Wooden Drascombe Builder

Norman Whyte

Built Drascombes at Findhorn until his departure to the United States in 1996.

Now lives in Blue Hill, Maine and works at the Brooklin Boat Yard in Brooklin, Maine which is a well known company that builds only wooden yachts.

Article reproduced from Classic Boat 1989 (with permission)

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Quote from his wife, Lynn Whyte:-

"...a brief summary of Norman's history with wooden boats.

Norman's father Frank Whyte was a wooden boatbuilder all of his life. He worked for the Moray Firth Salmon Fishing Company building the 14' - 30' salmon cobles for the company's fishing crews in the area. Pop (as he was called) also built the MTB's during the war.

When Norman was 15 and had finished school, they needed an apprentice in the boat shed and Nor trained under his father for 5 years then continued to build traditional wooden boats (predominantly the salmon cobles) for the Moray Firth Salmon Fishing Company until he was made redundant in 1980. By that time I was his wife and we started our own small boatbuilding and repair business in the village of Findhorn.

Initially we did not specialize in any line of boats but Norman had always loved the lines of the Drascombes and wanted to build one for himself. Up until that time, no one but the Elliott brothers had built them in wood and they were no longer building, so we wrote to John Watkinson asking if we could have the plans to build a Lugger in wood. Mr. Watkinson suggested that we might be interested in building the whole line under license with him which we then negotiated and built from approximately 1982 through 1995.

Norman built many Drascombes during that time (approximately 25 -30) but our records are still stored in our house back in Scotland (which we currently rent out) and they are not easily accessible. There are many of them out there and they were very well built so hopefully they are still bringing people a lot of joy.

The never ending recession in the north of Scotland was taking a small toll on our business and I was keen to spend time closer to my relatives so we decided to take some time here in the US. We did not sell our workshop and had intended to come back but we settled in so well here in Maine and my son became so involved in his schooling over here, that we have been here ever since 1996.

Norman has been working for the Brooklin Boatyard in Brooklin, Maine for the past 10 years and in that time has build over 15 luxury wooden yachts. Many of them cost well into the millions and he has thoroughly enjoyed building them but as I told you earlier he has never lost his love for Drascombes. He still has the plans for 11 types of Drascomes in his office over here and who knows what the future might bring."


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