I've had some long conversations lately with David Halladay, of Boatsmith, about the feasibility of building custom wood-epoxy composite boats for customers. I spent several weeks working with him last year in Florida and he's been closely following my progress on my blog about my catamaran project Element II.
Now I've had the privilege to build a few small boats on a contract basis, like the 12-foot example of the Backwoods Drifter of my own design I am currently building for a fellow in Louisiana alongside my own Tiki 26. But I have not yet taken on a large cruising boat or yacht project from scratch. One reason is because I like to operate alone, and prefer to do jobs I can finish myself without the complications of finding hired help and keeping them paid. I could build a big boat for hire, but the customer would have to understand it would take me longer working alone.
David, on the other hand, likes to think big. He's used to contracting big projects and he has the shop space, the skilled crew, and the tools to make big jobs happen fast. He routinely fabricates and installs teaks decks for 100-foot motor yachts, and builds custom interiors for high-dollar sport fishermen and cruising yachts. I've been working with him from time to time since 2001, when I first sailed into the Palm Beach area of Florida and lived on my boat at Frenchman's Creek marina. David and I hit it off right away because of our love of boat work in general and our mutual interest in simple wood composite cruising vessels from designers like Reuel Parker and James Wharram. Arriving in a strange town after weeks of cruising, I needed work and David hired me right away when he found out I had built a Hitia 17 and knew a lot about Wharram designs. I didn't want to stay in south Florida permanently, for personal reasons, but I learned infinitely more about boat carpentry from him than I knew before, and brought that knowledge back to Mississippi to do business as Teaksmith on the coast. And I still go down and work with him occasionally when he has special projects.
David has been wanting to build a big Wharram catamaran for years, but he stays so busy working on other people's boats that it hasn't been practical for him to build the 51' Tehini he wants for himself just yet. So he's ready to switch gears and start taking orders to build these designs for others, who may not have the time or skills to build themselves, but can afford to have the boat they want built right, and to the highest standards. So if you've dreamed of a new Tiki 38 or 46, or perhaps a Pahi 42 , a Tangaroa, or a big Parker sharpie, Boatsmith can make it happen. He's got the space in his shop in Jupiter, Florida to build the biggest designs, and the warm climate and up to a dozen skilled carpenters available means you won't have to wait long to see your dream launched. If a smaller boat is more in line with your budget, David will do that too. Whatever vessel you prefer, he will build it to the designer's specs and for a fixed contract price.
David Halladay, of Boatsmith
You can see some examples of David's teak deck work and custom interior and exterior yacht carpentry on his own website here:
Get in touch and see what he can do for you. I'm looking forward to seeing the new boats that will come out of his shop, and if any of them are big Wharram cats I will do my best to get involved in the build as well. After all, I can be in Jupiter, FL from here in one long day's drive. At the very least I'll post progress reports here and keep you updated on the project.