Page 31 - South Mississippi Living - August, 2021
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“It’s very old school, it’s a very old way of building boats, and it died when fiberglass came in the ‘70s
and ‘80s,” says Rigby. “But with lighter modern-day epoxy resins and plywood, our boats are far lighter
and, therefore, use less fuel.” Their boats are also fully customizable, unlike typical fiberglass models. “Our boats are built upside-down, and one day we have a big party outside and turn the boat over,” says Rigby. “At that point, the customer can say ‘I want the deck this high, I want a cabin, I want a toilet, I want fish boxes,’ whereas if you were to buy from a fiberglass competitor, they’d typically have just three options. By dealing with me, the only non-customizable item is the size of the hull.”
In addition to boat-making, Rigby and Butler are
also sculptors; Rigby creates artisan wooden locks, while Butler sculpts with clay. However, they both acknowledge that boat-making is an art form in and
of itself. “A wooden boat is basically a giant sculpture,” says Rigby. “There are no straight lines, no right angles, you can’t tape measure anything. It’s all done by eye. You know the length and width of the boat, but there are no straight lines – I haven’t used a tape measure on my current boat in months and months.” Butler agrees, saying, “I work with clay, he works with wood. The medium is different, but it’s all about the eye.”
Rigby largely hopes that his love for the craft will inspire others to try wooden boats – both buying and building. Wooden boatbuilding “isn’t
something you can learn from a book,” says Rigby, “so I intend to
try and pass it on. I think it could be a niche industry here in Biloxi.”
Kit Butler.
    Bespoke Boatworks
Facebook @ Custom.ColdMolded.Boats
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