After a distinguished war service, John became the Royal Navy’s recognised small boat specialist. he was loaned to Cambridge University to help design the first inflatable life raft.
While stationed in Northern Ireland, John met Katharine, a Signal Wren. On discharge from the Navy they bought and managed Kelly and Hall, a small yard building and repairing traditional boats. After several years, they decided to “sell up and sail”, but due to bad weather and sea sickness they returned.
Once back in Devon, John promised to build Kate a boat she would like, although Kate declared it must be “A day boat, so I could get home to a comfortable bed, have no boom to bang heads and have any engine fumes well out of the way”. The result was the first Drascombe Lugger “Katharine Mary”.
Knowing the prototype was a success, John took the first production Drascombe Lugger to the 1968 London Boat Show. They sold this boat within 20 minutes of the opening and came home with 18 orders.
There have been a few companies over the years building Drascombes, but since 2002 the license to build Drascombes has been with Churchouse Boats, when Stewart Brown (the then owner of the company) was granted permission to build them.
In 2006 the proto-type Drifter 22 is launched, the first new Drascombe boat for 20 years, she is well received, and is a popular choice for the single handed and family sailor’s buying a new boat.
On the 28th February 2013 Stewart retires and sells Churchouse Boats to Sharon Geary Harwood and Simon Harwood. Simon had been working with Stewart since 2002 and worked on the first Drascombe Lugger which was built under Churchouse Boats. Sharon joined in January 2010, working in the office alongside Stewart. Dick Pizey joined Drascombe on a casual basis in 2015 and has stayed since.
Sadly on Saturday 22nd September 2018, Stewart Brown, retired ex-owner of CBL sadly lost his courageous battle against cancer, Stewart’s death is a sad loss to the Drascombe community, his knowledge of Drascombes can never be matched, while his friendship and humour, along with his G&T making, will be remembered for a long time to come from those who knew him so well.
“The dedication, love, passion, enjoyment and commitment we give to our everyday tasks, is because we believe in what we do for others, no two days are the same, and we all go home knowing we have been able to please another Drascombe owner. How many bosses and employees can say they have a job they love so much!”
53 years on and over 6,000 Drascombes worldwide, John Watkinson set a great challenge to other boat designers and manufacturers.
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