From engineering workshop to boatyard
The building of wooden boats started at the current location of the Center approximately ten years ago. In the fall of 1999, the Kalarannan Konepaja engineering workshop, which had been operating in Kotka Harbor for decades, moved to a new location in Mussalo, and the Kotka Wooden Boat Center cooperative, which was established at that time, took over the buildings. Majority of the cooperative society’s members were boatwrights who had graduated from the nearby Hamina Wooden Boat School. The City of Kotka, which had successfully organized three international wooden boat fairs back in the 1990’s, had supported the starting of the cooperative by repairing buildings as well as renovating land and water structures.
A new owner and winds of change
The well-known wooden boat enthusiast and six-meter sailor Henrik Andersin became interested in this concentration of wooden boat know-how in Kotka. In the spring of 2004, he and a few members of the cooperative established the boatyard Red Sky. Over time, most of the other boatwrights had moved on, and the activities were declining.
In the fall of 2006, Henrik Andersin bought the 1938 classic 12mR racing yacht Blue Marlin, designed by Charles E. Nicholson. The boat was brought by special transport across Europe from Slovenia to Kotka, and the search began to find an appropriate place for her renovation, which would take a number of years.
In the spring of 2007, Mr. Andersin made an offer for Kotka’s Wooden Boat Center’s property. The City accepted the offer and rented the land and water areas to Andersin on a long-term lease agreement. The old facilities, however, were not adequate for the renovation of the Blue Marlin.
Moving with the times, from the very foundation
The Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki, designers of the new Maritime Center Vellamo in Kotka, drew a new, modern boatyard for the Wooden Boat Center’s property. At the same time, the Center’s old facilities were fully renovated, and a strong hoist dock was built. Lt. Col. Leo Skogström, who had done a lot for wooden boats in the 1990’s, was hired as Project Coordinator. Construction work began in the beginning of August 2007 and, and the project’s main construction company was YIT Corporation. The work was completed on time, and the inauguration ceremony took place on May 21, 2008. The building of wooden boats in Kotka now had a strong basis for its future.
The Finnish Wooden Boat Center is an integrated 1.5 hectare area in Kotka’s Cultural Harbor, near the Maritime Centre Vellamo. The Boat Center’s appearance is dominated by the copper, arch-shaped roof of the boatyard. However, the Center also has a lot more to offer.