Backyard boat builder always busy

23:02, Jul 29 2014
Bruce Keen
HOME CRAFT: Southland man Bruce Keen is building a trailer yacht in his back shed.

Southland man Bruce Keen is building a boat from scratch in his "reasonable-sized shed" - which is never big enough.

Keen, a passionate sailer, is building his second boat in his own backyard.

His first was started in the late 1990s because he wanted a bigger boat and the ones on the market were too pricey - so he decided to build his own.

He had watched his Otautau neighbour building boats and had given him the odd hand but was mainly self-taught, he said, and had read plenty of books and used Google.

Keen spent eight years building his first boat in his spare time - a Joker 820 trailer yacht - from scratch with plans bought from a designer. He still owns it.

Keen, a member of the Southland Trailer Yacht Squadron, is attending The Southland Times Boat Show Southland on August 9 and 10 and was helping to run it.


Recently he was approached by a man who had heard he could build boats and asked him to build him one. The Leech 8m trailer yacht was started by himself and another in his shed in July.

The owner wants it by Christmas, he said.

Keen said he had always been passionate about boats, mainly sailing, but often went fishing with friends on power boats. He has also repaired and painted the odd motor boat.

The biggest challenge of building a boat at home was sourcing the materials and finding which materials were the best. "There's so many on the market."

The finished product had always bought a feeling of satisfaction and a product to be proud of, he said, and it would be nice to carry on and build another boat.

The Southland Times