About John Sheen - Boat builder and designer.
John has had a life-long interest in boats. From age four he made crude models to
sail on the creek where he lived. He started designing and building full size boats
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 specialising in moulded timber construction for
yachts and power boats. Conscious that there might 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 the opportunity to learn about repairs and
mechanics. Having stared business on his own account aged twenty three, he built clinker
dinghies, fishing boats racing dinghies and powerboats to his own designs, as well as
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 prams, was a sixteen foot Rowing
Skiff which he and a friend built from scratch at the 1989 Southampton Boat Show. It took
them 3hrs, 24mins and 41 secs.
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 perhaps 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 plans and patterns for DIY boat-