The blog will now be devoted not to boat building but to my 82-year-old Vertue, Sally II, now undergoing a well needed refit at Johnson & Loftus in Ullapool (and gliding...)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Boat Builder's Dilemma: Florence Oliver For Sale

Florence Oliver, the 18ft sjekte I built some years back, is for sale. She is a favourite of mine, and I vividly remember how she came about.

It was during the Caledonian Raid and I had entered Felicity John, the first sjekte I built after leaving Ullapool Boat Builders. I was pretty knackered as she was my first commission on going alone, and the prospect of building another one so soon seemed a little daunting, so I did my best to dissuade Ted.

These days I would have bitten his leg off, but maybe my reluctance helped fuel his enthusiasm. Anyway, he proved more persuasive than my efforts at evasion and I eventually agreed to build what was to become Florence Oliver.

And very proud I was of her too. With spars by Collars, sails from Steve Hall at North Sea Sails, and nicely finished by Ted, no mean craftsman himself, she made her debut at Beale Park in 2007.

Recently I was asked to quote for a similar sized boat, but with a simple cabin, and although modifying FO would have been nigh impossible, I felt duty bound to mention that she was for sale. I confess, however, that I hesitated before handing on the news. What if my putative client fell in love with her, and my commission evaporated? And yet I owed it to Ted to try and find a buyer for his boat. Matching owner to boat is, after all, what it's all about.

Ted, on his part, bless him, was equally concerned that I might be losing work by putting him in touch. Keen as he was to find a buyer for her, he would feel awkward if her sale meant my losing the chance to build another boat. What should I have done?

Fortunately (or unfortunately) Florence Oliver is probably not going to be suitable and at least my new client, if that turns out to be the case, will get a chance to talk to Ted about my skills or otherwise. It may mean Ted has to wait to sell his boat, and it may not lead to a new commission for me, but my conscience will be clear, and that is worth more than any boat's worth.

Meanwhile, anyone looking for a clinker-built 18-footer, one careful owner...? 

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