Organised by John Bailey of the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC), we were part of a small group visiting the Discovery premises in Marchwood, Southampton one mid-November morning.
(Southampton may be a long way from Pipistrelle in South Africa, but not so far from our flat in Poole, our UK base.)
Discovery Yachts was literally ‘discovered’ in the 1990’s by founders and company owners John and Caroline Charnley. Both extremely experienced sailors, they were unable to find a suitable yacht for the shorthanded blue water cruising they were passionate about. So they simply decided to build one themselves. With designer Ron Holland, they created their perfect yacht, found other purchasers to defray the start-up costs, and eventually acquired their present factory site and began the construction process for the new yachts. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength. Now with five different models, Discovery is no ordinary production boat but an individually constructed luxury yacht with a successful international reputation.
Led by Caroline and Sales Manager, Mark Williams, our guided tour of the site and workshops gave us an extremely interesting insight into what’s behind the success story.
As Wauquiez owners ourselves, we were intrigued by the way Pipistrelle was originally constructed and fitted out, and having experienced numerous partial refits of exterior and interior, most of them hands-on, we were fascinated to see some facets replicated and improved by Discovery to distinguish them from mass produced boats.
Each hull is moulded in two separate parts and subsequently joined, the hull construction being a thick foam core glass fibre sandwich. Each part, wire, fitting, bolt and widget is individually marked and catalogued for manufacturer and owner easy reference. The vast in house joinery shop makes and assembles virtually the entire interior of each yacht in sections before fitting and highly sophisticated CNC equipment is programmed to stencil, cut and drill as appropriate. We were impressed by the skill of the joiners, producing woodwork that is built to last and looks beautiful.
The organisation is impressive and highly professional. May this truly British company remain under its current ownership and continue to produce the high quality product for which it is known.