Custom Boat Building

It is very rare that a person comes to us wishing a boat to be built from scratch, but this service is available if required.  However if you are interested in our marine services this section gives an excellent example of the level of craftsmanship you can expect from Harbour Marine Services in terms of GRP, carpentry and metal fabrication. The vessel build below was completed from an old mould in very poor condition that the client found stored for many years outside in a boatyard. However, despite the very poor condition of the mould the client wanted the mould restored and a vessel created, with no plans or schematics. The result is pictured and explained below.

The original mould had to be completely re-surfaced in order to provide a good substrate for the lay-up of the hull. This was achieved by spraying with a high build gelcoat filler throughout the length of the mould on both sides. Once achieved this had to be sanded through numerous grades to produce a silky smooth finish. This was then meticulously coated by hand with release agent to provide a perfect surface. Work was required to the exterior of the mould to sure up the structure, and a cradle (or dolly) built to support the structure during the build. The two halves of the mould were then joined and sealed ready for the hull construction. The refurbishment and preparation of the mould took nearly 3 weeks.

At this stage the gelcoat has been applied to the mould surface, and 4 layers of WCS matt applied on top of this to form the basic hull structure. The process takes some time and must be done with great attention to detail to avoid any air pockets in the structure and to ensure an even lay-up. As you can see from this picture the floors (internal stiffeners that give rigidity and support the cockpit sole) have been installed ready for full lamination to the hull structure. The positioning of the floors must be calculated taking into account the positioning of the fore and aft bulkheads (already marked out) which will provide the stiffening for the vessel throughout its length.

At this stage the floors are fully laminated and the transom fitted. The transom is a hardwood sandwich, triple laminated in order to account for the thrust force of the engine. The additional weight of the hardwood sandwich(while also adding considerable strength) will counterbalance the weight of the foredeck and structure to keep the vessel on an even keel, even with the engine mounted, thus negating the need for trim tabs. Trim tabs are not necessary on a vessel that is well balanced, she will go on the plane easily. (this was proven correct at sea trials, she behaved perfectly and went on the plane with almost no effort)

The hull has now been released from the mould and craned onto a suitable trailer. The trailer has been modified to give adequate support to the unfinished hull during the rest of the build. It is still very flexible at this stage and it is vital that it is sured up correctly. It was agreed with the client that we would begin with a pure white gelcoat finish as he was not sure what colour he would want the topsides, and these will be spray painted at a later date. As you can see, the extra work on the mould yielded good results with a very clean finish to the hull.

At this stage the hardwood gunnels are being fitted. This requires laminations of hardwood strips both to the inside and outside of the hull. The hardwood strips must be steamed and carefully clamped into place following the exact contours of the hull. Once clamped they must be left for 24 hours to mould (the fibres of the wood will alter to follow the contours). Following this they can be screwed together. The heat process ensures that they form a strong gunnel. The gunnel will eventually be capped and knees and elbows put in place fore and aft to re-enforce the structure.

Fore and aft bulkheads are fitted ready to be fully laminated to the hull. This will provide (along with the floors and sole) a full rigid structure to the vessel. Apertures are cut fore and aft to allow access to the areas.

We move forward a bit here. The fore and aft bulkheads have been fitted and laminated. Locker sections have been fitted aft and the transom cut down to the correct level. (This requires precise measurement, to ensure that the outboard motor will be at exactly the right height for maximum efficiency)Apertures and measurements must now be made for steering gear, throttle, gears and electrics. The forward deck support beam has been fitted, and the angles calculated exactly for fitting of the fore deck to allow for curvature. This is done using long strips of pliable wood. The cabin sole has been put in place and will be fully laminated to the structure once the work has settled. Measuring up for seating throughout the cockpit is underway.

Templates were taken and the foredeck cut and fitted. It was important to get the curvature of the foredeck right (in order to disperse water correctly) and this took some time, with adjustments to the primary deck beam. Once this was achieved, slatting, finishing and sealing took place. At this time the cabin sole was fully laminated and all internal fixing made watertight

We move forwards quite a bit here. The client decided on his hull colour, a royal blue and spray painting took place with good results. We were waiting for parts at the time so spray painting the topsides, although a long process was best undertaken at this point. At the same time I completed building the aft compartments (for fuel and storage, there is also storage under the passenger seat aft and in the forward compartment) and a lot of finishing and primary varnishing work. Positioning of driving seats, fixings and securing arrangements were done.

We move forwards now to the finished article. The polished stainless work was carried out with standard templating and TIG welding. This took considerable time, and is never easy for a custom build. It was however accomplished within the time frame. The vessel was a great success at sea trials, and exceeded all expectations. With the 65 HP engine she achieved 28 Knots. I would say that she would take up to a 90 HP no problem. Realistically this a classic re- production. If you want to go over 30 Knots buy a power boat!

The engine for the vessel is a 65 HP Suzuki 2 stroke from the early nineties. When the engine came in it was running but in poor condition. I carried out a full re-condition and restoration of the engine , including re-painting as I went. The result was a fully functional engine, in excellent working order, fully re-painted with new decals. I keep saying it.. a re-con can be as good as a new engine!

Tenders Built to Order

The 10' tender pictured below can be built to order at the workshop in Southampton. I have produced several of these in the past and they are made from the best quality materials. They can be produced as either a very tough tender for workboat purposes, with full fibreglass gunnels and re-enforced hull and strakes or alternatively as pictured the more attractive type with full hardwood gunnels and and fittings. If you are interested in one of theses tenders please call for details and pricing.