builders, and perfectly recognised amid fishermen,” she explained. “His father told him at one particular point, ‘You’ll in no way make a residing creating boats. There is no money in it.’ But Henry wasn’t interested in the fishing factor. He wanted to make the boats that you went fishing in.”

Order of Newfoundland and Labrador

In 2007, Vokey’s many years of boat constructing artistry have been honoured when he acquired the Purchase of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Sharon mentioned the total household was ecstatic.

“He wasn’t the normal type of receiver for the Buy of Newfoundland and Labrador,” she reported. “A ton of men and women are into philanthropy, and people have carried out superior will work with cash, but Henry was the man who contributed to the fishing vessels of Newfoundland and Labrador, and to be identified for that was certainly, definitely great for all of the family. And it was fantastic for him.” 

When he knew his arthritic fingers and knees weren’t heading to allow him do the job any longer, Vokey took up a new interest.

He would create tiny boats in bottles, and Sharon figures he created about 100 of all those about the previous yr or so, mainly because “he had to do one thing.”

“And just to look at him do that, to manoeuvre and function this kind of enjoyable very little depth and get that boat set up in the bottles … it astonished folks,” she claimed. “And he did that proper up until the middle of December.”

Like his schooners and fishing boats, Vokey was focused to producing individuals minimal styles best. 

“He was genuinely like a person on a mission. He was in competitiveness with himself his full daily life. Every single boat could be that minimal bit much better. He totally mastered that art,” Sharon said.  

A dying artwork

“With no a doubt, he experienced a passion for schooners … and he started off another one, which is a 56-foot schooner,” Sharon mentioned.

“She’s essentially in the drop by his home now, partly created. She’s framed out and 50 % planked.”

That boat has been sitting down in Vokey’s lose for about two yrs. 

Sharon claims her husband would like to end it for his father, and perhaps train his grandson about the family members craft. 

“We have a grandson now, eight decades outdated,” Sharon mentioned. “He has a authentic curiosity in doing work with his palms. And he figures one of these times he is likely to make a boat as perfectly.

“But it is a dying ability. It can be a dying act. His sons continue to have that means. We are nonetheless hopeful that we will get an additional boat builder in the family members, for certain.” 

Vokey died on the 11th anniversary of the loss of life of his spouse, Caroline.

Sharon suggests she’ll recall her father-in-regulation as a amazing, welcoming, and progressive gentleman. 

“The humbleness of the person was definitely some thing unique,” she stated. “He was so nice with most people. He always experienced a smile and he was 1 of the most photogenic men and women I’ve at any time acknowledged in my existence.… Constantly with a smile, constantly with the kettle on. [He’d say] ‘come in and sit down and have a cup of tea.’ And that is in which he was happiest.”

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