The Boatshed Story

Like many of the Moray Firth’s fishing communities, Portsoy had several active boat builders in the late 1800s – plus sail making in the Sail Loft on the Back Green. It was with this in mind that in 2004 the Boat Festival Trust began its policy of working with children to teach and revive the basic principles of wooden boat building.

Over the years since then the Boatshed volunteer team has built a wide range of craft, working with folk of all ages and abilities. These include what we call the Outreach Projects involving working with youngsters: rewarding and great fun, with an output over 60 dinghies, mostly with Primary School pupils and several small boats including Curraghs, a North Sea Faering and a St Ayles Skiff with Banff Academy youngsters. In fact boat building at the Academy is now part of the official curriculum. There have also been larger projects including building a Salmon Coble in the traditional style – all down to the efforts of the Boatshed volunteer team.

Quite early in the development of this activity it was realized that permanent premises were essential. Having decided to wind up their organisation, Portsoy Maritime Heritage gifted derelict buildings by the Old Harbour to Portsoy Community Enterprise. Just under half a million pounds was raised, with support from Aberdeenshire Council, Portsoy’s Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF),  and the Boatshed was created with its well-equipped workshop and good working conditions – and award winning design. Today, the Portsoy Boatshed is one of the leading Scottish boat building schools.

Our team of volunteers come in all ages, united by their enjoyment of working with wood and building boats, and helping others – children, adults, the disadvantaged and the disabled – to learn the skills involved.

Anyone can join us – and we’ll be delighted to welcome you aboard! Just speak to volunteers working in the Boatshed and pop your contact details on the form you’ll find there. Or email us on  You can find us on Facebook and Twitter too. No previous experience is needed, though a keen sense of humour is probably essential!

Scottish boat building school
Sail Loft in Progress
Sail Loft Complete Outside
Sail Loft Complete Inside
Sail Loft Complete Inside