Drascombes from the beginning
"Katharine Mary" the first Wooden Drascombe Lugger,
sailing on Bradmere Pool, Near Drascombe Barton
A lot has been written about how Drascombes began, so here is a brief resume.
John Watkinson grew up with small boats on the River Dee. At the age of nine John built his first boat using boards stolen from the hen house roof, his parents were impressed that they responded with encouragement. He showed acadmeic ability as well as practical skill winning a maths scholarship to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.
After a distinguished war service, John became the Royal Navy's recognised small boat specialist. he was loaned to Cambridge University to help design the first inflatable life raft.
While stationed in Northern Ireland, John met Katharine, a Signal Wren. On discharge from the Navy they bought and managed Kelly and Hall, a small yard building and repairing traditional boats. After several years, they decided to "sell up and sail", but due to bad weather and sea sickness they returned.
Once back in Devon, John promised to build Kate a boat she would like, although Kate declared it must be "A day boat, so I could get home to a comfortable bed, have no boom to bang heads and have any engine fumes well out of the way". The result was the first Drascombe Lugger "Katharine Mary"
Knowing the prototype was a success, John took the first production Drascombe Lugger to the 1968 London Boat Show. They sold this boat within 20 minutes of the opening and came home with 18 orders.
There have been a few companies over the years building Drascombes, but since 2002 the license to build Drascombes has been with Churchouse Boats, when Stewart Brown (the then owner of the company) was granted permission to build them.
In 2006 the proto-type Drifter 22 is launched, the first new Drascombe boat for 20 years, she is well received, and is a popular choice for the single handed and family sailor's buying a new boat.
Moving forward to March 2013 and Stewart retired and sells Churchouse Boats to Sharon Geary-Harwood and Simon Harwood. Simon had been working with Stewart since 2002 and worked on the first Drascombe Lugger which was built under Churchouse Boats. Sharon joined in January 2010, working in the office. The newest member of the crew here at CBL is Jamie Kerkhoff. Jamie started working for CBL in August 2016 and works along side Sharon and Simon with both workshop and office duties.
We shall now be using the name Drascombe (with the approval of Kate Watkinson) far more than we have in the past, although we will still be trading as Drascombe by Churchouse Boats.
We are pleased that we have been able to purchase and fully refurbished her at the yard and she was on display, on the water, during the 50th Anniversary celebrations at the Drascombe Golden Jubilee 2017 both on our stand at the London Boat Show, and also on the water at the Weymouth Golden Jubilee event.
She is now owned by a very keen Drascombe enthusiast.