THERE was always something distinctly graceful, regal even, in the lines of Willie McCullough's old launch which he used for angling trips on Loch Lomond over the last 16 years.

She was, however, built for the open sea and decades before, the old mariners at Dunoon and in Rothesay on the Clyde commented on the stylish bronze and brass fittings on her solid mahogany hull as she butted across the firth on the newspaper and mailboat run from the Cloch outside Gourock.

She was undoubtedly a vessel with a pedigree far superior to her humble function in the pursuit of salmon and the freighting of commercial goods.

Now, after a worldwide search, her true status in marine history has been recognised. After a separation of 60 years and thousands of miles, the 21-ft craft will take up her original pride of place as the owner's personal ship-to-shore tender on board the Nahlin, the nautical equivalent of a gilded palace fit for royalty in pre-war Europe.

The Nahlin was the last word in ocean-going luxury for a succession of the noblest families with a penchant for superior ocean cruising.

Built by John Brown's in Clydebank in 1930 for English millionairess Lady Joule, she was chartered by Edward VIII to woo Wallis Simpson.

Shortly afterwards, she caught the fancy of King Carol of Romania and he bought her as the ultimate status symbol to wave the flag for his country. But her fall from grace came when he too abdicated in 1940 and the 260ft, 2000-ton vessel was tied up on the Danube as a floating restaurant.

There she languished until millionaire yacht broker Nicholas Edmiston discovered her in 1989 and determined she would be restored to her former glory. A team of marine restoration experts was assembled for the massive task, now under way in Plymouth, but one essential feature was glaringly absent - the owner's personal tender which was used to ferry the tuxedoed guests and their ball-gowned ladies ashore.

When Willie McCullough at the Buchanan Smiddy in Drymen, Stirlingshire, heard about the search, he contacted the owners and told them that not only had he painstakingly repaired the craft, he had also changed her name back to Nahlin. He said: ''I know she is going to her natural home where she was always intended to be and I'm happy about that.''