Lawrence boat builder Neville Watson on board his completed Lawrence Eleven Shionning Catamaran with Matt Connor, left, and Kyl
Lawrence boat builder Neville Watson on board his completed Lawrence Eleven Shionning Catamaran with Matt Connor, left, and Kyl

Nev?s been to hull and back

By ADRIAN MILLER

WHAT lengths would you go to in pursuit of a dream?

Would you sell your house? Move interstate, perhaps? Would you risk mammoth debts to start a new business, or maybe change careers completely to attempt something you've never done before?

Many people would probably do one or two, but all four at once? Not likely.

But for Neville Watson and his partner Elisabeth, that is exactly what they did.

Mr Watson was a builder in Victoria for 20 years before he and Elisabeth decided to relocate to Lawrence in January 2004.

Mr Watson had planned to continue his building career when he arrived, but a chance meeting with boat designer Jeff Schoinning in Victoria changed all that.

"I dropped in to see him, we had a talk and the next think I know I'm thinking 'I could build boats'," Mr Watson said.

"Six to eight months later we had closed the business in Victoria, bought here in Lawrence and I have to build a boat."

A year-and-a-half later and Mr Watson has finished his first boat, a three berth $400,000 catamaran.

Built from a kit purchased from boat designers Schoinning Designs, the catamaran, which is 11-metres by 6.5 metres, features two queen size berths, one double berth, a galley, head, shower and saloon.

Launched last week in Lawrence, it is now berthed at Yamba as it undergoes its finishing touches. Mr Watson said the journey from Victorian house builder to Lawrence boat builder had not been an easy one.

"It has been a good learning curve, but I wouldn't recommend it to everybody," he said.

"We thought we'd have it in the water in January this year, but you have to be so careful with the final pieces, but we've learnt that now," he said.

Mr Watson agreed it was a risk to go nearly two years without an income while the catamaran was being built. Especially since he also employed two people.

"This has been a big risk and we will have to sell the boat soonish, but a lot of people I know wouldn't dream of doing something like this," he said.

"But at the end of the day, if nothing else, we've got a boat."



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