Retired carpenter builds custom pirate ship as pandemic project


Bob Winslow’s pandemic project is sure to blow most others out of the water.

After months spent over the fall, winter and spring working with scraps from old furniture and laminate flooring, Winslow set sail on Skiff Lake — about 45 km south of Woodstock, N.B. — aboard his very own pirate ship, named the Menacing Manner.

“Basically you get bored during COVID, so it all came together,” said Winslow, an artist and retired carpenter who lives along Skiff Lake.

Inspiration for the project first hit him two years ago, when he purchased a 13-inch model of the Mayflower ship at a second-hand store to serve as a reminder that some of his ancestors came to North America aboard it in 1620.

Then last year, he inherited a 13-foot fibre-glass boat that belonged to a dear friend of his who passed away.

The design of the Menacing Manner was based off the design of the Mayflower, which carried Bob Winslow’s ancestors to North America in 1620. (Submitted by John Winslow)

As the summer went on, he slowly collected scrap material — including a water bed with its wooden frame, discarded cabinets and laminate flooring that came out of a school gymnasium — and in September, he got to work putting it all together, using the boat as a base, and the Mayflower as inspiration.

With the addition of a nine horsepower outboard motor, some fresh paint and artistic touches, the boat was about 180 pounds heavier, and the whole thing cost about $100.

He did most of it — minus the heavy lifting — despite suffering from arthritis that has left him with replacement joints in both shoulders, carpal tunnel syndrome in his wrists, and pain in his hips and back.

“So any lifting or anything like that, I do it with, you know, jacks and come-alongs and my son, Luke, he comes up every once in a while whenever I need a lift.”

Bob Winslow, left, got help building the boat from his son, John ‘Luke’ Winslow. (Submitted by John Winslow)

Winslow said he got the waterbed from a neighbour, who’d had it since the 1980s, and got the discarded cupboards from another neighbour.

“Another neighbour gave me sewer pipe … and I took it and I made the cannons out of it.

“So it’s a conglomeration of everybody’s waste, and I just don’t see it as that. I repurpose things.”

His son, John “Luke” Winslow, said he put in about 20 hours with his father, helping him lift and hoist heavy materials, and eventually launch the boat on the lake on a sunny June 13.

“Well, I guess he’s the brains and I’m the brawn,” he said.

“So, you know, he needs help with moving the heavy parts, like the actual … bottom half of the boat or the ship, I should say.”

Winslow said despite his father’s arthritis, he’s never been one to sit still, and always “pushes the limit” with whatever project he takes on.

“Time and time again, he, you know, proves that he’s a hard worker, really, even despite his limitations now. It’s pretty remarkable.”

Bob Winslow said the only addition he plans to make is to install water guns on the boat, to give the cannons some actual firepower.

“We’ve had water fights with a few families around the lake in the past, and so I drove the boat over … and I said, ‘If you want to have a water fight now, you better be ready’, and they all laughed and cheered and said ‘Yes, we’re going for another water fight’.”

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