Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Master Boatbuilder


Now and again when surfing the Internet you come across something that registers in your mind. You think of it when you least expect. One such website made an impression on me, not because it was scintillating or exciting, but because its pages tell a story of a remarkable man who is very humble about his achievements. His love is working with wood, doing joinery and boatbuilding. His name is Mark Harris. He says that over the past ten years he has had a variety of jobs, including theatre set design and construction, green oak timber framing, fitting out narrow boats, and along with other things, building replicas of Victorian railway carriages. He studied boatbuilding at Falmouth and gained a City and Guilds qualification for the same, before setting up his own business building traditional boats, sailing and selling boats.

By Pontoon

Now all this information can be found on his website at , but more remarkably there are photos of some of the boats he has built and renovated. A very beautiful sailing yacht of his is ‘Isolde’, which would appear to be for sale. She’s modelled on the lines of a Mevagissey tosher. You must have a look at a fascinating time lapse video* showing how she was built. The photo gallery contains stills taken of the boat during the building process. You can’t fail to be impressed with the quality of workmanship.


I took a look at the page about the restoration of ‘Lady Hamilton’, a Helford fishing boat that had been severely damaged in a collision and sank. How she was brought back to life is a miracle, considering the extent of the damage. Mark and two others were involved in putting her right. Just take a peek at photos illustrating the laid deck of ‘Marguerite’, a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter that Mark and Barnaby Shepard jointly renovated, which included the removal and filling of half a mile of deck seams. Then there’s the work on the beautiful ‘Monie’, Vertue number 3 that he and Barnaby completely refitted – even the interior was removed and put back in place.

Mark does not advertise himself as a Master Boatbuilder, but he does have the skills of one, and it’s a joy to look through his website photo gallery illustrating projects he has undertaken.


*Time lapse video of the building of ‘Isolde’

Video clip of ‘Isolde’ sailing off St Anthony’s Head

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