BOATBUILDING IN UNCERTAIN TIMES: THE BEAUTIFUL BOAT COMPANY, UK
Thanks for asking how we are managing in these difficult times. I’ve put together a list of our latest projects for your readers.
As a relatively young small business, news of a pandemic that would see the entire country pretty much paralysed and normal working patterns severely disrupted, was never going to be good.
That said, The Beautiful Boat Company went into the current lockdown in a good place, in discussion with potential clients worldwide about new-build wooden boats, as well as, closer to home, refurbishments and restorations.
The last year saw us send off a beautiful coastal racing pair, a replica of one built 30 years ago, to its new owners on the south coast and an unusual flurry of work that has utilised our woodworking skills in ways we did not predict, but displaying an adaptability which is an essential part of survival for a new business in a niche market.
Among these projects have been building an entire set of bespoke replacement exterior shutters for a large house, and creating, from a stone garden hut, a ship’s “head” and store, complete with a door rescued from the RMS Windsor Castle, the largest passenger and cargo ship operated by the Union-Castle Line on its Cape Mail service between Britain and South Africa.
The “head’s” teak floor is made from planks reclaimed from a local hospital. Having spent the intervening 20 years in a cow barn, they were in need of some pretty serious renovation. Another project that utilised these teak planks was a highly unusual boat bench, a surprise birthday present which didn’t fail to thrill.
Alongside our marine and slightly less maritime work, we also have a steady stream of requests for GRP repairs for local boat managers and yards. It’s not as rewarding or imaginative as working with wood, but it certainly helps to pay the bills and ensures we are well-known in the local boating world.
But many things are certainly in suspended animation just now: around this time last year we were approached by Marineware, a supplier of yacht paints and coatings. In order to showcase their wares, they offered to respray our show model, the Ken Basset “Rascal” runabout, for display at the Southampton Boat Show. She certainly turned heads while there. This year, it is still unsure whether the boat show will go ahead at all as globally, we face an uncertain future.
Our working routine has certainly been turned on its head, but we are optimistic that normality will return, and excited by ongoing discussions with a world-renowned boat designer about a bespoke Beautiful Boat Company launch, probably a compact four or six seater and very probably best suited for an electric engine.
We have been keen since our inception to find the best ways to marry the romantic image of wooden boat building with truly sustainable techniques. Of the many lessons we may all learn from this pandemic, both companies like ours, and our clients, are likely to emerge keener than ever on caring better for each other and for our world.
Sophie and Simon