Johnnie Meil at the helm of Nellie after he had converted her to steam power c1970s

Nellie is 25’ long, 6’ beam and 2’ 6” draught constructed of carvel Mahogany. The vessel is believed to be a First World War era naval vessel, probably German. An early photograph shows that she was fitted with an internal combustion engine positioned in the forward compartment and separate foldable forward facing awnings protecting both the forward and rear compartments.

Her last private owner; Johnnie Meil, recorded that the vessel was bought at a boat sale in Stromness about 1920 by Hugh Johnston an engineer on the Orcadia Steam Ship. In the 1950’s the vessel is believed to have belonged to Jeck Bews of St. Catherine’s Place. At this time, she was fitted with a Kelvin Poppet 12-14hp engine. The vessel was later owned by Ian MacInnes [1922-2003] onetime Rector of Stromness Academy. Johnnie Meil bought the vessel in 1967 and converted her into a steam boat and added the wheel house.

Nellie is furnished with various bits of repurposed materials. One of the deck gratings is from the World War II Battleship HMS Nelson (entered service in 1927). The through keel steam condenser tubes are from HMS Vanguard (entered service 1910) which blow up in Scapa Flow in 1917. The boiler fire grate was made in the form of a spiral coil from tubes removed from Gardens Bakery bread steam oven which was located on Bridge Street in Kirkwall, and the steam whistle is from the old Glaithness Laundry in Kirkwall.

Deck grating from HMS Nelson

Johnnie built a new boiler and drive system for Nellie 2009-10

Nellie was acquired by OHBS in 2020 and moved to a storage facility in Stromness.

Nellie in her new home in the autumn of 2020

At the same time as acquiring Nellie OHBS also acquired the rowing boat Linda which in her later years was used as a tender to Nellie. Linda was built at the Mackay’s boatyard in Finstown, Orkney in early 1939.


Prep work and Uplift in July-August 2020

Boat Details and a New home in August 2020

Clear Out in September 2020

Cleaning in November/December 2020

Painting in February 2022