Alan Staley Boatbuilder

This page is about the traditional boatbuilder Alan Staley, who carried out most of the work on Idle Duck, from 2006 to 2010, when she was relaunched. Since then others have been involved finishing her. She has been lifted out twice since then, in 2015 and 2018, for maintenance and once more in 2019 for inspection and cleaning which will be shown in the general blog.

Alan Staley is a nationally well known and respected traditional boatbuilder, based on Faversham Creek for the last 30 or more years, originally from Whitstable, where he was apprenticed at Anderson, Rigden and Perkins.



He employs two experienced craftsmen, a recently qualified trainee, and a trainee. The apprentice who started work there at the same time as ID entered the shed, Alison Sheffield (now Taylor), is now one of those two senior boatbuilders, along with Dave who refuses to retire (why would I).

Alan himself is way past normal retirement, but the business and the craft is his life and sees no real reason to retire whilst he is enjoying the life, and is fit and able, and still taking on some aspects where his skill and experience can be demonstrated. He also maintains his own immaculate Dalimore designed yacht, which he has sailed for the last 40 years.

I was privileged to be able to work on ID at the same time as the two boatbuilders, Graham (now elsewhere) and Alison as his trainee, replaced the deck and coachroof and cockpit. Alison had the challenging task of fitting the two new bitts out of iroko.

The yard is unusual in that if Alan knows your background and skills, he allows owners to work on their boats at weekends unsupervised. I have a background in workshops and boatbuilding so fitted in ok; I even had my own mug and chair in the inner sanctum.

As I had retired from my job, I was able to do things that I could whilst not interfering with the real work, such as unfastening the teak deck (1000s of bronze screws), preparing woodwork and painting and varnishing. Much was at weekends so as not to get in their way, but also it was quieter and dust free for painting.

Dave and Alison built a complete John Leather New Blossom during that time, which was fascinating to watch. Epoxy bonded plywood clinker, with bonded ply bulkheads; a modern take on a very traditional design resulting in a very strong boat, which if looked after would last as long as a grp hull. See: New Blossom

I have watched many boats being restored, with lovely paint jobs as well. It is a great privilege to be able to look around a boat yard, always exciting and learning new things about the craft and the vessels themselves. My previous boat Gloria, a Mk1 Crabber (composite grp hull and wooden deck), was brought in recently, for a new deck; I had rebuilt the cockpit but decided then that the deck was ok, but it had deteriorated over time. Still not bad for a 1974 boat. Still going well in exceptional condition. Unusual for an early Crabber.

There is more to say about this established and successful boatyard which I will add in time…