Princess Anne is to visit the banks of the River Wyre to meet a craftsman who is a living legend in the specialised world of wooden boat building.
Master shipwright David Moss, 66, who is celebrating half a century in the highly skilled profession, is to welcome the Princess Royal to his boatyard at Skippool Creek next month.
Aware of the Royal Family’s interest in sailing, he wrote to Buckingham Palace telling officials about his 50 years as a boatbuilder.
David, from Catterall, near Garstang, who is one of less than a handful of boat builders specialising in wooden craft in northern England, said he was delighted to get a
response saying Princess Anne would be paying him a visit on Wednesday, September 10.
Among those present will be David’s wife, Rosemary – a former secretary at Wyre Council – Knott End coastguard John Bradbury, current and former staff, and customers.
David’s career began as an apprentice in a boat building and repair business at Beaumaris, Anglesey, after leaving school at Formby, Merseyside, in the 1960s – a time when wooden boat building was in decline due to competition from mass produced fibreglass designs.
He later moved to work at Freckleton Naze, working on Lytham shrimpers, Preston pilot boats, fishery protection vessels and the region’s lifeboats, before moving to various part of the country, including Bute, Scotland, learning more about his chosen craft.
In 1971 he moved to Boyes Avenue, Catterall, from where he commuted to Glasson, Fleetwood and Morecambe as a freelance boatbuilder and repairer.
In 1974 he set up his own business – in the landlocked setting of Catterall Lodge Farm, Catterall.
David’s reputation among British and overseas boat owners grew to the point where he needed a bigger base, ideally in a port. In 1986 he opened his boatyard at Skippool.
David uses both modern hi-tech tools and traditional techniques representing the best of craftsmanship ancient and modern. Explaining his work, he said: “Most things are done by hand. It is a craft rather than anything else. I am always busy.
“We have the skills and experience to build, repair or restore all types of wooden craft from small clinker dinghies to ocean going yachts.”
David works with a huge variety of wood – English oak for keels and frames, larch for planking and teak for decking.
David employs three full and two part-time staff, and is particularly proud of his record in training several apprentices during his career.
Almost all the UK’s wooden boatbuilders are based in the south of England, where there are more sheltered harbours and ports.
Centuries ago – pre-Liverpool and Fleetwood – Skippool was a thriving commercial port with trading links with the Baltic and the Caribbean.
Now it is is also the HQ of the Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club.
Princess Anne is a fairly regular visitor to Wyre, and is no stanger to Skippool.
She was last in the port in 2006 when she visited B&FC Yacht Club as part of its 100th birthday celebrations.
She was in Garstang last November to visit a charity shop.