Turning that Dream into a Reality

John Watson
John’s Boat Works
Making that Boat building dream come true

I bought my first boat plan – an 18’ Ken Hankinson runabout – back in 1998, when I was living in the Texas Hill Country, and owner and manager of “The Christmas Store” in Fredericksburg (that’s a whole other story!).
I did have a fairly decent workshop at the house, and more than once, I would take the plans out, tack them up to the wall and start setting up to bring Ken’s plans to life.
After a while the plans faded in the Texas heat and could no longer be read, so, undaunted, I eventuallypurchased a second set, which is the one now sitting on the top shelf in my office at the farm in Derbyshire. I still have a fairly decent workshop and space in the barn, although I have swapped the heat of Texas for the wintery unpredictability of the English climate, but the runabout, sadly, remains unrealised.
I would have to admit that, in the interim, I have had the privilege of studying professional boatbuilding techniques at the excellent Boat Building Academy in Lyme Regis, have built a Haven 12 ½ day sailer based on an original Herreschof design, and am about half way through a Selway Fisher 18’ river boat, but that Hankinson runabout still stalks me in the night, and demands to be built.
I know I’m not the only one with an unbuilt runabout in my life. I only have to look at Google Analytics under “boat plans” to know that.
So my mission at Lot’s Ait is to find those people – you know who you are – in the London area, and bring them together in a community that can provide the help and encouragement, support, tools and supplies that stand between those plans and the high achievement that comes from building and launching your very own boat.
So whether it is the lack of room in the garage or back yard, lack of confidence in your skills, lack of knowledge about the right woods, glues, engines, or boatbuilding techniques, or just the lack of a mate to help you offer up that plank for the nineteenth time, fear no more.
At the Lot’s Ait Boatyard, we will be providing all those things and more in a helpful, friendly club-like atmosphere. Our goal will be to enable you to get your project off the plans and onto the river, whether you are realising the dream of building from scratch, restoring an old friend back to her former glory, or performing routine maintenance to ensure that next summer’s adventures are not plagued with mechanical, structural or any other unplanned disappointments.
If you are one of the people I am speaking to, send me an e-mail for more information, or to get on our waiting list for spaces when the island boatyard comes back to life this spring. Be part of our adventure and let us be part of yours. I look forward to meeting you!

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