FT How to Spend It – an article on the Elephant Boatyard by Simon de Burton

Nigella FT

View the article here

“Founded on the shores that saw the birth of Nelson’s famous flagship, this traditional boatmaker creates some of the most beautiful craft on the sea”.  Simon de Burton.

Having heard about the Elephant Boatyard and our love of wooden boats – both new and old –  journalist Simon de Burton visited the yard before lockdown to see what the fuss was all about. A meeting with Tom and Matt, and a tour of the yard to see inside the shed and witness the Nigel Irens 51ft ketch being built was enough to prompt him to write this fantastic piece about the yard.  To be published in the FT How To Spend It magazine this weekend.

News from the Yard – Christmas 2019

Well what a year it has been!

Walking into our shed is a sight to behold, with two traditional wooden boats in production – a Nigel Irens designed 50ft bespoke yacht and a Dublin Bay 21 Foot hull. We are doing what we love best and it’s hugely rewarding to see our team of skilled boat builders applying their expertise to these incredible projects.

The Elephant Boatyard is a family business with the passion, expertise and desire to build beautiful boats. If you have any projects you would like to discuss with us, no matter how big or small, please do give us a call on 02380 403268.

With a 2019 Classic Boat magazine award for Best Restoration (Carlotta) firmly under our belts, we are looking forward to another exciting year in 2020.



Nigel Irens is an inspirational designer whom we have known for many years. The Elephant has built numerous (65+) custom yachts since the 1960s and we were handpicked to undertake this incredible new-build project in April. The yacht has been built using the finest quality, sustainably-sourced timber creating a solidity of construction unrivalled by modern synthetic materials.

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As the hull nears completion, it becomes as much a work of art as simply a wooden boat. A view from inside reveals its hidden architecture and the cathedral-like structure of its many frames. An impressive and robust design which will take its owner cruising from the Antarctic to the Amazon.




You may have already seen footage of us turning the boat outside the shed on our Instagram post. A nerve wracking moment for Matt and the team, to say the least! Everything went perfectly to plan, with 2 cranes poised either side gently rolling her over. Sighs of relief ensued and the boys are now cracking on with the final hull fairing before starting on the interior in the New Year.




The first Dublin Bay 21 Foot hull was completed in April, and was transported over to the Kilrush Boatyard in Ireland to have the original lead keel fitted along with deck, coachroof and mast. We were sad to see her go, but delighted to be commissioned for a second hull build which started in June.

Small (in comparison to the Nigel Irens build) but exquisitely formed, it has provided us with the ideal platform to train some of our apprentices / recently qualified boat builders. The majority of the work has been done by our in-house boatbuilder Tim Price, with help from master craftsman Glenn, newly qualified Clemence and apprentice Bradley.




Nigel Irens designed 50ft custom built yacht

We are currently in the process of building a Nigel Irens designed 50ft ketch made of traditional wood and epoxy construction.

Nigel Irens is an inspirational designer whom we have worked with for many years and the Elephant Boatyard was handpicked to undertake this project. We are now approaching the completion of the hull build – the number of frames and corresponding internal framework of timbers will ensure an incredibly robust and solid structure. The next phase is for our team of skilled joiners to fit out a detailed bespoke interior to the very highest standard.

The Elephant Boatyard has built numerous custom yachts since the 1960’s and we are specialists in traditional wooden boatbuilding.  We have extensive experience of both the design and the build process, working closely with client and designer. Our custom-built yachts are made using the finest quality, sustainably sourced timber which provides a luxurious feel and solidity of construction unrivalled by modern synthetic materials.  Our team of highly skilled boat builders have a passion for detail and combine their calibre of craftsmanship with the very latest innovations in technology.


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Ed Burnett 35ft gaff cutter – hull for sale

We have the hull of an Ed Burnett 35ft Gaff Cutter available, with a part finished interior, which is the sister ship of Ivy Green (built here at the Elephant in 2003).

Designed by the remarkable Ed Burnett, this long keeled classic yacht has good sea keeping qualities whilst being a fast and comfortable sailor.  She has the potential to become a beautiful boat capable of sailing huge distances whilst being easily handled. Just like Ivy Green.

These photos of Ivy Green give a good indication of what would be possible for this project.  She is still berthed here at the Elephant, and sailed / raced regularly by her current owner.

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After the race

Ivy Green deck


The hull is constructed of 25 mm Douglas fir strip planking overlaid with 3 mm Khaya mahogany and 2 layers of glass cloth and epoxy. Fastened through 9 laminated Iroko frames. 2 Layers of 12 mm marine ply deck epoxy sheathed with 2 layers glass cloth.

Given the high quality of her build, there can be no doubt her next owner will acquire a very special yacht indeed.


Length on deck (LOD):                  34.75 ft

Length over spars (LOS):               45.25 ft

Length on waterline (LWL):         31.00 ft

Beam:                                                   10.67 ft

Draft:                                                    5.67 ft

Displacement:                                  10.46 tonnes


Dublin Bay 21 Foot hull

The build of the Dublin Bay 21 Foot hull, started here in the yard in November, is now complete. The team did a truly brilliant job and she left for the Kilrush Boatyard in Ireland last week.  It was a proud moment to see her finished, and a reminder of the very high standard of work the yard is capable of. Happily, we have just been commissioned to build a second one. To say that we are delighted is an understatement! The shed is buzzing with activity as we prepare to start laminating frames and backbone.  This is alongside another new build which we have recently begun – more details to follow.








Dublin Bay 21 Foot

Work on the Dublin Bay 21 Foot hull has continued apace, and we are now in the final stages of the build. Diagonal veneers of African mahogany have been laid over yellow cedar strip planking, an incredibly robust construction. All that remains is for her to be sheathed and sanded. Like with all hand crafted items it takes time and skill, but the team’s high level of workmanship is coming together to produce a beautiful boat. Below are some pictures taken throughout the build process including frames, planking and diagonal veneers. In a couple of weeks’ time she will be off on her journey home back to Ireland where the Kilrush Boatyard will be building her deck, cabin and coachroof.





Carlotta wins “Best Restoration of the Year” award

We were thrilled to find out that Carlotta – our resident 1899 Bristol Pilot Cutter – has won the 2019 Classic Boat Magazine Award for “Best Restoration of the Year” over 40ft.

Having had considerable restoration work completed at the Abernethy & Gaudin Boatyard on Vancouver Island, Carlotta came to us with further work required in order to get her afloat. The job list included replacing decayed planks in the stern, fixing leaking seams, deck caulking, ballast, fitting a new stove, plumbing and extensive rigging work.

It’s wonderful that she has an owner with the enthusiasm, passion and determination to bring her back from the wilderness and inject her with a new lease of life.   We would like to thank everyone who voted for her.

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Our quest for the perfect topsides …

We will readily admit to being completely obsessed with achieving a perfect finish.

Our experienced team spend hours repairing, sanding, filling and fairing any scratches or cracks before applying the first coat of paint. After carefully sanding again, and ensuring the hull is completely smooth, an additional layer goes on. The final coat is then painstakingly applied to create a perfect, glossy finish.  Drum roll please …!

Call us on 02380 403268 if you would like to discuss any paint job for your boat. We are already getting booked up, so don’t leave it too long.

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2018 Highlights from the Yard

2018 has been a busy year here at the Elephant Boatyard, notable for the sheer diversity of projects we have undertaken. So a couple of snippets to share with you below, and a very Happy Christmas from us all.

Dublin Bay 21 Foot – New Build

We are delighted to have been selected to build a new hull for the revival of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club Twentyone Foot Class, staying true to the 115 year old design by Alfred Mylne of Glasgow. Full details of this project will be released in due course, but the yard is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of playing a key part in resurrecting this classic One Design class, built between 1903-05 and raced in Dublin Bay for 83 years.





Carlotta – 1899 Pilot Cutter

Carlotta is an 1899 Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter with an historic and colourful past. Having had considerable restoration work completed at the Abernethy & Gaudin Boatyard on Vancouver Island, Carlotta came to us with further work required in order to get her afloat. The job list included replacing planks in the stern, deck caulking, ballast, fitting a new stove and extensive rigging work. She is an impressive combination of strength and beauty on the water, and without doubt one of our favourites.


The Boatyard Team

Our work is only ever as good as the guys in the yard, and we are fortunate enough to have boat builders here with years of experience under their toolbelts. In order to cope with the number of projects undertaken this year, we have recently taken on several new members into the team, most of whom have worked here before. The allure of the Elephant Boatyard is just too strong to resist!  So we welcome back Liam Kellaway, who did his apprenticeship here, Jim Lucey, our former foreman, and Mark Kellaway who we have now managed to pin down full time.  A full complement of guys we really rate.

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Kate Richardson – our resident artist

Being surrounded by inspiring artwork is not something many boatyards can lay claim to, so having original Kate Richardson paintings adorning the office walls is a total joy. Although a critically acclaimed sculptor, Kate’s real forte is her seascapes, and her use of bold acrylic colour creates a vibrant energy on the canvas.

Kate has an extensive array of paintings for sale, including larger canvasses, and is also available for private commissions.

For more information, contact Kate on katerichardsonart@gmail.com

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 Dates for your diary

  • Cowes Spring Classics: 17th – 19th May
  • Round the Island Race: 29th June
  • Panerai British Classic Week: 13th – 20th July
  • Taittinger Regatta (Yarmouth): 26th – 28th July
  • Cowes Classics Week: 27th July – 2nd August
  • Rolex Fastnet Race: 3rd August
  • Lendy Cowes Week: 10th – 17th August
  • Bursledon Regatta: 24th – 25th August
  • Hamble Classics:  September (TBC)


2018 Hamble Classics

It was another glorious weekend of racing at the 3rd Hamble Classics at the Royal Southern Yacht Club with 75 classic yachts entered including Peggy Bawn, Thalia, Ivy Green and Thistle, all of whom reside here at the yard.  After Saturday’s racing, we hosted the now famous Elephant Boatyard Rum Party serving up hundreds of dark and stormies to a thirsty bunch of sailors.  It was a brilliant weekend and wonderful to see so many classics out enjoying the Solent!

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