About John Sheen.
Principal at Sail’n’Oar
John has had a life long interest in small boats.
From age four he made crude models to sail on the creek where he lived.
He started designing and building full size boats aged fourteen.
Having saved wages from a butchers delivery round in his village, he purchased enough material for his first plywood pram dinghy which he sold through the local newspaper.
Each school holiday thereafter was spent in similar fashion.
It seemed natural on leaving school, to embark on an apprenticeship in boat building.
This began at Souter’s in Cowes, who were at the time concentrating on moulded timber construction for both yachts and powerboats.
Conscious that there would be little opportunity to learn the skills of traditional boat building, he transferred after three years to another yard where clinker construction was the norm. This also gave an opportunity to learn about repairs, maintenance and mechanics.
Having started business on his own account at age twenty three, he built clinker dinghies and fishing boats, and did some sub contract work for his apprenticeship companies.
Eventually, as the market dictated, GRP took over and John designed and constructed plugs and moulds for a range of simulated clinker boats.
He has over the years been involved in a variety of work including model making, films, figureheads and even a prototype single seat aeroplane.
John’s first “Easy to Build” boat, apart from his early pram dinghies, was a 16ft Rowing Skiff which he and a friend built from scratch at the 1989 Southampton Boat Show.
It took them 3hr 25mins 41secs. They went on to win a race with this boat, and John was awarded a Silk Cut Nautical Award for design and build.
The call of the small boat has never waned, and at the time he should be putting his drawing board and adze away John is still as enthusiastic as ever and is producing what he terms “easy to build boats” in the form of full size patterns for DIY boat builders worldwide through Sail’n’Oar.