'Labour of love'

After years of work, Burin man plans to enjoy effort put into building boat

Published on September 5, 2012
After roughly a decade of work, Alfred Pitcher launched the ‘Mary Liz’ – named after his late wife – for the first time in Ship Cove, Burin, last week. Photo Submitted
Photo Submitted

Last Tuesday was a special morning in Ship Cove, Burin, for Alfred Pitcher.

After almost a decade of working a bit here and there to build a 23-foot fiberglass cabin cruiser, the 65-year-old retired auto technician, along with a group of friends, finally launched the ‘Mary Liz’.

He acknowledged, “It was pretty fulfilling when I put the boat in the water.

“It’s been a labour of love. It’s something that I aspired to do for a long time.”

Since retiring, Mr. Pitcher works part-time at his brother Winston’s business, KP’s Fiberglass and Marine Supplies, where The Gazette caught up with him last week via phone. He explained the one-of-a-kind vessel has a double hull and 60 horsepower twin outboard engines.

He’s decked it out with the latest equipment, including radar and autopilot.

“It’s only a small boat, but I’ve got a lot of features on it.”

The vessel is built completely from fiberglass, with absolutely no wood to be found anywhere, which he acknowledged took a lot of time.

“I actually built the boat in a shed by my house out there in Ship Cove. The shed wasn’t high enough to get the cabin, the wheelhouse and that, on the boat so I bought it in here to KP’s, and I put a higher piece on (out behind) the back of the building here and finished the boat.”

Mr. Pitcher said he plans to spend some time cruising around Fortune and Placentia Bays, mainly the latter, as well as maybe a scoot over to the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon.

He took the boat out for a spin Wednesday evening and tuned up his autopilot.

“It seems to perform really well. It’s up to my expectations.”

But the ‘Mary Liz’ is also close to Mr. Pitcher’s heart for another reason. He attributes the naming of the vessel to his wife, who passed away from cancer last year.

“She named the boat just before she got diagnosed really. My wife’s name was Mary Elizabeth and she said, ‘You know, Alf? I always would have liked to have been called Liz.’ So she said, ‘Maybe you could call your boat Mary Liz.’

“I said, ‘Yeah, okay, it’s done.’ Simple as that.”

His wife never saw her name on the vessel, Mr. Pitcher indicated, but she did see the stencil.

“She wasn’t a boat person. Occasionally, she would go. She was real proud of me building this boat.

“Before she passed away, she said, ‘Alf, finish your boat and enjoy it.’”