Apprenticeship on offer at Butler & Co

Butler & Co need a new apprentice! As you will know from our last post we had a new apprentice in the form of a whippet named Clipper, unfortunately whilst she is fast becoming a salty sea dog and loves to steal sandpaper, she has not yet learned to use it; therefore we are in need of someone rather more useful!

If you love being around and on the water, and wooden boats tug on your heartstrings we'd like to hear from you. We are a storage and general boatyard as well, so you will need to not mind assisting with haulout, working on GRP boats and helping with the moorings too. Wages are typical of an apprenticeship but we offer other benefits, including a mooring for your boat and/or use of the workshops to work on your project boat (don't worry if you haven't got one, the team here will soon find you one in need of a loving home!). If you fancy picking up the tools follow the link below and apply before the end of June.

New Apprentice

Butler & Co's new apprentice arrived in December. Clipper, aptly named for being nautical, lean and fast, has been settling in well at the yard and excelled at her first assignment - assisting with Rosemary III's photoshoot for Nic Compton. She's certainly finding her sea legs and is well on the way to being a salty sea dog!
Ash & Clipper at the helm of Rosemary III.

Rosemary III features on Classic Yacht TV

December bought some warm, sunny days and light winds as a pleasant break from the grey, damp monotony of England in winter. Fortunately for Butler & Co a couple of these unexpectedly wonderful days coincided with Rosemary III being back on the water and sailing, lending the opportunity for Emily Harris of Classic Yacht TV to acquire some pretty special footage of this wonderful old girl. Pictures tell a thousand words, and Emily's video describes the grace, beauty and character of Rosemary far better than I can, so I'll leave you with the link to enjoy at your leisure - Rosemary III on film.
Rosemary ghosting along in the December sunshine. Photo credit: Barney Sanderman.
Rosemary III is currently listed with Sanderman Yacht Company.

Merry Christmas and Fair Winds for 2017!

2016 has flown by here at Butler & Co, and as it comes to a close Holly and Ash have been contemplating the year that it has been. The move to Penpol boatyard last Christmas was just the start, since then there has been re-wiring, dredging, fixing, tidying and demolition that has kept us busy in every spare moment of 2016, alongside of actually working on boats! So, one year on, the yard is greatly improved, although we've still a fair way to go to be ship shape and Bristol fashion. We've had lots of lovely comments and support from our customers and neighbours over our efforts at the yard, with many saying the yard is busier than they ever remember seeing it. 

In 2017, we're aiming to continue our work on the yard facilities; we have pontoons to resurface and hopefully some work on the sheds to improve the undercover storage we can offer. We hope to go from strength to strength this coming year; bringing more beautiful wooden boats to Penpol creek, more projects, more friends, more laughs and definitely more sailing!

Wishing you fair winds and calm seas for 2017!

Amokura returns...

On the same huge autumn springs as Bonaventure, Amokura returned to Penpol. No mean feat given that she was be hauled out on the same cradle. She has been away for a short but sweet season; crossing the channel as part of the British fleet attending the popular Brest & Douarnenez festivals and sailing around the gorgeous Cornish coast.

Amokura had a large dose of structural work last winter. Her wooden keel was removed and replaced, and she shed her old, industrial aluminium rig for a lighter, sleeker wooden racing rig, complete with all new sails. This year she is back, mostly for cosmetic work and a few tweaks here and there. Hopefully I'll get chance to write about them and how she's coming along; however I still haven't tackled her backlog of blog posts from last winter!

Butler & Co are getting a new mascot/ apprentice...

Butler & Co had visitors at the weekend, Holly's mum came down to visit and bought with her the very gorgeous Oliver, a 14 week old whippet puppy. Despite having never seen the sea before Oliver quickly acclimatised to life afloat and enjoyed a couple of trips on the Butler & Co fleet. His only complaint... it is a bit chilly out on the water in November, and for the longer trip down creek to Mylor he insisted on snuggling up in a blanket!

Holly & Ash have a new, four-legged member of the family & crew on the way soon, a black whippet puppy who is due to arrive at Penpol in early December. Her name is, as yet, undecided...

Steady Hands & Patient Minds

One of Rosemary's Fife dragons post-paint but before gold leaf. A steady hand is required!
It's colouring for grown ups, or at least for Holly! Renewing the gold on Rosemary's dragons and cove line requires endlessly patient painting of gold base coat, followed by careful application of 24 carat gold leaf. But the result is worth it, unlike gold paint which fades, the gold leaf on Rosemary shimmers and glows in the light.

The final touches are being made to Rosemary prior to her imminent launch. She is taking to the water for a few December days for photoshoots to provide images for an upcoming article and sales particulars. We'll be hoping for some crisp, clear December days and warm winter light.

Bonaventure Returns

Early October we ventured east into Devon on a reconnaissance mission to collect the lovely Bonaventure from her home port of Salcombe. Despite the trip starting with a frantic dash to the station, we settled down in Salcombe to some good grub & a beer with ex-Butler & Co employee Kimbo and got aboard Bonaventure for a good nights sleep.

Saturday morning, after a preparatory breakfast and a quick call to see the wonderful Malcolm Darch at his harbourside workshop, we waved farewell to Salcombe and headed out into the channel. (To see a short article on Malcolm's amazing miniature ships click here.) The sun was shining, the wind light, a perfect easy sail and Bonaventure gave us a lovely cruise, albeit with the breeze dropping, to Fowey, where we dropped in on the town pontoon for the night. 
Ashley & Holly enjoying the sunshine off the Dodman - you'd never guess it was October. 
Sunday dawned another stunning autumn day. One of those where the mornings are crisp but the sun soon melts away the mist and warms the bones. We left Fowey with a light breeze, headed for the Dodman and Falmouth. We sailed along enjoying the warm sun and plenty of the lovely supplies we'd brought with us until the breeze gave its final breath and we motored the final reach around St Antony's and into the Fal. After picking up one of our moorings at the entrance of our creek we did what anyone would do after an autumn sail on Bonaventure - run a hot bath and relax!
Bonaventure's main heads, complete with bath big enough for two to share! It seems like a spurious, eccentric addition, until you use it after an autumn's day sailing at which point you wonder why all boats don't have one.
Bonaventure motoring into Penpol on a chilly October evening.
Bonaventure waited until the high springs in mid October to come up to Penpol. With the trolley in place at the base of the slipway, we motored Bonaventure up the creek and into the new cradle, built to carry 30 tonne boats with ease. Of course nothing ever goes as smoothly as that, so Holly's experience as a commercial diver came into play with making a few last minute adjustments on the submerged cradle.
Bonaventure safely on her way up the slip after some underwater shenanigans to modify the new cradle. 
Bonaventure is now tucked away in the lower shed at Penpol, safe and sound for the winter whilst she awaits a new owner for the 2017 season. She is currently listed with Sanderman Yacht Company here.

New SKYE Class Taster Brochure

We recently mentioned the development of an exciting new class of vessel at the Butler & Co yard - the Skye Class.

The Skye Class draws upon Cornwall's rich maritime history; its tremendously seaworthy workboats - the locally built oyster boats and quay punts - blended with the finer, elegant lines of the smaller Herreshoff designs. 

The Skye Class is designed to be beautifully crafted, seaworthy and easily manageable; a delight of a boat for local family sailing. We think it will be just perfect for Cornish coastal and creek cruising, for introducing friends and family to the joys of being afloat and rediscovering for yourself why you first fell in love with sailing. At 22-26ft she will make a perfect family day-boat or a weekender for two: small enough to glide into misty Cornish creeks but with a seaworthy hull for coastal cruising and family fishing trips.

Her hull will be carvel planked on steamed oak timbers and traditionally fastened. The decks will be sheathed and painted for practicality, but a varnished toe rail and bronze deck fittings ensure classic styling is maintained. An easily manageable high-peaked gaff sloop rig promotes confidence when sailing, along with simple and traditional standing and running rigging while a reliable inboard diesel engine provides peace of mind and back up for those windless days. Within the hull is a deep and secure cockpit and a compact but homely cabin providing two berths, a small but functional galley and a sea toilet. An optional woodstove ensures that the cabin is warm, dry and welcoming when out sailing on those wonderful, crisp autumn days.

A taster brochure for the Skye Class is available now, why not contact us (via for a copy to see why your next vessel should be a Skye Class.

Sally B - 32ft Bawley Yacht

A long time ago, in a boatyard far far away, a younger, naive and slightly less grey Ashley Butler started building a boat. She was a replica of the boats he had grown up with, a beamy 32ft bawley yacht from the east coast of England, coming to life in a boatshed in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. In a yard that at the time was full of classic yachts, the building of an East coast English working boat drew plenty of curious glances. Working at Gannon & Benjamin (on the hull of Juno, a 75ft schooner) during the day, Ashley set to work during evenings and weekends to build himself a practical, cruising home and work base. Where most people would have saloon space, Ashley dedicated a large area to encompass a 6ft workbench! It took 8 months part-time to build her hull, deck and spars, followed by a short full-time stint fitting her out below and completing her rigging.

Once built, Ashley sailed her back to the UK and raced her successfully amongst her brethren, the smacks and barges of the east England coast. That autumn, with restless sea boots and a desire to build more traditional vessels, Ashley sold Sally B to her current owner, who has now had her for 9 years. Her new owner has made some changes to her original design, not all of which have been considered improvements by her original shipwright! The hold hatch has been removed, decking it over and replacing it with a more conventional skylight; and an engine installed where previously a sculling oar had been used, but she’s still recognizable as the boat that Ashley built.
Sally B casually careened upon return to the east coast of England.
Now, 11 years after her build, she’s featured for a second time on the cover of Classic Boat looking just as good as ever (she was on the cover, featured as a new build back in 2005). This time her tale is of her current owner’s experiences of sailing her single-handed from the UK to the Caribbean and back again has a 6 page spread in October’s edition. Sally B is being used to highlight that traditional workboat design is just as at home on the modern day cruising circuit as any classic blue-water cruiser.

Sally B’s spirit lives on in Ashley’s current designs; 15 vessels later, the simplicity and functionality he incorporated into his first build are still evident in his newest, Martha Primrose and Bonaventure, despite the increase in size and expense. Sally B, named after Ashley’s mum Sally Butler, not unsurprisingly nurtured the young shipwright and gave him the confidence, not only that acquired of sailing a sea-kindly vessel, but that gained from the knowledge that he had designed and built a good vessel and would inevitably do so again.
Sally B enjoying a good bit of breeze at Antigua Classics, before sailing back to the UK this summer.

The Sternpost & the Lily Class

Earlier on in the year Butler & Co were busy writing articles (as well as blog posts) and wrote a piece on the joys of owning a small, wooden sailing dinghy. One not dissimilar to our own lovely Lily Class, funnily enough. Anyway, the folks at Classic Boat magazine have decided to publish the article in November's 'sternpost' slot. So hopefully readers across the world of classic boats will be able to peruse our musings on the advantages of small craft and the reasons everyone should own one.

Butler & Co have been building Lily Class dinghies for the past 10 years, and their design is centred on being both beautiful and functional. Whether as a bespoke tender for a larger classic yacht or as a standalone vessel, the Lily Class are perfect for arriving in style, romantic creek exploring or Swallows and Amazon's adventures for the whole family. Each Lily Class dinghy is created with the owner’s unique needs and preferences at the forefront; it is a vessel with heart, to be cherished for years to come by the whole family.

As the summer ends and the evenings close in, Butler & Co plan to begin the build of Lily Class No. 10's hull. Why not come and see her taking shape in our workshops on Restronguet creek, and maybe have a chat to us about how a Lily Class dinghy can become part of your family.
One of the Lily Class coming to life at Butler & Co's Old Mill workshop.

Yard News: June/ July 2016

Butler & Co had a hectic June and July; a spring rush that became summer rush, and hence it suddenly being a little quiet on the blog. There has definitely been plenty on, just not the time to write about it. Here's a little update, though there's still more to add shortly, not least our tales of escaping to France (in our own, not-quite-finished-yet boat!).

On the big spring tides at the start of June Amokura, the 50ft Fred Sheppard yawl in for refit, left Penpol for Pendennis marina. Her refit was not quite finished; however all the structural work was complete and her new masts were in place and looking fantastic. In the latter weeks of June and July she was a hive of activity as the electrical work was finished off, rigging completed, her interior re-installed and the finishing touches made. Amokura was registered for the Brest & Douarnenez festivals, so the deadline was set.
Amokura is lowered into the water at Penpol, while Martha Primrose awaits haul out.
It was a case of 'one in, one out' as on the same high tide, Martha Primrose, was quickly moved into position, strops positioned and then lifted into the trolley that Amokura had just come out of. Once out Martha Primrose was de-rigged and cleaned off, then moved into the lower shed for some pre-sale tlc.

Dance Lady and Kimberley, who had both been in storage in the lower shed, also left on these tides.

Amokura had her first test sail in early July, with a good 25-30 knots ensuring a thorough first test of her new rig! Her crew consisted of her owner, her sailmaker (Peter at Sailtech), her electrician (Andrew Cox), Holly and Ash just to make sure any problems could be sorted. After a successful test sail, in which Amokura certainly proved she could stand up to her original racing rig, work continued to get her ready for the French festivals, Brest & Douarnenez. The Butler & Co handiwork, merging function with traditional ethos and approaches, ensured she looked just as at home alongside working boats and tall ships at the quay as she did alongside classic yachts in the marina.
Amokura sailing in the sunshine at Brest 2016.
After several months in the paint shed having her topsides burn off, repainted and deck re-pitched Veracity emerged somewhat late for Falmouth Classics, joining the festivities just in time for a sail to St Mawes on Saturday and the Parade of Sail on the Sunday. After replacing her rig for the weekend's sailing it was then lifted out again for her masts to be stripped, and her standing and (most of) her running rigging to be replaced ready to join Amokura in Brest.
Holly & Ash sailing Veracity back up the creek after Falmouth Classics on a decidedly 'soft' Cornish day.  Once back in the yard her rig was dropped, old rigging removed and re-rigged.

What summer's about...

June has bought the first few moments in time when Holly and Ash have had chance to down tools, close the workshop door and escape. The first of these sails coincided with the Helford River Children's Sailing Trust regatta. So, having sailed with daughter Lily to the regatta, Ash and Holly and younger daughter Skye sailed across to the beaches on the south of the Helford for a swim and a well earned session of rest and recuperation.
Wildcat, Holly & Ash's lug rig dinghy, on the shore of the Helford.
Small dinghies, such as Ashley's Lily Class, are such brilliant boats. Although small there's plenty to be done in them, especially on an estuary like the Fal or Helford where miles of sailing can be done in relatively sheltered waters. A small dinghy can allow you to access all those stunning beaches a little off the beaten track, or to explore hideaways in the upper tidal reaches. 

Ashley and Holly plan to build the 10th Lily Class dinghy this year. The materials for her hull are already in the yard, all that is needed is a quiet spell to make a start.

Bonaventure - June 2016 Update

Due to very sad personal circumstances and no fault of her own, Ashley Butler's Bermudan-rigged Mayflower 50 Bonaventure of Salcombe is currently up for sale.

Bonaventure was designed to be the epitome of luxury cruising for those seeking solitude or the company of a select few companions whilst away sailing. Easily sailed short-handed she allows an owner to sail a stunning yacht, finished to exceptional standards and with lines that will turn heads wherever she sails, without the expense and inconvenience of needing crew.
Bonaventure of Salcombe slipping along beautifully in her home waters off the South Devon coast. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings 
Bonaventure of Salcombe off South Devon. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
Not a feature on many yachts, Bonaventure's heads has a custom-built teak bath, perfect for relaxing after a long days sailing. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
The saloon is open and airy, with the dark red leather Chesterfield seating and dark pilot berths balanced by light paintwork and feature woodwork. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
For winter cruising, or even the beginning or end of the English sailing season, Bonaventure's saloon is fitted out with a cosy woodburner. This piece was custom designed and built for the owner and, while not to everyone's taste, its molten appearance certainly attracts attention. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
Bonaventure's deckhouse offers warm respite from the elements, with large double-glazed windows and forward-facing portholes allowing plenty of light in and good outside vision from the deck level chart table. Bonaventure also has seating for two in the deckhouse, making it an ideal spot for a morning coffee when it is still cool on deck. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
Deckhouse with leather Chesterfield seating to port; chart table with instruments above to starboard. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
Bonaventure's galley appears compact but is highly ergonomic with everything easily to hand and features plenty of storage. A slide away bar seat ensures those in the galley can cook in comfort whilst underway. The traditional belfast sink is also a nice feature. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
The custom designed, bronze Mayflower inlay is embedded in the companionway steps of the Mayflowers. The Mayflower class are full of unique and beautiful features that make each vessel a work of art. Photo credit: Nic Compton
Details can be found on the Sanderman Yacht Company website (Bonaventure of Salcombe). Her asking price is £650,000. 

Rosemary III - June 2016 Update

Rosemary III has returned to Butler & Co at their Penpol yard after a couple of years sailing for a pre-season spruce up, as well as some additional interior work. She is currently just inside our lower shed door and, with the recent warm weather ensuring the doors are wide open, is catching the eye of many an individual around the creek.
The counter of Rosemary III prior to work on her starting alongside Amokura in the lower shed at Penpol. Both boats have caught the attentions of almost every passerby on the creek.
Rosemary's stem head is a custom bronze casting that is as sharp as a razor. It truly has to be seen to be believed. The hull was splined during her 2010-2014 refit.
Rosemary III is currently for sale on the Wooden Ships website, although having restored this vessel and understanding first hand the level of detail and care that went into her rebuild we can't help but feel that it understates the beauty and significance of this stunning yacht. Her Butler & Co rebuild, commissioned by her current owners who are the only surviving descendants of William Fife, was specifically to restore her to the standard and fit out at which she left the Fife yard 91 years ago. Much of her original wood has been conserved ensuring that she is largely restored original not new rebuild.
Restoring the original coachroof. Rosemary's owner was very specific that this project was a restoration not a rebuild, therefore much of Rosemary III is original but sympathetically repaired and restored to ensure that she is as good as the day that she left the Fife yard.
 Blog posts showing the 2010-2014 Butler & Co rebuild of Rosemary III can be found under Rosemary III - Fife,  Rosemary III - 1924 William Fife and Rosemary - Fife Restoration.

Mayflower 40 - June 2016 Update

With the Mayflower 50s, Bonaventure of Salcombe and Martha Primrose, currently for sale and attracting plenty of interest and compliments Ashley and Holly are naturally contemplating what to build next! Though some slightly more wayward ideas are being mulled over it's looking like the first project will be the Mayflower 40, Bonaventure's smaller sistership. The images below are Ashley's original renderings for the Mayflower 40; however there's still much for discussion, starting with Ashley and Holly's love of gaff rig over Bermudian.
The original Mayflower 40 sail plan was drawn up as a Bermudian cutter. The design of the coachroof, companionway and fore hatch are all functional and understated whilst not distracting the eye from her elegant lines.
With her smaller size and easily manageable rig the Mayflower 40 can forsake the need for a multitude of berths and instead provide a luxurious and spacious cruiser for two, with pilot berths in the saloon providing accommodation for visiting guests. This truly is a vessel for cruising the coastlines, creeks and harbours, or indeed the world, with your other half, enjoying much more intimate company without any stresses of managing the boat. 
The current layout of the Mayflower 40 consists of a galley to port of the companionway and a chart table to starboard, leading through to an open yet cosy saloon with stove and a large double cabin and heads up forward.
The Mayflower 40 draws on Ashley's admiration for Lin & Larry's yacht Taleisin in which this amazing couple sailed around the world for much of their life. The couple are to Ash his surrogate, southern hemisphere parents and him and Holly both love that they have worked, played and sailed together around the world for decades. Lin & Larry's blog (and links to all their sailing books and videos) is online at

Famous yachtsman visits Penpol

…well, sort of. Although he was mortified when I suggested that I write a blog post entitled that; however he is Classic Boat’s yachtsman of the year!

On a misty, early morning with the sun just up, a folk boat appeared over the horizon and sailed into Penpol. Onboard was Leo Sampson, fresh back to Cornwall from adventures across the pond, bringing his lovely folk boat Lorema to be looked after at Penpol. Leo has his own blog for his adventures (here), but in brief he sailed Lorema single-handed across to the Caribbean which launched him into sailing the 90ft Sincerity to Greenland and then landing a job as bosun onboard the majestic 67m Adix.
Leo’s folk boat is wonderfully simple and beautiful, it’s no wonder these boats are popular. Leaned against the wooden quay here at Penpol she looked perfectly at home, and she is going to be craned out and kept safe; ready for whenever the jet-setting gets to much and bit of local, low key Cornish sailing is needed.

Mayflower 50: Martha Primrose May 2016 update

Ashley Butler’s own Mayflower 50 gaff-rigged yawl, Martha Primrose, the first built of this design, is currently available for sale. Followers of the Butler & Co blog will have seen previous photo posts showing the build and launch of the first of the Mayflower Class and the stunning attention to detail evident in its design and build. As a reminder, here are a selection of photos showing off the best bits. Further detailed build shots can be found under the “Mayflower 50” and “Martha Primrose” blog posts, along with build photos of her Bermudian-rigged sister ship, Bonaventure of Salcombe.
Ashley designed the Mayflower Class drawing on extensive sailing experience across a range of traditional vessels. The ethos of the Mayflower design was a yacht with workboat roots and capabilities embodied within finer classic lines; a comfortable, spacious family cruiser yet capable of long distance, short-handed cruising with ease.
Martha Primrose enjoying a bit of breeze off the south Devon coast. She is now looking for a new owner to continue her adventures with. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings

Ashley Butler designed the Mayflower 50 to be powerful yet manageable, drawing on many miles of single handed sailing to ensure his boats are a joy to sail. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings 
Martha Primrose, while definitely not a ‘project boat’, is currently unfinished and is at a perfect stage to purchase and customise to your own tastes. Ashley has been living aboard for several years and sailed her to the Mediterranean in 2014, including long stints sailing her single-handed where she has proved her capability and ease of handling. Ashley and Holly are now moving on to new projects and new adventures, and are hoping a new owner will take on Martha Primrose. Whether for local or long distance sailing she will provide an distinctive, capable and faithful vessel for whoever takes her on.

The deckhouse on Martha Primrose offers a light, airy space and welcome respite from the elements. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings

Stepping down from the deckhouse there is an easily accessible galley and heads, before the boat opens out into the saloon. Further forwards is the forepeak with two berths, a workshop and large stowage area. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
Ashley relaxing in the spacious saloon. This space is bright and breezy in the summer, with a large central hatch providing light and ventilation; in the winter the stove is perfect for the boat and keeps things warm, dry and cozy. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings
Martha Primrose is currently listed on the Sanderman Yacht Company website (here) at £295,000, in her current arrangement. For additional cost, Butler & Co would be happy to add a bespoke finish bringing her to the standard visible on Bonaventure but customised to suit your own wishes. Bonaventure is also currently listed with Sanderman Yacht Company, her particulars can be viewed here.
Martha Primrose sailing alongside her sistership Bonaventure of Salcombe. The two vessels, despite the same hull form and ethos, are different in rig and feel; one an epitome of luxury, the other homely and rustic.
Martha Primrose and Bonaventure. Photo credit: Hugh Hastings 
The following images were all taken off the south Devon coast by photographer Hugh Hastings, his website can be found here. Readers of Classic Boat may recognise a few of them, as they were featured in the November 2015 issue in an article about the Mayflower class entitled "I saw two ships", which highlighted the two very different Mayflower 50s.
Forward of the deckhouse there is plenty of deck space. A fore hatch offers access, light and ventilation to the forepeak and a dinghy (or two) can be stowed between the main mast and deckhouse. Martha Primrose has a traditional windlass, while Bonaventure has a bronze electric capstan.
The cockpit is large and open, with shelter provided by the deckhouse.
A trim tab on the rudder and discreet bronze link arm allow the convenience of self-steering without interrupting the elegant counter stern. 

I saw two ships - the two Mayflower 50s, sailing in company, are a perfect example of traditional techniques creating modern masterpieces.