Please select your home edition
Edition
Sailing Raceboats 2016/17 RS Aero 728x90

James Frecheville- A passion for building wooden boats

by Lee Mylchreest on 5 May 2013
Sharpie - painstakingly built .. .
James Frecheville learnt to sail at the age of 8. I don't know when he developed his passion for wooden boats and the creation of a boat an owner will 'not own, but have stewardship over' but it must have developed during his long career of sailing everything from skiff to cruising keelboat.

Now, in his workshop in Paynesville, overlooking Gippsland Lakes, James is dedicated to the creation of classic wooden boats, individual creations which will last a lifetime. This is in total contrast to the way that modern boat building is heading - plastic designer name-brand yachts, getting bigger and flashier every year.

With over forty years experience on the water and an abiding passion for boats made of wood, he has established a reputation for high quality boat repair, restoration and boatbuilding in his business of 15 years.


And his experience isn't only confined to Australian waters. With his wife he built and sailed a small classic yacht to England, and has sailed extensively the waters of Australia and Europe.

His travels also inspired him and increased the finesse of his workmanship. In England he worked alongside mastercraftmen at Freebodys, a famous boatyard on the river Thames restoring and building fine classic launches.

Now the boats he builds might cost a packet and can take two years to build, but they are sourced from rare recycled timbers and feature vintage paintwork.


Even though his yachts might cost more than your average production yacht, James says he's so dedicated to the classic boat tradition he's prepared to do much of it for love, not money.

'We could do 40 hours of work and if we charge 30 hours that's good.

But he is not complaining. 'I'm a lucky man, he told the Weekly Times recently. 'I get to play with boats - that appeals to my creative side.

'And people who buy from us want something a bit different. They don't want to have a Holden Commodore like everyone else. They want a wooden boat that they don't own, but have stewardship over. It's maintaining history.

'I'm a purveyor of dreams. That's what people come to me for - they dream of a classic wooden boat.'


In all his boats he uses centuries-old traditions combined with modern electrical mechanics and engineering - although he doesn't cover such areas as upholstery or welding.

He says his customer base is small but zealous. 'It's a limited market for wooden boats. People have got to want one and wait maybe years,' he says. 'You can write a cheque and go boating tomorrow in a polyester thing.

'But those modern fibreglass boats have no soul. You have no affinity with them.'

However, he agrees that to be a traditional boat builder requires a degree of insanity. 'If you aren't mad about boats, you can't work in this industry, because it's hard, dirty and challenging, not an easy artisan trade to be in.'

If you, also, are passionate about wooden boats, you can find out more about James Frecheville at Heaney Boat builders. Their website is www.fhboats.com.au

Festival of Sails 2017 660x82Zhik Isotak Ocean 660x82Pantaenius - Worldwide Support

Related Articles

Ninth Blog from on board Perie Banou II
A fall on the quay saw Jon endure some fractured ribs, but he's OK and recuperating well and looking forward Jon's unique tales from his epic 10th circumnavigation continues. Alas it was not the sea that got him, but a fall on the quay saw him endure some fractured ribs. Jon’s OK, and recuperating well, but his progress is slowed and he’ll be in Cape Town until February 13 to complete his recovery
Posted on 18 Jan
Zhik Xeflex® - your shield against cold environments
This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. How do you make a water resistant garment that really breathes, yet reflects your own body heat back to you? Where do you find a compression resistant and extremely insulating filling that is nowhere near as bulky as the Michelin Man, yet gives you that kind of warmth and comfort?
Posted on 17 Jan
Henri Lloyd Aqua Down Jacket
A new collection of premium active wear which represents the ultimate in lifestyle sports apparel. Henri Lloyd has used its 50 plus years of technical apparel design and development to launch a new collection of premium active wear which represents the ultimate in lifestyle sports apparel.
Posted on 16 Jan
Sounds like a boat - Lisa Blair's departure delayed due to electronics
Final preparations of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue Final preparations and safety checks of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue.
Posted on 15 Jan
Lisa Blair starts Solo Circumnavigation of Antarctica
Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, over 500 have rowed across the various oceans and 12 people have landed on the moon. Only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Sydney-based Lisa Blair, 32, intends to become the first woman, the fastest and the third person in history to conquer such a challenge.
Posted on 14 Jan
Lisa Blair to attempt world record around Antarctica
Dodging icebergs, 10-storey tall waves are some of dangers facing a Queensland sailor about to attempt a world record Dodging icebergs, riding 10-storey tall waves and being buffeted by 80-knot winds are some of the dangers facing a Lisa Blair as she attempts a world record circumnavigating Antarctica. Blair hopes to become the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, non-stop, and unassisted.
Posted on 14 Jan
When whales meet sails
CAMPER helmsman Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez found himself nearly face to face with whale in middle of North Atlantic Ocean. Currently the database for marine mammal strikes is very sparse. We are requesting sailors and boaters help to submit information on current and past incidents, however long ago that may be. By giving a location, date, identification if possible, and any other relevant information you can help scientists better understand where marine mammals are at risk for strikes
Posted on 8 Jan
Seventh and Eighth blogs from on board Perie Banou II
Jon's tales from his epic 10th solo circumnavigation continues. Jon's tales from his epic 10th solo circumnavigation continues. This time he talks about the fierce gales and waves he met rounding the Cape of Good Hope. As always, it's told in Jon's unique and inimitable style...
Posted on 28 Dec 2016
Sixth Blog from on board Perie Banou II
Five days behind me is the Isle de La Reunion. Obviously French. Very French. Got a live volcano. 8000ft high. Five days behind me is the Isle de La Reunion. Obviously French. Very French. Got a live volcano. 8000ft high. (Americans understand feet and inches). There are mountains, awe-inspiring ravines, and valleys. Scenic. Very scenic. No one speaks English much. Just French. Bring a dictionary. The principal harbour is in the industrial area. - Like the rest of the world - not all of it is now used.
Posted on 19 Dec 2016
It’s a dog’s life in new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum
It’s raining cats and dogs at the ANMM this summer as Bailey, curates his very own exhibition of photographs It’s raining cats and dogs at the Australian National Maritime Museum this summer as Bailey, the museum’s canine employee who chases away seagulls, curates his very own exhibition of photographs featuring some of his furry friends – and frenemies!
Posted on 16 Dec 2016