Edward floats his boat

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on January 10, 2020

NO ONE looks more at home than Edward Saffrey when he’s lakeside steering his handmade model tug boat through the gently lapping water.

Decked out in his bucket hat and welly boots and seated in his trusty fold-out chair, the Albany man looks the absolute picture of peaceful retirement.

He kindly shared his collection of handmade model boats and his customised model yacht with the Weekender and even let one journalist take a boat for a spin.

Mr Saffrey got his first model boat when he was just four-years-old, gifted to him by his father when they lived in Sri Lanka.

It is a pond yacht – it has no remote control or motor.

It simply had to be pushed from one side of the lake to the other and a young Mr Saffrey had an absolute ball playing with it.

“It was built around the war time, in the early 1940s,” Mr Saffrey said.

“I think that’s where my interest in model boats started.”

He’s since refurbished it and the boat looks as good as new.

He built one of his first boats in 1967.

It used to have a two-stroke combustion engine but with the growing popularity of electrics, he’s upgraded it now to modern tech.

Mr Saffrey’s latest two projects – one he started 20 years ago and finished just three years ago, and the other completed recently in just seven months – were more difficult builds, intertwining more modern technology and intricate craftsmanship.

But Mr Saffrey loves the challenge and the chance to revisit and reuse past inventory, as he and his wife used to operate Hobbytronics in Albany.

“I like the intricacy of it,” he said, taking a closer look at his tug boat.

“After school, I wanted to do boat building, but the place my father found in Fremantle ended up closing down, so he found me an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery instead.

“So learning how to do it really came from the desire to want to build them, and then I picked up the skills.”