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dramatically reduce drag as you whizz
around your private island.
But if boatmaking of a more oldfashioned, understated style is your
thing, then read on, because traditional
wooden craft are being lovingly created
around the country in all shapes and
sizes by Britain’s burgeoning network of
classic boat builders. And, as Jerome K.
Jerome demonstrated, you don’t need to
go large to have nautical fun.
Indeed, for larking about on the river
Jerome-style, you need look no further
than the handsome little rowing boats
from Peter Freebody & Co, which has
been in business at its exquisite
boathouse in Hurley, Berkshire, for
more than 50 years. Electric canoes and
characterful saloon launches are also
made, but the Freebody flagship is the
fabulously elegant and commodious
Thames Slipper launch, the ‘slipper’
term relating to the boats’ sloping stern.
Using woods such as mahogany,
cedar and teak, the Freebody team crafts
each boat individually and can make
bespoke interiors to suit all tastes
(especially those tastes that appreciate
As Jerome K. Jerome
you don’t need to
go large to have
nautical fun
the benefits of carrying plenty of wine
and a decent picnic on board).
Now run by the founder’s son,
Richard, the classic appearance of the
firm’s vessels, which start at around
£250,000 plus VAT, belies the fact
that they are powered by the latest,
eco-friendly electric motors and
can comfortably cruise for an entire
day on a single charge.
ut for those whose navigational
ambitions extend beyond Britain’s
inland waterways and who dream
of mixing their first G&T the very
second the sun crosses the yardarm,
only a truly seaworthy vessel will do.
Up at Lochgilphead in Argyllshire,
the husband and wife team of Adam
and Ros Way have spent more than 20
years restoring, upgrading and building
traditional wooden boats that range
from sailing skiffs to 50-foot blue water
cruising cutters that are capable of
taking entire families around the world.
Similarly, Ben Harris Boats of
Falmouth in Cornwall will knock up
a beautifully finished sailing dinghy
or full-sized, carvel-built yacht in order
to fulfil your nautical dreams. His
‘Auk’, for example, can be had in sizes
from seven-foot six inches to 10 foot
and is made using traditional, copper
riveted larch on oak construction for
strength, durability – and swimmingly
romantic Swallows and Amazons looks.
Indeed, Cornwall seems to be the
place to go for a hand-crafted vessel,
with one of the most renowned builders
being Dave Cockwell, whose

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