Now the cold and miserable grey winter days are upon us, it is great to do something a little different and interesting, especially if it reminds us of summer days and warmer times.
Last Wednesday six Shedders from the Southbourne Men’s Shed did just that.
Setting off early they headed west for an excellent experience as VIP guests of Sunseeker International Yachts at Poole, Dorset.
They were welcomed into a very plush meeting room with plenty of Coffee and Danish pastries and shown a short film about the company and its range of world beating luxury yachts by Sunseeker’s Colin Nowles, the guide for the day .
Then it was ‘all aboard’ the chauffeur driven Merc’ for the official tour of the manufacturing facilities around Poole, stopping first at a large factory where they were shown how the furniture, from bunks to bookcases, for each boat is constructed using mainly plywood, MDF and HDF boards. Able to stop and chat with the skilled woodworkers they learned a lot about modern lightweight construction techniques. The workforce is so friendly and respectful and was pleased to stop and ensure the Shedders were enjoying the visit. (They knew the Shedders were VIPs because on the backs of their Hi-vis jackets was written ‘VIP, World Headquarters Experience, Manufacturing Tour’)
Back in to the Merc’ to the next factory which housed a vast machine for laminating boards with the beautiful finishes we associate with ‘up market’ décor. On then to the upholsterers to see the production of soft furnishings, using the finest leather and durable materials, for the outside sun-decks as well as the interiors lounges and cabins. Finally, before being taken to an excellent Christmas hot buffet lunch at one of Poole’s top restaurants there was time to see the design team at work building a mock up of a new yacht destined for a large boat show in February next year and the vast electronics division which was busy making switchboards and cable looms with miles of various coloured wires.
The afternoon was spent at the main factory on the waterside at Poole. In one of several buildings, a massive hangar, is a giant overhead crane for moving the huge yacht hulls during stages of construction. The wellfed VIPs were led around the vast hulls and then upstairs to view, from above, the construction, almost from scratch, of huge 95ft long luxury yachts.
Sunseeker work on four of these boats at a time and they are in various stages of construction. The first hull shell was being formed from fibreglass by a fast working team of specialists who are working to strict time limits to ensure the fibreglass for the hull skin, up to two inches thick in places, is laid before the resin ‘goes off’ and becomes too hard to work with. Next to this hull is another in an advanced stage with the internal bulkhead walls, to strengthen the outer shell, in place along with the engine room and cabins.
The next one has decks, most of the wall panels and stairs and miles of exposed pipes and wires in place. The final boat of the four in this building has most parts fitted and is almost ready to be moved outside and prepared for final fixing and testing. All about the yard and in the water are many Sunseeker yachts of several designs from the smaller sports yachts measuring about 75feet long to the amazing top model at 155feet, ready for those very lucky few who are privileged to own such beautiful, craftsmen built luxurious vessels.
‘Just a perfect day’ during which the Shedders were treated extremely well, was completed by climbing aboard a finished yacht and removing their shoes, to explore the delights that ‘the other half’ enjoy and receiving a ‘goodies bag’ of mementoes of the visit.
Sincere thanks and best wishes to Sunseeker International Yachts and especially Colin Nowles, a perfect gentleman, who delivered the full VIP treatment and made the day so pleasant, interesting and memorable.
If you have ceased full time work and wish to know more about Southbourne Men’s Shed, call in to see us at The Old School, New Road, Southbourne, PO10 8JX or see us online at: www.southbournemensshed.btck.co.uk. Phone 07539 10 30 15