Ship Happens WW2 Restoration Story
Buying a 72ft 1943 WW2 boat was never planned, Simon loves restoring small boats as a hobby, so one Sunday night in January 2021, Simon was looking at boats for sale on eBay, and stumbled across Sarinda, a D-Day survivor looking worse for wear. Simon shouted over to Gemma to have a look, expecting Gemma to tell him to stop being stupid but the advert struck a cord with Gemma, and left her thinking how can a boat that survived D-Day be left so unloved. The next day they couldn’t get the boat off their minds so they arranged to go and visit it. Within an hour onboard the scale of the boat and the work needed was evident, but left Simon and Gemma with a fire in their hearts to save this piece of history.
After returning home to discuss the boat in more detail, the pair decided to step up and purchase Sarinda with the high hopes of saving her. Shortly after purchasing a video was uploaded to YouTube to show their family as they were unable to travel due to Covid 19 lockdowns. Things then took a turn as their views and subscriptions grew in numbers… and now 11 months into the project the Ship Happens YouTube channel now has over 43,000 subscribers and over 3 million views.
Simon, Gemma and children, Mason (13) and Emilia (10) got stuck into the work straight away in what are very difficult working conditions, just getting to the boat is a chore, battling the weather and the mud on the Dee Estuary. The size of the project hasn’t gone overlooked and the family know it will take years of hard work and dedication.
With the rising attention from their videos, this opened the family up to a lot of online abuse, which has been difficult to deal with at times and has impacted on their mental health. The growth of their YouTube channel has also shown the family how much good there is in the world, with offers of support and the kindness shown from strangers.
A lot of viewers of the Ship Happens channel have reached out to the family and told them of how their videos have had a positive impact on their mental health and inspired them to do more, which is something the Robins family never expected. Since this journey has begun the Family are now Patrons of a mental health charity called Just Me Mental Health.
The Robins family never intended to ever have a boat or restoration project of this size, and therefore didn’t have the finances to carry out all of this project, so they are working and saving as much as possible. In order to help with the restoration costs Simon’s much loved Motorbike that he raced with Wirral 100 was sold, and that has now put an end to his racing career so he can concentrate all his efforts into saving the boat. The family want to show people that anything can be achieved without massive amounts of money, and anything is possible with the right attitude and motivation.
A great amount of work has already been carried out, including fitting a new off grid power system, including solar and wind power to give them all the power they will require for the restoration works, they have made the boat water tight to protect her from any further fresh water damage and structural work to the hull is ongoing. Their progress can be followed on their weekly YouTube episodes.
There is not a long term plan for the boat, other than getting her fully restored and the family would love to honour the boats Costal Forces past by carrying out the D-Day crossing on the anniversary, with veterans and their families. The aim is to have her ready for the 85th Anniversary.