In a way, you could say that Peter Taylor’s career as a boat builder came full circle in the course of sixteen years. When Peter hired on at RP Boats in Steuben, Maine in the fall of 2002, he was a rookie, freshly landed from his native England with wife Rhonda – with no previous boat building experience, but a whole lot of natural ability and a strong work ethic.
“I learned a lot in the six years I worked at RP,” said Peter. “By the end, I was in charge of builds; laying up hulls; doing wiring, hydraulics, and cosmetics … plus driving the crane and boat hauler. Anything I could do to learn something, I’d do it.” In the meantime, Peter began to get requests for after-hours side work, helping local fishermen with repairs and finish projects. When he left RP Boats to work at H&H Marine in 2008, he also began laying the groundwork for a shop of his own, putting up a building in his spare time. In the meantime, RP Boats lost everything in a 2010 fire – including the molds for their 31’, 35’, and 40’ Willis Beal-designed models. “It was a sad thing in many ways,” says Peter. “Besides what I’d learned working at RP, those were great boats … I really loved building them and was always impressed with their performance, whether they were finished as a basic lobster boat or a live-aboard sportfisherman.”
In 2011, Peter went full-time on his own as Taylored Boats, custom-finishing hulls of his customers’ choice. Over his career, Peter’s projects have spanned the gamut from heavy-duty offshore lobster boats to elaborate lobster yachts; USCG-approved vessels (including charter and ferry boats) to inshore draggers. In the process, he’s finished hulls from a wide variety of Downeast builders. In the back of Peter’s mind, however, was the notion that those Willis Beal models deserved to have a second chance. He still had customers asking about them: “Whatever happened to …?”
In 2018, Peter decided it was time for the Willis Beal designs to be reborn. Step one was the arrival of the very first RP 40 – the Designer’s Daughter, owned by Willis’ son-in-law Travis Beal – in the Taylored Boats shop, where she was stripped and prepped to be used as a plug for a brand-new mold. This first model of the new generation of Willis Beal designs is available in a choice of three lengths: 40’, 42’, and 44’ – all with the option of widths from 15’3” to 17’6”. Future models (to be produced using the same process) will include the Willis Beal 35/38 and a 31-footer. And, of course, Taylored Boats still provides custom finishing of any hull. “We’re really happy about reintroducing the Willis Beal line,” says Peter. “It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point, but we’re excited
about the future.”