FROM TIMBER TO TIDE: BEN HARRIS, BOATBUILDER
‘Lovers of the sea, the filling sail
The living tree and the copper nail
Come to us with your dream in hand
Cast of your cares and leave the land’
If you drive about 10 minutes from the Francli workshop, along narrow Cornish lanes towards Constantine, you’ll discover a beautiful wooden cabin nestled in the woodland. This idyllic scene, complete with an outdoor cooking fire, tree swing and stream, is all from the hands of local boat builder and craftsman Ben Harris.
Our friend Ben is a gentle soul, usually found wrist deep in garden soil or covered in sawdust at his Restronguet workshop. He has an impressive portfolio of traditional and contemporary wood craft including cabinet making, furniture making, forestry, Oak-framing and boatbuilding.
His pride and joy is Alva. She’s a Paul Gartside designed 30ft Gaff rigged cutter yacht, built with lines inspired by the quay punts of Falmouth. Fast, seaworthy and immensely strong, her construction is larch on laminated pitch pine and steamed oak frames. Cedar decks, cabin sides and capping rail in Iroko. Teak cockpit and trim Pitch Pine interior and bronze and copper fastened throughout. In the storms of last winter, she was pulled off her ropes and given a good shake! during her summer of some much needed TLC, Francli designer/maker Ali helped putty and paint her back to shape to learn a bit about what’s involved in traditional boat building and chat to Ben about how he works for an exciting commission soon to be revealed...
Ali and Ben:
When are you most calm?
I had a moment recently when we sailed to St Anthony’s lighthouse and walked along the nearby beaches. Just relaxing with friends and contemplating nature.
When are you most excited?
Old friends. When I’m about to see someone I haven’t seen in a long time.
When are you most angry?
Dishonesty and injustice
When are you most motivated?
At the beginning of a new commission, when you get into the rhythm of a task.
Watch Ben talk about his work and sail Alva in this dreamy short film by Pixillion, Bristol:
Book the Riverside Cabin for your own Cornish adventure:
View more of Ben’s portfolio and how to work with him:
Photography: image: www.pixillion.com