Cockwells: Modern & Classic Boatbuilding

Modern & Classic Boatbuilding

Navy BoatCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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A traditional boatbuilder in a modern world

I'm Dave Cockwell, owner and founder of Cockwells Modern and Classic Boatbuilding here at Mylor Creek Boatyard. 

We’ve been in this yard for ten years. Prior to that we had a unit in Falmouth, where we moved in 2002.

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I'm a completely unqualified person that started out at 15 building boats, and I think we're one of the few boat building companies that is owned and run by an actual boat builder that could build a boat from scratch, and I mean every part of it.

Buffing the BoatCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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I was working as a joiner's apprentice, doing joinery work and building work as a sort of labourer more than anything but learning the skills along the way. At weekends, I used to do little jobs for people on their boats at Bristol Docks. 

A guy asked me to take his boat out of the  water one day, which I did, and it sort of fell apart as we did it and he was like: "Well, we'll chuck it away" but I said, "I can fix that", he said "how much?" I had a guess and told him it would be six weeks, he asked how much would materials be; I sort of had a guess and said it'd be about £600, and he said go on then! 

 I jacked in my apprenticeship and started fixing this boat and six weeks later it's all finished and looking lovely, and the next boat was ready to come out of the water. 

Boat Being PreparedCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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The timeless craft of boat building

What we've managed to do is uniquely blend all of the skill and expertise used in custom boat building and put it into a slightly more affordable package. The other thing is, I'm a great believer in tradition and I think that with a boat if it looks right, it performs well and it will be right. It will have a timeless feel to it which means that it will never be out of date and I think one compliment that we've received is how timeless our boats are. 

You get something that is never out of date, but stands out amongst the crowd. 

What we do do, is that we use all the latest build techniques, the most modern tools and technologies behind it to make the whole user interface really easy.

Carpenter WorkingCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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You're going to have a boat that looks like any boat throughout time, it will perform beautifully and be a fantastic seaboat and actually, you don't need to be an expert to handle it, or spend three weeks in the gym to use it.

Everything is touchscreen, everything is easy. All the modern comforts that we've all got used to are there. It's really about an experience. Owning one of our boats, being on one of our boats, is an experience.

Duchy 27 BoatCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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I just wanted to build a boat, so I rented a big shed and I started building a boat. I thought I’d just do this on my own and the next thing you know I was employing ten people and we were building one-off traditional classic boats, which was a fairly unusual thing to do at the time in a  commercial based setting and it's sort of grown from there really. 

Painting the Boat in the WorkshopCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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Creating a Cockwells boat

It doesn't matter if the boat is of standard polyester or of the most high-tech carbon fibre construction, we build it in-house. In that part of it alone, there are 50 or more different unique skills that we need, which we have within the company.

We also make all of our own joinery, our joining is known throughout the industry as being the best. We still make everything out of solid timber when we need to, we use traditional joints, but we use modern technology wherever we can to do it.

Back of BoatCornwall Chamber of Commerce

When it comes to painting all that joinery, that is also done in-house with the most modern materials and for those boats that require painting that is also done in-house, with modern techniques. The design work itself is also done in-house, so we've got a full design team using all the latest software and computer modelling.

The boat's styling, schematic drawings and the engineering design that the boat has - we even design the automatic electric doors and lifting roofs - they're all designed in-house by our own design team and built by our own people.

Carpentry for the BoatCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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Using the best Cornish timber

We're probably the only boatyard left in the world that builds modern boats, that has a sawmill; we will use local timber. We will saw it, dry it and use it to fit out the boats, I think that's another little USP that we have. Our boats are very distinctive and look different because nobody can buy what we’ve got.

Buffing a BoatCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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Traditional craft

Only a few months ago we were putting planks in a boat and caulking, and making frames and not that long ago I built some traditional vessels including the St Mawes ferry which is a traditional boat built in the same way as it would have been over 100 years ago. 

If somebody came to us today and said I want to build a traditional boat, we could do that: we still have those skills. 

Navy BoatCornwall Chamber of Commerce

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Supporting the local community

We have a little Christmas party where everyone's invited and we always get people who come down and look and marvel at what we are getting up to in these sheds. The feedback has always been fantastic. 

We are employing quite a lot of people here which means the local shop and pub are really busy, which is good for us, but also good for the people who live here, it means that that facility is safe.

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