Obituary: Ian Hawick, 73

Ian Hawick in one of his many sailing boats
Ian Hawick in one of his many sailing boats
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Ian Hawick, a lifelong sailor from South Queensferry, has died aged 73.

Born in Edinburgh on May 12, 1940, Ian was educated at George Heriot’s School, left at 15 and served his apprenticeship to become a lithographer. He worked for several ­printing firms in Edinburgh ­including McLagan and Cumming, Nelsons and the map publishers Bartholomews.

He taught himself sailing as a boy with model yachts on ­Inverleith Park pond and accumulated enough know-how at the age of 15 to buy, with three friends, a converted lifeboat for £20 in Aberdour, Fife. They sailed it across the Forth to Granton.

After that first boat, Mudlark, was destroyed on the breakwater at Granton in a storm, he worked his way through several boats. Sea Hound, another lifeboat, was converted for sailing, using the rigging salvaged from Mudlark. A third sailing lifeboat followed.

In 1964 he bought a 20-foot Stroma yawl, Gazelle, sailing her twice to Cruden Bay north of Aberdeen.

And in 1966 he began work on the boat which would become his passion for the rest of his life. Brünnhilde was based on a Tancook Whaler, a Nova Scotia working boat from the early 1900s.

Jack Kersley, a friend from Queensferry and Forth river pilot, had a model of the boat as inspiration. Her hull was made in Shetland, then shipped to Leith and moved into a shed at Cramond Brig where over seven years Ian fitted her out before craning her in to the sea at the Hawes Pier, Queensferry in June 1974.

Among friends helping Ian prepare the boat was Grizel ­Baillie, a primary school teacher. “I started painting her in 1969 and I am still painting her today,” she says. The two were married in 1970. The boat was named Brünnhilde because Ian and Grizel liked Wagner and the boat was a double-ended craft similar to Viking or Nordic longships.

Brünnhilde was a boat like no other on the Forth – wood, not fibreglass, and a sleek, low shape that defied even the roughest sea.

Ian and Grizel took the 35-foot, engineless, wooden, gaff scooner the 300 miles from South Queensferry to Shetland 24 times.

The passages between Shetland and the Forth were often wearing with Ian steering for up to 19 hours at a stretch. Grizel and friends think sea-faring skills came to Ian through the family gene pool from Shetland where his grandfather was a master mariner and great-grandfather a fisherman. His sailing confidence seemed second nature.

In his 40s Ian contracted Achalasia, a tightening of the lower gullet muscles which made it difficult to eat.

Surgery in 1982 eased the condition but it was to return. In September during a second operation surgeons discovered the cancer which was later to kill him.