SUNNYSIDE, N.L. — When Derek Penney of St. John’s finally launched a fully restored rodney boat last Saturday, June 16, he was so excited he immediately rowed the boat through the harbour to his family home in Sunnyside.
“It’s amazing,” he told The Packet. “It’s going to be a privilege to row that down the harbour and tie it in front of my house.”
He laughed and remarked, he didn’t care how long it took him, as he waited 30 years to do it.
Penney, who owns his family’s home in Sunnyside, decided to restore a rodney his grandfather built for his dad while he was away during the Second World War.
The historic boat with a unique design was used in the inshore fishery for over four decades before being stored in a shed on the Sunnyside property in 1985.
It has been a lifelong goal of Penney’s to restore the old boat to its former glory.
Last May he took it out of the shed for the first time in 30-plus years to have it completely refurbished.
“When you see (the final product) considering what we took to St. John’s — it’s amazing,” he said.
Penney says it is encased in fiberglass, but much of the details are original to the boat.
“On the second seat there, you can see the knife prints in the seat,” said Penney. “And I’m not sure if it’s squid juice or tobacco juice, but it’s one of it. And I just put clear Varathane right over,” he said with a grin.
“It’s a conversation piece, whatever it is!”
Restored by Max Bursey in St. Phillips, he also created a mould which spawned three fibreglass models of the unique rodney.
Bursey told The Packet he’s glad to have his own version of the boat, and Penney is elated with the work he’s done.
Penney says if it weren’t for Bursey and Ross Tucker, it would not have been possible. Tucker was affectionately called “the chemist,” as he mixed the hardener in the fibreglass.
“I’m grateful for everybody who helped me out,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”
As Penney took to the water in the rodney in which he spent many days in in his youth, you couldn’t wipe the smile from his face. He beamed while rowing the entire way from Reid’s Marina to the beach in front of his family home.
“It’s a real piece of history that’s preserved here, 77 years old,” he remarked. The first time I was in it, I was five years-old, so 51 years later, I’m back in it again. You can’t beat stuff like that.”
Penney called the bit of history a retirement gift to himself, he has a replica of the boat as well. He’s going to teach his two sons to scull and they can all enjoy the same model together.