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.
CHARTING A NEW COURSE
Peter left RP Boats in 2008 to begin working at H&H Marine. Simultaneously, he began laying the groundwork for a shop of his own - literally - constructing a new building on his property in his spare time. 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.”
TAYLORED BOATS IS BORN
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 …?”
RETURN OF THE WILLIS BEAL
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.”