I’m not really sure what was at the top of my mind when I was thirteen, but I can guarantee you it was not planning, designing with the intention of building my first boat! This however was exactly what local Orphir boy Harry Baird was doing.
Born on 01/10/2000 in hospital at what was always locally known in Edinburgh as “The Simpsons”. Harry became the third child of parents Lynda and Alfred Baird; he joined his two older sisters Karen aged 16 (now Karen Allan) and Steph aged 14 (now Steph Hellewell). Right from the start Harry was a source of energy adored by his big sisters. Harry would be joined by another sister Charlotte a year later.
The family made the move to Orkney when Harry was just one and by the age of two/three he was already manifesting his interest in boats and ships by drawing them on Birthday and Mother’s day cards. His first build; a model of the Titanic was around the same amazingly young age. He learned how to use tools such as tweezers, stanley knives and scalpels with help from a retired Brain Surgeon who was here on holiday. Harry has gone on to build and own the largest collection of model ships and war ships here in Orkney including two at 5ft and 6ft which are currently on his desk.
Harry’s education so far has been at Orphir Primary School, Kirkwall Grammar School, Shetland College UHI where he received a certificate to show he was the highest achiever in his subject. He plans to go onto study at the Naval Architecture Ocean & Marine Engineering department at Strathclyde University where he is hoping to be able to actually live on his Trimaran which shall be berthed on The Clyde.
We caught up with Harry last night, here is what he told us;
“My name is Harry. I am 20 years old and am a third year Apprentice Marine Engineer. I have lived in Orkney for the last 19 years. I have been interested in ship design from an early age. This is mostly due to my dad being a Professor of Maritime Transport and he was involved in many research studies into ship design and economics. Due to the nature of his employment the family went around the world to go to different shipping conferences where I got to see all different types of ships and designs from a 5-hull “Pentamaran” high speed ferry to the ferry services from the US to Puerto Rico which consists of large barges full of trailers being towed by tugs”.
“I have been building and working on projects from around age four when I started making Lego replicas of the boats that my father was conducting studies on and this included ferries operating in different parts of the world, including here in Orkney. I would often try and take apart anything so I could to see how they were built, much to the irritation of family members”.
“At age 8 I built a life sized Dalek from some designs I got off the internet and I took it to the Halloween party at my primary school. I was also part of a primary school team that won prizes at two Scottish engineering and design competitions for young people”.
“At age 13 I built my first computer and at age 15 I rebuilt my first engine for a motor bike. I also repaired a traditional Orkney yole sailing boat”.
“The idea for the boat came from a sketch I did when I was 13. We had been out sailing in my uncle’s 28 foot yacht down the west coast of Scotland and I decided that it was rather slow and that I could make something better. The first design was crude and was similar to a sailing yacht without a mast. When I was 14 I bought some wood to start building the boat using a type of wood that was too weak and the wrong type of screws for marine use. At this time I stopped working on the boat as I needed to concentrate on exams”.
“At 17 I looked back at my designs and started thinking more seriously about how I had built it and how it just didn’t look right. I started getting help with the design from some of Dad’s contacts from around the world one of whom was the designer of the Orkney catamaran, Pentalina. This led to my design being given to naval architecture students at the University of Tasmania who did tank tests and a dissertation on the design. They came back and said that the design worked, but could be improved further. So I started to redesign and rethink every aspect of the boat to the point where it was completely unrecognisable to the original design, including the number of hulls”.
“The original design was 10 metres long and 2 metres wide, whereas the present design is 18 metres long and 6 metres wide. The design itself is a trimaran which has three hulls, a long centre hull and two narrow and shorter side hulls, connected by cross decks. The reason for making the boat a trimaran is that it gives it a lower hull resistance and greater stability as well as faster speed and lower power. After calculating the hull resistance, the Froude number and conducting tank tests on the hull, it is estimated that the hull form is capable of up to 55 knots and that it would plane in the water similar to a lifeboat. To get the boat up to the desired speed it was found that it would require about 500kw of power or 700 horsepower, which is about 5 average cars engine power combined. I looked at using renewable energy, however this turned out to be about five times more expensive than conventional propulsion systems, and with no guarantee of fuel availability, or reliability. I received quotes for two 370hp engines which came to £35,000, and two water jets which would cost £25,000. This amounts to £60,000, excluding onboard generator and bow thruster. This may seem like a lot of money however these quotes are less than half the cost of the most expensive options”.
“This brings me to the current state of play on the build process. The hull, which consists of 10 modules including side hulls, is now about 75% complete in my workshop, and is not far from the start of final assembly which I expect to begin in mid 2021. The hull is made of Oak and Larch frame with the skin consisting of marine plywood, fibreglass and carbonkevlar. So far I have put around 3000 hours into building the boat and R&D and around £40,000 in materials and equipment. The hull should be completed before end of 2021, at which time the machinery will be added, and final fitout. At this point I expect the vessel to be ready for launching and sea trials during first half of 2022”.
If like me you have found Harry’s incredible story fascinating and would like to help he has a gofundme page https://gofund.me/c2185f15 up and running in which he hopes to raise around half the final cost of the boat, which is around £60,000.
Thank you Harry for taking the time to share your work, progress and vision with us.
Reporter Helen Armet