Any professional boat builder who says: "Well, I don't do this for money. Just for the love of working with wood, recreating the beauty of a bygone age, keeping the old traditions alive..." etc, etc, blah, blah, blah, is either reliant on a pension, independently wealthy or growing skunk in the loft.
Well I'll have you know that I, for one, am very fond of money and nothing makes me happier than the sound of an envelope being torn open to reveal the down payment on a new dinghy. My writing brings in a meagre sum every year, and decreasing steadily as fewer people are drawn to my erratic ramblings, which leaves me increasingly reliant on scratching a living in what the late John Leather, author and designer, yacht historian and brutal realist called "a precarious and unrewarding business..."
By which he certainly didn't mean we should not do our utmost best to make a go of it, but be aware of the difficulties and frustrations. John was not a romantic, but a true lover of boats and as keen as anyone to keep "the old traditions alive..." etc, etc. That had to be, in his view, of secondary importance, however, to earning a living plying a viable trade.
Those who build boats as a hobby have my full support and admiration. They can afford to build them to perfection, innovate, experiment. Who's counting the hours anyway? I and most of those foolish enough to build wooden boats commercially try and build as quickly as they can, for speed is good in many ways, not least your eye and hands keep fresh from day to day. And speed, of course, equals money.
So, the boat building perfectionists with a little more time on their hands are admirable. No one does it better. Admirable too are the charitable trusts and the training establishments. However, in passing on the skills, or keeping youth off the streets, are they helping potential boat builders secure commissions by taking on commissions themselves, at lower rates, or making it harder?
Ultimately it's the likes of us, unfunded and unsubsidised what's trying to make a living from building boats, and a craft that can't scratch a living is irrelevant and deserves to die out.