Page 30 - South Mississippi Living - August, 2021
P. 30

        story by Gabbie Bowden and photos courtesy of Bespoke Boatworks
“I like making sawdust,” says Morgan Rigby about his daytime occupation. He owns and operates Bespoke Boatworks, LLC, one of the only wooden boatbuilding companies in the entire Gulf South. He began learning the trade in his seaside hometown – Broadstairs, England – at age 11.
“I started working for a boat-builder around 1978. At
that time, I thought it was very messy. At the end of the
day, my job was to go in and clean out all the sawdust, tidy up, put tools back. There’s a distinct range of smells in boatbuilding... certain woods, resins, and paints have certain smells. You store those things together, and it creates a particular aroma. I remember that scent, and it permeates my shop in Biloxi today.”
Morgan and his partner Kit Butler, a New Orleans/Biloxi native, relocated from the Caribbean to the Gulf Coast to help her parents rebuild post-Katrina, and they’ve stayed in the area ever since. After constructing their Caribbean- Acadian style house in Biloxi, Morgan itched to get back to his first occupation: boatbuilding.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast, Biloxi in particular, has a long history intertwined with wooden boats, but since the rise of fiberglass, that industry has largely faded. Rigby and Butler are making waves throughout the South with their handmade wooden boats, which are cheaper, more fuel efficient, and more eco-friendly than fiberglass competitors. And, of course, their traditional building methods have weathered the test of time.
 30 | August 2021 | SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living
Morgan Rigby.

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