A happy career change from NHS manager to traditional boatbuilder

Marc Chivers pilot punt 4

Remember Marc Chivers, who built this handsome 13ft pilot punt during his time at the Boat Building Academy? (For more on the pilot punt, click here.)

He’s now working for Ashley Butler down at Dartmouth and is very happy with his new life, according to an interview he has given to Careershifters.org. At Butler & Co, he’s currently working on Pilgrim, an 1895 Brixham sailing trawler.

Before coming to boat building Marc had been carving a career working in the NHS for a primary care trust, a role he found ‘frustrating, soul destroying and generally unfulfilling’.

(Of course, under our new government, if he was still working for a PCT he’d now be facing redundancy.)

He told Careershifters that making the change was easy: he split-up from his ex-wife, resigned from his job and enrolled on the boat building course with the Boat Building Academy. I suppose it sounds easy if you say it quickly.

From the quotes online, there’s no question Marc is a happier man however: ‘I love my new life and I love working in the boat yard helping to build and restore wooden boats is wonderful,’ he told the website. ‘The guys I work with are great and they all are more than happy to share and impart their skills.’

He also added that the work itself is very hard  physically as it involves big lumps of wood and working outdoors in all weathers. I can believe it. One of the enduring underlying themes of this weblog is that there’s something special and admirable about those who build and maintain traditional boats – they’re definitely made of sterner stuff than most of us.

Marc’s weblog reveals more about his new life: click here.

PS – Do check out the Butler & Co weblog – they found WWII bullets in one of the timbers!



Boatbuilding Academy student’s boat gets pride of place at the NMM

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Boatbuilding Academy staff and students are brimming with pride because graduate Marc Chivers’ full-size replica of an early 20th century pilot punt is now the centre-piece of an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London. (See more photos of Marc’s boat here.)

The exhibition, The Boats That Built Britain, explores our island nation’s intimate connection to the sea through great maritime stories from the 15th to 20th centuries, and is running in conjunction with the BBC4 series Sea Fever.

The show’s being staged in partnership with National Historic Ships and is accompanied by a series of interesting-sounding lectures – read more about the show here. It runs from the 8th May until November, and I gather a podcast interview with Marc will appear on the Museum website shortly.

The TV series is well worth watching, even if Tom Cunliffe’s somewhat presentation is at times a bit to gung-ho and even and at times a mite misleading. (British sailors had struggled to deal with Barbary pirates whose ships went well to windward long before the Pickle see an earlier post on this issue, but TC chose to over-simplicate that point.) No doubt hyped-up presentation is the modern way and just what the production folks wanted.

These trifles apart, these shows are still well worth half an hour of anyone’s time. The Sea Fever programmes telling the story of HMS Pickle and the Matthew are on the BBC iPlayer as I write, if you can get them directly or via a proxy.

Marc’s boat, Defiant of Lyme Regis, was built as part of the BBA’s 38-week boatbuilding course. I gather Marc lives just a few miles away from us in Kent – so I must try to meet him some time. His website, which includes the story of how he transported Defiant to the exhibition, is at http://www.marcsboats.co.uk.

Particular thanks to Emma Brice at the BBA at Lyme for the story and photos.

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